New Entry Protocols for Travelers in Nepal

Posted Oct 5th, 2021 under Blog, Tourism News, Travel Guide, Trekking & Hiking,

New entry protocols while travelling to Nepal
Nepal Government has recently revised its travel guidelines and set new entry protocols for the people who wish to travel to Nepal. Now, fully-vaccinated travelers can get on arrival visa and don’t need to follow seven-day quarantine rule, which means they can start their travel right after their entry! The latest update is as follows:

1. There is no quarantine rule for fully vaccinated travelers, but they need to make sure that they have received their last dose at least 14 days before they enter Nepal.
2. On arrival visa service has resumed for fully vaccinated travelers. They need to present the following documents at immigration desk:

✔️ Vaccination Certificate (WHO approved vaccines)
✔️ RT-PCR negative test issued within 72 hours or less before first flight
✔️ Proof of hotel booking
✔️ Print copy of filled International Online Arrival Form available at CCMC website (https://ccmc.gov.np/arms/person_add_en.php)
✔️ Permit copy of mountaineering or trekking

3. There is no on arrival visa provision for non-vaccinated or semi-vaccinated travelers. They need to have prior visa from Nepalese Diplomatic missions in their respective countries.
4. Non-vaccinated or semi-vaccinated travelers need to stay 10 days in quarantine at their own cost in the hotels designated by Nepal Government. https://ccmc.gov.np/arms/attachments/Quarantine_HotelsList_Recent.pdf . On the 11th day, they need to have PCR negative report to continue their travel.
5. Upon arrival, non-vaccinated or semi-vaccinated travelers need to present all the documents specified in no. 2 (except vaccination certificate), plus proof of quarantine hotel booking and recommendation letter from travel/trekking/tour agency in Nepal.
6. Vaccination is not mandatory for children below 5 years and age group of 5 – 18 years old but PCR negative report is compulsory for the age group of 5 – 18 years old.
7. Travelers leaving Nepal should present PCR negative report issued within 48 hours or less before the flight and also fill CCMC Departure Form available at https://ccmc.gov.np/atms/person_add_atms_en.php 

So, now it is possible to travel to Nepal. Though, there are still some travel restrictions with new entry protocols, if you abide by the rules, travelling in Nepal will not be a hassle. Once you are in Nepal, make sure you follow the protocols of local destinations as well. Don’t stress too much about your safety as Government is launching inoculation campaign more aggressively. More than 21% of the total population is fully vaccinated with 26% already receiving their first dose. As tourism professionals belong to the prioritized frontline groups, above 95% of the tourism workers have been fully vaccinated by now (97% in Khumbu and Mustang region).

At Explore Himalaya also, almost all the office and field staffs are fully vaccinated. As there is some silver lining finally, we are now trying to go with V2V (vaccinated to vaccinated) service approach, which is the best thing to do as of now. We ensure our travelers that we will follow all the health and safety measures strictly during all our operations. This autumn, we are preparing more than ever to make our visitors feel welcomed and safe.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

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Makalu Base Camp Trek, Nepal’s best kept adventure secret

Posted Sep 19th, 2021 under Blog, Travel Guide, Trekking & Hiking,

Makalu Base Camp Trek
If you are a mountain lover, then you might have been to or heard about Nepal’s treasured Everest and Annapurna regions. But when it comes to mountains, Nepal is more than Everest and Annapurna. Sharing the immediate east frontier with Everest, lies Mt. Makalu (8458m), world’s fifth highest mountain as imposing and grand as Everest, if not more. Trekking to Makalu Base Camp is full of amazing adventures, and what’s more, the trail is quieter where you can have nature all by yourself.

Among the countless trekking destinations throughout the country, Makalu Base Camp is one of the most diverse and awe-inspiring one that offers you a wonderful opportunity to explore the unique cultural heritage of Rai and Sherpa people, and exceptional floral & faunal richness of Barun River Valley. Considered as adventurous and challenging trek, this trip takes you through the heavenly panorama of some of world’s highest peaks including the rare angle of Everest (8848 m), Makalu (8458 m), Lhotse (8516 m), Kanchenjunga (8586m) and many more. A trip to this land of unsurpassed beauty definitely deserves to be in your wish list. If you want to dig in further about this adventure, here we have some helpful details for you.

