Our four-week trip to Nepal has a special significance in my life, because we got engaged in Nepal at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. But not only because of this. Having already reported about our trip through Tibet, from Lhasa to Kathmandu, I will now share my experiences in Nepal, where I was able to experience an exciting and meaningful way of traveling by doing Community Trekking and made my first ecotourism experiences. In a remote area against the backdrop of the magnificent Annapurna Mountains, we followed “Hidden Traces” of a special kind.
What is so special about Community Trekking in Nepal?
Community trekking is an authentic way of traveling. You spend the night in the simplest homestays you can imagine and experience the life in the mountain villages. But this also means that you have to forget about comfort. The money you pay for the guided trekking does not just end up with the tour operator. It also benefits the people of the region and serves development. You can get in touch with local adults and groups of curious children. The Nepalese always agreed with being photographed. We found it incredibly beautiful that we were spontaneously invited to a party on the descent from our trek. The locals were celebrating the event that a baby ate solid food for the first time, the so-called “rice party”. In Nepal you will meet many different ethnic groups. In addition to the dramatic landscapes and the exciting culture this makes Nepal so special for me, especially from a photographer’s perspective. During community trekking you can buy local products. I’m usually rather stubborn if someone wants to sell me something. However, I wanted to support the Nepalese women and hopefully help them gain a bit of independence by purchasing some handmade items. Of course, apart from social initiatives, on a eco trekking tour you will also see environmental measures. For example, solar showers are used.
Our trekking route
The interesting thing about our trekking was that the route led us through different climatic zones. We passed hamlets and villages that were not so crowded: Bas Kharka, Danda Kharka, Nangi and Tikot. These are located between the mountains Annapurna, Dhaulaghiri and Machapuchre. At the start of the Community Trekking tour we crossed an adventurous suspension bridge. Then we climbed up very steep stairs for a long time and finally walked under countless rhododendron trees through an enchanting virgin forest. Here we found ourselves in the subtropical climate zone, which you can recognize – among other things – by the loud noises of many crickets. Further up, terraced fields were waiting for us. In Nepal, unlike in Europe, the tree line is reached only from about 3,000 meters. The villages were just magical: I’ll never forget how we walked through Tikot early in the morning and met a buffalo. It was just as nice to arrive in a garden, where mangoes and bananas were grown. Each destination on our trek had its own special charm. At the end of many hours of steep hikes, I always enjoyed the relaxing time: walking through a tropical-like garden or sitting in front of an oven, drinking a ginger or spiced tea and reading a book in peace.
Eating and drinking at Community Trekking
Meals are usually taken in the so-called “community hall” of the village. There we were provided with tasty Nepali food after our daily doses of trekking. Usually on trekking tours in Nepal it’s vegetarian food only. Even vegans are happy in Nepal, because Dal Bhat, the Nepalese national dish, comes without animal products. I liked the fact that we were served home-grown vegetables. You get a longing for Nepalese food when you walk through a mountain village and pass by drying chilli, which is glowing red in the sunshine. In Nepal meals are traditionally taken without cutlery. As a curious mind, I had to try this, of course. If you want you will even get beer after a community trekking day. I found it very sustainable that no plastic bottles were offered for the trekking. We could refill our water bottles with purified drinking water. It was impressive that we had partly well-functioning WIFI in the Community Halls. On one of the tour days we met a local who transported a package with a new wireless router attached to his backpack into his home village.
Engagement at over 3,000 m altitude
The minutes before the great event were already a real highlight. We got up very early on that day to see the sunrise at over 3,000 meters from the Mohare Hill viewpoint against the backdrop of Annapurna. Also our guides and our friends from Nuremberg, which we met on the journey, watched with us this natural spectacle. When the light shone brightly on the grand white Annapurna peaks, Chris proposed. There is no better place for an engagement than this in the midst of mountains, some of which are 8,000 meters high. In addition to our wedding in Italy and Thailand, this morning was of course the greatest travel experience for me so far.
Other unforgettable experiences
I also remember well that we were greeted with flower chains at some milestone destinations. The hospitality of the locals was heartwarming. Once they also cooked for us outdoors. They set up an extra tent for cooking. After the delicious meal, we lay down on a meadow to rest, looked up onto the enormous Himalayan peaks and watched an eagle flying in circles majestically above us. A short time later we passed a small Hindu temple and special animals (mixture of yaks and cows).
Last but not least: on this trip we found friends who travel as much as we do: Petra and Rainer. Incidentally, Rainer is a great travel photographer whose skills and passion for photography have given me a lot of inspiration and motivation. He documented the trip to Nepal and Tibet, that we made together, on his photo website. The collection impresses me mainly because of the many beautiful portrait photos.
We did the community trekking together with Royal Mountain Travel. Currently Royal Mountain Travel offers a tour on their website, which includes the villages we visited on our trekking tour:
Transparancy: The mention of the provider and posting links is based on my voluntary decision. I have completely paid myself for this trip.
If you liked my blog post, you might also be interested in my article on an offline time-out and rural tourism on La Gomera Island.
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This post is also available in de_DE.