In search of Himalaya views.....Nargakot

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October 3rd 2013
Published: December 9th 2013
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With 2 weeks or so before our Base camp trek was due to start, we decided to head out of the smog filled city and head for the Kathmandu Valley. Doing this would achieve two things. Firstly, we would be able to get away from the imposing fumes that the city forces upon you 24/7 ergo extending our life for a good 2 years or so at least, and secondly, to get some much needed walking practice in and getting fit, whilst admiring some of the countryside.

We didn’t really have a plan for this fortnight, and to be honest, this suited us just fine. Being a little more spontaneous was something we had hoped for ever since leaving India. So, flicking through various maps and guides, we finally stumbled upon Nargakot, just 20km east of Kathmandu. Far enough away from the pollution, but close enough that we could easily catch a local bus there, thus saving us money too. As we left a rather rainy Patan, we splashed our way to the local bus station with our macs on and large bags in tow. On reaching the station, it was clear this was no tourist friendly zone as buses and people were just strewn around what seemed to be a large car park. Having gone a full 5 minutes or so walking round and getting nowhere, we were suddenly very aware that no one had hassled us or had touted for our business. Nepal was quickly becoming a country we loved!

Eventually, we decided to ask someone if the bus they were standing by was the one we needed. It wasn’t, however the guy pointed toward a bus the other side of the station and muttered something in Nepali. We thanked him, assuming he had helped us, and on approaching said bus, it seemed the thanks was valid, as a guy hanging out of the door of this bus confirmed this was our ride. About 45 minutes later (much of this just to get out of the traffic in the city) we arrived in Bhaktapur, where we changed buses. Another hour later watching an elderly lady smoke out of the window followed by throwing up out of the same window, we had arrived in Nargarkot. Having been sitting near the front, we waited for everyone to offload and were immediately shocked at the sheer amount of people getting off. Leaving Bhaktapur a full bus and picking up all manner of people on the way, we hadn’t noticed just how full this bus was and watching everyone leave the bus we realised that a maximum number of passengers wasn’t something Nepal adhered to!

The weather was still fairly depressing and having walked to our hotel, we were yet to see the fine views of the Himalayas that Nargarkot is famous for. Still, we were here for at least three nights, so hopefully we would catch these views at some point during our stay. That evening on the way back from what was becoming our afternoon ritual of consuming a steaming pot of Masala tea, we were rewarded with a clearance in the clouds, and although this wasn’t the side we needed clearing in order to see the Himalayas, it was still a very impressive and welcomed sight. This gave us hope of a clear day for the morrow.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and the clear day that we had hoped for was instead a miserable, wet and cloudy morning. Not being able to see more than 10 metres or so in front of us meant that any hopes of a nice view today were quickly gone. Being that the cloud was so thick, it also meant that hiking on our own would have been miserable and potentially even dangerous, so we decided to swerve this too. It turned into a day to sort out some emails, look on the internet and sort out some photos……well, it would have if there wasn’t a power cut that lasted for the entire day. Bored and with nothing constructive to do, we decided that we needed to get out, and so fully kitted out with macs and hiking boots, we walked around the local streets in the pouring rain. Not the most fun we have ever had, however it stopped us from going stir crazy, and at least got us walking as we had come here to do. After a little while, we decided it was tea time again and so stopped off in the ‘Hotel at the end of the Universe’ close to our own place. Here, the atmosphere was great, the people friendly and the place had a great cosy feel to it as the rain lashed down outside. Having stopped here for a while though, by the time we left the rain had stopped and the clouds again had started to clear just in time for sunset. Trying to find a good spot for pictures was proving difficult until someone on an opposing roof called down to me and suggested I join them in a better position. Having made my way there, I was gutted I hadn’t come here earlier and quickly went to get Donna from our room. With the Himalayas still out of view, it didn’t really matter as the sunset over the valley was superb, and a great ending to a wet yet ever improving day.

Waking up to the alarm at 6.00am, I poked my head out of the curtains in the hope that a decent sunrise would be viewable from our room. Sadly for us, it wasn’t. As I was now up, I decided to take a walk down to the town in order to buy fresh…….. of course I didn’t, I went back to bed for another 3 hours like the lazy idle person I am! Despite the lack of a decent sunrise, it seemed that today would be a much better day than the last. The cloud had lifted significantly, and so we readied ourselves for a walk to the view tower. A 2 hour walk return seemed like a decent place for us to start our walking again, and seeing as we were currently 2000m above sea level, we would also get to test out our lungs with at least a bit of altitude.

The walk itself was actually fine and challenged our out of practice legs fairly well with the trails undulating hills. Reaching the tower itself was a bitter sweet victory for us in the end as although we were glad our legs still worked, the views were again a little disappointing. Taking my boots off to examine a rather nasty forming blister that I would need to get sorted before base camp, there was at least some excitement at the highest point of Nargakot. I felt a tad itchy under my arm yet taking a look under my shirt it seemed there was no reason for this. Putting the shirt back down again and taking another look at my skanky foot I felt the same itchiness once more. Lifting up my shirt again and asking Donna if there was anything there as I was paranoid, she replied ‘’Err, yeah there is. It’s big, black and furry’’…… I wasn’t best pleased with this comment from Donna. Starting to now panic and jump up and down to the amusement of others that were at the view tower too, I asked/screamed at Donna to get rid of it. Giving Donna her dues, she did remove the creepy crawley from the pit of my shirt despite her fear of bugs, but it was probably a little slower than I would have ideally liked. Seeing this black, furry beast dropping to the floor, it turned out to be a rather fat and horrible looking caterpillar. Pretty gross, and I just hoped that it wasn’t one of these weird poisonous ones you hear about on a David Attenborough programme! Whilst descending from the view tower, Donna noticed another spot that seemed worth checking out off the main path. When we reached the top of the small hill, we were glad we did as the views of the valley and Nargarkot were spectacular, and actually much better than what we had experienced from the highest point.

Reaching Nargarkot again and feeling a little peckish and parched we decided to grab a drink and some Momos for a late afternoon snack. We should have known that this place was going to be trouble when it took an hour for them to bring us a Coke and a hot chocolate….. Nearly 2 hours in to waiting for our small snack, I asked how much longer our food would be. His reply was 15 minutes…. We paid for the drinks and got out of there before our new found patience was compromised. Another visit to our new favourite local eatery was our next destination instead, and disappointed, we were not.

The day we were due to leave, we once again hit the end of the universe, this time for breakfast and were finally rewarded with our view of the Himalayas. It was a sight that we had waited for since arriving here, and it was one that we had lost all hope of seeing. Drinking our tea and eating our delicious breakfast we ate in near silence as we looked on in awe of the famous Langtang range of the Himalayas through our cafes window. It took until the last day to see this wonderful sight, but man was it worth the wait….

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