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Mundum Trail Launched at Nepal Tourism Board

Posted Jul 12th, 2018 under Tourism News,

Mundum Trail, a new trekking trail in eastern Nepal, has been launched amidst a program today at Nepal Tourism Board, Bhrikuti Mandap. The program organized by Maijung Temke Salpa Silichung Tourism Promotion Center, promoted by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and supported by Trekking Agencies’ Association Nepal (TAAN); has been graced by the Honourable Member of Legislature Parliament of Bhojpur Mr. Sudan Kirati as the Chief Guest. Apart from unveiling the trail, the route map was also released in the program, followed by a 10 minute documentary show and photo exhibition. Among the guests were Mr. Hikmat Aiyer- Director of NTB, Mr. Amrit Bhadgaule- media person and tourism expert, Mr. Ang Pemba Sherpa – President of  TAAN, Mr. Bachu Narayan Shrestha – senior tourism expert, Mr. Pasang Dorje Sherpa – Advisor of Maijung Temke Salpa Silichung Tourism Promotion Center, Mr. Ang Temba Sherpa – General Secretary of TAAN and Mr. Durja Kumar Rai, Ex-IGP of Nepal Armed Police Force. Other attendees of the program included various representatives of NTB, TAAN, NMA, tourism professionals and media houses.

The Trail that comprises of natural beauty, sub-alpine bio-diversity and rich Kirati-Rai cultural heritage of Eastern Nepal, is considered as a unique moderate trail suitable for all age group and is expected to attract both foreign and internal visitors. During the program, Chief Guest Mr. Sudan Kirati hailed the trail as an exemplary alternative to regular mountain trekking and assured full support from Government side for the promotion of the trail. Mr. Hikmat Aiyar said, “Nepal Tourism Board has already kept the trail in priority list and allocated budget for the development and aggressive marketing of the trail.” The Chairman Mr. Ramesh Kumar Rai-President of Maijung Temke Salpa Silichung Tourism Promotion Center concluded the program by briefing the highlights of the trail and asserting the needs of collaboration from all sectors.   

Top of Temke Dada

Top of Temke Dada (photo credit: Pawan Shakya)

Haans Pokhari (photo credit: Pawan Shakya)

Mundum Trail

Mundum Trail is named after the verbal scripture of Kirati people called “Mundum”, which is considered as the basic guiding principle of the whole Kirati values and life activities. The trail is commended as being the first trail used by HW Tillman back in 1950 while travelling to Lukla. Starting from Diktel (a town approx 265 km from Kathmandu), the trail goes through the typical mid hills villages, lush rhododendron forests, hill ridges, pasture lands and culminates at the vibrant town of Bhojpur. The major highlight of the trail include numerous exclusive viewpoints that offer the panoramic views of mountain ranges from Mt. Shisapangma (in China) to Kanchenjunga, including six mountains above 8000m Manaslu, Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. Regarded as a live museum to observe Kirati civilization, one of the earliest known civilization in the history of Nepal, the trail also connects the lower Great Himalayan Trail and serves as the linkage points to Arun Valley and Lukla.  

Itinerary:

Day 1: Kathmandu – Diktel 1650m – 265kms (Guest House) 9-10 hour driving.

Day 2: Diktel – Chakhewa 2300m – Temke 3000m Hike – 48kms ( Camping) 1.30 hour.

Day 3: Chakhewa 2300m – Dhotre 2752m (Camping ) 4-5 hour.

Day 4: Dhotre 2752m – Maiyung (Satdobate 3122m) (Camping)4-5 hour.

Day 5: Maiyung (satdobate 3122m)- Rawadhap 3426m (Camping) 6,7 hour.

Day 6: Rawadhap 3426m – Salpa Bhanjyang 3348m (kulopankha) (Tea house) 4-5 hour.

Day 7: Salpa Bhanjyang 3348m – silichung climb – Salpa Bhanjyang (Tea house) rest day 6-7 hour.

Day 8: Salpa Bhanjyang 3348m – Hyakule 2972m (Camping) 4-5 hours.

Day 9: Hyakule 2972m – Maiyung danda 3333m (Camping) 3-4 hours.

Day 10: Maiyung danda 3333m – Delikharka Bhojpur 1800m (Guest House) 5-6 hours.

Day 11: Bhojpur ,Taksar – sightseeing (Guest House) half day.

