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Trekking Nepal’s Three High Passes, Sagarmatha

For a group of three Australianswho love adventurous walks and exploringfar-flung and wild places, the three high passes trek in Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park exceeded all expectations. An exhilarating 40 minute helicopter ride from Kathmandu to Lukla, acclimatising by climbing minor 5,000m ‘hills’ with no name, cautiously traversing some of the largest glaciers in the world, being immersed in age-old Sherpa culture, abundant forests and wildlife, Buddhist music and prayersand finally standing in the midst of giants to admire the most spectacular and awe inspiring views in the world. At one point – Gokyo Ri – you see four out of the world’s 6 highest peaks – Everest, Cho Oyo, Lhotse and Makalu. This walk has it all and more.

But the trek was also very challenging. At only 130 km it’s not a long walk, but the extreme altitude (extreme for us living at sea-level) means that the 20 odd days to complete the walkis regularly hard and slow going. “Bistari, bistari” (slowly, slowly) our ‘best guide in Nepal’, Pratap Gurung would often say as we laboured up each slope drawing in as much air into our unaccustomed lungs as we could. Taking our time and the careful acclimatising meant that we had no problems with the altitude – apart from being very tired at the end of each day!

Our trek provided many incredible highlights, including a side trip to Ama Dablam base camp. The mountain itself is one of the region’s most striking but is also a great place to acclimatise (walking the trek anti-clockwise) and escape the crowds that pound along the main route to Everest base camp. We also glimpsed Nepal’s national bird, the Danphe or Himalayan Monal, among many other birds, and on two occasions got very close to the stunningly beautiful Himalayan Tahr, a wild goat that is almost the size of a cow covered in luxurious, long brown hair.The abundant Yak, often labouring under heavy loads, are equally magnificent. We suspect that we also saw a Himalayan weasel scampering and foraging among rocks on Kalapathar, the highest point of the trek at 5,555m (or 500 hecto Pascals – half way up the atmosphere– in terms designed for meteorologists such as ourselves). Unfortunately we didn’t see any Yeti, but the monastery in Khumjung does display a Yeti scalp that adds yet another level of speculation, mystery and wonder.

By the time we returned to Kathmandu, this time by plane, we had time to reflecton a walk that we will remember all our lives. We thank the Keep Walking Nepal team and especially our guides Pratap and Chapel for sharing with us their expansive knowledge, keeping us safe and providing a window into the exceptionally tough lives and peaceful culture of the Sherpa who we always found welcoming and friendly – oh, and the card games were fun too! We also thank Yem and Yuba, our two porters – you guys are supermen!Since returning to Australia our main aim has been to find a Dahl Bhat as good as the ones enjoyed in Nepal. We are still searching so may have to return soon for another adventure in the mountainsNamaste,

- Dave, Rob and Deb,
  Melbourne Australia


Three weeks in the high altitudes of Himalaya

 

November 2017

Together with two friends I had been planned a 3-week trek in the Himalayas for some time. We wanted to hike The Three passes. And we wanted to start at Phaplu to include a visit to Junbesi and the KPHMN Health Centre and some days in then ice valleys proceeding the mountains.

In the middle of October‘17 we landed in Kathmandu and were friendly met in the airport by Ang and his crew. Later the same day I had made an appointment with the Norwegian Ambassadour in Nepal, and Ang join edus to this meeting. I am the chairman of The Norwegian Junbesi Group (NJG), one of the donor groups to the KPHMN Health Centre, and I wanted to inform the ambassador about the health centre and the financial work of NJG.

The next morning Ang woke us up earlier than agreed – what is going on? Ang smelled massive ques and problems at the airport, due to yesterdays cancellations and the fact that Lukla would have the priority to our destination Phaplu. To avoid a day or two with just quing up and waiting, Ang provided a brilliant solution for us, a helicopter trip to a decent price…

After just some minutes waiting the helicopter lifted off in the direction of Phaplu. One hour later we were trekking.

We had marvelous weeks, both in the lowlands up to Namche, and of course in the mountains above. It started with a wonderful ceremony at KPHMN Health Centre in Junbesi, it continued with a breath taken sightseeing at the Thupthen Chulong Monastery close by, and with nice moments in and between all the small villages along The mule highway passing Nunthala, Surke, Bupsa and Pakding up to NamcheBazar.

