Walking the Annpurna Dhaulagiri Eco Trail

In the Annapurna Region, one can enjoy views of numerous peaks like Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Nilgiri, Annapurna South, and Twelve Peak, among others.

 

— Ras Dhan Rai

When you are in Nepal, you can see magnificent views of snow-capped mountains in whichever part of the country you are. Many people in the world have one desire – to see snow-capped mountains in the Himalayas. Many places in Nepal offer magnificent views of mountains as well as rivers, deep valleys, and lush green forests, among others.

Take my breath away
Take my breath away — Resting at 3500 meters above sea level during the trek in western Nepal.

 

In the Annapurna Region, one can enjoy views of numerous peaks like Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Nilgiri, Annapurna South, and Twelve Peak, among others. Many trekking trails in the region begin from Pokhara. Apart from natural beauty, culture, tradition, and lifestyle of different ethnic groups like Magar, Gurung, and Thakali enthrall foreign trekkers.

Take me to the Mountains
Take me to the Mountains — Sky and Mount Annapurna South (7219 masl ) conspiring for this great view. Nepal is the country you should visit once in life.

 

Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Eco Trek is one of the popular trekking trails in the Annapurna Region. The trek begins from Baskharka village of Myagdi district. The place can be reached after a hike of about one kilometer from Galteshwar near Beni. After a walk of about one kilometer, you cross the Kali Gandaki River, and after a trek of about three-four hours, you reach Baskharka. At Baskharka, you spend the night with local families. You eat what your hosts eat. Most of the people in the village are into farming. Orange farming is a favored occupation here. The place offers beautiful views of mountains and beautiful sceneries.

Sunrays
Sunrays — Trekking towards Khayer Lake from Khopra Danda early in the morning. Captured the beautiful sun rays as the sun rises…

Trekking on the second day takes you to Nagi. The trek can be completed in around six-seven hours. People in Nagi village are very hospitable. Their language, culture, and behavior will attract you. From the village, you can see various mountain peaks like Annapurna South, Dhaulagiri, and Twelve Peak. Though the village is mostly undeveloped, you can buy souvenirs like a bag, cap, socks, and gloves prepared by local women.

Sunny Mountains
Sunny Mountains — Somewhere above the fantastic location Khopra Danda – around 4200m – on the lower slopes of Annapurna South in the Annapurna Himal, Nepal.

Mohare is our destination for the third day. We see different vegetations as the trial progresses. Many wildflowers in their full bloom greet you. You reach Mohare Danda after crossing Hampal Danda and this place, you can see the beautiful view of the sunrise. The area provides perhaps the most beautiful mountain views. You can see various peaks like Machhapuchhre, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna South, and Twelve Peak, among others, glittering in the morning sun. You can even see Pokhara Valley far in the horizon. All lodges in Mohare Danda have Wi-Fi facilities.

Something Heavens
Something Heavens — This is a result of a stack of 94 exposures plus one with me. Cold December in the Himalayas usually shows off the beauty of the cloud-free dark sky. That time I had a challenge with other conditions like Moon, which was far above the horizon. Thanks are blending many exposures, I got back Milky Way to the image. This session took me over an hour, and I have done some other single shots with Moon which was my torch to bright the mountains and the deepest in the Earth valley Kali Gandaki.

 

From Mohare, your trek progresses toward Tikot village, and it is a beautiful village of Magar people. We can see many old houses in Tikot. In the village, one can experience the culture, tradition, and lifestyle of Magar people. You can see traditional Magar dances during major festivals like Dashain and Tihar. After reaching Kopra Danda (3,600 meters) on the seventh day of trekking. There are good hotels in Kopra Danda. The place offers magnificent views of different mountain peaks like Annapurna South, Twelve Peak, Nilgiri, and Dhaulagiri, as well as beautiful villages. From Tikot, you descend to Beni via Bayale from where you can catch buses to Pokhara.

RESTING BESIDE KHAYER LAKE
RESTING BESIDE KHAYER LAKE — A resting place or a shrine beside Khayer Lake in Nepal. This place is famous for its pilgrimage for Hindu devotees.

 

KHAYER LAKE
KHAYER LAKE — Khayer Lake in Nepal. Trekked here from Khopra, took us 5 hours to reach here. As there are no tea houses around or near the lake, a fast trek is needed to return to Khopra on the same day itself. Such a beautiful lake up at 4600m.

 

Idyllic Mountains cape
Idyllic Mountains cape — The Dhaulagiri (8167m) range seen from Khopra Danda (~3660m)

 

ICE IN THE FIRE II
ICE IN THE FIRE II — Annapurna I and Annapurna South behind Khopra Ridge which I made solo traverse with the first polish ascent on Mt.Muldei

 

Flow like the water
Flow like the water

 

Before sunset in Khopra Danda
Before sunset in Khopra Danda

 

A dream sequence
A dream sequence — Resting at 3500m above sea level during the trek in Western Nepal.

Canyoning in Nepal: Can you?

Canyoning, or canyoneering as it is called in the US, is an adventure sport that is fast developing as one of Nepal’s popular adventure tourism products. Canyoning means traveling through canyons using different techniques. It requires abseils and ropework, down-climbing, jumps, boulder hopping, and swims, among other skills. The thrill-seeker can enjoy by Canyoning in Nepal waterfalls.