Accommodation

Accommodations during Makalu Base Camp Trek are very basic. You will find local teahouses along the trail. Num, Sedua and Tashi Gaun have comparatively better teahouses than other places. Teahouses have rooms consisting of beds with pillow and blankets. (Make sure to bring your own sleeping bag as the blanket may not be warm enough). You can’t find rooms with attached bath and hot shower. However, if you request, they will provide bucket full of hot water with extra charges. Majority of teahouses have rooms in twin sharing basis and dormitory rooms. And they can accommodate up to 10-12 guests at once. If you have large group, it’s better to take back up camping support in case you don’t find enough rooms.   

Food

Teahouses provide both accommodation and food. As teahouses in Makalu region are basic, their food menu is also very simple, consisting of local Nepali food (Daal Bhaat – rice, lentil and curry), noodles and chapatis. It’s always a good idea to carry supplementary food which you can prepare easily like soup, instant noodles, dry fruits and nuts, coffee, juice, herbal tea etc. Since you don’t have many food options, it’s better to have Daal Bhaat as they are always freshly made and good for calorie replenishment.

Communication

Communication facility in Makalu region is not very advanced. There are signals of telecommunication in the starting point of the trek only (up to Tashi Gaun). As you trek higher, you won’t find network connection. If it is important for you to get connected with your family and friends during the trip, you can get rental satellite phone.

Electricity and Charging

This trek takes you through the isolated valley. Electricity is a problem in the area. Num, Sedua and Tashi Gaun have electricity facility. Places beyond this have solar energy but they are not always reliable. Because of electricity problem, you can’t get charging facility in teahouses. So, always make sure to carry fully charged power bank.

Clothing and Equipment

Makalu Base Camp Trek is a bit challenging trek. So, for that you need best trekking clothing and gears like boots, hiking pants, winter caps, down jackets, Poncho, wind cheater etc. Thermals and layers are really important to keep you warm and comfortable. Trekking poles and crampons (while crossing high pass during winter) are very essential during this trek as you follow snowy and steep trails.  
Makalu Base Camp Trek

 Permits

You need some permits in order to trek in Makalu region. Since you travel through Makalu Barun National Park during your trip, you must have the National Park permit which you need to display if asked. You also need TIMS Card and local permit.  

  • Makalu Barun National Park permit: Approx. $30 per person
  • Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) Card: $10 per person
  • Rural Municipality – $10

Best Time to Travel

Autumn (from mid-September till November end) and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May) are considered to be best season for Makalu Base Camp Trek. The weather in these months are likely to be finest and the skies are clear during these days. Trekking during monsoon and winter is not recommended as the visibility is poor during rainy days whereas the temperature is extremely harsh during winter. It is possible to trek during winter but the teahouses at the high altitude aren’t especially well equipped.

Trekking Grade

Makalu Base Camp Trek is a challenging trek as the trail goes through remoteness, unpredictable weather, high altitude passes and changing terrain with few trekking amenities available. The terrains at the trail gets more difficult and the markings get fainter as you trek higher. The highest point of the trek is Makalu Base Camp (4,900 m). Although this trek is difficult, that doesn’t mean it is less achievable. Right preparation and precaution can make this adventure successful.

Makalu Base Camp Trek

Standard Itinerary

Day 1: Kathmandu to Tumlingtar (flight) and Drive to Num (Approx. 1505m)

Flight time: 35 minutes

Drive time: 3 hours  

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tip: leave Kathmandu early after breakfast to reach the destination on time. Though local transportation is available, it’s better to hire a private vehicle.

Day 2: Trek to Sedua (Approx. 1530m)

Trek time: 6-7 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Day 3: Trek to Tashi Gaon (Approx. 2065m)

Trek time: 6-7 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Day 4: Trek to Kauma (Approx. 3562m)

Trek time: 6-7 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Day 5: Rest Day Kauma

Day 6: Trek to Dobate (Approx. 4170m)

Trek time: 7-8 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Walk gently and gradually while you pass through Keke la pass. The trail is very steep and dangerous. You might get injured if you don’t walk carefully in this pass.

