Nepal

One of the top bucket list items for any global adventurer is a trek in the Himalayas. And the Mecca of mountain walking is Mt. Everest, where Mt. Everest soars 29,032 feet (8,848 meters) to the top of the world. In fact 8 of the top 10 highest mountains on the globe are in this landlocked country. While Nepal was a secluded kingdom and isolated from the west for hundreds of years, the summiting of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953 put it on the map. While Hillary and entourage walked overland from India with hundreds of porters carrying supplies, modern trekkers fly from around the globe to the exotic city of Kathmandu where your trekking journey begins and ends.

Nepal is one of the poorer countries in the world with a per capita income of $1,084. Nepal is mostly a rural country of small farmers growing enough to get by and maybe sell or barter their excess produce. Tourism is a key industry after agriculture with 63% of the people working small farms. The Nepali people are deeply religious. In the lowlands the people are mostly Hindu while in the mountains they are Buddhist. In Kathmandu and Pokhara a mix. Some still follow Animism and you may come across sacrifices being made with chickens or other small animals.

A Nepal trek typically begins and ends. Though you will need to fly or bus to your starting point. While one can travel overland from India directly to Pokhara and west Nepal avoiding Kathmandu, most pilgrims fly into Kathmandu from points across the globe. In Kathmandu most arriving pilgrims head directly to Thamel, a tourist ghetto, filled with shops selling everything you need for a trek. There is a surprising range of excellent restaurants; from steakhouses, Italian, French, Pizza, Vegetarian, Indian, Nepal, etc. Walking the streets of Thamel is an experience in itself; with street vendors selling fruit, vegetables, snacks, assorted trinkets and Masala(Chai) Tea. Kathmandu has a unique smell to it; a combination of burning incense, human sweat, and cow dung that is rather pleasant once you get used to it.

If this is a once in a lifetime holiday and you have limited time setting your trek up from home is advisable. However, if you have the time, Thamel is loaded with trekking agencies. Upon arrival I visit 3 agencies, talk with them about local conditions and choose a trek. Then I negotiate a final price of $20 per day for a guide/porter. $40 if you include meals. These guide/porters at this price speak limited English but will make your trek easier and more enjoyable. Once you set up your trek you can leave the following day but a few days to enjoy Kathmandu at the beginning or end of your walk is worth it.

Which trek to take can be a difficult decision.

Everest Base Camp- A popular choice for once in a lifetime travelers but can be crowded at peak season. 12-17 days
Annapurna Circuit-The popular choice for overland travelers and budget travelers as you can walk it without a guide and get there by bus. Like EBC can be crowded at peak season and development and roads are encroaching. 12-17 days
Annapurna Base Camp-A wonderful shorter 10 day trek that requires back tracking.
Manaslu and Tsum Valley- Manaslu and the optional Tsum Valley requires a guide but a special trekking fee keeps the crowds down.
Langtang-Excellent 7-8 day trek in the north of Kathmandu
Gosaikunda Lake 5 days
Helambu- 5 days.
Langtang/Gosaikunda/Helambu can be combined in a 12 day trek which ends just a 45 minute taxi ride back to Kathmandu
The 3 Passes-Perhaps the most challenging of the treks including 3 passes from 5,300-5,500 meters.

Night and Day. While Santiago is the end of the Camino, Kathmandu is where a Nepal Pilgrimage typically begins and ends. Though you will need to fly or bus to your starting point. While one can travel overland from India directly to Pokhara and west Nepal avoiding Kathmandu, most pilgrims fly into Kathmandu from points across the globe. In Kathmandu most arriving pilgrims head directly to Thamel, a tourist ghetto, filled with shops selling everything you need for a trek. There is a surprising range of excellent restaurants; from steakhouses, Italian, French, Pizza, Vegetarian, Indian, Nepal, etc. Walking the streets of Thamel is an experience in itself; with street vendors selling fruit, vegetables, snacks, assorted trinkets and Masala(Chai) Tea. Kathmandu has a unique smell to it; a combination of burning incense, human sweat, and cow dung that is rather pleasant once you get used to it.

While Kathmandu has gotten more crowded and polluted over the past 35 years, it still has its charms. It is also a great walking city. Explore the streets beyond Thamel where you will experience 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Getting up early and walking up the 424 steps to Swayambhunath Buddhist Temple for sunrise with the scores of monkeys. Also going to Pashupatinath Hindu Temple Complex early is a deeply humbling experience. Be sure to walk across the Bagmati River which flows into the Ganges, looking back you will see the various funeral pyres and locals bringing their dead on stretchers for the burning rituals.

For sunset I like to head for another UNESCO site Bodnath Buddhist Stupa to walk around one of the largest spiral stupas in the world. This is a center for the Tibetan Buddhists and there are many monasteries and convents and an excellent place to experience a 10 Day Silent Meditation Retreat. I particularly enjoy eventually making my way to one of the rooftop restaurants on the square to just enjoy the changing colors of the Stupa as day fades into night.

Then of course there is Durbar Square which was heavily damaged by the 2015 Earthqake but is slowly being rebuilt and still worth a visit to view several ancient temples. If possible a visit to the Living Virgin Goddess is interesting. She is replaced though after her first period. If you still have time a day trip to Bhaktapur Durbar Square with a similar complex of Temples is most interesting.