 

Canyoning is an adventure sport that utilizes different activities like abseiling, rock climbing, caving, swimming, hiking, and trekking. Most canyoners use at least one of these activities. Canyoning is fun for everyone because it takes you away to places far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Lush mountains, pristine waterfalls cascading down a rocky wall, and splashes of water on your face as you descend will give your body that much-needed adrenalin pumping adventure. Canyoners first reach the top of the waterfall, which may require days of walking and climbing. They then fix ropes on the top of the waterfall, wear canyoning harness, fix the rope to their harness, and abseil gradually. A lot of technical skills is required to avoid getting injured in the rocky surface.

Canyoning in Nepal

The sport is believed to have been introduced to Nepal by visitors from Europe, especially France. European canyoners came to practice in the canyons in the Bhote Koshi River, which originates in Tibet in the 1990s. The canyons fascinated them, and they started coming to the place again and again. They even invited some local youth to try the sport. As the sport started becoming popular, the French Embassy in Kathmandu sponsored two Nepali mountain guides – Rajesh Lama Tamang and Kabindra Lama – to take canyoning training in France. When they returned, they trained some more youth. These canyoning guides started exploring new canyoning sites and promoted them in the international market. The establishment of the Nepal Canyoning Association (NCA) in 2007 is regarded as a milestone for the expansion of canyoning in Nepal.

 

Canyoning should be done only in the supervision of trained guides. Canyoners need different equipment like: wetsuit, helmet, canyoning harness, waterproof rucksack, neoprene socks or booties, buoyancy aid, throw bag, elbow and knee guards, sports towel, an old pair of trainers, water bottle and hard protective case for your camera, phones or other gadgets if you intend to take them.

 

NCA has produced many canyoning guides and explored new canyoning sites since its establishment in 2007. Karna Lama, president of NCA, said 36 entry-level guides, 19 basic-level guides, nine advanced-level guides, and two instructors/guides had been produced so far. Similarly, it has explored 19 canyoning sites so far – five in Bhotekoshi river, nine in Marshyangdi Valley, two in Lwang Ghalel of Kaski, two in Kakani, one in Sunkoshi River near Timal village of Kavre, one in Pokali waterfall of Okhaldhunga and one in Phu village of Manang. Lunga waterfall in Phu village, which is situated at an altitude of 5215m, is regarded as one of the highest canyoning sites in the world. Similarly, Syange in Lamjung, Chamche Khola in Manang is very popular among canyoners. Canyoners also frequent canyoning sites in Bulbule, Chipla, Tatopani, Rendu, Syange, Jagat, and Sanchup.

Canyoning in Nepal

In the lack of clear government rules and regulations, entrepreneurs are organizing canyoning trips through trekking agencies. “Though the government has introduced rules to register canyoning company, entrepreneurs are reluctant to register because of some impractical provision,” Lama said. “The law requires canyoning company to ensure canyoners for every event. That means the insurance premium which we are required to pay will be higher than the fee we charge from canyoners.”

 

Lama said canyoning is not a new tourism business altogether. “We can say it is an additional product to trekking. Canyoners need to trek for many days to reach the canyoning sites. There is the possibility of promoting canyoning and trekking jointly,” he added. As most of the canyoning sites are located in the mid-hills, Lama said canyoning could be a vital tourism product to link the Himalayas with the mid-hills. Though the actual number of foreign tourists coming for canyoning in Nepal is not known, Lama said around 600 foreign tourists come with the sole purpose of enjoying canyoning in Nepal. According to Lama, September-May is the best time to enjoy canyoning in Nepal.

 

When you are in Nepal next time, make sure that you put canyoning in your to-do list. You will not be disappointed.

Vibrant Thamel

Thamel, which has been in the limelight since the time of hippies in the 60s, continues to woo visitors. Every corner has different people from different parts of the world, carrying different stories of their own.

 — Pradip Karki

Thamel is one of the most popular destinations of Nepal and tourist hotspot in Kathmandu Valley. As expected from many tourist areas, Thamel is full of various stores selling clothes, jewelry, mandalas, and trinkets as well as food stalls, tattoo shops, etc. Numerous gullies winding across Thamel and old Newari style buildings give Thamel a unique Nepali touch and feel. It had also remained a popular tourist hangout since the hippie era when a massive number of tourists visit this place because of legally available marijuana and other drugs.

 

gift-market-in-Nepal-min
Gift market in Thamel

Nepal was one of the most popular stopovers on the famous hippie trail. The entry of hippies in the 60s brought Nepal to the limelight and opened up different business opportunities in Thamel. The best example of hippie influence can be seen in the clothes around here. Hippie clothing was often loose and made of natural fibers like cotton and hemp, very colorful, with floral and tie-dye patterns.

Hippie in Nepal

We can see most of the stores in Thamel full of clothes that match the hippie description. Also, hippies adored various jewelry, and we can see stalls with much colorful jewelry like earrings, necklaces, rings, and anklets, etc. We can see Tibetan influence in this jewelry. The place is, therefore, particular with the hippie and Nepali culture intermixing for an authentic experience.

Thamel has also been considered as the backpacker’s paradise with so many budget hotels. Thamel has many stores selling mountaineering and trekking gear. Very often, it is also the first stop for many mountaineers. Accommodation is readily available here. The place has numerous stores, cafes, pubs, music stores, mandala shops, and gift shops to cater to the needs of tourists. Tourists also visit this place to get inked. Thamel is full of gullies and small streets. Each corner has fascinating stores, good food, good art, good music, and an incredible treat to the senses.

