Chencho Dema

White water rafting was among the prime products that tourism had identified in order to attract the planned 300,000 tourists annually.

A total of 21 river stretches in five major rivers in the country were found to be technically feasible for rafting. The rest were found to be too steep and rough, and had limited road access, making it unsuitable for white water rafting.

The select few rivers opened for rafting were chosen based on their commercial viability, safe courses, and accessibility.

Bhutan presently provided rafting and kayaking experiences for both locals and tourists. There nine rafting services are operating in Punakha, Paro, Pangbang, and Gelephu.

As of 2023, Bhutan had over 40 river rafting guides, with the highest number located in Punakha, with 32 guides.

However, the Department of Tourism (DoTr) had planned to expand rafting services to other parts of the country as well such as in Bumthang, lower Wangchu in Jigmechhu and Amochu (Torsa area) in Chhukha. It was also being promoted in Tashigang, Mongar, Pemagatsel (Nanglam) and Zhemgang (Dangmechhu expeditions).

Few weeks back local river rafting guides from XPLORE Bhutan and Lotus underwent training and assessment following a two-week intensive program in International River Guide Training (IRGT) and Rescue-3 techniques in Punakha. Of the 10, the eight river guides were now certified as ‘Instructor/Trainers’ with IRGT and Rescue 3, guaranteeing their inclusion in international databases.

The DoTr worked towards ensuring the safety, while minimizing risks during rafting through constant monitoring in collaboration with Dzongkhags and relevant authorities.

“We encourage tourism service providers to further enhance and diversify the existing rafting experience,” Dorji Dhradhul said.