Ms. Inger at Hotel Marsyangdi on the day before her departure back home
This was Ms. Inger eighth visit to Nepal with Explore Himalaya and was once again a delightful experience. Ms. Inger Marie R. Arildsen from Denmark has two more plans with Explore Himalaya in the future. She wants to accomplish the Gokyo Trek which was unfortunately cancelled this time because of bad weather and she also wants to trek to the Restricted Area in the Western Nepal. This autumn, she completed the Tumlingtar- Gokyo-Jiri Trek with Explore Himalaya. She shared her experience of the trek before she flew back home.
A landscape on the trek trail joining two Himlayan giants; Everest and Makalu
EH: How was your meeting and handling in the airport?
Ms. Inger: Excellent
EH: How was your trek?
Ms. Inger: Excellent again. I didn’t get a chance to go to Gokyo due to snowstorm. Or else, everything was great. Acclimatization was perfect. The combination of the middle hills and the mountains was splendid. You get good and broad pictures of Nepal and the people. Nepal is so much more than the treks around North of Lukla.
A breathtaking view from the breakfast table
EH: How was your accommodation during the trek?
Ms. Inger: Fine. Basic in Tumlingtar region, but exactly as promised.
EH: How was your hotel in Kathmandu?
Ms. Inger: Excellent. I like Hotel Marsyangdi.
Helicopters in the Himalayas are other options for Mountain view
EH: What do you have to say about your guide, Mekh?
Ms. Inger: Mekh did an excellent job. He is very sympathetic, honest, responsible and easy-going. He is a smiling person and gets easily into contact with the local people. To me it was important that guide also can handle quietness and can walk for long without talking. Mekh was able to do that. But, also he was a good talker when necessary and wanted. I would welcome to have Mekh as a guide again. I felt very safe trekking with him.
Short rest, Guide Mekh in green Explore Himalaya T-shirt and porter Madan
EH: A porter accompanies you on a trek, are you satisfied with his service?
Ms. Inger: Porter, Madan was very good on the first part of the trek, due to his knowledge of the places around Tumlingtar. But he was bit old and could had problems, if we had managed to get all the way to Gokyo. However, Mekh handled and took care of both of us very well.
EH: How was your itinerary?
Ms. Inger: On the long trek there must be room for changes which we had very well. Some days were a bit long and some little short. And the itinerary could not take snowstorm into account.
Snow says, “Now it is my turn to sit.”
EH: Are you satisfied with our services?
Ms. Inger: Absolutely, I am. That is why; I have picked Kipling Travel and Explore Himalaya as my travel partner for eight consecutive times. I am very happy.
EH: Thank you so much the wonderful comments.
Ms. Inger: You are welcome.
So tranquil, so beautiful
Mountains in the Himalayas during an ideal weather
Ms. Heidi Sendorovitz form Denmark and Mr. Francis Gerard from Ireland had a wonderful trek to Everest Base Camp this autumn. After the completion of their trek, they shared their experiences of Everest Base Camp Trek with Explore Himalaya. Here, we have an interview with Mr. Lacey and Ms. Heidi. The trekkers through our exclusive country partner Kipling Travel departed back home very happily.
Highland landscape on the trial to EBC
EH: How was your trek?
Heidi: Trek was Fantastic. For us it was totally new. First time to Nepal and first time to do anything like this is a challenge. When you cope with the challenge you feel great. Everything we saw and everyone we met, it was all fantastic. We really really enjoyed the trek.
Lacey: Totally different relating with the experience before. I spoke to somebody, who said wheels haven’t been invented here which is true. Once, you get to Lukla, there are no cars, no machines. People walking uphill with things on their back made us very excited because it was totally different to the things we used to see. It was challenging, physically and psychologically. Physically it was uphill climb and we were told that to get to that altitude is an achievement. I agree that. Psychologically, before we got that far we never considered seriousness of altitude sickness . It was challenging too, in terms of accommodation. By our standards, sometimes tea houses were very primitive and that was something to cope with. The trek was really very adventurous.
Colorful prayer flags on the way
EH: During the trek you might have met the natives of Khumbu region, how do you have to tell about them?
Lacey: Those we met them on the path and in the tea-house were generally very friendly. It was a pleasant atmosphere. We felt very safe. It was a nice place to be with basically nice people. It was very peaceful. It was also great because, every day was a brand new day with new experiences.
EBC trial, wonderful floral biodiversity
EH: Weather condition was not that favorable while you were on trek, how did it make a difference on your trek?
Heidi: Yes or no. When we started the weather was crystal clear for four days, it was the way it was supposed to be. Then, the bad weather came for 2 and half days. That wasn’t fun as you are in the middle of the trek and you don’t know when it is going to end. But, the weather was fine again. It was great. The weather made the trek even more challenging. Icy mornings and bright days it was enjoyable.
