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Traveling In Nepal

Updated on October 22, 2015
The Himalayas in Nepal
The Himalayas in Nepal | Source

An Invitation from Nepal's Only Search & Rescue Team

Late one night, I received the following message via my LinkedIn account:

"Dear Deb,

I think it is time to find a person who wants to write our story of missing in the Himalayas--murder, love, vanishing, and loads of strange stories over 20 years of case files. If you know an adventurous soul, please inform her."

The message was sent by the founder and leader of the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal.

I too am involved in Search and Rescue. And I'm also a writer. But I went to bed the night I received this note without seriously considering the opportunity. Then I awakened at 3 a.m. and a little voice inside my head said, "Do it, Deb!" I got up, turned on my computer, and responded to Ingo. So began my latest adventure, which will include three months in Nepal.

Note: Since this project began, the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal has been re-named SAR Dogs Nepal, which is how I'll refer to the squad from here on.

Finding Nepal

Nepal is a landlocked country located on the Asian continent, between China to the north and India to the south.

Nepal
Nepal | Source

Have You Been To Nepal? - A Visitor Poll: Let's see who's stopping by....

Have you been to Nepal, or are you planning to go?

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Flag of Nepal
Flag of Nepal

About SAR Dogs Nepal (Formerly Himalaya Rescue Dog Squal Nepal)

The reason for my trip halfway around the world....

I'll spend the majority of my time in Nepal getting to know Ingo and the other members of his search and rescue team, gathering information and stories so I can return home to Arizona and write the book.

Dutchman Ingo Schnabel established SAR Dogs Nepal, the only organization of its kind in the country, in October, 1989. Since then, the team has provided search and rescue and medical aid when trekkers have been reported missing and in the event of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides, and flash flooding. The team is able to provide helicopter rescue and tracking dogs to almost any area of Nepal.

SAR Dogs Nepal members have trained in a range of disciplines, including rock rescue, firefighting, logistics, and wilderness medicine.

The team now also has a Junior Rescue Squad. This follows a ten-year hiatus during The People's War in Nepal from 1996 until 2006, when SAR Dogs Nepal was unable to continue training new disaster relief workers. Currently, only 18 staff members and 9 Nepalese volunteers remain, while the goal is to have a minimum of 100 workers on standby in the team's mobile Disaster Relief & Medical Aid Unit.

SAR Dogs Nepal's main headquarters is in Shyauli Bazaar, Lamjung District, in the center of Nepal, and includes a dog breeding and training center. Team members often work at an altitude of 18,000 feet or more and in harsh conditions, from jungle gorges to flooded plains, avalanche zones, and even large-scale traffic accidents.

Due to a lack of national infrastructure and government support, SAR Dogs Nepal has provided the only medical disaster relief to poor villages in remote areas.

To learn more about SAR Dogs Nepal, visit the team's website at SARDogsNepal.asia

The Leader Of the Rescue Squad Also Started A School

When I first began corresponding with Ingo and some of his team members, I thought this book project would be "just" about their Search and Rescue work. And then I realized there is much more to this story, including a special school Ingo started in a remote area of Nepal--a school which does not adhere to Nepal's caste system, where children learn in a low-stress environment free of the gender prejudice and violence found in government-run schools.

This video is a preview of a documentary made by American Debra Kaufman. The full documentary film, A School of Their Own: Reading, Writing And Revolution in Nepal, is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

A School Of Their Own

A 1-Hour Documentary About The Riverside School

Filmmaker Debra Kaufman, who sponsors a Nepali student, went to Nepal to meet the child, and it was then that she discovered how the Riverside School's mission intersected with country's fight for democracy and freedom. The school struggled to stay afloat during Nepal's bloody, 10-year civil war, during which time the police accused the children of being Maoist rebels while the rebels themselves were forcibly drafting children over 12 years of age into their army.

A School of Their Own
A School of Their Own

I learned a lot about education in Nepal, the 10-year People's War, and SAR Dogs Nepal's special school in this documentary, which "shows how children, even in the most extreme circumstances, can lead a nation to a better future."

 
Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal
Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal | Source

How And Where I'll Spend My Time In Nepal

After flying into Kathmandu, Nepal's capital city--the largest and pretty much the only city in the country--and spending a day or two there, I'll travel to the town of Pokhara by bus, where I'll meet Ingo.

I've read that the 200-kilometer (124-mile) trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara along the Prithvy Highway can take as many as eight hours. The road often follows rivers at the bottom of deep valleys and passes a number of what I've seen described as comfortable refreshment stops.

(Added: A friend of mine who's been to Nepal has quite strongly suggested that I fly to Pokhara rather than taking the bus. She said the road is narrow--really just wide enough for one vehicle--with no guardrails, and the buses honk their horns as they "scream" around the corners, hoping there isn't a vehicle coming the other way. She also said that the "valleys are littered with burnt-out buses." Eek! Me thinks her advice to fly is definitely sound. I've heard that a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and vice versa is only about U.S.$70, and I think that is going to be well worth it!)

