This October has been quite exciting for us as we had a wonderful opportunity to operate an amazing off-the-beaten trip to Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, the only hunting reserve of Nepal, for a group of 13 trekkers from Kipling Travel Denmark. Dhorpatan, which is one of the least known trekking areas in Nepal, literally means “dhor – the marshland” and “patan – the pastureland”. Beside the hunting reserve, the region is also famous for numerous pastureland, Kham settlements, rich wildlife and impressive views of the Himalayas. Though the hunting reserve, which is the major highlight of the trip, was established in 1985, the area was developed as a trekking region quite recently, the fact that also made the trip even more special.
The trip started with the group’s arrival in Kathmandu on 7th October followed by a flight to Pokhara the next day. Upon reaching Pokhara, they drove to Beni, which is the district headquarter of Myagdi and the starting point of the trek. On 9th October, leaving the traces of modernity behind, they continued through the untouched countryside along the shadows of Mt Dhaulagiri (8167m), the 7th highest peak in the world. Passing through the welcoming villagers, pristine jungles, wide meadows, sparkling rivers, the Jaljala Pass (3400m) and the amazing views of mountain ranges including the Annapurnas, Dhaulagiri and Gurja Himal, the group finally reached the hunting reserve on 12th October.
The next day they explored the surrounding nature and spent a night before retracing their journey back to Pokhara. However, that was not the end of the fun! Once they were back in Kathmandu, they had a full day sightseeing in the UNESCO Heritage sites of Kathmandu namely Pashupatinath, one of the world’s biggest Hindu shrine; Boudhanath, one of the world’s biggest Buddhist stupa and Kathmandu Durbar Square, an artistic palace courtyard dating back to medieval time. Finally, after about two weeks’ of adventure and fun, the group departed to their home on 19th October. As it is said, trekking in Nepal always comes with organic taste, this trip in particular offered a real experience of authentic trekking in Nepal which our members are going to keep in their for long.
It’s quite understandable that Nepal always conjures up the world of towering mountains, distant valleys, misty grooves and highland cultures in everyone’s mind. And there comes the instant urge to ramble on the rugged trail and hug the mountains. However, Nepal is not just about meeting mountains only. There are many unique things to do in Nepal, definitely not as bizarre as going for yeti hunting, but are still much cooler than many other trendy activities.
You probably don’t know but Nepal is also the host of world’s highest skydiving adventure in the world. Yes, you have heard it right and this tiny Himalayan country is increasingly being a popular hub for extreme adventure seekers. The skydivers take leap from an AS350 B3 Helicopter at the height of 29500ft next to Everest and land at Syangboche Airport (12340ft) and Ama Dablam Base Camp (15,000ft). It gives the adventure aficionados the opportunity to get their names into the international record books and make history. The event takes place every year in October/November. After its continuous success, Everest Skydive company has also launched its Pokhara edition since 2103.
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 hallucinogenic honey of the giant Himalayan wild bees from their nests overhanging on the vertical rock faces. This 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 the perseverance and fortitude that equals any death defying endurance feat. Honey hunting tour is all about witnessing this insanely unbelievable act which people are following for centuries.
Nepal’s rich cultural heritage also includes Shamanic practices. This ancient healing practice is attracting many western scholars and practitioners nowadays. You can see the shamans in their séances, in their frenzies communicating with the other worlds and curing villagers. Such tours allow you to experience a different world of belief. You will not just see the miraculous performance of the shamans but also witness the unshakable belief of the villagers and their stories. Not something to be missed if you are interested in people and old age tradition.
Nepali is full of welcoming people. They are always open for intercultural interactions. Volunteering offers one of the best platforms to mingle with this ever welcoming people. It’s a two way learning process – you give your knowledge and take their insight. You can work in the areas like school education, health, community development, forest conservation, agriculture, culture preservation, fund raising and maintenance of the public/communal buildings. Volunteering is one of the best ways to travel responsibly where you are no more a guest but a community member!
It is truly said about Nepal that “once is not enough”. It is a land of endless beauty. Be it the Game of thrones like landscape of Himalayan desert or rolling hills of tea gardens, there is much to offer than just the beauty of Everest and Annapurna. Places like Kanchanjungha, Makalu Barun, Rolwaling Valley, Dhaulagiri Region, Khaptad, Dhorpatan, Dolpo, Ilam, Langtang, Panch Pokhari, Rara, Nar Phu, Tsum Valley etc are just few to name. These places are not less in beauty but offer more authentic experience of travelling as you can have the nature all by yourself without brushing your shoulders with others.
Everyone knows Everest Base Camp trek is an ambitious adventure but with proper planning it’s not that intimidating. Trust us! After all, we are speaking with more than 20 years of experience.
