Awesome awesome awesome! This country is absolutely amazing. For those who enjoy hiking in the most beautiful surroundings then this country is for you!
Kathmandu, the country capital is crazy, weird, stimulating, overcrowded, exciting and sad all in one breath. We did not see much in the city, as we wanted to get into the mountains.
We signed up with a well-known local trekking company for a 8-day fully supported trek into the Himalayas. Our second trek was a 10-day village trek on the Jomson-Pokhara route followed by a four day rafting trip.
The Mardi Himal Tenting Trek:
Overall, most definitely the highlight of our trip to date!
As it turned out there were only the two of us and a very cute Danish girl named Muriel. Too bad for Mike. The trek was a tenting trek. This meant porters, cooks, cooks assistants, guides, sherpas etc. In all there were 10 Nepalese staff for the three of us. Yes we felt uncomfortable at first, but we soon got over our uneasiness of being spoiled rotten, because all of these people were very glad to be working and without us they would not have had a job for that week. Unemployment figures in Nepal are astounding. By the end of the trek we were all great friends. The Nepalese are truly the most kind-hearted people we have ever met. Very special.
Trekking in Nepal is easy! Everyone that loves the mountains MUST do it! Imagine, you don’t have to carry much at all and you don't do much other than hike, relax and enjoy. Honestly, we were pampered so much it was truly an incredible experience in itself. We were woken in the morning with hot tea and hot water for washing. There was a dining tent that was set up for us each day and we truly did dine. The food was fantastic, always different and a nice combination of western and local dishes, we even had chocolate cake and apple pie to mention of few of the delicacies. One appreciates the food even more when you see the lack of facilities they have to prepare meals. We didn't get sick once (which unfortunately is very common in Nepal) There was even a toilet tent set up each day .Despite our best efforts to pitch in to help, they would refuse to let us contribute!
Nepal - Trek ,Highlights
Away from everything! No motors, no cars, no telephones, no pollution and the only noise was from the roosters (which we are now accustomed to) and the Tibetan bells on the passing donkeys.
Passing through mountain villages hundreds of years old that have not changed since day one.
Elderly men half of Mikes size carrying loads heavier than twice his weight....in bare feet or flip-flops.
Entire mountain slopes terraced from top to bottom. Giving a surreal look like an architects model.
Walking in a forest at 10,000 feet. (At home our forests stop at about 6,000feet) (Whistler is 6,5000 feet)
Rhododendron Trees in bloom 100 feet tall and as thick as a Cedar Tree.
Leeches that live in the grass. They climb up your Tevas and start to suck on your feet but you don't feel anything, in fact you must continually inspect your feet because as Mike found out they can hide between your toes and feast for hours before you notice the blood oozing. One check Mike did (thankfully while he was wearing shoes) had at least 30 on each shoe.
Watching the first of many amazing thunder and lightning storms from our dinner table in the dining tent
Standing on a wind blown ridge at 4300Meters (14,108 feet, remember Whistler is 6,500 feet) in the pitch black, looking down over the plunging Pokhara Valley watching the most incredible lightning and thunder show we have ever seen. We could see over 180 degrees of the sky between surrounding mountains and for over 45 minutes there was literally not a moment that we could not see some part of the sky lighting up from the storms.
Hiking up the South East arête of the well known Machupechra (Fishtail) into the snow to 5100Meters (16,733 feet, 10,000 feet higher than Whistler) and having lunch.
Mike getting some of the best photo shots he has have ever taken...(we hope)
Camping on a ridge at 4,300m (14,108feet) and being inside the most incredible and powerful thunderstorms and windstorms we have ever experienced.
Waking up at 1:00 am, walking out of our tent to the view the famous Annapurna South so close it seemed we could hit it with a rock. It was lit up by the full moon, and we saw a shooting star hurtling towards the mountains. Magical!
After our first trek we went rafting for three days on the Kali Gandaki River, the most sacred river for the locals (keep in mind we are in Hindu and Buddhist land)
Getting our raft caught on rocks the first day.
All of us were concerned about getting any of the river water in our mouths as the water was so dirty. All of the human waste from the riverside villages including dead bodies goes into this sacred river. In fact one of the guides became extremely ill from drinking the river water inadvertently.
Mike got to borrow one of the safety kayakers kayaks to kayak down the river for half a day. Hard to keep the water out of my body when you get rolled over by a few big rapids.
Seeing human remains only slightly buried in the rocks of the riverbank. (The Hindu faith believes a sacred river enables the dead to move onto their next life so there are many riverside funeral ceremonies)
Hiking from one of our campsites along the river bank to the nearest village for a beer run. To get an idea of how poor some of these villages are - A beer in Nepal costs about half the average day’s wage. Imagine if a beer at home costs half of what you make today. Wouldn't be drinking too much beer would you?!? Then imagine if it was common for tourists to buy four beers at a time, TWO DAYS of your income! Think about it, kind of crazy. Well that is how we felt spending more money on four beer than these people make in two days!
Nepal - Second Trek:
Having some time left over in our month in Nepal we decided to do another trek as we were not too keen on going back to the crazy city of Kathmandu for sightseeing.
We managed to hire one of the guides from our last trek (now a good friend) to be our guide/porter. (We only had one bag between us, plus our day bags/camera bag that we carried).
We flew from Pokhara (a valley village) to Jomsom (a remote high mountain village, 3000 Meters, 9850 feet) with our friend/guide/porter Ramesh. The flight is only 25 minutes and it follows the deepest gorge in the world. This route gets cancelled often due to the high winds that funnel up the gorge and can toss a small plane around like a ping-pong ball. We were lucky, the weather was great with only moderate turbulence. However, our native fellow passengers were not quite as excited about the clear views of Delaguiri (8167meters, 26,800 ft)only about 2300 feet lower than Everest on one side of the plane and the Annapurna Range on the other. Our fellow Nepalese passengers were praying out loud, thumbing their prayer beads and of course SCREAMING with each bump!
Oh ya, we almost forgot ...puking too. Trace was glad to get off that trip in one piece!
Small world - our captain, who opened the window in flight of his Twin Otter for Mike to take a clear shot of Delhaguri Peak, trained over 25 years ago in Langley BC! A strip that Mike flies into often. Instant bond.
We landed in Jomsom which again is a completely isolated and a different world. No motors other than the plane that carried us up. Donkeys are the only form of transport. The locals dressed in their traditional Tibetan clothes as we are very close to the Tibetan Boarder.
The scale of the landscape here, the Mustang Region, is multiplications of what we are used to at home. 8000 meter peaks all around us, a flat river valley so vast that people on the other side of it look like ants.
We completed a 10-day trek which was just amazing again. We passed through many remote villages and just kept absorbing all the beauty that surrounded us.