Day 12: Bhojpur ktm – by Bus / by flight Bhojpur – Hile- 88 kms Hile – Dharan – 64 kms Dharan – Kathmandu – 300 kms Chakhewa – Silichung – Salpa Bhanjyang 66.9kms Salpa Bhanhyang –Bhojpur 49.4kms trekking trail distance.

For more details, please visit https://www.mundumtrail.com/   

 

Manaslu Circuit Trek- an authentic Himalayan experience!

Posted Jul 11th, 2018 under Travel Guide, Trip Report,

By Anuj Pandey, General Manager

At Birendra Lake (3450m) - a short hike from Samagaun

At Birendra Lake (3450m) – a short hike from Samagaun

I have been enjoying a lot of perks of my Job. Every year I get chance to hop on treks with international groups and go to remote and exotic locations. This time in April, I had the pleasure to lead a medical group to one of the newly growing areas of Nepal and do the Manaslu Circuit Trek and I must say, the experience is one of a kind!

Beside the well-known Everest and Annapurna treks, Manaslu Circuit trek is also being increasingly popular these days. Turned into a tea house area few years back, the trek is of the same difficulty level as of the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit Treks but offers something totally unique compared to those noted treks. The raw and pure nature, mixture of Hindu and Buddhist (Tibetan) culture, lesser crowd, typical flora and fauna, spectacular mountain views, visit to the base of the 8th highest mountain- Manaslu (8,156m) and the crossing of Larke Pass (5,106m) are the reasons why more and more trekkers are opting for this trek these days. Many people who have been trekking in Nepal for a long time say that the trek gives the impression of trekking in Nepal some 10-15 years ago.

With the Team before the trip!

Manaslu Circuit Trek Itinerary

The trek has a standard 16 day itinerary starting and ending in Kathmandu but this can be easily customized depending on the timeframe one has and one’s interest to skip the motorable path.  A few days can be added in if you want some extra time to acclimatize, want some personal time in the mountains or do some side trips to Tsum valley. However, here I will go with the standard itinerary in detail with the major highlights.

Day 1: Drive to Soti Khola (Approx. 775m) via Arughat

Drive time: 7-8 hours (4 hrs asphalt road and 3-4 off road)

Lunch: Dhading Besi

Hotel: New Tsum Valley

Tip: Good to leave Kathmandu early to skip the traffic at Thankot. You can either take a private Jeep, Bus for a bigger size or share a bus to Dhading Besi and get a local jeep to Arughat and then continue to SotiKhola.

 Day 2: Trek to Machha khola (Approx. 900m)

Walk time: 5-6 hours

Lunch: Lapubesi

Hotel: Manaslu Inn

Day 3: Machha Khola to Jagat (Approx. 1300m)

Walk time: 7-8 hours

Lunch: Dovan

Hotel: Jagat Guest house

Tip: After two and half hours from Jagat, you reach Tatopani, a natural source of hot water. Sit down for a hot tea and freshen up.

This is the first check post for the permits.

Day 4: Jagat to Deng (Approx. 1,860m)

Walk time: 7-8 hours

Lunch: Ekle Bhatti

Hotel: Windy Valley

Tip: Have some time for good photos after 20 mins’ walk.  You come across a suspension bridge with 2 beautiful waterfalls.

 Day 5: Deng to Namrung (Approx. 2,560m)

Walk time: 7-8 hours

Lunch: Ghap

Hotel: Namrung Guest house

 Day 6: Namrung to Lho (Approx. 3,180m)

Walk time: 4-5 hours

Lunch: Lho

Hotel: Tashi Delek Guest house

Tip: After Lunch, you can hike up to the monastery, which offers great views of Manalsu.

Day 7: Lho to Samagaun (Approx. 3,580m

Walk time: 3-4 hours

Lunch: Samgaun

Hotel: Gurung Guest house

Day 8: Rest at Samagaun

This day can be perfect to enjoy the views of the majestic mountains and make side excursion. One can hike up to the Birendra Lake (3,450m), a beautiful glacial lake for a short walk or to Manaslu Base Camp (4,700m) for a long walk. This Base Camp is the starting point of all Manaslu expeditions.

Day 9: Samagaun to Samdo (Approx. 3,875m)

Walk time: 3 hours

Hotel: Tibet Twin lodge

Tip: You can have excursion to Tibetan border.

Day 10: Samdo to Dharmashala (Approx. 4,460m)

Walk time: 3-4 hours

Hotel: Dharmashala Camp

Tip: Early dinner and early sleep is recommended for next day’s early start to cross Larke Pass. There is only one hotel in Dharmashala with additional units of tents. The hotel is very basic. Have a sense of adventure!

