Exhilarating journey to Kathmandu
After my brief visit to Royal Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal, we finally managed to get a ride back to Kathmandu. This was in a mini bus arranged by the manager of the hotel where we were staying. It was far more comfortable than the battered and cramped conditions of the small 4WD we had travelled in the previous day.
We woke early, well before dawn. We had a light breakfast before leaving. For the first hour or so the journey was slow. Not only was the road very pot holed, but the fog was extremely thick. There was no doubt that we would not have been able to fly back to Kathmandu, even if we had been able to get tickets.
At first the traffic was relatively light, but after dawn this increased markedly. Our driver was very skilled at avoiding pot holes, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, children, larger buses and overtaking ponderous trucks labouring through the hills.
As we began the climb up to Kathmandu the scenery along the road became truly spectacular. The highway follow a river valley so the road was rarely straight. I had no opportunity to take photos: I needed to hang on to the rail on the back of the seat in front of me to prevent myself from being thrown from one side of the bus to the other.
The river far below the road was boulder strewn and would have been an excellent white water rafting location. What worried me was the drop of over a hundred metres from the road to the river. There was little in the way of barriers between the road and the river. The few barriers that were there seemed very inadequate in my mind.
Added to that concern were the frequent – perhaps every hundred metres or so – road signs warning about falling rocks from the mountains above the road. Both of these concerns made me forget about the hazards of the road itself. The driver was very skillful at overtaking on crests, blind corners and at avoiding collisions in the face of oncoming traffic.
It was truly a “white-knuckle” ride.
- Chitwan to KathmanduÂ – extracts from my travel journal