The mountain trek above Namche together with our brilliant guide Pratap becameas fantastic as we had dreamed of. The mountain sit selves, the giants of Himalaya, suited for the most beautiful sights one can imagine. And guide Pratap suited for the rest! For our safety, for keeping down our pace, for inspiring us when needed and for continuously boosting the atmosphere with his jokes and positivity! Not an average man, but an out-of-this-world superhuman!

What an experience, from our path along The Three Passes wecould be close to the giants -to Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Lhotse and of course – to Mt. Everest, all the mountains we had read about and admired in the Himalaya literature. So close that we felt like touching them!

None of us felt any kind of high altitude sickness during the trek. The KWN Plan for acclimation was brilliant. 3-600 meters a day, slow race, some resting days that were used to reach a summit close by and gain height and then walk down again for rest and sleep at lower altitude. High in the day time, lower at night – a well working prescription!

I also have to emphasis out guide’s care taking when one of us became sick. With professionalism and emphatic care taking and in no doubt what to do, this was handled in the best way. All ways focused, alway scaring, always with a smile in his eyes.

So a big thanks to Keep Walking Nepal for great moments and a lot of fantastic memories from the Solukhumbu this autumn.

- Per Tronsaune,
  Norway


A recent trip to Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang!!!

A recent trip to Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang, WOW, WOW, WOW. A trip beyond expectations. The scenery, people, villages, culture, food - all totally captivating.

Originating in Kagbeni, a very lovely and typically picturesque village at the start of the Annapurna region, we got permits to travel into the Annapurna Conservation area. The very rudimentary road then took us up the banks of the Kali Gandaki river, which was very wide but only had low flow for the time of the year but was spectacular. The Kali Gandaki river originates in Tibet and has the deepest gorges in the world, plus includes the peaks of Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas, and Nilgiri mountains. The ‘road’ was formed into the sides of the sheer gorges. The scenery was not the rainforest type – more the barren but beautiful and very dramatic gorges and sheer cliff faces dropping to the river a long way below. The villages and villagers along the way were original and untouched by tourism, which provided us with a lovely insight into genuine Nepalese life. We stayed in teahouses at villages along to way, each village had its own character and history.

We thought about hiking the whole way (probably around 8 days), but decided that hiring a jeep would make the trip more comfortable - a decision that suited us in the end. With the three of us, plus the absolute best guide and driver in Chepal and Tenzing, we were able to change our itinerary as we liked. Our only time requirement was the 10 day permit. So we walked when we felt like it – mostly we covered around 10 km a day, but this would have been 20 km if the ups and downs were factored in!

If you are someone who likes treks out of the ordinary, I cannot recommend this trip enough. This is the road less travelled where the locals aren’t jaded by tourists and are genuinely happy and welcoming, and the scenery is beyond stunning. The trip in every aspect was a real boost for the soul. But the road is under construction and will in the next few years be a gateway to China. So do it now before progress changes everything. Keep Walking Nepal tailored our itinerary perfectly

– we’re very, very happy.

- Felicity Bunny ,
  Bunbury, Western Australia


We conquered Everest Base camp

After our flights were delayed, feeling exhausted from the 15+ hour flight, we arrived at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport at 11.15pm.

Making our way past many eager taxi drivers, we met our energetic Himalayan Guide, Pratap, who was waiting for us just outside the airport with a ‘Keep Walking Nepal’ sign.  He greeted my wife, Chikayo, and I by putting a golden scarf around our necks (a brilliant Nepalese tradition). He made a quick call for a taxi and we were on our way. Once we reached the ‘Hotel Tibet’, we quickly made our way to our room to fall fast asleep, dreaming of the adventure to come..

After the first day full of Sightseeing, Thamel shopping, delicious Nepalese food, and trek briefings, we were full of anticipation for our flight to the infamous Lukla Airport and our 17-day Himalayan trek.

It wasn’t long before we were all boarded on a small, fully-packed, propellor aeroplane admiring the fantastic mountain views you can see shortly after you take off from Tribhuvan. Then, a mere 30-minute flight later, it was time to land at Lukla.. known as one of the World’s most dangerous airports. I said a little prayer to myself.

The prayer worked. After safely arriving at Lukla, then having a cup of tea to calm the motion-sickened stomach, we were back on our way to the first destination Phakding.

