Considering how apprehensive I was about the coach journey, the only bad thing I can say about it is that we will have to do it again, if we can that is. We hadn’t even got half way when we stopped for food. The driver told us that we should all eat as there was a landslide ahead and it might take up to four hours to clear. That we could cope with, we’d be getting there late afternoon instead of lunchtime, but it was okay.
Half an hour later we were parked up in a long line of tata trucks and tourist buses that queued for at least 7km around the mountains to the landslide (plus another 10km or so behind us). Four hours came and went and people started getting their bags out of the coach to try and walk over the block to the other side and try and catch a lift from there. Rob and I were kicking ourselves, because we could have done this too if we had left some of our luggage in storage in Kathmandu like we had planned too. Instead we waited, I managed to sleep, Rob walked over a bridge to explore a tiny village on the other side of the river, and got us some bottled water from local entrepreneurs. Then the driver started speaking to the remaining passengers in Nepali, so we tried to pick up what was happening, luckily he explained it all to us too. The landslide was too big, massive rocks were blocking the road and they were having to blast their way through the block, it was going to take at least one day, probably more. He said that anyone who walked over could get on the same bus on the other side, and people from that bus were going to walk over to ours to return to Kathmandu with us. Some more people left at this point until it was just four Nepali’s and four Brits left. We had another three hours wait then for the people from the other coach to make their way over, so we got chatting which helped pass the time.
We definitely made the right decision to stay put again – within half an hour of the people leaving torrential rain started up and carried on for the rest of the time we were there. A couple of hour later a Swedish (I think?) couple arrived from the other side. They said that they didn’t know who else was coming over as they’d been separated when a group of people started stampeding across (possibly where Police were blocking the way – this part was a little confusing). They explained how they had had to climb over obstructions, looking up the whole time to watch out for further landslides from above. Again, so glad we had stayed put.
Only one other person made it back to our bus before we had crept to the front of the queue (what we had been doing for the seven hours we were sat there) and were able to turn around. We had to just assume that anyone else coming over had found space on a bus further up, hopefully the people from our bus made it over before the one heading back to Pokhara made the same decision.
After a stop at the same service stop we had gone to that morning for toilet and Dhal Bhat (first proper food we’d had all day), at 9pm we were finally on our way back to Kathmandu. The driver was really helpful and organised phones for us to call guest houses and secure a room, and luckily, our lovely Hotel Potala who have been brilliant all week had one room left for us.
So now I’m sat on the rooftop, reading and editing photos while Rob catches up on sleep. Then we have to decide what to do next. If we can get to Pokhara in the next few days we might be able to just rebook our Jomsom flight, but if we wait too long we won’t have time to do the walk we wanted to. Another possibility is Langtang which is much easier to get to – but it’s not the Annapurna trek we wanted to do. I’m relieved that the landslide hasn’t made the online news as that hopefully means that there were no casualties and that everyone crossing made it over safely, but hopefully today’s news will shed some light on how long we will have to wait.
Nic & Rob
added: just put the photos in – now even more relieved after hearing some of the horror stories of people who walked over. Sounds like there might have been fatalities but still no news in papers or online.