Pho means male in Dzongka and Chhu means river, so this is the male river. The Lower Pho Chhu starts below a bridge at the small village of Samdinkha. It’s a long drive from Punakha because you have to drive downstream on the Puna Tseng Chhu to cross the river. I usually send the gear on the long driver and hike up to put-in from the Punakha Dzong. It’s a wonderful hike through rural homes and rice paddies.

View from the take-out of the Pho Chhu  and Mo Chhu

View from the take-out of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu

This trip takes you to the confluence with the Mo Chhu (female river) at the famous Punaka Dzong where it becomes the Puna Tseng Chhu. Like the Mo Chhu, there is a great view of the Dzong from take-out.

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Northwest Rafting CompanyNorthwest Rafting Company (541) 450-9855 offers cultural tours to Bhutan with a few days of rafting and hiking included as part of their Rivers & Dzongs of Bhutan trip.

The river starts high in the Himalayas on glaciers so the water tends to have a glacial blue color that stands out.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in below the bridge at Samdinkha. A few minutes below here is Horseplay (III).

Mile 1.2: Strainer Paradise (III) has multiple fun routes through boulders in the middle of the river. As the name suggests there is commonly wood here.

Strainer Paradise on the Lower Pho Chhu in Bhutan

Strainer Paradise on the Lower Pho Chhu in Bhutan

Mile 3.0: Honey are you Okay (III-) is the first in a series of fun rapids.

Mile 3.1: Pipeline (III) is just below a pipe that crossed the river. It has a sticky center hole that is backed up by a rock. Just below here is Guide Fall (III).

Mile 4.7: Wrathful (or Laughing) Buddha (III+) is a tricky rapid next to the Punakha Dzong with right and left channels.

Right and Left channels at Wrathful Buddha

Right and Left channels at Wrathful Buddha | Photo by Nate Herbeck

Mile 5.25: Take-out on river right just after the confluence with the Mo Chuu. The river is known as the Puna Tseng Chhu below the confluence and you can paddle downstream to Punakha if you want to add a few miles of fun Class II to your day.

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