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The Great Taplejung Trek

Route Tharpu >> Pathibhara
Date February 15, 2015
Hike Duration 5 days
Coordinator Prabhat Man Sainju
Participants Neeraj Sharma, Prabhat Man Sainju, Rudra Pandey, Rosina Shakya, Sabnam Lakhey
Report By Sabnam Lakhey
Photos By Prabhat Man Sainju, Rosina Shakya, Rudra Pandey
Creative Support Ankita Dev, Kanchan Raj Pandey
Edited By Ankita Dev

Sabnam LakheySabnam Lakhey
Everyone at Deerwalk is always excited to go trekking with Rudra Pandey. Only few get the opportunity to be a part of these adventurous trek. I was one of them, this time with Rosina Shakya, Prabhat Man Sainju and Neeraj Sharma. Our target of trekking was Great Himalayan Trail Low Route – Kanchanjunga Section. The GHT Low Route is a cultural route which goes mostly through the mid-hills between 1,500m and 2,500m. It offers a great view of the Himalaya as well as giving a chance to learn about the culture and traditions of Nepal’s various ethnic groups.

Day 1: Drive from Kathmandu to Birtamod
Our trekking started with a long drive of around 12 hours from Kathmandu to Birtamod. Although we work in a same company, participants of this trek were not close enough with each other except for office work. Thus, the first day was a little awkward day to travel as we hardly knew each other. Office van was small for five of us to fit in, Rudra sat in the front seat and we four colleagues managed to squeeze at the back seat. However, we managed and started our journey to Taplejung. We were excited about this trek and afraid too, except for Rudra; who is an experienced trekker, all of us were new trekkers.

Kedar was driving, we had crossed Banepa and Rudra was asking each of us ‘Are you excited and how are you feeling?’; in a confused way I said ‘ Ya, I am excited.’ but at the mean time I was thinking ‘Oh my God, I’m really going. Will I be able walk for 5-6 day? What if I fail to walk or I get sick in the midway, what would Rudra say?’. But I had to prove that girls can also do it, this was the first time Rudra took girls with him, so I moved on with the challenge that I have to do it.

But I had to prove that girls can also do it, this was the first time Rudra took girls with him, so I moved on with the challenge that I have to do it

We were travelling on the BP highway, which has recently been renovated. Although it was very winding, the roads were constructed very beautifully. Travelling outside the valley gave a clean and beautiful view of hills. Apart from the scenic view of the hills, we were too hungry so we stopped by Nepalthok to have our lunch at around 2:00 PM. We had a good lunch at a small hotel and move ahead towards our destination. Again, after a few hours, we stopped at Sindhuli; it was also called Junar Chetra which was a really windy place, but the cool breeze helped us relax the tiring long drive. As we moved towards the lower region, we felt hot and realized we had reached Terai. The land was plain everywhere, it seems like we could see things 1km ahead. People here wear light cotton blouse, dhoti, and lungi. It was totally different from Hilly region, it was the first time I was travelling to Terai. We stopped at Lahan for tea and Itahari for dinner. All of us were new to these places so we had called many people to ask about good places for food and a cozy place to relax at night. Finally, we got a suggestion from a friend that we could stay at Birtamod, he booked a hotel for us there. We reached at our hotel at 10PM. Fully exhausted by such a long drive, we dispersed to our room and rested for few hours as we were given instructions by Rudra that we would start our journey 4:00 am in the morning.

Day 2: Drive from Birtamod to Tharpu
Half awake and half asleep, I woke up at 3:30AM, got prepared for our 2nd day travel; once again a long drive, we were told that it would take 8 hours to reach Tharpu. Once again, I was sleeping most of the time in the van, my eyes were closed, but I could hear some chit chats. We paused at Mai khola for a light breakfast. Again, we were heading upwards to the hilly region, it was getting little chilly. River by our side was giving a pleasant feeling. We reached Tharpu at around 1PM, we stopped at Hotel Pathibhara to have our lunch. Rudra’s favorite lunch was roti and saag, so we would stop at places where we could find roti and saag. That day Rosina was very enthusiastic to cook, so she cooked herself some roti for Rudra and herself. We had been travelling for one and half days and now our real trekking started.

