From source to sea
Two Nepalis kayak from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal
by ALOK TUMBAHANGPHEY
Silwal and Rai made the trip to encourage Nepali youth to take up adventure sports, create awareness about Nepal in neighbouring countries, and spread the message of environmental and river protection.
On 22 August, the duo mountain biked for two days from Pashupati to the Tala Marang creek in Helambu. There, they got in their kayaks and floated down to the Melamchi, which later joins the Indrawati. This was the first kayak descent made on the stretch. They continued through some of the most challenging white waters in the world in the Sun Kosi and Sapta Kosi.
Each day, they'd set out early, and paddle hard until noon. By late afternoon, the search for a campsite would begin. Sometimes they'd camp too close to villages and be overwhelmed by over-friendly crowds, at others they had to move camp because locals warned them of dacoits and wild animals. Occasionally they had to pass the night on their kayaks on the banks of the flooded Ganga as the land was too marshy to set up camp.
They reached the Indian border in five days and walked across the Kosi Barrage into India. They avoided crocodiles, but not a run-in with Indian security forces that resulted in incarceration for 36 hours and lost film.
They raced to make up for lost time and on 5 September crossed into Bangladesh where the Ganga changed to the Paddha. The morning of 11 September they sensed the sea air and paddled hard for almost 12 hours to finally reach the Bay of Bengal. From the moment they got into the water in Tala Marang they had paddled for 153 hours, 29 minutes, and 35 seconds and became the first in history to make the epic journey.
"The single most important thing we learnt was that man is the biggest danger to himself. In India and Bangladesh people depend on the river for their livelihood and if we here at the source do not keep the rivers clean, people down there will suffer," says Rai who is also goodwill ambassador of the Nepal River Conservation Trust.
The trip was a dream-come-true for the duo. Silwal had been planning the expedition from the 'source to the sea' for two years and when he met Rai six months ago, knew he had found the right person to accompany him. Endra Rai is the first of his community to summit Everest.
The two spent over Rs 100,000 of their own money on the trip. Logistical support and equipment came from Nepal Mountain Bikes, Himalayan Ecstasy, The Royal Beach, and Kavu.