After spending maybe a month in Pokhara, Ingo tells me we'll trek to the team's current headquarters in Shyauli Bazar and spend some time there before returning to Pokhara for the month of July, which I believe is the wettest month of the year.

Most of my time in Nepal will be during the rainy--or monsoon--season, when many of the country's unpaved roads are impassable. So I expect I'll be doing a lot of walking (trekking, that is), which is more than fine with me. I hope to explore as much as possible on foot.

A View Of The Anapurna Range From Pokhara

Anapurna Range as seen from Pokhara, Nepal
Anapurna Range as seen from Pokhara, Nepal | Source

Pokhara, Nepal

The lakeside town of Pokhara is Nepal's most popular destination after Kathmandu due to it being the gateway to some of the most famous treks in the world, including the Anapurna Circuit. Only foothills separate the town from the majestic Himalaya.

I've Read This Book About Nepal

I'm trying to learn as much as I can about Nepal and Nepalese cultures before I go. It didn't take long to realize, though the country isn't very large, there is much diversity amongst its people, not to mention its landscape.

Lonely Planet Nepal (Country Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Nepal (Country Travel Guide)

This extensive travel guide covers all areas and aspects of the country, including history, getting around the Nepal, climate, fauna, education and the arts, trekking, mountain biking, rafting, festivals and much more. This is the eighth, updated version of this popular book, which was recommended to me by a man who's been to Nepal at least half a dozen times.

 

Light Of The Himalaya

This is a video by award-winning filmmaker Michael Brown -- a preview of a documentary that follows eye surgeons from Nepal and America as they, along with the North Face athlete team, work on the Himalayan Cataract Project, which takes them to the summit of a 21,000-foot Himalayan peak.

The film is available from Serac Adventure Films.

© 2009 Deb Kingsbury

Please Share Your Comments Or Questions. Have you ever been to Nepal?

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    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Fantastic. Can't wait to hear about your adventure and the story you will be telling of the HRDSN. I've never been to Nepal, but have read about it and it appears to be an absolutely beautiful country.

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 7 years ago from Columbia Mo

      This is awesome!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      What a great story. The depth of your abilities is amazing. Did you do the videos as well. I am lensrolling this to 'African child abuse' and will feature it there as well as on some other lenses. Well done - top marks

      Norma :)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image
      Author

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      @norma-holt: No, no those are not videos I've made. I haven't been to Nepal yet. Those are videos on YouTube, made by the directors of the documentaries.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      A great story well-told. Fantastic lens!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      What an exciting opportunity!

      Wonderful lens!

      Blessed!

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Deb, you have more adventures than anyone I've ever known, and I feel like I know you a bit after reading so many of your lenses. Have a wonderful time in Nepal. I expect we'll see a few more lenses when you return.

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      Excellent lens. I have never quite got to Nepal although I have been to Rajasthan, which is not too far away, a couple of times.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Oh my word, what a fascinating adventure lies ahead of you. We are also very interested in traveling to Nepal. Maybe one day...

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      OMG! What a fantastic opportunity! Best of luck...and have fun.

    • profile image

      mmmanning 7 years ago

      Nice lens, and great share. Keep us informed please.

      Thanks,

      footloose (on tagfoot)

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      I forgot to say. I added this excellent lens to my Asia Travel Group Lens, as a "Featured Lens"

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image

      Lisa 7 years ago from Rhode Island

      wow a great opportunity and great lens.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 7 years ago from New York

      This lens is awesome! I love it! Please build a blog, website and lens about this fantastic adventure when you return. For that matter, write a book about it!

      Oh BTW in my excitement for you, I forgot to thank you for visiting my Hawaii lens. I hope you will receive this before you leave! I wish I were going with you!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image
      Author

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: Thank you so much. :) I actually won't be leaving until the end of April/beginning of May. And I'll definitely blog about the trip as much as I can while I'm there and write the book when I get home. Then maybe I should go to Hawaii for a break. :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Oh, I am so excited for you and I am absolutely thrilled that you are going to let us live this experience vicariously through you and your writings! Awesome, Angel Blessed and added to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens!!!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      How exciting! I wish that I could go with you! I'd carry your laptop (or will you need to write it all by hand). Yikes! That could be as daunting as driving those mountain roads. Hats off to you, my friend! I'll talk to you before you go.

    • Kimsworld LM profile image

      Kimsworld LM 7 years ago

      Isn't it like really cold Nepal? I've never seen a picture of anybody wearing bikini in Nepal. You go ahead and I'll catch up later! Hope you have an awesome adventure! Can't wait to hear about the Himalaya Resue Dog Squad.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image
      Author

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      @Kimsworld LM: Actually, it's very warm to extremely hot in the lower areas much of the year. I'm told that when I'll be there, it will be very humid.

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