Time for photo shoot in the Himalayas
Trekkers the EBC neighborhood
EH: How did you feel when you got to Kalapattar?
Heidi: We felt very tired (laugh) but great. We were fine.
EH: If you have to pick one betweenKalapattar and Everest Base Camp which would you pick?
Heidi: We stayed a night at Lobuche and next morning we made to Gorakshep where we had our lunch there. After the lunch we made to Kalapattar which was superb. We returned back to Gorekshep and then next morning we made to Everest Base Camp. If we have to pick one, we would pick Base Camp and we both agree on that.
Highland Sherpa hamlet in the lap of Mountain giants
Lacey: We were watching the spectacular views of the mountains for the fourteen days. Once we got to Kalapattar the Mountain View was incredible but not spectacularly different to those we saw for fourteen days. On the other hand, the walk to the Base Camp was spectacularly different because of the glacier, which was completely different. The difference between the holiday here and in other places is that, here you have a goal. Throughout the trek, Everest Base Camp was our goal and achieving that goal was a wonderful experience. This wasn’t a normal holiday. Every step we walked, took us closer to our goal which made this holiday very special.
Heidi: Yes, on the way out to Base Camp it was spectacular to walk very close to Khumbu Glacier which was the best experience of the trek.
Leaving the footprints in the Everest region
EH: That means you are totally satisfied with the holiday?
Lacey: Yes very much. We felt we were very well taken care of. Dhan, our guide did very good job in the mountains and Jeeten and other staffs in the city took very good care of us. We are totally satisfied.
EH: Do you have any plans to come back to Nepal in the future?
Lacey: Honestly, this holiday has been precious. For example, after the delicious lunch if I am offered the lunch again, I would say “no” because I am full. But, tomorrow I would definitely like to have it. Similarly, this holiday has been great and it takes time to let it go. But sooner or later, we could want a similar holiday in Nepal.
Towards Kalapattar 5545m
Closer to the Base Camp of world’s crown Everest
Finally mission accomplished
EH: If you have to describe this holiday in one word, how would you describe it?
Heidi and Lacey: Fantastic
EH: Thank you for the wonderful interview.
Ms.Heidi, happy to be there
Photo Courtesy: Ms. Heidi Sendorovitz and Mr. Lacey Gerard
Australian bikers at a dinner at Kathmandu with our tour officer Ms. Pushpa Gurung
Liam Kelly was one of the group leaders of the Lhasa- Kathmandu Motorbike Tour with Explore Himalaya this autumn. He led the Australian riders on seventeen bikes from Lhasa, along the Friendship Highway to Kathmandu. After the end of the tour he shared his experiences with us, during an interview at Hotel Malla.
Australian Bikers ready to hit the roads
EH: One thousand kilometers on a motorbike, must be pretty exciting. Can you please share your experience on Lhasa- Kathmandu Motorbike Tour?
Liam: It was challenging. Roads were challenging, Royal Enfield 500cc bikes were challenging and we always made sure everyone was safe and enjoying the ride. The tour was awesome, it was a great tour.
EH: You rode over 5000 meter plus passes four times, what do you have to say about the Tibetan landscapes?
Liam: Beautiful! From Tingri to Zhangmu we traveled on a bus because of snowing and landslides. While, crossing the other passes, roads were fine and we had great time riding our motorbikes. We enjoyed Tibetan landscapes, lovely views and beautiful vistas throughout the ride. We could not make up to Base Camp because it was snowing and the road was blocked. Weather challenged the ride, but we were able to take most out of such circumstances.
Twist and turns to Kathmandu
EH: Apart, from the food and accommodation in Lhasa and Kathmandu, how were the food and accommodation in between, in the Friendship Highway?
Liam: Some of it was interesting. Tingri again, was challenging. There was no hot water. Otherwise, accommodation and was very good. About the food, though we were served local dishes it was delicious. The picnic lunch at Yam Drok Tse Lake was excellent, which was also the highlight of the ride. I must say the food was hygienic.
EH: During the long journeys, there are issues of mechanical breakdown and fatigues. Did any such thing happen during the ride?
Liam: We had few accidents. On the second day of the ride, from Lhasa to Gyantse we had four minor accidents. Nobody was seriously injured. Or, else we were well prepared. Two mechanics were traveling with us and we were backed up with spare parts and repairing kits. There was no problem in re-filling the fuel. There was no such big issue of mechanical breakdown or fatigue.
Picnic Lunch at Yam Drok Tse Lake
EH: As a group leader, are you satisfied with your performance? Are the members of this Lhasa- Kathmandu Motorbike Tour happy?
