In May 2017, I took a 2 week trip to Nepal. It was an incredible experience combining white-water rafting, trekking, culture, and even a conga line at one point! It’s fair to say, that I’ve got more than one story to tell, and I will be sharing them with you over the next few weeks. Before that though, I wanted to give you my impressions of Nepal, and the memories that this trip has created for me.
10 Things I learned from my trip to Nepal
#1 That red stuff takes a long time to wash off
Can you see the red line on my head in the photo above? I was given this when being welcomed into the Snow land Lodge in Ghandruk after a 5 day trek. Traditionally, guests in Nepal are welcomed with a red dot placed on the forehead. I guess my forehead is bigger than most, hence the line! I'm not too sure what the powder is, but it did take a while to wash off. Pro-travel tip – Don't wear a white T-Shirt, and carry a bar of soap!
#2 Porters have super-human strength
I consider myself to be fit and strong – I've cycled around the world for heaven's sake! Nepali porters are next level though. We were fortunate to have such great people during our Ghorepani Poon Hill trek. Even carrying 25kg of gear they were faster than me carrying next to nothing along the tracks through the Himalayas. On more than one occasion, they went ahead to put our bags into the tea-house we would be staying at, and then backtracked a few kilometres afterwards to help guide us on our way. They also seem to have energy to burn, as at an impromptu village party in Ghandruk at the end of the trek, they were throwing all sorts of shapes on the dance floor. Huge respect. Pro-travel tip – If you think you are having a hard day on the trail, try to at least pretend to be half as strong as these guys!
As you may note though, their super-human strength doesn't extend to looking in the same direction together when a photo is taken! A great group of guides and porters accompanied us from Royal Mountain Travel Nepal. If you want to use a tour company to go trekking in Nepal, they are your number one choice!
#3 Nepal is more than mountains
This sounds a bit of a cliché, but it really is! Sure, most people plan their trip to Nepal in order to see the mountain ranges, perhaps hike to a base camp, and enjoy the spectacular views. What everyone comes away with afterwards though, are memories of the people. Smiling, welcoming, helpful – you probably think I am trotting out a cliché here as well, but I'm not. I guess you will just have to visit Nepal and see for yourself, as I've included some mountains in Nepal below instead of a smile! Pro-travel tip – Smile and the world smiles with you.
#4 A centre of balance is important in a raft
There's always someone who falls out of the raft when whitewater rafting. And it's always funny. Except when that person is you though, and especially when you fall out on the most gentle rapid of the day! How INCREDIBLY embarrassing! I think there may be some footage of me falling elegantly arse-over-tit out of the raft on Anna's Go-Pro, (which I am happy to purchase so that it doesn't see the light of day. Wink, wink). I may even have enough footage of my own to make a whitewater rafting in Nepal video at some point. Pro-travel tip – Don't be the first one to fall in.
#5 Umbrellas are cool
Would you include an umbrella in your essential hiking gear for a trip to Nepal? Seriously consider it! On more than one occasion, I was jealous of Aleah for carrying along an umbrella. It kept her shaded from the heat of the day, sheltered her from the rain, and the colour was pretty nice too. Next time! Pro-travel tip – Take a sturdy umbrella and it can double as a walking stick/hiking pole!
#6 Nepal has wildlife
Now admittedly, my pre-trip research was up to my usual low standards, but I didn't realise that Nepal has rhinos. Yes, rhinos! Although I didn't get to see any myself, I talked to people who did. They called them ‘fat unicorns' if I remember correctly. My best wildlife snap comes in the form of this monkey we spotted when hiking. You get bonus points if you correctly name the species. You get the geek of the year award if you can correctly name the species of tree in the photo as well! Pro-travel tip – Keep your voices low and your eyes open when when walking through wooded areas in Nepal. You never know what you might see!
#7 Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour
If you didn't like Dal Bhat before you left on your trip to Nepal, you are going to love it by the end! Although many of the tea-houses had a variety of choices on the menu, when it really came down to it, Dal Bhat was the way to go. It was tasty, filling, and despite my initial concerns, surprisingly didn't give me the farts. Pro-travel tip – If you spend 5 days hiking, and pretty much eat Dal Bhat for every other meal, at least take a photo of it once. Otherwise, you end up putting a photo of a menu in the blog post.
#8 Get along with your hiking buddies
It doesn't matter who you choose to hike with – It might be your husband, your sister, your friends, or someone you just met in Kathmandu. The most important thing though, is you need to get along with them! Having a good dynamic between any group is the key to its success, whether you undertake a gentle(?) 5 day hike as we did, or embark on some epic journey. Fortunately, we had a cracking group of people! In some respects, it made the trip to Nepal for me. Group Adventure 2 rocks! Pro-travel tip – Don't be a snowflake!
#9 Discover the secret to Massala Tea before you leave Nepal
Like any true Englishman, I am always in search of a good cup of tea. In Nepal, that tea is the Massala version. I discovered it once or twice out on the trail – A couple of good cups among a dozen half-efforts. It was my bad that when I found the perfect cup, I never asked the secret behind making it! I've tried a handful of times now to make my own Massala Tea, but it's been a fail so far. Looks like I will have to plan another trip to Nepal to get hold of the secret! Pro-travel tip – Don't be afraid to go into the kitchen and ask questions if you like something!
#10 Nepal Wants You – Plan your trip to Nepal today!
The final thing I learned after my trip to Nepal, is that Nepal wants you! They are keen to kick-start their tourism industry, and are encouraging people from all over the world to visit their beautiful country. Whether you are into hardcore outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, or wildlife spotting, there is something for everyone. With easy access via flights from companies like Turkish Airlines, and the fact that it is wallet friendly, now is the time to take a trip to Nepal! Remember – Once is not enough, twice is never boring!
There will be quite a few different blog posts about Nepal coming out over the next few weeks. Keep updated by signing up for my newsletter at the top of the page!