Fascinating Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang is a whole different world on it’s own in terms of interesting fossils as well. To be precise, this transcendent beauty is a masterpiece carved by the creator. If you think the unparalleled landscape is the only factor in Upper Mustang that leaves everyone in awe, excavating a little more about Upper Mustang would be worth the endeavor. Besides the landscapes, mysterious caves, the intriguing history of the Salt Trade Route, seclusion from the outside world, varieties of species of wildlife, unique lifestyle of the Lowa (inhabitants of Upper Mustang) people, the remains of animalistic Bon religion and also the distinctive fossils in several areas of Upper Mustang are exquisite.

Watch our video on how, when and why to visit Upper Mustang.
Fossils in Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang is an exceptional ground to find Shaligram, a fossil of a special kind. Shaligram, (often pronounced in different ways) is a black shell-like ammonite which embeds fossils in it. The fossils carved in Shaligrams are basically the exterior body of organisms in the sedimentary rocks. Talking about the significance of these divine black spiritual stones, they are considered to have a religious importance. In fact, devotees of Lord Vishnu refer Shaligram as the symbol of Lord Vishnu and worship them in various parts of India, Nepal, and various other parts of the world as well. The four symbols supposed to be carved in Shaligrams are Shankha, Gada, Chakra and Padma. These symbols, according to their particular arrangements indicate various avatars of Hindu deities.
Shaligram Upper Mustang
You can expect to find Shaligram fossils in the Kali Gandaki river beds, rivers of Tetang, on the river bed to Luri Gompa or Tashi Kabum of Upper Mustang.

We also found interesting fossils embedding clams (sea shell) in Upper Mustang.
Fossils embedding clams in Upper Mustang
What’s most fascinating is that, these fossils indicate that millions of years ago the mountains might have been under the sea. (WOAH!)

Fossils in Upper Mustang

Another interesting thing that isn’t really covered by many books or research papers, are the Petroglyphs of Upper Mustang. Petroglyphs are the pre-historic art of carving, pricking or incising symbolic letters, images or chants in the rocks and stones.
Petroglyph in Eklebhatti, Upper Mustang

Petroglyph in Mohargaph Samar, Upper Mustang

Petroglyphs, Upper Mustang
If you want to see these ancient rock art dating more than 2000 years old, you can go to Samar or Eklebhatti or even explore on your own.

Best Side Trips of Manaslu Circuit Trek

And we wouldn’t want to lie when we say this, but being referred as a Beyul, Manaslu Circuit Trek, is certainly worth a try. Actually, a must go! Having no chaos at all, this region is another beautiful trekking destination of Nepal that takes you to the high altitudes, enchanting monasteries, lures with awesome mountain views, lets you across winsome lakes, and lonesome villages accommodating hospitable people. Manaslu Circuit Trek is a tea house trek in Nepal, which also lies in the Great Himalayan Trail. As we have informed you about the things to know before going to the Manaslu Circuit Trek earlier, you should also know the undeniably perfect side trips that you can take along this trail.

1. Manaslu Base Camp (4848m):
Manaslu Base Camp
This is possibly the most exciting side trip of Manaslu Circuit Trek. The whole trip will take about 6 hours for the average traveler. To catch this trail you first go to Birendra Lake and then walk to the bottom right corner of the lake. From here you can see a road going up that joins with the Manaslu Base Camp trail. Or you can also walk out of Sama village through a wooden door, the left road leads you to the camp. The trail encompasses forests, barren lands and sharp climb so brace yourself. At the top is a small chorten with a lot of prayer flags that marks Manaslu Base Camp.

2. Serang Gompa (3100m):
Serang Gumba, Manaslu Circuit Trek

Serang Gumba is a small paradise on the foot of Shringi Himal. It would be a major dismay if you miss Serang during the Manaslu Circuit trek, as the valley surrounding Serang (Kyimolung trail) is considered to be one of the four beyuls hidden among the Himalayas of Asia as identified by Guru Padmashambhava. Also, he is supposed to have meditated here. The Shringi Himal behind the gumba is an attractive mountain with great religious significance. The high-low trail accommodates forested roads, mani walls, suspension bridge, beautiful chortens, and enigmatic energy.

