You could be sure that the Himalayan White Water Challenge was going to be one wet, rollicking ride. And it was, also a chance to highlight Nepal's wild waters and the still relatively unknown sport of kayaking.
"Nepal and the UK have the best rivers for kayaking though the Nile in Uganda is not far behind," says Peak UK's Peter Astle.
Kayaks were originally developed by the Inuit and used to cross ice floes in the Canadian Arctic. 'Kayak' itself is an Inuit word that means 'man's boat'. The 'eskimo roll' is the move where kayakers purposely tip the kayak over till they're under water and then keep rolling until they are upright again in the cockpit. But there is much more to kayaking than the 'eskimo role' as participants at a kayak rodeo on the Bhote Kosi found out this recently.
"We would like to promote this sport more here but until the conflict is resolved, it will be impossible to do it properly," Astle told us. But in spite of the country's problems, kayaking seems to have caught on, with 600 river guides registered in Nepal.
Nim Magar is one of them andhas taken first place in the last three competitions oncluding this year. Magar started in 1992 and now trains kayakers in Japan earning up to $ 5,000 a month. Asked about the sport's future in Nepal, he says, "Our rivers are the best kayaking rivers in the world, we should encourage Nepalis to practice so they can win international competitions."
Children show off their kayaking moves at the closing ceremony of the Himalayan Whitewater Challenge last month. The underprivileged kids were trained in kayaking and circus skills by the Himalayan Whitewater Circus Project, an initiative that began in 2004 that wants to set up a club for children. Drawing, dancing, English speaking and other confidence-building activities were also part of the group's three-week program. "These children can later become professionals," said project member Sanjeev Ranabhat. The Circus Project is organised by Far and Away Adventures from Sweden with the cooperation of KAVU, Equator Expeditions and several volunteers.