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Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Jayke Duncan’s experiences in Chitwan

My journey at Batase may have ended (for now) but my experience with Take On Nepal was far from over. After saying our final goodbyes to the village we made our way back to Kathmandu via a lovely downhill walk through the surrounding villages, taking the time to look back and have a last glimpse of the snow capped Lantang ranges. I took the time to reflect on my time at the village and the attachment I now have with Batase, thinking about the impact I had on the village and its impact on me.

Soon as Batase and then the Himalayas faded from view we made out way down a winding track to where a Jeep was to pick us up to finish our commute to Kathmandu. I took the opportunity to go ahead and take a run, without doubt the best viewing run I’ve ever had overlooking the green valleys and mountains of greater Kathmandu and also to have some friendly banter with the locals along the way. We were not simply going to Kathmandu to then all go our separate ways, rather we would be departing the next day for Chilean national park.

The bus ride there was an experience in itself, 6 hours on a very bumpy dry road with endless trucks transporting goods between Nepal and India made for a challenging ride, the winding road snaked around a wonderful river with the occasional sighting of keen white water rafters was a nice sight however. Chitwan and its surrounds are a stark contrast to Kathmandu; the cold replaced with a dense fog and humid air amongst the dense forest that makes up the national park.

It was exciting to see signs indicating the presence of Rhinos, Tigers and Crocodiles! none of which I had seen in the flesh. After spending a nice relaxing night in a top notch hotel after an arduous bus ride Sandhip who also happens to be a qualified Chitwan guide gave us a lowdown of the days schedule, first a dawn canoe to spot crocodiles and other marine life, then a jungle walk followed by an elephant and crocodile sanctuary visit and lastly a jungle safari to (hopefully) spot a tiger!

The canoe ride was probably my favourite activity of the day. The morning fog made for a setting of a horror movie except this was real and he crocodiles lurking underneath the fog in the shallow river were real too! For a while we cruised into the mist, nervously looking and semi hoping to spot a crocodile with no luck, however just as we passed close to the river bank a massive man eater was staring us down, no more than 10 metres away! The thing was huge! Luckily he wasn’t in an energetic mood, content at death staring us while our jaws dropped and trembled. An amazing sight! After that I was definitely glad to get back on land, taking a risk with a tiger encounter seemed nothing when seeing the size of that croc!

The jungle walk was not as eventful however with only harmless birds and remnants of termite nests being things to note, however the landscapes of swampland surrounded by dense forest was pleasing. The elephant sanctuary was a divisive and controversial experience for me. Sandhip perfectly rationalised the intent and aims of the elephants held captive there, however seeing them chained up by their front legs and having limited movement seemed like an injustice and approaching torture when considering these animals intelligence. The younger elephants however were free to roam and I was lucky enough to get a few selfies with one and give it a good head rub.

The crocodile sanctuary however has good intent, bringing fish eating crocodiles back from the brink of exctinction in the area to now having healthy numbers. It’s amazing to see these creatures right up front, creatures that literally are dinosaurs, you can see how they have lasted so long with bodies made for hunting! Lastly came the jungle jeep safari and it’s safe to say everyone was looking forward to this! 4 hours we spent eagle eyed in anticipation for the slightest movement in amongst the dense grasslands and jungle landscape.

For a while we didn’t see anything, thats the way these things go, there are no guarantees, however soon enough we spotted different varieties of deer, monkeys and a rhino! Unfortunately no tiger this time but you can look at it as a glass half full or glass half empty situation, at least we saw a Rhino! Soon the sun started to set, not only on the jungle safari, but on the chitwan experience and ultimately our Take On Nepal adventure. We headed back to Kathmandu the following day to spend one last night together, to reflect on an eventful three weeks and to say our final goodbyes.

I think it is just to say that each of us learned a lot about ourselves by opening our eyes and our hearts to Nepal and Batase and it’s wonders, but most importantly we embraced the culture and the people that shape this wonderful country. I speak for myself when I suggest that in the midst of some serious issues involving empowerment and education, the spirit of the people guided by visionary Som and the love and openness they have for one another will succeed in breaking down these walls that are the final hurdles to Batase and Nepal eradicating these challenges. Important in aiding these goals is the help, wisdom and expertise we can give to aid in overcoming the hardships that they face.

To summarise my sentiments on how I felt about this experience would be to say that I had given a lot of my heart and soul to the village because they gave me back so much more with their warm hearts and endearing spirit. I’ve never met people with more gratitude and sustained happiness as the people of Batase. The village showcased this to me and all of the volunteers, making us feel so warm and appreciated. I’ll never forget the innocence of the children of Batase, written all over their adorable faces. It is this innocence which deserves our help and support. Thank you Batase, and thank you Take On Nepal for this amazing experience.

~ Jayke Duncan (January 2017)

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