3. Kalmachum Lake (3800 m):
Kalmachum (Kal) Lake, Manaslu Circuit

This is a beautiful high altitude lake in Manaslu Circuit Trek that is a day’s hike from Prok village. The trail is completely forested with pine, fir and langurs. The way to Kal Lake starts from the south-western corner. It is a total uphill trail for the first 3 hours. In about 20 mins, you arrive at Pari Gompa. At nightfall, the lama who has the key of the gompa, comes to spend the night here and during the day he is out working in fields. You can see the beautiful village of Prok from here and the village on the far away cliff is Kok.

4. Hinang Gumba (3100 m):
Hinang Gumba, Manaslu Circuit Trek

Located in the village of Hinang, Hinang gompa is without a doubt one of the most beautiful gompas in Manaslu Circuit Trek.  It sits with a backdrop of Mt. Himalchuli and yellow pine forest on the background. The road to this gompa separates after 20 mins from the village of Lihi. You can even visit the Hinang glacier further up from the gumba. The main idol in the gumba is of Gautam buddha; on the right side is Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), and on the left is Guru Karmapa. It is also a lama school and students studying here go to Namobuddha Gumba in Kathmandu during winter. This monastery was built about 10 years ago and the head lama who is looking after the gompa is Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

5. Birendra Lake (3620m):
Birendra Lake

This is a glacier lake formed from the melting ice of Mt. Manaslu. This is one of the most popular and the easiest side trip in all of Manaslu Circuit Trek. Situated just about half an hour away from the village of Sama, this glacier lake is where most people spend their acclimatization days. To reach to the lake, follow the direction pointed by the signboard just opposite to Mount Manaslu hotel. Walk straight past the gompa and you will come to an open field where dzopkyos and yaks will be grazing. The trail here will disappear so first, locate the chorten in the middle of the field. Then walk diagonally to the farthest corner past the chorten. There the trail should appear again. The road from here is not missable and will directly lead you to the lake.

Best Side Trips of Everest Base Camp(EBC) Trek!

Everest Base Camp Trekking is definitely the most popular and the most alluring place to go trekking in Nepal. Most people from all over the world flock here to find an escape in the land of the Himalayan mountains. The trek leads you through the orgasmic mountain panorama, breathtaking high suspension bridges, the lustful wooden trail, unique wildlife, secluded villages, spiritual monasteries and lets you inhale the well-off Sherpa culture. Hike to Everest Base Camp is a whole different world where mountains are not just your soul food and religion but the entire universe, to be precise. In the regular Everest base camp itinerary, there are several side trips that you can take to assure an unparalleled experience.

1. Side trip to Thame (3,800m):


Thame gompa

This side trip in the Everest Base Camp Trek route will take you through a part of the old trade route connecting Khumbu to Tibet. In stark contrast to its historic importance, you will encounter surprisingly low traffic along this section. The few trekkers along this route will be ones who have made their way from the Rolwaling Valley. The good thing about this trail is that there are some stunning views, plenty of wildlife and less people. You will be walking through pine forests and watch out for Tahrs and Monals along this section. Thame is one of the oldest villages in Khumbu. Thame monastery is also one of the three oldest monasteries in Khumbu. A quick fun fact about Thame is that it is home to Tenzing Norgay who with Sir Ed Hillary was the first person on top of Everest. Actually, Thame is kind of great at producing climbers of exceptional abilities. It is probably not related, but the Sherpas say Thame has the best potatoes too.
Duration: 7-8 hrs (Round trip from Namche)

2. Side trip to Kala Patthar (5,643m):


Kala Patthar

Kala Patthar is basically the best vantage point in Everest Base Camp Trek Route to view the world’s tallest beauty, Everest. It is because you cannot see Everest directly from its base camp. Some people make a real early start to catch the sunrise from this viewpoint. Temperatures and motivation permitting, you should consider this option. But even if you start at sunrise, the views from the top is something to cherish for the rest of your life. The most important factor has got to be visibility though. Check up online for weather forecasts and even if it shows heavy clouds, wake up in the morning nevertheless. Weather predictions are just predictions and even a 4-hour clear window should be good enough. If Kala Patthar is no longer the Black Rock (that is what Kala Patthar literally translates to) because of snow, it pays to take it very slowly.
Duration: 3-5 hrs (Round trip from Gorakshep)

