Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trekking back on track!

Going by what is being reported, we might be just back on track, after seven/eight long years of being in the slump. News reports are now showing that the trekking business is rebounding back in giant leaps. Looks like "change" (the big buzzword nowadays in the world) in government was what was required in Nepal too. 

picture courtesy: rajesh k.c

Even the Khumbu reported choked villages in October, full of trekkers, and situation of not finding accomodation starting to happen. Read this in this Nepalitimes Article

It is difficult to say if this is a blessing or a curse. Tourism entrepreneurs who are reading this might have a shine in their eyes, and even have tears of joy (we are back in business! yaaah!) but the trekker who wants to peacefully enjoy his walking holiday will be like, how can I avoid this rush (damn, sounds like mass tourism!)

There is good news for both parties though. And you can read it in that article hyperlinked above, or in the synopsis right here. Some years ago, the idea of a trans Himalayan trekking route, stretching from Pakistan, and including Tibet, Nepal for most of the way, India and Sikkim began to emerge, and was called the Great Himalayan Trail. The idea was to create this trail that would take several months to complete, but would offer options for people to enter at a particular point and exit at another, giving rise to possibilities of several custom trips (and side trips)... this might save the industry in Nepal... creating increased possibilities for both industry professionals and for the clients alike, so that everyone does not have to tread the same ground.

This has multiple benefits of course. The trekking dominated tourism of Nepal, has mostly been limited to the Annapurna Region, the Everest Region and the Lantang Region, in that order. It is not that trekkers do not go to other areas, but few and far between (good for them, but a small critical mass is required for the industry as a whole and the infrastructure to develop). Also, for too long, these three areas have been the only ones to benefit directly form the tourism Dollar (Oops, should I rather say Euro or Pound?) so its high time the rest of Nepal (which is equally if not more beautiful) gets its share too.

Only recently has new routes such as the Chepang Hill Trail (to Chitwan), Renjo La Trail (Everest Region), the Tamang Heritage Trail (Langtang Region), and Nar Phu Valley trips (Annapurna Region) been worked on and marketed. Good news is trekking these new routes can result in (thankfully) smaller number of other trekkers.

Of course, traditional off the beaten trails like Dolpo, Kanchenjunga, Gauri Shankar Area and Humla have always been there and are reasonably developed, but for normal holiday makers with normal budgets, these are a bit expensive.

So, for the benefit of the Nepal Travel Advisory 


1. Time your trek in the beginning or end of the tourism season. This will ensure that the villages are not crowded. You will also do something really responsible by doing this. Help spread the tourism season a bit more. Nepal is still beautiful. So when is this

Spring before season timings: early Feb or late April, May
Fall before season timings: End August or Late November, December

2. Be drastic, and choose to come in summer. Yeah, yeah everyone talks about the monsoon and all, but there are tons of areas in the rain shadow, and trekking in summer can be real real cool up there! Places like Manang, Mustang (ok, thats a bit expensive), Gosainkunda etc, can be real fun. We actually even have a big group coming next year in June - (peak summer/rainy season)to go up to Everest Base Camp, and i tell you, they WILL have a blast!

3. Forget the race to EBC, ABC, Kanjin Gompa, and try some of the Off the Beaten Trails... You will notice a drastic difference in the charm of trekking there.

4. Wait a few years, train a lot, and hit the Trans Himalayan Trail for three months, from Pakistan to the Northeastern border of India.

See you in the mountains!


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