Friday, April 28, 2017

Why Manaslu Cirtuit Trekking?

Sherpa Child. Pic by James Baxter

WHY MANASLU? 

Manaslu is more remote, there are no roads, and it still provides an authentic, less commercialized experience (You can clearly see the difference as you join the Annapurna trail on the way down during the last two days of the trek). 

WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TREK?
 

A particular highlight of the Manaslu area is experiencing the full range of spectacular Himalayan scenery from subtropical jungles and rice terraces to cooler pine and rhododendron forests, high pastures, glaciers and wonderful close-up mountain views of mighty Manaslu, Himalchuli and many other peaks. With the gradual change of landscapes comes a change of people who live in the mountain valleys. The villages - from Nepali farming communities to Tibetan yak herders - become increasingly more traditional the further up you go. Experiencing such mesmerizing natural and cultural diversity while trekking around some of the worlds highest peaks is a truly rewarding and humbling experience!

HOW'S THE TREKKING INFRASTRUCTURE?

Around Manaslu http://treknepal.com/nepal/trekking/manaslu-trekking/ the trekking infrastructure is quite good (actually better than I expected). There are many places to stay which are fine if simple and usually ok clean. The food is good almost anywhere and it's certainly filling (get used to liking dal bhat - it's always available and gives you all the energy you need!). The level of creature comforts is probably not (yet) as high as in the Annapurna area and (thankfully) there is often no wifi available but that's hopefully not what anyone is coming for! The area around Manaslu was badly affected by the 2015 earthquakes - as sadly so many other areas around the country - but unlike what some guidebooks claim it was perfectly safe and feasible to trek anywhere around Manaslu with the infrastructure largely rebuild in late 2016 (it should be even better in 2017). 

HOW DIFFICULT IS THE TREK?

Trekking solo as an average fit person (and with little training in the weeks before the trip) the trek was doable and enjoyable. Part of the trail is quite rocky, some sections are steep but most of the days are good walking, gradually up or down (on most days it's actually both up and down!) and without any particular difficulties. Compared to other trekkers we sometimes decided to walk at a slower pace - the slower you go the easier it is. The day to cross the 5106m high Larke pass was tough and long. It's the biggest challenge on the trek but it's possible if you're healthy, well supported by your guide and put your mind to it! 

WHY CHOSE TREK NEPAL INT'L?

There are probably as many trekking companies as trekking experiences in Nepal and choosing one as an independent trekker with so many options available can be difficult. I contacted Trek Nepal Int'l www.treknepal.com based on the Lonely Planet guidebook recommendation and excellent reviews on this site. I wanted to make sure to avoid both the "cowboys" as well as the big names in the industry and go with a medium-sized locally owned trekking company - small enough to make sure you have a tailor-made and genuine experience but big enough to provide all the backup and professional support needed. Trek Nepal exactly fits this description and as a big plus for me me they are also serious about responsible, sustainable tourism in the Himalaya. 




Sunday, February 19, 2017

FEW THINGS WHY YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER TREK NEPAL

What makes Trek Nepal stand out from other companies?

Trek Nepal Int’l sets itself apart from the competition by spending a great deal of time training their guides and staff, ensuring you have the highest quality team working for you while trekking. We work hard to ensure you have a customized trip, thus enhancing your Himalayan experience and we believe hard work and a positive, eco-friendly attitude differentiates us from the other companies you will find in Nepal.

How does Trek Nepal Int’l support eco-tourism?

Trek Nepal Int’l strongly believes in the saying “Let the Himalayas change you, do not change the Himalayas.”After many years of working in the trekking industry, Trek Nepal Int’l has seen the effect that tourism can have on the environment; therefore, Trek Nepal Int’l has developed ways to protect our beloved Mother Nature. We carry out all of our rubbish with us, an expense that, unfortunately, not all the operators see as justified. Our cooking is done over adapted gas or kerosene stoves –never firewood. We urge our clients to bring warm clothes for evenings, as we do not believe in campfires. Also, we provide water purification tablets and encourage our clients to use them instead of buying bottled water.

What is the best time of year for trekking?

In Nepal, there are two seasons which are considered prime time for trekking. These times range from Feb-May and Sept-Nov. There are places to visit during Monsoon season (June-August), such as Mustang and the Upper West part of the Annapurna Circuit, as these treks are in the “Rain Shadow” and virtually untouched by Nepali Monsoon.
Our philosophy is simple: We believe in ‘Sustainable Tourism through eco-friendly practices’.

What is the weather like in Nepal?

