‘Undiscovered places that is what we are looking for!’
Khaptad National Park, situated in Far West Nepal, is already a few years on our bucketlist. The park offers a fantastic variety of landscapes between the 1400 and 3300 meter. Due to its remote location, tourists hardly go there. For us a perfect destination to experience a new adventure. So time to start the engine of our motorbike and to explore this area.
On a early morning in May 2017 we leave Bardia Homestay on our motorbike for a 8 hours drive, carrying a big backpack with campinggear and and a smaller day backpack with some cloths. Sitting on the motorbike I feel the travel jitters. Adventure and freedom is calling. On the other hand I know that I am not very well prepaired. Taking the dog out for short walks, wearing flip flops, doesn’t really count as much exercise. So I hope my will-power, past experience and my blister plasters will drag me through it.
When we are just up north from Atariya, we pass a big statue of the Hindu God ‘Hanuman’. People believe that he protects them from accidents. Let’s pray he will protect us too. The well paved road with many hairpin bends climbs up from 150 meters to 3000 meters. The landscape is extremely varied and everywhere around us we see pintree forest, rhodondendrons, gorgeous deep valleys and mountain peaks. After the high temperatures of the Terai, it is a blessing to feel some chilly wind blowing through our hair. Yes this is freedom! After 310 kilometer we arrive at Sakayal where we spend the night in a lodge.
The next day our goal is to reach Jhingrana, the starting point of our trek into Khaptad National Park. We drive 40 kilometer along the beautiful Seti Nadi river up to Silghadi where we ask several people where the hiking trail to Jhingrana starts. Finally we park our bike in the sleeping room of a man we never met before. How kind the Nepali people are! They also tell us that it is only a 3 hours walk to Jhingrana. Nepali people are like mountain goats, they walk much faster than I do. I take into account that it will take us at least 4 hours.
The first hour it is pretty hard to reach the top of the enormous mountain peak and the first blister has appeared. After this peak we walk mainly through a flat forest area and we enjoy amazing views on the rice fields in the valley. After 2,5 hours we reach the small village of Baglek where we can luckily fill up our waterbottles at a waterpomp. The water is tasty and cold. Although my muscles are protesting, we have to move on and we walk further on a rocky and sandy road.
After 20 minutes we hear the sound of a jeep. Yes in Nepal everything is possible! Sitting in the jeep I smell sweat, I guess it is from my own lapping armpits. After a bumpy ride we arrive 30 minutes later in Jhingrana, just before a heavy thunder storm appears. There we sleep in a very simple homestay. The owners are not there, but the neighbour and her daughters take care of us very well and give us more information about Khaptad National Park, the treks and possibilities to sleep inside the park.
Luckily the sun lightens the valley the next morning. At the entrance the ranger says that only 100 foreigners each year visit the park. Undiscovered places that is what we are looking for! Today we have to climb up from 2250 to 2900 meter to reach Bichpani camp. The signboard tells us it will be around 5 kilometer, probably a 4 hours walk. We climb up on rocky trails surrounded by flowering rhodondendrons. The silence of the forest is interrupted by singing birds and the pants of my breath.
On the way we pass an older couple with their two sons, who go to Khaptad every year to bring offers to the Tribeni temple up there. Besides its natural beauty Khaptad also has a rich spiritual history. Khaptad Baba, the renowned spiritual saint after which this region takes its name, is said to have meditated here for 50 years.
The older lady walks slowly on her flip flops. And I realize how lucky I am that I can walk on my hiking boots. I decide there is no reason to complain. During tough moments on the mountain I always count 100 steps, look down and I am proud on myself. I look around to enjoy all the miracles nature has to offer. Like the grunting wildboar with her small piglets who run away as soon as they hear us.
After 4 hours and some tough moments, we reach Bichpani camp. What a relief. The family who runs this place, starts to cook immediately. The older couple also arrives, but they move on to Khaptad even while they are very tired. We stay at this beautiful spot in the forest. While we are enjoying our chapati lunch the temperature drops down. Time to crole into our sleeping bag for an afternoon nap. In the evening we sit together with the family in the kitchen near the fire stove and enjoy our Dhal Bhaat.
After a good breakfast with roti and omelet we are ready to go move on to Khaptad Camp which is situated 15 kilometer further on. The hiking trail between Bichpani Camp and Khaptad is just gorgeous. Atlhough the altitude difference between them is only 165 meter we ascend and descend all the time and pass several times a 3100 meter high altitude point. In meanwhile we are rewarded with oak and pineforest, bamboeforest, rhododendron forest, rolling green hills, moorlands, steep slopes and streams.
If we almost reach Khaptad Camp after 3, 5 hours we meet some older ladies walking with a group of goats. That means people do live in this remote area. In the hut at Khaptad camp some men with weathered faces are sitting. They are the shepherds who come here in summertime to let their cattle grazing on the green meadows. Again some thunder clouds appear and soon it starts to rain. Luckily we sit close tot the fire and in the evening we crawl into our sleepingbags in a very simple room with some matrasses on the floor.
Unfortunately our time doesn’t allow us to stay longer in this area, but it is definitely worthwhile to explore the area for another 2 days. Today a porter carries our backpacks so we can walk fast. Under a blue sky we walk back to Bichpani camp where we have breakfast. We take a rest for one hour to recharge so that we are ready for the steep descend to Jhingrana. A hearty walking pace brings us in 2 hours back in Jhingrana, where we can share a jeep with some Nepali people to reach Silghadi. The road is bumpy, rocky and sandy. This requires some well developed driver skills. In Silghadi we pick up our motorbike from where we drive to the lodge in Sakayal. Mountain hiking requires perseverance, stretching your limits and to keep focus on the present time and the goals you want to reach. And after reaching your goal it is a great pleasure to celebrate it. We do it with a well deserved cold beer.
We can help you to explore Khaptad National Park
Khaptad is a very remote area where you will experience the real authentic Nepal with overwhelming nature. The best time to visit is between mid-September to December and March till the end of May. We can arrange a custom made itinerary for you including transport, places to sleep (in lodges or in a tent), a guide and porters. A roundtrip will take between 7 to 10 days, depending on your wishes, budget, health and trekking experience.
Read and see more
Read more about Khaptad National Park on the page Far West Nepal Activities. More pictures you will find on our websitepage Bardia Gallery. For a video impression check youtube ‘Trekking in Khaptad National Park’ and Youtube ‘on the road in West Nepal’