The day had finally come. Our long awaited, Nepalese River expedition through active tiger country was finally here. After hours of pre trip interviews, prep videos, virtual one-on-one zoom calls, map sharing, checklist checking, and a virtual Golden Mahseer Mahseer fly tying session, we were finally on our way to fish in the heart of Nepal’s Royal Bardiya National Park.
Emotions ran high as I departed from Washington DC and was finally Kathmandu bound. Remarkably there weren’t any delays, but I was receiving reports that our river was flooded due to an untimely bout of late monsoons. After all these years, and all of the build up, we were heading into floodwaters for our river expedition!
As you imagine this could have been a disastrous start, but instead due to the many hours of planning and delightful arrangements of our hosts, our adventure in Nepal was filled with wonder and exploration, the moment we arrived in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
We dove straight into our adventure by exploring the rich history and culture in this beautiful nation. The vibe of Nepal is both easy going and sacred. The historical sights are still bustling and attracting visitors after so many centuries and there is a magical vibe that can be felt.
I admit, it was so good to finally soak in the flavors of Nepal, a country I have always wanted to visit, but the thought of flying southwest, straight into the monsoon, was making us all anxious.
Our local Travel Tribe hosts, led by a passionate fly angler and a charismatic cardiologist from Kathmandu named Dr. Denis Shrestha made sure every detail of our adventure exceeded our expectations. He and his partner Santosh were in constant contact with our lodge, Tiger Tops. They managed to switch dates and activities around in our itinerary to avoid the floods sweeping over the country. Our ground team was in constant coordination with national park staff to determined the best overnight access that would still allow us to be on foot and raft. I was definitely very proud to see how our team was able to make magic of what could have been a total washout.
This journey was completely wild. Other than a handful of army women and men patrolling the forest (Nepal’s national parks are managed by the Nepalese army), we didn’t see other people for days! It was absolutely magnificent.
What we did see was some incredible wildlife. Transformative Travel Co-host and seasoned naturalist, Conan Dumenil joined our journey to bring special attention to the rare species and habitats where we were being honored to float and camp. We were lucky to be surrounded by special bio indicator species in our environment. In addition to the Golden Mahseer, the Walagoo Atoo is also host to a great population of the endangered Gharial (crocodile), Swamp Deer, Bengal Tiger, one horned Rhino, and Asiatic elephant. It is a magnificent ecosystem and was wonderful to witness.
In one instance, we had an incredible tiger sighting while floating the river. You could tell this cat was not used to seeing people. His movements were wild and instinctual. The first sight of us floating down as he drank water quickly spooked our friend into the tall elephant grasslands. It was a sight and feeling I will always remember.
Even though the fishing didn’t work out as planned, I found our guests glowing about the wildlife sightings and meaningful conversations we were having together. Our conversations were actively investigating the power of traveling with H.E.A.R.T. (Humble, Engaged, Aware, Resilient, Thankful). In spite of so many expectations being washed out by the rains, this group of strangers from different parts of the globe were bonding, sharing powerful stories, soaking in a new culture and ecosystem, and generally allowing themselves to connect more deeply to everything around them. Synchronizing our best selves and coming together as a team, against many challenges, we all were rewarded with many gems after choosing resilience. This was very rewarding to see and experience as a host.
On a personal front, even after living on the edge of India’s Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve for close to a decade, I admit that I am blown away by the natural beauty of Bardiya National Park. The vision and feeling of vast panoramas of elephant grasslands as we floated down almost 50 miles along this impressive landscape stays strong in my mind.
This is why we are going back for more during spring break 2024. This incredible team of hosts will reunite, armed with lessons learned (we are choosing a different time of the year that is better for sightings, and to avoid the monsoons all together).
I am truly looking forward to sharing this epic lifetime adventure with more in our travel tribe! Though this was not the fly fishing expedition we all originally imagined, I will say this magic is exactly what fly fishing is all about. It is the love of fly fishing that brings us to these treasures on the planet, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Below you can view some photos and reflections from guests on this journey!
Enjoy and tight lines! Misty Dhillon
Schedule your complimentary "call to adventure session".
Step out intensionally with our Transformative Travel 4 part process, which includes, virtual pre-trip briefings, interview with Misty Dhillon to discuss everything from tackle and packing checklist to techniques to polish up on before your adventure begins.
Experience the power of our pre, during, and post journey reflections, providing opportunities for you to process and explore the most potent aspects of your journey, even if fishing conditions are challenging.
* Please Note: Golden Mahseer pursuits are not for the faint of heart. Devotees of notoriously finicky fish such as Carp, Steelhead, Permit, Milkfish, and Tarpon will bring the right set of expectations, especially to a Golden Mahseer fly fishing trip. If this calls to you, you are in the right place!