Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Challenge and Commitment to Save Himalayan Rivers

This year festival was celebrated with a theme: 'The Challenge and Commitment to Save Himalayan Rivers'. NRCT aims to conserve the natural and cultural heritage of Nepal's rivers through various conservation, awareness and true understanding of this fragile environment. It organizes such river festival annually and raises awareness among all river users about the need for river conservation and to promote rafting as an adventurous sport.

The festival was packed with lots of excitements and thrills. And you know it was my first experience of Rafting and Canyoing ever. First day of the festival we started our trip at 7:30 morning from Thamel and headed toward Bhotekoshi, Bahrabise by bus. It took us nearly 3 hrs to reach lower Bhotekoshi, Bahrabise where local school students welcomed 'us' (participants of festival). After a brief introduction of the feast we started to raft, which was called 'Friendship Float' on the Bhotekoshi. We had lunch on the way down stream. There were less river rapids in Lower Bhotekoshi so it was not fast rafting. While rafting down stream we got to see daily life of village people, their dwellings and how they live with rivers. As a media person I see many issues have to be raised to aware these local people about river conservation and how they can benefit from this mighty Bhotekoshi. By 4:30 pm we ended our first day rafting and came back to Borderland Resort located at Sindhupalanchok by bus. Enjoyed cool evening with many new friends. I even cracked tons of jokes and kept them laughing all the time. You know one lady from Spain called Mareiam is a very nice and sweet person.

Second day at 9 am after eating breakfast, we all went for canyoing. An hour bus rides from the resort and we crossed Bhotekoshi on raft and climbed cliff for an hour. We have to wear special sport gear, which has secure rope clamps and belts. Before descending guides gave us full instruction on how to hold ropes and when to release. They take every precaution for our safety. Guess what was the final instruction. Quit doing it if you are not prepared to do it fully. I didn't quit and was able to enjoy this lifetime thrill. I just can't express the excitement it has descending 80 to 85 meters down waterfall. Simply can't express in words the adrenaline it gives. At first I hesitated a bit and now doing first successful attempt I look forward doing it again.

At the end of the day, all my energy was drenched but we had a very revitalizing evening. There was a slide show and workshop on River conservation, followed by delicious dinner. After dinner we sang Nepali songs, danced and had lots of fun.

Next morning, we start our day with breakfast and interaction among participants. At 8:30 am we started rafting again to this upper Bhotekoshi River, which flows just few steps away from the resort. It was the most thrilling rafting which consist uncountable rapids. During this day's rafting almost all rafts (there were 5 rafts, 7 person in each) got struck and we were rescueed by other rafts along. At one rapid we all have to swim out from those strong water current to shore to pull our raft which was nearly overturn by river rapid. God! That was the most adventurous experience of rafting for me. One funny memory to share, you know I lost one of slipper while getting out of the river current. Bhotekoshi carried it away. I think my slipper must be missing me a lot. Well I have a very memorable trip. By the way, have you ever been to rafting? If Not try once. I bet you gonna love it.

Besides, I got to learn so much from this trip. NRCT has its own code of conduct for rafting in Nepal, which are very good and help any guest to be an ambassador of sound environment practices. Within Resort there are rules, which are environment friendly. During the trip slept in tent, use iodized water instead bottle mineral water, we kept the campsite clean by putting litter in dokos, we walked bare foot (it feels so good), every thing was self service, we even cleaned our plate ourselves and much more. I also like the shower room which has open sky roof just surrounded by bamboo woven walls. Wow! What a unique style to have a shower. I wish I could build one like such back here in Kathmandu.

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