Nepal RAMKOT Travel Adventure - Day #2

by - October 28, 2017

Waking up feeling relatively refreshed, we planned our day over a breakfast of eggs, cereal and fresh fruit on the hotel patio.  Staying in Bandipur is more about the general ambiance than visiting any specific sights and with some fairly hefty hiking ahead in the upcoming week, we decided to undertake a half-day acclimatisation hike to a nearby village – which would get us used to the climate of the country and what we could expect in terms of provisions en-route and the quality of trails etc.
We settled on the nearby village of Ramkot as a suitable destination – a two hour hike away along the ridge of mountains it shares with Bandipur.  Despite its proximity to relatively well known Bandipur, Ramkot has yet to develop anything in terms of tourist infrastructure, with Lonely Planet advising that visitors would need to bring their own lunch.

After a relatively steep initial climb the trail levelled out and we passed through terraced farms and forested slopes – with the occasional family of monkeys swinging through the trees above our heads.  The temperature wasn’t too bad for hiking (in the mid to high 20s) but with the two of us being thoroughly acclimatised to the bleak British autumn, it was well worth us getting used to the warmth and humidity early.  We had the path to ourselves almost entirely, with only a few yak herders passing us by.  Sophie’s family better put their drinks down before they read this, but as we skirted around a small pool she also saw a snake – so that was a bit of excitement.
As the village is in no way geared up to tourists, we were able to gain a snapshot of Nepalese rural life, with every house looking after animals ranging from chickens to goats to pigs and many of them with bee hives or drying sweetcorn outside.  Ramkot’s claim to fame is in its unique round houses, though strangely there only appeared to be one that we could spot – in Nepal it seems that after the earthquake you can never be sure what is and isn’t where it should be.

On our way into the town we had noticed signposts for a hotel and, having only packed a basic lunch we decided to see what was on offer.  Interestingly the hotel, which must have been brand new, consisted of a clearing with maybe three rooms in a single storey building, a kitchen and a seating area – all run by three teenage boys.  Having perched ourselves on a bench, one of the boys came to give us a menu of soup or noodles – and after choosing the latter we were treated to a bowl each of super noodles.

The journey back to Bandipur seemed to pass far quicker and with time to spare we decided to climb Thani Mai, a temple on the hill that dominates the town and which is supposed to be one of the best 360 degree panoramas in the country.  After a bit of a slog up the hill, along which we were asked to pose with several groups of teenagers, we arrived just in time for sunset alongside throngs of locals and tourists.  Unfortunately we have yet to see the Himalaya themselves due to a pervading haze, but the view over the surrounding terraces, hills and the town itself were worth the climb.  Amusingly a group of four kids attached themselves to myself and Sophie – wanting to play with our phones and cameras at first before sprinkling us with flower petals they had picked from somewhere.

We decided to eat at the hotel restaurant again in the evening (we had read that it is supposed to be the best in the town) and this time treated ourselves to the Nepali set dinner – fried chicken and chips for a starter (!?), soup, curry and dahl with a yoghurt and nut dessert.  After dinner we went for a last wander around the town which was very busy with locals enjoying what appeared to be some kind of festival.  A live band (who were surprisingly excellent) was playing in the square and when they swapped from local favourites to western covers we were literally dragged to dance.  As we made our onto the dance floor the lead singer told the crowd that we weren’t just tourists, we were guests – and this acknowledgement that we were guests at an entirely Nepalese local festival perhaps summed up better than anything else how well Bandipur has balanced the lure of tourist income with the requirement to not lose the town’s essential character.

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