Chandragiri Day Hiking

Chandragiri is a historical and a popular tourist destination located on the outskirts of Kathmandu city. Due to ease of access and natural riches, it makes a great day hike for the tourists and locals alike.


Overview

Chandragiri is a small hill located 7 km southwest of Kathmandu city. Measuring 2,551 meters above sea-level, it makes a great day hike. You can choose to the hike when you are at Kathmandu. It generally takes 7-8 hours at most  to complete the entire trip. The temple of Bhaleshwor Mahadev atop the hill is a major tourist attraction.

The temple is accessible through cable car or hiking. A day hiking is enough to reach the top and come back down. Himalayas such as Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang Ranges, Gaurishankar and Everest are visible from the top. . The hill is filled with various kinds of flora and fauna. It becomes a delight for the hikers to witness natural riches at such close distance from Kathmandu.

History

The historians suggest that King Prithvi Narayan of the Shah dynasty worshiped at the temple before attacking and conquering the entire Kathmandu valley. It is here, he take a glance at Kathmandu and was mesmerized by its beauty. He then took oath to conquer the valley, which then was popularly known as “Nepal.”

The mausoleum of Kalu Pandey, the trusted General of King Prithvi N. Shah lies near the Chandragiri hills.

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Annapurna III

Annapurna III is a peak from Annapurna massif which measures over 7,000 meters. It was first climbed in 1961 by the Indian expedition through the Northeast face. It’s Southeast face has never been climbed.


Overview

Annapurna III is the 42nd highest mountain that is not the subsidiary of another peak. It measures 7,555 meters (24,787 ft). The prominence of the summit is 703 meters. Along with Annapurna I, II,IV and V, it forms the greater Annapurna massif.

Annapurna I remains the popular peak for climb among the all.

Summit

The Northeast face of the peak was first summited by an Indian expedition led by Cap. Mohan Singh Kohli in 1961. It comprised of Cap. Mohan Singh, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Girmi.

The Southeast fae has never been climbed before. The summit was attempted by a team, however, the entire team perished before they could make it to the top.

The latter summit was attempted by David Lama and the team in 2016 and 2017. However, they failed to successfully scale the peak.

Ghandruk; The Gem of Annapurna Region

Ghandruk is an ethnic village located in the Annapurna region of Nepal. A village predominantly inhabited by the Gurung and Magar tribes of Nepal, is also an important tourist destination of the country.


Overview

Ghandruk is the second largest village in the entire ACAP region, however, not more than 8,000 people reside in the village today. Due to its close proximity to the road and ease of access, the village is well equipped with many modern amenities, well-built houses and staircases.

Most of the houses are built out of stone, stone slabs and mud; well-resistant materials for the cold weather. Few houses in the region are found to be made out of concrete, cement and bricks too.

It connect the major roadways to many other important villages leading up to Annapurna Base Camp. Generally, people start trekking from Nayapul through Ghandruk, Chhomrong, Phedi, MBC and the Base Camp and back.

Annapurna range, Machhapuchhre, Gangapurna and Himchuli peaks can be seen up-close from the village.

You can only get to Ghandruk on foot. Buses and jeeps move between Pokhara and Kimche, 1-2hrs walk from Ghandruk.

Lifestyle

Gurung male
Gurung male

Ghandruk is preserved as the ethnic Gurung village. It lies inside the Annapurna Conservation Area, hence, the entire preservation of culture and geography is monitored by the ACAP community and local leaders.

Most people still use firewood for heat and cooking purposes. Mules are the common form of beast-of-burden in the area. Well placed stone slabs are found throughout the narrow alleys of the village. Most inhabitants are the adherents of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Lhosar along with other national festivals are celebrated with much awe. People prefer to keep the village clean and use plastic less. Most of the items are re-used or are sent for the recycling. Operating hotels, lodges, tending sheep and livestock is the major form of trade in the area.


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Makalu Barun National Park

Makalu Barun National Park is one of the Himalayan nature reserves of Nepal. It was established as the eastern extension of the Sagarmatha National Park but was later instated as the separate protected nature reserve.


Overview

Thulo Pokhari
Thulo Pokhari

Makalu Barun National Park was established in 1992. It is the only National park in the world with the elevation gain of 8,000 meters. One of the highest peaks in the world. Mt. Makalu, is located inside the park, along with other great mountain ranges, such as; Chamalang, Baruntse and Mera Peak.

Spanning across 1500 km2, the park touches both Solukhumbu (Khumbu) and Sankhuwasabha districts. In the north, the park shares the international border with Tibet. The park also comprises into the Sacred Himalayan Landscape.