Day 11: Cross the Larke Pass (5,106m) to Bhimthang (Approx. 3,720m)

Walk time: 9-10 hours

Lunch: Packed lunch after crossing the Pass and then good late lunch upon arrival at Bhimthang

Hotel: Ganga Manaslu Guest House

On the way to Larke Pass (5106m)

On the way to Larke Pass (5106m)

At Larke Pass (5106m), the highest point of the Trek

At Larke Pass (5106m), the highest point of the Trek

Day 12: Bhimthang to Tilje (Approx. 1,963m)

Walk time: 5 hours

Lunch: Surke khlola

Hotel: North Face Hotel

Day 13: Tilche to Jagat (Approx. 1,300m)

Walk Time: 5-6 hours

Lunch: Tal

Hotel: Paradise Hotel

Day 14: Drive to Kathmandu (1,400m) via Beshishar

Drive Time: Jagat to Besishar (2-3 hours)

Besisahar to Kathmandu (6 hours)

Lunch: Kurintar

Hotel: Marshyangdi Hotel

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

Accommodation: Tea house trek is easily possible in Manaslu area. However, the teahouses are pretty basic. It will be a good idea to have a personal sleeping bag (-20) with you for the trek, especially for Dharamasala. In the Itinerary above, I have listed the comfortable accommodation options available.

 Fooding: The fooding options are also a bit basic compared to Everest and the Annapurna areas. Go for local food like Dal bhat, chapatis, Potatoes, noodle soup, fired rice and noodles.  Meat is too hard to find but still refrain from eating them; eggs are easily available in all the hotels.

Water: Water is easily available in all the hotels and there are few taps along the trail. A Lifestraw or Sawyer bottle will come in very handy or water purifiers shall also be okay.

Electricity and Charging:  The charging facilities are very less in the areas. It will be very helpful to take a power bank or solar charger (Goal zero) for the trek.

Communication: The area has very limited connectivity. CDMA phones are available in some places like Jagat, Philim, Samagon and Tilje.  Also, there is Internet option available in Philim, Deng, Syal and Samagoan. Wifi facilities in the lodges cannot be fully trusted but the good thing is card Internet, Everest Link like in the Everest area has been started in the area. This Internet facility is reliable and fast but is a bit expensive. (200mb costs USD 5)

Security: The Manaslu circuit trek is a safe area to trek. However, there are few sections which have possible threat of land slide (with rock fallings). So one should be careful, especially in the stretch from Khorla Besi-Tatopani-Dobhan and Jagat-Deng. One should also watch out for the passing ferry mules. Always make sure that you are not on the exposed side of the trail while giving way to them!

Equipment: Apart from the regular trekking gear like boots, jackets, trousers, caps, gloves, sunglasses etc., make sure you carry a pair of mini crampons- they will be a life savior. Do check if your guides and support staffs also have one.

Permits: Manalsu area is a restricted area and Solo trekking is not possible. A registered guide is also mandatory to complete this trek. You need to have Manaslu Restricted area permit issued for minimum of 2 persons. Along with that, you also need to have Manaslu Conservation Area Project fees whereas TIMS card is not required.

(This is a personal account of Mr. Anuj Pandey. It you want to have more details on the trip, please contact him at anuj@explorehimalaya.com  For more details, you can also go to: https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/manaslu-circuit-trek/ )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Medical Relief (IMR) Manaslu Trek

Posted Apr 17th, 2018 under Special Events, Trekking & Hiking, Trip Report,

Excursion to Manaslu Base Camp

A team of International Medical Relief (IMR) medical professionals including doctors, nurses and health assistants did Himalayan Medical Expedition in Manaslu region for about two weeks. The trek that started on 2nd April and concluded on 14th April was aimed at providing medical assistance to the remote villages of Manaslu region. The 7-member team had Ms Anna Amita Desimone (US), Ms. Sarah Rose Burney (US), Ms. Sophie Dojacques (US), Mr. Austin Ryan Eaton (US), Ms. Deanna Joy Shapiro (US), Ms Zoe Harriet Smyth (Ireland) and Ms. Tatiana Claudia Doyle (US).

Medical Camp at Philim

The first day of the trek started with a 9 hour drive to Soti Khola, the starting point of the 13 days’ trek. The team provided medical care to many en-route villages including Philim (120 patients), Namrung (45 patients), Samdu (40 patients) and Samagaun (65 patients) where they distributed medicine as well. Their mobile clinic also served the trekkers who they met on the way. The most common problems found among the locals were arthritis, back pain, chest pain, lack of appetite and high blood pressure.