Liam: Yes, the group was excellent. Throughout the tour, the group was fairly easy to deal with. I think the group is also very happy. Anyways, I will find out once, they report about the tour to Travel Directors.
Eh: Is there anything else Explore Himalaya can do to make this cross country Motorbike Tour better?
Liam: It is understandable. We are not in New York or Europe. In the remote areas of Tibet, Explore Himalaya has managed to arrange such a wonderful tour. Our group faced few adverse situations on such challenging tours. However, without these unexpected challenges Lhasa-Kathmandu Motorbike Tour would not be the challenge that it is. It might be better if there were fewer temples and shrines to visit in your itinerary, these guys really want to ride the high mountains.
A short break to view Kharo La Glacier
EH: What was the best part of this trip?
Liam: The End!
EH: The end! Why? That means you aren’t happy.
Liam: No, the trip was brilliant and I am very happy. But, I am tired and it is time to go home and sleep for a while.
Tibetan ladies in their traditional costume
EH:How do you rate the services of Explore Himalaya?
Liam: Perfect. I must say 10 on 10.
EH: Okay, if you have to describe this tour in one word, what would you call it?
EH: Thank you so much, for your time.
Liam: No, its alright. Actually, it is my pleasure, getting interviewed. (Laughs)
Snaky highway flanked by the mesmerizing landscape
Fine Tibetan road to Nepal
A group photo at the doorway to Qomolangma National Nature Reserve
Livestock- Road barrier during the four wheel drive from Tingri to Zhangmu after the heavy snowfall
Interview at Hotel Marsyangdi- [ From right to left- Dr. Harsh Shah, Mr. Atul Karwal and Mr. Gaurav Shah]
The group of fourteen Indian cyclists from Ahmadabad Cycling Club dared to cycle in the tough conditions of Tibet. They knew the adventure would be a hard-hitting challenge. The comfort wasn’t there and moreover, the cultural difference chiefly language barrier would heighten the adventurous challenge of this trip. However, adventure aficionados from India expected the greatest level of exploratory difficulties. They dared and experienced the extreme adventure which involved high elevation, breathtaking Tibetan landscapes, sacred Kailash Mansarovar and most importantly the demanding cycling for quite a few long days. Hats off! We salute you for your daring endeavor.
An experience of a lifetime….desires fulfilled
Here, we have an interview with the group leader of this team Dr. Harsh Shah and the integral part of this team Mr. Autul Karawal.
EH: You decided to come to Tibet and tour around the Friendship Highway and Kailash Mansarovar, how was your overall tour?
Dr. Harsh: Basically there were two parts. Cycling part on which we were prepared well. However we were not well prepared for the altitude. So, altitude put us little back. Back home we would cycle 30km per hour which, is at sea level altitude but here, in Tibet we were able to cycle 15-20km per hour. For proper acclimatization and comfortable ride we would need 15 full days for this trip. To the best of our capability we did this part. Next the parikrama (circumambulation) part, nine of us completed the parikrama and five of them completed the half of it. Overall, the trip was great.
Sun sets down………….few miles still to go
EH: You could have easily explored these places on an overland tour, why did you choose to cycle?
Dr. Harsh: Original plan to come here was for cycling we didn’t come here for the circumambulation (parikrama). Since, we were at Kailash Mansarovar we thought of giving a shot to circumambulate.
EH: Was your expectation fulfilled during the trip?
Dr. Harsh: Our expectation is fulfilled. We are happy that we could do it. We are happy that we decided to do it and dared to do it. We knew that there are going to be difficulties from all sides- from the organizing sides and our capabilities sides. There was nothing that we didn’t expect. Five of us who didn’t cycle, they are also happy to progress at the speed where they could enjoy the entire landscapes of the region. If they were traveling by car they would have missed everything on the way since they would stop every 300km. Since we stopped every ten kilometers we absorbed every bit of Tibetan landscapes and atmosphere.
Time to let go exhaustion
EH: You traveled all the way from India to Nepal and cycled along the Friendship Highway in Tibet, what differences did you notice between Nepal and Tibet culturally and geographically?
Dr. Harsh: Culturally we were not exposed to highly cultural difference of Tibet. But the main difference was language. Because of the language we were unable to interact properly with the Tibetans who were very nice and curious in what we did. On the commercial side, the way Tibetan drivers and guides acted, we knew they were not used to doing the cycling trips for Kailash Mansoravar Pilgrimage Tour. They are perfect for the Overland Trips however; cycling was a different trip on which they might have failed to understand us. Again language might have been an obstacle to understand each other.
EH: Are you happy with the services provided by the team of Explore Himalaya?
Dr. Harsh: Very happy!
The final destination-holy Mount Kailash
EH: What are the areas to improve we can work on to make the trip more exciting and facilitating?