3. Side trip to Gumela/Rimishung Monastery:

Phakding
At the end of Phakding, there is a large yellow signboard advertising the trail to Rimishung. It is a wide trail that is easy to follow at least until the monastery and nearby settlement. The quiet walk through pine forests should take you to the monastery in about half an hour. The monastery is one of the oldest in Khumbu and while a modest affair has artforms that is steeped in history.
Duration: 30 min-1 hour (Round trip from Phakding)

4. Side trip to Chukung (4,735m):

On the way to Chhukung
Chukung is an easy acclimatization day trip. This side trip will not only aid in acclimatization but is also one of the better introductions to alpine flora. The trail passes through rhododendron and juniper shrubs. Also, salient is the Alpine Shrubby Horsetail or Somlata which is a highly medicinal plant. If it is late spring, there will be some rhododendrons in bloom along with honeysuckle and cinquefoils. You will have to come during the monsoon in July/Aug to fully appreciate the flora of this area though.
Duration: 4-5 hour (Round trip from Dingboche)

5. Side trip to Khumjung and Khunde (3,780m):


Khumjung

Khumjung is one of the most picturesque Sherpa villages and is an ideal way to kill the extra day if you don’t wish to pass the time sitting the lodge in Namche. To get to Khumjung, first climb to the top of Namche. Once there go past the open field to the small lodges. There you will come to an intersection of four trails. The first trail is one you came from, the one to the left will take you to Thame while the one to the right will take you to Kyangjuma. It is the middle one that climbs steeply up the slopes that will take you to Khumjung. About half an hour of this steep climb will bring you to Syangboche which is a small airstrip town. Just as you reach the airstrip, make sure to keep to the right. You should reach a small hotel in about 10 minutes. From here it is relatively easy to follow the trail past the famous Everest View Hotel and beautiful mixed forest to land in Khumjung about an hour later. If you wish to stay, you will also find plentiful lodges in Khumjung.

Khunde is the next cluster of houses from Khumjung in the same valley.

Best Of Annapurna Base Camp(ABC) Trek!

Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek is one of best places to trek in Nepal and it is all about that lust for the mountains. But there’s so much more than the obvious mountains throughout the ABC trek that should keep your eyes wide open and feet on your toes. Along with the mountains, you will be accompanied by the cheerful Gurungs, lush vegetations, and Himalayan creatures. Here are some of the stuff that will make your ABC trek worthwhile. Do not miss them!

1. Annapurna Base Camp during full moon:
The base camp is your ultimate prize for choosing this trek and every aching limb will shout “It’s worth it!” once you reach the colosseum of mountains. You will be surrounded by these huge giants and you might find it hard to keep your mouth shut. Jaw drops are a common sight here. And on top of that, if you plan a perfect trek to reach ABC during a full moon, that might just be the best decision you have made. The mountains glow up powered by the moon and will not let you sleep for you will want to stare at these sparkling giants the whole night!Annapurna Base Camp

2. Chhomrung’s mother group’s cultural program:
Gurung Couple

The whole of Chomrong is run by the Mother’s group and if you want to experience Gurung culture to the fullest then you are at the right place. Here in this quiet hinterland, away from the gaze of bureaucrats, it is the mother's group that sets the rules. They mobilize the kids to clean the village and collect money to maintain the trails. They have also been instrumental not only in the success but also in the formation of the Annapurna Conservation Area. Their evening cultural programs cum fundraiser is a popular evening activity among the trekkers who stay in this village.

3. Watching Hawk migration from ABC:

ABC here refers to the Australian Base Camp as opposed to the more famous Annapurna Base Camp. From late October to November, up to 500 raptors mostly eagles migrate westward each day. And if the mountain weather has taken a turn for the worse, you will have these birds fly at eye level. Get yourself a good camera and click away! However, don’t forget to live the moment.

4. Mountain view from Poonhill:
Sunrise from Poonhill

The view from the top of Poonhill is just amazing! This 1.5-hour side trip from Ghorepani will you take you to the doorway of the mountains and you will be able to view multiple mountain ranges from that single spot. All the big players: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna to name some will be posing just for you to breath in the panoramic view. Poonhill side trip is definitely rewarding and we suggest you not to miss this. We repeat, Do not miss this side trip!

