An Invitation from Nepal's Only Search & Rescue Team
Late one night, I received the following message via my LinkedIn account:
I think it is time to find a person who wants to write our story of missing in the Himalayas--murder, love, vanishing, and loads of strange stories over 20 years of case files. If you know an adventurous soul, please inform her."
The message was sent by the founder and leader of the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal.
I too am involved in Search and Rescue. And I'm also a writer. But I went to bed the night I received this note without seriously considering the opportunity. Then I awakened at 3 a.m. and a little voice inside my head said, "Do it, Deb!" I got up, turned on my computer, and responded to Ingo. So began my latest adventure, which will include three months in Nepal.
Note: Since this project began, the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal has been re-named SAR Dogs Nepal, which is how I'll refer to the squad from here on.
Nepal is a landlocked country located on the Asian continent, between China to the north and India to the south.
Have You Been To Nepal? - A Visitor Poll: Let's see who's stopping by....
About SAR Dogs Nepal (Formerly Himalaya Rescue Dog Squal Nepal)
The reason for my trip halfway around the world....
I'll spend the majority of my time in Nepal getting to know Ingo and the other members of his search and rescue team, gathering information and stories so I can return home to Arizona and write the book.
Dutchman Ingo Schnabel established SAR Dogs Nepal, the only organization of its kind in the country, in October, 1989. Since then, the team has provided search and rescue and medical aid when trekkers have been reported missing and in the event of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides, and flash flooding. The team is able to provide helicopter rescue and tracking dogs to almost any area of Nepal.
SAR Dogs Nepal members have trained in a range of disciplines, including rock rescue, firefighting, logistics, and wilderness medicine.
The team now also has a Junior Rescue Squad. This follows a ten-year hiatus during The People's War in Nepal from 1996 until 2006, when SAR Dogs Nepal was unable to continue training new disaster relief workers. Currently, only 18 staff members and 9 Nepalese volunteers remain, while the goal is to have a minimum of 100 workers on standby in the team's mobile Disaster Relief & Medical Aid Unit.
SAR Dogs Nepal's main headquarters is in Shyauli Bazaar, Lamjung District, in the center of Nepal, and includes a dog breeding and training center. Team members often work at an altitude of 18,000 feet or more and in harsh conditions, from jungle gorges to flooded plains, avalanche zones, and even large-scale traffic accidents.
Due to a lack of national infrastructure and government support, SAR Dogs Nepal has provided the only medical disaster relief to poor villages in remote areas.
To learn more about SAR Dogs Nepal, visit the team's website at SARDogsNepal.asia
The Leader Of the Rescue Squad Also Started A School
When I first began corresponding with Ingo and some of his team members, I thought this book project would be "just" about their Search and Rescue work. And then I realized there is much more to this story, including a special school Ingo started in a remote area of Nepal--a school which does not adhere to Nepal's caste system, where children learn in a low-stress environment free of the gender prejudice and violence found in government-run schools.
This video is a preview of a documentary made by American Debra Kaufman. The full documentary film, A School of Their Own: Reading, Writing And Revolution in Nepal, is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
A School Of Their Own
A 1-Hour Documentary About The Riverside School
Filmmaker Debra Kaufman, who sponsors a Nepali student, went to Nepal to meet the child, and it was then that she discovered how the Riverside School's mission intersected with country's fight for democracy and freedom. The school struggled to stay afloat during Nepal's bloody, 10-year civil war, during which time the police accused the children of being Maoist rebels while the rebels themselves were forcibly drafting children over 12 years of age into their army.
How And Where I'll Spend My Time In Nepal
After flying into Kathmandu, Nepal's capital city--the largest and pretty much the only city in the country--and spending a day or two there, I'll travel to the town of Pokhara by bus, where I'll meet Ingo.
I've read that the 200-kilometer (124-mile) trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara along the Prithvy Highway can take as many as eight hours. The road often follows rivers at the bottom of deep valleys and passes a number of what I've seen described as comfortable refreshment stops.
(Added: A friend of mine who's been to Nepal has quite strongly suggested that I fly to Pokhara rather than taking the bus. She said the road is narrow--really just wide enough for one vehicle--with no guardrails, and the buses honk their horns as they "scream" around the corners, hoping there isn't a vehicle coming the other way. She also said that the "valleys are littered with burnt-out buses." Eek! Me thinks her advice to fly is definitely sound. I've heard that a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and vice versa is only about U.S.$70, and I think that is going to be well worth it!)
After spending maybe a month in Pokhara, Ingo tells me we'll trek to the team's current headquarters in Shyauli Bazar and spend some time there before returning to Pokhara for the month of July, which I believe is the wettest month of the year.
Most of my time in Nepal will be during the rainy--or monsoon--season, when many of the country's unpaved roads are impassable. So I expect I'll be doing a lot of walking (trekking, that is), which is more than fine with me. I hope to explore as much as possible on foot.
A View Of The Anapurna Range From Pokhara
The lakeside town of Pokhara is Nepal's most popular destination after Kathmandu due to it being the gateway to some of the most famous treks in the world, including the Anapurna Circuit. Only foothills separate the town from the majestic Himalaya.