History

During 1980s, personnel of The Mountain Institute (TMI) conducted surveys in the Barun Valley for studying the biological diversity of the region. The results of the survey led to the creation of an entirely new protected area. A respective proposal was formulated in 1985.

In 1988, the Makalu-Barun Conservation Area Project (MBNPCA) was started in the joint of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and TMI. It was gazetted in 1991.

The conservation area was to be regulated in joint effort of the locales and the respective department. In 1991, the conservation area converted into a buffer zone.

Trekking

The Makalu Base Camp makes a wonderful trek for the outdoor lovers. More than 20,000 tourists visit the Makalu trail every year. The entire trek may last 16-17 days, and you must fly from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar to do the trekking.

The trail lies inside Makalu-Barun National Park, hence offering a rare glimpse of the Eastern Nepal’s rich biodiversity.


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The Tale of Machhapuchhre

Machhapuchhre or the Fishtail is also known as the virgin peak because no human has ever conquered its summit. There are many stories and folklore in Nepal dedicated to the mountain, however, very few of them clarify why the peak has never been climbed.


Overview

Machhapuchhre standing at 6,993 meters is one of the small peaks of Nepal. It is popularly known for its majestic and unadulterated beauty, and the unique geography of its summit which gave its name ‘Fishtail’.

machhapuchhreThe peak lies just opposite the Annapurna massif and is closely connected to the Hindu God Shiva. It is believed among the Hindus that Shiva lives atop the mountain hence the peak is forbidden from climbing.

The trekkers doing the Annapurna Base Camp Trek must pass through the Machhapuchhre Base Camp. The peak from the base camp is up close. It is also seen from Pokhara, a tourist city located 23 km away from the mountain. The peak dominates almost every photo taken at the Pokhara due to its promising visibility.

History

It is generally believed that the peak hasn’t yet been climbed because it holds an important religious position among the Gurung inhabitants of the region.

One popular story goes as such;

In fact, it was a member of that expedition, one Wilfrid Noyce, who came the closest anybody ever has to the summit on a 1957 expedition. The king of Nepal had asked Noyce to respect Hindu religious customs and not set foot on the summit. He and his climbing companion, A.D.M. Cox, turned back 150 feet short of the summit. This expedition produced the only climbing record of this mountain, a very rare book called Climbing the Fish’s Tail.

However, the reason for not being able to scale the peak is more personal than religious. Col. Jim Roberts, a British Gurkha officer who led both the reconnaissance (1956) and expedition (1957) teams to the mountain, had to retreat just 45 meters short of the summit due to heavy snowfall.

Dr. Harka Gurung points out,

Col. Roberts happened to be Military Attache at the British Embassy in Kathmandu and it is not difficult to imagine that his sentimental advice to the Foreign Ministry (that handled expeditions) regarding Machhapuchhre’s sanctity influenced the fate of the mountain. ref

Dr. Harka, along with other stakeholders of tourism industry, believe that the mountain should be opened for the climbing, whilst more employment can be generated.

In his memoirs, Col. Roberts mentions,

So Machhapuchhre became for me the ideal mountain, a personal possession yet out of this world, unattainable but mine by illogic right, brooding over a country and a people which will shape the rest of my life.

The High Passes of Everest

The High Passes trek is one of the most challenging treks available in Nepal. Located entirely at the Everest (Khumbu) region, you must cross three individual passes which are above 5,000 meters.


Overview

It is comparatively a lengthier trek compared to most other treks in the region. Kongma La 5,535 m, Renjo La 5,360 m and Cho La 5,368 m are classified as the 3 high passes.

  • The first leg of the trek begins at Lukla, a small airport town in Khumbu. The trail ascends up towards Renjo La and Gokyo valley.
  • The second leg of the trek passes through Cho La Pass, and towards the Everest Base Camp. You can hike up the Kala Patthar 5,643 meters as well.
  • The third leg takes you towards the Kongma La Pass, and concedes at Lukla.

Renjo La Pass

Renjo La is one of the high passes located in Everest region at an elevation of 5,360 m (17,585 ft). It is the first pass you reach, following the path leading to Gokyo.

The Renjo La trail is quite strenuous; snowfall during winter makes it difficult to attempt the pass. Renjo La and surrounding regions are culturally Tibetan and Sherpas are the indigenous tribesmen.

Cho La Pass

Cho La at 5,420 m (17,782 ft) is another high pass located along Gokyo trail in Khumbu valley. It connects the village of Dzongla to the east and the village of Thagnak  to the west.

One can cross Ngozumpa glacier on the way to Cho La. To the east the trail joins the classic Everest Base Camp route.

