Langtang’s whereabouts, one of the famous trekking routes in Nepal, was still a mystery after the April earthquake wiped out one of its village clusters into dust. Well, not now, as it has just been 5 days I’ve been back from there. Our route was through Syarbu Besi, where we would access the Langtang Valley from the south and trek to the top of Kyanjin Ri overlooking the mountain.
When I was offered a visit to Langtang for its assessment a month ago from Himalayan Glacier, I was pretty excited. Our team included three HGT staff and one foreign national (Connor, U.S.A). In a week’s journey (5 days trek and 2 days bus ride), we discovered something worth sharing to the travel community, and here I am trying to include everything in writing.
The plan of making Trekkers´ Information Management System (TIMS) card available online this trekking season seems a mission impossible as only the software has been installed as of now while the remaining infrastructures are yet to be put in place.
The Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) has already finalized the software for making TIMS card available on the net.
And Ramesh Dhamala, president of TAAN, told Republica that the online system can be implemented right after Tihar.
However, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) is yet to endorse the plan to make it available online.
NTB and the TAAN have been jointly implementing the TIMS since 2010.
Lila Bahadur Baniya, senior manager of NTB, said that it is not possible to make TIMS available online this trekking season.
“The TAAN has already made the software, but as TIMS is directly related to revenue there are many issues to be addressed such as internet security, making check point systems go online, backup power for check posts, training manpower, and making the sample of hard copy of TIMS card ready among others,” said Baniya, adding that it is possible to operate the online system only for the next trekking season.
The TAAN will be providing a code to the trekkers who register online but have to collect the hard copy of the card once they arrive here.
Deepak Mahat, past president of TAAN, said that the online system can be launched immediately after getting green signal from NTB.
But he echoed Baniya´s view that making the check points system go online and arranging power and data backup system is really challenging.
Mahat who has been closely working on TIMS online said that the system in very important for the trekkers but also for making data analysis and documentation easy and keeping transparent record of TIMS that is accessible from any place.
“We are in discussion with NTB regarding the detailed overview of the possibility of making TIMS available online, and will try to implement it as early as possible,” said Sagar Pandey, general secretary of the TAAN.
After recording low occupancies in the first half of September, advance reservations in five-star hotels have picked up, with most booked at over 85 percent for October and November-the prime tourist season in Nepal.
Five-star hotel executives said they are expecting full occupancy this tourist season given the current trend of bookings. According to them, improved movement from the European countries and swelling arrivals from China is expected to boost the occupancy of hotels-one of the major contributors to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
Kaushal Kumar Singh, sales and marketing director of the Hotel Everest, said advance reservations for October has crossed 90 percent, and November bookings are traditionally better than October.
“The second half of September has not been so good. But advance reservation trends have shown hotel rooms in the city will be sold out until November,” Singh said.
“Chinese bookings are still to come, as they tend to book within a week.”
According to him, the Everest hotel has received the most reservations from the Asian market, followed by the European segment.
The Sept-Nov period is the most popular for trekking in Nepal, accounting for 40 percent of the total tourists in Nepal. As the monsoon season comes to an end and skies are clear for mountain views, trails in the hills become horrendously busy with trekkers.
“Besides trekkers, we have greater numbers of international conferences and corporate movement this season,” said Bharat Joshi, resident manager of the Hotel Yak and Yeti. Joshi said that advance bookings in the hotel have reserved 85 percent of the 240 rooms for October, and 82 percent for November.
“We expect that our room occupancy will cross 96 percent this season,” said Joshi. Last year, the recession in the European market slightly affected the hotel business sector.
However, Joshi said that arrivals from the European market have improved this season. Drop-in Indian movement, which has become a worrying factor for travel trade entrepreneurs, is also likely to improve in response to the appreciation of the US dollar.
The market insiders say that due to the strong dollar, outbound travel has become expensive for Indian tourists and this factor could encourage them to take short trips to Nepal this year.
