I am lucky in that I have been to Nepal many times. I worked in the east for four years forty years ago and have been back at intervals since. Many things have altered but the wonderful people and landscape remain unchanged. Nepal is the 6th poorest country in the world and forty years ago the population was 11 million, today it is 26 million. It has an unstable political situation and therefore remains a very poor country. On this trip I joined a group of 11, 2 of whom I worked with when I first went to the country in 1969.
The Manaslu area was restricted and only opened to foreigners in 1991. Manalsu in the 8th highest mountain in the world and our trip involved walking round it, basically up one valley across a pass and down another valley, with the sound of thundering water most of the time. The standard days allotted is 21 which is exactly what we did. I was expecting it to be less travelled and more strenuous than it turned out to be. There are nothing like the tourists on the well known routes but we did see groups every day especially French and German but so far there are comparatively few tourist type lodges which you find on the popular routes and it would be difficult to find space for a big group to stay
We camped and had a Sirdar called Mingma in charge he is a delightful man and known to us from previous visits, there were 3 “Sherpas” who looked after us and walked with us, a cook team of 4 and at the start 22 porters reducing to 15 by the end of the trek. The porters (who are wonderful) carried 30-35 kg. Their basic wage has greatly improved though pressure from the Maoist movement in recent years
A usual day started with tea at 6am just as it was light followed by washing water, both brought to the tent. Breakfast at 6.45(having packed our bags), which consisted of porridge and eggs and some form of bread. We left at 7.30 and usually walked until 11 or 12 and then had lunch ----salad chips sardines cheese bread etc but we did persuade the cook that we also liked dhal bhat (rice and curry) Then we walked varying lengths in the afternoon and had tea on arrival and then supper at 6pm when it suddenly gets dark, the food was just excellent dhal bhat every evening and pasta or potatoes etc as well. Games until 8 and then bed
We spent 2 nights in Kathmandu and then went by bus to Ghorka with the most horrendous traffic queues. The first week of the trek was in low lands among fields of rice millet etc which was just beginning to be harvested. It was hot and muggy with late monsoon rain; we then gradually gained height and reached the Bhotiya area near Deng 6000ft. From then on we were in a different landscape with ethnically very different people. Samagaon(11½000ft) was the biggest village the houses were very basic made of dry stone walling all huddled together with small court yards in front There was some electricity for light but no piped water or drains. Wood and Yak dung are used for fuel. We spent 2 nights in Samdo 12600ft to acclimatise to the altitude and then one night at the base of the pass at 14600ft In all this area we saw thousands of yaks also horses grazing on the hills—the Nepal equivalent of upland sheep in the UK Here it was lovely in the sun but the moment it disappeared it was very cold --- well under freezing. We had the most wonderful views of the mountains at dawn dusk and in moonlight—when the mountains look omo white. In this area there are many signs of the Buddhist faith – chortens prayer wheels and flags and monasteries
In this later area we were only 4hrs walk away from Tibet and saw Yak train after Yak train one containing 50 yaks and 10 ponies most of which were decorated with tassels and bells and accompanied by Tibetans—carrying salt blankets biscuits rice etc The yaks and ponies are not aware of the panniers they carry so it was always advisable to walk on the inside of he path when meeting them!
We came across a Scottish group of 18 including one man in a “skirt” –they had a salutary tale to tell, they had allowed 13 days for the trip and as a result had not allowed adjustment to altitude and at least 4 of them had to turn back due to sickness
The day of crossing the Larkya pass 17000ft we got up at 4 and left at 5am. The path was rocky and rather icy but there was little snow the path down very steep. We reached Bimtang the first settlement on the other side in 9½hrs. 3 days later we joined the Annapurna circuit route and followed that for 3 days against the flow of trekkers. The last evening was party night for everyone----a cake a special meal drinks dancing and the giving of the tips. Then the next day a 3 hour bus journey to Pokhara where we stayed 2 nights and enjoyed long hot showers and good food (not that our food hadn’t been excellent throughout. Then a flight to Kathmandu for 2 nights and home
A wonderful holiday.