TIBET BORDER OPENS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLERS- Things you need to Know

Posted Sep 5th, 2017 under Company News, Special Events,

Tibet has been a fascinating destination for international travelers for a long time. To enter the roof of the world, Nepal has been a popular gateway where tourists drove through the 1000km long Friendship Highway that joins the capital city Lhasa of Tibet to the Himalayan nation.

Hundred of international travelers did the overland tour to visit the mystical land through Nepal via the Kodari/Zangmu border. But the border was highly affected by the 2015 earthquake forcing closure of the border that killed the hopes of many international tourists who wanted to visit the Tibet- The Last Shangri-la.

However, some good news came last week from the Chinese government mentioning that the Kerung Border, which was already open for Nepalese and Chinese has now been opened for foreign tourists as well. As this news was as important one for the cross border tourism, our team drove up to the border to gather some concrete information and plan the operation of the Tibet overland tours via the newly opened Kerung border.

Road Condition: It is about 9-10 hrs long adventurous ride going through narrow tracks and turnings in the Hill side all the way to Rasuwa starting from Kalikasthan to Syabrubesi and further to the borderland called Rasuwa Gadhi in Nepal side and Kerung in China. From Syabrubesi to border is mostly rough road. Main hurdle could be the landslide area between Ramche to Dhunche, about 7-8 km is slightly disturbed in small sections and are muddy and bumpy. This could be a problem mostly during the Monsoon season. Also being the only Highway in use for transferring Export/ Import goods from China, you can see many huge trucks passing through all the way.

There may be another shorter route to Kerung border from river side of Betrawati to Syabrubesi, avoiding the drive up to Kalikasthan, Dhunche, which is under construction at the moment. If this route is open, overland tour from Tibet to Nepal would be more convenient and shorter for the tourists.

 

Duration & Distances:  It is about 170 km distance from Kathmandu and takes about 9-10 hrs drive from Kathmandu to Rasuwa Gadhi (Kerung Border). From Syabrubesi it is about 30-45 minutes drive.
For the Tourists traveling to Tibet by overland from Nepal, it is wise to have a overnight stop at Syabrubesi and continue next day to the border which is about 30-45 minutes drive to the check post at Timure. After crossing through the both side’s immigration and Border, it is 26 km further drive from Kerung border to Kerung City in China.

Border Structure: Nepal immigration office and the Custom Check posts are at Timure. For the tourists entering from Tibet, after passing through the China customs and crossing the Bridge joining China and Nepal, will have to walk about 5-10 minutes to the Immigration office for Visa and Entry process. There may be few checking and searching by Duty officers for Security reasons starting from Border Check posts until Kalikasthan check posts.
Nepal entry check post, Immigration office and Customs are all in different places within the area, as such it could be quite confusing to the Tourists. Private vehicles can go near to the Bridge side for now, however depending on the traffic as the huge Cargo trucks occupy most of the area and could block the way to drive in. It is mostly crowded during the rush hour (office working hours).

Customs working time: The border gate opens at 8 am to 3 pm (Nepal time) for both sides and China part only will be closed during their lunch hours i.e. 10 am-11.30am (Nepal time). Tourists or the locals are to enter or exit the Border gate within the mentioned time frame. There is not One Day pass system for Nepalese Nationalities like it was provided in Kodari border. But the local people form that area only are allowed to pass through during the opening hour.

 

Comparing Chinese border securities and structures in Kerung side seems to be well planned and settled, while Nepal officials are still struggling to have a permanent office settled so as the road structures, parking arrangements all seems to be not well prepared for welcoming the flow of Foreign tourists already. The check posts, immigration and customs are all in separate building or small posts. After the damage by Earthquake to the historical remaining of the fort and the road structures, the situation seems to be even worse. Hopefully this situation will be better eventually, when the flow of tourists’ arrival increases through this route.

In conclusion, it is an adventurous ride overall passing through as low to the ground level of Trishuli river to the Hill top, could be interesting and thrilling experience to the adventurers, while for some it might be tiring and frightening if not mentally prepared well in advance.

