Trekking in Heaven

With its high peaks and hilly ter­rain, Nepal of­fers some of the best trekking lo­ca­tions in the world.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Aisha Ma­lik The writer is a graphic de­sign grad­u­ate who free­lances for sev­eral pub­li­ca­tions

As the world’s top ten high­est moun­tains are lo­cated in Nepal, it is only nat­u­ral that ad­ven­tur­ers from around the world seek to travel to the re­gion to trek – a unique ex­pe­ri­ences for those who like ad­ven­tur­ous sports. Trekking is also among the most popular ac­tiv­i­ties in Nepal and is en­joyed by a vast va­ri­ety of peo­ple – both pro­fes­sional moun­tain climbers and peo­ple va­ca­tion­ing with fam­i­lies or friends.

In fact, Nepal is of­ten termed the trekking cap­i­tal of the world. In some sea­sons it trans­forms into a trekking hub when its streets are full of trav­el­ers from around the world. When the weather is pleas­ant, sites are set up and tour guides are in de­mand to or­ga­nize trekking tours. A large num­ber of op­tions are avail­able for trekkers based on their age, ca­pa­bil­i­ties, trekking gear and the ar­eas they want to visit. Trav­el­ers have been known to spend years plan­ning their ex­pe­di­tions to go to far­away lo­ca­tions. This re­quires long-term train­ing and a lot of courage and stamina. Even those who have not done any prior plan­ning can en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence by be­com­ing a part of an or­ga­nized group if they ar­rive in Kathmandu or Pokhara in the right sea­son.

While some peo­ple be­lieve that Nepalese treks are un­charted and lofty plains, this is not en­tirely true. There are sev­eral well-marked trek sites and paths. Passersby like to en­sure that they have plenty of food, wa­ter and other nec­es­sary sup­plies that they can eas­ily pick up as they pass dif­fer­ent vil­lages. Trek groups usu­ally con­sist of at least 15 peo­ple and stan­dard trekking gear is nec­es­sary for all of them.

There are sev­eral vil­lages and tea­houses along the path to en­sure that trekkers can rest, re­gain their en­ergy and re­plen­ish their sup­plies. Th­ese tea­houses re­flect Nepal’s cul­ture and of­fer a great op­por­tu­nity to trekkers to meet the vil­lage peo­ple and also keep abreast of the move­ment of fel­low trav­el­ers. Many trekkers claim that there is an un­re­served friend­li­ness and hos­pi­tal­ity in the na­tives which works won­ders for the ex­hausted trekkers who stop by a tea­house after a long walk.

The best trekking sea­son is one when the weather is dry and warm. Trav­el­ers and ad­ven­tur­ers are un­der more risk if they go for moun­tain climb­ing and trekking through dif­fi­cult ter­rain in the mon­soon or in win­ter. Since there is usu­ally a con­sid­er­able dis­tance be­tween two vil­lages or shel­ters, trav­el­ing dur­ing the wrong sea­son can have dire con­se­quences.

The pe­ri­ods of March to June and Septem­ber to Novem­ber are usu­ally the best time for trekkers to go about their mis­sion. The weather in th­ese months is dry and crisp with bear­able tem­per­a­tures and clear blue skies. Some­times, it rains dur­ing May and June and trav­el­ers are asked to stay put as rain brings with it leeches and se­vere cold while the trekking path also be­comes muddy and un­even.

There is much to ex­plore in Nepal in terms of new sites and there is a va­ri­ety of treks to choose from. But cross­ing higher passes or go­ing into re­mote re­gions re­quires a cer­tain level of phys­i­cal fit­ness and an ad­ven­tur­ous spirit. There are sev­eral trekking peaks as well which cross the 5600-6500m mark. For th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences, one must have pre­vi­ous climb­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and plenty of train­ing. More­over, one must be su­per fit and have the best trekking gear to go trav­el­ling in un­ex­plored lo­ca­tions.

To fully en­joy the wide range of ex­pe­ri­ences that trekking of­fers, one must be able to walk up­hill and be in a con­di­tion to go a while with­out stop­ping at shel­ters. Although there are sev­eral trek paths which are eas­ier to han­dle, and of­ten there are guides to support trav­el­ers, it is still im­por­tant to col­lect all the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion about the trekking mis­sion be­fore em­bark­ing on it. How­ever, if needed, tea­houses and emer­gency sup­plies are never too far.

One can eas­ily pur­chase ev­ery­thing needed for trekking from the mar­kets in the Thamel neigh­bor­hood of Kathmandu and Pokhara. The mar­kets in Thamel of­fer the best bar­gains in fleece and but­ton­down jack­ets, which are es­sen­tials for long treks. Other es­sen­tial trekgear such as com­fort­able yet sturdy hik­ing boots that can han­dle un­even ter­rain for pro­longed pe­ri­ods, sleep­ing bags, day­packs, com­fort­able trekking clothes, gloves, ther­mals, hik­ing pants and wa­ter­proof jack­ets can also be bought from th­ese mar­kets. If the trek is to be held away from in­hab­ited ar­eas, it is im­por­tant to carry every­day items such as matches, toi­let pa­per, ban­dages, flash­lights, com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices, wa­ter pu­ri­fiers, cam­eras or binoc­u­lars, maps and so on. Th­ese sup­plies can eas­ily be pur­chased from lo­cal mar­kets be­fore a hike be­gins.

Trekking in Nepal re­quires a Trekker In­for­ma­tion Man­age­ment Sys­tems (TIMS) card along with the en­try tick­ets of na­tional parks. There are dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories for dif­fer­ent kinds of trekking and the cards are is­sued ac­cord­ingly. For ex­am­ple, there are dif­fer­ent cards for in­de­pen­dent treks as op­posed to or­ga­nized ones. Th­ese cards are is­sued by the Trekking Agents As­so­ci­a­tion.

Some re­gions such as Dolpo, Manaslu and Mus­tang re­quire spe­cial trekking per­mits that are only avail­able with trekking agents. There are 33 peaks in Nepal which have heights of 7000m and climb­ing them is an ar­du­ous task. Spe­cial climb­ing per­mits along with qual­i­fied and regis­tered climb­ing guides are re­quired to go trekking on th­ese peaks. This kind of trekking is con­sid­ered ex­tremely dif­fi­cult be­cause the higher one goes the lesser the chances are of find­ing support and sup­plies through other guides or shel­ters.

Just like com­mer­cial moun­tain climb­ing, trekking is also be­com­ing a com­mer­cial ven­ture. Once the trekker de­cides the kind of ad­ven­ture he wants to un­der­take, he is of­fered a proper pack­age in line with his re­quire­ments. The treks could just be for the moun­tain­ous view or can be de­signed to show the vil­lages and the pic­turesque lo­ca­tions across the coun­try. Some treks are also de­signed around a detox/healthy-liv­ing pro­gram which in­cludes yoga and med­i­ta­tion classes in-be­tween trekking.

Nepal at­tracts close to 150,000 trekkers from around the world ev­ery year. It is home to some of the best and highly qual­i­fied tour and climb­ing guides. The coun­try of­fers count­less trekking des­ti­na­tions with scenic views. If you’re an ad­ven­turer, you are likely to find some of the best peaks to con­quer and per­sonal chal­lenges to beat ev­ery time you visit the coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.