Another five-star property, the Hotel Shangri La has also reported healthy bookings this season. “We are likely to achieve 96 percent occupancy in both October and November,” said Mohan Khanal, group sales and marketing manager of the Shangri La Hotel and Resort.
The hotel was close to 90 percent occupancy last year. Khanal said that British and Australian tourists were the hotel’s major clients, and that there has been improved movement from the European market also this season.
“Besides, the Chinese have now become our major clients,” said Khanal. Arrivals from China to Nepal jumped 24 percent to 38,767 in the first eight months of 2013. To cash in on the opportunity, most of the five-star properties have hiked their room tariff by almost 10-15 percent.
Hoteliers said that based on demand and supply, tariffs are normally revised upward. There are 10 five-star properties in Nepal (eight in Kathmandu and two in Pokhara). The government statistics show that the eight five-star hotels in Kathmandu produced 539,850 room nights last year, out of which 360,407 were sold.
Hotels record the highest occupancy in November, followed by October, March, April, May and June, with an average occupancy of above 60 percent in 2012. The highest room occupancy of 88.50 percent was recorded in November by the Kathmandu-based five star hotels. While the hotels reveled in their impressive performances during the peak tourist season, the off-season average occupancy rates stood at 55 percent last year.
On average, Kathmandu-based five-star properties registered 66.76 percent occupancy in 2012, up 0.65 percent year on year.
Trekking agencies that are facing difficult times due to decline in business from the European segment are expecting at least 10 percent rise in business this season, thanks to growing interest of Chinese tourists toward trekking.
“Rise in the number of tourists from China has encouraged trekking agencies even though bookings from Europe seem sluggish this season,” Ganga Sagar Pant, CEO of Trekking Agencies´ Association of Nepal (TAAN), told Republica. He said business of trekking agencies could grow by 10 percent this year compared to last year.
According to the latest statistics published by Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the number of Chinese tourists grew by 16 percent to 71,861 in 2012, compared to 61,917 in 2011.
Despite rise in enquiries from Chinese tourists, trekking agencies, who heavily rely on European and American segments, are not happy. Bharat Shahi Thakuri, director of Hard Rock Treks and Expedition, said their overall booking has gone down by almost 40 percent mainly because of slowdown in the European segment and drop in the number of pilgrimage trekkers, who believe the year 2013 is not auspicious for pilgrimage.
However, Mahendra Singh Thapa, president of TAAN, agencies that explore Chinese and Indian markets can take benefit this year as the enquiries from youngsters from these two markets are encouraging. “I agree that European market has slowed down, but the Chinese market looks promising,” Thapa said, adding: “I am optimistic about Chinese segment this season.”
In order to reap benefits from the booming Chinese market, TAAN is mulling over providing Chinese language training to its member agencies. “We are holding talks with the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu on the possibility of conducing Chinese language training for our member agencies,” Pant said.
Pant further added that TAAN is focused on increasing participation of TAAN members to Chinese travel fairs. “In the meeting with Chinese officials, we also raise issues like air connectivity and visa issue,” he added.
China is the second largest tourist generating market for Nepal after India. TAAN recently explored new trails in Khaptad, Jaljala and Himla in a bid to offer new trails to trekkers.
Nepal with its pride of glorious Himalayas garland international visitors to the depths of unimaginable imagination. Either it is the dream to be at the top of the world or to get victory over vastness of nature; Nepal offers intractable beauty of wonders of Himalayas. Nepal’s mostly revisited top ten trek destinations have proved to be awe- inspiring to the indomitable desire of human beings.
Nepal, the trekkers’ paradise, can only be explored thoroughly by means of trekking in its diverse landscape. The very organic rhythm of foot travel is a wonderful way to discover and experience unbeatable combination of natural beauty and culture making meaningful contact with this extraordinary country. Trekking in Nepal starting from the low landscape through the green hills, visitors can trek up to the foot of the great Himalayan ranges, such as Mt. Everest, Langtang, Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Makalu and Annapurna or make a circuit of the highest mountains which since time immemorial has lured man to pit their courage and ingenuity against its dangerous challenge.