 

The-North-Face-Thamel
Official Outlet of The North Face

Many shops are selling both fake and authentic branded gear. You can find The North Face opposite Fire and Ice Café. Along with Fire and Ice, there are other beautiful cafes like the New Orleans Café, Northfield Café, Black Olives, and bars like Funky Buddha, Tom and Jerry, Neon Pub, and J-Bar. There are numerous book stores, too, like Paradise Book Store, Summit BookStore and Pilgrims Book House, etc. The stores here have a variety of famous and rare books as well as numerous travel books, travel guide books, and travel journals, etc. Most of the stores also have provisions for trading books. Nightlife is also very happening in Thamel with many cafes providing live music too.

 

Thamel Market

Thamel has seen a rise and a fall in the number of tourists. But it has always remained the top destination for tourists. Marijuana is not legal anymore. So the authorities are trying to keep illegal activities under check. But still, we can see some trading going on. Thamel seems to entice everyone who visits this place, and they consider it as beautiful, enchanting chaos. Most of the tourists we see here wear the local hippie clothes signifying the ease with which Thamel influences the visitors. The intermixing of humans, traffic, sellers, and rickshaws are always there, and most of the visitors need to take some time to immerse into it to be able to enjoy this ever-bustling place completely.

Although there are numerous stalls and shops, the price can be very high as it is targeted to tourists. So, bargaining can be the best option. In spite of that, some tourists in Thamel shared that they do not mind paying a little bit extra as they can see that these sellers are not rich, to begin with, and need what they can earn to sustain themselves.

Keshar Mahal: The Garden of Dreams
Keshar Mahal: The Garden of Dreams

Every turn usually has a music shop that has music playing, which adds to the amazing Thamel experience. In addition to the modern and meditation music playing from these stores, we can also see the street musicians of Thamel, the Gandharvas, playing the Sarangi, and providing a cultural feel to the atmosphere. Thamel, therefore, has also become a place where researchers and music students come to complete their studies. They usually learn from skilled traditional folk musicians in Thamel who are adept in folk instruments like Sarangi, Madal, and flute, etc.

Thamel, which has been in the limelight since the time of hippies in the 60s, continues to woo visitors. Every corner has different people from different parts of the world, carrying different stories of their own. Thamel is also one of the oldest trading places in Kathmandu, which can be seen by the old Newari style houses. Thamel provides a very enticing, tantalizing, and colorful experience. The nearness of the Durbar Square, New Road, King’s Way, and the monkey temple also make the place convenient to stay. The area has been attracting various kinds of tourists who come here for adventurous, educational, or spiritual purposes and seem to enthrall all.

Enjoying-Beer-&-live-music-min

But like any other place, Thamel might not be suitable for anyone who cannot stand crowd and chaos, vendors trying to sell, and a bit of traffic along the narrow streets.

Along with all these attractions, Thamel also sees illegal traders still trying to sell hashish, cocaine, and even stronger drugs. They usually come up to the tourists and whisper it out, but most of the tourists are smart enough to ignore them. It is still incredibly easy to get hashish in Thamel as it once was a fantastic hippie hangout place, but the security is very high, and sometimes tourists get caught with drugs. So like Dave, from The Longest Way Home, says in his incredible travel journal — Like all countries, Nepal has its good and bad sides. Enjoy Nepal for everything else!

Monks-in-the-Rikshaw-min

Trek to Gosaikunda: The experience of a lifetime

— Donald M. Thurston

“Have you guys brought raincoats? The sky is dark, it might rain,” Basu texted us from Kutumsang when we had just reached Chanaute – a small bazaar on the banks of the Melamchi River. There was no way we could get raincoats in this small marketplace. We decided to buy plastic sheets instead as they could be used to cover ourselves and our backpacks should it rain. Sun had already set when we reached Kutumsang – a small village on the border of Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk districts – where Basu was eagerly waiting for us for the trek to Gosaikunda.

 

Trek to Gosaikunda: The experience of a lifetime

We three – me, my cousin Ronald and his wife Linda – were on a trek to Gosaikunda Lake. And Basu, headmaster of a local school in Kutumsang, was to guide us to the sacred lake. Most of the trekkers start Gosainkunda Trek from Dhunche – the district headquarters of Rasuwa – and descend to Sundarijal via Kutumsang. But we chose the opposite route. Though the trek starts from Sundarijal, we drove directly to Kutumsang as regular bus service to this place is available from Kathmandu. But it took us nearly 10 hours to travel a distance of less than 100 km. That too on a bus loaded with stuff ranging from rice sacks to cement and corrugated zinc sheets. Not to be forgotten is the narrow windy road that sent shivers to our bone time and again.

 

Trek to Gosaikunda: The experience of a lifetime

Basu took us to his quarter and briefed us on our plan. We were to start the trek to Gosaikunda early the next morning and try to reach Ghopte. If we managed to reach Ghopte, we could reach Gosaikunda by noon the next day. Linda volunteered to prepare dinner. After dinner, we retired to our room as we were to start the trek early in the morning.

 

We started the trek at 5:30 after having noodles soup. We had already prepared our backpack the other night. The trek was pleasing. Cool morning air greeted us, and chirping of mountain birds made us feel energized. After a trek of around two hours, we stopped at a small tea shop for tea and light snacks. The wonderful host, who was an acquaintance of Basu, served us steaming cup of tea and some biscuits.

 

We resumed the trek and reached Malechaur after around an hour for Gosaikunda Trek. There was big pastureland and a few stupas in Malechaur. We offered some flowers at the stupas and walked toward our destination. We planned to reach Thadepati for lunch. But the trek soon started taking a toll on us. We were sweating, and our legs were becoming heavy. We arrived at Magengoth at around noon. Our initial plan was to have lunch at Thadepati or Merikharka. But our slow pace forced Basu to change the plan.