Day 6: Trek to Yangri Kharka (Approx. 4150m)

Trek time: 6-7 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Always follow the guidance and precautions provided by the experienced crew while you trek to Yangri Kharka as the path is dangerous in the starting of Dobate

Day 7: Trek to Nebuk/Langmale (Approx. 4410 m)

Trek time: 5-6 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Do not miss the beautiful sunset on Pyramid Peak, Peak 4, Chamlang, Peak 3 and Peak 5 and Mt. Makalu (8458m) from Shershong.

Day 8: Trek to Makalu Base Camp (Approx. 4900m)

Trek time: 6-7 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Ascent the small ridge of large buttress of south face from the base camp for the stunning views of Peak 6, 7 and Baruntse (7220m), Everest (8848m) and Lhotse (8516m)

Day 9: Rest Day – Exploration

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Your body needs rest after the trek. So consider this day as rest day to explore around.

Day 10: Trek to Yangri Kharka (Approx .4150m)

Trek time: 5-6 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Be careful while you pass through Yangri Kharka. The trail is quite dangerous and steep. Always walk slowly and steadily.

Day 11: Trek to Dobate (Approx. 4170m)

Trek time: 5-6 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Start your day early in the morning with light meal. The landscapes you see on the way to Dobate is awe inspiring in the morning.

Day 12: Trek to Kauma (Approx. 3562m)

Trek time: 5-6 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Day 13: Trek to Sedua (Approx.1460m)

Trek time: 6-7 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Day 14: Trek to Num (Approx. 1560m)

Trek time: 5-6 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Tips: Visit the village and meet local people if you have spare time. Listen to their stories and make your trip unforgettable.

Day 15: Trek to Tumlingtar (Approx. 518m)

Trek time: 3 hours

Accommodation: teahouse/lodge

Makalu Base Camp Trek

 

All You Need to Know About Teahouse

Posted Jul 25th, 2021 under Blog, Food & Accommodation, Photo Essay, Travel Guide, Trekking & Hiking,

teahouse in Nepal
If you have trekked in Nepal, chances are pretty high that you have stayed in one of the local teahouses as almost every trekking in Nepal is teahouse trek. In teahouse trek, trekkers stay in teahouses that are strewn along the trail. Teahouses are small hotels found in villages in the Himalaya that offers both bedding and eating facilities for the trekkers. Often run by local families, tea houses are built of local materials and provide required comfort and safety for trekkers.

Teahouses have drastically changed the way of trekking in Nepal. In earlier times, almost all of the trekking used to be camping trekking in which trekkers used to spend nights in tented camps. But the story is different now. Due to easily available teahouses, trekking groups don’t need to carry camping and cooking equipment or plan extensive logistics. Teahouses have considerably lowered down the cost of trekking. They have also helped to reduce the impacts on environment as they are located in villages not in fragile terrain like camping trekking. They also boost the local economy as the teahouse owners and staffs are all local people. Teahouses also offer a wonderful opportunity to interact with locals and experience the local life and culture. 

Nowadays, teahouses are ubiquitous in popular trekking areas such as Everest and Annapurna. In less frequented areas like Manaslu, Makalu, Kanchenjungha etc also, teahouses are growing in number. The facilities provided by such teahouses can vary as some can be basic whereas some can be luxurious. But normally all teahouses have basic facilities like western style toilets, hot showers, continental meals and internet connection. So, trekking while staying in local teahouses can be a lifetime experience you wouldn’t want to miss. 

Basic facilities in teahouses: 

Accommodation

accommodation in teahouses

Generally, tea house mostly consists of twin-basis accommodation. You can find a single room that have twin beds with some other furniture like a small table or a chair. The price of room differs according to the size, quality, cleanliness of tea houses and lodges. During the peak seasons, accommodation costs around $5 whereas price can go down up to $2 in off seasons. Some luxury tea houses in Everest Base Camp Trek can charge up to $50 only for accommodation.

Almost every teahouse has clean and basic rooms, but you have to pay a little extra if you want attached bathroom. Some even have single bed room. The beds are comfortable with foam mattresses, pillows and you are provided with a thick blanket. Remember, always bring your own sleeping bag so that you stay warm enough at night. And yes, don’t forget to bring a pair of earplugs for a good sleep if you are a light sleeper. 

