On the Trail with Nissan: An Epic Adventure Across Nepal
Leading a group of 40 people through the Himalaya is no easy feat, especially when you are filming a documentary and only have one week to do it. But, there is an easy way to break the ice at the start of an expedition…
Throw people off a very high suspension bridge over a raging river!
We were providing an epic trip of a lifetime, the ultimate Himalayan adventure for a team of four that hailed from Spain, Germany, France and England. They had entered a competition through car manufacturing company Nissan and were the lucky winners having been chosen over many 1000’s of entrants.
Three brand new Nissan X-Trails were sent out for the task, being shipped from Spain all the way to Mumbai, driven through India and finally arriving in Nepal – and this is even before the proper expedition got underway! We met the team and the X-Trails in Kathmandu, adding six more Nissan Patrols and a large bus (to carry all the expedition kit and film crew) into the mix.
The next seven days were spent in a whirlwind, crossing the Himalaya and guiding the competition winners over awesome terrain – technical single track, up steep rock faces and down powerful white water!
When the team at Nissan contacted us the brief for the expedition was simple. Make it extreme. Demanding. Remote. Welcoming the directive with open arms, we took the challenge head on.
We set out to make the trip extreme, aimed to get the adrenaline to a maximum, lift people out of their comfort zones and push people to their limits, all whilst keeping people safe and maintaining our high professional standards.
Whisked out of Kathmandu at dawn, we left the manic capital behind, setting off in convoy. Huge distances needed to be covered over the next week, hundreds and hundreds of miles over tough trails and with tricky rivers to negotiate. The trip was hard work but highly rewarding.
The competition winners, though hailing from four different countries, with four different languages between them, their common denominator was the adventure that lay ahead. All did an exemplary job of taking on new challenges whilst being pushed to the jagged edges of their comfort zones – the very definition of adventure!
Heading into the high hills directly below Tibet our first true test was to cross a massive landslide. Not only had this crushed the road that lay ahead, it had unfortunately swept away three villages, leaving no trace but rubble and rock in its wake. The fragility of life and the harshness of the mountains were evident, offering a sobering juxtaposition.
We crossed to the other side arriving at our destination, just in time to take a giant leap of faith. Nothing can compare to the feeling of standing on a narrow suspension bridge, 165m off the ground with not much more attached to you than a body harness and a rope. This, the highest canyon swing in the world will test even the bravest adventurer!
Still amped from the free fall, the next day took our team to vertical, extreme and very wet rock faces as we went canyoning and abseiled down 40m waterfalls, descending as we made our way back to camp.
Early mornings seemed a recurring theme, but our next challenge was worth the effort. The Sun Kosi River tumbles down ferociously, originating from the high Tibetan plateau, carving its way through the Himalaya, making it home to world class kayaking.
We took on the challenge of the high volume water and swift rapids head on, led at the helm by our extremely talented guides. The rewards of a hard day on the water were welcomed with cold beers and a hog roast!
While a few days prior we’d been descending cliff faces, on this day the challenge was to find our way up one. Situated just outside of the Kathmandu Valley, the task at hand was to defy gravity on some hard rock climbing routes. Balancing on minute edges, smaller than the width of a pound coin with 30m of air between you and the ground is something to behold! Luckily the views into the valley far below were phenomenal!
On the road again and it wouldn’t be an expedition without a wild camp. We made our way through spectacular mountain scenery into the thick of Shiva Puri National park, where our always enthusiastic crew had built our camp. Built on top of a mountain to sleep 38 clients and 30 staff, it took 10 men, 4 days to create, had no less than 4 toilets and on top of a mountain no less!
We bought 20-litres of rakshi from a local farmer that delivered this potent homemade liquor (in a container that looked identical to the one we had for the generator). A big fire was lit, the rakshi was opened and our porters got the instruments out and broke into song. An incredible end to the night after an equally incredible day.
One final objective lay ahead – to find the gnarliest, wildest trail we could find, get on our mountain bikes and ride!
Richard Goodey (Guide/Founder) had the privilege of leading two members of the group, Tristan and Richard down some amazing single track. Both guys liked to ride hard and were on the look out for some fierce, technical, challenging terrain. Well, they got it! Richard sent himself flying over the handlebars, somehow managing to land on his feet and was forced to run out the long decent on foot to prevent his face from moving faster than his feet towards the jungle floor!
The ride was quite pleasantly ended by arriving at a very large group of dancing girls that were wearing not a lot of clothes, dancing around the Newari town of Sankhu. They were practicing for another TV shoot that was taking place.
The expedition brought us out of the wilderness and wild Himalayan terrain back into the frenetic streets of the capital. The journey had come to an end, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Without our crew of over 30 drivers, guides, instructors, cooks, assistants, and porters working incredibly hard, day in and day out the expedition just wouldn’t have happened. Case in point, when one of the roof racks didn’t show up as expected, our crew made an awesome rack for the X-Trail, carving it out bamboo and it worked a treat! I wouldn’t be surprised if Nissan considered this as a new addition to their 2016 models!
Byron (Lead Guide) – Under huge pressure to make sure everything went to plan, Byron always went out of his way to make sure people had an amazing experience.
Dipak and Krishna (Head Nepali Crew) – Our local crew were commandeered under these two affable and hard working guys. They were total gems to work with. No matter the task, they always did it with a smile!
Our support vehicles were a terrific assortment of 30-year Nissan Patrols. They were a testament to how strong Nissan make their vehicles. Incredibly strong, robust and in great condition, you need vehicles like this when crossing the Himalaya!
Want to Know More?
You can read and see more about the expedition in:
Nissan Italia: X-Trail Adventure (translated from Italian)
El Pais, El Viajero: Adventures in the Himalaya (Spain’s largest national newspaper – translated from Spanish)
The Nissan Adventure Film Festival: Documentary of the Expedition
The Adventure Film Festival showcases the world’s best in adventure and extreme sports films and documentaries. Screened at over 30 cinemas nationwide, experience adrenaline-pumping action from the mountains to the ocean.
Find out more about our: in-country fixing, film and TV work, safety and logistics