Along the track, we crossed many a suspension bridge overlooking the powerful Dudh Koshi (translated: Milky River).  Making our way up the massive Solukhumbu valley, we passed through several small communities, stopping to have a Dal Bhat (Nepalese Curry) lunch in Monjo. Bought a raw carrot from a stall vendor, washed and ate it (my biggest mistake).  We met many excited fellow trekkers from different parts of the world.  I was stopped by a local as I mistakenly used a paid toilet, instead of the next-door free toilet and didn’t realise it.  We spotted a family of Wild Himalayan Tahrs, and reached the Sherpa Capital of Namche Bazaar. All in a day’s walk.

The next (supposedly) rest day, as we started to climb to Namche Bazaar’s ‘Everest View Hotel’ (EVM), both altitude sickness and stomach problems struck me. First, I descended back to our accommodation in Namche, then ended being toilet-ridden for the rest of the day.. That rascally raw carrot taking vengeance.

While Diamox medication cleared the altitude sickness, my stomach problems stuck with me for the next week. But I pushed on. Finally reaching EVM, then seeing native birds known as Danfe & Kalij just outside Tengboche (home to Tibetan Buddhist monastery), and reaching Dingboche, the going got tougher and tougher.  Staying hydrated become more difficult, and with the air’s oxygen down to approximately 64%, taking a full-breath was harder too.  But, the views were priceless/breath-taking - seeing few clouds during the morning, the views of Ama Dablam and as we climbed higher, Lhotse, Nupste and the magnificent Mt. Everest (In Nepalese: ‘Sagamartha’ from which the National Park is called).

Finally, days later, after several more hours of trekking, we reached Everest Base Camp.  An unforgettable moment full of jubilation. Many photos were taken and high fives given.  Awaiting the next day, starting at an early 5.30am from Gorak Shep, toes and fingers losing their feeling from the cold, we would reach our highest point of 5,535m at Kala Patthar.

Chikayo, my wife, was starting to feel ‘worse for wear’, but she too wanted to continue.  So, we made our way back through Lobuche to Dzongla for next night’s rest. After Dzongla, the next few days would mean crossing two slippery, ice-covered passes, Cho La & Renjo La, 5,420m and 5,360m respectively and traversing the long Ngozumpa glacier. On already exhausting legs, the going was tough. But, determined to make the most of it, we pushed on.  And, my word, we were glad we did!

Between the two passes is a place called Gokyo, known for its’ beautiful lakes, World’s highest bakery and the climb to Gokyo Ri (5,357m) where we saw the most amazing views.  Gokyo Ri was so good I decided to climb twice in the same day, the latter at sunset to see the angelic reflection on Mt Everest.

Yet, sunset was COLD! At the top, my hands started to hurt and lose their feeling from the cold, so cold I decided to put them in the warmest place I knew.. In my pants, while descending quickly. The idea worked. My hands started to regain feeling and I soon could descend slower.  As it was now night, stars blanketed the sky.  I stood in awe, looking up at the most clearest of night skies I had ever seen. I felt privileged to be alive.

Chikayo and Pratap were awaiting my return at the hotel. Glad to see I was okay, we shortly went to bed ready to take on the second pass, Renjo La, the next day.

At 4.45am, we woke to get ready for the pass. By 6.00am, we were on our way.  A chilly morning, we caught our first glimpse of the sun’s ray through the mountain peaks before 7.00am. By 9.30am, we had reached the top. Our last view of Mt. Everest, more photos. We quickly descended about 1,000m to Lumde to stay that night.

After this, feeling totally exhausted from the day after day trekking and stomach sickness, the next few days seemed to drag on.  Chikayo had enough of carrying her bag, so Pratap and I assisted by taking turns to carry it. As well, rather than spurring ourselves to see the next amazing view, we instead imagined what we would eat for lunch or dinner.. Dal Bhat, Himalayan pizza, or yak steak.. What would be on the menu at the next lodge?

As I had lost over 2 kilograms during my trek, I started eating bigger breakfasts.  Each morning, I would eat chocolate pancakes and cheese omelettes.. Yummy!  Also, if we found a great coffee shop, we would take a break and have a mocha or cappuccino.