I've Read This Book About Nepal
I'm trying to learn as much as I can about Nepal and Nepalese cultures before I go. It didn't take long to realize, though the country isn't very large, there is much diversity amongst its people, not to mention its landscape.
Light Of The Himalaya
This is a video by award-winning filmmaker Michael Brown -- a preview of a documentary that follows eye surgeons from Nepal and America as they, along with the North Face athlete team, work on the Himalayan Cataract Project, which takes them to the summit of a 21,000-foot Himalayan peak.
The film is available from Serac Adventure Films.
© 2009 Deb Kingsbury
Please Share Your Comments Or Questions. Have you ever been to Nepal?
gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on June 04, 2017:
You are promoting Nepal through your article. Thank you again
pavlo-badovskyi on December 14, 2012:
pictures are awasome!
Truthmusica on July 15, 2012:
Awesome country to visit..........
wolvyz on May 11, 2012:
Awesome pictures and videos about my country. Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful adventure with the world.
Thrillophilia LM on March 06, 2012:
I came across your blog today as it will now be part of my daily reading.I think ur blog is great for providing to everybody something unique to know.
To know more about adventure trips in India click these links.
SayGuddaycom on February 20, 2012:
You are an incredibly interesting person and I envy your travels.
EcoPottiJo on February 18, 2012:
I visited Nepal in 2005 and we took a car from Kathmandu to Pokhara along the Prithvy Highway! It was brilliant fun, busy as the busiest highway but twice as slow with Tata lorries broken down all over the place! I adore Nepal and have a frind with his own travel and trek company in Kathmandu. I'm going back next year as I'm organising a charity trek in the Himalaya. Love your lens by the way it captures the essence that is Nepal.
Lindrus on January 26, 2012:
Stunningly beautiful! I really want to go and see it for myself!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 11, 2012:
We worked in Nepal for a while and really enjoyed our stay. We stayed in The Courtyard which is like an oasis in Thamel but what is unique about it is its Library where guests who want gather there and have drinks before dinner enjoying each other's stories of their wanderings of the day. A great experience. Pokhara is truly beautiful and your pictures really capture this.
ActiveNewZealand on November 17, 2011:
I have been to Nepal on a long distance trek and I loved it - the highs, the lows, the whole lot. When I got home I couldn't imagine spending a day not hiking - it took me ages to get settled again.
caretakerray lm on June 23, 2011:
Great lense! I found it both entertaining and informative. I have included you in one of my featured lense lists
anonymous on May 23, 2011:
Looks like you had a great time. What an adventure to go out and see what God has created all over the world. Great job!! I love your writing technique.
Patricia on April 08, 2011:
I would love to go to Nepal! Wonderful lens! Blessed!
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on March 20, 2011:
I found myself reading this and thinking: I want to go do this! Enjoyed living vicariously through you. I've always been intrigued by Nepal and know that I will one day make that journey. Thanks for sharing.
livingfrontiers on November 02, 2010:
This is great information, and it is no wonder so many magical people come from this part of the world. Thanks for sharing!
Indigo Janson from UK on October 26, 2010:
I have never been so I love reading the accounts of adventurous souls like yourself. This is one book I will definitely be buying. Will it be available outside the US in one form or another? (I have a Kindle but there are geographical restrictions so can only buy books licensed for the UK.)
oztoo lm on October 22, 2010:
What an incredible experience for you. It's often hard for us to understand how hard other people's lives are. People like Ingo do a great job in trying to make a difference.
LouisaDembul on October 15, 2010:
I think you did just right going to Nepal! What an opportunity. Wish I could do the same!
nepaltraveltrekking on October 01, 2010:
Wonderful, I hope got lots of adventure treks in Nepal.
Peregrina LM on September 27, 2010:
Your trip sounds amazing. I'm jealous!
RinchenChodron on September 16, 2010:
Ramkitten, I've been following your adventure all along and I decided today to nominate this lens for a purple star - good luck!
Lisa Auch from Scotland on August 03, 2010:
If more people were like you - and just DID IT! our world would sure be a better place, i look forward to hearing more of your experience.
julieannbrady on August 01, 2010:
Deb, you know I have surely missed you and feel like you are a next door neighbor. So, hearing of the opportunity presented you to travel to Nepal, well WOW! I surely hope that it has been all and more that you hoped for. As I reflect back on my past experiences with my husband, I will be eternally grateful to him for "getting" me to Hungary and Romania to retrace my grandfather's story. It's been a distinct honor to call you friend. Thank you.
RinchenChodron on July 31, 2010:
I'm creating a featured lens module for this lens on my lens on Mount Kailash.
anonymous on July 07, 2010:
Thinking of you and wishing you all the best as you continue in Nepal.
Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on June 16, 2010:
Hi Deb, I'm just catching up on my Squidoo friends as I can. I've had a rough 6 months here and it doesn't look like it's going to get better soon ... so I'm doing what little I can for now. I'm going to be following your progress and look forward to travelling with you via facebook. I am not a member .. just know that I'll be reading and enjoying your adventures. All the best!!! Laraine
anonymous on April 27, 2010:
I am shanker from Nepal. I watch ur site and want to contact you
HorseAndPony LM on March 13, 2010:
What a great project. We are very excited for you and hope you reach your funding goal.
grannysage on March 07, 2010:
Oh my. What a great honor and adventure. I'm going to be peeking over your shoulder as you make your trip. Have a great time.
Sue Dixon from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK on February 26, 2010:
I know lots of people who have been to Nepal ( lots of my friends are keen walkers)- sadly I'm not one of them. I wish you ll the best for this great experience. Great lens.
RinchenChodron on February 07, 2010:
What a fabulous adventure lens!!!! Five stars and a fav. Yes I have been to Kathmandu only, but also was in Bhutan - beautiful (see my lens on it). Best wishes with this project!
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on February 02, 2010:
I haven't been, but I know someone who has been to Nepal. What a wonderful opportunity for you, Deb. I'm excited to see what stories you bring back!
anonymous on January 31, 2010:
Deb, this really is an opportunity and I'm glad you listened to that still small voice telling you to go in 66 days from now. I would love to read the stories that sound mysterious.
Best wishes on your research and visit to Nepal. ~ Greetings to Ingo and the rescue team.
anonymous on January 25, 2010:
Wow - Deb, Nepal looks like a great place and I like your writing and this site is very informative. I look forward to hearing about your adventures in Nepal.
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on January 20, 2010:
Oh me! What an adventure. I can't wait to hear more about your trip to Nepal and your upcoming book.
Addy Bell on January 16, 2010:
Awesome! What a great opportunity to do great things. And the school sounds like a truly radical innovation. Best of luck!
Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on January 14, 2010:
@Kimsworld LM: Actually, it's very warm to extremely hot in the lower areas much of the year. I'm told that when I'll be there, it will be very humid.
Kimsworld LM on January 14, 2010:
Isn't it like really cold Nepal? I've never seen a picture of anybody wearing bikini in Nepal. You go ahead and I'll catch up later! Hope you have an awesome adventure! Can't wait to hear about the Himalaya Resue Dog Squad.
Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on January 12, 2010:
How exciting! I wish that I could go with you! I'd carry your laptop (or will you need to write it all by hand). Yikes! That could be as daunting as driving those mountain roads. Hats off to you, my friend! I'll talk to you before you go.
Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on January 10, 2010:
Oh, I am so excited for you and I am absolutely thrilled that you are going to let us live this experience vicariously through you and your writings! Awesome, Angel Blessed and added to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens!!!
Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on January 03, 2010:
@Kailua-KonaGirl: Thank you so much. :) I actually won't be leaving until the end of April/beginning of May. And I'll definitely blog about the trip as much as I can while I'm there and write the book when I get home. Then maybe I should go to Hawaii for a break. :)
KonaGirl from New York on January 03, 2010:
This lens is awesome! I love it! Please build a blog, website and lens about this fantastic adventure when you return. For that matter, write a book about it!
Oh BTW in my excitement for you, I forgot to thank you for visiting my Hawaii lens. I hope you will receive this before you leave! I wish I were going with you!
Lisa from Rhode Island on January 02, 2010:
wow a great opportunity and great lens.
Andy-Po on December 23, 2009:
I forgot to say. I added this excellent lens to my Asia Travel Group Lens, as a "Featured Lens"
Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on December 22, 2009:
What a wonderful opportunity. Best of luck.
mmmanning on December 21, 2009:
Nice lens, and great share. Keep us informed please.
footloose (on tagfoot)
anonymous on December 21, 2009:
OMG! What a fantastic opportunity! Best of luck...and have fun.
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on December 21, 2009:
Oh my word, what a fascinating adventure lies ahead of you. We are also very interested in traveling to Nepal. Maybe one day...
Andy-Po on December 21, 2009:
Excellent lens. I have never quite got to Nepal although I have been to Rajasthan, which is not too far away, a couple of times.
Barbara Radisavljevic from Paso Robles, CA on December 20, 2009:
Deb, you have more adventures than anyone I've ever known, and I feel like I know you a bit after reading so many of your lenses. Have a wonderful time in Nepal. I expect we'll see a few more lenses when you return.
Bambi Watson on December 20, 2009:
What an exciting opportunity!
Kylyssa Shay from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 20, 2009:
A great story well-told. Fantastic lens!
Deb Kingsbury (author) from Flagstaff, Arizona on December 20, 2009:
@norma-holt: No, no those are not videos I've made. I haven't been to Nepal yet. Those are videos on YouTube, made by the directors of the documentaries.
norma-holt on December 20, 2009:
What a great story. The depth of your abilities is amazing. Did you do the videos as well. I am lensrolling this to 'African child abuse' and will feature it there as well as on some other lenses. Well done - top marks
Samantha Lynn from Missouri on December 20, 2009:
This is awesome!
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on December 20, 2009:
Fantastic. Can't wait to hear about your adventure and the story you will be telling of the HRDSN. I've never been to Nepal, but have read about it and it appears to be an absolutely beautiful country.