Antique Expedition in Bhutan

Kayaking & Rafting

The clean and clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the kingdom’s best kept open secrets. Fed by the Eastern Himalayas, the six rivers (Wang Chhu, Sunkosh, Puna Tsang Chhu, Mangde Chhu, Kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu and their tributaries) have been scouted for kayaking and rafting. They cut through high valleys and low plains to meet up with the Brahmaputra River in India. The natural setting and the sheer variety of the rivers’ courses makes up for a unique opportunity to explore Bhutan’s beautiful wilderness. It is more than a teaser and an invitation to anyone interested in adventure travels. The rivers are plentiful with high currents and depths reaching a maximum of about five meters; at places it passes gently on and in others the rivers rage through loudly, dominating the environs. Although adventure sports and tourism are relatively recent introductions, it is gaining on in popularity.

The sport offers something for everyone: There is easy rafting for beginners and hair-raising runs for the veterans. Besides the rafts and the kayaks, Bhutanese agents also organize walking and trekking expeditions along the scenic river banks. 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 adventures minus the risks.

The rivers of Bhutan were first graded for water sports in 1997 by the experienced duo Gerry Mofatt and Peter Knowles at the invitation of the Royal Government, under the erstwhile Department of Tourism to survey potential routes.

They trained the first batch of Bhutanese river-guides and conducted surveys

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 a reasonable guide-client ratio

Here are some of the Rafting and Kayaking Routes

Paro Chhu (Bondey – Isuna Bridge)

Location: Paro Valley, Western Bhutan

Length: Approximately 10 km (3 hours)

Difficulty: Class III-IV

Flow: About 500 cfs

Season: March – April

Craft: Kayaks recommended due to narrow and steep rapids

Upper Pho Chhu (Wangthangkha – Samdingkha)

Location: Punakha Valley, Western Bhutan

Length: Approximately 7 km (2 hours)

Difficulty: Class III-IV

Flow: 2000 -3000 cfs

Season: March – April, October – November

Craft: Kayaks and Rafts

Mo Chhu – Tashitang Devil’s Gorge Section (Tashithang- Below Punakha Dzong)

Location: Punakha Valley, Western Bhutan

Length: 12 km, 5 -7 hours with scouting

Difficulty: Class V

Flow: 1000 cfs

Season: February/December.

Craft: Kayaks only (too steep for rafts)

(Caution: higher than medium flows makes this run dangerous. High water runs not recommended for amateurs)

Mangde Chhu – Upper Section (Yundo Choling Palace- Langthel)

Location: Trongsa, Central Bhutan

Length: Approximately 5 km (2 hours with scouting)

Difficulty: Class IV

Flows: Approximately 3000 cfs

Season: March – April, November – December

Craft: Kayaks

For detail information on all of the Rafting and Kayaking routes please see our Rafting and Kayaking brochure which can be downloaded from ‘e-brochure’ page under ‘Bhutan’ page.