by Shristi Kafle
NUWAKOT, Nepal (Xinhua) — Bulbule waterfall located in the Nuwakot district about 35 kilometers away from the capital city of Nepal Kathmandu, was once just known as a place for taking cool baths during the summer for local youngsters.
As soon as the Nepal Canyoning Association explored the 40-meter high waterfall, however, the place turned into a perfect canyoning destination for adventure enthusiasts both from in and outside the country.
Only last weekend, over 150 Nepalese and foreigners enjoyed this breathtaking water sport in Bulbule, located between green hills, as part of the 3rd National Canyoning Rendezvous 2017.
The grand canyoning fiesta was not just about sliding down a rope through a waterfall to a pool below, but included a variety of adventures like hiking, scrambling, abseiling, jumping and swimming.
“Nepal is enriched with thousands of rivers and waterfalls with huge potential but we have not been able to utilize them enough. We want to develop and promote canyoning destinations and portray Nepal as the best spot for adventure tourism,” Rajendra Lama, President of the Nepal Canyoning Association, told Xinhua during the festival.
Though canyoning has been gaining in popularity in Nepal since 2002, it gained official recognition and organizational structure in 2007 after the establishment of the Nepal Canyoning Association.
Today, there are more than 70 member agencies under the association, while more than 30 canyons have been explored across the country. Travel agencies have been providing canyoning packages in mountainous districts like Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Lamjung, and Syangja among others.
Within Kathmandu valley, canyoning activities have been made available recently in Sundarijal, in the lap of the Shivapuri National Park, which draws the attention and interest of city dwellers to the adventure.
The Himalayan nation is regarded as the second-richest country after Brazil in water resources as it has over 6,000 rivers, adequate lakes, ponds, waterfalls, and springs. Despite having such immense resources, some adventurers have complained that the activities available to them are mostly limited to boating and rafting.
Karna Bahadur Lama, General Secretary at the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, told Xinhua on Sunday, “Nepal has a unique geography and richness in natural resources. Since tourism is the backbone of the country’s economy, we need to tap into the opportunities to attract more foreign tourists and to uplift the industry.”
In 2016, quake-ravaged Nepal attracted 729,550 foreign tourists, which is 24 percent more than 2015, the year of the devastating earthquake.
Since tourism is gradually recovering, tourism entrepreneurs believe that activities like canyoning can be a great contributor to attract and engage foreign tourists, who are fond of experimenting with gripping adventures in Nepal rich nature.
Canyoning has been equally popular among Nepali youngsters, both males, and females. One of the major reasons for its expanding scope is social media, claims Nepal Canyoning Association.
“When we posted about the canyoning festival on social media, we immediately received a huge amount of feedback and replies from youngsters. Social media has been a powerful tool for tourism promotion,” Association President Lama told Xinhua.
Nepal’s canyoning follows international standards and holds safety measures as a priority. There are more than 30 professional instructors in the country who have received training from American and French professionals and are familiar with the country’s water streams and surroundings.
During the canyoning festival, over a dozen instructors and volunteers handled the stream navigation and smoothly facilitated the outdoor activities for two days.
While it was the first canyoning experience for the majority of participants, they said that they felt totally immersed in nature and that it was an unforgettable experience.
“It was the experience of a lifetime. I was scared initially but with the proper instructions, I got down safely. I would like to do it again,” the 22-year-old student, Sarose Chaudhary, told Xinhua.