We finally returned to Lukla, where many a trekker were celebrating their achievement of reaching Everest Base Camp.  We had more great meals, chatting with fellow trekkers, and immersing ourselves in the local culture learning a few basic Nepalese sayings.

Finally, the last day, we woke 7.30am for an early flight departure from Lukla return to Kathmandu.  The take off from Lukla was even more exciting than the landing.. Not to mention the views from the aeroplane were clearer than they had been 17 days previous.

Arriving in Kathmandu, we were greeted by Ang Sherpa from ‘Keep Walking Nepal’ at the Hotel Tibet. We reminisced over our time and we could tell this was not going to be the only time we would come to Nepal.  Now, back in Australia, we are already planning our next trip to Nepal! 

- Philip and Chikayo,
  North Adelaide, Australia


GYKYO LAKES

In April 2013 I went to Nepal with a group of family and friends and we walked the Annapurna Villages Lodge Trek with Keep Walking Nepal. We had a fantastic experience with this company and the Sherpas and the Porters made the experience enjoyable. The scenery, the food in fact all aspects of the trek were positive. I found myself looking at other trek options on my return. After the earthquake I knew that I would return.

In April 2016 I was once again headed for Nepal. The people Ang, who were my main contact with Keep Walking Nepal could not do enough to ensure that I was able to trek once again in this amazing country. I signed up for a trek to Gokyo Lakes. I was the only tourist on this trek with Keep Walking Nepal and I found this personalized tour incredibly enjoyable. I met a lot of people on the trek and I found that there were always others wanting to discuss their day and a range of other topics. So I would encourage anyone thinking about trekking “alone” to give it a go.

My Sherpa was Chepal and Bikram was the porter. They both looked after me and monitored me in relation to how I was coping with the altitude. Gokyo lakes is 4,790meteres and if you go to Gokyo Ri you end up at 5,357 meters. I had helpful tips along the way about diet which include taking Diamox and eating garlic soup.

The flight into Lukla on a small plane is one I will never forget. The scenery on the way was dramatic and very beautiful. The runway is very short and very steep. Definitely a bucket list experience. There were a lot of high fives when the plane landed. We then began day 1 of a 15-day walk. I was really lucky that Chepal like myself was keen to take photos so we stopped for what was a lot of photo opportunities. This also allowed me time to catch my breath and have a drink. The higher the altitude the more I stopped. I found myself going WOW a lot and I would do a 360 turn and the views in all direction were just as amazing. I really needed to pinch oneself to confirm I was there.

We walked from Lukla to Monjo where we stayed the night. A great deal of care is taken to ensure that you acclimatize along the way so some days are shorter than others, the aim is to climb no more than 500 meters a day. The next day we entered the Sagamartha National Park and walked initially along the river to Namche Bazaar crossing several bridges the photo is of the highest one of all. This is the last bridge before the steep climb into Namche. In the photo below you can see the old and new bridge suspended above the river. We took the higher one.

We had our first view of Everest from the trek on the way to Namche Bazaar.

Namche Bazaar is the Sherpa capital. I really enjoyed our time here. Two days on the way there and one on our return.

The next 3 days we trekked through Phortse Tenga, Dole and Machermo. Each location had magnificent views. It was becoming colder as we climbed. We were extremely luck with the weather as the days were clear and we were offered the most stunning views of the Himalayan mountains.

We spent 2 days in Goyko Lakes. By this time the vegetation was nearly nonexistent. The walk in offered a different feel from what we had so far. I know that I keep using descriptive language however this was totally stunning. Below are my two companions, Chepal on the left and Bikram on the right.

It started snowing on the first day we were there so I spent the afternoon with a book in front of the yak poo fire. Fantastic. We were joined by a large group of people from the British military.

I woke up in the morning and opened the curtains to the white mountains which were dramatic in their beauty. I looked down and realized that everything was white. Coming from South Australia where we never see snow it was a real treat. I could not get outside quick enough with the camera. I should also mention that my face washer was frozen in my room. Was it cold – very.

I decided not to walk all of Goyko Ri as I was concerned with slipping and needing to be helicoptered out with snow on the ground. We did walk about a third up as condition became a little better.

We were lucky in that although it snowed again in the afternoon the next morning the trek out conditions were good.

We walked back from Goyko to Dole then to Phortse Village. What a nice evening that was, we were the only ones in the lodge so we were joined around the fire by the lovely young women who looked after us there. Before dinner we were able to go for a walk and come across the national bird and a musk deer.