Hike from Tharpu to Oyam
It was 2PM, pretty hot to start our walk and with a full stomach we had been lazy. Anyhow, we had to move on and we headed towards Oyam. Interviewing the local people about the route to oyam, we moved towards the direction of oyam. There were two routes to oyam, mistakenly we happened to walk the longer route. The roads were so dusty that our shoes had become brown by walking in that dusty road. We met a family who had come to visit their parents and grandparents who was around 100 years old. Rudra and we were having fun chatting with that family. We got some information about the place and direction to our destination. Although, roads were dusty and nothing so pleasant about this day, we were having fun with our own company as we got an opportunity to know each other well. At around six in the evening we reached Oyam. It was a beautiful village, with warm people to talk with. We stayed with a family who had very cute daughter. Though very small place in their house, they had managed well the place for travelers to relax.

Day 3: Hike from Oyam to Ambegudin
Our day started early morning at 4AM, getting prepared for a whole day hike. After a cup of tea, we moved ahead with our headlights on because we were walking in the dark. This day our hike was going to be for a whole day. Our trail was uphills and downhills. As we walked down the hill near the river we could see cardamom fields parallel arranged, giving a beautiful view. We crossed multiple suspension bridge too. Our destination was changed with our speed of walk. Initially we planned to reside at Limbudin, but our plans changed as we reached near Limbudin at around 12AM. The places we visited gave a typical picture of the small communities of Nepal. We rested at Sablakhu Bhanjyang at Phuyal Hawaldar’s house for lunch, where Maya cooked tasty food for us; Rudra especially liked her Aloo Bhujiya.

Now our next planned destination for that day was Sinchepu Bhanjyang. Once again interviewing the local people, we continued our journey. Rudra was not good at remembering places name, so he happened to ask a person about Sinchepu Bhanjyang with some other name and that person was shocked to hear that he has been living in that village for more than 50 years and he didn’t know the place nearby. Later he found out that Rudra might have been talking about Sinchepu Bhanjyang, it was really a funny moment. Along the trail of Limbudin, Limbu had created beautiful Patis (resting places) in memory of their loved ones where we could see inscriptions on the stones of the Patis.

Maya cooked tasty food for us; Rudra especially liked her Aloo Bhujiya

Once again we were moving downward towards the river; as before we saw beautiful cardamom plants. It was around 5PM, we met people who came for fishing, they would catch fish by giving small electric current. It was really interesting to meet fisherman in the village. It was getting darker and we were on a stony path. We had to stop by a near village, which was Ambegudin. Those fisherman guided us to the village.

Day 4: Hike from Ambegudin to Orakpa
Everybody was too exhausted to get up that morning, it was our 3rd hiking day. We started our day at 5:30AM. As per local people’s saying we would be climbing most of the route. The roads were steep and we passed many hills. We had a great view of a landscape, we had climbed to a certain height from where we had a wide range of landscape view. Villagers mistook one of our trekkers as Japanese tourists and we had some fun with this theme with people in the village, sorry about that.

We were really exhausted, we were walking at a slow pace. Rudra was giving us company, he played lovely songs and to the beat of songs we were walking. Somehow we reached Rudra’s love story talk, and we walked for about two hours without resting in a single place. As small kids get lost in fairy tale stories, we got lost in his unique movie-like love story. Finally, we reached Sinchepu Bhanjyang, where we had our lunch; the usual lunch we had all these days, i.e. rice, dal, potato and saag.

That day’s destination was Orakpa. Villages on that route were very clean and their houses had beautiful garden decorated with multicolored flowers giving a pleasant look. At 6PM we reached Orakpa.

Day 5: Hike from Orakpa to Pathibhara to ThuloPhedi

That day was going to be the toughest day we ever had because we would be walking through the jungle for the whole day. We were given instructions that we carry plenty of food and water with us. With our bags packed with food and a few bottles of water, we started our 5th day. We were at the height of 6000ft and would had to reach 12448ft, Pathivara. It was a challenge for us to climb double the height we were at. Our stress and pain of walking for four days had made our body weak and painful. Each and every part of our body was hurting, but it had become numb due to extreme pain. Still, we went on with our journey to create a lifetime memorable moment.

