Traverse of Dolpo (July 2012): 1. Nepalgunj to Matachaur
Nepalgunj is the ″hub″ for flying to many remote towns and villages in western Nepal. It is located in southern Nepal, on its border with India. Like most towns in the lowlands of Nepal, it is not especially attractive: it is hot, humid, and infected with mosquitoes. The early flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj on July 6 was on time. However, the weather turned bad in late morning and stayed bad for several days. All local flights were canceled. After waiting for several days in a guesthouse besides Nepalgunj′s airport, Dawa and I decided to charter a locally available helicopter with local travelers. We flew to Jumla on July 9 in the afternoon.
The helicopter (an Alouette) on the tarmac of Nepalgunj′s airport.
As we took off from Nepalgunj we got nice views of the Terai plain of southern Nepal.
Views during the flight.
Approaching Jumla: the airstrip is visible at the center of the photo beyond the town.
We started hiking immediately after landing in Jumla and sorting gear and food.
Urthu, the first village encountered after leaving Jumla. During that first day of trek, the weather had been quite sunny.
Street scenes in Urthu.
A village further along the way, with its numerous ladders to move among houses.
Bridges in this part of Nepal are built with unusually large logs.
Matachaur, where we spent our first night, is the last village in its valley. It is a densely built village surrounded by corn fields. It is mostly populated by Hindu people.
On the next day, we followed the Chaudhabis Khola (picture below) with the goal to reach the village of Dolphu several days further to the North. However, the weather turned very bad again, with heavy rains. Our progress along the river was quite slow. In the afternoon it became clear that, by following this path, we would not have enough time to reach Jomson within the time I had allocated for this trip. So, I decided to turn back, return to Matachaur, and, instead, follow the shorter itinerary shown on the maps of the Dolpo 2012 homepage. For the next 4 days, I took very few photos due to frequent rains and poor visibility (and also disappointment). It is only when we got close to Phoksundo Lake that we encountered some good weather again.
Links to other sections:
― Section 2: Matachaur to Tibetan camp above Maduwa
― Section 3: Crossing Bagala La and Numala La
― Section 4: Dho Tarap Valley
― Section 5: Maran to Charkkha Bhot
― Section 6: Chharka Bhot to Jomson