En-route Samdu

Medical Camp at Samdu

Along with providing the medical care, they also had an exclusive opportunity to get real close to Manaslu (8163m), the eighth highest mountain and the marvelous views of isolated highland villages untouched by creeping modernity. This physically demanding trek also led them to Manaslu Base Camp and Larke-La pass (5160m), the highest point of the whole trek, from where they got to savor the stupendous views of the Manaslu panorama. Finally after the humane service and adventure of almost two weeks, they concluded their trek at Dharapani. At the end of the trek, back in Kathmandu, the team rejoiced the trip and expressed their happiness for being a part of the humanitarian cause. 
This is the second trip of Explore Himalaya with IMR. We take it as a matter of pride to be the local partner of IMR and hope to work for such noble cause in future as well.

At Larke Pass (5106m), the highest point of the trek

 

Nuwakot Sindure Jatra, a Festival of Color and Celebration

Posted Mar 29th, 2018 under Culture & Festivals, Photo Essay, Special Events,

The Dhami and the Dhamini, the central figures in the whole rituals of the festival

This year also we have come up with some fresh updates on Sidhure Jatra, a unique cultural spectacle observed in Nuwakot. Sindhure Jatra, which literally means “vermillion powder festival”, is celebrated annually at Nuwakot Durbar Square vicinity in Nuwakot district.  Nuwakot Durbar Square, an iconic landmark with Seven Story Palace, Bhairabi Temple, Taleju Bhawani, Narayan Temple and  Bishnu Temple, is 75 km north of Kathmandu valley. Situated at a hilltop, overlooking the valley, the Durbar Square and its town is historically and culturally an important place having a significant connection to King Prithivi Narayan Shah, the founder of modern Nepal.

Nuwakot Durbar Square

Kumari of Nuwakot, who starts the festival by performing an ablution ritual to the Dhami

 “Sindhure Jatra” is celebrated on Chaitra Purnima (March/April) for 10-12 days mainly by Newar community. This year, it falls from 30th March to 10th April. The festival marks the Nepali New Year and arrival of spring season. During the festival, people worship Goddess Bhairabi, observe various rituals and feast with family members. The major highlight of the festival is the chariot procession of Goddess Bhairabi to Devighat, where the Goddess meets her sister Jalpa Devi. The special meeting takes place only once a year, in which the Dhami (the Priest) is believed to gain the power by the grace of the Goddesses to foretell the future of the country. As per the tradition, the Dhami, then, tells the prophesy to the State representative in secret. During the procession, people smear Sindur (orange vermillion powder), and sing and dance to the tune of traditional music. Not only the locals, the State army and people from the neighboring region also come to participate and observe the festival. The festival, which is also considered as having the longest chariot procession in Nepal, is one of liveliest festivals offering some of the lesser known but fascinating cultural display of Nepal.

Let’s have a look at the daily activities of the festival:

Day 01: 30th March/16th Chaitra: The first day ritual starts from the evening time. Living Goddess Kumari and Dhami perform a special ritual bath in which the priest receives the ablution ritual by Goddess Kumari symbolizing the purification process. Then after the priest performs special puja in the temple. In the premises of the temple, two wooden poles are erected, which will be pulled down at the end of the day.

Kumari, the Living Goddess of Nuwakot

The Procession 

Day 02: 31st March/17thChaitra: On this day, devotes carry the chariot of Goddess Bhairabi to Devighat (Riverbank), where the Goddess meets her sister. The procession takes about 4-5 hours. They stay overnight there and perform puja.   Day 03: 01st April/18thChaitra: Early morning, puja ritual includes the sacrifices of 108 he-goats (which are not castrated yet), which the Dhami offers to the Goddesses. The Dhami, by the power of the Goddesses, gets the insight to foresee the country’s future, which he tells to the State representative in secret.  After the whole ritual finishes, at about mid-night the Chariot is brought back to her own Temple to Nuwakot Durbar Square. However, they dont go to the temple directly but rest at Dharampani. Later on, the procession continues to the temple from the same place accompanied by State Army with great honor and elaborate music.    

Day 04: 02nd April/19thChaitra: Sindure Jatra (vermillion powder) festival, after which the whole festival is named, is observed on this day. The festival starts, after “Dware”, a State representative, scatter Sindur to the Dhamini, Dhami and the devotees. Then after, everyone smear the powder to each other. The ritual symbolizes the celebration of victory.

