The Bhote Koshi is known as one of the best white-water rafting rivers in Nepal. In March, with the waters quite low before the monsoon season, a day-long rafting trip lived up to that hype.
The expert guides shout instructions from their perch at the back of the inflatable boat: Forward! Left back! Harder, harder! Forward again! Get down! Most of the time, the raft cuts a clear path through the river’s numerous rapids after the guide has lined everything up perfectly. Occasionally, a rafter is bounced from their seat by the choppy water, to a soundtrack of laughter. In this season of lower water levels, plotting a smooth path through the rocky rapids is not always straightforward. My raft got stuck on rocks more than once. By leaning everyone’s bodyweight to one side, the guides easily managed to manoeuvre the raft off the rocks, and we were on our way. Contrary to what many people assume, white-water rafting is not difficult, and can be done by almost anyone.
Originating at the Zhangzangbo Glacier in Tibet, the Bhote Koshi’s waters are cold this time of year. But it doesn’t matter when the sun is hot; in fact, it’s quite refreshing to be splashed. Various operators run rafting trips along sections of the river. There are several large rapids, and the river meanders through beautiful, peaceful landscape. The hills in this part of Sindhupalchowk District are not extremely high, but rise gently from the river’s edge, terraced with vegetable farms or thick with wild growth. The water is clear and pale turquoise, and there are many white-sand beaches upon which to relax.
Located a convenient three-hour drive from Kathmandu, Bhote Koshi River trips are an easy overnight journey from the capital, or even a full day trip if you’re short on time. Numerous camps and resorts flank the river and the Arniko Highway, leading to Tibet, which runs alongside it. Most have beautifully landscaped gardens, swimming pools, bars/restaurants and relaxing common areas, comfortable permanent tents, and offer a relaxing and excitement-filled stay.