Part 2 - Coming out of the Kumaon, you will end up in Banbassa, the Indian town at the border. Make sure you get out at the road leading to the border (coming from the north it is just before town). You can get a bicycle rickshaw here for a few rupees to take you to the border. The driver will wait for you while you clear immigration and customs, and then take you the rest of the way to the Nepali side. Congratulations, you will be one of the few travelers that cross at this point each year. Clear Nepali immigration, and then catch a bus or walk the last few kilometers to Mahendranagar, the dusty capital of Nepal's wild far west.
In Mahendranagar, you will have to borrow or rent a bicycle. (Ask at your guesthouse.) You then
have to bike about ten kilometers, along small lanes past beautiful farms and villages, to reach
When you leave Mahendranagar, you should catch the early morning bus (4 a.m.) to Nepalganj.
If you are there at the right time of year, for the November full moon, you will want to get out at
the crossroads of the new road leading north towards the town of Dhandeldhura. There is a major
hill tribe festival there on this day, to the Hindu goddess Bhagwati. If you don't go to the festival,
or when returning from it, you continue on the bus to Nepalganj. (There are a few each day, and
it is about ten hours total from Mahendranagar, ten hours of the bumpiest, dustiest, multiple river
crossings bus journey you will ever make. In Nepalganj, you can wimp out and catch a flight to
Kathmandu (about 100 USD), or sit on buses for another twenty-four hours (about 5 USD).
Where to Stay and Eat:
In Delhi, stay in Paharganj Main Bazaar, leading perpendicularly away from the New Delhi train station.
It's the main traveler hangout. Hotel Namaskar, off a lane to the right walking up the bazaar, before the
Y-intersection, is friendly, clean and quiet. The Diamond Cafe, farther up, on the left side of the right
fork, gets an amazing collection of long-term backpackers in India. Some real characters.
In the Kumaon, each town has a small inn or two. In the smaller towns, you'll have to eat at the bus
station food stands, which is great. You eat real local food at ridiculously low prices. The Kumaon is also
known for its candy - don't miss the honey pretzels.
There are a few guesthouses in Mahendranagar. Turn right towards town off the road coming from the
border, go past the bus terminal, and turn left onto the main street. At the far end, on the left, past the
market, is the best place to stay. It also has a good restaurant.
Recommended Walkabout Gear:
Get my book, Been Where? Done What? which is a guide for world travelers. It also has a section on
tiger observation. Also useful: a water filter, mosquito net and spray, mometasone furoate cream for itching from
insect bites, and binoculars.
Maps of the Kumaon are available from the government map store in Delhi near Connaught Place. Get
directions to it, and additional information on the Kumaon, from the Indian tourism authority office also
at CP. Get a good map for Nepal, perhaps Nelles, and Lonely Planet's guidebooks to India, Nepal, and
Indian Himalayan trekking.
Next stop on The Year of the Tiger
Backwards in The Year of the Tiger
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