Viewing 35 posts - 1 through 35 (of 35 total)
  • Nepal – anyone been?
  • bajsyckel
    Full Member

    I’ve always fancied a trip there, and it turns out that (as luck might have it) I might end up being able to sort a stopover in Nepal between jobs. It’d be March/ April time and I’d probably be able to take holiday up to a couple of weeks (not long enough I’m sure). I’m into mountainous stuff of all kinds including mountaineering and climbing, but have no illusions on planning anything big in a fortnight. Having said that, the usual peak circuits on the tourist trail don’t really appeal. Riding unlikely to be possible unless I can source a bike there. Oh, and budget will be minimal.

    Has anyone been, and can anyone recommend any sites/ resources/ guides to use for planning? Or care to share any experiences to get the creative juices flowing?

    coffeeking
    Free Member

    I could certainly give you a few warnings.

    bajsyckel
    Full Member

    Sounds interesting… let’s hear them… 😀

    wl
    Free Member

    You can trek Langtang in a couple of weeks, with a day or two in Kathmandu too. You can do it without a guide. Pretty touristy though, and the scenery’s good but not really mind-blowing – not that different to parts of the Alps and places. Great opportunity you’ve got there – have fun, pack bog roll.

    coffeeking
    Free Member

    Catch me on email (in my profile) – not something appropriate for public forum discussion and really follows normal rules, but you should probably be aware of the reality of it.

    bajsyckel
    Full Member

    Thanks wl, & coffeeking – will drop you a mail this evening.

    Jerome
    Full Member

    I went there in 1997 before the uprising.
    For a few months though.
    Guess you could fly into Lukla.
    Alltitude would be the killer for you, quite literally in some cases.

    wl
    Free Member

    No worries. Whatever the warnings, I wouldn’t let them put you off visiting – just adjust any expectations/behaviour accordingly maybe. Northern India is a smart alternative if you do decide to sack Nepal but still want a mountainous hol. Good luck.

    Jerome
    Full Member

    Has anyone been, and can anyone recommend any sites/ resources/ guides to use for planning? Or care to share any experiences to get the creative juices flowing?

    I had to ‘borrow’ the Nepal lonely planet guide from my local library to take with me, as I could not find a copy to buy. We did pay the fine..

    That would be my start for you, a more recent copy though.

    bajsyckel
    Full Member

    Alltitude would be the killer for you, quite literally in some cases.

    Indeed – hence not planning anything “big” – I realise this will likely compromise ideal scenario plans.

    Whatever the warnings, I wouldn’t let them put you off visiting – just adjust any expectations/behaviour accordingly

    Warnings are useful – I have a few colleagues who work in Nepal pretty regularly and can offer scare stories and advice too – but it’s always good to hear.

    Northern India is a smart alternative if you do decide to sack Nepal

    Thing is – it’s more the case that I may be able to transit through Kathmandu relatively straightforwardly, and it doesn’t seem to make much sense to then start to travel elsewhere “on the ground” too far when I’m likely only to have a couple of weeks. If that weren’t an issue, I’d be heading for Bhutan.

    hungrymonkey
    Free Member

    i’m going there in december for this trans nepal mtb race thingy, so i’d be keen to hear of coffeeking’s warnings!

    for the rest of the trip i’m lucky enough to have lots of contacts in the adv tourism industry there, but it’d be seen as spam if i posted them on here…

    druidh
    Free Member

    My Mrs is off there in March.

    coffeeking
    Free Member

    Warnings would be to go everywhere in at least pairs, be VERY wary of the sort of terrain as you’d expect but also the likely occupants of that terrain. Ensure you check in and out of each planned stop with someone you trust to alert someone useful if you don’t check in on time – when you go missing the police over there don’t quite put the same value on your life and finding you as you might hope. But I certainly wouldn’t say don’t go.

    buzz-lightyear
    Free Member

    Was there for 3 weeks some years ago – Katmandu and Khumbu region – loved it. I was impressed with the scenery but really impressed with the people and culture. Was in a small trekking/camping group – all Brits – was jolly good fun and mostly things went smoothly. Mild altitude sickness symptoms were a bit problematic at times. But no one died!

    the usual peak circuits on the tourist trail don’t really appeal

    Why not; they’re great?

    gary
    Full Member

    I did 2 weeks biking in Kathmandu/Pokhara/Mustang over Christmas and New Year. As buzz-l says above – the scenery is pretty spectacular but it is the additional context of the culture and the people that really makes it special. Of course there are big mountains in Europe – but not with quite the same “ever present”-ness as you get from the Himalaya in Nepal.

