The Himalayan Challenge
21 September - 11 October 2018
OCTOBER 9, 2018
Kathmandu to Chitwan
Back to the jungle
Sadly, today we said tatasidelek to Kathmandu, left the Himalayas behind us, and set a course for home. On the way though we enjoyed a spectacular last hurrah and finished up in another safari park surrounded by rhino and elephants.
Mindu, a Sherpa friend of Dr Delle Grimsmo, had made the journey to the capital to bestow a Buddhist scarf on each of us before we left, and to wish us well for our onward travel.
From the tranquility of the hotel the journey out of Kathmandu was much less fraught than the journey in had been and pretty soon we were all safely round the infamous ring road and down ‘the staircase’ that led us pretty quickly to the first Time Control in the small town of Naubise where the sweep crew of Jamie Turner and Tony Jones had made themselves comfortable next to a roadside chai stall.
Naturally, the big red ERA Toyota Hilux and the unfamiliar cars that were passing by attracted a crowd but it was very good natured and all the crews were more than happy to pose for selfies and answer whatever questions were asked.
The clock was ticking though and at minute intervals each car was sent in its way to the start of the Regularity at Sopyang. This was the last one of the rally and was therefore the last chance for anyone else to break Mike Velasco’s stranglehold on this event.
It was a testing Regularity as well, with multiple speed changes and multiple timing points adding to the difficult terrain. There are few straight and level roads in the Himalayas and maintaining any speed / distance equilibrium requires a rare skill. Upon finishing their run, Ludovic Bois and Julia Coleman we’re obviously delighted - punching the air and whooping with delight, “we got a zero”.
Once the crews reached the end of this section they were free to enjoy the views. And, there were plenty of them, including some tantalising glimpses of jagged snow covered mountains before they disappeared again behind the clouds.
The road itself was almost traffic free but it was rough, and the drivers had to carefully pick their line to keep themselves on schedule and to preserve their car for the final two days.
Keith Ashworth lost his exhaust through this section and along with David and Jo Roberts and the sweeps he was busily tying it all back together with wire.
On reaching the Time Control at Simbhjyang, at an altitude of 2,448m, the rally was rewarded with a cup of hot soup courtesy of Sarah Ormerod and Guy Woodcock's impromptu roadside Bistro.
Roy Stephenson had more rear suspension issues to sort out on his Datsun however, before he could enjoy his lunch.
The Passage Control at Bhaise was another SV (sans vehicule) affair, where the navigators were required to exit their cars and then run across a cable stayed suspension bridge towards John Spiller and Rikki Proffit, to get their time card stamped.
The day's final section into the night halt was straightforward, and within a few hours we were all safely ensconced in the Barahi Jungle Lodge Resort in the Chitwan National Park.
Tomorrow we cross the border back into India and there’s another early start to negotiate.