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Khaptad Trek

Posted on Nov 6, 2013 by Maze215 under Trekking

Tags: Khaptad National park, Grass land

The medeows of Khaptad National ParkDoes anyone remember the default wallpaper of Window XP with that eye pleasingly green grassland? If you want to see equivalent scene in Nepal, Khaptad National Park would be the place. Khaptad is an elevated plateau that consists of such grassland or meadows [called Patan in Nepali] between the sub alpine landscape. Khaptad National park is located on the far western region of Nepal and spread over fours district – Doti, Bajhang, Bajura & Dipayal. In fact the boundaries of the four districts meet at a point in Khaptad.
Khaptad National park is 225 sq.km with highest point at 3212m. The Khaptad national park is named after Khaptad Baba who moved in the area in 1940ies to meditate and worship. Although its not as attractive as Annapurna and Dolpo, it won't dissapoint you.

1. Highlights of the tour


Some of the main highlights of the tour are

1.    The eye pleasing meadows or Patan
Khaptad is known for its green meadows, grasslands, pastures or Patans[Nepali name] whatever you call it [this guide uses the term Patan though]. It is said that there are altogether 22 large Patans within the Khaptad National park. The Patans are large enough to please your eyes. Think of these as large golf courses within one region.

2.    The peaceful scenic landscape of Khaptad
The jewel of the Khaptad is of course the open green meadows spread over gentle terrain cut by small streams and lying between evergreen alpine forests. The landscape resembles something that we usually see in the post cards and Khaptad offers you the chance to experience it yourself. During spring and autumn the fields are said to be covered with colourful flowers although we couldn’t see that for ourselves.
Khaptad is an isolated beauty. Unless during full moon of July-August when Hindu pilgrims come to worship here, the no. of people that visit Khaptad is low. In some places we found the surrounding to be so peaceful that the only thing that can be heard is your own breath.

3.    Bio diversity
The Wikipedia page has the following information regarding the rich bio diversity of the Khaptad National park
“The landscape consists of moorland, steep slopes, and streams. 567 species of flora have been recorded in the protected area. Vegetation types include chir pine-rhododendron forest, oak forest and Himalayan fir-hemlock-oak forest and alder forest in riverine areas. Fauna include 23 mammals, 287 birds, and 23 amphibians and reptiles. Mammal species symbolic of the park are leopard, Himalayan black bear, wild dog, and musk deer. Bird species symbolic of the park include the Impeyan pheasant, Peregrine falcon, and White-rumped vulture.”
We were able to spotLangoors, few other animals and hear different bird noises without venturing in the jungles. However our lack of interest in Flora and fauna prevented us from going after them.

4.    Religious Sites
The main religious site in the park is the Khaptad Baba Ashram
It is the home where Khaptad baba stayed for most of his life. It is now an open museum. The Khaptad national park is named after him. He moved in the area in 1940ies to meditate and worship. He was not just a religious person but highly knowledgeable saint with fluent knowledge of science and English language. It is said that the late King Birendra went to consult him on several occasions.
The other religiously important sites includes within the park includes Tribeni, KhaptadDaha, Kedardhunga, Mai than, SahashraLinga

5.    Experiencing Far-West
The visit to Khaptad takes you to the fast western region of Nepal. It is a very long 30-32 hours journey from Kathmandu to Silgadhi from where the trek starts. The bus passes through many high lights of western Nepal. Although you will miss them if travelling at night, these include Bardiya National Park, Chisapani Bridge over Karnali, the GhodaGhodi Tal. On way to Dadeldhuda the road passed through very high point in a cliff, a feat in itself.
However the bus ride is one of the harder parts of the tour. At over 1000km the ride will give you headache or even vomiting but surviving it means being through one of the longest bus ride possible form Kathmandu.

Besides the bus there are other compromises to be made. For most part of the trek there is no electricity and mobile network. The lodging, fooding and sanitary facilities are at best basic. For more details of what is available and what is not check the ‘Facilities and Expenses’ section

2. Best Time:


We made the journey in October when monsoon had just ended. Being a high plateau, the weather was unpredictable. Occasionally the clouds from surrounding low lands would cover the area in no time creating foggy environment. The Khaptad page suggests the best time to visit the Park to be October/November and March-May. From December to March, it snows heavy in the Khaptad making travel impossible. Since being a plateau, the snow is retained for much longer time upto late March.
You can contact Khaptad headquarter for current weather update and condition. The phone no has been provided in last section


3. Trekking Advices


These are some of the trekking rules we tend to follow, many of which are just obvious. Although it is not mandatory, it has proved to be useful.