5. Ghandruk:
ghandruk village

Ghandruk is a beautiful and a clean Gurung village with picturesque Gurung homes waiting to welcome you to their village. Slate-roofed houses beside paddy fields with beautiful mountain views in the background lend a certain character to the village that is at the same time majestic and homely. It’s a perfect village to rest and breathe in the fresh air and rejuvenate yourself for the trek ahead. You could even dress up like a Gurung in this lovely village if you want to take back some lovely memories back home.

Read also: Best of Everest and Annapurna Circuit!

An Independent Trekker’s Guide To Everest Base Camp

Trekking alone in a foreign land isn’t always as enthralling as it sounds. First, you need to find a proper source of undiluted trekking information, which will be your ultimate guide in the Himalayas. Everest Base Camp trek is certainly one of the most popular and adventurous trekking destinations in Nepal, more like a mountain museum with all the stuff displayed for real. It will be tiring to manage a proper trip on your own, as you will have a whole bunch of things to do like getting permits, finding hotels, shop for gears, buy maps, booking flight to Lukla and more. However, if you have that zeal to explore like a local, creating treks independently, and gain an experience of a lifetime, trekking solo in Everest Base Camp Trek route should be a piece of cake! Here’s your guide to trekking independently and witnessing the best of Everest !
(P.S you should never ask these questions to Nepalese)

1. Getting Permits:
You can either fly to Lukla or trek all the way from Jiri through the high passes while going to Everest Base Camp trek.
Flight to Lukla:  You will need TIMS and Sagarmatha National Park entry permit.
Trek from Jiri:    You will need TIMS, Sagarmatha National Park entry permit, and Gaurishankar entry permit.

Where to get?
TIMS: Easily from Thamel or go to Nepal Tourism Board Office, Exhibition Road.
Sagarmatha National Park entry permit: From Nepal Tourism Board or in Monjo itself.
Gaurishankar entry permit: From Nepal Tourism Board Office
Here is the infographic showing all the permit rates.
An infographic of permits of Nepal
The permit fees for independent trekker is comparatively expensive to go to Everest Base Camp. You can either pay the actual amount or tie up with some travel agencies running organized trek to obtain permits at a cheaper cost and then, trek solo. To acquire TIMS permit, you have to fill up forms which will require two (2) passport-size photographs and a copy of passport.

2. Health and Safety:
Well, this is the ugly part about trekking solo. As they say, good things are followed by bad things. The whole experience of trekking solo lets you be the boss of your itinerary, experience the authentic side of the trail, travel cheaply and also devour the journey as you wish. Despite having so many perks, the safety and health issues are likely to be a major factor to hold back your decision of trekking solo. At such a high altitude, without a proper idea of acclimatization and proper guide to the trails, there is a high possibility of falling sick or even getting lost. And if have no one to watch your back, that is going to make it just worse. Make sure you have a travel insurance and rescue contacts, proper maps, eat healthy, and know how much to ascend in a day. As designed for the independent trekkers, our ‘Trekking In Nepal’ App which is the best trekking companion to in the Himalayas of Nepal serves you with following features:
– Deviation Alerts if you stray off the route by 200m.
– Climb Alerts if you climb more than 500m in a day after 3,000m.
Contact information for Embassies and Consulates.
– Comprehensive Rescue Contacts.
features of trekking app

3. Finding hotels:
For an individual trekker, finding a proper lodge to stay overnight can be quite difficult. You have to inquire about the services and do a lot of field work in before finding an affordable hotel with services you need. Also, most of the hotels have rooms with two beds and thus, it is like you are paying for two. But what’s great about traveling solo is that you have complete freedom to choose your hotel unlike the organized trek led by guides who are likely to take you to the hotels where they get a higher commission from rather than the hotels with better services. Also, you are likely to find someone who you can share the room with. One has a very wide variety of accommodation options in Everest Base Camp Trek from homestay to moderate to luxury lodges. Homestay can also be another cheap option. We have compiled information about every single lodge along with the services they provide, the price they charge and contact details for pre-booking and more in our ‘Trekking In Nepal’ App. You can download it for detailed information.
features of trekking app

4. Flight Tickets:
Flight booking to Lukla is another thing that you have to do on your own. However, Airlines Corporation like Tara Air has made booking the tickets via Internet. There are alternative routes to travel to Everest Base Camp too if you are worried about flight cancellation.
Lukla Flight

5. Water:
Another most unexpected expense that you are likely to incur as you go higher in the altitude is expenditure on water. Do not overlook this matter. Drinking a lot of water is very important while you are trekking. That is your ultimate guide to staying healthy. Filling hot water can charge you a lot ranging from $1 to $3 as you march to a higher altitude. So, either you learn to drink cold water make sure you have a certain budget separated for water.