The next stop was to Tengboche. It was very overcast when we arrived and you could not see too far in front, this became worse as the day went on. Tengboche is home to the Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Each morning on the trek you are bought a cup of tea and a bowl of water for a wash. This morning Chepal could not get to the window quick enough to open the curtains to a view of Everest.

Our next stop was Namche, then Phakding then Lukla. From there we headed back to Kathmandu.

Would I recommend this trek – absolutely. Be prepared to ensure that you are as fit as you can be. There are not too many places in Australia that we can even begin altitude training. We can train for strength and endurance. This trek is not for a person who wants 5-star accommodation however the beds are great at the end of a day. You also need to be prepared to share the trek with herds of donkeys we had up to 40 at once. I loved the yak’s and the dzopko. You will come across a lot of mani walls which you always keep to the left of.

The experience of the Himalayas and viewing Everest is something I will never forget. I am so glad I have been there. Will I return? I get the feeling that once you have been to Nepal there is always a pull to return. So many people I met on my journey had been there numerous times.

- Susan Waite,
  Australia


MOVEMENTS OF ASSISTING IN REMOTE NEPAL

In March 2016 our group of five Australians, took part in a community project in Junbesi assisting with the school reconstruction. During the 2015 April earthquake three of the school buildings collapsed, forcing the school to relocate to a temporary school located near the KPHMN health clinic.  Our job was to help clear the site of one of the collapsed buildings so that local engineers could assess the remaining foundations prior to reconstruction. Over the course of six working days we shifted many tons of rock and rubble to the school playground, resulting in the creation of a large mound of rock in the playground that we named Mt. Junbesi.

During our stay in Junbesi we experienced the Holi Festival and did not escape being daubed with brightly coloured pigment ! On another day many of the school children and their teachers came down to where we were working and we were able to form four chains of hands working in parallel, greatly increasing our flow of rocks to Mt. Junbesi. We also had a few rest days where we walked up to Thuptenchholing Monastery, and Phurteng where our hoped for view of Everest was thwarted by cloud. We stayed at Choti's lodge and one night we had a party there with the teachers from the school. We experienced disco Junbesi style, dancing in circles around the wood fired stove. It was quite something !


At the end of our time in Junbesi it was satisfying to see the results of our rock hurling work. We were looked after well by our trek leader Pratap and well fed by our cook Kumar. Some of us are planning to go back in a year or two and it will be interesting to see how far the school reconstruction has progressed. Thanks to Ang for organising a memorable trip.

- Chris Chapman,
  Junbesi Rock Hurlers


I went on the Everest Base Camp Trek with Keep Walking Nepal in November 2015. Upon arriving at the airport in Kathmandu, I was promptly greeted by my guide for the Trek, Pratap. I was escorted to the very comfortable Yak & Yeti Hotel. There, I met with Ang, the owner of the company and we went over the itinerary of the trip. The following morning, Pratap greeted me in the hotel lobby and we drove to the airport. We took a very exciting 30 minute propeller airplane ride to mountain airstrip in Lukla. There, I met my porter for the trip, Kayla, who seemed to have superhuman strength. Kayla took great care of my belongings and always smiled while he carried my bag up steep mountains passes.

Our adventure lasted for 13 exciting and fun filled days, trekking from mountain village to village.  Pratap was highly professional, knowledgable about mountain trekking, high altitude medicine and a genuinely good person. His many years experience as a guide in the Everest region made sure that we only stayed in the best rooms in the best tea houses. While he always looked out for my safety, he gave me ample independence to leave the tea house at night and take some striking photos of the moonlit mountains. Through carefully planned altitude acclimatization, we solidly reached the trek goal of Everest Base Camp and Kala Pathar (5,550 meters).

In summary, my trek with Keep Walking Nepal surpassed all expectations and is an experience I will never forget. I highly recommend this company. If you are lucky, you will also get Pratap as a guide.

Everest Base camp,
November 2015.

- Eugene Valsky,
  USA


Our experiences on the Manaslu circuit tea house trek have left us with memories we will treasure forever.