Monsoon: Season of Festivals

Posted Jul 30th, 2017 under Luxury Tours, Photo Essay, Special Events, Tourism News,

Monsoon season in Nepal brings joy and happiness for everyone. It is the main season for agriculture as well as the season of the festival in Nepal. A monsoon festival falls on different date every year.

 

During monsoon season, Seasonal tourism activities in Nepal are low in numbers and trekking in monsoon season is not favorable time. However, during monsoon season, Pilgrimage tourists are high in number; especially from India. They prefer to visit Muktinath and Mansarovarduring monsoon season as these places are rainy shadowed area. But from the cultural point of view; monsoon season is best time to observe Nepalese cultural way of Living, festivals, Monsoon cycle of agriculture and Lush green valley’s with seasonal crops.

Festivals fall on Monsoon

                Enjoying throwing Hilo ”wet mud” during Ropai ” Paddy Plantation

15th Ashar (June) is celebrated as Paddy Plantation day  “RopaiJatra” all around Nepal. RopaiJatra“is a most awaiting and cheerful time for farmers. This day symbolizes the end of the rice planting period, a day when all farmers enjoy the end of the plantation of rice and wishes for good production. As an entertainment, they will sing a Nepalese folk songs and dance in rhythm on field while cultivating the crops mainand as lunch they will have homemade yogurt and beaten rice and drink a special kind of local drink called ‘Chyang’, which basically is made up of fermented rice.

On this day, especially Pokhara and Kathmandu (being a touristic area), different programs are being held targeting the foreigners, on the muddy flied to show Nepalese culture and traditional way of farming. This festival has been able to attracted many tourists though the festival is quite weird, yet fun. And the number of tourist wanting to participate on this festival is increasing. On this day especially for the foreigners, a travel and tour offices organizes a program/event for “Paddy Plantation” festival. This program is all about planting rice, playing around with mud, dancing in a traditional Nepalese folk song and not to forget to test traditional foods. Not only that, you can have an opportunity to communicate with Local Nepalese families which will help to learn about the Nepalese life style, culture and tradition.

                          Nag Panchami and JanaiPurnima/ RachayaBandan:  

This following year Nag Panchami and JanaiPurnima festival falls on same day.The festival Nag Panchami,Picture of Nags is posted above the doors of Nepali households with the belief of keeping away the evil spirits.

Normally, the priest visit door to door carrying the poster of Nags, Dubo (Cynodondactylon. Priest paste the poster of Nag with the help of cow dung, post a coin and Dubo. People offer milk in the temples of Nag Pokharai (snake pond) Naxal /Kathmandu and NagDaha (Snake Lake) in Lalitpur.       

                                             Naag Poster, Doro and Rakhi”

According to the Puran”Ancient Scriptures”, the earth is lifted by Shesh Nag on his head with Lord Vishnu Sleeping on its coil inside the ocean. Shesh Nag, BasukiNag,KaliNag,AsthaNag,Padma Nag and Karkot Nag are the most powerful Nags in Hindu religion.

Ancient Scriptures also mentioned that without Nags, the rainfall will not be possible, that’s why people worship Nags for causing the rain fall.

Janai Purnima is the festival of the Holy Thread which is also falls on same day of NaagPanchami

On this day every Hindu/Buddhist tied a Yellow, red colorful cotton strings in wrist of right hand. Nepalese people call it Doro.Especially Brahmins and Chettri change theirJanai, once a year. White cotton string wears on his chest or tied around the wrist of his/ her hand.  In every house this day, cooks mixed of every grain Quawati “and eat together with family members.

Similarly, this is also a day of Rachaya Banda, Rachya means to protect and Bandan means bond of togetherness. Where sister tie the rakhi on brother wrist, pray for the long life and success of her brother.Brother promise sister to protect from every harm and give gifts and sisters

                      Brahmin “Priest: tiding a sacred thread   Sacred thread (Local Nepali Word “Janai”

                                                                                    Gaijatra:  August

 Gaijatrais the festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal. GaiJatra festival came in the tradition of the medieval period of Nepal, under the reign of the kings JayasthitiMalla.  

