Nepal Sun Koshi
Expedition 2018
Nemeste

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Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – 30th and 31st March 2018 by Keith

 

We all made our way down to Heathrow for our flight out on Indian Airways. Kirk was joining us later and was flying from Manchester on Emirates as he booked slightly later than the rest of us.

 

We all managed to get some sleep overnight and enjoyed a “Starbucks” while waiting for the connection in Delhi. Immigration was slick for those that had filled in and printed the online form. £20 for the tourist visa and we were in.

 

No sign of the taxi but it had taken an hour and a half to clear immigration. Just as we were about to ring the Hôtel he appeared with his “Padel Nepal” sign. This was an indication of the chaotic road journey to come. Choking smog, dust and fumes. No hint of any road rules or procedures. Triple overtaking was the norm.

 

Once at our hotel we were quickly checked in and met Sayas, our trip leader for a briefing on the rooftop restaurant. It was to be a 5:30am start in the morning but we still had time for a quick look around Thamel and an evening meal in the secret garden restaurant.   More Photos…

 

 

Thamel is the Tourist area of central Kathmandu

Kathmandu city travel guidebookThamel is a commercial neighbourhood in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Thamel has been the centre of the tourist industry in Kathmandu for over four decades, starting from the hippie days when many artists came to Nepal and spent weeks in Thamel. Even though Thamel has been referred to as a "ghetto" by some, many low-budget travellers consider it a hotspot for tourism.

Thamel is distinguished by its narrow alleys crowded with various shops and vendors. Commonly sold goods include food, fresh vegetables/fruits, pastries, trekking gear, walking gear, music, DVDs, handicrafts, souvenirs, woollens, clothes. Travel agencies, small grocery stores, budget hotels and restaurants also line the streets. Cars, cycles rickshaws, two-wheelers and taxis ply these narrow streets alongside hundreds of pedestrians.

There are many restaurants in Thamel that serve traditional and continental cuisine, although prices are significantly higher than in non-tourist areas. Thamel also acts as the pre-base camp for mountaineers. It boasts a wide range of mountaineering gear shops, foreign money exchange booths, mobile phone shops, pubs, clubs, and nightlife along with the numerous travel agents and guest houses. Thamel is home to a wide range of the Nepalese population, and serves both entertainment and employment purposes.

 Thamel is a popular tourist district within the capital city of Kathmandu. It's comprised of 5-7 main streets and many more smaller ones that criss-cross the area.  Thamel can be difficult to understand when you first arrive. There are no street names. It's best thought of as a mass of unorganized street`s. There's no real boundary to Thamel as such. But, knowing its centre is a good way not to get lost.

 

 

 

 

The Liverpool Canoe Club Team

Jenny Brown

Chris Thompson

 

Steve Rose

Wayne littler

Darren Bohanna

 

Wendy Forshaw

John Kennedy

 

Kirk Williams

Dan and Harry
(Joined us in Kathmandu to raft)

 

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 1 (1st April) by Jenny Brown

 

We were off at 5.30am in 3 taxis racing through Kathmandu to the Paddle Nepal bus. Slightly over shooting our driver doubled back straight into the on-coming traffic with a honk of the horn…pretty standard driving for Kathmandu!

 

http://myhome.iolfree.ie/~dbrennan/travel/nepal/sun-kosi.gifThe bus was quickly loaded and then we were off on the first bouncy ride of the holiday, climbing out of Kathmandu past the Buddha on the hill. After about 3hrs we made a breakfast stop. Sugary coffee/spicy tea, boiled egg and a spicy chickpea mix self-assembled in a wrap. Finished off with a sugary donut – yum!

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On we went through little villages to the get in, which required some off-roading by the bus down a rather steep makeshift slope. The kit was unloaded, and the rafts assembled with the bus’s roof racks suddenly turning into the centre pieces to take the oars. While we changed the driver took the opportunity to wash the bus in the river, where he parked to keep the tyres cool.