Foods and Beverages

Lunch Platter in teahouse

Meals at teahouses are often cooked in their kitchens by owners. The foods are fresh and delicious. You can find a set of menu of momo, pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and other noodle dishes at almost every teahouse. Normally, trekkers choose the typical Nepali Dhal Bhat as it is fresh, healthy, filling and easily available everywhere you go.  The higher you go on the trek the more you have to pay for the same food. The Dal Bhat at the starting of the trek can cost around $2. And the same Dal Bhat can cost up to $5 as you trek higher. For beverage you can find tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice etc. which is quite similar in every trekking region. Staying hydrated is a must for every trekker. But trekkers don’t need to worry. Bottled water is easily available throughout the trail in teahouses. One bottle of mineral water can cost from $0.50 to $4 depending upon the altitude of the trek.

Wi-Fi and Electricity

Most of the teahouses in Nepal are run by solar power, therefore you can find internet and electricity facility. However, internet and network connections can be slow. Many teahouses have their charging outlets in the dining room but you have to pay a certain amount in order to charge your electronics and use the internet. An hour charge of an electronic devices cost from $2 to $5 whereas using of a Wi-Fi hourly cost up to $1 -$2. If it is cloudy during the day, then there is a chance of power shortage, so make sure you carry an extra battery pack or power bank for your gadgets. 

 Hot Showers and Laundry

Most of the tea houses provide hot showers from a solar hot water system to the trekkers. You can get a bucket of warm water if there is no solar power. Using this facility can charge you up from $2 to $5. For laundry, you can get your laundry done in main villages of your trek which can take from $1 to $5 depending upon your clothes. In smaller areas, you can bring your own laundry detergent and wash your clothes as soon as you arrive and make sure to put them by the fire at night.

 General Tips

  • Always try to reach the teahouse on time before 7 pm if you have not booked one.
  • Don’t forget to bring your sleeping bag and liner to get extra warmth at night.
  • On the higher altitude of the trek, the communal toilets can sometimes be outside the tea house. So, its better to bring a flashlight for midnight toilet breaks.
  • Since there are no waters in toilet at high altitudes, bring enough toilet (tissue) paper and hand sanitizers. You can get toilet paper in teahouses but it costs extra charge.
  • Always choose to stay and eat the meals at the same teahouse. Owners of the teahouse expect trekkers to eat all their meals where they choose to stay for the night.
  • Always research or ask other trekkers for a good teahouse which are reliable, safe and provides good services.

A dining room in teahouse

 

 

Everest Three Passes Trek, an ultimate trekking adventure

Posted Jul 13th, 2021 under Blog, Travel Guide, Trekking & Hiking,

Everest Three Passes Trek

Highly popular for tallest mountains, breath taking landscapes, unique highland culture, beautiful forests and endangered species, Everest region is home to many incredible trekking routes from soft trekking in lower altitudes to longer treks along the high mountain passes. For travelers seeking more challenges, less crowd and journey of a lifetime with unparalleled views and fascinating culture, Everest Three Passes Trek is an ideal adventure that takes you to the off beaten path with some of the most astonishing sights Nepal has to offer. Even the experienced hikers find this trail a true challenge. So, if you are up to take the challenge, this trek has the best of Khumbu in reserve.

Three Passes Trek offers an amazing scenic trails and adventurous crossing of Renjo La (5340 m), Cho La (5420 m) and Kongma La (5535 m) passes that join the four valleys of Imja, Khumbu, Gokyo and Bhote Koshi. Besides the panoramic views of some of the world’s highest mountains such as Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Ama Dablam and captivating valleys, you can also experience the rich cultural heritage of Sherpa people of the region during the trek.

Gokyo Lake

Considered as a longer trek, Three Passes Trek takes about 18 days to complete. This adventurous trek commences from Lukla towards the Dudh Koshi valley on a well-marked trail and crosses the green dense forest, scattered rhododendron bushes, beautiful flora and fauna, ever flowing mountain gorges and culturally rich villages like Phakding, Namche Bazaar to reach Tengboche, a hilltop settlement with its iconic monastery standing sentinel overlooking the valley. From Tengboche, the trail contours on the side of the valley which offers the stunning views of beautiful mountains of Khumbu including Mt. Everest (8848 m), Lhotse (8516 m), Nuptse (7861 m), and Ama Dablam (6812 m). The path descends downhill and crosses Imja Khola to reach the beautiful village of Dingboche and gradually hikes to the last village of Imja valley; Chhukung, which is famous for a marvelous view of Lhotse’s massive south wall.

