Rafting the Trishuli river today. We bought a two days package in a little local agency in Kathmandu just after our arrival. It will allow us to approach this sport.
We were picked from the hotel and from the early hours of the day we discover an awakening town. Roads are impossible for us, not for the left-hand drive itself but…for all.
The traffic laws is only a piece of advice, horns are usually used in an impossible cacophony. Whether leaving the town you think to breath, perhaps it’s even worse. The safety regulations not exist in these roads literally torn-off the mountains and the big overloaded lorries make a breakneck speed descent.
When our means wheels are a few centimetres far form the slope we hold our breath. The mean is seized by total silence.
This is nothing compared to what is waiting for us in the coming days but we don’t know yet. This is our first meeting with Nepal outside Kathmandu.
Rafting river: let’s start
We reach the meeting point. Our guide welcomes us. Once again we make sure the rafting is easy, that there are not difficulties, that is only a fun. The guide calm us. We are even not joking. It will be a piece of cake.
Did you already raft in Italy or Europe and do you think is it similar? Well. Forget all!
The outside temperature doesn’t exceed 10° in the morning and it won’t even reach 20° during the hotter hours. The river water is about 7-8°. The guide looks at us wrapped in our sweaters and asks us where are our swimsuits.
Okay! We don’t even think about it. You know we love cold temperature. But here is really too much!
T-shirt and shorts will be fine. A cold absurd. Let’s go! We all go down the path to the dinghy. An Irish couple is with us.
We put on the life-jacket and the safety helmet and we are given an oar.
Rafting School in Nepal
Our rafting school for beginners lasts about five minutes. The guide gives us a few easy instructions always to follow, “back and forth”, fit in the feet to hold in case we are thrown out. “No panic! You have a very good safety helmet, a very good life-jacket and a very good guide, so no problem!”
If he says so…
We go on board. The water is very cold and the sun struggling to peep out. The wind blows. We leave.
The first rapids are a terrible experience for me. I think I never have drunk so much water at once! I sit in front where he indicates me and just left I don’t certain expect the guy dive headfirst into three waves. They sweep away and risk capsize us.
He’s crazy! I don’t see anything any more, I lose my contact lenses, I don’t know which way I’m turned and I only worry about not to let go my feet. I’m terrified by the thought of Valeria sitting just behind.
When I finally can breath, the river is calmer. I turn back and everyone is laughing: clearly only Roby and I sit in font have drunk. My daughter seems to be over the moon and shouts that the Raptor in Gardaland is not even so funny for her.
You know I’m not a coward and that I like these things but I’m thinking about to let me off ashore and finish my rafting experience while the guide is telling us this was only a test section.
Despite all my recommendations about rafting easiness and safety we are all wet to the skin and feel chilly. The guide laughs and says to me not to worry because this is a family tour. It’s just as well!!!
The situation is a bit complicated
Anyway, I will get over this…even if I continue coughing due to the water I drank and I defy you to put on again a new pair of contact lenses on a dinghy, among rapids, as I had to do!
Other rapids, water everywhere. I can’t stand it any more. I shout the guide to let me off that ashore. Enough! I have to breath! Meanwhile I’m thinking about letting Valeria on board: she won’t hear of getting off or obliging her to stop.
He resolve my doubt immediately: he tells me she cannot do it because it’s dangerous. Really? Is it dangerous to get off? And what about stay here? He starts to get on my wick telling these really nonsense answers.
“I cannot let you off here, it’s a very dangerous place because tigers come down the jungle to the river in order to water. Further, in a hour, there’s a place where I can let you off.”
Tigers??? In a hour??? I don’t know if he is teasing me or if he’s talking seriously. Valeria rejoices over the missed chance: she is enjoying herself and is aware of the danger too much.
The situation is getting more and more complicated
We start again other rapids, this time they seems softer or maybe we learnt to use oars: as they say, when the water comes to ass we learn to swim. Here we can change the saying: when you drink much water you learn to row.
The guide finds all the worst places rather than the less impetuous ones. I’m a bit worried, but now that we have learnt to row a bit, I must admit we are enjoying ourselves.
The effort is endless but we are even learning to foretell the guide’s instructions and take the dinghy where we want! Yeah, now it’s really beautiful!
The river is studded with endless very fine and very white sand beaches…Even finer than the one in the Maldives and it’s glittering under the weak sun rays.
They are simply beautiful…if were not for tigers! But are they real?
While I wonder if the guide was teasing me or not, my day and thoughts are literally twisted.
The guide of another dinghy behind us has reached us and shouts something we don’t get immediately: he is indicating a point among the first trees where one of the beaches ends just a few metres by us.
We turn just in time to the indicated direction and we see the leaves are moving due to a not too big animal jumping but we can’t identify it.
Caught sight of a tiger cub
Branches are still moving and the animal disappears into the jungle.
Everyone is shouting “Tiger”.
It was a tiger cub came down to the river to water! We are left gaping. It’s an indescribable experience to be a few metres by the tiger that lives here in a wild state.
Now everything takes on a different flavour, even if we couldn’t see it.
I start the tour just in this moment: I can savour this place.
We always take lot of time before putting aside our mental schemes and free ourselves from both our certainties and our cares, as it often happens when you are catapulted across the world.
Did you ever feel free to throw in the water with you life-jacket drifting by the stream?
I can assure you it is beyond description!
I saw this tiger cub only briefly and I even didn’t understand what it was. But just in this moment I got into the spirit of the tour in Nepal.
A poor, tortured land which is thousands prejudice object in the common imaginary, impossible to be understand by westerners. But it has so much to give to people who are able to accept it or at least try to accept it, like us!