Jane Wilson-Howarth

Blog

 
 

Into the Jungle

Sunday, 18 March 2018
Cynics claim that people are either writers or doers. Thinkers or movers and shakers. Adventurers or documenters. But some of us aspire to do be both active and to document those adventures. The challenge then is to make time for both… while not getting too distracted by all the other real-life challenges, like finding a job. I won’t make excuses but there are lots of reasons for being so neglectful of my blog lately.
Life is so culturally rich here that it is all too easy to have several ideas for blogs in a day, and then write absolutely nothing about any of them.  This week though S was finally able to take a few days out and we booked into the so-called eco-resort of Shivapuri Village. Something like three decades ago the owner bought out an entire village and installed flushing toilets and solar-heated showers and turned the village into a hotel. Sadly though, this was one of many, many casualties of the 2015 earthquakes and none of the rough little "cottages" were standing after the ground stopped shaking. The owner is still rebuilding but has opted this time around for a less-than-traditional style of accommodation with corrugated iron rooves and scope for karaoke in the dining room. His clientele these days is principally middle class day-trippers from Kathmandu 18km away by way of a rough, brain-rattling road. No-one seems to notice the hundreds of non-endemic conifers that he’s planted or the slick of rubbish and mineral water bottles sliding down the hillside into an otherwise beautiful forested gully close to the guest rooms.
That said awaking to birdsong and a view of lush, mist-clad forests and north to a vista of the eternal snows is transporting and it is easy to forget that only just over the rim of the Kathmandu Valley live millions of people in what can feel like a seething urban mess.
Shivapuri Village is right on the edge of the National Park at about 2000m above sea level and we set out to wander up to the local summit at 2732m which promised to be an ‘easy’ ridge-walk with not too many ups and downs.
The word jungle has come into the English language from Nepali, meaning useless, uncultivatable land, but entering the forest proper we could see that this land, although challenging to exploit, is far from useless. The astonishingly steep slopes support lush, moss-covered forest including mighty rhododendrons just coming into blossom attracting sunbirds and other gorgeous birdlife. Early on we found ourselves the centre of attention to a rowdy bunch of Spiny Babblers – Nepal's only endemic bird species – and then disturbed an absolutely massive Honey Buzzard. We found ourselves wondering how a bird measuring 65cm can fly so effortlessly between the tree trunks and underbrush in its hunt for honeycombs.
We spent the day exploring the jungle, where easy paths had been created to help pilgrims summit the holy mountain. There were lots of resting places and also long flights of steps made from local stone, but even so we met not one person as we enjoyed the company of bands of mocking Laughing Thrushes and Rhesus Monkeys and wondered whether a Clouded Leopard might be watching us walk through his domaine. We heard tantalising sounds from fleeing quadrupeds. We encountered solitary barking deer on a couple of occasions, and saw plenty of places where wild boar had rooted and dug but the dense forest hid the identity of the four-legged herbivores. According to the species listed in the Park, they could have been a small band of Himalayan Goral (a kind of wild goat): some parts of the forest certainly smelled like an old goat had passed through. Alternatively – or as well – these could have been Himalayan Serow, the so-called goat-antelope which are also known to live in the Park.
Such sounds of unidentified wildlife made me start to think about our chances of meeting a leopard or Himalayan Black Bear. I thought back to a recent trip to see Brown Bears in Estonia where the naturalist who briefed us was a bit vague about what to do in case of meeting a bear. He recommended lying face down, playing dead while hoping that your backpack protects you from those slashing claws. Our Estonian guide said bears threw people about a bit but often lost interest quite quickly. I wondered how quickly any Nepali bear might lose interest if he smelled the packed lunch in S’s pack… but thought again and decided that any bear would find the cold boiled cauliflower, chunks of raw horseradish and slightly slimy panir sandwiches provided by the hotel as unappetising as we did.
We didn’t, of course, encounter any scary wildlife, but we did climb a lot of steps and saw and heard an amazing array of wonderful birds. It is only a pity that the hard-won paths are not a little better marked as it was all too easy to become quite disorientated in this wonderful piece of wilderness.
 
Rufus-breasted Niltava
 
An astonishing tasks creating relatively easy paths through dense jungle at  2500m above sea level
 