And the ‘Trekking In Nepal’ App is completely Offline!! Know the best places of Nepal to Trek this season!
offline

5 Best Side-trips of Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit Trek is the ultimate trek in terms of variety and adventure in Nepal. With her you will shrug shoulders with polite Brahmins, gutsy Gurungs, regal Ghales, smiling Lobas and hospitable Thakalis. With her, you will earn bragging rights for scrambling past one of the highest mountain passes and gliding through one of the deepest river valleys. With her, you will have mountains for breakfast, plunge pools for lunch and the milky way for dinner. Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, Griffons, and Monals will give you company while primulas, irises and rhododendrons will light up your way.
And besides the obvious, the Annapurna Circuit trek also offers alluring bonuses that you would want to grab and add up to your itinerary. Know the Best Side-trips of Annapurna Circuit.

1. Guru Sangpo Cave:

Possibly one of the best side-trips in Annapurna Circuit Trek, Guru Sangpo Cave is a 2 hr 40 mins walk from Larjung. The trail to Guru Sangpo goes through the village of Naurikot as well. Once you reach the cave and enter inside, you will forget all your miseries. The inside of the cave is spooky, to say the least with the stream flowing into the subterranean crevices below and weird brain-shaped rock formations. The main cave is supposed to be a manifestation of Yab-Yum, or in other words, the merging of male and female. The cave somehow is a metaphor for the masculine and feminine forces in the world, the rocky walls of the cave are the male force while the water that flowed is the female force. And the weird lifeforms that grow there was the result of the meeting of this masculine and feminine force. The world inside this cave is magical if you start to understand the meaning of every other weird forms that are present. Some structures even appear as a male and female organ. Yab Yum will finally make sense to you then.
Altitude: 3020m/ 9908ft
Lunch pack: light snacks

Brain-shaped rock formation in Guru Sangpo Cave

2. Tilicho lake:

This is hands down the most exciting and sought after side trips in the entire Annapurna circuit and one cannot blame anybody for wanting to do this side trip. Although Tilicho lake is not the highest altitude lake in the world, at 4919m, it is definitely very high. And it is a big lake too, the area that it covers is a little under 3.5 square km. Tilicho lake is a stunning glacial lake with Tilicho peak and the grand barrier nearby keeping their watchful eyes over the lake. If Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (take your pick) pose in front of the Tilicho lake your eyes would still be fixed on the lake, that stunning lake! Some people not only take this side trip for the sheer beauty and experience but also for some crazy antics. In 2000, a Russian diving team made a world record for the highest altitude scuba dive. Surely only Russians are capable of such a record. But just recently on 7 March 2016 that record was broken by a Polish guy by scuba diving at 5985 m in Cazadero lake, Argentina. Surely, only a Polish could have broken a record held by a Russian.
Nonetheless, you don’t have to scuba dive to take away the experience of being at Tilicho lake.
Altitude: 4919m/ 16138 ft
Lunch pack: not required

Tilicho Lake

3. Gangapurna Lake:

First, you need to look for a sign directing towards the Gangapurna lake to the south of Manang. Then start your walk towards the lake. It is a fairly short walk to Gangapurna lake (30 minutes), one that won’t exhaust much of your energy and will bless you with the awesome view of the lake. Gangapurna lake is a very young glacial lake formed about 50 years ago and what a lake it is! It takes merely 20 minutes to get to the lake from Manang village. With a color that resonates a greenish blue tone, this one is a crowd pleaser for sure. The serenity and beautiful views it provides should be compelling enough reasons for a stop and some photographs. The name Gangapurna is derived from the fact that the lake’s water trickles down directly from Gangapurna mountain just above it to its south. You won’t see the lake freeze in winter so don’t bring along your skates just yet. Just above the lake, there is a viewpoint by the name of Chongkor which provides breathtaking scenes of mountains and the majestic Gangapurna lake itself. It will also help for the acclimatization purpose if you indeed decide to take the climb. The trail is the same for both sidetrips.
Altitude: 11568 ft/ 3525 m
Lunch pack: Not required

