Trekking from Khaptad to Rara

We first learned about this trek on http://neptrekking.blogspot.com. It supposedly started on 1st of April 2014. Now this might be a bit funny, but ‘nep’ in Dutch means fake. And starting on April Fool’s Day doesn’t help either. But nevertheless, we went for it, since it was an excellent opportunity to see more of Nepal, and this time off the beaten paths.

We have done treks before in Nepal. Seven years ago Annapurna Circuit and around Besisahar. We felt did not see enough of Nepal then in one and a half month, so we returned and are now in Nepal for three months. Recently (early March 2014) we did a 15 day trek in the Helambu/Gosainkund/Langtang area, to test our (new) equipment, fitness level and need for snacks. So we were as ready as we could be.

Of course going on a new and untrodden trek is not just showing up, since that might leave you with nasty surprises like no food or shops. That’s what we learned from our Llamatrek in Bolivia. It involves research on the terrain, expected weather and temperatures and lodging options. Well, to summarize in sort: it’s not easy to find information on trekking in the far west of Nepal. So prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. That involves plenty of Snickers DSC02076, trail mix, a tent, a Swiss army knife, lots of small change and all the regular trekking gear.

We met with some of the participants beforehand in Kathmandu, all German and some Nepalese. The German group members even told us we were prepared in German fashion, even more than they were. But they didn’t go through the hardships we had in other treks. We agreed to meet at the new Kathmandu long distance bus station (Gongabu) for the AC-bus to Dhangadhi. It leaves at 15:00, and the travel time is about 18 hours. Travel to Dhangadhi is smooth. The road is quite good and the bus is comfortable [2407]. The fare is Rs. 2000, and it includes a stop for dinner under way. We even managed to squeeze in some hours of sleep in transit.

From what I saw in Dhangadhi, I think it’s mostly a trading town, but with good amenities. It has its fair share of banks with ATMs that accept foreign cards. You can find lots of fruits, clothing and snacks in the markets, sports decent hotels (Saathi, Devotee, Bidya) and we even found a restaurant with decent coffee (Bell’s Pariwar). During the day another group member and the organizer arrived from India. There is a small lake a few kilometres out of town where you can do boating or go for a leisurely stroll around. We were taken there by jeep. As soon as we returned we were directed to a meeting room and surprised by the official opening of the trek, complete with banner, (local) journalists and the board members of the Tourism Development Society. [2439] After long speeches and thanks in Nepali, which we could not understand, it was time for the best part of this meeting: the free dinner in Devotee hotel. Totally recommended to have food here. Most of us were very tired from the trip to Dhangadhi, so we went to bed early.

The next day, four new group members appeared. They had to get their visa in order, so our departure by minibus to Silgadhi, Doti was delayed a bit. Also by shopping for medicines, Nepali time and taking group pictures. [2443] We stopped for lunch, sightseeing and a deaf children’s school [2483] under way to find the way to our destination blocked by villagers because of a deadly accident. This happens since there is no obligatory road insurance in Nepal, so if one has an accident, you claim your loss with the driver of the other vehicle. In this case the perpetrator was a truck driver, and the villagers were outraged by the accident so they set the truck on fire and blocked the road for all traffic. We had to walk past the blockade and arrange other transport, which was already arranged. In the end we arrived around 20:30 in Silgadhi, late for the cultural program they’d organized for us. [2507]

After breakfast we finally started walking. We passed an ATM [2509] on our way to the temple. Bye bye Ganesh, we’re off. We passed the Khaptad information office, from where you have a great view over the valley in which Silgadhi is located. [2527] We kept going up and up and had a rather long lunch break in a random house, and Sorita showed her cooking skills for the first time.[2542] After lunch we walked to Baghlekh where we were welcomed with a surprise cultural program, drums. We discussed with the drummers that it would be a nice surprise if we would play the drums and walk into their village, and so we did. We walked all the way to the temple, got a tika there and learned some about the temple. Since it was past 3 o’clock already, and we still had to walk for about three hours, we said our goodbyes. We arrived in Jhingrana around 5:30 pm.

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