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Bhutan white water Rafting & Kayaking


six major rivers of Bhutan are Wang chhu, Sunkosh,  Puna Tsang chhu, Mangdue Chhu, kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu. These rivers are all scouted for kayaking and rafting. The river flows through high valleys and low plains and ultimately drains to the Brahmaputra River in India. The powerful raging torrent and strong currents varying between slow and gentle flows in some places are found throughout the country. The best time for rafting and kayaking is from march to April and November to December.

Safety

Bhutanese rafting and kayaking guides are well trained and will do everything to ensure that you enjoy the adventure while minimizing the risks. The rivers of Bhutan were first surveyed for potential routes for water sports in 1997 by Gerry Mofatt and Peter Knowles, both experienced rafters/kayakers at the invitation of the Royal Government and the Department of Tourism.

They trained the first batch of Bhutanese river-guides and conducted surveys to grade the rivers. Since then, other rivers have been surveyed including the Punatsang Chhu, Manas and Amo Chhu. TCB guidelines ensure that all operators use well maintained professional equipment and maintain a reasonable guide-client ratio.

No. of Nights: 6

Places to visit: Paro, Thimphu and Punakha


  • Government Royalty of US $ 65 per night per person
  • sightseeing within Bhutan as per the itinerary
  • Accommodations in best 3 star hotels on twin sharing basis
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch &dinner)
  • Full time English speaking  guide
  • entrance fees and permits
  • All internal transport (excluding internal flights)

  • One time visa processing fee of US$ 40 per person
  • Flight tickets
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, internet
  • Soft drinks and alcohol
  • Mineral water in hotels and restaurants
  • Travel insurance
  • Shopping and entertainment
  • Gratuities to guide, driver, etc.
  • Luxury star hotels and resorts available at an additional cost
  • Rafting and Kayaking done at an additional cost
  • Specialized guides (Foreign language,photography, Bird watching, Buddhism, flora and fauna) available at an additional cost.

Day 1:  Paro – Thimphu

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by our representative. After completion of the airport formalities, then drive for about 2 hours from Paro airport to Thimphu. After reaching Thimphu visit Changangkha lhakhang, the oldest temple in Thimphu built in 12th century. It is popular temple for pilgrims and for new born babies. Takin Preserve Park, takin is the national animal of Bhutan.Royal Textile museum, established in 2001, provides fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Craft Bazaar has got a wide range of authentic Bhutan made art and craft products. In the evening freely stroll around the market. Overnight, stay at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 2: Thimphu

After breakfast visit Simply Bhutan, a living museum and a photo studio.Painting school teaches the techniques of traditional paintings, sculpture and other forms of traditional arts and one can view the students at work.National library holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts some dating back to several hundred years.Dochula pass (3100m/10,200ft). On a clear day to the east of the pass, the snow covered mountain peaks of the Himalayas are seen and among them is the Mt. Gangkar Phuensum at 7497m, which is the highest peak in Bhutan.

Druk wangyal Chorten (Stupa) at Dochula built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. And, also visit Druk wangyal Lhakhang (Temple) at Dochula built in honour of the fourth Druk Gyalpo (head of the state of Bhutan) Jigme Singye wangchuk. Tashichho  Dzong ( Fortress), which houses most of the government  offices, throne room and office of the king. Overnight, stay at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha

After breakfast visit Dochula pass (3100m/10,200ft). On a clear day to the east of the pass, the snow covered mountain peaks of the Himalayas are seen and among them is the Mt. Gangkar Phuensum at 7497m, which is the highest peak in Bhutan. Druk wangyal Chorten (Stupa) at Dochula was built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. And, also visit Druk wangyal Lhakhang (Temple) at Dochula built in honour of the fourth Druk Gyalpo (head of the state of Bhutan), Jigme Singye wangchuk. En-route, stop at Lobesa and take a short hike to chimi lhakhang. Childless couple who pray in this temple is believed to be blessed with a child very soon. Punakha Dzong (fortress), which is built is 1637 is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong is built between two rivers, Mochhu (female) and phochhu (male). In the evening freely stroll around the town. Overnight, stay at a hotel in Punakha.

Day 4: Punakha - Rafting

These water sports are done along the tributaries of the main rivers. On this trip, you have options of rafting along the Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River), which joins to form the Punatshangchhu River, further downstream

The Pho Chhu is famous among enthusiasts. Rivers course suitable for water sports.

The Pho Chhu (Male River) is famous among enthusiasts. Rivers suitable for water sports

Option 1: Upper Pho Chhu
Location: Punakha valley, Western/Central Bhutan

From/To: Wangthangka (a two-hour trek from the end of the road) – Samdingkha

Length: Approximately 7 km, 2 hours with scouting

Difficulty: Class III-IV Flow: 2000 -3000 cfs

Season: Mar/Apr, Oct/Nov. High water in this section will make this run very difficult.