 

We paddled off and were soon through a couple of wave trains, which at this point in the holiday felt quite big. After an hour we stopped for lunch and had our lesson in the rigorous hand and dish washing procedure. Biscuits went round while the loaves were sliced, coleslaw was freshly prepared and beans were served with bananas and the choice of orange or lemon squash to follow. We had a few more hours paddling through tiny villages and bouncy wave trains where we saw monkeys on the bank and vultures in the air, before arriving at camp – nicely positioned at the top of what looked like quite an intimidating rapid known as “Meat Grinder”.

 

We were shown how to put up our tents while dinner was prepared. A spicy popcorn starter followed by mountains of spaghetti bolognaise was very welcome. Soon after sunset at 7pm we had an early night falling asleep to the sound of the rapid that awaited us in the morning. 

 

More Photos…

 

Rice field in the Sun Koshi river

The get on at Dolalghat

Local version of a pack raft

 

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 2 (2nd April) by Chris Thompson

 

We were up for tea and coffee at 6am followed by a massive breakfast at 7am – fruit salad with granola, scrambled, egg, fried veg, toast and a selection of peanut butter, jam and marmalade (which also came out every lunch time with salt, pepper, ketchup and chilli sauce). Drinking water had been prepared overnight for us to fill our water bottles with a choice of squash.

 

With the camp packed up and the rafts loaded by 8.30am we were told the line as we went straight into the first named rapid of the trip. The big holes were relatively easy to avoid, and we were soon all safely down and playing in the bottom wave while waiting for the rafts to catch up. Then, while the vultures circled overhead we set off down the river. The scenery was great, and the water was getting bigger as we paddled up to a new rapid formed by a recent avalanche which will now be known as ‘Keep Right or Get Munched’.

 

We paddled for about 3.5hrs until lunch – plenty of biscuits, bread, beans, coleslaw, spaghetti in a dressing and oranges. We continued for another couple of hours before setting up camp and tucking into prawn crackers and hot drinks. Just before dinner (veg curry) was a rain storm so the guides quickly assembled shelters from oars and tarps. After dinner we sat out by the campfire used to burn the rubbish from the last 2 days before heading off to bed.

 

While collecting wood the guides also put rocks on our tent pegs, they could tell a few squalls might pass us while the odd rumble of thunder could be heard some distance away. With more rain overnight, the river lived up to its name and was turned gold by morning with the runoff soil from upstream. After the first full day on the river we had covered nearly 20 miles and had an introduction to the friendly local villagers, some big water (along with the first few swims) and it was big smiles all round.     More Photos…

 

 

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Chris and his pop out

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Wendy paddles the Sun Koshi

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Some of the local children come down to watch

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 3 (3rd April) by John Kennedy

After a modicum of rain through the night, we awoke to another wonderful day of "white water rafting". 

 

The day commenced with a breakfast of sausages on toast and tankard of fine tea, a great way to celebrate Wendy's birthday. Keith also wrote "Happy Birthday Wendy" in rather large lettering in the sand to mark the occasion and also as a birthday card. 
Image result for sun kosi river map
We set off towards our first rapid, I as always being the token figurehead sitting at the front of the raft.   Several of the rapids were named today. A few kms below the confluence of the Likhu Khola is a short, class 3+ rapid. Pre-Anxiety soon followed by a long class 4 rapid High Anxiety with a large hole on the left halfway down and a series of holes at the bottom. High and low (pre) anxiety both lived up to their names and later Punch and Judy put on a show.

 

The river was quite sedate at times, not so at others but all in all a very enjoyable and sandy experience. 

Wendy being a much more experienced and competent paddler than myself took her turn in a canoe and journeyed off into waters new. 

Unfortunately, she didn't  have a spray deck on and got a tad wet (well' it was her birthday) lol

 

All in all, a great time had by all. We camped up on shore and enjoyed a rousing game of football with the local children.

Food as always was excellent (tinned fruit) and settled down for the night.