Fire-tailed sunbird on a rhododendron in wild forest of Shivapuri



    Pontifications
    Travel
    Wildlife
    Writing
    October 2020(1)
    August 2020(2)
    July 2020(1)
    June 2020(1)
    May 2020(1)
    April 2020(4)
    March 2020(4)
    January 2020(1)
    October 2019(2)
    June 2019(2)
    April 2019(2)
    March 2019(9)
    January 2019(2)
    October 2018(3)
    August 2018(3)
    June 2018(4)
    May 2018(5)
    April 2018(3)
    March 2018(1)
    January 2018(4)
    October 2017(4)
    August 2017(3)
    July 2017(2)
    June 2017(2)
    May 2017(1)
    April 2017(1)
    March 2017(4)
    January 2017(1)
    October 2016(7)
    August 2016(2)
    July 2016(1)
    June 2016(1)
    January 2016(3)
    October 2015(1)
    August 2015(1)
    July 2015(1)
    May 2015(2)
    April 2015(2)
    March 2015(2)
    January 2015(3)
    October 2014(4)
    July 2014(1)
    June 2014(4)
    May 2014(1)
    April 2014(1)
    January 2014(4)
    October 2013(1)
#righttobreathe / 100 word story / 100-word story / 50 Camels / 50 Camels and She's Yours / A Glimpse of Eternal Snows / A Wide Woman on a Narrow Boat / Aberdeen / Abuja / Active Fairness System / adventure stories / advertising / affairs / age concern / air pollution / air quality / Akwanga / alcoholism / Alicia Ostriker / Americanisms / animal reservoirs / ANM / Annapurna / antelope / anthology / Asad / audiobook / author / Author from Hull / author interview / author reading / author-to-author / Auxiliary Nurse Midwife / Baglung / Bagmati / Bajaj / Bajaj Pulsar / Bajura / banknotes / BBC Radio Cambridgeshire / bear precautions / Benjamin Langley / Bertrand Russell / Bhotang / bicycle / bike trip / birdlife / birds / black bear / black kites / black pine forest / Blitz / Bloodshot Books / Blue sheep / book launch / border guards / Boreal Wildlife Centre / Bradt / Bradt Travel Guides / Brahmin / breakfast / bridge / brown bear / buckwheat / buckwheat bird / buffalo cart / bulbul / camaraderie / Cambridge / Cambridge writers / Cambridgeshire / camping hazards / canals / carcinogens / caste / catastrophe / cave diving / celtic / chaite-dhan / Chandragiri / Chele / childbirth / children's books / Chirang / Chisapaani / Chisapani / Chobhar / Chobhar Hill / Chough / city cycling / civet / climate change / clinics / cold desert / colourful hat / comfort / coronavirus / Covid / Covid-19 / cows / creating characters / cycling / cyclist / daisy chain / dal bhat / dangerous wildlife / dawn chorus / Dead Branches / demonstration / Department of Roads / desert / development / development work / Devon / Dhading / Dhading besi / Dhangadhi airport / Dhaulagiri / Dhee / dhulomandu / Dolpa / Dolpo / domestic violence / Dr. Katrina Butterworth / dragon / dragons / Drakmar / droppings / Dunai / dust / early marriage / earthquake / earthquake alarm / earthquake damage / earthquake today / East Anglia / eco-resort / eco-tourism / Edinburgh / elbow sneezing / embankments / emergency / England / English journey / English language / environmental crisis / Eräkeskus / eternal snows / evacuation / evocative smells / Ewell / expat / exploitation / Fagu Purnima / Falgun / feelgood read / Fens / festival / festival of colour / festivals in March / fiction / Finland / fire-tailed sunbird / fishing / fishtail / flash fiction / flash literature / flash prose / flood protection / floods / football / footbridge / footpath / forest / forest fires / friends / Gai Tihar / gaming / Ganesh himal / Gangetic Plain / garden / garment / Ghami / Ghemi / ghoral / giant crab spider / giving birth / global warming / goodread / goral / gorge / Gorkha / gossip / GP writer / grandad / Greece / grey-headed canary-flycatcher / haiku / handwashing / hangry / happiness / happyness / hare / Hatibhan / health assistant / Heffers / Heffers bookshop / Hell's Grannies / himal / Himalaya / Himalayan Black Bear / Himalayan Goral / Himalayan griffon vulture / Himalayan Hostages / Himalayan Kidnap / Himalayan serow / Himalayan Sunrise / Himalayan woolly hare / Himalayas / himals / Hindu festival / Hindu kingdom / Holi / Holi Purnima / holocaust / home delivery / honey buzzard / hoopoe / horror / hot springs / Hotel Deep of Worldtop / Hotel Peace Palace / house crows / how long to write a book? / human kind / human spirit / idyllic childhood / Indonesia / Indra Jatra / infidelity / inspiration / inspiring fiction for children / Ireland / irrigation / Is She Dead in Your Dreams? / jackal / Janajibika Hotel / Jane Wilson-Howarth / Jews / Joe Wilson / Jomosom / Jomsom / jungle / Jungle book / Juphal / Kaag Beni / Kag Beni / Kali Gandaki / Kali Gandaki gorge / Kalopani / Kalunki / Karnali River / Kashigaon / Kashigoan / Kathmandu / Kathmandu Valley / Katrina Butterworth / kestrel / khana / Khartoum / kickstart / kidnap / kindness / Kipling / Kipling's jungle / kites / Kolkata / Krishna / Kumari / Kurds / Kurentar / Kusma / labour / ladoos / lama / Lamjung himal / lammergeier / lammergeyer / landscape / landslide / landslides / Large Indian civet / largest tribuary of the Ganges / Laxmi Puja / leave no one behind / leave no-one behind / letter-writing / life lessons / living goddess / lockdown / lockdown project / LoMantang / Lombok / London pigeon / loneliness / Lord Ganesh / Lord Krishna / loss and recovery / love / Lukhu river / Machhapuchare / Makwanpur / Manbu / mani wall / married life / Martinselkosen / Mary Kingsley / masala tea / maskmandu / masks / maternal mortality / Maya and the Dragon / medical emergency / medical evacuation / medical Students / Melamchi / memoir / memoirist / memory / Michael Rosenberg / microfiction / middle grade readers / Middle Hills / mineral water bottles / Monsoon / morning mist / Moth Snowstorm / motorbike / motorbike trip / motorbikes / motorcycle / mountain medicine / mountains / mouse hare / mouse-hare / Muktinath / Mukwanpur / mulberries / Mustang / nag puja / narrow boat / nature / Naubisi / neighbours / Nepal / Nepal Communitere / Nepal road trip / Nepal roadtrip / Nepal Valley / Nepal wildlife / Nepali / Nepali food / Nepali tea / Nepali Times / Nepali topi / Nepali wildlife / Nigeria / Nigiri himal / nilgai / Nilgiri / Nilgiri South / non-fiction / Nonsuch Palace / Nonsuch Park / Northumberland / novel / nuthatch / Nuwakot / obstetrics / onions / orb spider / ox-cart / pangolin / parenting / Passer montanus / passing places / passive pleasure / Patan / Patan Durbar / Patan Durbar Square / payer / People in Need charity / percussion / PHASE / PHASE Nepal / PHASENepal / Phewa Tal / Philippines / Phoksundo / phonetics / photoktm2016 / pigeons / pika / pike / pilgrims / plastic waste / pleasure / PM 2.5 / poem / poetry / Pokhara / Police My Friend / pollution / polytunnel / pony trekking / post earthquake recovery / powder / pregnancy / Pridhamsleigh Cavern / puja / Pul Chowk / Pulsar / Pungmo / Purnima programme / Pyncnonotus cafer / rabies / Rajapur / Rajapur bazaar / Rajapur Island / Rajapur market / Rajapur town / rat snake / reading / reading aloud / Real Fairness for Real men / reconstructed dialogue / recording / Red Dawn Rising / red-vented bulbul / refugees / relief work / Remover of obstacles / rhododendron / rice / ricefields / Richard Mabey / Ringmo / risk takers / river crossing / river island / river-crossing / road trip / roadtrip / Rock Doves / rock shelters / Roe Deer / Royal Enfield Riders Club / Royle's pika / rubbish / Rufus-breasted Niltava / rupees / Russian border / rustling / rustlings / Sally Haiselden / samosa / Sarengkot / sarus cranes / scorpion / screening / Second World War / Seeta Siriwardena / self-harm / senses / serow / Shangri La / Shangri-la / Shanti bazaar / Shey-Phoksundo National Park / Shivapuri / Shivapuri Nagajung National Park / Shivapuri National Park / Shivapuri Village / Shivapuri Village Resort / short fiction / short story / shrikes / silk / Simon Howarth / Sindhupalchowk / Sinhala / Sinhalese / Six degrees of Separation / skipper butterflies / skippers / snow leopard / Snowfed Waters / solid waste / solid waste disposal / Soti / South Sudan / sparrows / Speaking Tiger / species leap / spider venom / Spiny babblers / spotted owlet / squirrel / Sri Lanka / Sri Lankan author / Stephanie Green / stink bug / street art / street dogs / Subsistence agriculture / Sudan / Suli Gad Khola / Suli Gad river / Summit Air / sunbird / sunrise / Surrey / suspended bridge / Sussex / Suttee / Tahr / tar tattoo / tato pani / Tatopani / TBS Kathmandu / tea / tea shop / teacher / teashop / Teku / Teku Hospital / Teku infectious diseases hospital / terai / Thamel / Thankot / Tharu / Tharu people / The Book Warren / The British School Kathmandu / The Lonely Cat / Thessaloniki / time / To be blessed / totobobo / traffic / traffic jam / traffic rules / traffic uncles / transHimalaya / transHimalayan / travel anthology / travel narrative / travel writing / traveling with children / travelling with children / tree sparrows / trekking / trust / Tsirang / Twin Otter / Uganda / unplanned pregnancy / Upper Mustang / urban cycling / urban life / urban pollution / urban water supply / Valley / vampires / vegetarian / velvet-fronted nuthatch / Viiksimontie / Village dogs / village life / volunteering / vulture / Wai / Wanderlust / water supplies / water tankers / West Sussex / western Nepal / white lies / WHO / widower / wild goat / wild places / wildlife / wildlife stories / William Matthews / winter madness / winter Wheat / women of a certain age / Women Travellers / words / wordsmith / World Book Day / World Book Day 2020 / World Cup 1990 / World Environment Day / world's deepest gorge / writer / writers group / writer's life / writing / writing about writing / writing characters / writing exercise / writing for children / writing group / writing habits / writing prompts / year fives / yeti / young mother / young motherhood / Your Child Abroad / zoonoses