Gangapurna Lake

4. Milarepa Cave:

Among the many sidetrips in this region, Milarepa cave is one of the most famous. This side trip (over a 2 hours hike from east of Bhraka) is very well one of the most exciting places, not only because of the scenery visible from the cave but also the story behind it. An eccentric Tibetan poet named Milarepa is said to have meditated in this cave somewhere during the 11th century whilst his journey in the Himalayas. Milarepa meditated and lived solely on stinging nettle that is said to have transformed his whole body green. One will be surprised to see stinging nettles still growing outside the cave. If you see Milarepa’s illustration in any book or papers then that depiction most probably will be in the color green. The story goes that a hunter named Kera Gumpa Dorje was hunting deer with his dog. After seeing a deer, both the hunter and the dog started chasing the deer which after a while sought refuge behind the meditating Milarepa. The poet refused to hand over the deer and the hunter refused to leave without killing it. After a long discussion, Milarepa’s magical influence caught on and the hunter gave up hunting and became Milarepa’s disciple. You can still see the bow of the hunter hanging on the cliff above the cave.
Altitude: 4200 m/ 13780 ft
Lunch Pack: Light Snack

Milarepa Cave

5. Ice Lake:

For this side trip, you start off by walking past the Bhraka gompa and the old settlement of Bhraka. We suggest you not to take this side trip during winter and during snowfalls as the route to the Ice lake can be very very slippery and dangerous. So be very well prepared if you are willing to take the risk of seeing the lake in its frozen state. Once you reach Ice lake you will be blessed with a beautiful panoramic view of Annapurna III, Gangapurna, Singhu Chuli and other smaller mountains. If your luck favors you can have some yak milk by paying the yak shepherds who live just beside the lake.
Altitude: 4627 m/ 15180 ft
Lunch pack: necessary!
Ice Lake

Know The SPOILERS- Everest Base Camp Trek!

As you plan your trek to Everest Base Camp where the mighty Everest stands all bold as it has since forever, there are certain things we want you to know. Well, that counts just in case you want a better trekking experience.
You might have a whole bunch of trending to-do list prepared and an imagination of a savvy picture that you want to capture with Everest smiling back on your frame from Everest Base Camp. But wait! That is exactly where you might go wrong. So this blog is compiled with experience to aware you about the possible SPOILERS while trekking to Everest Base Camp.

  1. Lukla Flight Cancellation:

People stranded
One thing that you should know before going to Everest is that there are very limited flights to Lukla. There is a high possibility for the flights to get canceled due to bad weather condition. In this case, a lot of the stranded passengers panic and offer to pay more to get back home. Those tourists who promise to spend more are seen to be given priority as because of the limited flights. This culture has helped fill pockets of the people involved in the airlines. However, thesedays you can book your flight to Lukla easily. Besides, you can take an alternative route to Lukla too. From Kathmandu, one can also fly to Phaplu or drive for a day to Salleri and then Lukla is a three days trek from Salleri. Helicopters are another option for a higher cost, of course! Helicopters are another option for a higher cost, of course!

2. Altitude Sickness:


Let’s face it; altitude sickness is a very common problem for those trekking to Everest Base Camp. You are in the highlands of the Himalayas that accommodates the World’s Highest mountains, sure the pressure of oxygen gets low resulting several hazards on human health. Hence, Namche Bazaar and Dingboche/ Pheriche are the best destinations to stop by and hang around for a couple of days to acclimatize properly. Else, it can further lead to greater hazards. The best solution is to go slow and avoid things like sleeping pills and alcohol.

3. Khumbu Cough:


As you go higher, you will cough more, and at times the coughing can get so violent that it hurts like hell. Surprising as it might sound, there is no consensus on the cause on the treatment of the problem. Bronchial irritation due to cold, dry air perhaps has something to do with it. Breathing through the mouth is also thought to exacerbate the situation. The best way to avoid Khumbu cough is to breathe the humidified air by using a mask of some sort. A buff is great for this purpose, and a handkerchief will do just fine. Just make sure it isn’t too tight. Also, make sure to dress warmly and remember to protect your neck and head from the cold. Candies or cough drop will help.