 

Trek to Gosaikunda: The experience of a lifetime

Kalu Sherpa, the owner of Hotel Greenview & Lodge, prepared a delicious lunch for us. During our lunchtime chat, Sherpa, who is the coordinator of hotels inside the Langtang National Park (LNP), came down heavily on the national park officials. Commenting on LNP’s proposal to remove existing lodge owners and give their property on lease through auction, Sherpa said local hoteliers wouldn’t leave their property easily. “We have invested millions of rupees here. There is no way we are leaving it for nothing,” he said, urging the park officials to revisit the decision. We encouraged Sherpa to keep up the fight, as his stance is a genuine one.

 

Trek to Gosaikunda: The experience of a lifetime

After lunch, we bid adieu to our wonderful host and started our walk toward Thadepati. The trail from Magengoth is downhill for about an hour or so. It passes through pasturelands, and rhododendron and pine forests. The walk was pleasing. But about a walk of nearly an hour from Magengoth, it started raining. We covered ourselves with plastic sheets and continued our walk. We had to slow down the pace as the trail was slippery. Things turned worse. Hailstones started falling, and the sky turned to pitch dark. But we had no option but to continue the walk. After a walk of nearly three hours, we arrived at Thadepati (3600m) – a small junction with 4-5 lodges. There are two trails from where – one leads to Gosainkunda Lake, while the other descends to Melamchi Gaun in the Helambu Region.

 

Weaving the colours of life!-min
Weaving the colors of life!

We rushed to the first lodge and sat beside the fireplace. We ordered butter tea and hot soups. After about an hour, the rain subsided, and we ventured out to see the place. It was white all around. Initially, we presumed it was snow. But we were wrong. There were hailstones all around – in some places, hailstones were around one foot deep. We were very much excited, we took pictures, made a snowball, and hit at each other.

 

It was 3 pm, and we were undecided about advancing because hailstones had made the trail slippery. There was no way we could reach Ghopte – our planned destination for the day. But Basu encouraged us and said we could at least reach Merikharka. We packed our bags and headed downward. Basu led the walk as only he knew where the trail is. We slowly followed him. The path was narrow and slippery. In some places, we had to use both our hands and legs. After a slow walk of about one and a half hours, we reached Meri Kharka. There is only one lodge at Meri Kharka. An acquaintance of Basu runs the lodge. So it was more of a home for us. Our septuagenarian host was the most jovial person that I met on this trek so far. We changed our clothes, sat beside the fireplace, and started sipping tea. The older man prepared a delicious dinner – rice, lentil and gravy of gundruk (fermented lettuce leaf) and soybean.

 

Weaving the colours of life!-min

Our hope of having a sunny day evaporated as it rained throughout the night. Rain in the lower area means heavy snowfall in the Lauri Bina Pass and Gosainkunda Lake area. We weren’t prepared for heavy snow — we didn’t have proper clothes and shoes to walk through the snow-filled trail. It was still raining when we woke up the next day. The nearby hills were blanketed with snow, and the air was chilly. After having Tibetan pancakes for breakfast, we thanked our host and started the trek toward Ghopte.

 

The trek remained largely uneventful. The rain was playing hide and seek with us. Though hailstones had melted, the trail was filled with snow in most of the places. We walked through sunshine, fog, rainfall, and snowfall – a fantastic experience for all of us. After having tea at Ghopte, we walked toward Phedi. It was around 1 pm when we reached Phedi. We ordered lunch and sat by the fireside to warm ourselves. The trekkers, who descended from Lauri Bina Pass, told us that there was knee-deep snow in the pass. We gave up the hope of reaching Gosainkunda. But one Sashi Adhikari, who was guiding two German trekkers, encouraged us. He asked us to join them the next morning and assured us that he would guide us to Gosainkunda. His words soothed us.

 

Trekkers marching the downhill to Ghopte on the Gosainkunda trekking route
Trekkers marching the downhill to Ghopte on the Gosainkunda trekking route

The lodge at Phedi was covered with fresh snow the next day. Today is the most difficult day of the trek as we are reaching Gosainkunda Lake after crossing the Lauribina La Pass (4610 meters). We started the trek at around 6 am. Around a dozen, trekkers were going toward the pass. We treated in their footsteps as the track was covered by snow. It was becoming difficult for us to take significant steps because of the high altitude. We decided to walk slowly as high altitude is not the place to test your limits. After about two hours, we reached the high camp where we had tea and hot soup. From here, we could see trekkers descending from the pass. It raised our hopes of reaching the sacred lake. If they can descend, there was no reason why we couldn’t climb up to the pass.

It was nearly noon when we reached the pass. We took some pictures at the pass and started downhill trek to Gosainkunda. After a walk of fewer than five minutes, we saw Surya Kunda, which was completely frozen, on the left side of the trail. We saw two more lakes before Gosainkunda – this time on the right side of the trail. Both the lakes were covered with snow. After a walk of nearly an hour from the pass, we finally saw Gosainkunda. Thankfully, it was not covered with snow, unlike the other lakes. But the trail was covered by snow.

 

Suryakunda
Suryakunda

It still took nearly an hour to reach the lake as the track was full of snow and slippery. We paid homage to Lord Shiva at Trishuldhari and took some pictures. We checked into a hotel at the lakeside and ordered lunch. We decided to offer puja to Lord Shiva early the next morning.