1.    Trek yourself
Going through trekking agencies are absolutely not required. You can save that money and hire a local guide midway if you really want to, instead of paying for the trekking agencies. All bus tickets can be brought at ‘Gongabu bus Park’ where the counters are clearly labeled.


2.    Starting early
Start as early as possible in the morning. Usually 5am-6:30am but not late than that. It’s because the morning time is most comfortable for walking so the more distance we can cover in morning the better. It is better to have breakfast at next station or settlement. We tend to have Dal bhat at around 10-2pm. That way the meal will cover the whole day.


3.    Knowing about next point.
Before going to next point, try to know about the next point or settlement by asking the local people. For estimating time to next location, it is IMPORTANT to add at least 1 hour extra to the time specified by the locals. It is not their fault; it’s just they the local people tend to travel faster nor do they stop for photograph or rest.
When possible, we can ask for the contact no of hotel or dining place at the next station and make a phone call beforehand to prepare the food. It saves a lot of time by ordering the food earlier.  As a bonus, the contact no is useful if we happen to get lost midway. However don’t expect it to work every time as mobile network is extremely unreliable in remote locations. As a note, the Far west region is most covered by ‘Smart Telecome’ mobile service.


4.    Stay on same path
If going in large group [5 or more], there is no use trying to stay together. Some will be fast and some may be slow. But whenever path divides or is confusing, we tend to wait or make an arrow mark [  ] on the trail with our trekking sticks so that all of us stay in one path [even if that is not the right path].  The fastest of us would order the food at the next station saving time for others.


5.    Avoiding night travel
The average distance from 1 settlement to the other is 3 hours, so it is advised not to travel further if you reach a settlement at 4pm or later unless you are sure that the next point is nearby.


6.    Hospitality rule
It is considered rude to sleep in one and dine at other in these places. So you are to accommodate both in one place as far as possible.


4. Tour Itinerary


The tour Itinerary is based on the travel done on October 2013. Note that this Itinerary gives you how you should travel based on our experience and not how we travelled. As we tend to travel faster to save time, the Itinerary tends to be the shortest you can manage so you may add a day to the schedule. There weren’t any detailed itineraries of the circuit on Internet and those present were usually longer than this but the above schedule is short and sweet enough. Those itineraries are guided treks intended for foreigners who tend to have time.

All the location name and heights are taken from the Map published by Himalayan Map House. A map have been provided with this guide which you can print and take with you. The map is taken from the book ‘Trekking Nepal: A Traveler's Guide’ by Stephen Bezruchka, Alonzo Lyons.


Day 1 & 2
Kathmandu – Dhangadi – Silgadhi [1340m]

The bus in Kathmandu takes you to Dhangadibus park. The tickets are easily available at Gongabu Bus stop counter. We started the journey at 12noon and reached Dhangadi early next morning at 5am. Although you can take a direct bus to Silgadhi, that would be seriously tiresome.
We took a micro to Silgadhi from Dhangadi at 8 in the morning. In between the road goes through some of the steepest hills we have ever seen. Request to stop at Dadedhuda, where the food is very good not like anywhere else in the highway. After long and tiresome journey you will reach Silgadhi by evening. Stop near the temple not near the bus stop which will save some time tomorrow.
You can also reach Dipayal by Plane. It is then few minutes’ bus ride to Silgadhi. Silgadhi is the last point to buy all your supplies.

Day 3
Silgadhi – Jhingrana [2250m] – Bichpani camp [2905m]

From Silgadhi, it is a gentle ascend through rough motorable road to firstly Baglekh where we have a breakfast. Then we continue ascending the road which branches out at few points as we follow the stone trails [we took the wrong path to jungle by mistake, take the right road]. The motorable road ends at the waterfall from where Jhingrana can be reached after about 1 hours of walk. At Jhingrana we have our meal.
After Jhingrana, your journey to Bichpani camp depends on time. To make it to Bichpani before nightfall, you need to leave Jhingrana before 2pm. There are no settlements or resting place in between and it is a steep climb. You can as well rest in Jhingrana if you can’t start before 2pm. It took us 4 and half hours in all
We left Jhingrana at about 1pm. We pass through the Khaptad National Park entry point where you need to make sure if facilities at Bichpani are currently open. After about 3 hours of steep ascending we reach the midpoint of journey which is marked by sign. From here another 2 hours of ascending takes you to Bichpani camp which is run by the National park. There is basic lodging and fooding facility for limited people at Bichpani. Sleeping bags are hence recommended as sometime the camp can stay closed as it happened when we returned.