How A Nepal Trek Is Different From The Camino de Santiago:

1. Nepal vs. Spain. Spain is in Europe and Nepal is in South Central Asia. Spain has a long coastline on the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Nepal is landlocked in the Himalayas Region. Nepal is one of the poorer countries in the world with a per capita annual income of $1,084. Nepal is mostly a rural …

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Annapurna Circuit Trek. Chhomrong to Pokhara:

Annapurna Circuit Days 17-18; Chhomrong to Deorali to Pokhara:   In Chhomrong on the morning of Day 17, I sat out on the ledge restaurant enjoying a steaming hot cup of Masala Tea, watching the sun come up over Machuputre shining on Annapurna South. Mikas, the owner, came out and told me that the weather …

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Nepal Annapurna Circuit. Tatopani to Chhomrong:

Days 14-16. Tatopani to Ghorepani (March 2019): Discovered remedy for sore upper front thighs after 5 days of long descents. Just walk up 1,700 meters/5,577 feet from Tatopani to Ghorepani and the pain goes away. Or perhaps it just moved. These are ancient trading routes and people are still carrying goods up and down the …

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Nepal Annapurna Circuit Days 12-13. Marpha to Tatopani:

2019 Marpha to Tatopani :   Left Marpha at 7:15 walking through the interesting medieval streets.   Soon crossing a bridge to the east side of the Kali Gandaki River. Wonderful walking in a hilly pine forest and trail covered in pine needles and cones. The day is spectacular with deep blue cloudless skies, and …

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Global Pilgrim House:

After 7 years of a home free existence traveling the globe and walking many pilgrimages, these restless feet have found a home. Why not in Muxia not far from the 0 Mile Marker of The Camino de Santiago. Our intention is to create “Global Pilgrim House” where we will adorn the walls with clusters of …

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Annpurna Circuit Trek. Day 10. Off The Beaten Track To Kagbeni:

Muktinath to Kagbeni: Woken at 6AM by some Russian voices in argument with Tashi, the friendly owner. Over my morning cup of steaming hot masala tea, I talked with a couple from Darjeeling, India and Tashi expressing my unhappiness with the development of the dirt road here to Muktinath allowing jeeps and such. I did …

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Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 9. A bitch; 1040 Meter ascent/1620 meter descent:

The Lonely Planet Guidebook suggests there is no reason to leave early but it is quite cold out in the room, and hard to sleep. Every half or full hour during the evening waking suddenly gasping for air. Lets get this over with. Today’s walk is best described as “a bitch”. This stage requires an …

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Annapurna Circuit Trek Days 7-8:

Manang (3,519 meters/11,545 feet) to Yak Kharka (4000 meters) to Thorong Phedi (4,540 meters/14,895 feet): After a hot milk tea, left Hotel Tilicho at 7:10 wearing my new used crampons. Though a bit flimsy, they seemed adequate enough and necessary as the walk out of Manang was icy. The view was spectacular back into valley …

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Annapurna Circuit Trek. Days 1-3:

Updating this website with content from a March, 2019 Nepal Annapurna Circuit Trek, long considered one of the world’s great treks. This walk takes one over Thorong La Pass at 5,416 meters/17,769 feet. There are quaint Nepali and Tibetan like villages, scores of waterfalls, rivers flowing through tree covered mountains, and then the high treeless …

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HUMILITY + GRATITUDE = HAPPINESS

On my first day back in Nepal I was browsing through a few shelf rows of books at the comfortable and friendly Yala Peak Hotel and was drawn to a single book, ‘Touching My Father’s Soul’ by Lapsing Tenzing Norgay the son of Tenzing Norgay who was the first, along with Edmund Hillary to scale …

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It’s A Small World-Uganda to the Camino to Nepal

IT’S A SMALL WORLD. The Camino has a magical way of connecting like minded souls: One of the nicest things about global traveling is chance meetings with the same people in two totally different places. Well this time it’s three chance meetings across 3 continents; Uganda, Spain, and Nepal: In October, 2019, walking on the …

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A Camino Christmas Small Miracle

A Merry Christmas friends and fellow Pilgrims.  A Christmas (Camino) small miracle from 2019: A few days before Christmas, Mika of Japan  and I  were walking in the Annapurna region of Nepal from Tadapani to Chomrong, on the Annapurna Sancturary Trek. We made it early and had lunch at a tea house enjoying the spectacular …

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Manaslu and Tsum Valley Trek: Days 16-18. The end of a wonderful Trek

Day 16 Bimthang to Dharapani Departed Super View Hotel at 7:30 feeling fortunate as there was cloud cover which would lessen the experience for my friends crossing the path today. It was very quiet on the trail following the Dudh Khola River. As we descended the stark wintery terrain gave way to forest and red …

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Manaslu and Tsum Valley Trek: Day 15 Larkya La Pass

Day 15 Dharamsala to Bimthang: Sleeping this high, 4,175 meters, is always difficult though thankfully I only had a slight headache. Though a few times waking, gasping for air. At 2:45AM observing the cloud of my breath the alarm with Puccini’s O Mio Babbino woke me. I had no appetite but struggled to eat a …

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Manaslu and Tsum Valley Trek: Day 14

Day 14 Samdo to Dharamsala: Woke at 6 and went outside but restaurant and kitchen were locked. The guy came at 6:30. Had porridge and apple and then left about 8. Nice uphill but not too steep walk to Dharamsala(4460 meters) arriving at 11. Beautiful views of the valley as we approached the camp before …

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Manaslu and Tsum Valley Trek-Days 10-11

Days 10-11 Bihi Phedi to Namrung to Lho. Left the spartan Hotel Singla just before 8. Nice walk but I struggled a bit today. Funny how some days you just feel better and stronger than other days. The scenery is beautiful while the temperatures decrease as we continue up the Manaslu Valley. Had some tea …

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