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Nepal’s remote far west, linked to the rest of the country by the Mahendra Highway, is slowly opening its doors to travellers. It’s still a hell of a haul to get here from Kathmandu, but Delhi is just twelve hours by bus from the far western border crossing, and the smooth, fast road between the two passes two of Nepal’s richest wildlife parks, Bardia National Park and Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve. The partly Muslim city of Nepalgunj, the largest city in the west, is the hub for flights to several remoter airstrips. The Mahendra Highway makes good time to Nepalgunj, 250km west of Butwal, crossing the Duduwa Hills (350m ascent) and following the green and pleasant valley of the Rapti River (no relation to the river of the same name in Chitwan). North of here lies Dang, home of the white-clad Dangaura Tharus, and fine cycling country.

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