This trek took us through a variety of landscapes and scenery that took our breath away. The mountain views certainly lived up to our expectations in every way but there were also the jeep rides, the raging rivers, and then the walks through the rhododendron forests after the high Larkya Pass were so calming and a lovely environment to process in our minds all that we’d seen and experienced.

Summit day was a highlight in spite of the altitude and we can’t say enough “Thank You’s” for the practical help and care given to us by our guide Pratap and by Kumar getting us up and then down the pass.

We feel privileged to have been shown this part of their country by Keep Walking Nepal. They are a truly wonderful, caring, fun and above all, professional group of people.

- Geoff and Rhonda,
  Australia


SOLE TREKKER EXPERIENCE WITH KWN

With regards to walking in Nepal as the sole trekker, I can say it was a very positive experience. The Keep Walking Nepal staff met me at the airport and were very welcoming as was Pemba and later Ang. They were willing to put in quite a lot of time to showing me around their city prior to going on the walk and were sensitive to my needs as a fairly ignorant traveller in their country, ie in dealing with beggars and sellers of wares on the streets and bargaining in the shops.

As far as the trek went, it was wonderful. One of the big pluses of being the sole trekker was that I could virtually go at my own pace. I was reasonably fit but had asthma problems at times and guides were very accommodating of my slow moments. We obviously had destinations planned for each day and needed to achieve those but if I needed a rest there wasn't pressure to keep pushing on, I was able to stop and take photos and they were happy to take photos of me if I asked, I think they actually offered to do that - as Pratap said "it's your holiday". Pratap and Lhakpa [guides]were also very helpful with some of the steeper steps and awkward moves on the trek, such as in deep snow or icy snow and would offer me a hand if needed and when I got sick they carried my day pack when I was struggling.

As the only trekker I was able to ask many questions and learn a lot about the local culture, and Pratap was very good at volunteering information and explaining about things such as the mountains we could see, as well as flowers and plants we saw along the way. I also managed to learn quite a bit of Nepali language/phrases from them and some of the writing of numbers. They were willing to spend some time with me during the afternoons/evenings and taught me some card games, even a local folk song. I did teach them some things about Australia, a song and card game and stuff about my life in Australia, it was a good two-way exchange. I needed to be aware they needed some time out each day, particularly on the Holy Day holiday.

I was fortunate that I had a twin room to myself each night, so had plenty of room to spread out my belongings, I might have found that a lot harder if I'd been sharing the room, particularly with someone I didn't know! My trip to Nepal was the first overseas trip in a long time and my first to a developing country, as well as my first solo trip (other than one to Tasmania) I'm reasonably happy in my own space but do like company at times, so, even if Pratap and Lhakpa were busy elsewhere, there were often groups of other trekkers at the Lodges who spoke some or good English and I made friendly contact with a number of them and have exchanged some photos with a group in the Netherlands, I would also take time out to amuse myself with reading or sketching, but I'd probably do that in a group anyway.

I was quite surprised to be doing the trek by myself but in fact had a wonderful holiday thanks to the lovely welcoming staff at Keep Walking Nepal. I would recommend it as a great holiday, fantastic opportunity to meet a whole new range of people and get some different experiences.

- Sue Hurst,
  South Australia


NEPALESE NERVOUS - NO NEED!

As a post retirement convert to the joys and challenges of bush walking, the prospect of ever trekking in Nepal seemed impossibly elusive.

However, persuaded by Ron and Meredith Jackson that age and very moderate fitness was no barrier, three years ago I bit the bullet, since when I’ve thoroughly enjoyed two small group walks in Nepal led by Sherpa Ang and his caring team.

Doubtless informed by his three Everest ascents, Sherpa Ang’s constant mantra of ‘slowly, slowly’ enabled all of us to enjoy the wonderful scenery, people and cultures of his country. His team were always there to lend a helping hand carrying daypacks etc if needed.

So, if you’re nervous about trekking in Nepal from a fitness or altitude perspective, there’s really no need – just do it. I’m very glad I did.

Your contribution to Nepal as a developing country will also be appreciated!