 

More Photos…

 

 

The raft team

Hitching a ride

The evening meal

 

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 4 (4th April) by Darren Bohanna

 

It was easily the trickiest day of the expedition. The Harkabur rapids awaited. The day started out much like the others with a generally pleasant bob down the river up until the river bent sharply round to the left with the volume of the river being compressed through a small (small for Nepal) channel. Approaching Harkabur 2 you could hear the rumble of the river intensify as the guides raced ahead to make sure that we all got out way before this beast.

 

We left our boats while heading over to inspect. We did that thing, where you look at the death muncher far river right, the half river sized boulder centre river, the big hole near the boulder, and the route which tight ropes between all of the hazards. We all get together pointing out where you would go if you were ever to run it, pointing out that if you ended up far right that there was nothing anyone could do for you. Straight away I decided that I wasn’t going to run it, telling myself that you’ve got no insurance and it’s in the middle of nowhere. I hear that Keith had said that he wasn’t running it and that he hoped that I wasn’t either.

 

We then spent the next hour or so unloading all of the rafts and portaging the kit around the beast. Like a team of worker ants, we moved back and forth. The guides put us to shame carrying really heavy items, strapped to their heads, while bounding nimbly from boulder to boulder. We’re about to start putting on beneath the beast when Naresh (sounded Norris) says ‘are you running it? I’ve seen you skills, you are good enough’. The seed of doubt comes in and you fight with your demons, it would be the ultimate, but you’ve got no insurance, but the video will be awesome, what would Roy do? Aghhhhhhhg. I asked, ‘Norris, what if you ended up on the far side? His reply, ‘You must not end up on far side, you must make it’. That made my mind up, thank god that Roy wasn’t here otherwise the demons might have battled harder. I portaged with the rest, 3 of the guides ran it and made it, 1 made it look doable, the other 2 made it look a bit more desperate. 

 

We all got out before Harkabur 3, I went a little closer with Steve to help him portage. By the time I got back to the top everyone else had already been taken down by the guide. I had a look at the line that I wanted to take, getting in the zone, Steve’s got my camera, it’s going to be awesome. Little did I know that most of the English group had swam and had been mopped up while I was in the eddy at the top. One final run through in my head visualising the line, and we’re off. I break out into the flow and instantly regret not carrying back up to give myself an easier run. I make it onto the tongue, but not the side that I visualised in my head, then what looks like a little ripple from the bank, now looks like a house sized hole to the left. Get away from the hole, get away from the hole, ohh f@&k. Water rushing past my head, hold on and let your boat settle; it’s not settling, I must be in the hole, when’s it going to settle, I’m not swimming, this is on camera, wait for it to settle, I’m bouncing round but it won’t friggin settle. Oh frig, eject, eject, eject. Sunlight, big breath, thank god I'm not in the hole (and was probably nowhere near it), grab what you can and swim to the side. Tail between the legs, I was gutted as I’d been paddling well up until the mind f@&k of these rapids. The footage looked awesome, but it took a couple of days to get my machismo back. 

I told Keith, his words were ‘you don’t wait for your boat to settle in big water because it never will, you take a half roll to break the surface and then you go again’. I wish that he told me that beforehand because those words came in handy the next few times when I capsized and then rolled later in the trip. The Sun Koshi, the river that keeps on giving.

 

When we got to our next campsite on the riverbank we were well into our routine. The main difference this night was the mountains treated us to a tropical storm. The lightning could be seen flashing down the valley in stages as it approached us, the rain drops were the biggest that I’d witnessed anywhere other than Cuba. The lightning struck a couple of hundred meters away, it then passed over our heads as the flashes and thunder continued down the valley. It was a bit muggy but still boiling hot. Check out the Instagram and Facebook footage of those who came as most of us have got some great footage. 

More Photos….

