This trip offers you a wonderful opportunity to explore the rich bird life in Nepal. You begin your birding journey from Phulchowki Hill that lies on the outskirts of Kathmandu. With some 288 bird species recorded to date, Phulchowki is the most popular bird watching spot in the valley. The hike to verdant Shivapuri National Park will offer you glimpses of the Spiny Babbler and Hoary-throated Barwing. Taudaha Lake located in the southern part of the valley is a favorite nesting site for migratory birds and water fowls.
You take a drive to the scenic lakeside town of Pokhara and enjoy myriad activities including bird-watching. You further proceed to Chitwan National Park & Hetauda and spot many of the endangered winged creatures while indulging in exciting jungle activities. A total of 540 species of birds has been recorded at Chitwan National Park till date. The park is especially important for grassland species like the Bengal Florican, Grey-Crowned Prinis, Slender-billed Babbler and Lesser Adjutant. Hetauda situated at an altitude of 474m is a stopover point for high altitude birds like the Ibisbill, seeking a warm site in winter. Cattle egrets, swallows, mynah and bulbuls are resident birds.
Further you drive to the next destination, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve which covers an area of 175 sq km and is in the eastern Terai region of Nepal. It is a beautiful and fascinating aquatic environment and is home to an astonishing variety of water birds that flock to its ponds full of flowering plants. The reserve provides an important habitat for a variety of wildlife but, in particular, water birds, including several migratory species such as the sarus crane from Siberia. In all, a total of 280 different species of birds have been recorded and these include many varieties of ducks, ibis, storks, egrets and herons, as well as the endangered swamp partridges and Bengal floricans. Koshi Tappu is also home to the last surviving population of wild water buffalo and its other inhabitants include blue cows, various species of deer, Gangetic dolphins and gharial crocodiles.
No doubt, this special 2 weeks’ tour provides you wonderful locations with high species count and best sightings. But most importantly, it also offers you an accomplished birding expertise of Andy Teasdale, a brilliant tour leader known for handling such remarkably challenging tasks.
Andy Teasdale, Team Leader
A passionate photographer, bird expert, qualified Mountain instructor and International Mountain Guides Carnet, Andy Teasdale runs a company based in Snowdonia offering sheltered and joyful guiding service that provides special outdoor adventures including photography, climbing, walking, alpinism and ski touring in Snowdonia and the Alps. An ardent birdwatcher and outdoor adventure enthusiast, Andy spends a lot of time in the mountains of Snowdonia and the European Alps instructing, guiding and leading expeditions year round to the greater ranges.
Andy’s expertise combines excellent birding knowledge, seamless photography skill and a vast experience of leading outdoor tours. Beside his profound interest on birds, his other photographic interests involve adventure sports and landscape. Never away from his adventure ingenuity and his loved camera to capture the spirit, Andy feels that photography is the best way to enhance and immortalize stories and experiences. You can visit his Facebook and Insta pages to see an impressive collection of his engagements. Explore Himalaya is really proud to partner with Andy Teasdale for a bird watching photography tour during November 2020, a relief project to uplift Nepali tourism that is severely hit by covid-19 setback.
Explore Himalaya and its exclusive partner Kipling Travel Denmark organised a 5 day Free Eye Camp in the five villages of Lamjung, Tanahun and Kaski in western Nepal. The camp that took place from 12th to 17th November 2019 was conducted by a team of 10 opticians and nurses from Denmark. The team which was led by Lene S. Lindedam (Nurse) included Jette Honore (Optician), Bjorn Nielsen (Optician), Tine Ottosen (Optician), Vibeke R. Stegmann (Nurse), Knud E. Stegmann (Optician), Lotte laursen (Optician), Annegrethe S. Nielsen (Nurse), Keith T. Nielsen (Optician), and Jette Ronnenfelt (Optician). The team has been volunteering such camps in different parts of the world.
The Free Eye Camp provided diagnostic screening and eye examining services along with counselling on eye health care measures. Some patients were also treated for minor conditions and provided with free glasses. Patients with cataract were referred to the nearby hospitals. Altogether 983 patients benefited from the Camp. The program was supported by the local clubs, police and volunteers from beneficiary villages. The village communities expressed their gratitude to the organiser team for their contribution in improving the eye health of public. The Eye Camp is a part of a Free Health Camp initiative being organised by Explore Himalaya and Kipling Travel biannually.
