Working title - Chai Tea, Everest beer and the river Tamur.
3 regular members from Battersea Canoe Club (Kate, Ciaran and myself) and a few other familiar faces were part of a huge group of 20+ kayakers who traveled to Nepal in November to paddle the river Tamur.
The trip was organised through Pat O'Keefe at Whitewater Asia and I had a lot of help from Ant Nagle (BCC regular) with sorting out the logistics of getting to Nepal. Thanks Ant. We flew from Heathrow to Nepal via Mumbai with jet airlines. We had a few days in Kathmandu and then got a 20 hour bus ride to Besantapor. (the spelling of that is probably not correct) We then hiked for 4 days to get to the river Tamur. Up, past a great view of Everest and the Himalayas, up some more, down, up again, then down a lot. We spent 4 and a half days paddling large volume grade 4 rapids with a couple of flat bits. Then Ciaran had to sit on a bus for another 15 hours whilst Kate and myself flew back to Kathmandu. We then did a few days of getting drunk and doing touristy things and then we flew back to London. It was fun.
The white water was world class. We apparently had medium high levels. Needless to say the power of the rapids at times was pretty awesome and I have never felt so tiny. The fourth river day consisted of 40 named rapids often one after the other. It was great but slightly terrifying at times narrowly dodging one huge pourover after another.
Before the trip we'd had many conversations on what to take and the various logistics of the trip. As you do. One of these conversations between Ciaran and myself consisted of talking about river shoes and whether to take separate walking shoes and river shoes or just one pair for both. Ciaran told me all about his fantastic set of river shoes that he was going to take that would be awesome for everything. But he added in the caveat that it didn't really matter because there was bound to be at least one chump doing it all in a pair of converses. In Nepal these fantastic shoes never made it to the start of the trek. Cieran had to have a last minute dash (or leisurely stroll) around a small random mountain village and found a suitable replacement. A pair of knock-off converses. This gave me much merriment throughout the trip. Ha ha ha.
There were LOTS of swims on the trip but everything was always sorted out fairly quickly. I had one swim, Kate had 3 (this might be wrong?) and Ciaran surprisingly managed to get through the trip without a swim or a trip to hospital. A Battersea first!
I'd personally wanted to paddle in Nepal for years but had no experience of the logistics of travelling round Asia and doing multi-day paddles. So for me going on a 'guided' trip for the first time made sense. I had some reservations about the guided trip aspect as I was worried it would take away from the experience but actually I didn't mind it and feel a lot more prepared to go and do a similar trip self supported in the future.
The weather was gorgeous and because we'd paid for the logistics to be taken care of and for a raft to be filled with beers the atmosphere was always very chilled and relaxed despite the huge effort it took to get everyone and all the kit to the river and then down the river. I say relaxed - there were more moments then I would have liked in the middle of rapids when I realised I'd completely fluffed up my line. We also grossly miscalculated the amount of breakages in the beer totals so a note to myself for next time, take more beer or swap to rum.
The scenery was stunning, and the camping spots often quite surreal. It was a huge contrast to the chaos of Kathmandu. One night on the river I went up a hill to a village to buy some beer and apparently took a long time as everyone thought I'd been kidnapped. The local police popped down to the campsite to check everyone was ok which was nice of them. It turned out that I wasn't kidnapped and everything was fine. On another night some locals appeared from nowhere with some locally brewed wine/spirit drink in an old oil container which we brought, sampled and donated to the raft guides.
As well as my normal paddling kit I had my lucky shorts and a fantastic new colourful top chosen by my girlfriend. I looked very cool and everyone was jealous. This along with some other minor items went missing at the end of the trip. I ended up getting a lift on the back of a moped through Kathmandu weaving in and out of traffic like something out of a fast and the furious movie to find it. This was the scariest moment of the trip. I luckily didnt add to the long list of Nepal motoring accidents and as a bonus got everything back. I also took a LOT of photos of buildings and monkeys in Kathmandu but I thought I'd spare you the hell of looking through them all with me.
I'd never flown with boats before but it went surprisingly smoothly. Apart from having to bribe the check-in staff at Kathmandu airport on the way back.
Waiting around whilst boats got loaded from a bus to a pick up truck. I did offer to help. I think. As everyone knows I'm a very patient person and loved the experience of travelling around Nepal.
A popular expression for the trip was "hurry up and wait."
At the end of the trip we all went out for a meal in Kathmandu together and bought beautiful Nepali shirts.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was getting up super early every day and doing yoga on the beach with one of the river guides Dave 'mr sexy hips' Alemanni. We could be equally split into two groups, people who had done some sort of yoga or dancing before who were very graceful and studied in their movements and those who looked like me.
Overall Nepal is quite a nice place to go paddling.
Cheers for reading
Here is a video of the trip.