Crossing Cho La can be physically demanding. One can get best view of Lobuche peak from the top. Crampons come handy while crossing the snows.

Kongma La Pass

Kongma La at 5,535 m (18,160 ft) is another high pass located between Chjukung village and Lobuche. it is the final pass located to the east of Everest Base Camp. It is also the highest pass among the three passes. The panorama of surrounding mountains is quite amazing when seen from Kongma La.


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Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP)

ACAP is one of the first conservation projects undertaken in Nepal to conserve, protect and decentralize the nature conservation attempts. It spans over 5 different districts and covers the entire Annapurna massif. It is also the largest conservation areas available in Nepal.


Overview

Annapurna Conservation Area or ACAP is located at the mid-western region of Nepal. It covers 7,629 sq.km and spans over 5 different districts, namely; Manang, Mustang, Kaski, Myagdi and Lamjung. The ACAP HQ is located at Ghorepani village, one of the most visited tourist places in Nepal.

ACAP
ACAP

The area has two distinctive climatic regions within a span of 120 km. The southern hills of ACAP region receive frequent rainfall, whereas, the northern most parts receive no or less rainfall, hence, the latter are known as rain-shadow areas.

The deepest gorge in the world – Kali Gandaki, and Annapurna I – Eight-Thousander, is located inside the ACAP.

Gurung and Magar are the predominant ethnic tribes in the lower ACAP regions, whereas Thakali, Manange and Loba are mostly found in the higher regions.

Tourism is undoubtedly one of the major benefactor of the ACAP project. The proceeds received from the permits are used for the local conservation programs.

Wildlife & Flora

ACAP is rich in biodiversity and is a haven for the 1,226 species of flowering plants, 102 mammals, 474 birds, 39 reptiles and 22 amphibians.

History

ACAP was launched in 1986 with the initiation of King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) to protect the environment with sustainable community development in Annapurna area by the local people without any intervention from the Nepalese Government and/or any other institutions.

It was gazetted in 1992 and is managed by the National Trust for Nature Conservation. The main motto of the project is to conserve the resources, tourism management, community development, education and extension.

ACAP with the participation of the trekkers have been able to increase the standard of living of the local population, protect the environment and develop sustainable tourism.


Trekking

A trekker is required to obtain an ACAP permit before entering the region.

The ACAP covers;

  1. Annapurna Base Camp
  2. Ghorepani-Poon Hill
  3. Lower/Upper Mustang
  4. Annapurna circuit
  5. Sikles trail

Hence, anyone doing these treks must obtain the ACAP permits. The region receives more than 100,000 trekkers in a year, mainly due to the popularity of the base camp and circuit trails.

Entry Permit/Fee

  • SAARC National – Rs. 200/ USD 2
  • Non-SAARC National (Except Nepalese) – Rs. 2,000/USD 20

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Kumari – The Living Goddess

Kumari symbolizes a goddess like figure who is revered by the inhabitants of Kathmandu. Also known as the living goddess, a young girl is specially chosen through intricate customs and traditions to be declared a goddess for a certain period of time.


Kumari Jatra

Kumari Jatra/festival celebrates the Kumari, a virgin deity. A custom started by King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu, offers tribute to the major goddess Taleju Bhawani. Kumari is popularly known to be the incarnation of Taleju Bhawanai.

Kumari overlooking from Kumari Ghar
Kumari

The procession of Kumari, accompanied by the relics of Bhairava and Ganesha, is carried out in a chariot throughout Kathmandu city for 3 days following the Indra Jatra. The first day procession leads through downtown Kathmandu; the second leads through the uptown; and the final procession is carried out in the midtown.

The selection process of Kumari is an elaborate affair, headed by the Newar Buddhist priests. The operation is carried out in accord to the law dictated by Vajrayana Buddhism. The girls aged 4-7 are pre-screened and selected for a task involving meeting the deities in a dark room. The one who remains composed and calm throughout the process is declared the goddess. The locals believe that the spirit of Taleju Bhawani enters the body of the girl hence giving her the spiritual identity, and the term of being a goddess remains until her first menstruation.

Legend says,

Taleju Bhawani was the king’s political and social advisor and would give important tips to the king on good governance. However, during one of their meetings, the king, overwhelmed by desire, attempted to rape the goddess inside the Taleju Bhawani temple, prompting the goddess to disappear and vow never to appear before the king again. Worried by the goddess’ proclamation, the king begged her to reconsider her decision. Taking sympathy on the poor king, Taleju pledged to reside within the Kumari, a virgin girl from the city.

Jaya Prakash Malla identified the right Kumari and built a palace for her in the Hanumandhoka area. In honour of Taleju Bhawani and the Kumari, he began a separate procession called the Kumari Jatra, which happened to fall on the third day of Indra Jatra.

