One month in Nepal
Amersfoort Travel Blog› entry 4 of 4 › view all entries
It's been a month since I wrote. Then I was two days in Kathmandu. Now I'm home and I have so much to tell. In every possible way it's been an extreme and intense holiday. One I'll never forget.
After two great days in Kathmandu we left the hotel next morning 5am. By 6.30am we flew to Lukla. That's the airport where two weeks ago a small airplane crashed with German people. This airport is one of the most dangerous airstrips in the world. It starts/ends at a hill top and is less then 250 meters long and inclines/declines also. Kinda scary if you're arriving or departing.
From here our 18 day hiking trip started. By 8am we walked out Lukla, got all the stamps in our trekking permit and ready to go for an amazing time. We arranged a guide and porter. Day one was piece of cake. After 2,5 hours we arrived in Phakding (2600m). The lodge was a simple one with huge spiders in the 'shower'.
Next day was a heavy one. The way to Namche Bazar (3440m) is tough. Four hours you go up and down and at the end is a climb which brings you 700m higher to this Sherpa village. Sherpa's are the people of the lowest cast. These people live in the mountains and are Buddhist. Buddhist people don't kill animals and don't eat fresh meat. The animal has to be dead for a minimum of 24 hours. All the meat after Lukla is carried up by porters. Meat can be in the open air for many days before it arrives at a village or lodge. I didn't trust it to eat meat in the mountains after knowing that.
We stayed an extra day in Namche Bazar for acclimatisation, which is really important. We bought some more souvenirs and did a short hike to the airstrip 300m higher. This airstrip is nothing more than a grassy area where it's hard to avoid rocks. Though, three weeks ago skydivers used this airstrip as base camp for their jump above the Mount Everest!
From Namche Bazar we walked to Phortse Thenga and to Luza. In Luza I got the flu and we had to stay for a day extra in this small village at 4200m altitude. Next day my dad wakes up with a problem with his lungs, probably asthma. We decide we're both too ill to continue the trip to Gokyo Lakes. With the last energy we have, we declined and went back to Phortse Thenga (3675m) and stayed for a day. My dad's lungs got worse and he started with antibiotics. We had to continue and we dragged us all the way to Pangboche (3975m). We hoped we could reach Kala Patthar a few days later. From Pangboche we went to Pheriche (4250m). In this village was a Himalya Rescue Centre with American doctors. They gave a clinic about high altitude sickness and other sicknesses you can get in the mountains. Really interesting, but I got worried about my dad's lung condition. So I took him to the doctor. He had a starting bronchitis. But we were oke to continue and go to a higher altitude. Next morning we tried to hike to 4500m. Finally arrived there we were complete exhausted. But we had the most beautiful views ever! We saw all the giants of the world! Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Mount Everest and many other mountains. The sky was clear blue and it was simply amazing!
We decided it was to heavy to continue because the way we felt. I still wasn't fully recovered from the flu and my dad had a hard time with his bronchitis. A hard decision, because now we didn't make our goals at all. But we didn't want to push our health condition any more than we already done. So from Pherice we went back to Pangboche, to Tengboche (3800m). In Tengboche is a really important monastry of the area. We visit it and were allowed to take pictures. In this villlage is a real German Konditorei with really good cake and coffee. From here we went to Khumjung (3790m), which is a big village close to Namche Bazar. Sir Edmund Hillary founded a school here. Kids going to this school get really good education and are able to study in countries as Japan or Australia. People living in the mountains are poor and have a hard life, so this is an unique opportunity.
Because we had to change our plans we had to many days at the end. We had to stay another two days in Namche Bazar, one more in Phakding and then back to Lukla. Early morning we flew back to Kathmandu. During the trip it was not really possible to have a (good) shower, so back in the hotel I stayed for half an hour under the shower! It was so nice!
It was a beautiful trip, but because we were feeling sick all the time it was tough and we didn't really enjoy it so much. The weather was not too good. Every day cloudy and rain at the end of the day. Always cold, wet and dusty in the lodges. Fortunately we had a few beautiful days with gorgeous views which we'll never forget about.
So one day in Kathmandu and time to start feeling human again. The weather was good, warm and sunny. We repacked our stuff and sorted out what we needed for the week white water rafting (which is not more then some sleeping stuff, bading suit and dry clothes).