Everest Base Camp Trek is the grandest walk in the land of the Himalayas. The Trek begins with exploring temples, shrines, bazaars and restaurants in the capital city of Kathmandu. The following day visitors take a flight to Hillary Airport at Lukla, which is itself a breathtaking experience as travelers get a bird’s-eye view of the entire Himalayan range. Nowhere in the world is it more spectacular than in the Everest region. It is where four of the world’s six tallest peaks Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu rise above everything else, crowning the towering ridges that straddle the forbidding Himalayans. Trekking through the Everest region offers astounding mountain views, and opportunities to get a glimpse into the life of world famous climbers (the Sherpas). This trek further offers to go sightseeing around Sagarmatha National Park, a world heritage site that is home to a variety of Himalayan floras and faunas, to get a closer look at the highest Buddhist monasteries in the world and, of course, the most gratifying of them all is the trip to Everest Base Camp itself. Nothing beats the thrill and sense of accomplishment that grips visitors on seeing the power and grace of the mighty Everest up close.
Annapurna Sunrise and Everest View Trek provides an opportunity to trek in the two of the most popular trekking regions in the world – the Annapurna and Everest. The Trek features a wide range of spectacular scenery combined with unique cultural encounters. From mesmerizing views from one of the most beautiful viewpoints on earth, the Poon Hill of Annapurna to one of the world’s highest monasteries in Tengboche of Everest region, the Trek combines a magnificent galore of both the natural and cultural panorama that Nepal offers. Moreover, the opportunity to capture the awesome beauty of Mt. Everest (8848m) and other eight thousanders would certainly make this trek a memorable experience of the lifetime. The trek combines the experience of nature, adventure, culture, and hospitality – the best that Nepal has to offer.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek, like others in the Annapurna region, takes off from the lake city of Pokhara. Make a rendezvous with one of globally popular treks – The Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Mt. Annapurna that rises 8091m is the 10th highest mountain in the world. The Annapurna region lies in the foothill of Mt. Annapurna in the North-central Nepal stretching along with Lamjung Himal from the Kali Gandaki in the west to the Marshyangdi in the east. The trek passes through waterfalls, villages, farmlands, rhododendron forests, and vistas invigorate visitors’ soul. Since the trek starts from a mere height of around 800 meters and gradually reach to the high of over 4, 000 meters. Also, the trek traverses through a diverse geographical and cultural variation with an amazing range of flora and fauna in between. Just imagine the company of highest mountains in the earth and the magnificence of the sunrise over the snow-capped Himalayas!
Annapurna Circle Trek is one of the most popular classic treks in the world that takes hikers from 830m to 5,416m through the deep valleys and high mountains encircling the giant Annapurna Mountain. The trek further provides a chance to congregate with wide range of culturally rich ethnic groups and walk in a diverse terrain, from subtropical jungle to a high and dry landscape resembling the Tibetan plateau. It is a walk by the world’s deepest Kali Gandaki gorge, an exciting triumph over one of the world’s highest pass -Thorong La (5,416m/17,769ft), the Manang valley, the spiritual Muktinath, the most fantastic and famous view point-Poon Hill and an opportunity to interact with assorted ethnic groups. On the completion of this magical trek, travelers find they have gone through the entire Annapurna massif and reached the Zenith.
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek is a spectacular journey on foot to the South Face of Annapurna I – a pleasant hike through the ethnically diversified villages and forests assorted by flora and fauna. Explore the way upstream along the Modi Khola into the Annapurna Sanctuary, a valley surrounded by towering Himalayan peaks including the breathtaking Fishtail Peak-Machhapuchhare (6,993m/22,943ft). Experience the opportunity of watching sunrise over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges from Poon Hill as the bequest of the trip.
