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.
Skydive in Nepal is the annual adventure organized each November and the jump dates for both Everest Skydive and Pokhara Skydive of this year is approaching. Everest Skydive has been scheduled from 4th November to 12th of November. Skydivers participating in Pokhara Skydive will attempt their jumps from 17th November- 20th November.
The elite extreme adventure sports Skydiving is organized annually in Nepal since 2008. However, with an exception, Everest Skydive is being organized twice a year for the first time having already operated once back in May 2016.
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Coming to Nepal is itself a life changing experience for most of the western travelers and being here for the elite adventure on the top of the world, Everest Skydive is for sure the biggest holiday anyone could imagine. The biggest and the most thrilling sky adventure of autumn in the shadows of world’s highest peak, Everest Skydive 2015 has been a successful event yet again. After the Everest Skydive, relatively easier Pokhara Skydive was also accomplished by the same crew. After both Skydiving Expeditions, we had a brief interview with three crewmembers who have been the member of this adventurous aerial escapade since the inception of Everest Skydive in 2008.
Tom Noonan, Dr. Ryan Jackson and Derek Thomas, without whom the Everest Skydiving would have just an experiment long time ago, hear them.
EH: Overall Experience of ESD and PSD
Tom: Every year we come to Nepal to conduct Everest Skydive Expedition & Pokhara Skydive Expedition we face new challenges; Operational challenges, personal challenges, weather, aircraft and so on. However, we know no matter what the challenges are we have to overcome and the resources provided by Explore Himalaya and Fishtail Helicopters provide us the confidence to conduct the expedition overcoming all these challenges.
Derek: We have been coming here since 2008; we are three of the four who have been learning here form the first day. For me being an equipment guy, it is very interesting to see how the equipment is able to survive and work in extreme environment for high altitude and I am happy that everything worked well for all these years.
EH: Differences between previous years Skydives and 2015 Skydive
Tom: This year was unique as we arrived after the earthquake. It was difficult to see some of the places that we have known over the years having come down to the earthquake. Hearing about the fatalities associated with it, it was difficult for us to come in and conduct a sports celebration knowing that there was such damage. Moreover, there was a fuel crisis as well and managing to that crisis changed the dynamic of how we operate it. But in the end we decided that the best thing we could do is to promote Nepal and tourism industry of Nepal conveying the message globally “Nepal is back on top of the world” through Everest Skydive and Pokhara Skydive.
Derek: Nothing to do environmentally or equipment wise but personality wise we had few new group members and I am hoping to work more with them as they are very good as friends and have brought very good attitude and work ethic for the adventure like this.
EH :Having 80% of solo skydivers this year does it refer professional skydivers are more into ESD
Tom: I think that the interest between professional skydivers versus tandem skydivers’ rises and falls based on support tourism industry can do. Some years it’s financially viable for professional solo divers other years through global economic changes more tandem divers might be interested on the event.
EH: Difference between Everest Skydive and Pokhara Skydive
Ryan: Two extremes of skydiving for us, Everest Skydiving is enormously and technically difficult and challenging whereas, Pokhara Skydive is within what we normally consider what skydiving is. It is easy and fun with warm and stable weather. Everest Skydive and Pokhara Skydive are totally contrasting expeditions.
EH: Ideal participants for Everest and Pokhara Skydives
Ryan: Everest Skydiving participants are professional skydivers seeking to extraordinary skydiving adventure or they are high networth tourists doing something that can’t be done anywhere else in the world like going to the very peak. Pokhara Skydive is attractive to anyone who would come to Nepal for doing any other adventure tourism who would pay to go paragliding or bungee jumping.
Tom: Whether it is solo or tandem skydiver, Everest Skydive targets wealthy professional individuals. ESD is for Professional and successful individuals highly driven for the adventure. For the ESD we tend to see self made wealthy professional because it in lines with their personalities. PSD is more of a stable and traditional skydiving operation which can target individuals with reasonable income.