Day 1 & 2: 12th & 13th November
Location: Kanti Mandir School, Sundar Bazaar, Lamjung
Day 1 – Time: 2 pm – 5 pm, Total Number of Patients: 41
Day 2- Time: 9 am – 4 pm, Total Number of Patients: 228
Pokhara Skydive 2019 Bollywood TV Star Parth Samthaan
Flying next to Machhapuchhre and Annapurna range, floating above magnificent Phewa Lake, relishing the sweeping view of Pokhara Valley – Pokhara Skydive is indeed one of its kind! And, this year a total of 147 adventure seekers, the highest number so far in the history of Pokhara Skydive 2019, achieved this heavenly experience. Pokhara Skydive 2019 took place from 19th to 24th November at Pame, 11 km away from Pokhara Lakeside. The event was successfully organized by Everest Skydive that comprises of an expert crew members of 13 including Paul-Henry de Baère, Wendy Elizabeth Smith, Omar Alhegelan, Nadezda Solovyeva, Anton Gilev, Jean-Philippe Audhuy, Kim Bo Larsen, Mariojulio Hoyosvargas, Gregory Lee Shelton, Sabina Kotarba, Carolyn Goldman, Robert Goldman, Ed Luciarno; and the team of Summit Helicopters and Explore Himalaya.
Puja Ceremony before the event
On the first day, 11 Nepali and 8 Indian jumpers achieved their dream of flying in the Himalayan sky. The first jump was done by Subin Limbu, Miss Nepal 2014 at 9:50 am. On the second day, a total of 22 jumpers that includes 21 Indians and 1 Nepali made their “once in a lifetime jump” in the sky of Pokhara. Third day had just 4 Indian jumpers only as the event had to be wrapped up early due to poor visibility. The fourth day’s morning brought nice weather with blue skies. The event started at about 8 o’ clock and continued till 2 in the afternoon with altogether 23 skydivers (20 Indians, 2 Egyptians & 1 American) making their jumps. The fifth day proved to be one of the most incredible days in the history of Pokhara Skydive with a total of 48 jumpers (45 Indians, 1 Nepali, 1 French and 1 Srilankan) breaking last year’s record of 45 in a single day. Bollywood TV Star Parth Samthaan also did his first ever skydive on this day as the 18th jumper of the day. The final day concluded with 31 jumpers (29 Indians and 2 Nepali) making a total of 147 jumpers in this year’s event. This year’s event, which is the 7th edition of Pokhara Skydive, has been a phenomenal success as it hasn’t just got the highest number of participants but also broken the single day jump record of last year. Since the event’s commercial operation in 2013, the event has been increasingly popular among both domestic and foreign adventurers alike. This year’s historic number of jumpers showed the growing craze of the Himalayan adventure. On its huge success, we congratulate everyone – the super-spirited crew team from around the world, the professional team of Explore Himalaya and Summit Helicopters who gave their best to make it a success, and the jumpers who brought excitement and energy to the whole team! May Pokhara Skydive reach new heights in days to come!
I saw a lot of professional skydivers jumping, flying, landing; and even more numbers of adventure seekers dying to skydive. Working in the Sales desk of Everest Skydive, talking to skydivers and seeing them day in and out (during the season) is just a part of my job. So, skydiving is definitely not an exotic adventure for me, not something I would raise my brows at! However, I had a secret. As much as I was familiar with the skydiving world, I was at the same time equally alien to it. Because, I had never done it! The Cause? It’s plain and simple – I was acrophobic!
Skydiving was on the top of my “not-to-do” bucket list. I can’t say the idea never came in my mind. Back in 2013, one of our skydiving crew asked me why I hadn’t tried it. I said sheepishly I feared height. Then he said something which blew my mind. He said, “So do I.” Foreseeing my expected reaction, he continued, “That’s why I enjoy it. If there is no fear, there is no adventure.” Well at that time, I was compelled to give a little thought about it. But then I was never courageous enough to dream about it!
To cut the long story short, year 2018 brought something I wouldn’t mind to say a “quantum leap”… when I say it I mean it both literally and figuratively. It all started in Pokhara Skydive event that took place from 20th to 25th November. As we had 100 + jumpers booked for the year, we were quite busy. After the first two days’ back-to-back skydiving operation, on the third day, our team leader Anuj offered us a skydiving chance.
Then and there, without a second thought, I readily accepted! Till this time I can’t figure out how the heck I convinced myself for the jump. Now the time was of anticipation! The ticklish pressure of anxiety, and the butterflies in my tummy- though I went through it all the time, to my surprise, I was unexpectedly calm. I had seen hundreds of skydivers going up and coming down over-and-over day-after-day with brimful smile. Maybe, this has normalized the whole thing. So, the idea of “I am not going to die” might have done the trick.
So, my turn came. Things started to get real! The butterflies in my tummy de-evolved back to caterpillars. I was freaking out on the inside! While gearing up, my tandem master Dr. Ryan Jackson debriefed me, to which, I could hardly pay any attention because there were lot many voices echoing in my mind. My videographer Omar was capturing the moment and I was trying to look as normal as possible which I utterly failed. (I knew it when I saw my video afterwards-my awkward posture and gait looked all so funny. Every time my son wants to make fun of me he reminds me of the video). So, the chopper took off with me, Ryan, Omar and Nadezda.