Situated at an altitude of 4,380 meters, Gosainkunda is a freshwater lake in Langtang National Park in Rasuwa district. The lake is spread over 34 acres. The Gosainkunda Lake Complex, which includes Surya Kunda, Bhairav Kunda, Nag Kunda, and Saraswati Kunda, among others, was designated as a Ramsar site in 2007. The lake flows down to form the Trishuli River – one of the major tributaries of the mighty Sapta Gandaki River that flows through central Nepal. The lake holds great religious significance as Lord Shiva is believed to have rested inside the lake after he consumed Kalkut Poison that was churned during the Samunda Mantha. The lake complex wears a festive look during Ganga Dashahara and Janai Purnima festivals when pilgrims from all over Nepal and from different parts of India visit the holy place. It is also a popular destination for trekkers in the Langtang Region.

 

Gosaikunda
Gosaikunda

Today is the last day of our trek to Gosaikunda. We woke up early in the morning and rushed to the lake to offer puja to Lord Shiva. The Gosainkunda Peak was already glittering in the sunlight. The reflection of the peak in the serene lake was something that will remain in your heart for long. After performing pooja to Lord Shiva, we returned to the hotel, had breakfast, and started trek toward Dhunche.

 

The trail until Lauribina was challenging. The snow had started melting and the track was slippery. A small mistake and you plunge hundreds of feet down. We sauntered, treading on footsteps left by fellow trekkers. In some places, we had to use both our hands and feet to negotiate the track. It took us nearly two hours to reach Lauri Bina. We heaved a sigh of relief. Yes, we had done it!! The trail from Lauri Bina is mostly downhill. The walk is pleasing as it passes through rhododendron and juniper forests. The chirping of birds keeps you rejuvenated throughout the trail. We had lunch at Chandanwari and continue our trek. At around 4 pm, we crossed Ghattekhola and headed toward Dhunche – the district headquarters of Rasuwa. We reached Dhunche at around 5 pm. We booked tickets for the next day and strolled in the bazaar area for some time. We had an early dinner and left for the bed at around eight, as all of us were tired.

 

Gosaikunda
Gosaikunda

The trek offered us the experience of a lifetime because it was the first time we crossed such a high pass. Also, it was our first walk on the snow-filled trail. Not to mention the hardship as all of us were unprepared for the snow – we didn’t have good boots, warm trousers, and warm jackets – as we presumed, there won’t be snow in summer. Though we managed to complete the trek to Gosaikunda, it taught us a valuable lesson.

Thrills in the air

I have traveled to several places and have done loads of things in my life. But this one was the most extreme thing I have ever experienced in my life so far. It was the ultimate thrill and the best experience. I would definitely recommend all to do both Zipline and Bungy when they are in Pokhara. Don’t miss the thrills in the air!

— By Rajiv Joshi

On my recent trip to Pokhara, the adventure capital of Nepal, the only objective was to try some new activities it has to offer. Though I have explored every aspect of Pokhara in my countless trips to the lake city, I was still to experience the adventure tourism activities that Pokhara offers.
My initial plan was to do paragliding and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Pokhara on board the ultralight flight. Zipline and Bungy jump was not on my bucket list. But I had to change the plan as Ms. Shiney Khetan, the executive director of Highground Adventures Nepal, the operator of both the activities, asked me to try these new adventures and made all the arrangements while I was on my way to Pokhara. When I reached their office to get the details, I was thinking of doing the Zipline only.
Bungy Jump! These two words can bring chills down the spine of anyone. I felt the same when I was first offered the opportunity to try it along with the Zipline.
I had never dared or dreamt of doing Bungy. But I was persuaded by Mr. Abhinav Churiwal of Highground Adventures to enjoy the jump without any fear. Reluctantly, I booked the combo. I was told to report at their office early the next morning.

Tip of Mt. Machapuchhre, as seen from my room.

 

With some mixed feelings, I reached the office on time. I was greeted by the staff and told to wait for a while as they were awaiting other clients to arrive. It rained the whole night, and the morning was cloudy. Despite this, I got a chance to see the tip of Machapuchhre from my hotel room briefly. I was a little bit worried about the weather condition, and on top of that, the nervousness was killing me.
Two groups of people from different countries arrived after some time, and we were soon onboard the bus that took us to Sarangkot, passing through the twists and turns up to the zipline station. I was disappointed to see the mountains covered by clouds.

The starting point of Zipline

The crew welcomed us all and gave some tips and briefed us about the safety procedures. The Zipline in Pokhara is 1,800 meters long and has a vertical drop of 600 meters. It starts from the top of Sarangkot hill and slides down to a maximum speed of up to 120 km per hour to the landing site at Hemja. The Zipline is the longest, steepest, and fastest Zipline in the whole world, according to the company.

Ready to ride

After a test ride was made, we were informed to get ready. I was the first one to be called along with an Asian girl. We went up the ramp, hung and harnessed in our racks, and stretched our feet on the metal gates that were closed until the start of the ride. After some last-minute safety instructions by the crew, the countdown began, the gates opened, and the Zipline launched down the cliff at an extreme speed. The initial fly down was a bit nerve-wracking. The creaking sound of the pulley hooked in the cable was adding to the thrill. Blazing wind hitting my face speeding down with some shakes in between made it the ride of a lifetime.

Fellow travelers are taking the adventure

 

Flying down, I could see the other side of Pokhara city open before me beneath the cloud, showing the stunning view of the surrounding hills and green forests. Very soon, I could see crew members waving a white flag. It was a signal to pull the cable, which applies brakes to the Zipline. I finally came to the base station. The ride may have lasted just two minutes, but it was enough to take my breath away. The experience was incredible!
The sight of the Bungy platform near the zipline base station hanging above the cliff sent shivers down my spine. After taking some rest and sipping a cup of coffee, I was ready for another adventure – Bungy. The Bungy in Pokhara is only the second Bungy site in Nepal and the first tower Bungy in the country.

