What is it?
A six day hike in the Himalayas of Nepal, aiming to attain an altitude of 4500 meters - all at a cost vastly cheaper than with an agency!
Which route will we be taking?
There are a host of hiking trails/routes available, each catering for differing abilities and/or hiking durations. These range from two-week-plus ventures to single-day outings. Some are hugely popular and can even become congested. The one I am suggesting is a newer, less commercialised, but beautiful route called the Mardi Himal trek.
Tell me a bit more about it…
The trail will take us through lush green rainforests and flowering rhododendrons. It will offer stunning views across valleys with breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. We will see some of the best-known Himalayan peaks, including Annapurna 1 (the first 8000+ meter mountain ever to be conquered), and the famous Machupuchre (fishtail) mountain. Our trek will take us very close to the latter mountain.
Will I get to see Everest?
Everest cannot be seen from this area of the Himalayas. However, on the final day it will be possible for you to arrange a short flight to see it.
Whereabouts is this?
The Himalayan hikes all begin from various towns close to the trailheads. For this route, we will be staying in Pokhara, right by the lake, west of Everest. After we have obtained all necessary permits and met up with our guide, we will take a short ride to the trailhead and begin our trek.
What’s this about a guide?
Strictly speaking, you don’t need a guide – I’ve done the route completely solo. However, there are good reasons for hiring a guide, including the fact that their knowledge will heighten the trip by pointing out things (and mountains) that may otherwise have gone un-noticed/un-named. Investing in the local economy by hiring a genuine Nepalese guide is also a responsible thing to do. Besides which I have already me the very man I want to hire.
Who is he?
The gentleman’s name is Binod. He brought himself a bit of local and even international fame by guiding Levison Wood across the Himalayas during his epic journey. I met Binod by sheer chance in 2018, and I would very much like to pass some business to him and his family.
How fit will I need to be?
Achieving an altitude of 4500 meters means you will be walking uphill. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s worth clarifying. And if you aim to reach this height, and get back down within six days, it will mean ‘climbing’ 700-1000 meters upwards per day for four days.
That said, it all very achievable. People of all ages and abilities make it to the Mardi Himal base camp (from which the real climbers base their assault on the peak).
Is there any real climbing involved?
No. There are steep inclines at times, but nothing more severe that a set of steep steps. If that makes things sound easy, try walking upstairs for 6 hours. Every day. For four days.
What equipment will I need?
I will provide a full suggested kit list if the trip goes ahead, including what you will NOT need to bring. No specialist kit is required, but three essentials are:
- Adequate insurance*
- Walking boots – thoroughly broken in!
- A backpack. Maximum suggested capacity is 30litres, with maximum suggested kit weight being 9-10kg
What will the accommodation be like?
In the town of Pokhara the hotels are generally the equivalent of a 2-3 star B&B you might get in somewhere such as Bournemouth. As you go up the hill and you encounter the ‘tea houses’, things become more basic, so it’s worth understanding this from the start. Everything has to be carried up the mountains, and anything at all luxurious quickly becomes expensive. As most tourists accept this, there seem to be few luxuries to have.
Rooms up the hills generally have nothing more that beds, bedding, and a bare-bulb light. Toilets and showers are shared. Think hostel, but with single/double rooms, not dorms. Rooms are clean, but you will probably want your own sleeping bag or liner at least.
That said, electricity to charge a phone/powerpack is available in the communal eating/drinking area, and wifi is available at almost every tea house. You can also get a phone signal virtually everywhere.
When will this trip take place?
March-April 2019. This is with the ‘second best’ tourist season. This essentially means spring in Nepal, with warm (often hot) days, but with the chance of some showers/rain. Tourist traffic is lower, and consequently so are prices. The ‘best’ season sees more tourists, higher prices, and hotter weather that I would personally find unsuitable for trekking in! Actual dates TBC.
What will be the actual duration of the trip?
The entire trip will be ten or eleven days, depending on how flight times fall on the return leg.
Where will my money go?
This is a not-for-profit trip. I will be paying my own way, and all of your money will be used for accommodation, permits and the guide. Any funds left over will be donated to an agreed-upon charity. There will be transparency in to how the funds are used at all times.
Do I need to raise money for charity?
I’m very much hoping you will use this challenge to raise funds for your favourite charity, but it is not a compulsory condition for joining the hike.
What will be the size of the group?
Including myself, I’m aiming at taking six people, maximum. Any more that that becomes a logistical problem.
How much will this cost?
Flights are the biggest variable, so I’m going to expect people to organise and pay for their flights to Kathmandu, and from Kathmandu to Pokhara separately (I can help, but the cost of these flights will not be included in the figure below). I got a return flight to Kathmandu with Turkish Airlines for £350 return. The return flight to Pokhara with Yeti Airlines cost me in the region of £100.
For the remaining permits, accommodation, transportation and guide, I’m estimating at this point that we can do this for just £350.
Food, drink and souvenirs will of course be extra. Allow a similar amount if you really plan to splash out, but this can also be a very budget-conscious location.
On the flip side, we will have a free day in Pokhara to recover after the trek and before the flight home. There is a seriously impressive list of things to do in the town, including:
- Helicopter/gyrocopter flights over the route we will have walked
- White water rafting
- Flights to Everest
- Visit the Gurkha museum
- Hire a Lee Enfield motorbike
- Laze by the lake
- Get a post-hike massage
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes. Lots! Not least of which is safety and what-ifs. But at this stage you should have an idea of whether you are interested, whether you can afford it, and whether the proposed timeframe will fit your schedule. If I get sufficient interest, I will invest the necessary time to document everything else, and to put a proper itinerary together.
What shall I do next?
If you need to know a bit more, or to register your interest (without commitment at this stage), please email me.
* This is not a for-profit venture merely aiming to help people get to Nepal and do a trek to see the Himalayas. It is not a 'formal' event. Everyone will be perfectly free to set their own timetables and agenda if they so wish. Consequently, everyone must have their own suitable insurance. Check that your policy will cover you for trekking up to 4500m, and that it would cover for a helicopter evacuation (heaven forbid). Attending this trek constitutes an agreement that I cannot be held liable.
Video available here.