White-Water Rafting in Nepal: 7 Best Places to Go

From Pokhara to Kathamandu, Elen Turner shows us the top places for your white-water adventure in Nepal.


Photo © Elen Turner

If floating in silence down a sun-bathed river, camping on sparkling white river beaches, and getting far away from clamoring cities sounds good to you, then you’ve got to try whitewater rafting in Nepal.

From single-day trips to an epic 12-day adventure, travelers with different interests and fitness levels with find something to appeal to them.

Tips for booking rafting trips in Nepal

Safety demonstration on the Bhote Kosi River. Photo credit: Elen Turner

Trips of any length can be easily booked from Kathmandu and Pokhara, as well as online.

Kathmandu-based GRG’s Adventure Kayaking are specialists in multi-day trips and have a solid reputation, as does Pokhara’s Paddle Nepal. Many more companies run single-day trips: Equator Expeditions and Rafting Star are reliable operators.

A particular point to take note of is the ratio of safety kayakers to rafters.

Some companies try to save costs by reducing the number of safety kayakers, but if anything goes wrong on the water, you’ll want plenty of these guys around.

White-water rafting in Bhote Kosi River

Bhote Kosi River. Photo credit: Elen Turner

The Bhote Kosi is a couple of hours northeast of Kathmandu, and is perfect for a day trip.

The landscape here is dominated by mid-sized hills and lots of little farming villages along the bank.

The best time to paddle here is October to November, when the waters are warmest and the rapids a good height.

White-water rafting in Trisuli River

Temporary camp on the Trisuli River. Photo credit: Elen Turner

The other option from Kathmandu is Trisuli, about three hours west of the city. This popular river is open for rafting all year round.

The landscape here is green and lush. Some people opt to paddle part of the journey between Kathmandu and Pokhara, rather than take a bus the whole way.

Typical permanent camp on the Trisuli River. Photo credit: Elen Turner

White-water rafting in Upper Seti River

From Pokhara, the best single-day whitewater rafting trip is on the Upper Seti.

This offers challenging rapids for rafters and kayakers in the October/November season where you can pass through a gorge with the high Annapurna Himalayas looming above.

Typical riverside beach camp on a multi-day trip. Photo credit: Elen Turner

Mid-length Trips: rafting Kali Gandaki

A three-day trip on the Kali Gandaki is the best mid-length trip, and is accessible from Pokhara.

The highlights are green farmland, white beaches and a pair of rapids named Big Brother and Small Brother.

Rafting the Sun Kosi River – 8-Day Trip

Evening at camp on the Sun Kosi River. Photo credit: Elen Turner

The Sun Kosi is known as the ‘river of gold’. This 8-day trip passes through high hills and dense jungle, and the rapids are mostly mid-sized.

Rafting the Karnali River – 10-Day Trip

The Karnali River runs through Nepal’s far west, which is extremely remote and underdeveloped. The ten-day trip starts with three days of almost continuous rapids, and then flattens out.

The waters are extremely blue and clear. As the trip ends near the Bardia National Park, you can combine a Karnali River trip with a jungle safari.

Rafting the Tamur River – 12-Day Trip

If you want to combine trekking with rafting, try the 12-day Tamur River.

The first three days involve trekking high in the mountains. The river itself is challenging and best suited to experienced rafters.

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