For a long time we were thinking about going to Nepal for trekking. So one year ago we started to plan this trip together with our two friends Kirsty and Freddy from Australia.
After some research we decided that we would like to go hiking in the Manaslu Conservation Area. Because you are only allowed to hike there with a guide we started looking for a suitable company and we decided to go with "3 sisters adventure trekking" – a company which was founded almost 20 years ago by 3 sisters and now empowers Nepalese women and provides female guides and assistants for trekking in Nepal. It turned out that this was an excellent decision which we never regretted - we had such a wonderful time with the girls :-)
But let's start from the beginning:
We met Kirsty and Freddy in Iran in 2014 and are friends since then. Some months before our trip a Couchsurfer recommended staying in much more quiet Patan instead of Kathmandu so this is what we did. For 3 nights we stayed in a lovely family-run guesthouse. The weekend we arrived was "Diwali festival of lights" where people colorfully decorate the entrances of their homes and also go to visit their families.
We still needed to pay for the trek and get the money needed for food and accommodation during the trek. Because of the festival many ATMs were empty or only gave us a very low amount of money. So we needed to dedicate one whole morning to get a lot of Nepalese Rupies. After taking two local transport (one of them being an E-TukTuk) we finally arrived at a bank (thank you Standard Charted!!) where we managed to get enough money for the four of us.
Patan at night
Finally we left for our trekking adventure. From one of the countless bus stations we got on a local bus from Kathmandu to Arughat. After one hour driving out of the city… we had a flat tire ;-) After a 1 hour break at the dusty mechanics next to the road the bus was good to go and after another 7 hours we arrived at our final destination. There we met our guide Dawa and our two assistants Laxmie and Kalpana for the first time and from the very first moment we could tell that we would have an excellent time with these 3 lovely women.
our little hiking group - us four with our guide Dawa (right) and our two assistants Laxmie and Kalpana
The next day we left for our 12-day-trek. We started in lush green jungle with rice fields and countless beautiful waterfalls. This was not exactly what we expected to see in Nepal. Because Nepal is much closer to the equator the climate is very different to ours. After 3 hours of walking we reached the very end of the road. From now on there was only a small path along the valley. We were very lucky with the weather - we had no rain at all and only clouds in the afternoons. It was harvesting time during our time in Nepal. At lower altitudes they harvested bananas and rice. At higher altitudes they harvested wheat and millet, carrots, cabbage and apples.
lush vegetation at the start of our trek
This is what a typical day was like during the trek:
We normally got up at 6:00am when the sun was rising. Then we packed everything and had breakfast from 6:30 to 7:00. Around 7:30 we left our accommodation and started hiking. We walked along the river, passed some small villages, went up and down a lot and crossed the river on hanging bridges a couple of times. After 3-4 hours we made a lunch break. This usually took more than an hour because everything you order is cooked fresh. After lunch we normally continued walking for 2-4 hours before we arrived at our accommodation for the day. Most times we had two-bed rooms - just twice we had four-bed rooms. At some places there was a warmish shower but mostly it was buckets with very cold water for (basic) washing. We had one set of clothes for hiking and in the evening we wore our second, non-smelly set of clothes. Every once in a while we did some washing. Electricity was available at some places and once we got higher you had to pay to charge your batteries. After arranging the stuff in our room
we mostly sat in the common room where we drank A LOT of tea and played Yahtzee (German: Kniffel) until it was time for dinner. Because the sun set around 6pm and evenings were cold we mostly went to bed around 8:30pm.
After the first 3 days of hiking the temperature started to get more moderate and suitable for us (not for Kirsty - she really embraces the heat ;-). The most beautiful part of the trek was the part from Namrung to Lho were we got the first proper view of the white snowy mountains and the glaciers. The first sunrise in Lho, were we could see Mount Manaslu, was amazing. Every day we had to let pass a lots of mules which carried supplies to all the villages. At higher altitudes we saw a lot of Yaks.
sunrise above Mount Manaslu
on our way to Sama Gaun we walked across 19 hanging bridges
big mountains making us feel small
During our trek we walked approximately 190km, went up and down nearly 15.000 height meters.
At the end of the trek we ended up at a road again. The next morning we were supposed to take the bus at 7:00am to Pokhara. We got up at 5:30 and 10 minutes later they told us the bus is already waiting outside for us. Hectically we packed all our stuff and 10 minutes later we were indeed ready to leave. But not so fast! First we had tea with the bus driver and even had breakfast before we left by bus - only to wait for 45 minutes at the main square of town to leave there at 7:00 :-)
When we arrived in Pokhara we cursed ourselves for booking a guesthouse on the edge of the city on a hill :-) But in the end this turned out to be the perfect place for us because after being in the nature for 12 days we were not ready for a busy, touristy city yet.
view over Pokhara and the Annapurna region
Before we had to go back to Kathmandu we did a one day stop in between in Bandipur. Bandipur is a nice, quiet, little village in the hilly mountains. There was a perfect viewpoint close-by for sunset and sunrise with a very nice view northwards to the high mountains of Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh and Langtang.
sunrise near Bandipur
On our last day we spontaneously decided that we still have some time to visit the "monkey temple" and also the touristy center in Kathmandu. In the evening we were sad to say goodbye to our dear friends and left to our hotel next to the airport. The location was excellent and the next morning we were able to walk to the airport.
traveling by bus takes a very very very long time – the road conditions are very bad
Flag of Nepal:
Motorbike drivers have to wear a helmet, passengers not
our Steripen always attracted lots of attention :-)
we were very satisfied with our shoes! Apart from 2 minor blisters we had no problems at all
it does not matter where you sit on the bus - there is always a loudspeaker box above you
we have travelled quite a bit so far but in Nepal we were at our first restaurant ever
that run out of rice.
They offered us cheeseburger or sandwiches instead - which we
thankfully declined and left...
Nepal is the only country with a non-quadrilateral national flag.
At the same time it has a time difference
of 3hours and 45 minutes
to middle Europe...
They obviously like to be a little different :-)