Dr. Harsh: This cycling tour can be perfect if the Tibetan drivers can be taken in confidence. Unlike, the overland tour cycling has different issues. It has the issues of fatigue, mechanical breakdown and physical injuries. All these things should be considered to make this trip a paramount of all tours.
EH: Now, let me change the topic, how do you feel when you reached your final destination Kailash Mansarovar?
Dr. Harsh: We came here to do it and we were happy to reach there.
Mr. Atul: Let me add to it. I had been here eight years back for a month tour. This was a short one but amazingly different and better. As he mentioned we cycled through the landscapes and we were not inside the controlled environment of a car. There was no temperature control or music on. If we were inside a car with ideal temperature and music on, outside you would miss a lot flashing pass the windscreen. Here we were into it. We had rain, we had pain, we had harsh cold, and we had sleep. Everything was intense and the overall trip was intensely beautiful.
Reaching Mansarovar was a wonderful experience. On the last day we cycled 40k to reach Mansarovar where we released our entire exhaustion. Reaching Mnasarovar was a fulfilling and an absolute joy.
Feast to the eyes- Tibetan Landscapes
EH: How do you describe the trip in one single word?
Elaine Brown from Wilderness Expertise led a team of 11 students and 1 teacher from Blue Coat School, Reading UK for a month stay in Nepal. First they went to Mustang and then to Nuwakot for community project. They stayed in local home-stays for 7 days and involved in different community based activities (30th July -5th August).
EH: How are you feeling now?
Ms. Brown: Good. Thank You.
EH: When did you start the project?
Ms. Brown: We started in Nuwakot on 30th of July
EH: How was your stay there?
Ms. Brown: Food was really good, we felt very privileged during the stay in Nuwakot.
EH: Your accommodation was organized in local home-stays, how did you manage your stay there?
Ms. Brown: We separated into groups; everybody was placed single except for:
two girls (only two of them in the whole group), one of them having the habit of eating less, one boy with the problem of sleep walking, with me at Shyam’s house and a bit naughty boy with the teacher
EH: What’s the purpose behind this program?
Ms. Brown: After we were sure that we wanted to have such program, the students started fund raising, doing jobs. They were trained, we met with blank itinerary. Once we decided to come to Nepal we did research, identified the learning needs of the students. Challenge and community involvement are the two elements that should be in the program. We met each other in different intervals of time did costing, familiarization, training etc. Despite of having nominal budget left with us after our visit to Mustang, we still wanted to do it.
EH: Why Nepal?
Ms. Brown: I had been here before and I am passionate about Himalayas, especially I admire Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu culture. So it is partly because of the leader’s choice. I had positive past experiences. During the whole course of time the students transformed themselves to be self dependent…. Personal development! All we want is to build confidence, good attitude, respect their parents etc. After this visit the students are willing to come back to Nepal.
Nuwakot community service project- Garden being cleaned
EH: How did you find the community there?
Ms. Brown: The entire community was welcoming and gentle with strong community bond with each others. Community takes care of each other in contrary to UK…a good lesson for us. Technology has not overcome their lifestyle, 4 generations in a single family. “Small scale is sustainable”.
Don’t have to be big to be happy. Nepalese lead a very happy life.
EH: What is your best part?
Ms. Brown: Best part is always different for different people. For me it is quite emotional. The importance of building relationship during the home-stay with the family of Sharmila is so far the best part for me.
EH: How was it in Mustang?
Ms. Brown: During the trek to Mustang the tea houses contributing to the community was WONDERFUL.
EH: What are the areas of your focus in Nuwakot?
Ms. Brown: Our focus was on community activities like painting and renovation, interaction, clearing local historical taps (favorite activity), plantation, short health awareness classes. We also focused on community interaction, so we organized sports like football regularly in the evening at Tudikhel.
EH: Did you find it difficult to communicate with them?
Ms. Brown: Not at all. Only in the beginning when the students were nervous.
EH: Do you see any area of improvement?
Ms. Brown: Nothing. It’s a self-contented community….some youth want to settle in modern setting, getting ready to leave, but I think they are lucky to have such a life.
EH: Difference between Mustang and Nuwakot?
Ms. Brown: Mustang very Tibetan whereas, Nuwakot is a typical Hindu community. Besides highly contrast cultures geographically, Mustang is dry- desert like Tibetan Highlands but Nuwakot is lush green, almost tropical. I loved the thunderstorm in Nuwakot, which is the most memorable moment in Nuwakot.
EH: Any last words?
Ms. Brown: I would recommend, don’t expect to be working physically, rather emphasize in building relationship. My team is ready to work again, we expected to be involved more physically like 6 hours a day of hard work but we were involved just few hours a day, opposite to our expectation. But we also learnt to manage expectation…….at the end we learnt that building relationship is very important… and we are quite happy with the whole things.