Kali Gandaki River (Upper)

River Facts

Difficulty in Nov: 4 (4+)
From: Beni (Alt. 820m)
To: Andhi Khola (Alt. 540m)
Distance: 60 km (37 miles)
River Days: 3
From Pokhara: 4 hours
Av. Gradient: 5 m/km (25 ft a mile)
Volume in Nov.: 120 cms (4200 cfs)
Best Season: Oct-Dec, Mar-May


A deservedly popular medium length river trip combining exhilarating white water, with fine scenery. A new dam means that trips are now usually shorter.

The River

One of the famous names of Himalayan rivers, the Kali Gandaki rises in Mustang, an enclave of Nepal poking into Tibet on the other side of the Himalaya. Here, it is a flat and braided river, flowing in an arid open valley: the explorer Michale Peissel ran this stretch of the river in a small hovercraft in 1973 and at lease two other group have rafted and kayaked this section.

At kalopani, the river drops off the roof of the world and cuts one of the deepest gorges in the world between dhaulagir, height 8168 m to the west and Annapurna 8091 m to the East. This gorge is one of the ancient trading routes through to Tibet and is now a favourite route for treks. Below tatopani, the gradient eases and the river is ruunable from upstream of Beni.

After the confluence with the Modi Khola, the river swings south through and area where until recently, tourists were almost unknown. There are few villages actually on the river – most are located on the river terraces some hundred of meters above. The Kai Gandaki is named after the goddess Kali and is considered a particularly holy river; an auspicious place to be cremated and every river what’s under all those piles of rocks, we recommend against exploring. It is also a gold bearing river-you will probably meet several small group of gold workers who sluice and pan the gravel of the river bed for minuscule amounts of the metal. This is rewarding river for the bird watcher and we’ve seen mongoose, monkeys,and sign of leopard and otters.

A new dam is just below the confluence with the Andhi khola is currently nearing completion and most trips in the future are likely to take out here. The dam is planned to divert some 142 cumecs down the tunnel to the powerhouse, and if you take a glance at volumes graph you will see that for most of the year there will be insufficient water to run the section below the dam. We have though included a description of this middle stretch of river for those able to do it.

River Map

Please click on map to have larger view.

Kali Gandaki River (Upper) Map