Far out of the dusty city, we discovered the true beauty of Nepal in the peaceful, higher reaches of the Himalayas in the gorge of the Bhote Kosi River, just a few kilometres from Tibet. We had an idea of what to expect, but what we experienced exceeded every expectation that we had.
The three-hour bus journey from the city to our haven of tranquillity was indeed a learning curve for every traveller. Burned out buses lay sorrowfully on the unforgiving sides of the narrow roadways; this is probably as a result of the crazy way of driving here: I mean, who, in their right mind, overtakes vehicles on approaching a sharp bend, which has a drop of several hundred metres below?
In order to reach our night’s stay we had to leave the narrow road, which wound itself around the mountains, and cross an even narrower footbridge that was suspended high across the Bhote Kosi. Shortly after arrival, we unpacked our things inside the tent that we stayed in: simple, yet probably the best accommodation we have had, complete with a corrugated iron roof to block out any rain. And then came the moment of truth: the briefing for our first extreme activity. Jon didn’t truly know what he had let himself in for until the activity had been completed. Simon, however, had a fair idea of what might be involved, which is why he (wisely) decided to be a mere observer.
Standing on a slightly wobbly wire bridge, looking down into a narrow gorge one-hundred-and-sixty metres below where the fiercely gushing river raged, Jon took the leap with only a bungee cord tied to his ankles. As soon as he had made his jump from the platform, he let out yells of surprise and amazement. The speed at which he fell was tremendous, and he became fully aware of this as he felt air rushing past his whole body whilst he fell closer to the rocky river beneath. What was just as scary was the elastic energy in the bungee cord that caused Jon to spring back up, allowing everybody on the viewing platform to see him again, and hear a whole new scream.
Back at the camp the atmosphere was very friendly and the food was very scrumptious. What’s more is that where we ate had a unique feel to it: tables with short, stumpy legs with decorative bolsters and cushions for seats, all raised on a slate platform. We felt like Nepali kings! And when we were outside the candlelit, sheltered bar, lying in the hammocks gazing at the solo star that was framed by the surrounding mountains, we felt like Nepali deities.
Just as we thought it couldn’t get any better, waking up the next morning was great. To peer out at the rising sun through wooden shutters whilst having our first hot showers in the Himalayas, followed by the best breakfast for a long, long time! There was a selection of cereal with hot milk, fruit and yoghurt, chilli omelettes and toast, heavily spread with yak butter. The yak butter was interesting. It was sweeter than the butter that we are used to, though the texture was similar. We filled our bellies to the max to gear up for another exciting day!
What was it going to be? Well, it had to be white water rafting in the roaring rapids that we could hear from our tents. Perhaps it was the Bhote Kosi calling us to play. Following a quick briefing of how to respond to commands of the raft captain, we were soon off into the boiling cauldron! As we neared towards the fast-flowing descents, we picked up added speed by paddling forwards as fast as possible. Most of the time we all got absolutely drenched, but nothing stopped us! We couldn’t get enough of the rapids. As we descended down some of the rapids, our raft started spinning and we mostly ended up in reverse, adding to the thrill. This is possibly going to be a new hobby!
After yet another exciting day, in possibly one of the most beautiful locations on Earth, we headed back to the polluted environment of Kathmandu, where we will be based for our next adventures.