The Bungy platform.

Though I was a bit hesitant, the ever-friendly crew got two other Bangladeshi tourists harnessed in no time and me. They then asked us to walk up the ramp of a large steel structure hanging from the cliff. Though views around and Yamdi Khola below the Bungy ramp were beautiful, I was getting anxious and my legs trembling. Still, the crew was encouraging me and building some confidence in me. As the two Bangladeshi tourists were jumping before me, I had some time to analyze their jump and prepare myself for the thrill. The first guy was a bit hesitant and was pushed by the crew, while the second one made an easy jump. The intensity of those jumps, meanwhile, was making me nervous.
I was attached to the bungee cord and told to step on the edge. With GoPro mounted on my helmet, the crew prepared me for the jump. I couldn’t look down. I felt the longer I stand on the edge, the harder it would be for me to take the plunge. There was no looking back. I spread my arms, and the countdown began – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and Go! A slight push and I dived with my eyes opened, and hands spread like wings. The fall was swift. The freefall that lasted three seconds was the most gruesome seconds of my life.

I am taking the jump.

 

I am flying down

The Bungy cord stretched to its limit and recoiled, pulling me up and then pushing me down. It was like being man-handled. I screamed from the top of my lungs with massive excitement as I bounced up and down, and the first word that came out of my mouth was: “Oh Sh*t….!”

I am taking the recoil.

 

Uncontrollable recoil.

After some bone stretching bounces and some uncontrollable spinning, the hustle finally stopped, and I took a deep breath. It was the only moment when I felt and enjoyed the jump.

I am descending to land.

Hanging upside down by the cable and slowly descending, I finally felt at peace. There was a small boat in a pond made on the banks of Yamdi, where I was supposed to be landing after the scariest flight of my life. A guy from the crew already on the boat unhooked me. That was the moment when I felt; I had never dreamt of doing it. But I dared it and ‘Yes! I did it.’ It was a feeling of accomplishment after the nerve-wracking descent.

I am posing mid-air

I have traveled to several places and have done loads of things in my life. But this one was the most extreme thing I have ever experienced in my life so far. It was the ultimate thrill and the best experience. I would recommend all to do both Zipline and Bungy when they are in Pokhara. Don’t miss the thrill!

Nepal: A destination for British trekkers and mountaineers 

“The United Kingdom is an old friend of Nepal and a perfect destination for British trekkers and mountaineers. We share the people of Nepal’s commitment to finding a peaceful and early solution to the political situation so that the country can finally move on from its legacy of conflict towards a time of peace and prosperity for everyone,” opined Minister of State for International Development of the United Kingdom Alan Duncan during his visit to Nepal in June, 2012.

Ever since the abolition of Nepal’s 240 – years old monarchy and establishment of the Federal Republic of Nepal in December 2007, the United Kingdom has encouraged Nepal to move ahead for political stability and socio-economic transformation. Thousands of Britons visit Nepal each year, especially for trekking and mountaineering, and for most of them, Nepal is an attractive destination in South Asia.

The history of friendship and cooperation between Nepal and the United Kingdom span two centuries, dating back to Britain’s colonial rule in India. The Anglo- Nepal war between the army of Nepal and the then British East India Company ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816. Nepal established diplomatic relations with Great Britain in 1816, which paved the way to set up the British diplomatic mission in Kathmandu.

A new Treaty of Friendship between Nepal and the UK was signed in 1923 when the status of British Representative in Kathmandu was upgraded to the status of an ambassador. The visit of the then Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana to the UK in 1852 and signing of a new Treaty of Friendship by Rana Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher JBR in 1923 was to get support and legitimacy for the Rana autocracy serving the interests of the British Government in India.

 

Jung Bahadur Rana
Jung Bahadur Rana

Nepal and Britain enjoyed cordial relations even during the rule of the Rana dynasty and Shah monarchial dynasty. The relation is based on the principles of friendship, mutual respect, and cooperation between the two countries at present.

The world-renowned Gurkha warriors- British Gurkhas have significantly contributed to deepening friendship and cooperation between the two countries. The UK started recruiting Nepali citizens into the British Army after the Treaty of Sugauli when Nepal lose nearly a third of its previously claimed territory during the Anglo- Nepal war of 1814-1816.

British Gurkha soldiers are an integral part of the British armed forces even today. Great Britain recruited thousands of Gurkhas after they fought the East India Company in the Anglo-Nepal war. More than 160,000 Gurkhas were mobilized during World War I and World War II, and nearly 45,000 Gurkhas lost their lives fighting for the Allied Forces during the two world wars. A total of 13 British Gurkha service members from Nepal have been awarded Victoria Crosses ( VC), the highest British gallantry honor, in recognition of their bravery during the wars.

The number of Gurkhas in the British Army has been reduced to 3500 since the handover of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997. The British GovernmentGovernment has announced that the Brigade of Gurkhas will number 2600 soldiers and officers, serving in two Infantry Battalions, an engineer, a Signals, and a Logistic Regiment by 2020. The British GovernmentGovernment and people highly regard the Gurkhas, though the Gurkhas have to struggle for better pay, pension, and other facilities even today. Thousands of Gurkhas scattered across hills and plains of Nepal highly evaluate the contribution of Miss Joanna Lumley and other personalities of the Gurkha Welfare Trust for their cooperation to solve problems of the Gurkhas in Britain.

