Our home, Panbang, is a remote community in south central Bhutan with a population of about 1500 people. It lies in the heart of sub-tropical biodiversity richness, adjacent to Royal Manas National Park (RMNP). The park is Bhutan’s first protected area and was established in 1966. With an area of about 1057 square kilometers, RMNP is home to over 86 different mammal, 365 bird and 900 plant species. Asian elephant, tiger, golden langur, clouded leopard, and gaur are some notable wildlife you can find in Manas.
The region our community lies in is also known as lower Kheng, in Zhemgang district. Until recently, our people practiced slash and burn agriculture and moved around the slopes in search of fertile and new land to grow crops such as maize and millet. It was only during the fourth five-year plan (1976-1981) that enough paddy fields were created to encourage sedentary agriculture. Present day settlements in Panbang arose after that.
Lower Kheng is not only rich in wildlife, but also home to Bhutan's largest river basins, the Mangde Chhu and Drangme Chhu basins. As Bhutan becomes a coveted destination for nature tourism, we saw the need to preserve our sacred land and all that it has to offer. We also saw a business opportunity that would allow us to remain in our village, gainfully employed. Elsewhere in Bhutan, the youth are flocking to urban centers, looking for a better life and abandoning their rural homes. This has led to overcrowding in the cities and severe cases of youth unemployment. We could not be part of the problem. So, eleven of us put our heads together, closed our eyes, and launched the first ever community-based rafting company in Bhutan. We love the river, and we love to show you the rich natural and cultural heritage of Panbang. We call ourselves the River Guides of Panbang!
All our river guides are professionally trained and certified in whitewater rescue and safety. We accord the highest priority to the safety of our guests. Our guides have also undergone nature and eco-guide training under experts from the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE). As locals, we are well versed in the rich cultural heritage of lower Kheng. We are also responsible members of our community highly committed to conserving the natural beauty and sanctity of our surrounding mountains, valleys and rivers.
The River Guides of Panbang is Bhutan's first community based rafting company that specializes in high quality, environmentally responsible ecotourism. We arrange rafting trips, wildlife safaris, jungle drives, naturalist walks, and overnight stays at our Jungle Camp.
Come explore Bhutan with us!
Panbang is located adjacent to Bhutan's first national park, Royal Manas National Park. We are fortunate to be living in nature with forests and rivers, which are home to endangered golden langur, Asian elephant, water buffalo, gaur, Rufous necked hornbill, pygmy hog, Bengal tiger, clouded leopards, and many wild cats. We work closely with Royal Manas National Park to promote eco-tourism in Bhutan.
If you have never experienced a rafting trip or slept outdoors, its never too late, many of our guests are also first timers. Our River Expeditions makes it easy to have an unforgettable adventure whether this is your first time rafting or you are an experienced river runner.
Many of our guests experiencing a whitewater rafting trip for the first time have many similar concerns. What if they don't have any prior experience? They are nervous about sleeping in the outdoors. They wonder what it's like to ride the whitewater rapids, how much time will be spent on the raft everyday day and so forth.
Previous rafting experience is not required for any Panbang River trips. Every rafting trip with RGP has been designed to be comfortable and accessible to most anyone. However, some trips may be more suitable for your first time. See our list of packages for best first time rafting trips at the bottom of this page.
All rivers are rated on a "class" scale to help you determine the size and technicality of the whitewater. Many of our guests are in search of more moderate whitewater-simply to relax and soak up the beauty of the scenery. Others are looking or more intense whitewater.
Moving water with small waves that tug at the boat - it’s a relaxing way to spend the day. Each of our trips has some stretches of calm class I water, creating a pleasant break between rapids.
Easy rapids, waves up to three feet tall that are readily seen, and wide channels that can be discovered without scouting. Some maneuvering is required during this little rock and roll.
Waves up to four feet and narrow passages that send the boat shimmying and water gushing over its sides. Plenty of excitement.
Long, challenging rapids, narrow passages, turbulent water that requires precise maneuvering and sends hearts racing.