This April our team of “five” Judith, Julia, Blanca, Tom and myself decided to discover not so explored far-western corner of Nepal. I remember as one of my friends in Berlin knowing our intentions said: “If you want to see Real Nepal, go to the Far West of the country”. No sooner said than done.
Dhangadhi was the first place in Nepal after we crossed the border. Here in Dhangadhi we met Ashish and Deepak from Tourism Development Society (www.farwestnepal.org). It is a local non-governmental organization, which focuses on marketing of unexplored destinations and supporting local communities through sustainable tourism development in the region. They helped to organize accommodation in the villages and the vehicle.
Our main target in the far-western Nepal was the visit to Khaptad National Park (KPN). The huge plateau of the KPN is located at altitude of 3000m above sea level. The tourism activities are still limited in the region, but are the additional incomes for communities living in the buffer zone of the Park. The villagers of Baglekh, Jingrana, Silgadhi are trying to make their efforts to welcome the first tourists offering food and accommodation. They are happy to share their unique culture with curious travelers.
First we drove through the plain jungles of Terai (flatland in Nepal), then through the hilly sub-alpine forest, and the last hours of our drive we could feel the chilly wind from the Himalayas. We reached Silgadhi. In the 13th century here was Doti Kingdom known as Kindom of Raika. They were famous for their wars of conquest and brave warriors. Today on the market place we witnessed the dance with swords. It is spectacular performance with 40 dancers. Forty swords were drawing their lines in the air through the synchronous, proud and graceful movements of dancers who as forty warriors brought us to the times of conquests and kings of Raika.
We reached KNP tired and happy by evening. In the morning we held our cups with coffee or tea, and were staring at the morning Khaptad plateau. It was so silent! A mysterious haze was arising from the meadows and trees’ tops as if this huge plateau was alive and breathing. It had a whole night to make its deep breathing in, and in the morning to make breathing out. Such a magic beauty I saw nowhere!
We left backpacks outside and jumped into the dining room and greeted the hosts. The girl kept a small baby, who tried through smiling to find a common language with the guests. A red curtain separated dining room and kitchen, so we could also snoop what was happening there. There the tea preparation was in the process. Everyone had its own method of milk tea drinking – ones collected the frothy milk mooring it to the walls of the glass, others finished the frothy milk first, and sipped the tea. This tea we had in Jingrana was the best tea we had in Nepal.