Nepal is an extremely diverse country for its size. The temperature can range from extremely hot (37-40C) in the lower Terai regions, to negative temperatures in the northern, mountainous regions. Feb-May & Sept-Nov are prime trekking times due to the lovely climate. There is ample sun in the day time, and only slightly chilly at night. Monsoon (June-Aug) can get very hot and humid-with showers usually in the early morning and late afternoon.

What level of fitness is required for trekking in Nepal?

Trek Nepal Int’l offers trekking opportunities for all every age and fitness level. Our treks are graded on difficulty level, 1 being the easiest and 5 being for advanced trekkers. The level of difficulty is based on the altitude and natural terrain of the trek. The difficulty levels for each trek can be found on each individual itinerary on both our website and brochures.

What equipment is needed for trekking?

All technical equipment for mountain passes, peak climbing, and camping treks are provided by Trek Nepal Int’l. Aside from appropriate clothing, found on our “Packing List,” both on our website and in our brochures, we recommend brining sleeping bags (up to -20C) for most all treks. It is also necessary to have your own water bottle while trekking. Depending on your physical needs, it is also helpful to bring your own walking sticks/poles.

Should I bring all trekking equipment with me or can I find trekking equipment in Nepal?

All trekking equipment not provided by Trek Nepal Int’l can be rented or bought from retailers here in Nepal. You can either rent/buy these items from Kathmandu, Pokhara, or Lukla-depending on where your trek is starting/ending. Note: It may be a good idea to bring your own hiking boots from home, as the quality you find in Nepal may not be up to par with those you will find at home. Also, boots take awhile to break in and get comfortable-so it is best to do this before starting your trek to avoid any discomfort.

Can I join a group?

Yes. Trek Nepal Int’l specializes in bringing together small groups of people, so you can better enjoy your time on the trail. We aim to keep our groups under 8 people for a more personalized experience. With our entire group joining treks, you may either join a pre-existing trip or book your own with the possibility of other trekkers being added to your group before your departure date.

Is it possible to organize my own personal group?

It is possible to organize your own trekking group. Simply book with us online or in one of our trekking offices in Thamel, Kathmandu (Mandala Street -or next to Kathmandu Guesthouse), and we will get your next Himalayan adventure sorted. You may choose to have a private group, or keep it open, in which case other travelers can join your group. We allow up to 8 people to join a group.

How does the booking process work?

Booking online is simple with Trek Nepal Int’l. Simply fill out the booking form, pay the deposit and you’re on your way to your next Himalayan adventure. You may pay the remainder of your trip when you reach Nepal, in one of our two offices. Local bookings can be made in either of our offices, and our friendly staff will guide you through the simple process.

What is included in your cost?

Our costs usually include: guide/porter, 3 meals a day (1 item per meal), accommodation, transportation, TIMS card, Conservation passes/permits, and treated drinking water. b. Not included: extra drinks (including tea/coffee at breakfast), hot water for showers, charging costs for cameras/phones, personal items such as toilet paper, snacks, beverages, and souvenirs.

How do you get to and from treks?

Transportation in Nepal is still a developing industry. The roads, vehicles, and other infrastructure are still quite basic. It is our wish at Trek Nepal Int’l to make your transition to and from trekking the easiest and most comfortable as possible. Depending on availability, you will be taking local bus transport, private jeeps, and local domestic flights, depending on the location of your trek while in Nepal. We try our best to ensure that you at least ride a tourist bus, if nothing else is available, but often times, especially during Nepali festival times, you will be required to travel by local bus.

How far do you have to walk each day while trekking?

Trek Nepal Int’l strives to make your trek as customized and comfortable as possible, to give you the very best Himalayan experience. The average you will walk each day is 3-6 hours-but this varies depending on the physicality, pace, and desire of the trekkers.

Where do we stay?

During our Tea House treks, you will be staying at local lodges, also known as Tea Houses. Tea Houses are a combination of a guesthouse/lodge and a restaurant. As our company is very well known along the trails, we have a good rapport with a number of different lodges. Our assistant guides or porters are sent ahead of you while trekking to sort your lodgings for the night. It is important to note, that although we are friendly with a number of places, you are not resigned to staying in one specific place. Our itineraries are custom made for YOU, so if one Tea house is not to your liking, our guides will find you one that is.

If you are doing a fully supported camping trek, we provide all necessary equipment, including: two-person insulated tents, sleeping mattresses, a dining tent, tables & chairs, lanterns, and toilet tents. If you are doing a home stay/camping trek, you will be sleeping in tents provided by Trek Nepal Int’l and dining at local homes along the trail.

What facilities are available at Tea Houses?

