Tips for Trekking in Nepal

Learn about hikers' experiences in beautiful Nepal — complete with Nepalese sherpas.

| May/June 1982

"Hello! Good morning! Tea!" a gentle voice announced outside the tent. It was 6:00 a.m., and — as just a small part of the impeccable service provided by Journeys' Pemba Tsering Sherpa and his Nepalese staff — we enjoyed our morning "cuppa" without venturing out of our sleeping bags. While still-sleepy hikers sipped the welcome brew, pans of hot washing water were placed at the doors of our tents and another adventure-filled day on MOTHER EARTH NEWS' trek to the remote Arun Valley region of eastern Nepal began.

Camping in Nepal

We soon fell into the camp routine, dressing quickly and packing our duffels so that the porters — who carried 80-pound loads in their tall baskets with seeming ease — could get an early start. As we gathered for a big breakfast, the Sherpa guides struck and packed the tents. Around 7:00 a.m., we left the kitchen staff to clean up, we took to the trails.

Ah, the trails! Though the footpaths we traveled are the super highways of Nepal, they're not the neatly maintained variety — designed with reasonable grades and handy switchbacks — familiar to most American backpackers. Instead, they follow the Nepalese notion that the only logical way to get from one point to another is (whenever possible) to travel in a direct line regardless of whether that course takes them 3,000 feet straight up a ridge and then drops, just as precipitously, down on the other side.

Streams and waterfalls pour down the mountain slopes, too, resulting in challenging crossings on a variety of ingenious bridges — many of which appear to be of questionable integrity! Over the larger rivers, aging planks rest on wire loops, which — in turn — are attached to a couple of (often well-rusted) chains or cables strung high above the tumbling waters.

Despite such obstacles, the distances that we covered were — on some days — little short of phenomenal, reminding us that steady, determined foot power is an amazingly effective form of transportation (a fact that's all too easily forgotten in our car-oriented society). Yet each individual was easily able to set his or her own pace, and if one dropped an hour or so behind to socialize with the locals in a smoky teahouse, to play with a fat, laughing baby, to admire a newborn goat or simply to rest legs and lungs that were protesting with a bit too much insistence, an arrow — scratched in the dirt by a guide — would always show which branch of the trail the group had taken.

Off and on during a typical morning, members of our jaunty, singing kitchen crew — carrying dishes and cooking paraphernalia — would pass us by and at midday they'd have a hot lunch ready and waiting. In the afternoon the same buoyant group would pass us again, and as soon as we straggled into the right's campsite, tea and biscuits were served, followed soon thereafter by a delicious, full-course meal.

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