Project 314: Blog #4 – Plane to Bhradrapur, Jeep to Ilam, and a walk in the tea plantations

April 20, 2023

Jake Meyer

Client Accounts' Director
Photo of Jake about to board the flight to Bhadrapur with the plane in the background

Day 4
Kathamndu to Bhradrapur to Ilam

Graphic showing journey from Kathmandu to Ilam via BhadrapurWe departed our hotel in Kathmandu at a very leisurely 1130am – saying goodbye to guaranteed wifi signal, hot showers, comfortable beds, and possibly proper toilets, and piled into a minibus back to the airport. Domestic terminal this time – full of the usual chaos that one would expect, but expertly shepherded by our Sherpa Sirdar (leader), our Sirdar Nuri (lead Sherpa) and Nima.

Our team is now complete (for the time being) and they are: Luis from Germany, Waldi and Michal from Poland, Ms Jing and Mr Ren from China, Vadim from France, Adrian from Romania, Ali from Iran, Semba San from Japan and myself. Average age is 50+, although Vadim in his early 20s is the youngest, and Ms Jing and I are the reps for the 30s – but plenty of experience. Everyone has climbed multiple 8000ers before, and regardless of age seems fit and healthy.

Domestic air travel in Nepal is inconsistent to say the least – as anyone who has waited many days for a scheduled flight to Lukla will attest too. Very localised weather systems mean that planned flights will be delayed, postponed, or cancelled at very short notice, so turning up at the airport is always a bit of an exercise in luck. It should also be noted that Nepal’s airlines don’t have the greatest safety record, and it’s a grim reminder that on many expeditions it’s the journey to the mountain which can be just as hazardous as the time spent on the mountain itself.

Photo of Jake about to board the flight to Bhadrapur with the plane in the background

Fortunately, our flight was only delayed by 2 hours (practically bang on time by Nepalese standards), so after eating delicious momos in the departure hall, we headed out onto the flight pan to jump on our Yeti Airways turbo-prop aircraft.

The flight to Bhradrapur was quick and uneventful (fortunately) – with wonderful views of huge mountains dominating the horizon to the north. Unfortunately, our hill-recognition skills obviously need more practice, so we weren’t quite able to name any of the peaks, but it was exciting nonetheless to feel that we were flying underneath them.

Bhradrapur is a town/city right in the east of Nepal – on the border with India. It’s one of the major trading entry routes between the two countries, and a hub for the region. At only 100m above sea level it’s much lower than Kathmandu, but as a result is lush, verdant and almost tropical in its circumstance. My delight at this outlook was slightly tempered by the warning by Nuri to be careful of snakes in the grass (not a euphemism!). As luck would have it, a snatched moment of wifi signal also allowed me to ping back some photos to Matt, manning the comms back at home and keeping social media up to date (thank you Matt!).

Photo of Jeeps loaded up and ready to goWith our bags strapped to the roofs, we hopped into a couple of Jeeps, and started the journey north towards the highlands. I folded myself up into the third row of seats in the back of the vehicle alongside Michal, whilst the others sat three abreast in front of us. Whilst this did give me a little more space to adjust my position, it did mean that I was sitting so high up that I couldn’t properly see out of the front windscreen. Fortunately, I’m relatively immune to motion sickness, so in went the headphones, on went the podcast and I closed my eyes and dosed as we started to wind our way up hill for four hours.

We arrived in the town of Ilam at about 9pm, in the courtyard compound of the Greenview Hotel. Ilam means ‘twisted road’, and is an agricultural hub, and Nepal’s most famous producing region for its namesake tea – which is exported all over the world.

Photo of a woman picking tea in a tea plantation in Ilam, NepalOur room was functional and clean with the hardest beds I’ve ever slept on – although this was possibly rather helpful to stretch out the body after my concertina impression in the jeep. The night-time serenade of car horns from Kathmandu was replaced by barking dogs, but otherwise I slept well.

The morning brought clearer skies and incredible swirling flocks of starlings, dipping and diving catching their breakfast on the wing. After a quick breakfast of fried eggs, toast and milk tea we climbed back into the vehicles and continued our journey north along the aforementioned twisting roads.

Today is also Saskia and my 10-year wedding anniversary… a great shame that we’re not celebrating it together, but given that we spent our honeymoon in the tea plantations of Sri Lanka, it seems fitting that I now find myself in amongst similar tea plantations – although naturally I wish she was here with me!

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IDG India
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+91 955 271 5800

IDG Middle East
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+44 (0) 1276 686644