Canyoning gaining popularity

By Rajiv Joshi

Bulbule waterfall, located in Thansing, Kakani of Nuwakot district lies at the distance of roughly 35 kilometers from Kathmandu. Not long before, it was just a usual waterfall or a water source for the locals. But the place is abuzz with visitors these days.

It has been few years since Nepal Canyoning Association (NCA) explored the 40 meter waterfall. Since then, the site has become popular among adventure enthusiasts and canyoners — both Nepalis and foreigners. Because of its proximity to the capital city and an easy road access, it can be taken as a destination with lots of potentials for canyoning.

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, NCA organized its annual event 3rd National Canyoning Rendezvous at Bulbule. Seeing the number of participants in the two-day event, it was quite clear that this adventure water sport has become a popular activity. More than 150 adventure enthusiasts, both amateurs and professionals, tried their hands at canyoning at the waterfall.

Though the number of foreigners participating the event was quite few compared to large number of Nepalis ranging from students to business professionals and professional canyoners, the growing popularity for this adventure sports was visible.

Canyoning is an adventure sport that has developed as one of Nepal’s popular adventure tourism products in recent years. Canyoning means climbing down through canyons and waterfalls using different techniques. It requires abseils and ropework, down-climbing, jumps, boulder hopping, and swims, among other skills.

Canyoning is an adventure sport that involves activities like abseiling, rock climbing, caving, swimming, hiking and trekking. Canyoning is a fun for everyone because it takes you away to places far from the hustle and the bustle of everyday life. Lush mountains, pristine waterfalls cascading down rocky wall and splashes of water on your face as you descend will give your body that much needed adrenalin pumping adventure.

The sport is believed to have been introduced to Nepal by visitors from Europe, especially France. During the 1990s, European canyoners came to practice their skills in the canyons in Bhote Koshi River which originates in Tibet. The canyons fascinated them so much that they started coming to the place again and again. They even invited and encouraged some local youth to try the adventure sport.

As the sport started becoming popular, the French Embassy in Kathmandu sponsored two Nepali mountain guides – Rajesh Lama Tamang and Kabindra Lama – to take canyoning training in France. After the completion of the training, they returned and passed on the skills to some more youth. These canyoning guides were the ones who started exploring new sites and waterfalls and promoted them in the national and international market. And the establishment of Nepal Canyoning Association (NCA) back in 2007 came as a milestone for the further development of canyoning in Nepal.

Over the past 10 years, NCA has already produced many canyoning guides and explored new canyoning sites. According to its president Rajendra Lama,  the president of NCA, it has already produced three international guides, 15 entry-level guides, 35 basic-level guides, seven advanced-level guides so far. Similarly, it has explored 19 canyoning sites so far – five in Bhotekoshi river, nine in Marshyangdi Valley, two in Lwang Ghalel and Ghachok of Kaski, three in Kakani, one in Sunkoshi River near Timal village of Kavre, one in Pokali waterfall of Okhaldhunga, one in Suntala Bari in Syangja and one in Phu village of Manang.

Lunga waterfall in Phu village, which is situated at an altitude of 5215m, is regarded one of the highest canyoning sites in the world. NCA has also Similarly, Syange in Lamjung, Chamche Khola in Manang are very popular among canyoners. Canyoning sites in Bulbule, Chipla, Tatopani, Rendu, Syange, Jagat, and Sanchup are also frequented by canyoners.

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