The 33rd World Elephant Polo Association World Championship will be held from Monday 24th - Friday 28th November 2014 at Tiger Tops' Karnali lodge in Nepal's Badia national park. Players will fly from Kathmandu to the stadium on Sunday 23th November and return to Kathmandu on Saturday 29th November 2014.
The choice of venue this year has been much praised after it was initially trialled for the 2009 tournament. The Karnali location brings with it a tournament intimacy and collective that brings out the best in players and spectators alike. It is located in the South West of Nepal and reached after a 40 minute flight and approximately 2 hour bus ride. Badia national park protects just under a thousand square kilometres of the Terai's Sal forest and natural grassland. Bordering the Geruwa and Karnali rivers this, the largest national park in the Terai, is estimated to sustain 22 Bengal tigers and 100 Asiatic one horned rhinos. Gharial and marsh mugger crocodiles as well as Gangetic dolphins are occasionally spotted on the rafting and canoe trips organised during the tournament.
The pitch is located right next to the camp and was fashioned from scratch, by hand, in 2009. Since then it has had a dedicated team of grounds men to ensure it is in immaculate condition for the 2012 tournament. A recent visitor to the lodge admired the pitch and was heard to comment that it put the WACA pitch in Perth to shame. Going on past performances and this tit bit of information we can certainly expect some long shots in this year's tournament.
While we will miss the local village spectators from the usual Meghauly ground this will once again be an opportunity to interact with the Badia villagers and their very personal sense of hospitality. 2009 saw players being spontaneously garlanded on arrival as well as a terrific outing by the local village bicycle polo team.