 Day 05: 03rd April/20th Chaitra: On this day, the Dhami performs another ritual following the sacrifice of the goats and buffaloes in the premises of Bhairabi Temple. He sucks the blood for three times as a part of ritual.                       

The Dhami sucking blood from the sacrificed goat

 Day 06-10: 04th – 08th  April/ 21st -25th Chaitra:  During these days, devotees and locals gather and have feast.  

Day 11: 09th April/ 26th Chaitra: A special puja is performed to the Wooden Pole which was raised on the first day. Locals gather around Bhairabi Temple to pull down one wooden pole, and the other one is left for the next day’s ritual.

 Day 12: 10th April/ 27th Chaitra: Today is the final day. The second wooden pole is brought down following the same ritual as the previous day and the festival comes to an end.

Honey Hunting in Nepal- a Journey no less than an Adventure!

Posted Mar 6th, 2018 under Photo Essay, Special Events,
Honey Hunter at work

Honey Hunter at work! (Picture Credit: The Guardian)

Treacherous cliff, swarm of angry bees and just a dangling slender rope ladder to hold your life – can anyone think of any other act as extreme as this?
This daring act is performed, every Spring and Autumn, by Gurung and Magar tribesmen of Annapurna region in a bid to harvest honey of the giant Himalayan wild bees from their nests overhanging on the vertical rock faces. This honey hunting practice is also found among other communities in lesser known areas like Dhading, Jharlang across Ganesh Himal and Arun Valley of Makalu Barun area. As this practice is carried out in an insanely extreme working condition by just using some primitive tools, it can be rightly called as a testament of perseverance and fortitude that equals any death defying endurance feat.

The honey hunter in the middle of nowhere

The honey hunter in the middle of nowhere (Picture Credit: National Geographic)

The whole ritual of honey hunting is carried out with great care – any misjudgment can be fatal, or at least be ominous! The activity starts right from choosing an auspicious day to carry out the hunt to appeasing the Forest spirits, which is as crucial as their survival in the wilderness! However, the core activity involves hanging from vertical cliffs as high as 300m using a hand-made ladder of bamboo and ropes to harvest the honeycombs from the nests of Apis Dorsata Laboriosa, the world’s largest honey bee. The nest can be found perched in the sheer rock face at an altitude ranging from 2500m to 3000m. But, strangely enough the hunters don’t use any additional gears and safety equipments. The only thing they seem to have is the faith in the Forest Spirits who they have appeased before starting the act.

Just some bamboo poles, a basket and a hunter with faith larger than life; one needs see it to believe it!

Some bamboo poles, a basket and a hunter with faith larger than life; one needs to see it to believe it! (Picture Credit: Eric Valli)

The most intense situation starts when the hunter climbs the rope carrying a bamboo stick with a sharp end and a tuft of smoldering grass to make the bees confused. With every step upward, the climb becomes more edgy and the height more dizzying. After he reaches the nests, taking the opportune time when the bees are driven out, he pokes the honeycomb with the sharp end of the bamboo stick, and slices it off which is collected in a basket lowered by the helpers from above. Phew, it’s finally done but the hunter still has a long way to climb down safely to celebrate the success of his prized honey.
Why people risk their life? Does the battle against thousands of angered bees really worth it? Though the hallucinogenic quality and medicinal value has made the honey 7-8 times more valuable than the normal honey in the market, the reason doesn’t just seem enough. The way the tribesmen are giving continuity to the tradition with such reverence and dedication indicate to something deeper and subtler beyond our comprehension, something we may never understand.

The prized honey!

The prized honey! (Picture Credit: Eric Valli)

Now, the practice is not just an esoteric ritual hunting limited to certain communities. Its antiquity, unsullied continuity and surreal appeal is making it increasingly popular among the curious minds. Thanks to Eric Valli and Diane Summers, the pioneer documentary makers who made this largely unobserved cultural practice known to the wider global audience. Now, there are many tour operators that are easing the curious travelers to honey hunting destinations. Though there is a wide range of award winning documentaries and videos on this practice, it is so out of the world that one needs to see it to believe it!
[If you are interested in the tour, we are more than happy to make your adventure one of its kind.]

Happy Explorers

This trip was satisfying. The meeting and handling was excellent. I am very happy with guide Bharat. The itinerary was very good, not too exerting and I enjoyed it. Great arrangement! Looking forward to make many more trips to Nepal through Explore Himalaya

- Nitin Supekar, India Read Testimonials | Submit Your Testimonial

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