Nepal 2013 Photo Essay – Steve Arns
In November 2013 I packed up my kayak gear and flew half way around the world to go on a kayaking trip in Nepal. Having previously visited there in 2008, I was hungry to go back one day to run some of the long multiday trips that are good later in the fall during low water. This is a photo essay of my trips down the Thuli Bheri and the Humla Karnali – two of the finest long multiday trips in the world. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of WKC and all the awesome gear they sell!
After a long few days of travelling from Vancouver to Pokhara by taking the milk run through China, there wasn’t much time to relax before driving all the way to Surkhet in the west of Nepal, the staging area for our trips. These vehicles are simple and uncomfortable but they get the job done.
Being left alone at the remote airstrip at the put in for the Thuli Bheri. We chartered a flight on a Cessna Caravan with Goma Air.
The middle of the long hike down to the river. When we arranged the flight to the Thuli there was some confusion about whether or not the airstrip was actually close to the river. It ended up being about a 5 hour walk to the water.
A birds’ eye view of the Golden Canyon on the Thuli Bheri. The Thuli starts out with a short section of barely boat scoutable class IV-V then drops into this awesome spot for 10 km or so.
Day 0 camp at the put in for the Thuli.
Standout whitewater in the heart of the Golden Canyon. A powerful ledge in an awesome place. Photo Maxi Kniewasser.
Thuli Bheri Day 2. The majority of this river is continuous class IV-IV+ whitewater like this for days.
A typical mob of children. Leaving one man behind to watch the gear while the others scout a major canyon we ultimately portaged around. Photo Si Rutherford.
A short canyon on the morning of Day 4 provided 4 or 5 stout rapids like this one.
Surkhet doesn’t see many tourists. After initially staying in a hell hole of a hotel we found somewhere much nicer to stay away from the airport, but a sweet restaurant near there kept us coming back everyone morning for a feast of handmade samosas for breakfast. Photo Maxi Kniewassser.
Paddling the Humla Karnali requires a flight into the mountain village of Simikot, apparently the most remote airport in Nepal. We decided to stay there for a day to check it out – a great place to hang out.
The first gimpse of the Humla and its huge surroundings on the walk down from Simikot.
Where the Thuli is consistent medium volume and IV-IV+ the whole way, the Humla is much more varied, starting small and ending huge with sections of whitewater ranging from endless class III-IV to hard class V, and everything in between.
Fantastic camping below the portages and in the first canyon of the Humla. After 3 portages around unrunnable gnar, the Humla provides awesome rapids over the next 250 km.
By day 5, the Humla is huge, as are some of the rapids. As described in the guidebook, this is Millhouse Rapid #2.
The Tila Khola confluence marks the first sighting of the road, and the biggest volume rapids we saw. Between the Tila and our takeout were 4 or 5 of the biggest but fun rapids of the whole trip.
Team Humla – Brian Fletcher, Ric Moxon, Maxi Kniewasser, Steve Arns.
The overcrowded bus from hell – possibly the worst way to exit the Humla Karnali. The busses in Nepal drive on roads most people wouldn’t driver their 4×4 on back here in Canada. We took out about 20 km below the Tila confluence where the road was near the river. If you do this trip, paddle out through the raft section. It’s an extra 3 or 4 days with a lot of flat, but it would be worth every paddle stroke!
Thanks for the trip report Steve, looks like an amazing couple weeks of paddling. looking forward to the next.
To follow more of Steve’s trips follow him on Liquidlore.com