It is celebrated as a part of the greater festival Yenya Punhi or the Indra Jatra. The festival belongs to the Newar community of Kathmandu valley, the predominant inhabitants of the region. Celebrated as a street festival, it carries a historic and mythological significance to the bygone Malla Kingdom of Nepal.

Today, the festival is marked with grand processions and is observed by locals and tourists alike. It remains one of the major festivals of Nepal.

A Trip to Jomsom & Muktinath

Jomsom is a small town located in the discreet region of Mustang district. The Muktinath temple in the outskirts of Jomsom is major attraction of the region. A tourist destination, Jomsom is also an important economic and geographic hub connecting Nepal with Tibet.


Jomsom

Jomsom is the district headquarter of Mustang region. It connect Upper Mustang with other important cities in the South. Also known as Dzong-Sampa or New Fort,  it is located at the altitude of 2,700 meters; and covers Kali Gandaki river on both sides.

Kali Gandaki Gorge
Kali Gandaki Gorge

The Dhaulagiri and Nilrigi peaks are clearly visible from the town, along with the northern side of Annapurna mountain range.

It is 67 km away from the tourist city of Pokhara. You can choose to take a short flight, bus or jeep to Jomsom from Pokhara. The road can be treacherous throughout the year due to its poor condition. It goes along the side of Kali Gandaki until Jomsom, and passes through important towns of Beni, Parbat, Lete and Marpha.

The region is also popular for its unique apples and locally produced wine. Marpha exports most of its apples and wines to nearby towns.

It also forms a section of the greater Annapurna circuit trek and Upper Mustang trek. One must reach Jomsom to access the discreet Upper Mustang region, however, you aren’t required to obtain ‘restricted area’ permit to reach until Jomsom.

Muktinath

Muktinath is a temple located at the Muktinath town in the outskirts of Jomsom. Located at 3,710 meters on the foot of Thorong La pass, it is mostly visited by both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.

In Hinduism, the temple is considered to be 106th among the available 108 Divya Desam (premium temples) considered sacred by the Sri Vaishnava sect. The Hindu pilgrims must visit the temple one their lifetime and offer prayer along with holy bath under the 108 stone taps available inside the temple premise.

In Buddhism, Muktinath is considered an important place of dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and one of the 24 Tantric places. They understand the statue to be a manifestation of Avalokiteśvara, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.

It is believed that, Guru Ringpoche (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism) mediated at Muktinath before heading towards Tibet.

The temple is located 22 km away from the Jomsom town. One must take a locally available jeep, mule or bus to reach Muktinath. You can also choose to trek. The area is flourished with newly opened hotels, restaurants, shops and other services.

Due to its sheer altitude and geographical proximity, the temple remains inaccessible throughout Monsoon and Winter.


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Leah Thomas & Her Mera Peak Feat!

Leah Thomas (26) hails from Vermont, USA. An outdoor enthusiast, she guides rock climbing trips at Cat Ba, Vietnam through Asia Outdoors.

She recently completed her 17 days trip to Mera Peak summit. An arduous climb, Mera Peak makes up for the highest climbable small peaks in Nepal. At 6,476 meters, Mera Peak makes an exciting trip which includes both trekking and minimal climbing experience.

She says,

From the start, Caravan Outdoors was really easy to work with. I talked mostly to Salman who helped me through each step of the process of getting signed and getting to Nepal. I had never done anything like this before, climbing a peak, and they were very helpful in directing me to what I needed to get and do before arriving.

I ended up being the only one on my trip, but it was great. I summited Mera Peak (6400+ meters) which I had my doubts on doing since I was coming directly from sea level, but was able to do it with no major problems!

It was a great experience, the guides were amazing, the trip was amazing! I can’t say enough good things, I’m already looking to go back and do anther trip!

From Her #Insta



I like the suffering. I like being tired and cold and exhausted at the end of the day, I even like knowing that I have to do it all again the next day. I like knowing that it doesn't matter that I haven't showered in weeks, that I haven't changed my clothes in weeks. Out here you can separate yourself from society, from all those social norms that you're required to do. The being exhausted, dirty, hungry, sweaty, cold, hot is part of the adventure. The suffering is part of the thrill. Knowing that you and only a select few others are willing to go through something so painful and difficult, yet come out the other side wanting to do it all again, creates a close community found no where else. There is pain in suffering. There is also great adventure. . . #sufferfest #sufferinginadventure #type2fun #nepal #trekking #longdistance #adventure #liveformore #dontjustexist #live #adventuremore #travelmore #travelwander #seemore #domore #pushlimits

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