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Nepal Travel – Trekking Explained

Nepal Travel – Trekking Explained
by Demitry Majors

Avia Travel Nepal - TrakkingTrekking In Nepal to many sounds like one of those activities that one finds on a dream board or an activity that sounds so foreign that it belongs in some obscure National Geographic program about a far away place. Frankly both ‘trekking’ and ‘Nepal’ fall under that category of cryptic adventure activities and places. In reality though, trekking in Nepal is nothing shocking (other than of course the beauty of the environment itself) and not too, out of the ordinary for anybody who has been on a long hike.

When I set out to write this explanation of trekking in Nepal, I wanted to answer a question. “What is trekking?” I then realized that the answer is a lot more complex than what it seems. It also dawned on me, that when my friends and family posed the question, “What is trekking?” my cliché synonym derived answer “It’s like a long hike in the mountains” that is found on many “Travel Nepal” websites was no where near satisfactory. It’s not that they or I didn’t know what trekking in Nepal was when formulating the response, but rather that we failed to respond to the question in a way as to dispel the assumptions that rise out of stereotypes that exist whenever the words hiking, Nepal, Himalayas and remote are used in one sentence or close proximity to one another. It is these stereotypes that prevent a simple and accurate one sentence description of trekking in Nepal.

So what is trekking in Nepal, if the proper answer is a lot more than just the stereotypical, travel in Nepal by hiking? Let’s start with a little geography.

Nepal, is a landlocked nation, sandwiched between India and Tibet and stretched out along the spine of the Himalayan range. As such, it offers a vast array of habitats from tropical jungles to the alpine tops of the Himalayas themselves. What trekking in Nepal does, is create an opportunity for the traveler to traverse many parts of this varied terrain on foot, and experience the diverse habitats and culture encountered along the way. Still however, although entirely accurate, this answer is incomplete.

We need to first clear up some assumptions.

Clearly, Nepal can be considered as ‘remote’ geographically when viewed against other “more developed” regions of the world, but this doesn’t mean that Nepal is uninhabited and that when trekking one will hike for weeks without seeing any signs of life. Quite the contrary, (though such areas exist), a traveler in Nepal will find themselves no more than half a days journey from a settlement. This is especially true for the common major trekking areas of Nepal. The reason why is actually quite simple.

Nepal being situated on the mountainous terrain that it is, as well as proudly wearing the “third world” badge has to this day, a staggering number of ‘1’ major highway. Appropriately dubbed the East-West Highway, it spans the country and provides less than a handful of axillary routes north and south with only one of these tributaries as the route to Tibet (China) out of Kathmandu. The importance of this, is that many parts of Nepal, are to this day inaccessible by vehicle and many portions, especially those in the West that are completely isolated.

One has to realize that before the ‘East West’ highway was constructed, the villages and settlements of Nepal were already there, and thus to this day, many of these population centers are still only accessible on foot.

Nepal is a country that has been squeezed between two trading giants India and Tibet (Today China) for as long as it has existed as a unified nation. The trade routes between these two Goliaths ran conveniently for Nepal trough it’s territory. Nepal not only had to facilitate trade between these two countries, but also have a way to support it’s own economy and trade system between the major metropolitan areas. Needless to say, that without roads, the only method of transport was by foot. A system of transporting goods by a web of footpaths was created and this rather complex, ‘via foot’ sort of Himalayan highway arrangement linked the Nepali villages with one another and are today the exact same routes traveled by the visiting trekkers.

It’s easy to wonder and assume, that the settlements offering bed and breakfast encountered along the trekking routes sprung up at such convenient intervals because of the ever expanding tourism itself. This other than some modern conveniences such as electricity is in fact false. In a book called “A Stranger in Tibet,” the author Scott Berry, describes the adventures of a certain Buddhist, Japanese monk that traveled along the now popular trekking route in the Annapurna Conservation Area in order to sneak into the then forbidden Tibet (Nepal being forbidden at the time as well). This monks adventure occurred in the early 1900s way before the word “tourism” was thought of in Nepal and yet the same settlements encountered by tourists and used as overnight accommodations today were encountered by this intrepid monk (Kawaguchi) some 100 years earlier. The reason is that these routes were being used for transporting goods even before Kawaguchi’s adventures, as such they are more often than not, no more than a half days journey from one another; built up out of necessity as continent travel stops for the traveling caravans.

Though trekking in Nepal does not include scaling vertical cliffs and climbing snowcapped mountains, views of both are ample along the way. Somebody wondering am I fit to travel Nepal, need not worry about training to climb Mt. Everest as that is not what trekking in Nepal provides. Trekking in Nepal does however provide a great day-long on foot journey for multiple days through some of the most beautiful, remote mountainous terrain in the world, while still providing the opportunity for a warm bed and a home cooked meal along the way. It is in this that lies the answer to “What is trekking in Nepal?”.

See you en route!

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