CLEAN DRINK NEPAL - OCT 2018
On October 8th, our LAST MILE TEAM arrives in Kathmandu, Nepal ready to bring clean water to people in need. We filled all 8 spots in only hours, but we still have positions avaible for excursions in March and April of 2019.
THE PROJECT OVERVIEW
MSR's SE200 Community Chlorine Makers are awesome devices and can change the world. But most of them are sitting on a shelf in Seattle. It's not hard getting them all the way to Kathmandu, Nepal's capital city. It is hard getting them the last mile to the villages where they can work their magic. That's where you come in. THE LAST MILE.
On Ocotober 8th a small group of travelers on motorcycles will depart from the remote city of Nepalgunj right on the Indian border in the low Terei region of Nepal. From there we will travel north into the foothills of the Himalayas. As we work our way into the deep river valleys and steep hillsides of the Rolpa and Dolpa regions, we'll visit a number of remote villages to introduce them to the MSR SE200 Community Chlorine Maker. Each rider will be supplied with their own unit and get the chance to deliver it, person-to-person, to the village leaders. Our guide and translator, Vishu Sijali, will help facilitate the handoff. The guy has it wired. His passion for the project is infectious.
We'll continue to push eastward towards some of the highest mountains in the Himalayas. We'll end the trip in the beautiful lakeside town of Pokhara. Start to finish, we will spend a total of ten days on motorcycles. The riding will be hard, if just because the roads suck, the bikes are even worse. The days will be long and full of mishaps and uncertainty. Adventure, as they call it.
- Start Point: Nepalgunj in western Nepal on the border of India
- End Point: Pokhara, a resort town at the foot of the Himalayas
- Total Number of days on the motorbikes: 8
- Seats available for the trip: 6 on motorbikes, 3 in a comfortable SUV
- Total length of trip from airport to airport: 15 Days.
- Number of people we can feasibly provide clean water to: 2,500
When I set out to access the remote corners of Nepal, to reach the places where villagers have been abandon by tourism revenue and government support, it was obvious a motorcycle was the best mode of transportation for the task. Nepal's roadways are horrible and worse than many "Jeep roads" in North America. Motorcycles can also maneuver around construction zones, slow traffic, herds of cows, and other hazards which helps to knock down the miles quickly.
There are not many choices for motorbikes in Nepal. The Royal Enfield Bullet 300 is the most iconic machine of the Himalayas. It's built like a tank, but it rides like one, too. We will use Royal Enfield bikes simply because they're so tough. There will be a chance to possibly rent the new Royal Enfield Himalayan. Built for off-road riding, it might suit taller riders better and it can carry more gear more comfortably. That said, there is not an easier bike to ride than the old standard, the Bullet 300. You can duck-walk it through anything if you have to.
I need to add one thing about the Himalayan: They are hard to come by, even in Nepal. We think we can get three of them. One is for Jason and his medical supplies.
THE SUV OPTION (Miniumum of 3 team members)
We are going to add one SUV to the project. It has a major role to play toting gear, but also supplies needed to get water systems integrated into villages. The truck will be used to buy and deliver water tanks, hoses, and buckets. So, it will be a valuable tool. The downside is the fact it's a slower mode of transportation. Nepal also requires a local driver, so it would be best if we put three people in the truck to entertain themselves so you don't spend ten days making small talk with a driver who likely speaks basic English. The truck would be able to access every location the bikes reach with only a couple exceptions, albeit minor. The SUV crew may have to walk into some homestays in the Mustang Valley.
Oct 8 - All riders land in Kathmandu, some likely late in the evening. I will be there to greet each rider and my buddy Rup, the best taxi man in Nepal, will drive us to the Hotel Traditional Comfort for a very nice rest in the center of town. Hotel included in your fee.
Link to: Hotel Traditional Comfort
Oct 9 - We will spend the day in Kathmandu seeing the sites and getting rested from the long trip. This extra day is also helpful if luggage is delayed. My friend and professional guide of 20 years, Susan Mannadhar, will give us a driving tour of the World Heritage sites in the city. This is a good time to get asymilated with Nepalese culture and stretch your legs. Kathmandu is a must-see and it is good to do on arrival. The hotel can store items you don't want to take on the motorcycle ride.
We'll have a cocktail party on the roof of the Hotel Traditional Comfort to get acquainted, make some chlorine, and rally for a big adventure.
Oct 10 - After a short 60-minute domestic flight to Nepalgunj, we meet Vishu for the start of the ride. He will transport the bikes to the start point. The first day will be short as everyone gets used to their bikes and riding on the wrong side of the road. It also takes time to get used to navigating around goats, kids, cows, cows, and more cows.
Oct 11 - 14 - I have no idea where we will be at any given time. How's that for a plan? I know it will bum out Charles Hill, but there are no maps of this area. Or signs. We just have to follow Vishu. The objective will be to work our way east while stopping to place water units in villages we have targeted before hand. The integration of a unit takes the better part of a morning. It might be necessary to stay long enough to work out the details of buying and installing a water tank. This phase of the trip is big adventure. If you like a firm plan, this might be tough. It's also why we are taking very basic camping gear. I'd rather we duck into the forest and sleep than drive into the night looking for a place to stay. Your safety trumps your comfort.