4. Meatless weeks:

[Bad news for the meat lovers] It is most likely that your days during the Everest Base Camp trek (And most of the high altitude treks in Nepal) will be vegetarian for numerous reasons. First, the practice of slaughtering is completely forbidden in the Khumbu area due to the religious beliefs of Buddhism. Do not ask a local to do that for you. It will be a matter of disrespect to them. Second, the unrefrigerated chicken and eggs are brought all the way from Kathmandu through a flight. Third, if not from the capital, the potters carry meat (non-chicken) on their back from the village below Lukla called Kharikhola, by walking for several days. As a result, the meat is very unhygienic, and we don’t suggest to eat meat on the trail.

5. Wifi, ATM, and Hot showers come with extremely Hot prices:

It is pretty obvious that the prices will be higher as one elevates to the higher altitude. The geography compels to bring the goods either through airplanes to Lukla or through animals and porters on their back. Consequently, the prices are very high. In fact, Namche Bazaar is thrice as expensive as Kathmandu. Besides that, there are also facilities of Wifi available for which you have to pay around Rs. 100-500 per hour. The ATM facilities and Hot Showers also tail along with a high price. So, it is advisable to carry all the required goods with you from Kathmandu, including money.

6. Learn to Squat:


In most parts of Nepal, most people don’t have the standard toilets with, and hence, one has to be friends with squats. It might be a little problematic at first, but don’t worry it gets easy with practice. Just look at the picture, ‘that’ minus the hands is what you have to do. But not all the lodges have such a problem; several tea houses also offer standard toilets. If you want to know the lodge conditions, the facilities that the lodges offer and the prices they charge you, you can get the detailed information along with the privilege to book the lodges in Everest region online in our website.

7. A picture with Everest, Yes! But from Everest Base camp, No!:

Of course, it is a sweet little imagination to take a picture with Everest behind you from the Everest Base Camp, but the thing is, you cannot get a proper view of Everest from there. Instead, you can go to Kala Patthar for fulfilling the purpose. Or, if you are trekking through the Three High Passes trek, Gokyo Ri trek is another convenient option.

By now, you might have had more than enough spoilers about Everest Base Camp trek but don’t just be sad yet! Here are some delightful info treats:

1. There are several Luxury lodges on the trail. You can enjoy in well-facilitated rooms, proper washrooms, delicious food, hot showers, Wifi and more.
2. The hospitability, culture, and festivals of the Sherpa people are heartwarming.
3. The beautiful trail that takes you through snow-capped mountains, lush rhododendron forests, highland monasteries, etc. in itself is the best treat to eyes and soul.
4. You can take a side trip to witness the turquoise lakes of Gokyo, a clear view of the mountains from the vantage point of Gokyo Ri, Thame monastery, etc.

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The Major Attractions in Three Passes Trek to Everest Base Camp

If you are someone with a high adrenaline rush, waiting to experience the Everest region in a daring way, Gokyo and three high passes trek is perfect for you. That’s right! Only a few determined trekkers choose to take up this adventurous Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek that lets you experience the beautiful highs and lows of the Khumjung Valley. The Gokyo and Three high passes Trek is an optional trek encompassing the three high passes of Everest Region: Renjo La (5,388 m), Cho La (5,380 m) and the highest Kongma La (5,535 m). Talking about the perks of this trail, it takes you down to the Dudhkoshi valley ornamented with the beautiful turquoise glacial lakes, Gokyo Ri, the highland monasteries, the outlying Nangpa La Valley, Sherpa village, colorful trails through the woody and lush rhododendron forests and above all, an experience of a lifetime!
So these are the major attractions in the Everest Base Camp trek route through Gokyo and three High passes:

1. Namche bazaar (The Gateway to the Everest):


Namche Bazaar

Anybody who wishes to experience the Everest air must first, pass through this well-built market town, Namche bazaar (3500 m). Actually, this place can leave you bewildered for a bit because of its well-constructed buildings, flourished markets, well-facilitated hotels with hot showers, kosher pubs, and cyber cafes even! Surprising? Well, not as surprising as the prices they shall charge you with. As a fact, Namche is thrice as expensive as Kathmandu. (Fair enough! After all, it’s The Everest, Baby!) You can buy trekking equipment and souvenirs, eat in a posh restaurant and do all the cool stuff before heading towards the Himalayas. The weekly market is held on Saturdays when Tamangs and Rais sell rice, millet, vegetables, meat, eggs, etc after carrying the goods from lower parts of the region for days. Talking about the inhabitants of the area, Namche is a home to many Sherpa people and is very rich in Sherpa culture and hospitability. Oh, and don’t forget to try the homemade cheese and butter there!