According to traditions since time immemorial, every family who lost a family member during one year period must participate in a procession in the streets.Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and PatanNewar community follow this tradition. If a cow is unavailable then a young boy dressed as a cow is regarded as a fair substitute.

In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most respected among all pets. It is believed that the cow, venerated as a sacred animal by Hindus, will help the deceased parent’s journey to heaven.

Stick dance (Typical Newari word: Ghintangghisitwakin Bhaktapur

                                                        PATAN: KRISHNA MANDIR

Krishna Janmastami is one of the popular festivals in Hindu religion. It is a festival celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna. Krishna is believed as the eighth incarnation of lord Vishnu and powerful. It is celebrated as victory of good over evil and their power.

All the devotees gather in Krishna Mandir, the ancient Krishna Temple in Patan other temples which is the symbol of Lord Sir Krishna.

                                        Baby dress up like Krishana

                                                                    Teej:  August

Teej is also known by the HariTalikaTeej. It is biggest festival and celebrated by Nepali women all across the world. Every Married women,Child and Young girls wears red and green attire decorated with jewelries gather at a place where they enjoy singing and dancing. Songs normally have words that describe the holiness and divine power of Lord Shiva. The musical celebration goes till midnight. Meanwhile, men of the maternal family host feast for their married sisters and daughters offering them complete liberty to enjoy this particular day.

Foreigners Joining Dance with Local Nepalese Women in Teej Festival

After the feast, a 24-hour long fast begins. Teej, a traditional festival where women also express their pains through the lyrics of the songs they sing while dancing.

According to the Holy Purans say that “on this day the Himalaya’s Daughter Goddess Parbati had finally receive Lord Shiva after her long time of devotions towards him.From this day, Teej festival was celebrated.                        

Married women’s take fast for the long life of their husband, good health of their children. And young ladies take fast in desire to get their dream husband.

Rishipanchami:

Rishipanchamiis the last day of Teej and women worship Sapta Rishi (seven saints). In Hindu religion, menstruation is taken as a symbol of impurity and women are not supposed to take part in religious performance during their periods. Hence, it is believed that Rishi Panchami is the occasion to wash off one’s impurity of the entire year

 IndraJatra: September

 Indrajatrais the celebration of God Indra” the god of Rain, King of Heaven”. This festival begins each year from the day of BhadraDwadasi to Aswin Krishna Chaturdasi according to the lunar calendar, which falls during place to celebrate is in Kathmandu Durbar Square which is known as Basantapur Durbar.

Bhairav a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva

The Kumari (living goddess), departs the shelter of her temple in a palanquin and leads a parade through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra. The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons.           

According to myth, Indra’s mother Dagini wanted night-flowering coral jasmine “PARIJAT” tree in the gardens of heaven to perform some ritual and Indra disguised as human and came to Earth for the plant. While Indra was stealing the plant from a garden in Kathmandu Valley, the communities captured him. Unknown to the fact that the God of Rain was captured Kathmandu suffered extreme dryness; however, the capturers would not free Indra. Dagini came down to the earth in search of her son and discovered that the people of Kathmandu held him caged

Upon Dagini’s request, the people of Kathmandu agreed to free Indra. Pleased with the kindness of the people of Kathmandu, Dagini promised for the timely rainfall and good harvest. She also took all the people of Kathmandu who died that year to the heaven. Since then IndraJatra is observed enthusiastically in Kathmandu Durbar Square.

                                                                           Chariot of living Goddess Kumari

“Pottery Making Culture in Bhaktapur”

Posted Jul 24th, 2017 under Special Events, Tourism News,

“Enjoy the authentic traditional lifestyle in the world of pottery”.

