Learning to Kayak on the Bhote Koshi

After a week of running around the Langtang Himalaya Mountain Range, I thought it might be nice to sit on my butt for a week and finally learn how to kayak.

Bhote Koshi River with the Himalaya Mountain Range behind.

I’ve tried to learn how to kayak several times. Without much success. The problem was that I kept trying to learn when I was still based in Ireland. And in Ireland, even during the summer and even with a 5mm wetsuit on, I can get terribly cold and miserably when faced with freezing water lurking underneath my boat.

But in Nepal the sun shines, the rivers are warm, and there’s cold beer waiting for you in the fridge once you get out of your boat.

On a recommendation, I opted to go with Equator Expeditions. They have a base on the road to the Tibetan border called Sukute Beach. And it was there that I was based for a week to finally learn how to paddle properly.

Day 1 started off in their outdoor swimming pool. I was the only person on the course so I managed to get full undivided tuition from my Nepali teacher, Raju. He taught me how to self rescue, to do low and high brace, and much to my amazement, within a few hours he had managed to teach me how to do a proper roll.

Raju - My Nepali kayak instructor.

Day 2 was back in the pool for a morning session to learn a few more paddle strokes. Then the afternoon was my first taste of the Grade 1-2 river that flowed right past the campsite. I was petrified by the water that was flowing so fast beneath my boat. And what with trying to go in and out of eddies, I had a few wobbles as well.

Day 3 was down the river for the first time and through waves and holes. My poor heart felt like it was going to have a cardiac arrest throughout what with the fear of falling in. In the end, I did fall in, 3 times in fact. But Raju and the guys were so used to rescuing people that they had me on the river bank in and back in my boat again within minutes.

Me happily paddling down the Bhote Khosi River.

The remaining days were spent heading down the river, over and over again. After our paddle, we’d wait on the side of the road beside the river and catch a local bus to take us back to base. When it’d arrive, the kayaks were shoved on top and we’d climb up and ride with them. The first time I didn’t know what was more terrifying: white water kayaking or riding on top of a Nepali local bus clinging on to the railings for dear life.

Meeting Rafters on the river.

I thought the week’s kayaking would be relaxing and a bit of an athletic doddle. But for some reason, the first few mornings I woke up really stiff and sore. It might look like you’re sitting down and floating aimlessly down the water, but I was definitely engaging muscles I hadn’t used in a while.

The place we stayed was also great. It was a tented campsite with a main hang-out place with a bar, pool table, table tennis and sofas. Other kayakers and rafters would also come and go and it was interesting to hear their holiday stories from Tibet, Russia, India and China.

I paid 350 USD for 7 days including transport from Kathmandu, accommodation, all food and one-on-one tuition… a real bargain considering the amazing weather and scenery that were also thrown in for free.

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