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Most people come to Nepal to trek and we were no exception. But we knew the kids wanted to do more than just trek and luckily Nepal is an adventure playground with many fun family activities and cultural opportunities. One of the highlights of our time in Nepal was the family 2 day/1 night rafting trip we did on the Lower Seti River with Paddle Nepal. This is the perfect river for kids as it offers enough white water to make it exciting, but isn’t too intense.
We partnered with Paddle Nepal, a fantastic company to showcase why rafting in Nepal should be on your family Nepal itinerary. This is our honest review of our trip with three families in April 2019, with kids ranging from 7-16 years old.
As the kids hopped between rafts and caught rides on the kayaks, I looked up at the simple homes along the banks of the river and the suspension bridges overhead and sighed with pleasure. To think that we had actually debated if we should do a rafting trip in Nepal!?! We were with friends, new and old and an amazingly enthusiastic group of staff, away from tourist -laden Kathmandu and the busy trekking trails.
After a fun-filled day on the water, we camped along the banks of the river, roasted marshmallows over a fire and slept like babies in our tents. The kids bonded together over hot chocolate and popcorn, while the adults reflected on the magic of the day.
- 1 Why Choose Paddle Nepal?
- 2 The Rafting
- 3 The Beach Camp
- 4 The Staff
- 5 Safety and Age Limitations
- 6 Booking and Pricing
- 7 Packing for a Rafting Trip
- 8 Best Time for Rafting
- 9 Raft to Chitwan National Park
- 10 Other Rivers to Raft in Nepal
- 11 Our Rafting Video
Why Choose Paddle Nepal?
There are quite a few companies offering similar rafting trips in Nepal. All travel agencies in Thamel (Kathmandu) and Pokhara sell them or you can buy directly from the company. While they are similarly priced, it is definitely worth the $15 extra/person to go with Paddle Nepal.
Two main reasons. They are Nepal’s leading whitewater company with years of international experience and leadership within the industry. Owned by a Nepali-Canadian family, you can expect the best in safety, professionalism and overall experience. Secondly, they understand families and have tailored this trip to meet the needs of families. The staff were incredibly enthusiastic interacting with our kids and making the experience fun with splashing fights, cliff jumping, boat hopping and more.
The Lower Seti Rivers offers Class II and III rapids, making it perfect for families or those wanting a relaxing rafting experience. The water is warmer and cleaner than other rivers in Nepal and in your two days on the river, you get to see a range of Nepal’s scenic areas from quiet villages to wilderness jungle.
Day 1 starts early with a departure from Pokhara at 7 am and a 1.5 drive to the Seti River. Roads in Nepal are notoriously terrible and you will be pretty excited by the time you arrive. As soon as you arrive, the staff get right to work blowing up the rafts and getting all the gear ready. We tried to help out, but they were quicker without us, so the kids skipped rocks and we got our gear organized. For the first time we saw what would be a familiar sight on the river: locals loading up tractors of rocks from the river, to be used for building.
After getting outfitted with gear and our briefing from our lead guide, Rabi, our three rafts (one per family) took to the river. In addition, we had three support kayaks with us and a photographer.
The Seti River is much tamer than the last rafting trip we did in Canada. Expect the odd Class III rapid, intermixed with lots of floating. But, this is where Paddle Nepal makes the magic happen! From the beginning, we had splashing wars, hopped between rafts and took turns on the kayaks. During drift stretches, the guides encouraged swimming and the uber talented kayakers would balance the kids on the front and back of their kayaks or allow them to even try the kayaks on their own. At one point we stopped for some cliff jumping for the brave.
While all the fun was happening, we also got to pause and take in the lush river with the occasional small village, suspension bridges and bird life. We would see school children walking to school, men fishing on the banks and local kids in tubes enjoying the river. The river was pristine and we didn’t see any garbage or pollution that we had encountered in the cities.