Apart from all challenging trek and adventure in the natural world of Nepal, there is another beautiful “world of Culture & Traditions” that takes you deep into the traditional local lifestyle. That is pottery making culture in Bhaktapur. Pottery is the art of shaping the clay into various things.

              A clear view of Pottery Square in Bhaktapur. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

Whenever we think about the pottery making, the first thing that comes in our mind might be a beautiful flower pot/vase made of clay (Gamala) or might be a piggy bank (Khuturke).

Flower Pots (Gamala) displayed for selling in Pottery Square. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

If anyone would like to get the experience of making the clay pots and the local traditional lifestyle in Bhaktapur, then spending around a week in the pottery square of Bhaktapur can fulfill one’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of local life. Pottery Square is a beautiful place in the south of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The settlement of a specific ethnic group of “Newar “ community called “Prajapati “can be seen here living together in unity and harmony. These people are hard working and artistic in nature that are not only dedicated in their work, but also are equally accountable for hospitable environment.

Pottery Making Process: The pottery making is a process and Yes, it is not a simple task as it seems. Being a kind of family business, all the family members have their own part of the role, working together in creating a finished pot. Firstly, the special clay “Black Clay”, supple in nature has to be brought from the field by digging out around 10-12 feet down the surface and need to be smoothened. After that, the old men, the experienced experts, craft the clay into spectacular shape/vessels, and women are in charge of looking after the pots kept for drying and coloring.

Pottery making in a traditional wooden wheel (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

                              Coloring process (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

The whole pottery square area is filled with these colorful pots during the sunny day. Younger men/women are often engaged in carrying heavy heaps of pots from one place of the square to the other.

Pots drying out on a Sunny day. (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

The final process includes the firing of pots, which is one of another highlight of pottery making. All the prepared raw clay pots are placed along with straw in the layer wise. After all the pots are kept, it is then covered by ashes from the top, while the fire is given from the bottom and takes 3-4 days to get fired. It is the traditional way of pottery firing. 

Preparation for firing the pots with straw arranged in many layers (Photo Credit: Ujwol Buddhacharya)

In this way, the pots will be ready after all the hard working of artists. However, it would not get the complete fairness in terms of learning process until you go there and work as a local people, playing and shaping the clay by your own hands.

Short Ghorepani “Poonhill” Trek – Jennifer Dombrowski (travel writer and photographer)

Posted Jul 21st, 2017 under Company News, Luxury Tours, Special Events, Trekking & Hiking,

Short Ghorepani “Poonhill” Trek Annapurna from Deurali

Interested in trekking to have panoramic views of Annapurna Region????? But you cannot trek for long days???? Yes, we have Poonhill trek which is suitable trek for you. Enjoy short trek with unreal mountain scenery that will leave you breathless. Annapurna foot hill trek is one of the most popular trekking routes for group of beginners, family holidays and for soft adventure seekers. This trek offers you the panorama view of Himalayas including Fishtail, Annapurna ranges, Dhaulagiri, Lamjung Himal, Gangapurna, and Manaslu. Challenging uphill to burn your extra calories and detoxify the body physiology with snow town breeze in peaceful atmosphere.

                                           Deurali 

                                   Glimpse of Annapurna 

This is one of the most popular trek; known as Annapurna Sunrise Trek or Annapurna Panorama Trek and relatively one of easy trek. Poon hill is the Photographer’s Paradise with maximum elevation 3210M. The trail passes and twists through the beautiful ethnic Gurkha Warriors villages and lush green rhododendron forest. Especially Ghandruk Village is known to be unique and special to represent traditional culture of Gurkha Soldiers. Covering main highlight of Annapurna Mountain ranges you will trek about 5-6 hours a day for 5-6 days. It is also the prime choice for first time trekkers.                                              Poonhill tower

                          Annapurna range from Poonhill

Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara Approx. 220 km/ 6-7 hrs. Or fly to Pokhara which is about 20 minutes. Pokhara city is tourist zone of Nepal for domestic and international tourist. Drive from Pokhara to Nayapul about two hours/ 45 kms. This trek goes from Nayapul to Tikhedhunga to Ghorepani, Poon hill,then to Tadapani and Ghandruk or Landruk then back to Nayapul where you will drive back to Pokhara. 

