Nepal - Trekking in The Himalayas
Nepal – Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, and a shorter trek near Kathmandu.
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A trekkers’ paradise … one of the world’s great travel destinations.
Ever since Nepal first opened its borders to outsiders in the 1950s, this mystical mountain nation has proved irresistible to travellers, adventurers and mountaineers. Today, legions of trekkers are drawn to the Himalaya’s most iconic and accessible hiking, following ancient caravan routes and the footsteps of early explorers, to Everest, the Annapurna’s – and beyond.
Our journey will take us initially on a lesser known short trek through beautiful countryside east of Kathmandu, to my Nepalese friend’s home village. And then after an internal flight and a few days relaxation in the beautiful lakeside town of Pokhara, the real trek begins to The Annapurna Base Camp (or as it’s sometimes known, the Annapurna Sanctuary.
After Trevor (our Dorset walks guide) and I had completed the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek last year, through huge rhododendron forests and bamboos with monkeys swinging through the trees – up to just over 14,000 above sea level, we then slowly trekked back down through beautiful villages, seeing how these exceptionally friendly people make a living in such remote locations – many with no roads. Then, a few days rest in lakeside Pokhara was very welcome after the trek – and we’ll do the same next year!
Having become good friends with Ram Sundar (the ground operator we have partnered with), we then trekked privately with him for another 3 days to his own family village to the east of Kathmandu. It was a truly stunning experience and it was so satisfying to get even further off the beaten path and experience simple village life with him. Near where his parents live, he has created a wonderful hill top lodge, where we will stay a couple of nights on our first preliminary trek – looking out over vast vistas of distant snow capped peaks and deep wooded valleys, with terraced fields and local villagers getting on with their humble daily lives. With Ram, we’ll also visit Namo Buddha – what an amazing place, it being one of the most important Buddhist Temples in Nepal.
If perhaps you don’t feel you are up to a serious trek, we know a good friend of Ram’s in his village – a beautiful young lady called Sabina, who runs a novel business called Sabina’s Home Stays. If you are not really ‘up for trekking’ and wanted to simply be a part of a local village and partake in everyday tasks and activities, you could do well to book something directly with Sabina. She is such a charming young lady, who speaks excellent English and she is is delighted to welcome outsiders into her local community, so that they may see what remote Nepalese village life is really like. It is a very beautiful forested area, surrounded by high hills (what we might call mountains!), where they grow magnificent crops in the odd valley bottoms that are flat enough – and higher up, on cleverly constructed terraces.
Naturally, some time will be spent in Kathmandu itself, as that is where international flights arrive and internal flights depart from. However, we will limit it to just a couple of days, as it is now a very busy city, with many people – and despite the very interesting monuments to be seen, the crowds and resultant pollution is not really something we wish to experience too much. But it is very cosmopolitan in it’s own way and one always gets a real kick out of a visit!
Be assured that this will be a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to do something you may always have wanted to do – safe in the hands of someone you have travelled with before – who you know has diligently researched this thrilling adventure, to share with you! The photo is of Martin at 14,000 ft, just above the Annapurna Base Camp. Not too cold that day either, although the day began well below zero! The time of year we have chosen is the dry period and apart from very high up, it’s comfortable to hike in shorts and a tee shirt. Nights are of course cooler.
The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) publishes a minimum impact code that combines environmental behaviour with cultural awareness. Many of the better trekking agencies adopt and expand this code and we concur. In essence, we always avoid buying plastic bottled water. You bring your own bottle and fill it with boiled water/tea/hot lemon from your lodge. ACAP provide numerous filling stations along the Annapurna Circuit where water bottles can be refilled with UV treated water for a minimal cost. Carry purifier drops or tablets as a backup. We avoid burning wood for heating or cooking. Deforestation is rife in Nepal, and we certainly won’t add to it. As far as possible, hot showers are solar powered.
Your local Nepalese guide(s) will always be eating dhal bhat (the Nepali national dish of veg curry, rice and dhal lentils) and you’ll be rewarded with smiles if you order the same. Pressure cookers are the most energy-efficient cooking method and they are used a lot up here. Trevor and I found that we grew very fond of dhal bhat as time went by… it provides very good nutrition and is very tasty. We take our trash home (e.g. spent batteries, broken electronics) and use recycling and compost bins wherever available. We avoid excess packaging. We use a toilet where available. We respect the local culture, dress and act modestly, and always seek permission before taking photographs. We should not encourage children to beg by indiscriminately handing out money, candy or pens. Naturally, we show an active interest in the local culture by learning some words of Nepali, Sherpa or Tibetan.
Don’t miss this chance to journey perhaps a little out of your normal comfort zone, knowing that we have already tested it out (for Martin at 70!) to make sure that a normal and healthy fit person is capable of such a thrilling adventure. Naturally, the only problem for some people could be the altitude and the lower oxygen levels available at those heights. Altitude sickness is no respecter of age or even fitness – take it from me. However, we will always have a back-up plan should you feel unwell and we always travel with Diamox, which in an emergency, is a well tested antidote to AMS.
Trevor Toms right, with our wonderful hosts at one of the charming tea houses, together with Utam and Vishnu, our porter and guide, who will join us again next year. The ratio is one guide for every 6 trekkers and one porter for every two trekkers.
£3,000 per person, based on shared occupancy when staying in the tea houses.16 days of actual trekking. Includes 9 nights in high quality accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara hotels.
For photos from Nepal 2017 and other Walking Tours, please go to our Facebook page.
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