    It is a poor country so there is an element of first-world guilt as you swan around with your expensive bike/camera/etc but certainly when you get away from the big tourist attractions everyone we met was friendly, enthusiastic and keen to know what we were up to. Sounds like Coffeeking has some experience to back up his comments but we did feel very safe wherever we were but admittedly not far off the beaten track and with a guide most of the time. Having been in the mountains, the touristy parts of Kathmandu did grate a little so maybe think about the order you choose to see things.

    I’m sure you could hook up some good short treks without too much altitude commitment. Biking worked out quite well as a way to get high but not stay there too long before coming back down to a sensible height.

    There are a number of places offering biking – we lucked out with a guide with lots of downhill experience who knew what sort of riding keen bikers were after, apparently many of the agencies do a lot of jeep track routes, but it would still be a good way to explore and see more of the place than you could on foot.

    If you like taking pictures, take plenty of memory cards, its a very photogenic place. Selection of mine here :

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyhill/collections/72157628783377625/

    So in summary – JFDI 🙂

    cb
    Full Member

    I was there for a few weeks in 1991 – no hint of troubles then. Kathmandu, Pokhara, Annapurna Circuit (part of) and Chitwan. We went just before the trekking ‘season’ started so quite wet and lots of leeches!

    Saw about half a dozen other tourists in the mountains. All locals were friendly and helpful although they post some police / ranger types in very odd places – literally jump out from behind a hut or tree and demand to see your trekking permit! Not sure if permits are still required to be in the mountains.

    Some ‘interesting’ transport arrangements – they had a safety initiative with the buses meaning every man and his goat had to get off the top of the bus to walk across the check point, only to then climb on the roof again 20 yards down the road!

    What I’ve seen of Kathmandu on the telly since looks like its “developed” a lot since we were there. Tuk tuks were the height of sophistication then!

    mrlebowski
    Full Member

    Warnings would be to go everywhere in at least pairs, be VERY wary of the sort of terrain as you’d expect but also the likely occupants of that terrain. Ensure you check in and out of each planned stop with someone you trust to alert someone useful if you don’t check in on time – when you go missing the police over there don’t quite put the same value on your life and finding you as you might hope. But I certainly wouldn’t say don’t go.

    It would seem things have got bad then coffee, just out of interest when were you there?

    bajsyckel
    Full Member

    Thanks for the extra comments everyone.

    Gary – love the photos – mind if I ask how you planned and arranged the riding logistics? Probably not an option for me, but looks great so I’d be interested to learn more.

    Buzz- the “usual” tourist things I meant was referring to Annapurna, Everest base camp type stuff. I guess my (possibly misguided) preconception of these is based around climbing and mountaineering stories and (if I go) not really wanting to be too close to any proper mountaineering or climbing stuff as I might just get frustrated as I know I can’t do any of that in such a limited time and am unlikely to ever get a chance to go back. Out of sight, out of mind in a sense.

    coffeeking
    Free Member

    It would seem things have got bad then coffee, just out of interest when were you there?

    I wasn’t, but we’re talking mid 90’s and, to be fair, not the Nepal area but not too far away in relative terms. Word from the authorities is that the whole north border area was/is similar, hence my feeling it necessary to pass the info on. As I say, common sense stuff but I think people forget it really is a different world out there.

    40mpg
    Full Member

    I was there in 2005. No problems as long as common sense engaged, having said that even staggering drunk out of a club late at night and wandering home asking directions was no problem, although I did get offered some gear!

    Plenty of places within cycling distance of Kat to explore, especially up into the maountains – and plenty of places to stay.

    Can’t say I noticed the altitude there, but then I’d just cycled down from tibet having spent a couple of weeks at 4-5000 metres. I was sprinting up hills at 3000m!

    Don’t overstay your visa as you will not geta warm welcome at customs, you’ll spend a day filling forms and visiting officials behind large desks and get marched around by soldiers with big guns, followed by a hefty fine.

    And don’t eat yak curry.

    coffeeking
    Free Member

    I was there in 2005. No problems as long as common sense engaged, having said that even staggering drunk out of a club late at night and wandering home asking directions was no problem, although I did get offered some gear!

    That’s assuming you’re spending a lot of time in populated areas. Anyone expecting to go trekking in the more remote areas (as would surely be the point) needs to exercise a little more caution.

    buzz-lightyear
    Free Member

    Buzz- the “usual” tourist things I meant was referring to Annapurna, Everest base camp type stuff. I guess my (possibly misguided) preconception of these is based around climbing and mountaineering stories and (if I go) not really wanting to be too close to any proper mountaineering or climbing stuff as I might just get frustrated as I know I can’t do any of that in such a limited time and am unlikely to ever get a chance to go back. Out of sight, out of mind in a sense.