                      Descending from Tadapani to Ghandruk

          Trekkers enjoying their moment at Naya-pul 

Historical Event, Himalayan Travel Mart 2017 offered an opportunity for a group of traveler Bloggers to experience this Poonhill trek and have a close sight of the Himalayas. The post trek article written by professional travel writers and photographers, JenniferDombrowski and Tim Davis did this trek. They have some memorable experience while doing Ghorepani- Poonhill trek.  They sum to be enjoyed this trek. However, this trek is one of the most challenging tasks of their life as the pain of exhaustion and tiredness seem to have moved away by the sums of achievement, overcoming to a height and serenity observed in the wilderness of Nepal Himalaya even an acute pain caused by the cramping of her foot muscles feels nothing bad as her joy and ecstasy of happiness was indefinable after completing her memorable trek.   

You can also read their experience at http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/ghorepani-trek-nepal

                                      Typical Nepali House

If you are interested in doing this trip, please have a look at the details about the trip in our website at https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/a-week-below-annapurna-poonhill-trek/

                                           Poonhill: 3210m    

                                                                 Annapurna Ranges: on the way to Tada-pani from Ghandruk

                   Picture Courtesy: Jennifer Dombrowski

 

Explore Himalaya with All Hands group in Everest Base Camp Trek

Posted May 24th, 2017 under Company News, Special Events, Tourism News, Trekking & Hiking,

Ultimate goal is to reach base camp and stand at the altitude of 5337m

Explore Himalaya recently organized the Everest base camp trek and Island peak summit for All Hands Volunteers for the second time under the name of All Hands on Everest Challenge 2017.The group consisted if 12 members from whom 9 took part in for Everest base Camp trek and 3 participants joined for Island Peak.

The group move towards the small village Phakding at the altitude of 2610m

On the following day, the group moved towards Tengboche located at 3,867 meters and visited Tengboche Monastery, which is the largest Gompa in the Khumbu region. As the weather was clear, they got a chance to see the surrounding mountains like Thamserku, AmaDablam, Nuptse, Lotse and Mount Everest.

Tengboche Monastery – Largest Gumpa in Khumbu region

Magnificent view of Himalayas from Tengboche

The next day, group reached at Pheriche at the altitude of 4371 meter where they also rested for acclimatization. From Pheriche, the group split into two and headed for Everest base camp and Island Peak.

Island peak group with their guides

On the way to Gorakshep

After reaching Gorakshep, the group decided to continue their journey towards Base camp which is the final destination for the group on the same day. 2 hours of walk through the rocks they successfully reached at Everest base camp.

Glacier seen on the way to Base Camp

Groups celebrating the happiness to be in the base camp

After completing the base camp challenge the group descended back to Lukla with having overnight in Pheriche and Namche. On 18th of May, the group completed the trek and flew to Kathmandu on 19th May. After landing in Kathmandu, the group had a whole day for their own and later they had a dinner with cultural dance show in Thamel. All the group members enjoyed the dinner by dancing, singing and sharing their memorable stories during the trek.

Groups celebrating the happiness to be in the base camp

 

After completing the base camp challenge the group descended back to Lukla with having overnight in Pheriche and Namche. On 18th of May, the group completed the trek and flew to Kathmandu on 19th May. After landing in Kathmandu, the group had a whole day for their own and later they had a dinner with cultural dance show in Thamel. All the group members enjoyed the dinner by dancing, singing and sharing their memorable stories during the trek.

Group posing for Photo shout near Hillary Bridge

Overall, the trip was successfully completed and the members were very satisfied with the service of Explore Himalaya / All hands and found this trip as one of the best memorable trip of their lifetime. Thank you for All Hands for making us a part of this memorable trip.

Happy Explorers

Thanks again for everything. I will recommend your services for anyone that may be looking for an adventure in Nepal! Thanks again!

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