 

Naresh paddling Harkapur

The raft taking on Harkapur 3

Steve eyes up his next boat

Sun Kosi River, whitewater rafting adventures in Nepal

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 5 (5th April) by Wendy Forshaw

Some kilometres below Harkapur, the Dudh Kosi river joins the Sun Koshi from the left. This clear blue and cold water runs from Mount Everest and was paddled in 1976 by Mike Jones and his team. (Dudh Kosi: Kayaking Down Everest (1977) Full Film by Leo Dickinson)

 

Below here the river widens into an arid area of gravel. We met some smaller rapids which led into another aptly named rapid 'Jaws'.  Jenny rolled here and then slid backwards around the large rock that formed Dead man`s eddy.  Awesome.

 

Lower down Chris swam and then got fish hooked as he swam into an eddy.  Fortunately, the hook only snagged his clothing whilst he was in the eddy and he manged to extricate himself.


Food highlights of the day were water melon and homemade soup.

 

More Photos….

 

Wendy and John entertain one of the locals

Jenny in entering Jaws

Wayne taking the line

 

 

 Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 6 (6th April) by Wayne Littler san

After breakfast we decided to have an impromptu toboggan competition.  The rules were simple, sit in your boats and push off to see who could go the furthest down the steep sand back of the campsite beach.

Results of the sand surfing:

Winner - Wendy

Silver - Chris

Bronze - Wayne

 

Once everything was packed away, we set off down river.  Today was going to be a hard day as we encountered most of the grade 4+ rapids.  A new rapid and exciting rapid called "Rhino Rock" which is a grade 4+.  There was a large overhang on the river left with house sized circulating eddy.   You had to break out river right behind a large rock (Rhino).   Some of the group portaged as the thought of getting caught in the re-circulating eddy with no chance of a throwline was not a pleasant one.

 

The "Jungle Corridor" soon followed, a kilometre of continuous white water.    While in the corridor we encountered several whirlpools and interesting rapids.  One we named “Harries hole rapid” – he fell in over the side of the accompanying raft or was bounced out.

 

Waterfalls cascaded down on both sides of the river. One waterfall made a great spot for a team shower – Paradise falls.  We had pancakes for lunch.   After lunch we spotted a group of kids doing backflips off dune next to the river.   Kirk and Keith had to give it a go – well we tried body surfing down the face of the dune to the river below.

 

In the afternoon we paddled down past two halves of the wrecked ferry washed down from Harkapur in the Monsoon Floods.   Just before the campsite we passed under a high suspension bridge with several slats missing that looked just wide enough for one person.  Incredibly a local was riding a motorbike laden with produce across the bridge some 60 metres above us.  The Nepalese locals are a brave set of people.

 

The campsite was another golden beach with its own football pitch on it.  A waterfall spring was only a short walk from the campsite and several of us took the opportunity for a wash in clean running water.

 

We were surrounded by many local children.  Harry and Dan made contact and were great with silly rhyming songs and stories.  Later that night Fireflies descended from the forest cover near the back of the beach together with some giant grasshoppers.

More Photos….

 

Sand Surfing

The old ferry from Harkapur

The new rapid with large eddie with overhang

 

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 7 (7th April) by Kirk Williams

 

Last few days are mainly wave trains. The marketing material says “…if you are interested you can try kayaking where our experts will teach you the basic skills needed to manoeuvre the boats or learn the Eskimo roll…” but they hadn’t met Kirk yet (more later).

 

The highlights of today’s section were the Black Hole and Big Dipper rapids but there was plenty of interest in between too as we floated down the more continuous current and regular bouncy wave trains. The early morning saw plenty of local activity on the river banks with stacks of bamboo a every corner being made into rafts to float down to market. We also happened upon a micro hydro plant, presumably supplying power to one of the numerous river side hamlets.