Once in the air, the whole new level of experiences started to unfurl before me. My Goodness, the views! Of course this is not my first time in air but everything around me felt so ethereal, and so divine. The floating Annapurnas, Machhapuchhre, the hills, the lakes and the ocean of clouds! As I was in my reverie, completely awestruck by the immensity, the infinity; Ryan signaled me for tethering against him. Then, I came back to senses … come on I am here for jumping out of the chopper! So the final moment came. Omar and Nadia were already out hanging at the edge, somewhere above 12/13000ft above! We skidded to the edge of the chopper. I dared to peak over the edge and holy crap … do I really want to do this? Countdown started and then … whooosh!
All I remembered about the first few seconds is the force of the wind gushing by me. And I did everything wrong! My eyes should be open and lips ought to be shut or smiling (at least for beautiful pictures). But my eyes were tightly shut and my mouth widely open. Heck with the Banana Position! I even forgot to spread my arms. It was fanatically trying to adjust my lips as I felt them very dry and being blown away. I felt my skin was literally coming off! Hurtling myself down to the ground at about 180/90 km per hour speed… what I could do? I totally yielded to the force, the power of gravity! Honestly it was scary in the beginning but I couldn’t say what was “It” afterwards! It was like “being me” and “not being me” at the same time!
Once the canopy of the parachute opened, we again rocketed up. Then after everything was serene and silent… the only sound that could be heard was the fluttering of the canopy. Everyone says “the freefall” is the most treasured moment of the whole adventure but for me, the sudden transition from speed to stroll, the juxtaposition was utterly unearthly. The gentle fall started but, my part of adventure was not over yet. Ryan started to talk to me, showed me the lakes and hills which were still way down.
He even gave me a chance to maneuver the parachute. There were still some aerial acrobats and the views were still glorious- the only difference was, this time I was getting closer to my abode – the ground! Then we had a perfect landing in style! After the touchdown, all I could do was babble some words which definitely didn’t do enough justice to what I just felt in the sky.
To be honest, I was scared as hell at some points and might have missed many good things about it. But to me what happened during the time is not really important. What’s more important is “Am I the same person few minutes before?” I am still to resolve my issues with heights (much lesser than before) but the whole experience is so empowering. I learned that I could push my limits. Most importantly, I just witnessed the immensity and earned humility. Now, the Himalaya is different to me. The Sky. The Clouds. The People. Even the ground I am treading on is different to me. Exactly as Omar said, “the mountain and sky will never be same again!” I just want to add few to his words, “You guys are also never same to me again!”
I am really indebted to Mr. Suman Pandey –President of Everest Skydive, Mr. Anuj Pandey – General Manager of Everest Skydive, Ryan Jackson – Tandem Master, Omar Alhegelan and Nadezda Solovyeva – Videographers, for making this miracle possible! At this moment, I just remember Paulo Coelho’s line “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I wonder now, I might have secretly wanted to do skydive all my life.
(Pokhara Skydive, a premier event organized by Everest Skydive, is an annual event taking place in November – this year from 19th to 24th November. It takes place in Pame Laurukh, 11 km west of Pokhara Lakeside. Started its commercial operation in 2013, the event is increasingly being more popular among Himalayan adventure seekers with more than 200 jumpers already making their exclusive jumps with Pokhara Skydive Team.)
Explore Himalaya Conducted a Day’s First Aid Training to its trekking guides in collaboration with CIWEC Hospital on 12 Sep 2019. The training which took place at the onset of tourist season was attended by 17 guides. The training was conducted by experienced doctors & nurses of CIWEC Hospital, one of the most reputable travel medicine centers in the world. This training was designed to meet the needs of high altitude guides, trip leaders and outdoor staffs working in remote mountain environment. The training covered a broad range of essential skills required during medical emergencies through theoretical and practical demonstration. The training content included courses on Cut & Wound Care, Burns, Fractures & Dislocations, Spinal Injury, Hypothermia, Altitude illnesses and First Aid Tool Kit. The session also included emergency and risk management skills and confidence needed to make informed medical decisions. After the training, a pre-season “Best Practices for Guides” session was also conducted in Explore Himalaya office in which General Manager Anuj Pandey reviewed about past weaknesses and oriented about the ways of addressing the issues to provide flawless and responsible services in the upcoming season. The session was focused on the principles and practices related to guide behavior, guest handling, guide ethics and sustainable practices to be followed by Guides while on the trail. Manager Kedar Khadka and Operation Manager Bharat Raj Puri also addressed the session. Explore Himalaya, as a travelife certified company, regularly does such training to enhance, excel and empower its team for the utmost care, safety and satisfaction of its travellers. The session was followed by lunch in Marcopolo Restaurant.
Our tour guides and drivers in Lhasa and the rest of Tibet did an excellent job. They were friendly, knowledgeable, good humored and we had a feeling that they did their best to make it a very good trip!