    OK. I really liked the Everest base camp hike – you share the Khumbu highway with loads of Nepalis and Tibetans moving up and down the valley as well as other trekkers. I drank chang, played carnac badly, admired lovely young sherpa ladies washing their hair in the cold morning air, muttered prayers, ate apple pies, drank tea and beer, turned prayer wheels, bought a yak jumper to keep out the terrible cold, raced our guides up and down the trails (and always lost) – I never felt the urge to climb anything – the mountains are too blinking tall!

    I have half a mind to retire to Namche Bazaar and set up a brewery I liked it so much. I wouldn’t miss the chance to walk under Ama Dablam and Nupste and take a look at Chomolungma and into the eyes of a truly stout and deeply devout people.

    Alpha1653
    Free Member

    Work sent me out there Feb to May last year on a language course in Pokhara which also involved trips to Gulmi, Gorkha, Chitwan and a three week independent trek in the east from Dharan, Terathum, Taplejung and Phidim. The next opportunity I get to go there, I’ll be back in a flash as it is the most amazing country I’ve been too. I met an awful lot of tourists who got into trouble there but every single one was guilty of not using common sense – if there’s a curfew at night, stick to it; don’t do drugs; don’t try it on with girls in dance bars etc. Avoid casinos as they’re run by Indian mafia who turn very nasty very quickly. Learn a little Nepali – most tourists don’t even bother and get fleeced. See a little of Kathmandu but get out ASAP to Pokhara – down in Lakeside, Frontier paragliding will take you paragliding off Sarankot (my instructor turned out to be Melinda Messnger’s brother); further down Lakeside is a MTB shop where you can get a few spares.

    Bottom line: if you get the chance, go. Email’s in profile if you any more advice.

    theroadwarrior
    Free Member

    OK. I really liked the Everest base camp hike – you share the Khumbu highway with loads of Nepalis and Tibetans moving up and down the valley as well as other trekkers. I drank chang, played carnac badly, admired lovely young sherpa ladies washing their hair in the cold morning air, muttered prayers, ate apple pies, drank tea and beer, turned prayer wheels, bought a yak jumper to keep out the terrible cold, raced our guides up and down the trails (and always lost) – I never felt the urge to climb anything – the mountains are too blinking tall!

    I have half a mind to retire to Namche Bazaar and set up a brewery I liked it so much. I wouldn’t miss the chance to walk under Ama Dablam and Nupste and take a look at Chomolungma and into the eyes of a truly stout and deeply devout people.

    Fond memories of a trip there in 2005, I did the Renjo Pass trek from Lukla. Takes you up to 5800m. Amazing, amazing place- would love to go back one day. Kathmandu is a bustling, crazy place that just has to be experienced to be believed. Stayed in the Hotel Shangrila which was an oasis of calm.. especially after weeks in the mountains!

    Plenty of pictures here;

    http://www.photoboxgallery.com/MatthewAustin/collection?album_id=94161463

    bajsyckel
    Full Member

    Well, all useful stuff to think about and plenty of photos to stir imagination. Thanks for the comments so far, I might well bump this up in the morning, but I really should think about something else for a bit!

    rocket
    Free Member

    I was there in 2001 just as the maoists started having a go. They introduced curfews as we were there, which of course we obeyed. Don’t remember ever feeling threatened – what I do remember is the people. I went because I wanted to experience the himalayas, but that (amazing) experience was eclipsed by being amongst the most wonderful people imaginable, who were suffering massively as their livelihood was being taken away from them by the drop in tourist trade. Use common sense, don’t trek alone, don’t trek at night, listen out for local info / updates, and you’ll be fine.

    Coffeeking – not quite sure where you’re coming from with the implied but un-substantiated scare stories. As I read it (apologies if I got this wrong) they are based on second hand experiences from well over 15 years ago, and from another country?? Perhaps better to either shed some light or keep it to yourself in case you put off more people from travelling to a magical country.

    gary
    Full Member

    Gary – love the photos – mind if I ask how you planned and arranged the riding logistics? Probably not an option for me, but looks great so I’d be interested to learn more.

    Bit of lucky timing really – while I was procastinating about if/when to go and a trip I had an eye on with KE Adventure dropped off their schedule. So faced with a choice of pitching up in Kathmandu and sorting something out on arrival or arranging something in advance I did a bit of searching and turned up an interesting sounding trip around the right dates with http://www.nepalmountainbike.com.

    From what we were told, we lucked out with our guide (a french ex-pat) and if planning biking you would want to ask plenty of questions about the type of riding, guiding experience etc. to make sure you get what you want. But you can find people offering trips varying in length from 1 day upwards so don’t write the idea off. It can be as easy as riding out of Kathmandu to the valley rim, and it was an interesting way to see bits of the city away from the chaos of the centre and the touristy parts.

    So nice laid back arrangement for riding sorted out and I just booked a flight. We were well looked after from arrival with just a little free time to mooch around Kathmandu doing my own thing before flying out.

