First Descent of Bhutan’s Last Virgin River
In November, Phil DeReimer, an expert kayaker and arguably the foremost authority in the Western world on paddling in Bhutan, will run a first descent there, on a section of the Kuri Chuin the country’s seldom accessed east side. The three-day self-supported run ends at the border with India and has the potential to include numerous class IV+/V rapids. DeReimer secured the permit based on the reputation of his outfitting company, and a 9-year personal history guiding in Bhutan. Which was no small feat — Bhutan is known for being protective of its culture and landscape (the government didn’t allow tourism until 1974).
Even today, visitors must either be “guests of the government” or “travelers on an approved travel program.” Still, the Land of the Thunder Dragon is worth every bit of trouble, according to DeReimer. “It’s this absolutely incredible Buddhist Kingdom, with a rich history and culture and a gentle, gracious people,” he says. The first descent will coincide with the birthday celebration of the IVth king, which DeReimer confirms is “a huge deal over there.” And perhaps the best part: DeReimer is not keeping the glory to himself. His permit allows up to 8 other paddlers, and he’s game for some company. Participants should already have experience paddling a kayak loaded for multi-day trips through class V rapids. “Call or email me if you’re interested” he says. “My contact information is on the website.”
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