 

The paddling was mostly relaxed but interesting, with a bit more regular mild action than some days, and of the named rapids, the Black Hole was mostly flushed through and needed pointing out by the guides after we had passed through! The Big Dipper was a different proposition though. After much discussion on the bank starting with most saying they were going to give it a go, the team slowly whittled down to a couple of hardy paddles plus the guides with the rest of us saying “yep, I could probably have made that line” but relieved we didn’t have to…..

 

Further down the river the trees filled with monkeys doing their thing, which was quite fun to watch. We then happened upon the Sun Koshi river gauge, or both of them, pained onto two separate riverside boulders. At this point we realised this river could get a whole lot higher as we looked up at the distant top of the scales. Further down the river we came across a strange “paddling rock”, where a trapped piece of bamboo agitated by the river looked like a more stylish paddler than most!

 

Pulling up to the beach for the evening we all relaxed into the usual camp set up and food before watching a local dog fight (of the natural/impromptu kind, not organised gambling…just to be clear!) and numerous local (cooking?) fires on the hill side in night. We also had another enjoyable interaction with the local kids, including some energetic skipping lessons (for me & Darren) along with the usual phone games. Another great day on the Sun Koshi.

 

Steve punches through a wave

Team Circle

Kirk tries to improve his English!

 

More Photos….

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 8 (8th April) by Steve Rose

This was our last day on the river and we all packed up quickly and left our beach camp before 8:30am.   After a few hundred metres we came across a bamboo raft being drifted downstream by a couple of locals. 

 

Before long we arrived at Baraha Chhetra Temple and we had to get out to look around.  There were several stalls selling water and religious items to the many worshipers who descended on the Temple.  One of the local traditions was to lift the large stone as this would bring the person luck.

 

Just around the corner were some large bouncy rapids, with some smooth faced waves.   It was not long before we arrived at the suspension bridge and get out. We saw a gecko skating on the water at the get-out.  We were keen to get our skates on and packed up the rafts and kayaks and changed into some fresh shorts for the journey home.   After 20 minutes or so we arrived at Chatra Village, parked up and went to a local restaurant for a meal of Dal Bhat and beer.

 

After a quick look around Chatra we climbed back onto the bus and started our long journey back to Kathmandu.   We left the paddy fields of Indian plain and treaded our way back to civilisation.  We stopped for tea and coffee at the Hôtel United and later at a smart (for Nepal) restaurant with a choice of menu (Dal Bhat/ Momo`s / chow main). 

 

After more hours on the road we eventually stopped over night at the “Mugling Guest house”.  Darren missed the opportunity to bag a “good bed” as he was busy texting / Facebooking / Tweeting or all three!  This did enable him to share his photos of a Gecko / fleas on his bed!

 

Bamboo rafts float down the river

Steve tries to lift the lucky stone

The team at the get out

 

More Photos….

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 9 (9th April) by Keith

That morning we awoke in the Hotel Mugling, showered and tidied up and made our way down to the lobby for breakfast.  White bread omelette and tea or coffee.  We were starting to get back to urban life.  We had now swapped the Paddle Nepal Bus for a Silver Hi Ace van.  We bid our farewells to Sayas Ghimire who had been our trip leader and enjoyed a bouncy bus ride up the Trulsuli valley.

After a couple of hours we arrived at the main tourist stop (toilet stop and refreshments).   Wendy and John bought ice creams while others indulged in a coffee.  After another couple of hours passing broken down trucks on hairpin bends having their axle changed and numerous switch-back bends we crested the foothills that surround Kathmandu to hit more traffic.  The dust, smog and grime of the country’s capital now joined us.  We were dropped off  at our hotel the Backpackers hotel.  Upon arrival we were informed that we were actually booked in at the sister hotel, Bagpackers hotel.  This was the other side of Thamel, a 1 km walk with all our bags.  We manged to blag a lift for the bags which arrived some 30 minutes later.


We settled in and enjoyed roof top momos, beer and a general wind down.  That night some of us strolled around the street-lined tourist shops while a few others hit Sam`s bar until the early hours.

 

Hotel Mugling

Flooded Paddy fields

Local Produce sold on the streets

 

More Photos….