Around Manaslu Trek has been getting more popularity among trekkers nowadays as charm of Annapurna circuit trek route has been declining due to some parts of it being changed into motorable roads. Around Manaslu which has recently evolved itself as teahouse trek destination is best alternative for those looking for a diverse mountainous region with spectacular Himalayan views. The trek further helps to discover the secret Tibetan Buddhist land lying at the edge of one of the most secluded Himalayan valleys around the Manaslu. The trek also offers a variation of landscape like starting form lowland to touching almost to Tibet border. With the geographical variation, the ethnic composition of the people living in the area also varies.
Chulu West Peak Climbing(6419m/21,055ft) makes trekkers’ dream of peak climbing in one of world’s most beautiful regions (the Annapurnas) come true. Standing at a height of 6419m, the Chulu West Peak offers itself as an interesting peak climbing opportunity for those looking for an adventure in the Annapurna Region. Some consider the Chulu West Peak to be one of the best peaks in the Annapurna region. While climbing the peak, hikers also are able to enjoy magnificent views of Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Annapurna, among other Himalaya peaks.
Everest Base Camp Luxury Lodge Trek enhances to embark on a superb trek to the base camp of world’s highest Mt. Everest. The Trek, one of the grandest treks in the world, is an unparalleled opportunity to trek in the Himalayas where Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay set off on their epic journey in 1953. Another remarkable feature of the trip is the opportunity to stay at the finest local luxury lodges and experience the typical Himalayan lifestyle. The trek further helps to enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Himalayan range near the Khumbu region with four of the world’s six tallest peaks Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu rising above everything else. Besides trekking, the trek also facilitates to take a glimpse into the life of world famous climbers, the Sherpas, to survey around a world heritage site of Sagarmatha National Park that hosts a variety of Himalayan floras and faunas, and to explore the highest Buddhist monasteries in the world.
Everest High Passes Trek, the world famous superb trekking provides the opportunity to visit the Everest base camp, Kalapatthar, Gokyo Valley and its tranquil Lakes, the best view point of Gokyo Ri and more especially introduces a route to the remote and untouched Nangpa La Valley, the Sherpa village of Marlung, the monastery village of Thame as well through other major remote villages and valleys. Beside these, the route is important to make complete high-level circuit via world famous demanding passes Kongma La (5,535/18,159 ft.), Cho La (5420m/17,782 ft) and Renjo La (5,340m/17,520 ft).
Introduction to Sherpa Culture, is for those adventurers who also wish to make a cultural journey into the Everest Region. Along with trekking in the region surrounded by Himalaya peaks, adventure lovers get to visit ancient monasteries and witness cultural life of the highland Sherpas. The trek further would be a great introductory to those wishing for cultural insights into the Sherpa version of Buddhism. The trek passes through the verdant alpine forest and wildlife, raging glacial rivers and waterfalls, stony trails, mountains, and Buddhist monasteries.
Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri Trek, with enticing side glens, with string of turquoise lakes, with Nepal’s biggest glacier and with arc of snow mountains, is the most attractive trekking trail in the Khumbu Region. The Trek is an alternative to classical treks in Khumbu that has been especially popular for travelers who are eager to experience the magnificence of the Everest range, while avoiding too much mental and physical stress. The view from Gokyo is exceptionally beautiful and offers more of the legendary mountains.
Jiri to Everest Base Camp Trek, an iconic mountain trail is one of the most popular trek routes in the world to leave an experience of a lifetime adventure travel hike in the company of inspiring and breathtaking Himalayan scenery. While on the trek, travelers also pass through the alpine forests, glacial rivers, and enjoy the warm hospitality of ethnic people. The views are gorgeous and walking in the Himalayas proves to be quite an intense experience.
