If your flight out of Jomsom is cancelled, you are going to have to look for alternative transportation. At the airport hours before our flight was cancelled, other people on the 4th flight had already made alternative plans just in case the flight was cancelled. This was really smart because they were quickly on their way as soon as we got word that the flight was cancelled. Those of us that hadn't made plans were then scrambling around trying to find a jeep to hire and people to share the cost. The available jeeps are going to go pretty quickly and if you don't jump on it, you will be out of luck. There are basically two options for transportation if your flight is cancelled: take the bus or hire a jeep.
Pros and Cons:
There are several buses from Jomsom for Ghasa. If you take the bus to Ghasa, depending on what time you get there, you might be stuck there for the night before the next bus leaves for Tatopani. Taking the bus to Ghasa is very inexpensive. I think it was about $10. However, every inch of the bus will be packed solid. There won't be enough seats and everyone is squished together. The "road" to Ghasa is not like a road anywhere else. It is like taking an "Indiana Jones" ride at Disneyland. As the road continues higher and higher, the cliff drop offs to the Kali Gandaki become scarier and scarier. Frequently, people get sick on the bus due to the severe and constant jostling. So, if you take the bus, you will save some money, but it will likely be the most uncomfortable ride you have ever had.
You can hire a jeep in Jomsom that will take you all the way to Pokhara, or anywhere in between, but it is going to cost a lot of money. The road is the same - severe and constant jostling, hairpin turns and, at one point, travelling through a portion of the river and riverbed. But, this is clearly preferable to the bus.
After our flight was cancelled, we joined with a few other people looking for a jeep to hire. Their guide found a jeep that would fit all six of us, but it was going to cost $900. They didn't have the money to share the large cost, so decided against that option. By that time, there were no other jeeps available, so we decided on the bus. A couple of buses came, but they were already full. Then, the bus company put several people in a jeep, but wouldn't let the two of us go in that jeep. (I think it was because we didn't have a Nepali guide with us that could speak on our behalf.) We were stuck and went to the Marco Polo hotel to use the internet and try to figure out what to do. The young man running the hotel was very helpful and started calling people he knew to try to get us a jeep. He found a man who ran a hotel in Muktinath who was willing to drive us to Pokhara in his jeep. His first price was $900. We finally agreed on a price of $500. We were pretty happy about it because we just didn't have any other options and needed to get to Pokhara that night. We left Jomsom at 3:30 p.m., made one short stop for a cup of tea and arrived in Pokhara at 12:30 a.m. The drive was beautiful while it was still daylight, but it was definitely a white knuckle ride. I was gripping the door handle so hard that I was afraid it would rip off the door!
If you have just read the above tip you will be able to see why I didn't fancy catching the bus from Kathmandu to Dunche for my latest trek in Langtang – Well not both ways !!
So I decided to splash out and go by Toyota Landcruiser, As usual I got my friend Nirmal at HMA to organise the hiring of one and as I had 2 other trekking companions to split the cost with it wasn't too expensive. To cut the costs down further I also placed a posting on here and Lonely Planet Thorntree's and got one other person, so we had four westerners + our Nepali “Staff” (3).
The vehicle that Nirmal found us was Great, The Driver. Hari was competent and the journey went as smoothly as the road allowed and was a Much more Pleasant experience than the bus of 10 years before – and NO the road wasn't any better !!
Cost in Spring 2010 was $150 inc so split four ways hardly excessive – I would recommend Anyone thinking of trekking in Langtang to opt for the same mode of transport, at least on your outward journey !!
On a number of occasions I have booked a 4x4 vehicle to go to remote areas or with a big load of luggage to Pokhara or Ilam, and I have used National Tours Services on a number of occasions. This has always been good, however, you will be surprised about the cost of vehicle hire, especially the 4x4s. There is a price range involving criteria such as the road quality etc.
For longer trips, out of the city, a travel agent could organise a car and driver for you. Do try more than one agency to get the best deal. Also be clear as to what is included and what not before payment.
We used this mode of transport for a trip from Kathmandu, to Nagarkot, then to Bakthapur before returning to Kathmandu.
Buddha Transport Service, based in Kathmandu, offers great rental services. Vehicles of many kinds, with driver. They have drivers that do really know their business and theri way around. I have used them both on official business and odd hours sort of transport, as well as more special services kind of thing, with safety in mind. i have used them during bandhs - road strikes - where they have apparently struck deals with the bandh organisers so their vehicles can pass certain roads or sections at speicla times or they are adviced which roads will not bel blocked.
Another possibility to travel long distances in Nepal is by taxi / private car, This is a much more realistic proposition if you are in a group of 3 or more and are able to split the costs. But if you aren’t travelling on a budget, want a bit more comfort or are travelling in a tight timeframe and need to get to a trailhead quicker then it is a good option.
There are two ways of hiring one.
1) Go to a travel agent and book one, Personally I would go and se Nirmal at HMA, make sure that the travel agent knows exactly what sort of car it is that you are looking for, stipulate whether you require the driver to be fluent in English and make sure you are hiring a car that is going to be big / comfortable enough for the passengers as well as all the luggage
2) Approach a taxi on the street and get a price direct, you will then know Exactly what it is that you are hiring and how fluent the driver is in English.
Fuel prices are on the up in Nepal. March 2008 a litre of petrol was anything between 80 NPR and 100 NPR. So this obviously effects the price that you will pay.
Typically a private car to take you from Kathmandu to Pokhara would cost you from $80 to $100 in March 2008
This is an adventurous tour of about 1.000 km through the evergreen Nepali side with landslides blocking the road from time to time, over the high passes of the Himalaya and through the waste lands of Tibet. Massive road construction forced us to take the worst ways possible - suffering a flat tire and a broken axle of another jeep. But I guess next year the charm of the bone-rattling, neck-breaking Friendship Highway will be gone with the arrival of a real highway that deserves the name. The same trip will be so comfortable, I would miss the jumps ;-)
Can you see the narrow road on the left side above the steep cliff on the first two pics? These roads have no mercy - one little mistake and you will see these green gorges from the ground ;-)
This highway is closed every night, because Maoists are blocking the street. So try to leave Kathmandu or Pokhara before noon, or you will have to spend the night in Mugling sleeping in your taxi/bus/car. All the rooms were fully booked.
I've driven in quite a few different countries and experienced several different driving styles but nothing prepared me for Nepal, and Kathmandu in particular!...
If you want to pass something you blow your horn.
Just because something is coming at you doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to overtake anyway, you just flash your lights and keep going.
If the person you want to pass is happy to let you pass they indicate on the side they want you to pass on (think about it!).
Whilst you're passing you blow your horn again to let the others know you're coming.
Once you've passed quite often you blow your horn again to say thanks.
Buffalo wander down the middle of the streets as some form of religious traffic bollards. If you hit one you go to prison.
... The roads in Kathmandu are very noisy!
Having said that, despite the cocophony everybody remains calm and sits in the chaotic gridlock blowing their horns. It's fascinating to watch.
... absolutely the most caotic traffic i've ever seen anywhere in the world ... if you take a taxi, you're sure to have some near-death experiences (the only good thing is that cars really dont'g go that much fast ...)