'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
John H.Eickert

Sometimes surprises lead to the best discoveries. I left Itanagar with my travel permit to visit in the Northeast Hill States. My plan was to travel to Ledo by bus and then tour as much as remained of the Ledo Road. The Ledo Road was built during World War 2, connecting Ledo through Myanmar (Burma then) to Kunming, China. The road when built would serve two purposes. Supplies could be sent into China with greater ease than flying them in, and the road would create a barrier to westward expansion by the imperialist Japanese. The building of the road marked the beginning of the end and eventually defeat for the Japanese.

My adventure plan was almost a good one. The road is still used from Ledo to Pangso Pass and the frontier with Myanmar. However, foreigners such as me are only allowed out along the road to a small war memorial, which is perhaps four miles east of Ledo. After a long walk in the heat and then some rain, I returned to the hostel where I was staying in Ledo. That night I met two Japanese tourists who said they were just returning from a weeklong stay at a wildlife park. The Japanese couple enjoyed birding and we talked deep into the night about what they had seen. Until then, I had never heard of Namdapha National Park.

To my surprise, Namdapha sounded like a gem of a small park. It has an astonishing diversity of terrain. It advertises to those who might visit that it is the only wildlife park in the world providing natural habitat for four big cats- tiger, leopard, snow leopard, and clouded leopard. It also contains habitat for India's sole member of the ape family, the hoolock gibbon. At first it sounded too good to be true and I kept wondering how much of all this the couple was making up. The next day I made some inquiries in Ledo and then traveled to Margherita. From Margherita I went south to the small town of Miao and finally a gypsy to Deban. All of this travel was of the local variety and very entertaining. Deban is the entrance to Namdapha and there I was directed to the office of the Forest Supervisor. He was a very friendly man with shining dark eyes and patient manner. I grew very enthusiastic about my visit. Of course, sometimes even the best surprises do not lead to the desired results. Though it was March, it began to rain and leeches appeared almost everywhere. Unable to see much and with trekking in the mud not high on my list of fun adventure, I retreated all the way back to Ledo.

I hope someday to return to Namdapha, this next time in December or even January. Perhaps it will be dry and the wildlife more visible. The idea of jungle and snow clad peaks within one park still intrigues me. I hope some of you have already visited Namdapha. Cheers.

Visit or call NumBum Adventurers at 406-777-2228

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