Private rooms are available at most Tea Houses along most routes provided by Trek Nepal Int’l. Lodges and, thus, private rooms, become scarcer at higher altitudes-so availability will depend on the season, as well as the high altitude region in which you are trekking. As these are still developing regions, the standard of rooms varies greatly from lodge to lodge, often being nothing more than basic. Most bathrooms are communal and hot water is an extra cost to trekkers. Running water is available at most lodges, as well as electricity. Charging things like cameras and phones is an extra cost to the trekker, as well. Remember: If a Tea House is not suitable to your liking, our guides will do their best to find a place suitable for you-but keep in mind, these are mountainous regions of a developing country-you won’t get 5 Star accommodations.

Where do we eat and what kind of food is available?

Trek Nepal Int’l packages include 3 meals a day. Breakfast and dinner are eaten at the lodges in which you are staying, while lunch is taken along the trail at small, local restaurants. Our prices include 1 item per meal. For example, you can order 1 daal bhat (traditional Nepali meal of rice, lentils, and veg), 1 chowmein, Or 1 fried rice. Anything extra that you’d like, will be an extra cost for you. For breakfast you will usually have a choice of eggs (any style), porridge/muesli, seasonal fruit, toast and Tibetan bread w/ local honey. Lunch and dinner menus generally include a decent range of food, such as – Nepali Dal Bhat, curries, rice, noodles, soups, vegetables and most menus have a selection of western style foods, as well. Soft drinks, snacks, chocolate bars and beer are also available at most places, but will be an extra cost for you. Note: We do not recommend eating meat while trekking, as it is harder to digest at higher altitudes-from which you might be physically slowed down, and most meat is brought in from lower mountainous regions, often without being refrigerated for days-thus increasing your chances of food borne illnesses.

Will clean drinking water be available?

As previously mentioned, Trek Nepal Int’l provides treated drinking water for all clients. It is our personal agenda to stop the use of plastic bottled water in our beautiful Himalayan Mountains, as to curb the environmental destruction caused by tourism. Our highly trained guides will prepare the water for you each day, and make sure you have all that you need for a day’s trekking. Bottled water is available, but we highly discourage the use of them, as there are no recycling places for such bottles in Nepal.

What problems can arise at high altitudes? Does Trek Nepal recommend taking medicine for altitude sickness?

Altitude Sickness is very serious and is not to be taken lightly. Our guides are all highly qualified in First Aid and recognizing early symptoms of Altitude Sickness. Symptoms include: dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are showing signs of Altitude Sickness, our guides will immediately take you to a lower altitude and make sure you have the proper medical attention you need. Our guides are fully equipped with all necessary medicines before heading out on the trail. Note: Altitude Sickness is not to be confused with food borne illness, which can often be considered one in the same. Your guide will know the difference and treat you accordingly.

Is it safe for women to travel alone?

Yes, it is very safe for women to travel alone with Trek Nepal Guides. Trek Nepal also employs female guide and female assistant guide. While on the trek, our guides are very committed for your safety and well being.

What sort of experience do your guides have?

Our guides are all from the mountainous regions of Nepal. Besides having years of experience as porters, assistant guides, and guides, they have life knowledge of the terrain in which you are trekking. We, at Trek Nepal Int’l, spend a great deal of time and resources on the training of our guides-with everything from culture/history classes, cooking classes, language classes to customer service courses-all to ensure you have the best possible experience while trekking.

Do your guides speak English?

All guides at Trek Nepal Int’l are highly trained in the English language. They are continually required to take English classes and further their skills. If they do not pass a certain level of English proficiency, they are not allowed to become full guides.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Nepal Adventure Trip, Trek Nepal Int'l




Nepal is a land of topographical diversities crossed by high mountains and turbulent rivers with a mosaic of diverse ethnic groups with their own distinct cultures. This tour has been carefully designed to provide an unforgettable experience, tailored to ensure you savor the essence of Nepal. The colourful and fascinating way of life in the Kathmandu Valley, one of the best wildlife safaris, all contribute to making this a culturally rich trip that will undoubtedly leave one with warmhearted memories to cherish. 
 
