Budget carriers Fly Dubai and Air Arabia both offer a regular cost effective services between Dubai (Air Arabia use Sharjah Airport) and Kathmandu. According to Dubai’s tour guides, Fly Dubai used to be the kayakers and mountain bikers airline of choice due to their tolerance of oversize baggage meaning you could put your kayak, paddle or bike (in a bag) on as part of your normal luggage allowance. Unfortunately in December 2010 they changed their policies to match Air Arabia’s, making even a big trekking rucksack outside the sizes allowed. In April 2011 direct flights were available from both carriers for approx 1,200AED including taxes…

Etihad offer a direct service between Abu Dhabi and Kathmandu with costs around the 2,000AED mark. Unfortunately they also have baggage policies that don’t allow for kayaks, paddles or bikes. Emirates don’t offer a Kathmandu service.

For Lee to take his kayak and our paddles he flew with Qatar Airways, this meant changing in Doha and adding a lot of time to the journey. A direct flight is around 5 hours and changing in Doha increases this to between 7 and 13 hrs depending on connections. Costs are currently between 2,500AED and 3,000AED.

Kayak Rental

Because of the logistical problems with flying with a boat, renting a kayak becomes more important. The hire fleets rafting companies have can vary in quality to say the least. A visit to a Kathmandu rafting company boat house can feel like a trip to where boats go to die! I’d recommend 2 options:

1. Darren Clarkson runs As a Pyranha sponsored paddler (only person to run all the rivers off Everest and Author of the forthcoming new White Water Nepal Guidebook) he has built up access to a reasonable supply of excellent quality, high end, modern (mainly Pyranha) boats. Daz also runs trips where kayakers are treated as at lease as equal to the rafters along with kayak self support trips where, under his guidance, you could find yourself able to run rivers you wouldn’t normally look at.

2. Charlie has been running the Ganesh Kayak Shop in Pokhara for donkeys years. He has a wide selection of boats and will be able to sort you out.

Rafting Operators

Nowadays there are a huge number of rafting companies in Nepal. Some are excellent, some are not. I’d recommend one of Daz’s trips ( as they are organised and led by some of the most experienced people in the business. If he can’t help you he’ll be able to point you in the right direction. A quote from the old White Water Nepal Guide Book: “saving a few bucks can cost you a whole lot more”.


You’ll need to make sure your normal travel jabs are up to date but on the whole Nepal doesn’t have some of the nastier bugs that lurk in other interesting places of the world. Throughout the majority of the country malaria is not an issue. Only down on the Teria is it a problem – the bit where Nepal meets the Indian plain.

You need to take care of your personal hygiene through. If you haven’t travelled in this part of the world before you should expect to get a bit ‘loose’ at some point as your stomach copes with new bugs etc. To prevent a more serious encounter with the Kathmandu Kwick Step you should only choose food and drink that has either been freshly cooked hot, boiled or peeled. This rules out ice cream and salads (unless you KNOW its been treated in iodine). Dont brush your teeth out of the tap, use iodine in untreated water or buy bottled water, sprite or coke to drink.

I always recommend everyone to carry 10 rehydration sachets (Dioralyte) with them. Its recommended that you should have one with water with every “loose stool”. This will aid your recovery massively. Yes they taste horrible but I assure the effects of dehydration are much worse. Consider buying a course of Ciprofloxicilin (broad spectrum antibiotic useful for travellers diarrhoeal) to take with you but seek qualified expert medical advice on its use before travelling.


Nepal is one of the safest of countries to travel in. Most security problems are caused by carelessness. Some simple common sense will ensure you have a trouble free trip.

1. Don’t take unnecessary valuables with you. Leave your jewellery, expensive watches and anything else you really care about at home

2. Carry any valuables discretely. If you wander round dangling a raft of expensive cameras round your neck, the latest iPod and a load of cash hanging out of your pocket sooner or later someone is going to try and take something. A lot of Nepalese live on around 2 dollars a day, a decent DSLR can represent more than a year’s income which is tempting for anyone. Carry your travel documents in a security belt under your clothing and don’t go anywhere near it in a public place. Keep a few hundred rupees handy in your pocket. Keep expensive cameras and other valuable electronics in unbranded bags when not in use. If you have the chance, use hotel, hostel and activity providers safes when either on the river or in the hills.


Published in June 2011