Continuing from Chhukung, the trail passes through one of the three Everest High Passes, Kongma la (5535 m) and descends to the section of scree and boulder fields towards Lobuche. The trail then proceeds towards Cho La (5420 m) along the ridge curving towards west with amazing views of Arakam Tse (6423m), Cholatse (6335m), Taboche (6367m) and reaches Dzongla. Out of Dzongla, the trail heads northwest and descends to Dragnag and continues through the treacherous glacial walk across Ngozumpa glacier to a beautiful village of Gokyo, by the side of an enormous turquoise Gokyo Lake. Furthermore, path leads to Gokyo Ri, a perfect viewpoint of remarkable views of Gokyo Lake, Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu and Cho-Oyu Base Camp.

Everest High Valley Trek

After the rewarding climb, the trail traverses through the northern shore and slowly ascends towards Renjo La (5340 m) which offers the astonishing views of Makalu and Rolwaling range. The last section of the trail, then, gradually descends on a flat trail marked with cairns and stony steps to the quiet village, Thame and passes through a steady trail strewn with prayer flags and mani stones to Namche Baazar, which then retraces back to Lukla completing the exciting Everest Three Passes Trek.  

 

 

 

Manaslu Trekking, an authentic Himalayan adventure  

Posted Jun 25th, 2021 under Blog, Photo Essay, Travel Guide, Trekking & Hiking,

Manaslu Trek
Nepal, a highly diverse country rich in beautiful destinations and multitudinous gift of nature, is a dream of any trekking and mountain lovers. While most of the tourist destinations of Nepal get busy during the peak seasons, it’s always a good idea to travel to the places that are less explored if you love solitude and want to have more relaxed holidays. There are numerous unique trekking destinations in Nepal that are quieter, yet equally beautiful. Manaslu region is one of them.

Tucked away from civilization, Manaslu region, the home of Mt. Manaslu (8163 m) – the eighth highest mountain in the world, is extremely beautiful snuggled amid snowcapped mountains where you can find beautiful landscapes and feel at home with the typical culture of Tsum and Nubri people. Trekking in Manaslu region takes you through the diverse and impressive sceneries, snowcapped mountains, pristine glacier lakes and rich flora and faunas. Starting right from the green paddy fields and subtropical forests, the trail slowly meanders through higher landscape to reach mountain passes and arid cliffs surrounded by breathtaking views of Mt. Manaslu (8163 m), Mt. Himlung (7126 m), Mt. Kanguru (6981 m), Mt. Annapurna South (7937 m), Himlung Himal (7126 m) and Cheo Himal (6820 m). Not just nature, you can also get insightful cultural experiences that include Tibetan Buddhist traditions, exquisite Buddhist art, monasteries and festivals of different ethnic groups.

Manaslu Trek

Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the popular treks in this region. This trek encircles Mt. Manaslu. The trek normally begins through the rugged path across the hilltop of Dhading towards the green terraces, lush hillsides and heads up to Budi Gandaki Valley. The trail passes through several small villages, widened valleys, terraced cultivated fields, steamy lowlands, and amazing waterfalls. At Lokpa, you also have the option to go towards Tsum Valley, one of the remotest Himalayan Valleys. The Valley is especially known for its rugged inner terrain and authentic trans-Himalayan culture. Some travelers combine this trek with Manaslu Circuit trek. After completing Tsum Valley trek, they join the Manaslu main trail again, from where the path  descends down across the wide sandy river bed and go after steep, craggy valley side and eventually crosses the Tharo khola to reach the beautiful settlement at Namrung. Furthermore, you pass through lovely monasteries, beautiful chortens, manis and get the opportunity to enjoy the stunning landscapes of many mountains such as Himlung Himal (7126 m), Cheo Himal (6820 m) and Annapurna II (7937 m) as soon as you reach Samagaon. The trail then circumvents gigantic Manaslu peak (8163m) and crosses Larkya-La pass at 5106m which follows the narrow path that finally emerges into Marshyangdi Valley along the main trail of Annapurna circuit. The trek traces towards Tilche along the pasture of Sangure Kharka through rhododendron, oak and pine forest and finally concludes at Jagat. So, trekking in Manaslu region is a complete Himalayan adventure that offers not just a regular trekking but also a life changing experience infused with diverse natural and cultural insights.

Manaslu Trek

 

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