In this trip one can enjoy white water Trisuli River Rafting followed by a short hike to Australian Camp from where you can see panoramic view of Dhaulagiri I (8167m.), Annapurna South (7219m.), Hiunchuli (6441m.), Fishtail (6997m.), Annapurna III (7755m.), Annapurna IV (7525m.), Annapurna II (7937m.) and Lamjung Himal (6930m). Our trip then will take you to Chitwan National Park where you will be doing activities like, Elephant Safari, Canoe Ride, Tharu Stick Dance Programme, Jungle Walk, Elephant Bathing, Village tour. We then return to Kathmandu for sightseeing around Swoyambhunath Temple more commonly known as Monkey Temple. On the following day we will do enchanting mountain flight over the mighty Himalayas. You can have spectacular aerial views of the Himalayas including 3 of the world's 10 highest peak namely, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and of course, the Mount Everest.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kumari : The Living Goddess

               

Seated royally on her throne, she's possessed, chosen and worshipped, The Kumari. At a tender age, she holds responsibilities of granting the wishes of thousands praying to her, of protecting all those around her and trading her own childhood for the fulfilment of her duties, she is The Living Goddess.

 The Kumari is believed to be the living incarnation of the Goddess Taleju, also know as the Durga. Among many stories of The Kumari's existence today, the one most told as legend has it is that of the time during the rule of the late King Jayaprakash Mallla. It is believed that the Goddess Taleju would pay a visit to the King every night and would discuss the affairs of the country over a game of dice, Tripasa, under the condition that their meetings would remain a secret between the two.

Witnessing the King's strange and constant errands every night was his wife whose curiosity drove her to finally follow him only to be noticed by the Goddess who was highly offended and angered by her presence.
 
After tremendous efforts of apologies made by the King, Goddess Taleju eventually decided to grant him forgiveness under the condition that he would have to search for her in a pre-pubescent girl among the Shakya community and worship her in order to make up for the offence he caused her and since then the tradition of worship carries on till today and holds an auspicious value which also adds to the rich culture of Nepal.

There are several rituals and procedures that are required to be fulfilled in order to recognise the Kumari, the Goddess is said to dwell in her body only as long as she does not suffer serious illness or a major loss from an injury,
 
Many Kumaris are chosen around the country but the one most worshipped and known is The Royal Kumari of Kathmandu. She lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The Kumari Jatra is a festival dedicated to her where she appears before the public and blesses the crowd with her presence. She also publicly appears during sacred ceremonies and events. In the present time she appears almost everyday around 4:00pm at the Hanuman Dhoka for everyone to receive her blessing.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy New Year...again and again

Although 2014 is just a few months young, people in Nepal are getting ready to celebrate another New Year - the Nepali one. 2070 is about to end to make way for 2071…to guarantee a little bit of "Back To The Future” feeling for everyone.
Time is relative and so are calendars. Asking different people in Nepal for the current year you would probably hear 1134 as well as 2014, 2070, 2141 and 2848. And none of these answers is wrong. Nepal is a country with a huge diversity of cultures and ethnic groups, with many of them having their own calendars. Of course the importance of those calendars has decreased drastically in the past years - peoples are mixing and respecting each calendar would simply lead to a lot of confusion. Nowadays most Nepalese only use the English calendar and the Nepali one, called Bikram Sambat and according to which 2071 starts from Monday, 14th April 2014 (or Baisakh 1st according to Nepali calendar). But other New Years are still celebrated as national holidays, which makes Nepal probably the only country with 6 different New Years. New Years to be celebrated in the coming months are:
2014-04-14 Bikram Sambat 2071 (Nepali New Year)
2014-10-24 Nepal Sambat 1135 (Old Nepali New Year, now mostly celebrated by Newars)
2014-12-30 Tamu Losar (Gurung New Year)
2015-01-21 Sonam Losar 2849 (Tamang New Year)
2015-02-19 Gyalpo Losar 2142 (Tibetan New Year)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trekking season

Trekking in the Himalayas
Trekking is possible at anytime of the year depending on where you are going. The most popular seasons are spring (February-May) and autumn (September-December). Winter is very cold above 4000m and high mountain passes may be snowbound, but it is good for trekking at lower altitudes. During the monsoon season (June-August), you can trek in the rain-shadow areas north of the Himalayan like Mustang, upper Manang and Dolpo.

Monsoon
Monsoon season (June – August) is considered to be the most unattractive time for tourist activities due to the heavy rains. Many people decide not to visit Nepal during this period of time, especially after reading some disappointing information regarding the monsoon definition. Even though the amounts of rains are considerably higher compared to the peak season, there are still plenty of activities and opportunities for adventure. Many first time trekkers who trek during the monsoon are still very satisfied with their first experience. Also what makes the trek more unique and personal is the extremely small amount of tourist on the trek compared to peak season. You can avoid monsoon by trekking in the rain-shadow areas north of the Himalayas (Mustang, Upper Manang and Dolpo). Rain clouds simply reach these areas because of the high mountains, therefore they are unaffected by the monsoon.