After a few hours we pulled over to a quiet beach for lunch. Within a very short time a delicious spread for lunch appeared including fresh veggies (coleslaw), peanut butter, non-yak cheese and even baked beans! There was lots more, but that was what excited us the most! I was really impressed at the sanitation protocols they established: there were hand washing buckets and a multi-bucket system for washing dishes. They also provided an abundant supply of filtered safe drinking water.
We headed back out on the river for a few more hours of fun, before arriving at our camp site for the evening on a remote stretch of sandy beach.
The second day of our trip, we awoke to clouds and the threat of rain. Sure enough once we got on the river, the rain arrived. The rain didn’t impact how fun the day was. On the second day we rafted for 1.5 hours before reaching the take-out point. Just before that, we came to the merger between the Seti and Trisuli rivers, which are drastically different colours and temperatures. It was really neat to see them merging and feel the icy cold water of the Trisuli.
The Beach Camp
Our beach camp was on a sandy bend in the river, providing the perfect place to camp out under the stars. Well actually we had tents! While the kids played for hours on the sandy cliffs, the staff once again set up camp in record time. This time we were able to feel productive and helped set up the tents, just before the rain hit.
We were so impressed with the camp set up. Two of the rafts were overturned to create a shelter from the rain, a toilet tent was set up with a helmet system to show when it was being used (and toilet paper provided!), the dish washing centre was set up and a bonfire prepared. We were quickly offered hot chocolate and warm drinks and pots of popcorn, followed by hot soup and poppadoms.
While most of the supplies came with us on the rafts, they do employ a local man from the village above our camp to store the larger items (like tables and cooking fuel) and to do various tasks to prepare the sight (gathering wood for the fire and selling us beer and soda!). It sounded so good until we got our lukewarm beer!
The kids played tag, frisbee and had a girls vs boys battle over the sand cliffs. Unfortunately when I say “battle”, I mean it – they had real fights divided along gender lines over the cliff…Sigh!
After the rain subsided, we were greeted with a delicious dinner. Pasta with cream sauce, hot fried chips, and cooked veggies – the perfect meal for families! All washed down with those lukewarm beers and sodas! Followed by marshmallows over the fire and good company. There was plenty of food for us vegetarians.
After a big day, it was an early evening for most of us. It was an incredibly surreal location to spend the night and the beauty wasn’t lost on any of us. The little touches, like the candles in sand bags lining our camp made it even more magical. The 2/3 man tents kept out the rain and we didn’t even need the provided sleeping bags.
In the morning as we climbed out of our tents, we again relished this special place and trip we were on. Breakfast consisted of hot drinks, crepes, bread and muesli. We worked together to pack up camp and headed out on the river for our second day of rafting.
The staff truly made this trip! They were experienced and professional with a focus on safety. They always had smiles on their faces and worked incredibly hard throughout the trip. The logistics of the trip had been so well planned and executed seamlessly.
They were fantastic with the kids and were always game for splashing, sharing their kayaks and creating games or sing-a-longs. In addition to being awesome on the water, they cooked us fabulous meals and shared with us their lives and stories. They all hold international certifications in white water rescue, wilderness first aid, speak English well and have sound local experience.
The night before the trip, we meet our guides and fellow families at the Paddle Nepal Pokhara (Lakeside) office. We had a trip briefing and picked up our provided cloth bags for packing. Sometimes I find on trips in foreign countries that you don’t get a lot of information from the guides. Not the case at all with Paddle Nepal. While on the river, we were briefed before getting in the rafts, lunch and arriving at camp.
Safety and Age Limitations
When traveling in Nepal and participating in adventure sports, you want to make sure you have adequate travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads as they are used to working with travelers that adventure far and wide. You want to ensure that in addition to regular medical coverage, you have medical evacuation coverage as you will receive the best care in Bangkok, Delhi or your home country. You can read our full recommendations here.
