Harvesting Season, in mountainous Nepal.
Tilicho 4949m is one of the highest altitude lakes in the world. Four Australians; Mr. Brian Steely, Mr. Noel Cada, Mr. Tom Rogers and Mr. Greg Myrick had the trekking expedition Tilicho Lake and Dhaulagiri Base Camp. Their arrival to Nepal was on October 1. However, they took the opportunity of sightseeing tour of Thamel, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and Pashupatinath on their arrival date and the following day.
Buckwheat at Timang.
On October 3, they boarded the plane to Pokhara. A brief sightseeing in Pokhara was followed by the flight to Jomsom on October 4. Jomsom is a small valley from where the Dhaulagiri range stands tall on the left and Annapurna range on the right. No doubt both these mega mountains top 26,000ft.
High altitude Thakali Habitat.
October 5, their trek took pace to Thini and above. The inhabitat of Thakali; Thini is the last village on the trekking trial with excellent views.They climbed up to Kaishang 10,660ft and returned to Jomsom. October 6, they hiked back to Kaishang and camped. The team hiked to Nama Phu Kharka 13,450 on 7th and returned to the previous camp. On October 8, they camped for the night at Nama Phu Kharka. The journey on 9th continued towards the Tilicho Lake as they climb about 4,100ft beyond Mesokanta Pass. The spectacular mountain views on the right, made no place for tiredness in the Aussie team. Then they descended to the Tilicho Lake at 4949m. October 10, they hiked down to Manang and camped between Manang and Tilicho. October 11, they were at Manang and from there they hiked to ThrongLa Fedi 14,500ft. Their trek on October 13 continued to Muktinath 15,060ft. Muktinath is probably the only one common pilgrimage for Hindus, Buddhists and the Tibetans. Upon discovering the lesser steepness the team decided to hike upwards to Throng-la Pass for the incredible views of Annapurna and Mt. Mukut bordering the Dolpo region to the west. On October 14, the team descended to Kagbeni. On 15th the team was again at Jomsom and then to Marpha.
They gradually came down to the Kali Gandaki River valley; Thak Khola, the ancient habitat of Thakalis. On the 16th the team made the ascending move towards Dhaulagiri Base Camp and camped at Yak Kharka. On October 17, they were on the move towards the base camp crossing Dampus Pass 17,100ft and French Col 17,600ft and finally descended to Dhaulagiri Base Camp 15,500ft.
After exploring around the region on 18th, they came back to Jomsom, and then flew to Pokhara. They made their departures on October 24 after enjoying couple of free days at Pokhara and Kathmandu.
Ardent trekkers Samuel Palsmeier from USA and Fabrizio Nicoletti from Italy met online and decided to trek together to Nepal. They took the difficult trail to the remote kingdom of Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo. It took them more than a month to complete their trek. After their return the two trekkers shared their extraordinary trekking experience with Explore Himalaya, the organizer of their trek.
EH; How was your trek?
Sam: I was very, very satisfied. Everything from the start to finish was arranged professionally. We had very few hiccups along the way on the trip. Trek itself was wonderful and the areas we visited were quite special. The scenery was just fabulous. All the staff as usual, was helpful, warm and genuinely hospitable. We had a great trek!
Fabrizio: Overall my opinion about the trek is very positive. The trekking agency is professional one . Basically it delivered all the services exactly as expected.
EH:Any special reason for choosing this particular trek?
Sam: Basically two trek in Nepal that I always want to do were treks to Dolpo and Mustang. When I first saw the movie “Caravan” I was very impressed with Dolpo’s dramatic landscape and wished to visit it someday. Mustang seemed interesting because of its unique Tibetan culture.
Fabrizio: The only special reason is that these are two very remote areas. It is my second time to Nepal. I like to trek on some unspoiled and not very crowded area. That is why I chose Dolpo and Mustang trek.
EH:Do you have any special memories that you want to share?
Sam: In term of the treks themselves, in Dolpo trek there are 3-4days which are very special. During this time you get to encounter such scenic and wonderful places like Phoksundo. Dho, where Bon religion is practiced is very interesting. You definitely see some different architecture over there. Mustang is much more Tibetan. I would say one of the special day was the second last day of our trek when we went through Dhakmar. The red cliffs and the sun in the afternoon in Dhakmar is just spectacular.
Fabrizio: Every day in a trek is new day, the day you can face new challenges, you can experience new things and learn new things. I would say those two treks, Mustang but also Dolpo are not just about landscapes. The local culture is equally very interesting. So, if you go for both trek or just one trek try to keep your attention high on cultural side because culturally there are lots of beautiful things apart from the mountains.
EH:How was the service of the support staff?
Sam: For Dolpa, our guide was Pemba and Babu was our local guide for Mustang. Both of these gentlemen are very friendly very positive, they were always looking after us. The services of the guide are great.
Fabrizio: As for the Dolpo trek, the staffs were very friendly. I am very satisfied about the service they provided. My opinion is very positive. In Mustang trek, I had no complains at all about the guide.
EH:Which was the most difficult part of the trek?
Sam: I mean those were certain, probably because we already were trekking for two weeks, over just few passes. This time the passes were free of snow. So there was no technical challenges, you always felt safe and it was just the matter of setting the pace of to get up down and up and down. And the places are quite spectacular. And the fact that not a lot of people were living in that area made it special too. I know every day is a challenge. There is no such thing as easy days in Himalaya. Even in short days, you would need to go lots of ups and downs but it’s a physical achievement.
