Just back from another tremendous Nepal trip. Went to stay with Miles Chadwick, mate who runs Land Rovers Overland, and he kindly arranged a drive out across the west of the country, a thousand-odd miles which covered most Nepali landscapes, – from the urban chaos of Kathmandu to the green Kathmandu Valley, from the heat and the humidity of the Terai to the beauty and the wilderness of the foothills of the Himalayas. Our ultimate destination was Rara Lake, the biggest lake in the country, and we reached it via an exploration of the mountains north of Pokhara, two nights with Gurkhas at the British Army Gurkha Welfare Centre at Bheri near Surkhet and a series of very long and rough drives along twisty mountain trails to Mugu District and the lake itself.
We travelled in three Land Rovers – a 2014 Defender, a 1993 Discovery and a 1996 Range Rover. Initially travelling on tarmac, we soon lost that as we meandered into the hills north of Pokhara and spent an absorbing time trundling between hill villages along tracks that surely hadn’t seen motor vehicles before. Locals were very welcoming and friendly (typical for Nepal) and it was with regret that we plunged back down into Pokhara where we spent the night at the lakeside.
The next few days were a maelstrom of trail driving, pounding north to Rara. We stopped at Bheri en route and were hosted by the excellent team at Gurkha Welfare Centre Bheri, run by the British Army to provide pensions and benefits to British Gurkha veterans and their families. They do tremendous work and it really opened my eyes to the importance of fundraising back in the UK for the pensions and welfare of the ferocious, cheerful and friendly mountain tribesmen who fight as part of the British Army.
Rara itself was a large freshwater lake under the shadow of the Himalayas and we camped there – though sadly not at the lakeside.
An absorbing trip – hoping that the original intention to get to Bhutan can be carried out in a return to the region in August!