- Dr Alan Bundy AM,
  Keep Walking SA


Mera Peak & Island Peak via Amphu Laptsa Pass - October 2011

I had the most amazing experience of trekking and climbing to Mera Peak and Island Peak via Amphu Laptsa Pass. There were 4 of us in the group, 3 guys and myself and we were extremely fortunate to have Ang Ngima Sherpa leading us. As a person Ang is truly a great Sherpa, his knowledge and the way he talks about his beloved Khumbu area, and his culture and the mountains is truly inspiring and he loves sharing this information with you. He is a great person and very professional as a leader. His decisions are made carefully with thought not haste, his attention to detail, handling of a few unforseen circumstances, and the respect he has for his team was very admirable. His vast experience with climbing gave great comfort in the middle of nowhere, I didn't feel I had to rush or to keep up at any time, he was very patient, helpful and careing We were very fortunate to have Ang sing for us and keep us entertained with music which he bought along. In the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold - how lucky were we to have entertainment. I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Ang as a leader for group treks or individual treking and climbing - you will be guaranteed of a wonderful memorable journey.

- Sue Fagoaga,
  Sydney Australia

Solukhumbu Valley trek — Nepal

My husband Malcolm and I began walking with Keep Walking last year and through them, found out about this small group trek along the Solukhumbu Valley in Nepal. We were joined by 4 others from 3 states. Flights to Kathmandu were booked separately and although we all arrived late at night at different times a few days before the trek officially started, Ang Ngima Sherpa our tour guide was at the airport to greet us and take us to our accommodation. We were off to Kathmandu airport for the flight to Phaplu the day after all had arrived and Ang told us to sit on the left side of the plane so that we could get a view of the mountains on the way. A half an hour later we landed at Phaplu airport to a magnificent view of Numbur/Khatang/Kerolung pictured below. After lunch we headed to Dhorphu markets down a walking track about three metres wide passing people coming uphill carrying all manner of goods on their backs. That evening we had dinner by candlelight waiting for the shared power to come on, then we were treated to dancing by the local youth group. It was “Bollywood” style and very well done. We all had a good time and joined in the dancing. The next day we headed for Junbesi, following a path alongside a river and stopping near a bridge where we sat in the sun while lunch was prepared for us. After lunch the walking got tougher, cobbled paths and high narrow steps, but the scenery was beautiful. We discovered that we were not as fit as we thought and found ourselves lagging, so Ang kept us company and looked after us, offering to carry my day pack. After a reasonably comfortable night at the lodge we spent the next day visiting the medical centre and passed Tashi Kongma Stupa, the highest stupa in the Everest Region on our way to Thuptenchholing Monastry. We watched the nuns all with shaved heads and red robes chanting together in a large room with a European style chandelier and lots of decorations and paintings on the walls. I soaked up the atmosphere while the nuns provided us with afternoon tea consisting of Nak’s (a female Yak) milk tea and biscuits. Then we were off to Phoughmuchi monastery and school where we watched young boys ranging from 8 to 16 years in another very decorative room playing brass instruments and chanting, . The students can go to school at the monastery up until 17 or 18 then choose whether to go on to university or become a monk. We spent the night at a Sherpa house where we were entertained with a display of Sherpa dancing and given Chang, a local alcoholic beverage which is an acquired taste. Next day we climbed 800 metres up a steep hill to reach an altitude of 3,470 metres. There is around 25% less available oxygen at that altitude than at sea level, and we huffed and puffed our way to the top while our guides walked up effortlessly chatting to each other in Nepali. It is possible to see Mount Everest from this point but the weather had closed in so we weren’t lucky enough to see it. We stayed overnight at the Everest View Hotel and the next day down to Ringmu where we saw several donkey trains taking supplies to Everest base camp and walked up a hill to see a 400 year old stupa. The following day we had a pleasant and easy walk back to Phaplu where we celebrated the end of the walk with our guides and porters with a bottle of Moet Champagne (supplied by Ang), beer and another brew made from millet which was quite nice. This was our first overseas holiday and it was very exciting and interesting to experience a different culture. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it has whetted our appetite to travel more.

- Heather Drew,
  South Australia


A sudden decision had me "meeting in Kathmandu" with several other bushwalkers, none of whom I had met before.

Easily met by Ang Ngima Sherpa at the airport, the whole experience was happy. It almost became a family journey of adventure and entry into a previously unknown culture. Ang's caring attitude of wanting to share his country and his valley and his culture with interested walkers left me with very intense memories.

'Keep Walking Nepal' took me on the best walking trip I have ever done, and I have done quite a lot.

- Cindi Birch,
  Cawarral, Queensland