    It would be pretty easy to pitch up without anything planned and get some stuff lined up. It would just depend on your general feeling about that independent approach and how much time you have available. If you have an idea what you want to do you can track down most of the well regarded agencies online.

    If you go trekking, yes you are heading somewhere remote but if my experience of Mustang is representative then you are still very much in the realm of the tourism industry so it is still very friendly, plenty of places to eat and sleep.

    Kathmandu is a crazy chaotic place but fun to explore for a few days. Biking around was actually a good way to see it, 5″ of suspension quite good for some of the roads. Traffic is like a study in pedestrians, bikes, cars, etc. being left to their own devices but on the whole seems to work!

    Pokhara is more laid back around lakeside though when you get up on the hills you suddenly see it is actually much bigger than you imagined. Even coming from Nepal, the 30 minute flight into Mustang felt like being dropped into a different world.

    higthepig
    Free Member

    This might be what Coffeeking is alluding too:

    USA Nepal Warning

    I spent a couple of months in Nepal a few years ago on an expedition in the far east of the country, and a few days around Katmandu. The place is stunning and well worth visiting, just keep your wits about you, which is the advice to be followed when visiting most countries in the world!

    richmars
    Full Member

    Was there about 20 years ago, when there were lots of anti royal demos. Great place, esp. Pokhara, like Gary says, very chilled, full of ageing western hippies running book stalls in the market.

    bajsyckel
    Full Member

    Cheers for the extra info Gary. Had found them with a bit of google assistance too. Anyone else got any tales to share?

    Elsa
    Free Member

    I went in May 2005.

    I flew into Lukla (one of the world’s most dangerous / extreme airports) and climbed Mera Peak (6,000m peak) with an organised group. I think April / May is a good time to do it weather wise.

    Two weeks should be enough time to do a similar trip and acclimatise properly.

    There is also Monkey Temple in Kathmandu…

    Jerome
    Full Member

    OK. I really liked the Everest base camp hike – you share the Khumbu highway with loads of Nepalis and Tibetans moving up and down the valley as well as other trekkers. I drank chang, played carnac badly, admired lovely young sherpa ladies washing their hair in the cold morning air, muttered prayers, ate apple pies, drank tea and beer, turned prayer wheels, bought a yak jumper to keep out the terrible cold, raced our guides up and down the trails (and always lost) – I never felt the urge to climb anything – the mountains are too blinking tall!

    I have half a mind to retire to Namche Bazaar and set up a brewery I liked it so much. I wouldn’t miss the chance to walk under Ama Dablam and Nupste and take a look at Chomolungma and into the eyes of a truly stout and deeply devout people.

    Good memories here too.
    Will take the missus there soon..

    coffeeking
    Free Member

    Coffeeking – not quite sure where you’re coming from with the implied but un-substantiated scare stories. As I read it (apologies if I got this wrong) they are based on second hand experiences from well over 15 years ago, and from another country?? Perhaps better to either shed some light or keep it to yourself in case you put off more people from travelling to a magical country.

    While I can see why you might think that, I can assure you you’re wrong. And I’m not putting anyone off visiting, as I said – make sure you follow the usual sensible advice on trekking in an area and ensure you check in with people and you’ll /probably/ be fine. Yes, another country, but on the same border and not far from the suggested location.

    Higthepig has found a more recent referance to some of the problems of the area, but I also have recent contact with at least one person who comes from there and they confirm care really does need to be taken especially by tourists (even if the foreign office wont warn people) – we’re not talking pickpockets in an impoverished town centre here. If you email me directly I’ll fill you in but there isn’t much point in me blabbing family grief on a forum – just suggesting people are careful so that they can enjoy it.

    Sillyoldhector
    Free Member

    Ive been to Nepal over 10 times, first in 1991 and every year for the last 6 and have never experienced any trouble even during the maoist era. Ive been to many different countries and in my opinion Nepal is one of the safest, friendliest places Ive ever visited. Just my 2 penneth worth!!
    If you need anymore ideas/ info please feel free to drop me a line

    BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    How is anyone going to ‘check in’ from a remote tea house in Nepal? I’ve been there a couple of times and never felt remotely threatened, even at the point where I invited to make a ‘donation’ to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) at gun-point – they were scrupulously polite and friendly and I still have the receipt somewhere.

    Trekking alone on popular routes is fine, there are so many people knocking along, that you’re rarely genuinely alone. I suspect, as is generally the case in developing countries, you’re more likely to be hurt or killed in a road accident or, in the case of Nepal, a plane crash.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t be careful, but compared to, say, South America, Nepal is incredibly friendly and hospitable as well as astonishingly beautiful. Even during the Maoist insurrection, which did feel slightly edgy when you were around the military, the rebels never targeted tourists – compare that to Sendero Luminoso in Peru.

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