 

British Gurkha soldiers
British Gurkha soldiers

Likewise, exchanges of visits at governmental and non-governmental levels have contributed to strengthening Nepal- Britain relations. The visits of Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Duke of Edinburgh HRH Prince Philip, in February 1961 1nd 1986, Princess of Wales Diana’s visit in March 1993, Prince Charles’s visit in February 1998, visit of the ministers and high ranking officials of the British Government and the visits of Nepali political figures and dignitaries have played a major role in consolidating bilateral relations. As thousands of British tourists visit Nepal each year to explore its natural beauty and cultural heritage, they have also contributed to furthering people-to-people relations between Nepal and Britain.

The United Kingdom has given priority for the socio-economic development of one of the poorest and least developed countries for decades. The top UK priorities in terms of Nepal are -supporting the peace process, strengthening governance and improving security and access to justice, helping poor and excluded people benefit from growth, helping deliver better health and education, helping people adapt to climate change, reducing risk from disasters, including earthquakes and improving the lives of women and girls .

 

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

British cooperation in Nepal has encompassed different areas of the economy, including human resource development. British assistance, which comes through the Department for International Development (DFID), covers agriculture, transport, local development, education, communication, health, water, and sanitation.

According to DFID, “Nepal is a priority country for UK aid. Between now and 2015, Britain will ensure that 230,000 direct jobs are created through private sector development, 4232 km of roads are built or upgraded, and 110,000 people benefit from improved sanitation. Also, the UK will help 4 million Nepalis to strengthen their ability to cope with natural disasters and the adverse impact of climate change. The UK is directly tackling Nepal’s serious challenges like climate change, disaster preparedness, job creation, corruption, and supporting the rapid conclusion of the peace process. ”

DFID is providing £331 million over the four years from April 2011 to March 2015. DFID Nepal’s Operational Plan is divided into four main areas: inclusive wealth creation, governance and security, human development (essential services, including education and health), and climate change/disaster risk reduction.

The UK has committed to providing 0.7 percent of the Gross National Income as international aid so that it could contribute to make real progress in the fight against poverty and reach Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the developing and least-developed countries.

 

DFID in Nepal
DFID Nepal

Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, said during his visit to Nepal in June 2012,’ Nepal is a priority country for British aid. Here, 55 percent of the population lives in abject poverty, trying to survive on less than 1.25 dollars a day. An incomplete peace process is hindering economic growth. It is a country where still one child in 16 does not survive until his or her 5th birthday and where a woman dies every 4 hours due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes.

To make matters worse, Nepal is highly vulnerable to climate change and a natural disaster such as earthquakes. It is for these reasons that the UK will increase its aid to Nepal. Additionally, the UK will continue to support Nepal’s peace process. We believe peace and stability are critical in Nepal, given how seriously the 10-year conflict has slowed its development.’

In terms of business relations, the total volume of trade is approximate NRS 8 billion between the two countries. Major Nepali exports to the United Kingdom are woolen carpets, handicrafts, readymade garments, silverware and jewelry, leather goods, Nepali paper, and paper products whereas , Nepal’s major imports from the UK include copper scraps, hard drinks, cosmetics, medicine and medical equipment, textiles, copper wire rod, machinery and parts, aircraft and spare parts, scientific research equipment, office equipment, and stationery.

Besides, there are some British joint ventures in the areas of tourism, hospitality industry, software packaging, readymade garments, and hydro-power. Some of the Nepali entrepreneurs are involved actively in the hospitality industry and restaurant business in different cities of the UK.

 

Students from Nepal visit Staffordshire on school exchange
Students from Nepal visit Staffordshire

Apart from this, hundreds of Nepali students are enrolled in British universities for higher studies. The UK is considered a destination for Nepali students to pursue higher studies, though there are so many problems for the students to join British Universities in recent years.

Nepal and the United Kingdom share a unique relationship for more than 200 years. Britain has committed to increasing aid to Nepal, and the development projects are operated through bilateral as well as multilateral agencies such as the European Union and the United Nations. British Council provides Nepalis the opportunity to learn English on a basic and advanced level and organizes programs to strengthen cultural and people-to-people relations between the two countries.

Thousands of British tourists visit Nepal each year for trekking, mountaineering, and holiday purposes. The total number of British tourists was 37,765 in 2000, whereas it was 34,502 (by air only) in 2011. Nepal is lagging in attracting British tourists to visit Nepal in the absence of planned tourism promotion and the problem of direct air connectivity to the United Kingdom. A large number of British mountaineers join different expeditions each year to climb Himalayas of Nepal.

 

WTM London

Despite various problems and challenges Nepal has to face in recent years, Nepal is considered a pristine tourist destination in the international tourism market. British tourists visit Nepal to explore and experience the majestic Himalayas, unparalleled natural beauty, rich flora and fauna, and world heritage sites. British tourists visiting Nepal have emphasized to develop quality tourism in this Himalayan country and make Nepal – the safest tourist destination in the world.

Nepal has participated in the leading global event for the travel industry –World Travel Market (WTM), held on November 5-8 each year in London for a long time. As WTM is a vibrant business-to-business event presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors to UK and International travel professionals, it is a unique opportunity for Nepal to promote its tourism products in the global travel market. Nepal expects more tourists from its traditional and new markets, including Britain, in the years to come.