From the minute we arrived at the river, it was obvious safety was top of mind. All equipment was in excellent condition and internationally certified. In fact, it all looked brand new from the rafts, down to the helmets. You are provided with a comfortable paddle life jacket, included kid-sized jackets, helmet, paddle, and splash jacket. We weren’t just handed these out and off we went; the guides checked each of us to ensure a proper fit. It was warm enough that we rarely wore the splash jackets, except for our second day when it was raining. Paddle Nepal also brings along wetsuits in case the kids get cold.
The gear was top notch, but we also realized right away how well trained the guides were. We were briefed on how to raft safely and once we were on the river, the guides were very good at directing us on when we could do certain things (eg. when it was safe to swim, when the kids could get in the kayaks, etc). They weren’t scared to tell the kids if they were doing something unsafe.
Minimum age is generally 5 years old, but this depends on the time of year and flow as well as size, strength, adventure level and swimming ability of each child. Our youngest was 7, but I would have felt very comfortable bringing him on this trip when he was 5.
Booking and Pricing
It is best to book directly with Paddle Nepal through their Pokhara Lakeside office or through email. We only booked a couple of days in advance, but it is a good idea to book ahead if you know your dates, since trips do have minimum participant numbers.
Cost for the 2 day/1 night Lower Seti Trip is $110 USD + 13% government tax = $124 USD/adult. Children under 12 pay $90 USD + tax = $102/child. This included licensed guides, all rafting equipment, dry bags and pelican boxes for valuables, 2 lunches, 1 dinner and snacks, camping equipment (tents, sleeping mat, sleeping bag) and round trip transportation.
Packing for a Rafting Trip
Paddle Nepal will provide you with a packing list for your trip and we have a few suggestions of our own. They will give you a few cloth bags to put your clothes in, that will then be put into dry bags. There are also pelican boxes available to put electronics and valuables in. We did have Raju, their photographer on our trip, but we did carry our own GoPro and phones in a waterproof pouch. If you have your own sleeping bag, you can bring it, but we used theirs, which were clean and of good quality.
- GoPro – perfect for rafting photos
- Waterproof Phone Case – allows us to take photos on the river
- Battery Pack – a travel necessity that allows us to keep our phones charged
- Drone – highly unnecessary, but fun! Be aware Nepal has very strict drone rules. We have the DJI Spark
- Sunscreen – the sun is strong on the water!
- Travel towel – helps get you dry and warm
- Headlamp – a staple when camping
- Nalgene bottles – our staple water bottle when travelling
- Mosquito repellent – we brought some, but didn’t need it
We had our rafting clothes and night clothes. We put our clothes in packing cubes to stay organized.
- Rash guard – long sleeve is great to protect from the sun. Also can just wear a quick-dry shirt.
- Quick Dry Shorts – longer so you don’t get burned.
- Water Sandals – Keens are perfect, but those who didn’t have, just went bare feet and brought flip flops.
- Hat for under your helmet
- Change of clothes for Night (warmer) – long pants, long shirt, socks, fleece or our favourite layering jacket
- Rain jacket – we did have to use ours:(
Best Time for Rafting
The Lower Seti trip is offered from September to June, with the best time to go being September to December and March-June. We went in April and the water was great for swimming. We did have some rain on our trip, which is unusual for this time of year, but it didn’t spoil the fun.
Raft to Chitwan National Park
Overland transport really is long and arduous in Nepal. One of the things that convinced us to do the rafting trip was that it was a fun way to move between Pokhara and Chitwan National Park. Instead of taking the bus for hours, we could cut out a lot of that time by rafting along the Seti.
Instead of hours on the bus, we rode 1.5 hours to the river and only 45 minutes from the take-out point to Chitwan. It is definitely a much more fun way to get to Chitwan!
If you want to return to Pokhara instead, it is a 3 hour drive back, which is included.
Other Rivers to Raft in Nepal
Paddle Nepal offers lots of other great trips for families. If you only want to do a day-trip, the Upper Seti is a great choice. They also offer single or multi-day trips on the Trisuli, Kaligandaki and Sun Koshi Rivers.
Older kids would love their Canyoning trip at Jalberi Canyon.
Our Rafting Video
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