EH: Support of Explore Himalaya
Derek: That’s only that has not changed. Everywhere we go we get great support and everyone in Namche now have begun to recognize us and everyone here in Nepal and Explore Himalaya had been great with us and we have no bad experience at all.
Tom: In the beginning one of our first persons to contact was Pushpa, she was amazing. Then came Menuka, she was amazing as well as very easy to communicate. Now we have Monika, she is equally amazing. Every person we have communicated has done their job so well we could totally rely on. For the first few years we had Krishna to support our crew during the Expeditions and now we have Bharat to do that role. To be honest, without Bharat ESD & PSD 2015 would not have been this great. Whenever we had small hiccups during these expeditions we would just call Bharat and without any sort of hesitation the problem was solved. Without Explore Himalaya Everest Skydiving would have ended six years ago and every year we are privileged to come to Nepal to work with you guys. Thanks.
The seventh edition of Everest Skydive, the highest skydive and by far the most thrilling adventure on earth was held on 7th and 8th of November 2014. Held at Syangboche drop-zone, Everest Skydive this year had six skydivers including the crew.
During the most elite adventure on the top of the world, Fishtail Air, the exclusive partner of Everest Skydive took all six flights loads. Five flight loads were executed by veteran Italian pilot Maurizio Follini and a load was carried out by expert pilot Deepak Rana on the AS 350B3 Fishtail Air, Helicopter. Tom Noonan, the chief tandem instructor of Everest Skydive since 2008 played his usual role and Joe Johnson, the first timer in ESD was the tandem master of the event. Mr. Paul Henry de Baère led the photography and cinematography whereas; Mr. Ted Atkins was an Oxygen Supervisor of the event.
Here, we have a brief story on Everest Skydive 2014.
Pilot Maurizio Follini took the first flight load with Mr. Ossie Khan. Mr. Khan made the solo jump at 11:57 AM and landed at Syangboche drop-zone at 12:10 PM.
Follini took the second flight load with Mr. Joe Johnson and Jen Sharp. Both made the solo jumps at 12:10 PM and landed at Syangboche drop-zone at 12:21 PM.
The last flight load of the day was once again taken by Mr. Follini with Chief Tandem instructor Mr. Tom Noonan and Mr. Sanjeev Gautam. Tom and Sanjeev made the tandem jump at 1:08 PM and landed at Syangboche drop-zone at 1:30 PM.
Mr. Maurizio Follini took the first flight load once again, with Mr. Ossie Khan. Mr. Khan made the solo wing suit jump at 10:07 AM and landed at Syangboche drop-zone at 10:17 AM.
Maurizio Follini took the second flight load of the day with tandem master Mr. Joe Johnson and Mr. Paul Schaeffer. They executed the tandem jump at 10:57 AM and landed at Syangboche drop-zone at 11:10 AM.
Pilot Deepak Rana took the last flight load of the event with Mr. Joe Johnson and Jen Sharp. Both made the solo jumps at 11:42 AM and landed at Syangboche drop-zone at 11:55 AM.
“Everest Skydive 2015 is on the brink to kick off. For the annual Mega Event in the shadows of Everest the crew led by Tom Noonan is now in Namche, the Sherpa capital in the heartland of Khumbu. Including veteran French Aerial Cinematographer Paul Henry DeBaere and last year Hero who did HALO Jump from 30,000 feet during Pokhara Skydive Mike McCann, crew members of Everest Skydive since its inception – Dr Ryan Jackson, Derek Thomas and oxygen specialist Ted Atkins are yet again ready to perform the most thrilling adventure in world. Venezuelan Skydiver Enersto Gainza is introduced as the new crewmember for the ESD 2015.”
With the crewmembers five clients; four from Complete Parachute Solutions Florida USA and a winner of Tourism Beauty Pageant Ms. Samriddhi Rai from Nepal also have reached Namche. The Vice President of Complete Parachute Solutions Fred Williams with Brain Krause, Chane Burk and Cody Caroll are excitedly waiting their jump day.
The last minute preparation is ongoing in Syangboche, the dropzone of Everest Skydive and the event will kick off from 6 November with the test jumps.