Craft: Kayaks and Rafts.

Description:

The upper Pho Chhu is a great paddle through an open valley and worth the walking time to get there. There are a few good class IV rapids at the top, full of big boulders and big water moves. There is a good put in, just above the footbridge at Wangthangkha.

Immediately below the put in, the first class IV rapid can be scouted from the left. After this, we go around the coner and under the footbridge and scout the next class IV from the left. From here most of the rapids are boat scoutable, as the river eases up a bit, and there are lots of big, bouncy class III rapids and a few boulder gardens. Take out at the footbridge at Samdingkha, or continue another 7 km down to Punakha.

Option II: Lower Pho Chhu

Location: Punakha Valley, Western/Central Bhutan

From/To: Samdingkha – Punakha (directly below the Mo Chhu confluence)

Length: 7km, 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Class III with one IV at the bottom Flow: 2000 -3000 cfs

Mar/Apr, Oct/Nov. should be runnable at high water.

Craft: Kayaks and Rafts.

Description: The lower Pho Chhu is much easier than the upper section, with plenty of class III and a good class IV finale. This is currently the most popular rafting tour, since it is not too difficult and a beautiful half-day raft trip. From Samdingkha, the river meanders through a wide-open valley, full of rice fields and farmhouses. About 4 kilometers down is Strainers Paradise, a class III boulder choke. From here, there are some nice wave trains until the grand finale. Right below Bhutan’s longest footbridge is Wrathful Buddha, a class IV. Take out is right after the confluence with Mo Chhu, next to the impressive Punakha Dzong.

Option III: Mo Chhu – Tashithang Devil’s Gorge Section
Location: Punakha Valley, Western/Central Bhutan

From/To: Tashitang (end of the road, about 2-hour’s drive from Punakha) – Punakha Dzong (directly below the Pho Chhu confluence)

Length: 12 km, 5 -7 hours with scouting

Difficulty: Class V Flow: 1000 cfs, Feb/Dec. Higher than medium flows will make this run dangerous. A high water run is not recommended.

Craft: Kayaks only, this is much too difficult and steep for a raft.

Description: The upper Mo Chhu from Tashithang has lots of class V, with a gradient of about 300 feet per mile. There is a short stretch of flat water about six kilometers down, the end of which marks the start of the Devil’s Gorge, a step up from the whitewater above. There is little access to the road, so paddlers attempting this section of river should be ready to commit to the whole thing. For those, not wanting to bite off such a big chunk of hard whitewater, check out the alternative put in for the upper stretch, described below (Mo Chhu – Upper Run).

Option IV: Mo Chhu – Upper Run
Location: Punakha Valley, Western/Central Bhutan

From/To: 14 km above Punakha – Sonam’s Put In Length: 3 km, 1.5 hours with scouting Difficulty: Class IV -V Flow: 1500 – 2000 cfs, Mar/Apr, Nov/Dec

Craft: Kayaks only, too difficult for a raft.

Description: From this put in the gradient reduces slightly, although the rapids are still continuous class IV with several class Vs, which may need scouting. At the put in, the first rapid, Whiplash, can be scouted from river left. After Whiplash, the river continues to drop away in horizon line after horizon line. After about two kilometers, there is a short piece of flat water, recognizable because it is the only flat water on this section. This marks the start of a long, two-part class V rapid called Paula Jones. About one kilometer of class IV remains after Paula Jones, and the section ends with Baba Raj, a class IV that can be scouted from the left. Take out here, or continue downstream.Overnight, stay at hotel in Punakha.

Day 5: Punakha – Paro

After breakfast drive to Paro.  En-route visit Khamsum Yuley Namgyel Chorten, built in 1990 by queen mother and dedicated to the King and for the wellbeing of Bhutanese. Royal Botanical Park in lamperi is the first botanical park in Bhutan. It has 46 different species of rhododendrons. This blooms during the mid of March to early August. Paro Dzong (fortress) built in 1646, houses the district monastic body and most of the government administrative offices. National Museum (Ta- Dzong) above Paro Dzong, once a watch tower built to defend Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) during inters valley wars of 17th century was later inaugurated as National Museum in 1968. Overnight, stay at a hotel in paro.

Day 6: Paro – hike to Taktsang (tigers nest)

After breakfast drive to tigers’ nest hike point. Taktsang is built on a cliff at 900m above Paro Valley. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhva) arrived on  the back of at  tigress and mediated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in cave in the 8th century where the monastery now stands.  Overnight, stay at hotel in Paro.

Day 7:  Departure

After early breakfast drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destinations. 


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