Everest Base Camp Trek is normally a two-week trek with 10/11 of pure trekking days which starts and ends at Lukla. However, this can be extended with a side trip to Gokyo Lake. This way you can have the complete experience of “Trekking in Nepal” as the classic Everest Base Camp trek is all about going straight to the Base Camp and retracing back the same way, whereas the extended trip allows you a circuit and adds the adventure of Cho La Pass (5420m), a High Mountain Pass and Gokyo Lake (4750m), one of the highest freshwater lakes. In both cases, you get to see the kaleidoscopic beauty of magnificent mountains, amazing highland settlements and unique flora and fauna of Everest region. For more details on the itineraries and daily activities, you can go through https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/everest-base-camp-trek/ and https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/gokyo-kala-pattar-everest-base-camp-trek/.
Trek to Everest Base Camp is well known for being one of the most adventurous treks, and some people even make it sound treacherous. However, the pleasure of comfort is not that unattainable if you are aware of certain things beforehand. Feed yourself with a bit of information, plan well and you are all set for this incredible journey! Below is a list of few things you need to know to make the most of this wonderful adventure.
Depending on your budget and interest, there are three ways of trekking in Nepal – GAP, TH and Fully organized camping trek. The most popular are GAP and TH. GAP includes Guide, Accommodation and Porter; whereas TH (teahouse) includes Guide, Accommodation, Porter and all meals. Fully organized camping trek is popular in remote areas only where there is no adequate accommodation facility, which naturally makes this type outdated in Everest region. So you can choose between GAP and TH. You can also be an independent traveler but it’s not recommended considering the geographical extremities and remoteness of the region.
Everest Base Camp Trek is rated as “Moderate to Fairly Challenging” trek. Physically quite tiring, it involves approx 6-8 hours trekking along rocky ridges of high Himalayan peaks. No previous experience is required. However, you should be moderately fit, used to some regular exercises and enjoy walking in the high altitude conditions.
Climate and Weather Condition
Climate, as expected, is extreme in Everest region. So, travelling during winter (from December to February) is not recommended at all due to piling of snow in trails. During monsoon also (from mid May to mid-September), the weather is cloudy resulting in very poor visibility. The best seasons to trek to Everest region is Autumn (from mid-September till November end), and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May). Temperatures will drop considerably as you trek higher every day. The nights are cold (between -10 C to 5C) but the days are sunny and hot (between 10C to 20C). The mornings are usually clear, with clouds building up during the afternoon, disappearing at night.
Everest region, also known as Khumbu region is the home of Sherpas, the able bodied, hardy and fearless world-class mountaineers and high altitude guides. They emigrated from Tibet about 600 years ago. In the past they were traders and porters, carrying butter, meat, rice, sugar, and dye from India, and, wool, jewelry, salt Chinese silk and porcelain from Tibet and beyond. Now, most of them are involved in mountaineering expeditions and trekking. They are the ardent followers of Buddhism.
The highest point of Everest Base Camp trek is Kala Patthar (5545m) and the trek starting point (Lukla) is 2800m. So Altitude sickness is a concern as it has the potential to affect all travelers from 2500m. It is caused by going up high too fast and can be fatal if the entire warning signals are ignored. Normally Everest Base Camp itinerary has gradual climb and the duration itself is short; hence, chances of AMS are not high. However, one needs to be careful and take all the necessary precautions.
Visa and Immigration
All visitors except the Indian nationals must hold passport and valid visa. Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulates abroad. Visa is also issued at the entry points. It can be extended at the Department of Immigration, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu. Children under 10 years need not pay any visa fee. People willing to get entry Visa at the air port or any of the land entry points are required to fill a visa form with passport photograph. For more information, please go to http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa
Permit is mandatory while trekking in Nepal. For Everest Base Camp trek or any other trekking in Everest region, you need to get Sagarmatha National Park entry permit and a local permit card. Sagarmatha National Park entry permit (NPR 3000 per person) can be obtained at the park entrance gate at Monjo. However, it is better to get from Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu just in case the Monjo point goes through some technical problems. You also need to get a local entry permit at Lukla (NPR 2000 per person). Previously you had to take TIMS card, which is replaced by the local entry permit. Have the copies of your passport ready for both.
Consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. Let your doctor know about the area you are travelling to. It is especially important if you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint. If you are travelling with a travel agency, normally your team carries a medical kit with standard prescribed medicines along with a users’ manual which you can use upon your own risk. It’s better to carry your own personal first aid kit.
A travel insurance which covers cancellation, medical expenses, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation is a MUST if you are trekking in Nepal.
