Everest Skydive, world’s most adventurous aerial event, organized its 13th edition on 16th and 17th November 2018 at Syangboche (3780m/12400ft), a small plateau at the base of Mt. Khumbila. The two days’ event had two solo and two tandem jumpers from Indonesia, UK and Nepal. The first day’s jump started with clear blue skies at scheduled time. The first lift, which was done by AS350 B3 chopper flown by Captain Eric from Summit Heli, took place at 10:00 am local time. The lift had two solo jumpers Christopher David Ings (Britain) and Naila Novaranti (Indonesia); and two camera flyers Wendy Smith (New Zealand) and Paul Henry (France). After reaching the height of 19000ft, the members jumped off the chopper with Everest and other beautiful peaks in the backdrop. After the most exhilarating free fall, the jump concluded with terrific landing on Syangboche airstrip at 10:23 am local time. After the first lift, the jumps had to be pulled off due to poor weather condition.
Christopher and Naila before the jump
The next day, the jump started at 7:35 local time with the same crew and jump members but this time they had high-jump from the altitude of 20000ft. Both jumpers had spectacular touchdown at 8:00 am. Due to inclement weather on the second day also, rest of the jumps including tandem jumps, wing suit jumps and Amadablam jump were cancelled which brought the event to a close for this year. Considered as one of the most thrilling skydiving adventures in the world, the event was also particularly unique because of the two days’ exciting trek to Namche and a short uphill climb to the dropzone the jumpers had to do before their most anticipated jumps. Both skydivers Christopher David Ings and Naila Novaranti expressed their whole experience as the one nothing can beat! Now the whole Everest Skydive team is heading for Pokhara for Pokhara Skydive 2018, another splendid skydiving adventure in the Himalayas.
Naila Novaranti with Indonesia flag
Christopher, Naila and Wendy Smith above Namche Bazaar
*Everest Skydive is an exclusive annual event of Explore Himalaya!
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.
GlobeRiders Himalayan Expedition, an ambitious transnational BMW motorcycle adventure is back again with its third edition after its two successful episodes in 2015 and 2017. Continuing the same glorious history, this time also GlobeRiders team is riding across South Asia and Southeast Asia including China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand. The team of 6 riders led by Helge Pedersen (Norway) – a world-renowned motorcyclist, author of the book “10 years on 2 Wheels”, and the founder of GlobeRiders – include Thomas Botz (Canada), Gary Schmidt (US), Joseph George Harosky (US), Aaron Paul Beckord (US) and Stephen Becker (US). The expedition started on 22nd September from Chengdu, China, continued through Tibet and entered Nepal on 30th September through Kerong (Nepal/Tibet border).
In Nepal the team had a wonderful 8-day adventure with varieties of exciting activities. Soon after entering Nepal, they had sightseeing tours in Kathmandu Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After the insightful tours at the cultural epicenter of Nepal, the team left for Chitwan through Tribhuwan Highway (via Daman), one of the most dramatic highways of Nepal. Being GlobeRiders’ first experience through this route makes the ride even more interesting. They rode past some of the most majestic landscapes with amazing views of the Himalayas from Dhaulagiri in the west to Everest in the east before finally reaching Chitwan, another UNESCO World Heritage Site showcasing the rich wildlife of Nepal including One Horned Rhino and Royal Bengal Tiger. After exploring the lush forest and exotic fauna during their 2 nights’ stay, the team moved towards Koshi Tappu for another exciting wildlife safari to see the last surviving population of wild water buffalo and varieties of birds. Finally, the fun-filled adventure of a week came to an end on 7th October after exiting Nepal for Siliguri through Kakarbhitta, the eastern border of Nepal. Now, the team is riding across the awesome landscape of Bhutan which will continue for another one and half week before entering India again. The adventure that has planned to ride 8000 km in 61 days will finish in Bangkok on 9th November. We wish them all the best. May GlobeRiders create the history once again!
At Birendra Lake (3450m) – a short hike from Samagaun
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.
With the Team before the trip!
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
On the way to Larke Pass (5106m)
At Larke Pass (5106m), the highest point of the Trek
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.
A team of International Medical Relief (IMR) medical professionals including doctors, nurses and health assistants did Himalayan Medical Expedition in Manaslu region for about two weeks. The trek that started on 2nd April and concluded on 14th April was aimed at providing medical assistance to the remote villages of Manaslu region. The 7-member team had Ms Anna Amita Desimone (US), Ms. Sarah Rose Burney (US), Ms. Sophie Dojacques (US), Mr. Austin Ryan Eaton (US), Ms. Deanna Joy Shapiro (US), Ms Zoe Harriet Smyth (Ireland) and Ms. Tatiana Claudia Doyle (US).
Medical Camp at Philim
The first day of the trek started with a 9 hour drive to Soti Khola, the starting point of the 13 days’ trek. The team provided medical care to many en-route villages including Philim (120 patients), Namrung (45 patients), Samdu (40 patients) and Samagaun (65 patients) where they distributed medicine as well. Their mobile clinic also served the trekkers who they met on the way. The most common problems found among the locals were arthritis, back pain, chest pain, lack of appetite and high blood pressure.
Medical Camp at Samdu
Along with providing the medical care, they also had an exclusive opportunity to get real close to Manaslu (8163m), the eighth highest mountain and the marvelous views of isolated highland villages untouched by creeping modernity. This physically demanding trek also led them to Manaslu Base Camp and Larke-La pass (5160m), the highest point of the whole trek, from where they got to savor the stupendous views of the Manaslu panorama. Finally after the humane service and adventure of almost two weeks, they concluded their trek at Dharapani. At the end of the trek, back in Kathmandu, the team rejoiced the trip and expressed their happiness for being a part of the humanitarian cause. This is the second trip of Explore Himalaya with IMR. We take it as a matter of pride to be the local partner of IMR and hope to work for such noble cause in future as well.
At Larke Pass (5106m), the highest point of the trek