Nepal: Trekking Beyond Everest

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My trip to Nepal came from a serendipitous phone call. I was reconnecting with a friend I hadn’t talked to in years, who was sharing career tips and travel stories. Andrea’s a kindred spirit with a sense of wanderlust, always planning her next adventure. As our call was coming to an end, she mentioned that her next trip was a small group trip to Nepal. She was travelling with someone who had previously guided trips in the country & a small group of women. There was one spot available…did I want to go?

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I have to admit that Nepal wasn’t on my radar at all. When I thought of the country, I thought of Everest or the recent earthquake; sadly, I didn’t know much else. So when I read the trip overview that Andrea sent me, I was pretty surprised & definitely intrigued. We would spend a few days in Kathmandu before trekking the Helambu trail, a trail more traveled by locals covering about 70 miles. Our trip would take us through two national parks & forests; we’d stay in tea houses & local lodges. And the best part, at the end, we’d be visiting a school that was rebuilt, with the support of fundraising by our guide and many others. It was a once in lifetime trip, and I was in. Here’s the 411:

KATHMANDU

We book-ended our trip in Nepal’s capital city. My must-sees include:

  • Boudahanath Stupa

  • Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)

  • Durbar Square

I’d describe Kathmandu as a combination of crazy & serene. The crazy comes from the throngs of people, the traffic that seems to come from every direction, the cows on the street, the monkeys jumping on one of my trekking partners. The serene comes from the welcoming monasteries, the quiet mornings visiting stupas, the oasis-like Shambaling Hotel we stayed at in Boudha. It was a fascinating mix; I’ve never been in a place quite like it.

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HELAMBU TRAIL

Our route on the Helambu Trail took us through several villages (see route below*) & national parks. While we didn’t see any red pandas in the forests, we experienced amazing things like:

  • Crossing crazy Indiana Jones-style suspension bridges

  • Rhodedendrums blooming everywhere

  • Cuckoos doing their “cuckoo” thing…morning, noon & night

  • Chortens, stupas & prayers painted on rocks

  • Delicious apple pancake breakfasts & dal bhat dinners

  • Kids who love to look at your pictures & take selfies with strangers

  • Kenny, Pickles & Momo – the three dogs who adopted us and tagged along as we hiked from village to village

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What I will remember the most are the people we met along the way. Wonderfully welcoming. Smiling, Guiding us for miles when we were off-track. So excited for the upcoming opening of their newly built school. Opening their homes & kitchens to us. All while rebuilding their villages, devastated by the earthquake. Their generosity & warm spirits reminded me why I travel & why I love to come home.

*Our Helambu Route included: Chipling, Kutumsang, Thadepathi, Tarkyeghang, Sermanthang, Bhote Namlang

Thanks for taking us on your adventure Rita!