Fabrizio: If we talk about Dolpa, I guess, we talk we take about that because for Mustang, I would not rate Mustang as a difficult trek as long as you have someone who can walk for 6-7hours trek. Dolpo is different trek, challenging one, sometimes at some point it can be very strenuous. So I would not say Dolpa is for everybody unless they have a good trekking experience and trekking background. Thre are 6-7 passes over 5000 metres and besides you always sleep in a tent and you are in a remote area. If that’s exactly what you are looking for, that is fine .But that is fine as long as everything is good and if you are in problem, you are in a remote area. Again, it is not like climbing the mountain or peaks of 6000 m. At the end it is just a trek, a difficult one but just a trek.
Eh;What would be your comment or advice to those who would like to do this trek?
Sam: The biggest things to understand is there are two very distinctly different places. Dolpo is definitely more for somebody looking for the physical up and down. Mustang now is easy, you can either trek or take a jeep. It is more developed. If you are looking for the cultural experience, Mustang is the place to go and if you are looking for the physically challenging, Dolpo is great. It would be great if you combine both treks for some physical challenge and cultural insights.
Fabrizio: Obviously, trekking in those two areas is not an easy task, not only for the money involved which is really not affordable for everybody also for the physical effort, for the physical exercise involved in this trek. I would say, both treks are outstanding. Dolpo is more about, is more a big trek, is more about crossing some high passes. If you do not feel that you can really end with the long trekking in remote area, I would say Mustang is easy option. The lodges are along the way. The trek is much easier than Dolpo. If you want to pick one of them, I think Mustang is easier. On the other hand, Dolpo is more challenging and it depends on what you are looking for.
Monastery at Upper Dolpo
Monks at a ceremony in Mustang
(Pics courtesy: Fabrizio Nicoletti)
Trek to Dolpo & Mustang
Explore Himalaya recently organized a recce trek to Sindhupalchowk district for some European clients. Though Sindhupalchowk is located just a few miles from the country’s capital Kathmandu, it is one of the least developed districts in Nepal. Lying close to the Tibetan border, Sindhupalchowk’s verdant hills, mountain settlements, virgin forests, pristine rivers (Bhotekoshi & Sunkoshi) and waterfalls and panoramic Himalayan views are enough to lure any intrepid traveler.
The team comprising of guides, clients and staff from explore Himalaya hiked for three days through virgin forests and hill top villages, staying overnight at local homes. With no other tourists in sight and just an occasional local to share the trail with, the group had a wonderful trekking experience. They began their trek from Jalbire and hiked through Bishankhu, Deurali, Thagam, Chagam/Sherpagaon and Listikot. From Listikot, the group made a final descent to the 'Last Resort', where their trek ended.
Meeting & greeting
Trekking through a lonely trail
Taking a breather and enjoying the views
Village of Deurali
View of Tibetan peaks from above Deurali village
Taking in the mountain views
An uphill hike
Sherpagaon , the village of the Anis. This unique settlement in Sindhupalchowk is the retreat of a community of Anis or buddhist nuns. Except for the Anis, no other people live here. The village has a 'gompa' (monastery) and houses where the Anis live.
Anis (Buddhist nuns) at Sherpagaon
Making butter tea the traditional way – Anis working in their kitchen.
The final leg of the trek – View from Listikot. The highway below is the road leading to Kodari (Nepal – Tibet border). The metal suspension bridge spans the Bhotekoshi river and connects 'The Last Resort' and other villages across the river to the highway.
Bungy jumping at 'The Last Resort'- final adrenaline rush!
(Pics: Explore Himalaya)
Kanchenjunga, derived from the Tibetan word ‘Kanchen’ &' Dzonga’ meaning ‘Five Treasures of the Great Snow’, has five peaks, including the third highest peak in the world at 8586m. Because of its remote location the trails that lead to the foothills of these mighty mountains has remained largely unexplored. The trekking trails skirt the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area which covers an area of 2035 sq. km. in Taplejung district, in the northeast corner of Nepal. The conservation area has a unique mountain ecosystem. Tucked within these hidden valleys, one can encounter rich forests that support more than 250 species of birds and endangered wildlife, including snow leopards and red pandas. A few days of walking will lead you to high elevation pastures where yaks graze languidly and colorful alpine flowers bloom. Trekking in this remote area, you encounter a mixture of ethnicities that continue to practice traditional subsistence lifestyles, their cultural and religious practices adding to the area's ricjh cultural heritage. Because of its remote location in Nepal and difficult access from India, the Kangchenjunga region is not much explored by trekkers. It has, therefore, retained much of its pristine beauty.
Read BBC travel writer Nick Eason's account of his trek to this remote region: "Give me a home where the snow leopards roam"
Trek to Kanchenjunga Base camp with Explore Himalaya
Ole Andersen and Ingrid Sorensen from Kipling Travels made a recce trip to Manaslu this Spring(February, 2012). Although they planned to complete the Manaslu circuit, they had to make a detour to Tsum Valley because of bad weather and heavy snowfall. Here are some of the amazing pictures from their trek. The trek Sirdar was Nima Tamang.
A village in Gorkha
About to take the trail upstream Macha Khola(river)
The trail up the river
'Laligurans' or Red Rhododendron blooms- Nepal's National Flower
Gray Langur found in Nepal's hills & mountains
Little lamas at Nyingmapa Monastery
A cultural programme in Sama Gaon
A family recieves the blessing from a village elder
(Pic Courtesy: Ole Andersen & Nima Tamang)
Dolpo requires some extra logsistics and Pemba made all necessary arrangements. We also benefited. Both treks were wonderful! from having a local guide- Baba –in Mustang- as this is more of a cultural trek-his personal knowledge was useful.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.