Every year, during the Dashain & Tihar holiday period, the big kids of Shangrila Home go on a trekking. This year it was a 7 day trek, where we did parts of the Helambu trail and the Langtang trekking. I had the luck that I could join them on their vacation and I enjoyed it so much. Both the trekking, as the time spend with the ‘kids’.
Gokarna to Chisopani (2140m) DAY 1
We started from the home and left together with 16 of the smaller kids, who would go on a smaller, two day trek. The landscape at the beginning wasn’t that special yet, but the air was filled with everyone’s excitement and anticipation. The real trekking started when we entered Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. As a foreigner, I paid an entry fee of 1500 NPR, which is a bit less than 15 euros.
Once you enter the park, be prepared for a lot of stairs. It is quite the climb! We have a small break around 11h30 and say goodbye to the smaller kids, who will stay at a local lodge in the park – the rest of us continue the climb upwards. Bart (one of the other volunteers), one of the kids and I, lost the group at some point. Luckily Bart has an offline GPS and we find our way back to the group.
The higher we climb, the lovelier the sights. We have an overview of the outskirts of Kathmandu and are surrounded by green hills. From above it is clear how much smog there is in the city. We arrive at our lodge at 15h30 – it is very cosy. I share a room with Bart – the room is basic but nice.
Everyone who arrives gets noodle soup, but since I can’t eat it because of my intolerance to wheat, I get a portion of french fries. We decide to eat inside because once the sun goes down, it starts to get very cold! The kids start playing cards or head back to their rooms, until dalbat at 19h00. It’s a very spicy dalbat and I’m suffering. The kids think it’s quite funny – for them it’s nearly nothing! I have to admit though, that I have zero tolerance for spicyness!
After dalbat, we are allowed to make a campfire and with some music in the background, we all enjoy the heat together. It stays cold however, so I head to bed at 20h00 in the evening. I’m tired anyway and it will be an early rise the next day!
Chisopani to Kutumsang (2470m) DAY 2
We wake up at 6 o’ clock in the morning – everyone receives roti (some kind of Nepali bread) in the morning, so that’s a problem for me. The cook cooks me some vegetables with two egs. Not the best breakfast for a full day of hiking! We also don’t have lunch stops (we can eat some snacks ofcourse) since we walk quite big distances everyday! Because of that, we can see a lot of both trekkings! Tourist treks go much slower (which we notice on the way) and do shorter distances per day.
According to Dinesh, one of the main caretakers (he and Prakash lead the trekking together) tells me that this should be one of the heaviest days. We do three steady climbs and three decents. It is indeed quite a hard day! Especially the first two climbs up. Today I walk mostly with Bart – he is very patients and waits for me to catch up. I’m right in between the faster and slower kids and am happy to have his company.
The last part of the hike is beautiful and we get quite the stunning views. It gets difficult for me in the end, because I feel that I didn’t eat enough – I took some sel roti with me from Kathmandu, but I ate the last one for ‘lunch’. The last two hours, we get the company of a very nice dog!
We end up doing the distance in 6 hours and 30 minutes, which is not bad. We arrive at 15h30. The last girls arrive only at 17h00. The lodge we are staying at is lovely and the hosts are so nice!
If you went trekking in Nepal already, then you know that the rooms are not heated. There are only two rooms with ‘heating’ and that is the living room with the stove and the kitchen where they cook the food. We e
Kutumsang to Tharepati (3800m) DAY 3
Good start, bad start
We wake up a little bit later today, at 7 o’ clock in the morning – we leave around 9am. For breakfast, I get some delicious fried rice with an omelet. After the good start of the day, the hike starts of quite bad. We barely left the lodge and we walk past a nest of Asian hornets (or wasps, I’m not sure) and I get stung twice. In my arm and belly and it is very painful. The kids and Dinesh tell me that you could even die if you get 7 stings.
It is a really long day and I do not know if it is because of the stings or simply because it is a hard day of walking. I arrive at the next lodge at 17pm. The last half hour, I’m accompanied by the cutest dog! It was nice to have him close, since it got really cold in the last hours and there was a lot of fog. It started getting dark when by the time I arrived. We did go up quite a bit today and stay at a lodge at 3900m!
Cold & cosy
We have to eat in a small room next to the kitchen (we eat in shifts), where it is really cold (it’s minus zero). I do not understand why, because there is a warm living room (and the tourists get to eat there, but maybe they thought our group was to big). But the dalbat is nice anyway since I was in the good company of some of the girls. We laughed with me not understanding Nepali and they not understanding Dutch and it got funny when we started repeating sentences in each other’s language.
The rest of the evening we spend around the stove (obviously) and it is really cosy. There are other tourists, so we sit closely together and I feel part of the big Shangrila Home family. Sara has a headache and tries to sleep on my shoulder and I try to ignore the wasp stings while enjoying it all. The room was freezing but very nice. It was made completely out of wood and it smelled like it, which was lovely.
Tharepati to Phedi (3900m) DAY 4
Early rise & beautiful morning
We wake up at 6am again – getting out of bed is the hardest thing because it is so cold! It’s freezing outside and you are sleeping in an unheated wooden cabin, so can you imagine? We eat breakfast outside and enjoy the stunning scenery. Dinesh tells me it will be a hard day again – but it goes way better than yesterday and I arrive at 14h00 in the afternoon.
The dog from yesterday stays at my side almost the whole day and I love it. I name him Chowmein, not that it matters a lot. It’s a nice hike today and we pass a lot of waterfalls. In the end the scenery is wonderful, even though I mostly capture glimpses of it with the fog. Luckily it moves enough so sometimes I get the full view!
The last part is intense with a steady climb, but it is also the most beautiful. The lodge where we are staying has the most cosy living room and I stay there almost the whole evening because of the stove. At one point it starts snowing and the kids are extatic. A lot of them haven’t seen snow yet (because it does not snow in Kathmandu) and for most it’s very rare! It’s lovely to see and their happiness is contagious!
The first days were amazing already and we were halfway already! But the most exciting moment is day 5, because that’s the day when we cross the Suriya pass (4610m), the highest point of our trekking! But that is for part II!