Travel Nepal for Real Adventure

Travel to Nepal from Darjeeling requires a stop at customs.

Indian Customs, where we found out about the transportation strike in Nepal.

If you plan to travel Nepal, keep in mind that your plans could change at any given moment. That’s what happened to my friends and me – a group of four adults and three very small children weaving our way from Darjeeling, India through mountains, forests and hairpin turns to make our way over the border into Nepal.

It was going to be a three or four hour ride by van to get to the border, and then another 30 minute ride through the Nepalese countryside to Bhadrapur Airport to catch a flight on Yeti Air to Katmandu.  Piece of cake, right?

Well not really.

Travel to Nepal Might Entail Surprises

Bicycle rickshaws take travelers to Nepal to points beyond the border.

Before crossing over we made a customs stop, where we learned that there was a transportation strike in Nepal. That meant no motor vehicles on the roads, unless you were driving a police car or ambulance.

So what were our options? Basically, bicycle rickshaw. With three very small children and an Everest-sized mountain of luggage (my friend, a Sherpa I met in California in fact, was returning to Nepal to visit family. So we all had gifts and other paraphernalia stuffed in with our bulky winter clothing). Rickshaws were pretty much our only choice. Being the least maternal of the group, I got most of the duffel bags in my ride – the other adults got a piece of luggage or two and a kid.

Anyway it turned out to be the BEST tour of Nepal I could ask for. This was even better than seeing the Taj Mahal in India! Why?

Rickshaws a great way to travel Nepal.

My rickshaw driver seemed to be the fastest...

Yes, it was initially annoying and uncomfortable, but I got to experience parts of the countryside I would have missed had I been sitting in a van, primarily because bicycle speed allows you time to see, hear and smell a lot more of everything.

I had time to sit back and enjoy the ride through the forest, or through farm country. I waved to small children on the roadside like I was royalty. I shot a whole bunch of photos, breathed in the smell of yak shit and somehow enjoyed every moment.  It really was unforgettable.

You want to know the best part? Despite arriving at Bhadrapur Airport about two hours late, we still made our flight because it too, had been delayed.

Travel Nepal by rickshaw for a closer look into day-to-day living.

Farm life in the Nepalese countryside.

Now, I will have to admit that it was fairly easy to make the best of a bad situation in this case: Traveling with a native who speaks several of the regional languages, does all of the negotiating for fares, and deals with the customs officers…takes a lot of pressure off me…all I had to do was be patient and follow directions.

Still, I’d like to believe I would have enjoyed this trip just as much had I been alone or traveling with non-natives. The experience was just too special for me to doubt it.

TIP #1: Befriend a Sherpa whenever you can. You’ll be glad you did, for many more reasons than for having a great guide in Nepal.

TIP#2: Transportation logistics are often a problem in India and Nepal. Stay flexible and have a back-up plan in case things go awry.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 21:38:13

    I’m jealous. You saw yaks.


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