When we were leaving Pokhara at 7 o’clock in the morning, the sun was already illuminating the scenery of the white snowy mountains of Annapurna and Manaslu. We were turning our heads to see all those sceneries and felt slight pain in the neck when we reached our starting point – the bridge near the town of Damauli. We were passing the highest mountains in the world. The Lower Seti. Seti=white. We moved out the rafts quickly, packed our things in the barrels, inflated the rafts, tied up the barrels, distributed the paddles, jackets and helmets, a bit of theory and off we went. On a tributary flow we tried out the theory in practice and then joined the White River.
On the first day our trip was longer, about 25 kilometres. The river flows nicely, we didn’t need to paddle all the time. We had some rest and jumped into the river, which carried us along the rafts. This is a glacier river but the water is refreshing rather than cold. Our Nepalese captain calls us back to the raft because we are approaching the ‘Rapids’. These are very entertaining parts of the river. These are passages with a higher gradient, where the water flows faster, sometimes over bigger rocks. After about three hours on the river we reached a sandy beach in a river bend. Our accommodation for the following night.
Our lunch and dinner was made in a similar way. The Nepalese guides search the barrels and take out ingredients, dishes, a few buckets and five bowls. They fill all of them with water from the river and add a few drops of iodine for disinfection and start preparing our today’s menu: Dal Bhat (rice and lentils) with vegetable salad, beans and tuna. Dal Bhat is a traditional Nepalese dish which is light but hearty. There is a saying: ‘Dal Bhat power, 24 hour, no sleep, no shower’.
In the evening we sat by the fire, sipped Nepalese beer ‘Gorkha’, talked and sang. Finally we fell asleep under the stars with a local dog beside us. In the morning we packed up our things and started another (shorter) section of our rafting. Our destination is located by a ‘highway’ from Pokhara to Kathmandu at the confluence of the Lower Seti and Trishuli. Since our journey took place in October – the time of the second largest feast called Tihar (a three-day festival with lots of colours, lights and giving thanks to the gods) – all buses were full. Therefore, we had to travel on the roof of the bus on the Nepalese ‘highway’.
A great experience, except the dust.