Oct 15-17 - By this point you have done a lot of great work. You're tired. And while some parts of the trip have been beautiful, you deserve a dose of amazement. We will ride past ancient mountain towns into the remote and rugged Lower Mustang Valley. We'll ride through Annapurna National Park and you will see Annapurna, the 5th tallest peak in the world. You'll sleep under Dhawlagiri, the 7th tallest mountain in the world. On the 16th, we'll ride over suspension bridges, brave a couple sketchy river crossings, and visit the Buddhist monastaries of Multinath. This section of the trip will blow your mind. This is your time to revel in the splendors of Nepal. Later that day we arrive in the beautiful mountain town of Pokhara.
Oct 18- In Pokhara we'll stay at a brand new hotel. Each rider will have their own bungalo. For kicks we can catch a movie in the open-air theatre overlooking the lake and eat pizza and drink Nepali beer. If you haven't had enough fun, you can paraglide, take a helicopter to Annapurna Base Camp ($350 of the best dollars you can spend), or just chill on the lake in a rented boat. I think you need this day of rest. It's not easy to rest in Kathmandu.
Oct 19 - A short walk to the airport and a 17 minute domestic flight puts as back in Kathmandu and the comfy beds at Traditional Comfort.
October 20 - Either add another day to explore more of Kathmandu, or fly home. Most flights are in the evening. Although we will see several great attractions in Kathmandu on the first part of the trip, there is no way to see it all. An extra day visiting the city is nice as there are amazing temples and museums to visit.
ROAD AND RIDING CONDITIONS
This trip will require good riding skills and sharp attention to the road conditions. We'll cover 70% of our miles on gravel roads. Frankly, the gravel is often safer than the paved roads. While the roads are rough, rocky, and often muddy or loose, the speeds at which we will ride are pretty slow. The difficulty comes in the form of fatigue from long days of bumpy roads on bikes with virtually no suspension. The only element that could be a bummer is mud. Not that it would be dangerous, but just very slow and messy. If you are concerned about the technical nature of the riding, we'll put you on a Bullet. Just know she's a bumpy ride.
OUR GUIDE AND THE FOUNDER OF ALTITUDE RIDERS
To make all of this happen in April, I relied on the expertise of Vishu Sijali. The founder of Altitude Riders and Camp 7000, he has lead trips for more than a decade. He has guided mountaineering expeditions to the summit of Everest, Ama Dablam, and other 8,000 meter peaks. He leads multi-week treks and has guided motorcycle rides in India and Tibet. He's very capable and nobody knows western Nepal any better. He has graciously agreed to offer this trip for only the price of his base expenses because he really believes in the MSR water project. That's your hint to plan to give him a fat tip. He is determined to conduct his tours in western Nepal to help bring tourism revenue to the people who live there. Keep in mind, in this area a family might earn $500 for the year.
It's very important to Vishu, and to me, that we do our best to stimulate the meager tourism industry in western Nepal with home-stays and home-sourced meals. This gets pretty rough, but you'll meet amazing people and it goes a long way to helping to integrate the water systems. The kids you'll meet....be ready for some heartache when you say goodbye to these cute faces. We will camp in some areas because home stays can be hard to find and I don't want us sleeping in unclean conditions, which we did frequently in April. We will work out the cost of hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara which will be minimal. A fancy hotel in Kathmandu is $80.
We will eat at local homes and small restaurants. I have instructed Vishu to be mindful of our health and to select our food options carefully. Stomach illness is hard to avoid. We have ways to prepare for it. The best tactic is to avoid any risky foods. I'll take a stove and we can boil rice and cook noodles if it gets desparate. This is an issue I repeatedly address with Vishu because it is critical. It's tough because hospitatily is sacred. When someone hands you a bowl of questionable food, it's a crushing offense to turn it down. I will do my best to avoid those situations for everyone's sake.
EMERGENCIES AND RISKS
Everyone needs to understand how remote this part of the world is. There is no government help. There are no ambulances. You cannot have an accident. You cannot have an accident. Anyone pushing limits, riding like a goofball, or putting themselves at risk isn't going to get a dress-down. We will collectively and politely put you in a car for a very long drive to Kathmandu.
I will promise upfront to keep you as safe as possible. We will not ride at night. We will do our best to not have long hours in the saddle. We will ride roads that are as safe as possible. Speeds will be slow.
$2,600 for all ground expenses. International airfare is not included.
DISCLAIMERS AND DISCLOSURES
Although Vishu and I have 20 years of professional guiding between us, this is not a guided trip in the traditional sense. This is a team of people on a mission to help other people. We're all in it together sharing our collective resources, wit, and experience. I have weaknesses. Vishu has weaknesses. Much of what we plan to achieve––cannot be planned. Once in the water delivery phase, this whole thing gets pretty loosey-goosey. But that also amplifies the potential. I can guarantee this will be an experience of a lifetime. And when you present the gift of clean water to a family that has lost a child to dysentary, you will be glad you went. You will also likely have moments of deep regret. It's all part of the experience.
- Visas to enter Nepal are acquired at the airport in Kathmandu on arrival and cost $20.
- My recommended airlines go through the Middle East. I suggest Etihad and Qatar, but all will work. Etihad is my new favorite. I can explain why if you want help.
- It is advisable to check with your doctor about vaccinations. Do get malaria pills as we will be near the lowlands of India
- Arm yourself to the teeth with stomach remedies, but do not get Cipro as your go-to antibiotic. It does not work in Nepal. The bugs love it. I can give you the travel-tummy low down.
- We will help with the booking of domestic flights to Nepalgunj and back to Kathmandu
- Hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara will be booked through me
- We will have to address the collection of funds for some of these expenses at a later time to make it easy on everyone.
- Make sure you have 6 months left on your passport expiration date!!!!!!!!