During trek your main luggage will be carried by porters or pack animals (usually yaks or cross breeds). You simply carry a day pack with water bottle, camera, sun-screen, spare jacket, etc. – a small load that allows full enjoyment of the trek. A trek bag is ideal for your main luggage, plus a small lockable bag for anything that you do not need during your trek which you can leave at hotel’s locker room/safe deposit box in Kathmandu.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on this. Just be rational on your choice. Please visit https://www.explorehimalaya.com/2018/07/23/trekking-gear-list-for-everest-base-camp-trek/ for a complete list.
As geographical variation is very wide, you should go with layering style. While trekking in Everest region during the day at lower altitudes, lightweight trekking trousers and T-shirts are recommended. It’s always a good idea to carry a waterproof jacket and some warmer clothing with you as mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. For the cold nights, thermal underwear, a warm fleece jacket and even a down jacket will help to keep you warm. Good shoes are of great importance. For more info on clothing, please go to https://www.explorehimalaya.com/2018/07/23/trekking-gear-list-for-everest-base-camp-trek/
In Nepal’s domestic airlines the weight allowance is 15 Kgs. Excess weight is chargeable about USD 1.5 or more per Kilo depending on sectors.
Trekking in Everest region doesn’t need tremendous logistics in terms of accommodation as you will find plenty of clean and friendly lodges along the trail. You stay in single rooms where possible, but often you will have to share. Rooms are basic, normally just a bed with a pillow and blankets. So a sense of adventure is required. In Kathmandu, you can find a wide range of star rated hotels.
Food and Water
You can find a considerable variety of Nepali and Western food as well as drinks (coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, and beer) along the Everest Base Camp trail. You can also buy bottled water in local lodges and shops. However, it’s a sensible thing to bring water purification pills.
The starting point of Everest Base Camp trek is in Lukla which is connected by a 30 min flight from Kathmandu. For ground transfers, travel companies use private vehicles like car, van, hiace and coaster bus depending on the size of the group. You can also find public transports like bus, taxi and micro van in Kathmandu. However, they are often crowded, slow and uncomfortable (but very cheap).
You can expect to spend around 2500-3000 Rupees a day for your basic food and snacks (excluding accommodation and transportation as they vary widely depending on the level of service). Tips are appreciated by your support team after the trip. The amount depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. You can allocate 5- 10 % of the total tour cost as tips.
There are a plenty of telephone facilities in the Everest region. Cell phones work throughout the trek in Everest Region. However, keep in mind that it can’t be as smooth as in lowlands. If it is crucial for you to keep in contact with your family or others, you can get a rental satellite phone if necessary.
Money exchange is not a problem in Kathmandu. You can find many local certified moneychangers. But same can’t be expected during trek. The facility is available only in major stopovers like Lukla, Namche etc. Card payment (Visa, MasterCard, JCB and American Express) is also widely accepted in tourist- class hotels, restaurants and shops in Kathmandu. During trek, be prepared to pay in cash as it is accepted in major stopovers only.
Travelling is not just about what you get, it is also about what you leave. Try to leave positive impact behind. Respect the mountains, its fragile environment and the local culture. Choose the responsible service providers only. Go through “Dos and Donts in Nepal” thoroughly before travelling to Nepal.
By Anuj Pandey, General Manager
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.
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
Hotel: Manaslu Inn
Day 3: Machha Khola to Jagat (Approx. 1300m)
Walk time: 7-8 hours
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
Hotel: Namrung Guest house
Day 6: Namrung to Lho (Approx. 3,180m)
Walk time: 4-5 hours
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
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
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
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org For more details, you can also go to: https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/manaslu-circuit-trek/ )
Medhavi Davda, one of the attendees of International Travel Bloggers and Media Conference 2017 http://htmnepal.com/program/itbmc/, has recently posted her travel story on Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar Trek in her blog http://www.ravenouslegs.com/ . Though she was in Nepal solely for the conference, she could not resist the charm of Nepali Himalayas and instantly packed her bags and set off for Everest Base Camp, one of the most sought-after adventure trails in the world. Medhavi’s refreshing details take us to the very base of the mighty Everest and make us enjoy every corner and every stone of her journey including the overwhelming moment she had at the first sight of Everest. As Everest Base Camp Trek is always one of its kind, so is the story of her trek! Explore Himalaya is really delighted to be a part of her lifetime experience. To enjoy her journey in full detail, please visit http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/trek-to-everest-base-camp-and-kala-patthar
If you are next in the queue, you can also visit her next blog for detailed guidelines http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/handy-guide-and-tips-for-everest-base-camp-trek-in-nepal . You will never remain without thanking her!