The Lower Chamkar Chhu gorge is one of the more beautiful canyons in Bhutan. It’s nestled in a deep forested canyon south of Jakar in the Bumthang Valley. You can start anywhere downstream of Jakar where the road is close to the river. After a mile or two warm up the road leaves the river and the canyon starts to gorge up. Fun Class III rapids come on after another for the next few miles.

Kayaking the Chamkar Chhu in Bhutan

Kayaking the Chamkar Chhu in Bhutan

The take-out for this run is the tricky part. There is a small eddy behind a rock on the left side that you must catch to reach the step take-out trail. Below here the river gets much more difficult with little access. It’s a steep 10-15 minute walk up the canyon to reach a parking area in a pine forest.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in at the driving bridge in Jakar. There are a few other places to access the river below here if you’re looking for a shorter warm-up.

Mile 2.7: After a nice warm up the river begins to gorge up and you'll Paddle First Rapid (III).

First Rapid on the Chamkar Chhu

First Rapid on the Chamkar Chhu

Below here are plenty of fun Class III rapids.

Mile 4.5: Take-out behind a rock on river left just upstream from the Tang Chhu. You don't want to miss this eddy since the rapids below are much more difficult and there is no river access. There is a steep carry up Hari's Trail on the left bank to a parking lot.

Take-out eddy for the Lower Chamkar Chhu

Take-out eddy for the Lower Chamkar Chhu

If a tributary (Tang Chhu) enters from the left then you've passed the normal take-out. You should take-out before the rapids get more difficult and the canyon gets narrower.

Written by
Zach Collier

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