Day 4:
Bichpani camp – Khaptad Headquarters [3020m]

We start early from Bichpani. Although the road is no longer as steep as yesterday, you wont see the meadows immediately. There are very little or no signs here and you can get lost easily. The paths are laid with stone. After about 3 hour’s journey, you will cross a wooden bridge to reach a resthouse. At this point, we ascend the stone trail directly ahead. [We took left and reached Maikathan and had to sleep in cowshed] After some time the whole meadows becomes visible. At Tribeni [where there are wooden bridges and helipad] take the left road to the head quarter. You can swim here if want. The right road takes you to temple and to Sahasralinga. The road now passes through patans upto the head quarter which also has a army camp.
At head quarter, you can have meal and venture into any points.
The KhaptadDaha and view point tower lies towers east form the Headquarters and can be reached in hours. KhaptadDaha is a small elongated lake alongside another patan. The tower lies on the way. Although we weren’t sure, the tower is probably the place where the boundaries of the four districts meet.
The Khaptad baba Ashram is half an hour walk from headquarters on a small hill. The other side of the hill has an even bigger patan has a few cow sheds and Buddhist memorials.

Day 5
Around Khaptad – Bichpani Camp

Today you can go to Sahasralinga which is the highest point of the park at 3212m. Ask the camp officials for the way. [Because we missed the road and lost valuable time we could make it to the point. We were however able to reach Maikathan which doesn’t have anything intersting but from here you can decend to Bajhang]
You can return to Bichpani Camp at around 2pm. The other return option is to descend to Bajhang which takes little more time. Another return option is to descend to Sanphebagar in Achham but it takes time.

Day 6 - 7
Bichpani Camp – Silgadhi – Dipayal – Kathmandu

From Bichpani we decend to Silgadhi, from where we take a local bus to Dipayal. From Dipayal buses are available to Kathmandu. We took a night microbus to Atariya. From Atariya next morning, we take a bus to Kathmandu

About the Schedule
If you tend to walk slowly, you can add a day to the schedule by staying at Jhingrana. Besides returning the same route there is an option to descend to Bajhang from where the buses are available, which takes little more time. Another return option is to descend to Sanphebagar in Achham but it takes time and bus travel will be more.

5. Necessary items


 

Gear   Accessories
Water Proof shoes [Rs 3000 & above]
Water proof moderately thick jackets
Few extra T-shirt & socks
[as at the end of the day it will be wet with sweat]
Plastic cover to protect from rain
 
 

Trekking Stick [Rs 350]
Map [Rs 300]
Toilet paper, Brush/paste
A torch, Match or Lighter
A 500ml transparent pet bottle
Knife and whistle for survival in emergency

 

Medical    Food

Band Aid, Tube Betadine
Sancho, Paracetamol, Pain killer
Move, Bandage, Knee bands
Metrodazole tablet, Electolyte Solution like Nava jeevan
Sunscreens

 

 

None specific but you shouldn’t miss Nuts, beaten rice, Candies and some pre-cooked noodles

 

 

 

5. Facilities and Expenses


  • Electricity is not available in most places. So make sure your cameras and Mobiles are fully charged
  • The Far west zone is covered mostly by Smart network. But within the park there are no network except in few places where NTC is available.
  • ATMs are available upto Dipayal.
  • Drinking water was not a problem. We drank water directly from the streams without any problem.
  • The meals [Dal, Bhat] costs higher as we go up. It was highest at Headquarter at Rs180 per meal. Elsewhere below, it should be lower than that
  • We incurred in total about Rs. 8000 per person for the whole tour including bus transportation cost but it depends on how you travel. It is recommended to skip meat. All the costs are of 2013, you may consider 10% inflation rate for estimate
  • As mentioned earlier, guides and going through trekking agencies are absolutely not required. You can save money and give a tip to the local people, hire a local guide midway instead of paying for the trekking agencies. All the people we met were friendly and helpful except while asking for times to next point add at least hour to what they say.


6. Leave No Trace


Follow the basic rule of Trekking

"Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints
Kill nothing but time"

Carry all your plastic waste like wrappers, bags and bottles with you and dispose them when you reach a settlement. Where traditional stoves are used they can be used as a fuel.

 

7. Map of Khaptad National Park


This attached map was taken without permission from the book ‘Trekking Nepal: A Traveler's Guide’ by Stephen Bezruchka, Alonzo Lyons.

Map of Khaptad National Park

8. References and Useful links


All the location name and heights are taken from the Map published by Himalayan Map House
www.himalayan-maphouse.com. This map is expensive at Rs. 900 and not necessary. Use the attached map
The attached map was taken without permission from the book ‘Trekking Nepal: A Traveler's Guide’ by Stephen Bezruchka, Alonzo Lyons.

Khaptad Headquarter Phone No: 094940048
Bichpani Camp Phone No: 094690358

Khaptad National park has its own website and Facebook page which are
http://www.khaptad.com.np/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Khaptad-National-Park/304197989597156

 

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