We traveled to Nepal in 2014, before the big Kathmandu earthquake. We spent a month in Kathmandu getting rabies vaccinations because they were much cheaper there than in the United States. Toward the end of our trip, we booked a flight on YetiAir to fly to Bharatpur near Chitwan National Park. It was a coin-toss between taking YetiAir and BuddhaAir, but BuddhaAir had the most grim reputation of the two. A Yeti Air flight crashed in Lukla in 2008, killing everyone on board except the captain. A Buddha Air flight crashed in 2011, killing 19 people. Crashing in Lukla was excusable, but John felt like the Buddha Air crash in Lalitpur was too ominous and literally close-to-home (Lalitpur was where we lived during our stay in Nepal).
A lot of Nepal travelers recommend taking a bus between Kathmandu and Chitwan, but I read a lot about the bus accidents in Nepal. It was a lot cheaper to take the bus but the roads in Nepal are poorly maintained and the buses themselves are rickety and overcrowded. The “overcrowded” part by itself is worth considering on a trip of that length, but the commonplace nature of the stories about bus crashes killing a mass of people en route is even more compelling. We weren’t ready to do a bus journey in Nepal after having spent much of our time in Kathmandu suffering through rabies vaccines at the CIWEC clinic.
I researched the trip on the Internet, read my Lonely Planet book, and tried to make sense of Chitwan and Sauraha Village. I could see that Bharatpur was close to Chitwan National Park, but I worried about how to connect all the dots between Kathmandu, Bharatpur, the Sapana Village Lodge where we’d be staying and all the various activities on offer. In the end, making the flight reservations and the reservations with Sapana Village Lodge meant that Point-A to Point-B dots were all connected for us.
The Yeti Air flight went well, all things considered. We noticed a Buddha Air plane on the runway with flat tires and a panel missing, the Buddha Air employees resting quietly under the shade of its wings. We congratulated ourselves on the wise choice in airlines. The flight was uneventful. We arrived at Bharatpur Airport intact. From there, someone picked us up and took us to Sapana Village Lodge where we spoke with the owner about what we wanted to do during our stay.
On our trip back to Kathmandu, we spent several hours at Bharatpur Airport, which was uncomfortable, humid, and very hot. It was at the Bharatpur Airport that I had a female security guard poke into my purse and pull out a tampon. It looked to be such a foreign and obscure item to her (apparently) that she took it out of the package to make sure it wasn’t a bomb. The tampon was ruined and try as I might, I just didn’t have the Nepali words or charades to explain to the security guard what a tampon is. She let me and my unwrapped tampon onto the plane anyway.
Chitwan National Park was a highlight of our trip to Nepal. I wish we could’ve stayed longer in southern Nepal watching the elephants walking up and down the river banks.