Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Nepal 5: Transport

I always thought Katmandu was an outpost. A final stop before the Himalayas. How wrong was I! It is a bustling city, filled with traffic, people, noise and colour.

Walking down a street is an attack on the senses. The streets are narrow and filled with cars, rickshaws, scooters, bicycles, pedestrians, cows and dogs. The bigger vehicles has right of way and everybody honks their horns to warn who ever is in the way. Lane discipline does not exist.

If you are a pedestrian, you better heed the honking, as no one stops to give you a chance...

Public transport comes in all forms and make no distinction between locals and tourists. The more the merrier.

Once you leave the city the pace changes. The 'highway' which links India to China across the mountains, is the main road out of Katmandu towards the west. It is busy and filled with trucks in every imaginable colour.

The typical Asian trucks with all their decorations are a sight to behold. The road is narrow and skirts the valleys of the Himalayan foothills. You drive on the edge of a huge drop-off all the time, and although the views are spectacular, it is quite nerve wrecking. The rule of overtaking on these narrow winding roads is 'honk your horn to warn the still unseen oncoming traffic that you are now in their lane and then just go'.

We hired a Toyota minibus with a driver to take us where we wanted to go, and I believe it was money well spent. He was an experienced driver and negotiated the road and the oncoming traffic with skill.

In the villages the pace is much slower. There are more rickshaws, bicycles and carts.

Once we left the highlands for the low laying jungle we were in a completely different world.

Elephant power rules! It is the best way to do game viewing. The animal photos in the previous post were mostly taken from the back of an elephant. The animals don't pay much attention to the elephants and it is possible to get right next to the rhinos and bisons.

Some of the other guests who were there at the same time as us were lucky enough to see a tiger quite close up from the back of an elephant. We will have to go back for that...

Katmandu is only a four hour flight from Dubai, but a world apart.

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