(The writer is the editor of Online Paper on Travel and Tourism and former editor-in-chief of Gorkhapatra Daily)

La campagne “Visit Nepal 2020“– Une mission Pour accueillir 2 Millions de  voyageurs

Nous approchons prochainement de  La campagne “Visit Nepal 2020“. Le Tourisme est une activité qui relie le monde. C’est aussi l’échange d’expériences, de cultures, entre le  peuple, le gouvernement et encore, le tourisme est une activité majeure pour le développement de plusieurs pays. Un des pays de l’Asie du sud est  « Le Népal » avec un potentiel de tourisme très variés et que ce soient un voyage découvertes, de la culture et tradition ou un tourisme sportif. Le voyage au Népal n’est pas seulement un voyage comme les autres. Ce pays vous fascine, vous ouvre un nouveau monde et vous vous attachez. Ce ne serait pas étonnant de voir des voyageurs revenir assez souvent ou s’installer au Népal en profitant la vie sereine et la beauté naturelle.

Comment se prépare  Le  Népal  pour « Visit Nepal Year 2020»?

De nombreux guides sont formés pour mieux présenter le pays dans les sentiers de l’Himalaya et des lieux historiques. A part la promotion, le partenariat à l’étranger et la participation à différentes manifestations touristiques, le gouvernement applique une stratégie de développer de nouveaux produits. Ils sont classifiés en culture, villes et loisirs, le peuple et le patrimoine, les activités en plein air et d’aventure, la religion et les lieux de cultes et la nature et la vie sauvage. L’infrastructure comme le logement chez l’habitant sont mis en place pour le tourisme équitable. En outre, la qualité de service, le transport, la nourriture et  l’hébergement sont améliorés dans les lieux.

Comment pourriez-vous supporter la mission « Visit Nepal 2020 « comme voyageur?

Le Népal a commencé sa première l’année de Tourisme en 1998 et le deuxième en 2011.Depuis après neuf ans , Le gouvernement annonce  l’année de Tourisme en 2020. Le but de ce projet est d’accueillir 2 millions de voyageurs en 2020.

Le Népal est sur le point  d’atteindre son but par la promotion intense de ses richesses naturelles et des destinations majestueuses.

L’Année du Tourisme aurait du être célébrée en 2015. Suite au séisme le pays et le peuple a souffert et « Visit Nepal »  a été reporté pour l’an 2020.En regagnant l’esprit et la meilleure position parmi des destinations plus prisées, Le Népal relance sa mission touristique. Etant un voyageur, vous pouvez supporter le Népal et son projet « Visit Nepal 2020 ».

Voici les Cinq façons pour réaliser cette mission avec succès.

Achats des souvenirs fais par des locaux

De même que la culture et tradition, le Népal a  une tradition de sculpture en bois, en bronze et ce savoir faire est transféré de génération en génération. Depuis longtemps, le Népal est connu pour l’exportation des objets artisanaux comme les tapis, les arts sur papier népalais, les sculptures en bois et en métal. Au Népal il y 126 groupe ethniques avec leur propre tradition, culture et langue. Vous pouvez en trouver en grand magasins, mais vous aurez une meilleure satisfaction en achetant directement chez les artisans, en les voyant travailler. C’est une occasion de faire un échange et de découvrir leur savoir faire. Privilégier des artisans locaux aide le peuple à améliorer leur niveau de vie et bien sûr c’est une geste  humanitaire.

Shopping in Nepal

Publicité de bouche à oreille

Ce qui marche le mieux c’est une publicité de bouche à oreille. Si vous avez déjà voyagé au Népal et que vous soyez émerveillé par ce pays.  Grâce à votre partage d’expérience autour de vous, ils se sentiront déjà concerné et auront envie de voyager au Népal. Le Népal n’est  pas présent sur les, bandes d’annonces ou de publicité mais votre parole est beaucoup plus efficace que tout le reste. Partager vos expériences par des blogs de voyage, faire des vidéos, ou partager des photos. Par conséquent, partager vos expériences peut devenir motivant pour vos connaissances.

 

Privilégier des restaurants locaux

Chaque individu a son goût et la préférence vis à vis de la nourriture. Pour maintenir le standard de restauration, vous trouverez des hôtels internationaux et leur cuisine du pays. Tout de même nous vous conseillons de diversifier vos choix et la nourriture locale préparée par des locaux.  Vous hésiterez légèrement mais consommer chez des locaux  sera non seulement plus économique mais sera meilleur.

Pratiquer le tourisme durable

Nous pourrons  assurer le tourisme durable  en améliorant  en permanence nos secteurs. Pour cela, tout le monde doit se mettre ensemble pour le meilleur concept et le  réaliser. Par exemple, minimiser l’usage de plastique, appliquer l’habitue de bien mettre des ordures dans  la poubelle. Bien que le peuple rural ne soit pas bien éduqué, vous pouvez démontrer vos habitudes et votre  connaissance. Parce que le Népal est un pays naturel et il doit rester tel qu’il est.

 

Embaucher un guide ou porteur

C’est toujours préférable d’avoir un accompagnateur local quand vous êtes en trekking. Un guide local sera une grande source de connaissance quand vous voyagez dans un endroit inconnu.

La plupart des gens dans des collines ou montagnes sont moins éduqués. Ces gens utilisent leurs forces physiques et travaillent comme porteurs. Ils portent les bagages des touristes sur les chemins des trekkings. Ce n’est pas parce que vous n’êtes pas capable de le faire. Mais, cela donne effectivement du travail à beaucoup de gens nécessiteux.  Par conséquent c’est un moyen de les aider pendant la courte saison de trekking.

Nous espérons que la campagne « Visit Nepal 2020 » sera couronnée de succès.