If you should find yourself in Nepal
If you need to make an 8 hour drive across a Himalayan mountain range
If you suffer from a little bit of vertigo…
…then take my advice and DON’T DO IT!!!
Unfortunately for us the regular road between Kathmandu and Chitwam which takes 4 hours was closed for reconstruction! Dammit.
This meant that our VW Ventro had to take the longer and HIGHER road over the mountains!!!
Road in this instance is probably a bit of an overstatement. Dirt track or continual series of enormous pot holes would be more accurate. We did have some tarmac for say 100 yards then it disappeared!
To put things into perspective Ben Nevis stands at 1345m and we drove over several peaks that were 2844m. In most cases the road clung to the edge of the mountain and there were some VERY sheer drops.
As you can imagine safety is not a primary feature of these roads and so barriers were only occasional.
If you did however find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to make such a trip here are some things to watch out for:
1. The driver zigzagging across the already quite narrow road to avoid pot holes
2. Said zigzagging placing you directly in the path of oncoming large trucks
3. Said zigzagging taking you perilously close to the edge (see aforementioned sheer and extremely long drops)
4. Toilet stops. Ok so basically being in a car for 8 hours straight with 3 blokes and NO TOILETS!
5. Finding a remote toilet only to discover that a) they are filthy b) they are squats c) they are communal!!! Four holes in the ground and no cubicles. Just picture it ladies. However needs must. Fortunately I was alone except for a 6yo girl. Now I am going to assume that her prolonged stare was simply because I am a white middle aged lady not because I was having a wee!
6. Stopping for a cup of mountain tea (small one in my case on account of the self enforced fluid restrictions- see points 4 & 5). This was fairly pleasant and we were given a biscuit which attracted the attention of what felt like all the dogs on that side of the mountain. During the break Kevin chatting to the driver about how much more difficult/dangerous the drive would be in the rain. 20 minutes later the raindrops splashing down making the dirt track muddy and slippy – particularly near the very sheer edges!!! Thanks chaps that really helped my confidence levels.
7. Having a puncture and having to stand at the side of the dirt track/road whilst your driver & guide change the wheel.
But nothing NOTHING is as bad as
8. Your driver pausing close to an edge, opening his door and looking back to see how close the back wheels are to the sheer drop!!!! And you are sitting directly above those back wheels. OMG! That is the stuff of nightmares.
I tried closing my eyes but to be honest that was worse as my imagination just ran riot and I pictured us tumbling to our doom or worse having one wheel off the edge and tipping precariously.
Most of the time we were being hurled from side to side over the rough ground and I wished that we had been in a 4×4
And this torture took 6 solid hours. The other 2 hours were on the flat with the driver playing dare with the oncoming traffic every time he overtook (which was often) but by then I didn’t care. A head on collision was way preferable to the terror of driving at height over those roads.
Not many pictures in this blog. I rarely let go of the door handle…
Kevin has more. He quite enjoyed the experience.
I’ve said we’re returning by a different route.