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Bhutan Rafting & Kayaking Packages

Bhutan Rafting Kayaking

Bhutan’s snow fed rivers gushing down the mountains offer an ideal setting for water sports such as rafting and kayaking. Adventure travelers will not be disappointed by the rugged, untamed waterways.

The rivers are plentiful with strong currents varying between slow, gentle flows in some places and powerful, raging torrents in others. The river courses available in Bhutan offer something for all visitors, regardless of experience. There are easy routes for beginners and harassing runs for the veterans.  The best time for rafting and kayaking is March to April and November to December.

Most of the rafting are done in Punakha, Bhutan’s old capital. 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 join 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 I: 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 comer 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 IIIMo 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 IVMo 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.