We are quite certain this question might arise in many of you, why trek in Nepal when India herself has her share of the Himalayas. And it is true, we do have such beautiful landscapes, so many treks scattered all over in J&K, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal.
Nepal however has developed its niche in the world of trekking, and it is for a reason. One of the major ones being the Tea House Culture.
These cosy warm houses, present on almost all the trails in Nepal makes trekking there a luxury. We kid you not, but trekking to the Everest Base Camp which takes around 15-18 days could be considered as tough as trekking to Rupin Pass or Auden Col, which takes around eight days but involves camping in tents, carrying a heavy backpack, using the toilet tent in rough weather and waking up to a foot of snow around your tent.
So in simple words, tea houses reduce the weight on your back considerably. You do not have to carry a tent, a sleeping bag, utensils, or ration. You simply have to carry your backpack filled with warm clothes, first aid, shoes and socks and trek up to the next tea house and be welcomed to the aroma of warm tea drifting past the dining room.
You get up refreshed every morning, after a good night’s rest in a comfortable room with a good mattress and a heavy blanket to keep you warm. You can order anything you want from a menu that includes Indian, Chinese and even Italian dishes.
So you might be at 15,000 ft. above sea level, and be munching on a hot slice of pizza in a warm dining room lit with a fireplace, sitting and talking to this Mexican trekker who made it there to trek to Everest as well.
To top it all, you can even get Wi-Fi at those altitudes. Of course at a price, but for those of you who are Instagram influencers or want to give live updates, every evening when you reach a tea house, you can upload those photos and videos, talk to your loved ones, inform them about your day and go to bed knowing that your family knows you are safe and sound.
Yes, we know it isn’t like the camping experience they show on TV or project trekking the Himalayas to be like. There are no tents, no bonfire, and no sleeping bags. But that’s a reason why trekking is sustainable in Nepal.
In India, trekking revolves around tent pitching and camping. But that means we dig up new holes every trekking season to set up the toilet tent, we hire a lot of mules to carry our load up which of course are overworked, and they do excrete a lot, causing slippery trails, more carbon footprint, and general harm to animals and nature.
We pitch tents in a vast meadow in various areas, scattered all across thus harming the grass here and there. The flowers don’t bloom well in those areas, the grass is less green in those patches, so overall, those five days of trekking by us can cause more harm to that pristine environment than ten days in Tea houses in Nepal.
And of course, the waste generated by us, our snickers wrapper or the hot plate of Maggi we are bound to eat, those single-use packets are burnt there thus causing more pollution. We are not saying that Nepal doesn’t have those energy bars wrapped in plastic, but they have more wholesome food cooked in those tea houses, reducing the need for Maggi packets on the trails.
Since the trekking culture has evolved there over the past few decades, Kathmandu, especially Thamel has developed to cater to the needs of various trekkers. You will find shops selling everything you need for a trek, from authentic North Face trek pants to fake Fleece jackets. Depending on your budget, Nepal has it all. You could even land here empty-handed and buy a backpack along with all the items needed for the trek with the help of friendly shop keepers, taxi drivers or hostel/ hotel receptionists.
BIG MOUNTIAN VIEWS:
You are almost guaranteed to see one of those mighty snow-capped peaks from every base camp you go to. Be it in Kathmandu or Pokhara, or during the trek, you will come face to face with many of the mighty eight thousand-ers, and be humbled along the way.
And the best part is that you never run short of them. Nepal is known not only for the famous Everest/ Everest Base Camp trek but it also has the famous Annapurna Base Camp trek. Tilicho Lake trek and Khopra Ridge trek are some of the lesser-known but equally beautiful treks which can be done on a shorter duration.
We would never want to be in a situation where you would need to be rescued but during the worst-case scenario, Nepal has more helicopter rescue service available and is easier to access them. You have chances of seeing or hearing Helicopters fly across while doing EBC.
Since trekking is taken very seriously, Nepal has a vast work opportunity for trekking guides and porters. They have a whole Trekking Agency Association of Nepal which caters to the standards of guides. The guides are certified and have a license that they renew every two years, making this industry very safe and secure.
Nepal also depends more on porters than mules, thus creating a strong demand for men who are capable of carrying loads up high altitude mountains.
Nothing like this has been developed in India yet, and when you go trekking, it is usually the local villagers who guide you on the mountain slope. While they are well educated in the mountain trails and routes, they fall short in safety and rescue missions as they are unusually not trained to work as a guide specifically.
So, if sitting in a fire lit warm dining room, eating hot delicious pasta, admiring the mighty snow-capped peaks from the window after a day of high altitude trekking is not enough to convince you to give trekking in Nepal a try, maybe the Wi-Fi, the sustainability, the tourism boost where the incomes go to the villager who runs the tea houses, the helicopter rescue safety net should!
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