We had never thought that we would be in such bad condition

Until now, our trek was somewhat easy, we were walking through different villages and meeting many people on our way. That day we started at 5AM in the morning and the first and last place where we met some people that day was only at Orakpa. After we crossed Kodari Bridge, our uphill journey started. The beginning of that day we started with a light, dry fruits in our stomach. Our heavy luggage had become part of our body, but our legs might not have accepted it. So we were moving slowly toward the clouds. The only thing we could see were trees and bushes. As we moved to certain height we could see lovely rhododendrons. Apart from the pain and suffering you get in these treks, you enjoy the nature surrounding you. In this beautiful jungle covered with rhododendron, lying on grass in an open space, looking at blue sky and relaxing; you feel peace in your heart. Rudra had a saying ’‘Try to enjoy the pain of trekking, then you will love it’.

I was enjoying the pain and nature collaboratively, then we suddenly realize our water bottles were empty and there was no place where we could refill it. We found a small stream of water, though it was dirty we filled our bottle, so that we could use it in emergency purpose. Not so long after we filled the blurred, yellow water, we had some snacks, and now we were thirsty, our throats were dry. We tried to filter that water with the portable filter we had carried, but it didn’t work out. So we tried to filter it with the clean mask we had. We were bound to drink that water.
We had never thought that we would be in such bad condition.

We were still in the jungle, no sign of people and no sign of our destination. We had lost our hope, we had been walking for more than 7 hours and we could not get out of the jungle. But our hope was alive when we saw a board which had written ‘Way to Pathibhara’. Rosina also stated a saying when she saw that board “Happiness is when you are walking in an uncertain jungle and suddenly you see a board that states that you are on a right path”. It was a great relief. We had an altitude tracker on our phone, which stated that we had already climbed 12000ft above. We couldn’t enjoy the nature of that condition. It was getting dark, no food, no water in our bags and we were lost in an unknown jungle. Both the girls had started to feel sick, our feet were moving at around 10 steps per minute and we were stopping after every five minutes. When thirsty we also eat some ice to quench our thirst, but that was a mistake when you are having altitude sickness, you were not supposed to eat cold things. This made our conditions worst, we could hardly open our eyes properly, but we kept ourselves moving even though at a slow pace.

After few hours of slow walk, Rudra was the one to move faster and find out the way. We heard sounds of bells from a temple, and we followed towards that sound. Finally we were at the top of all the hills, we took a long sigh and what do we see up there is one more adventure. The place was covered with almost 2ft of snow. Rudra was encouraging us to move ahead, but our feet stopped right there when we saw snow. We could not stay for long and moved slowly ahead. It was already 6PM when we reached Pathivara Temple at a height of 12448ft, Pujari was doing Aarti. Pathibhara Devi is one of the most worshipped goddesses of Kirat; it is believed that a pilgrimage to the temple ensures fulfillment of the pilgrims’ desires. We worshipped goddesses Pathivara and advanced our journey to Thulo Phedi; due to snow people had moved downhill to a warmer place. At around 9PM we reached Thulo Phedi and rested in a hotel.

Day 6: Hike from ThuloPhedi to Kaphlepati
< strong> Drive from Kaphlepati to Taplejung and Taplejung to Damak
Day 6 was our last hiking day, we were refreshed that morning. Everyone was thankful that we survived, especially me and Rosina. Nothing would be worse, dangerous and fearful than the previous day. As a reward of completion of the previous day, Rudra offered drive from Kaphlepati to Taplejung (a 40km journey downhill), which we had planned to walk. That day we were energized, it felt like a new life. The trail from Thulo Phedi to Kaphlepati was very mesmerizing. We could view a wide range of mountains and dense forest of rhododendrons added an extra effect to it. Surprisingly, all our pains were gone, we were also excited that we were going back. After 2 hours of walking we reached Kaphlepati and had our breakfast. Our office jeep was waiting for us in Kaphlepati and we had a bumpy ride to Taplejung. Kedar was waiting for us at Taplejung and we headed back to Damak. We rested at Damak for that day.

Day 7: Damak to Kathmandu
Once again a tiring long ride back to Kathmandu from Damak.
I admit that I was afraid and about to quit this trek, but I’m proud I continued till the end and accomplished my challenge. I had a lifetime memorable experience in my life. With the experience of new places we got an opportunity to know different people and their lifestyle. Trekking with Rudra, Neeraj, Prabhat and Rosina was very enjoyable, I got to take make jokes and memories from all of them.

Trekking Route

8 thoughts on “The Great Taplejung Trek

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