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One of the famous names of Himalayan Rivers, the Kali Gandaki rises in Mustang, an enclave of Nepal poking into Tibet on the other side of the Himalaya. Here, it is a flat and braided river, flowing in an arid open valley: the explorer Michel Peissel ran this stretch of the river in a small hovercraft in 1973 and at least two other groups have rafted and kayaked this section. At Kalopani the river drops off the roof of the world and cuts one of the deepest gorges in the world between Dhaulagiri, height 8167 m. to the west and Annapurna 8091 m to the East. This gorge is one of the ancient trading routes gradient eases and the river is run able from upstream of Beni.
After the confluence with the Modi Khola, the river swings south through an area where until recently, tourists were almost unknown. There are few villages actually on the river- most are located on the river terraces some hundreds of meters above. The Kali Gandaki is named after the goddess Kali and is considered a particularly holy river, an auspicious place to be cremated and every river confluence is dotted with cremation sites and burial mounds (if you're won during what's under all those piles of rocks, we recommend against exploring!). It is also a gold bearing river- you will probably meet several small groups of gold workers who sluice and pan the gravel of the riverbed for minuscule amounts of the metal.
This is a rewarding river for the bird watcher and we've also seen mongoose, monkeys, and signs of leopard and otters. A new dam just below the confluence with the Andhi Khola is currently hearing completion and most trips in the future are likely to take out here. The dam is planned to divert some 142 cubic down the tunnel to the powerhouse, and here will be insufficient water to run the section below the dam.