Indisputably, the Karnali is one of the world’s greatest rivers with even boats names after this outstanding piece of white-water. It is well known throughout Nepal as it is the longest river in Nepal. It is a 10 day trip 3 days and a night of which are spent traveling on and off road in back breaking buses. I first got a glimpse of the river as we passed over the ridge of the valley, which was followed by a quick decent to the campsite.
The Karnali is the first serious Big Volume white-water that I have ever run and so I was pretty nervous about what might be awaiting me. We got to the campsite in the pitch black and pouring rain. All we could hear was the torrent of the river (which didn’t help the nerves). The morning ease to some of the nerves as we discovered that it was only a grade 3 rapid we had camped next to, it was just the size of it that made so much noise.
10 minutes downstream however we got to a horizon line. I slowed down to let others go first so that I could follow their line. This was a good move on my part because as I got to the edge of the horizon line I ended up looking down on a wave train 3m high. Those waves gave me a huge adrenaline rush as I shot down and over them like a roller-coaster!!! I got to the side and waited for the raft to come down, it ended up almost flipping and dumping all but 2 people out into the river! But that was what I was there for. The other kayakers and I raced out to the swimmers and took them ashore as they struggled to climb up on the back of our boats.
This set the scene for the next 3 days, filled with huge and intense rapids in a beautiful fairy tale valley. Huge bleached beaches, scorching sun, warm water, lush forests, and towering mountains. An absolutely astonishing place.
We took a rest day half way through to break up the trip and give us all a much needed break. The sun was so hot that all we did was sit under the raft shelter, read, and sleep. It was a good day. We even had a Beach-Olympics as the sun set! The food served on the trip was amazing. We dined on spaghetti bolognaise, freshly caught fish, pancakes, popcorn, chicken. Anything that anyone could want.
The last 3 days of paddling was more chilled out. As we moved out of the foothills of the Himalayas into the Teri lowland the rapids became less intense and more sporadic. This meant that I was able to have a go guiding the raft. I’d not done much guiding before and so it was very much just have a go and see what happens. The lack of intense rapids also gave clients the chance to have a go in a kayak. I was paired with a fella called Sam. Unfortunately he had a couple swims and couldn’t keep the kayak in a straight line which really pissed him off! haha
The Karnali is one of my favourite all time rivers. It is a trip that will never be forgotten as it was my first time on big volume rivers. I met some amazing people and made lifelong friends..