Next moring the organisation picked us up and drove us to the Sun Kosi river. A three hour drive through the chaotic trafic of Nepal. We were with a small group: two people kayaking and three Nepali guys, my dad and I for the raft. It was a 16'' inch raft and we were with only five people. If you know something about rafting, you know this can go wrong! And so it went. The Sun Kosi has rapids of white water level 5 (6 is the highest level and not possible to do). And such a big raft needs a 7 to 9 people. We missed a lot of power on the raft.
Day one and two were fine, nice and we did some nice rapids of level 3 and 4. I got a chance to do some guiding too. Really cool. I did it before in Belgium and Wales, but this was much more challenging. So far so good!
Day three was it when it when wrong, really wrong. We arrived at a rapid level 5 and did some scouting before trying to conquer the rapid. The rapid was devided in two areas. Starting with high waves and holes (water turns round like in a washmachine and it's hard to get out if you fall in it, so that's dangerous), and some more big waves around the corner. I didn't feel to sure about it, but the guide said it was possible. The guys in the kayaks went first and stopped half way in case some thing went wrong to help us out.... It went WRONG!! The raft flipped at the first hole! We had not enough people, not enough power, to manouvre the raft round the difficult point in the rapid. My dad, I and a Nepali guy felt out the raft, been under water for a long time and when we came up the raft was nowhere to be found. The kayak guys pushed us out the water to side before the second part of the rapid started. All the things we packed on the raft (camping gear, food, other stuff) got loose and drifted off on the river. For us there was no possible way to get back in/on the water. We had to hike for three hours in the bush with peddles, life jacket, helmet and water shoes.... It was horrible. Finally we arrived at the spot where the guide stopped the raft. He had been able with one of the other Nepali guys to get all the loose gear back. I was totally exhausted, angry and upset. It had been irreponsible to do the rapid. The guide should had know better. He put our lifes in danger. It could had go wrong, we could had drown.
Next four days I felt really uncomfortable, but there was no way to quit. We had to finish the trip. I didn't trust the guide any more and I was just scared with every upcoming rapid that I drove the guide crazy. That is just so not me! I'm an outdoor sports guide myself and did many adventurous things. But then I was in control and knew what was coming. But now I only had a peddle and the knowledge that we had not enough power for big rapids... Fortunately there where no more rapids like the one where we crashed.
Every night we slept on small beaches. Some were like a bounty island. White sand, palm trees, waterfall and jungle sounds. As soon as we arrived people came within half an hour and just watch you doing your thing. They sat down and looked at us if we were aliens. When it got dark they left and next morning they came back. Just to watch and hoping to catch some food / things we gave away or left behind. And it's not that the people stay at a distance. No, they will just sit one meter away of you, starring at you.... Some times I got crazy of it. I'm not a circus attraction!
Last day on the raft was only one hour. But there where some village people that had to cross the river. At once we were sitting with 10 people in the raft, but still five peddles. The bus ride back to Kathmandu is one to never forget. Three hours drive on a road with holes so big that even quads would have problems to drive there. Then we hit the highway! In Europe it would be a bad country road and they drive so fast! Crazy. In the mountains I tought the driver was going to kill us. Even in Africa they drive more safe and responsible. The distance to Kathmandu was about 800km. It took us 27 hours....!!!! 19 hours of being shaked and frightened by the drivers skills and 8 hours of waiting. There was an army checkpoint just before the highway went into the jungle. The road was blocked because in the jungle Indian rebels where fighting with the army. The rebels wanted to hijack the night busses and do robberies. It didn't take long before 50 vehicles were in line waiting for the army to clear the area. I met some Nepali guys in the bus and went outside to play cards. What else can you do?? Make the best of it was my motto. I had an experience like this before when I was in Ghana. Early morning we finally could go. Late afternoon we arrived at the hotel. Hot shower, dinner and time to go to bed.... What a bus ride! Unbelieveble! But we survived and managed. Next day it was time to go back home again!
It was really great to do a trip like this with my dad. That is special. Many things turned out different then we planned and expected but we made the best of it and it was worth it.
Nepal is a beautiful land with amazing things, friendly people, warm culture, and many good things. Off course not every thing is good. People are poor, there is so much pollution and a lot of (animal) cruelty. But I can imagine myself going back some day. My dad never wants to come back or leave my mum for a whole month with hardly and contact again. Understandeble.