Jomsom Muktinath Trek in the Mustang region includes the world’s deepest gorge of the Kali Gandaki River, Jomsom Muktinath Trek. The trek reaching at the maximum altitude of 3800m (12,464 ft) can be completed by anybody with a moderate level of fitness. Continuing along the Kali Gandaki River Gorge, the trail marvels at the splendid peaks of Annapurna-I and Dhaulagiri. The trek explores the hundreds of years old monastery, caves, local tribes and scenic passing through an almost tree-less barren landscape, a steep rocky trail up and down hill and panoramic views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and several other peaks.
Kanchenjunga Circuit Trekking is getting popular these days among nature enthusiasts as it is a long adventure to the most remote and beautiful area of Himalayas in Nepal’s eastern regions. The name Kanchenjunga means five treasures of the great snow which is in reference to the five summits that make up Kanchenjunga. The trek rewards a unique insight into Nepali rural lifestyle and its rich culture and the enthralling views of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
Langtang Valley Trek passes through one of the most popular trekking regions for those wishing a short trek from Kathmandu into the Himalayas influenced by Tibetan lifestyle. Despite being very close to Kathmandu, the Langtang Region is as wild as any Tibetan highlands with idyllic rural landscape. Moreover, accompanying with the varieties of rhododendron, bamboo forests, majestic waterfalls and snow-capped Himalayas make the trek one of the most diverse treks nearby Kathmandu.
Lower Dolpo Trek is meant for real adventurers wishing for an off-the-beaten-path experience. This remote region in western Nepal was opened for the foreigners only in 1990. The trek passes through Shey-Phoksundo National Park with spectacular mountain scenery, Buddhist monasteries and yak caravans. The trek takes travelers through a wooded area, then load through rugged canyons in the barren plateau near the border with Tibet. Make a rendezvous with the remote Himalaya mountains of Dolpo, the land of the Oscar nominated Caravan fame, Thinley, a culture nearby Tibet that has survived its originality for centuries. The reportage of National Geographic Fame Eric Valli, the Dolpo region of Nepal has been shown in all its integrity and full mystical experience. Along with one of the deepest Himalayan Lakes, the Phokhsundo with beautiful turquoise blue water, watch the yak caravans that maintain the traditional salt trade with Tibet. The region lies further north from the Dhaulagiri Range in the rain shadow of the Himalayas – reflected in the colorful barren slopes of the mountains where the play of light and shadow is a perpetual fascinating spectacle.
Langtang, Gosainkunda and Helambu Trekamazing adventure combines the diversity of spectacular views of the Himalayas with a vast number of exciting ethnic encounters. The highlights of Langtang Circuit trek are numerous. The main areas of interest are the rhododendron and bamboo forests with an abundance of wildlife, majestic waterfalls, soothing hot springs, magnificent views of the snow covered white giant Langtang Lirung (7,200m/23,622ft), and the holy Gosainkund Lake.
Makalu Base Camp Trek treks to the base camp of world’s fifth highest mountain Makalu. Makalu is a close neighbor of Mt Everest, lying in the northeast region of Nepal. The Makalu Barun National Park, established in 1992, covers the Barun Valley which is part of a huge international protected area under an agreement between Nepal and China. One of the most popular trekking peaks of Nepal, the Mera Peak (6654m), also lies in the Makalu Barun region. A large variety of common as well as endangered flora and fauna are protected in the region including rhododendrons, orchids, Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Musk Deer, Wild Boar, Wild Yak, Himalayan Thar, and more than 420 varieties of bird species. Some believe the area also to be home to the elusive Himalayan giant, the Yeti.
Manaslu to Tillicho Trek provides the unique trek around Manaslu with a traverse into the northern Annapurna range to Jomsom. The trek ascends to the foot of the North Face of Manaslu and crosses two remote passes; the Larkya pass (5,135m/16,847ft), is one of Nepal’s best-kept secrets and the Tilicho Lake and Meso Kanto La pass (5,300m/17,388ft). The journey rewards stunning panorama and finest aspects of spectacular massifs.
Give a chance to your craving to hike beyond all surmise.