You are here:Home/News/Adventures/Trip Report: Mae Taeng River Packrafting / inflatable kayak
How it Began
The idea of packrafting alongside elephants seemed like a super cool idea and so Lacy Archer and I patched together a trip down the Mae Taeng River about an hour and a half north of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The plan was to put in where the white water take out (on the attached map) is, but a local told our driver that there was danger downriver. We didn’t get the exact details of what the danger was. Looking on Google Earth it looked like some whitewater for the section where the road goes over a small mountain pass and away from the river.
What Actually Happened
We put in amongst banana trees while elephants passed above us on the bridge at a small feeder river that was just southeast of the mountain pass where the danger was. Water levels were high for our trip, but not flood stage. It seemed like an obvious put in for our craft.
Getting the Party Started!
The feeder river was good fun, tight, some rocks, and some small drops. Perfect for a pack-raft. Once we entered the Mae Taeng River, there were one or two fun (maybe class 2) rapids before the river mellowed out. From there, we encountered the bamboo rafts and elephant tours. There was a bridge we passed under just after we entered the Mae Taeng River that could possibly server as a put-in for a little bit mellower start. I didn’t lo ok at the logistics of this. Once past the elephant tours, the river flowed gently for some time. We drank a few Leo beers and watched the elephant poop float by. Just after a temple or wat becomes visible in the distance there is a spillover dam. You can hear it as you approach. The right fork of the river is a dead end gate and the left side is the spillover ( about 10-15m at 45 degrees ending in a wave). You can portage on the center island between the two hazards and walk across the dam and get back on the river beneath the hazard. While maybe the spillover could be boated, it seemed like a big risk.
To Finish the Day Up
We took out of the river at the Phutawan pundao resort which was an excellent place to stay and the owner was a great host. He also arranged the transport for our trip. It appears as though you could continue on the river into town, but just downriver from the center of town I spotted another river gate that would require a portage.
After our trip we rode bicycles around the town of Mae Taeng, and found the back roads to be quite beautiful. A GPS is required to navigate these roads IMHO. Riding bikes on the main road into town felt quite dangerous despite the fact that the Thai drivers in the area were very polite.
Supai Adventure Gear packrafting paddle – It super light and breaks down into very small pieces which makes it great for travel. Not the pushing power you’d get out of a full sized paddle though. Best for a river that’s not too technical but with some current.