My journey to Khaptad was to start in the first week of May 2015. I had won the first place on “Why I travel challenge?”, a competition organized by Sherpa Shah to encourage women to travel solo. However my trip was postponed due to the earthquake, so finally I set off in November with all my gear packed in my bags from Kathmandu.
It was a long 30-32 hours journey from Kathmandu to Silgudhi. Having never traveled for more than 12 hours at a stretch, it was a tough long ride. The journey took me through many highlights of western Nepal like Bardia National Park, Chisapani Bridge and Ghoda Ghodi Taal. I finally reached Silgudhi around 10 pm the next day. The bus ride was definitely the harder part of the trip, I have to admit.
Khaptad National Park is located in the far western region of Nepal and spread over four districts – Doti, Bajhang, Bajura and Acham. It covers 225 sq kms with the highest point being 3212 m.
I could finally begin the trekking aspect of my journey from Silgudhi and the walk from Silgudhi to Jhigrana was quite a long one. I had to change my pit-stop for the night, from the original plan to stop at Baghlekh to Jhigrana due to unavailability of hotel. However, after the additional two hours of walk, I found a nice lodge with warm owners.
The next day, I continued my journey to Bichpani, from where I entered Khaptad National Park. I was informed that the route to Bichpani would be a tough, high and steep trek through the jungles. It took me almost 7 hours to reach my destination for the day. Thankfully I had packed enough water and food with me.
The following morning I started from Bichpani to Khaptad Patan. The trees were covered in yellow autumn leaves and a few hours into my trek, it started snowing. Snowflakes fell to the ground in swirls and I stood mesmerised. After six hours of walking, I finally entered Khaptad Patan.
The jewel of Khaptad is, of course, the open green meadows spread over gentle terrain cut by small streams in evergreen alpine forests. There are altogether 22 large pastures within the National Park.
The landscape of Khaptad is what postcards are made of and in the spring, the fields are covered with blossoms of varying colors. Khaptad Swami is said to have stayed in Khaptad for most of his life. I also went to his Ashram, which has now been converted into a museum.
My journey back to Silgudhi was a tough one having to hitchhike on a truck down to Dhadeldhura. However, travelling solo is a rewarding experience though often times daunting. I was very glad that I had ventured into the far-western region: walking through thick jungles on my own.
The above post has been adapted from an original article on www.thehimalayantimes.com. You can read the full story in the link below: