River Diary

RaftingThis extract was taken from the diary of an anonymous rafter from an October 2003 Kali Gandaki rafting trip. It may give you some idea of what life is like on the river. Today was my second day on the river and I just wish that I had booked a longer trip! The rest of the group are great and I feel that I am really getting to know them working as we raft the River rapids together.

I woke up early this morning, the guides had got up even earlier and prepared breakfast. I never thought that food on the river would be so good; breakfast was scrambled eggs, toast and lemon pancakes!! The sun had come around the corner of the mountain top and was warming the campsite beach so Eva, the Dutch girl and I ate our lemon pancakes with our toes dangling in the stream that runs by the beach.

After breakfast we packed up the gear and loaded it onto the supply raft. Everyone helped and it didn’t seem to take long at all. We were on the river just after nine. Everyone was very quiet, maybe because of the rum punch from last night, maybe because of the early start, or maybe just because everyone was just taking in the spectacular beauty and enjoying the peace that surrounded us, I know I was.

I don’t know what the other rivers of Nepal are like, but I can’t believe that any of them can be as stunningly gorgeous as the Kali Gandaki. Before lunch we passed by fantastic tiny villages, almost hidden from view, I saw precarious rope bridges, some passing Nepalis with huge overflowing baskets and also green green gorges and hills. Khim, our guide, directed the raft under a beautiful waterfall today, the water was ‘very refreshing’ and it was possible to see a rainbow where the sunlight hit the stream of water before it splashed into the river. The rapids were good today as well, nothing too huge, though I am finding that the longer that I spend on the river and the more rapids I make it through, the more rapids I want to tackle. I want to try some class 5 rapids soon, I think that I really am becoming addicted to this!
When we stopped for lunch the guides just unloaded a few things from the supply raft as they had already made us a wonderful pasta salad and other bits and pieces while we were eating our pancakes at breakfast time. A couple of the men went off for a quick game of Frisbee, but I just preferred to sit and watch the water glide by. We cleared away our lunch things, collecting the rubbish, donating leftover food to a couple of children that had appeared on the riverside and then we washed our plates and cups. Why is washing up outside so much more pleasant than at home in the kitchen?

More rapids after lunch and this time I had changed places with Steve at the front of the raft, instead of my usual cowardly position, right at the back next to the guide! It was completely different at the front with nowhere to wedge my feet and not a lot to hold on to, so I was pleased that we did not flip even though we met a couple of class 4 rapids and they were a real adrenalin rush! I really noticed that we are working much better as a team already. This is true not just in the raft, but out of it as well. When we stopped rafting at about 4pm, we instinctively formed a line and unloaded the raft in a far more organized fashion than yesterday!

Thomas wanted to have a go at kayaking and Ram, one of the safety kayakers, let him try his kayak on a very quiet part of the river, that of course got everyone interested and I think that a few of the team will try the kayak school at the end of this trip.

Lunch BreakDinner was excellent, we were a bit later eating today as we had been trying the kayaks, but that was a good thing as it meant that we ate our dinner (spring rolls, chicken curry and vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise) by candlelight using lanterns that we made ourselves! We all helped to clear away, but the guides always seem to do most of the work. Even after dinner they had not finished, Khim, our river guide produced a Nepali drum and all the guides started singing – loud and proud too, I am not sure who enjoyed it most, the performers or the audience! It was wonderful sitting in the candlelight, next to the rushing river, listening to the Nepali singing and looking at the starriest sky that I have ever seen.

My arms are aching a bit at the top, but I am feeling so healthy even after such a short time outside. I haven’t looked in a mirror, but when I was washing in the stream this evening (with my environmentally friendly soap!!) I noticed that that I have really caught the sun on the tops of my legs and I think that I have got a sun burned nose, certainly feels like it!

I am sad that tomorrow is my last day on the river, but I am sure that I will return to Nepal and I will definitely do some more rafting, maybe on the Sun Koshi, I will talk to the guides about it tomorrow and see what they suggest. Right now I know that I am just about to fall into a deep very satisfying sleep.