 

 

Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 10 (10th April) by Keith

We awoke to breakfast on the roof top terrace and plan to explore the delights of the city.  We headed off with a map and Google Maps loaded on the phone to find our way through the crowded streets to the Monkey Temple.  This is a small hill with temple (now a tourist trap) on the top which can be seen from most places in Thamel.   We found our way past the river (open sewer) and to the foot of the tree covered path to the summit.  Numerous Monkeys obliged with the obligatory photos.  At the top of the steps we found that we had to pay to enter the temple, this we reluctantly did,   Wayne and Keith bartered for a couple of oil paintings.  Although negotiating nearly 65% off we are still not sure if it was a good deal or not.

 

The team then discovered the real backstreets away from the tourist scene towards Durbar Square.  After about 2 hours of wandering Wayne eventually found his “Thangka paintings” but put off buying them until the next day as they had booked extra day in Kathmandu.   Later that evening we hit the town for a team meal.

 

 

Steps to Monkey Temple

Wayne eventually found his “Thangka paintings”

Dahl Bhaat

 

More Photos….

 

The Paddle Nepal Team

 

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Sayas Ghimire (Trip Leader)

Raju Shrestha

Naresh Gurung (Norris)

Jange Bahadur Magar

 

 

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Rajendra Gurung

Bishnu Gurung

 

Govinda Adhakri (Poppi)

Nabin Shrestha (Boby Firmino)

Kamal Gurung

 

Advice for future trips

·         Use a long-sleeved rash vest to cover arms when paddling – to keep the sun off.

·         Use waterproof factor 50 sun screen on the back of hands when padding or use paddling gloves to protect the back of your hands from the sun

·         Bring hand sanitiser to use as well as washing hands before and after meals, going to the loo etc

·         Try to keep sand out of your tent and sleeping bag.  A one season bag is plenty.

·         Girls - you need to wear shorts with a stretchy waist band. The boys dig a wide hole for the loo.

·         There was glass on one beach so you may want something more than flip flops. I used Crocs or bare feet most of the time when not in a boat.

·         Keep your sleeping bag handy for the bus ride back, you may need it for the guest house.

·         When rolling in big water don’t wait for it to settle, just go for it, and then go again if it only half comes up.

·         If you're not totally sure if you need to take something, then you probably don't need it!  The less stuff you take with you the easier life is when you get there.  I thought I was travelling light, but still ended up not using half of what I took.  Once you're on the river, you really hardly need anything. 

·         Avoid taking anything expensive (like electricals/gadgets).  Space is really limited and you don't want to be leaving much behind at the hotel.  I think I took a camera, kindle and small power-bank to keep them going - and that was about it for gadgets.

·         The bus ride back is long...take a book!

·         We stayed at the Bag Packers Lodge in the centre of Thamel

·         Tourist Visa is purchased at the airport £20 UK.  Make sure you fill in the application form online up to 15 days before visit – it saves a lot of time at the airport.

·         You will need a copy of your travel insurance to show to Paddle Nepal before your trip.

·         We paid in UK pounds cash direct to the Paddle Nepal Rep the night before the trip.

·         It is easy to change UK cash into local currency, Nepali Rupee (NPR) in Thamel – Kathmandu.  US $ (USD) are also widely used in tourist areas. Cash machines are also available.

·         Vaccinations – Hepatitis A and Typhoid are strongly recommended together with most UK childhood vaccinations (Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Mumps and Rubella).   Japanese B Encephalitis, Rabies and Malaria tablets are probably only needed for extended trips away from the beaten track, provided you are careful.  I just wore a long-sleeved shirt and insect repellent during dusk on the bus ride back.  In Kathmandu stay away from monkeys who may carry rabies.   See your local practice nurse or doctor for specific advice.

 

Dish drier, 5 plate washing bowls and red handwashing bucket

Preparing lunch

Latrine in the sand, remove the helmet when in use