Now that the winter seems to be coming in full swing, we are sitting in our Dehradun office, feeling the chill breeze blowing through the window, reminiscing about what a wonderful Nepal season we just had. And we thought why not share it with the world.
While most of the team celebrated Diwali in Nepal, in between the high mountains, eating Dal bhat and enjoying a little Roxy, the few who were not in Nepal held the fort here. From trying to reply to DMs from tea houses to trying to communicate with other team members over a weak network at EBC and ABC, the last two months were a whirlwind of fun, drama, and adventure.
Our first batch of EBC (Everest Base camp) and Khopra Ridge treks were a success. (whew) While our batch of trekkers thoroughly enjoyed themselves, we ourselves are delighted with how wonderful the season went. Given the Covid situation, the number of people in Nepal was limited, making the usually overcrowded pubs in Thamel, Pokhara and Namche bazaar wonderful. Of course, there were trekkers, there were tourists, but it was way less compared to how it used to be in season, which we would say is one of the reasons for you to do a Nepal trek soon.
The tea houses were warm and cosy at every stop, with delicious ginger lemon honey tea and daal bhat served, the nights were cold but we had our warm beds at various tea houses every night. So even though we spent almost two months in Nepal, we came back refreshed and excited, eagerly looking forward to our summer season.
During our EBC batch, apart from the usual route, the amazing trekkers we had and the local guides who made the trek amazing, we also discovered a lot. The not so visited Gokyo lake number four and five have been added to our itinerary because they are so worth it. Also, we have added a little night trek, where we get to hike down in the moonlight and are setting our summer batch dates according to the moon!
Yes, that's how mesmerized we were with the night walk, where we made our way to the tea house under the eyes of all the snowcapped peaks around us glowing in the white moonlight. Ah, it really was magical. And we want more people to experience it, which is why the tweak in our itinerary. If you plan on ever doing EBC, make sure you witness these lakes and the night hikes, even without us. To stand amongst the high mountains, bowing to them, feeling their immense grandeur and yet their humble existence is a rarity which you should experience once in your life at least.
Khopra Ridge has always been a very special trek to us. This was the first offbeat trail we explored way back in BC (Before Covid era) in the year 2018. And now in DC 2021 (During Covid era) we took our first batch of trekkers and boy did we encounter lots of different experiences and moments.
Though our batch was in Mid October, we had to battle sudden rainfall for the initial three days of the trek, which posed an interesting challenge. As we processed, during the trek we had to improvise the itinerary and we ended up staying at Dobato for two days which was an extremely good decision.
We ended up getting the best view of the trek at Muldai viewpoint, experienced the old trail to Khopra Ridge from Dobato, got the opportunity to witness Muktinath and Lower Mustang after our trek and the best part of this change was eating freshly plucked apples from Marpha village.
While working as a team has always been our priority during any of our trips or activities, we have to say, this batch of trekkers in Khopra were some of the best we have come across.
One of the major takeaways from this trek was the useful and much-required reflection sessions we had at the end of each day. These sessions, where we sat and discussed with everyone about the trail, the trek, the weather, the decisions for the next day and our shortcomings made this trek more worth full and valuable.
And we saved the best news for the end. Since we were in Nepal and the mountains were not filled with too many trekkers, we took this opportunity to explore some more trails, especially in the Annapurna circuit and Manaslu. So we will be adding a few more treks in the off-beaten path, hopefully in the coming year. Not only will Khopra Ridge and Tilicho lake be on our list but maybe even the recently explored Manalsu circuit and a few others, which we will share soon enough.
EXPLORING MANASLU CIRCUIT (MCA):
This Nepal season was like a dream come true for us. The most waited exploration of the Manaslu circuit was successfully completed! For those of you who haven't heard about the Manaslu circuit, that's exactly the reason we wanted to explore this trek and start running it. It is as raw as it can get! (with tea houses, luxury and permits, so, not all that 'Into the wild' raw)
This trek runs close to the Tibet Border with places like Samdo and Larkya Bazar, which are a part of the trail just an hours hike away from the border. Many years back, traders use to sell clothes and goods at Samdo and Larkya Bazzar and we were walking and visiting the same routes, giving the whole trekking culture here a unique vibe.
With Tibetan influence and culture, this circuit in Nepal is very different from its sister Annapurna circuit. This also makes Permits for Manaslu Circuit costlier, when compared to Annapurna Circuit or even Everest Base Camp. This trek needs three permits from the Manaslu Conservation Area, Annapurna Conservation Area and Manaslu Restricted Area.
We discovered that Manaslu Circuit is not meant for solo trekkers as you need a licensed guide or porter and two trekkers are compulsory. It does sound like a little pain in the butt, doesn't it? But after exploring this region, we have discovered that these are the very reasons that make this trek so raw, so cultural that you can see it through every village you visit.
Himanshu says, "Despite trekking and working in ACAP and Sagarmatha National Park for years I never came across such a beautiful and raw trek in Nepal. Full of heritage and natural beauty, Manaslu Circuit is still in the mode of alpine trekking."
Okay, guess we need to stop about Manaslu, we got too excited about it and went overboard, but it's the very reason why you should join us on this trek this summer. It is very unique, raw and simply put - beautiful.
And last but not the least, we trekked in style with a few bottles of Gin for a brand that wanted us to shoot in the Himalaya for them. The Gins which are made from Himalayan juniper got a photoshoot in their hometowns. As the content creator for this particular company, we had a blast shooting in the glaciers, in semi-frozen lakes and various tea houses, while having a sip or two every other day of this delicious bottle of Gin.
More on this later. As for now, time to take a few more sips, get warm and hope that you are convinced to join us for our Nepal batches this summer!