2. Thame Monastery:

Thame Monastery is a heavenly place with a spiritual and religious significance, settled in the sleepy village of Thame of Everest region. This small farm village is also a homeland of the great summiteers like Tenzing Norgay, Angrita Sherpa and Apa Sherpa. More than 500 years old, the monastery is the soul of Nyingma Buddhism in the Khumbu region. It is one of the largest and well-built monasteries with ravishing decoration. The alluring frescos and tapestries decorated in the walls of the monasteries is a pleasing sight. It is also a school where Buddhism is taught. Moreover, the Mani Rimdu festival which is celebrated every year is a major attraction here. This monastery in the Everest region is a perfect place for meditation amidst the Himalayas.

3. Mani Rimdu Festival:


ManiRimdu

In the Everest Base Camp trekking region, when the fields are green, new cattle are born, rhododendrons bloom in lush, men return from the trek and even the weather is in all the favors, people assemble in Thame monastery to celebrate the grandeur of Mani Rimdu festival. This festival of high religious importance is observed in October/November in Tengboche monastery while it is celebrated in May/June in Thame according to the Buddhist Calendar. This traditional dance form has a religious hallmark according to Tibetan Buddhism. The Mani Rimdu dance is alike the Broadway theatrical, just performed in the Himalayas with a traditional touch, which guarantees to leave you in awe and delight. The monks resembling deities and demons with masks and costumes carry out 13 dances. It is a religious dance with a combination of lights, colors, interesting costumes, religious vibes with a ferocious presentation to portray the victory of good over evil.

4. Gokyo lakes:


Gokyo Lake

Another reason that makes this trek exuberant and unique is the overwhelming series of the hypnotizing high altitude lakes of Gokyo. Turquoise enough to redeem all your sorrows, these beautiful lakes lay in the Gokyo Valley. Among them, Dudhpokhari (also known as Gokyo Cho) is the most popular lake resting just beside the small valley of Gokyo with a few accommodations. The lake not just sits there as an eye-candy but also has a religious significance for Buddhists and Hindus. Considered pious, people take a holy bath on the full moon day of August during the thread festival of Janai Purnima. Also, on the northern corner of the lake lies the temple of Hindu Gods Vishnu and Shiva. Descending from Cho Oyu, the Gokyo lake system consists of other beautiful lakes like Thonak Cho, Gyazumpa Cho, Tanjung Cho, Ngojumba Cho, etc. One can reach these lakes after two days walk from Namche Bazaar while trekking to Everest Base Camp through three high passes trek.

5. Gokyo Ri:
Gokyo Ri

Stationed on the west side of Ngozumpa Glacier, Gokyo Ri (5,357 m) is a peak at the end of the Gokyo Valley in the Khumbu region. This short two hours climb is a must go side trip if you want to witness a transcendent vista of the mighty Everest, even better than the Everest Base Camp itself. The 360-degree view of the Himalayas including four of the tallest mountain peaks Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and Everest is what Gokyo Ri serves you with. Chances are, you might want to take a long leap or just stretch your spiderman silk to land on to the Everest instantly for it seems to stand at such a close distance from Gokyo Ri. (But please don’t!)

6. Ngozumpa Glacier:


Mt Cho Oyu

On the foot of the World’s 6th highest Himalayan jewel Cho Oyu, Ngozumpa Glacier stretches marking itself as the longest glacier in Nepal. You may not find it a delightful sight as per the expectation of what a normal glacier looks like, as the glacier is more of a collection of debris from the nearby cliffs. This gray composition of mostly rocks is of great interest to the scientists as it invites a great risk to the surrounding glacial lakes which feeds water from the seepage of the Glacier. However, it is an attraction in the Everest Base Camp trek.

If you loved this article, you might as well want to learn more about the 5 amazing Secrets of Everest region!

 

The Sky Caves Of Upper Mustang.

As when we think that the most significant human minds have explored all of the world’s possible mysteries- The sufficiency generating curiosity to go beyond Earth, some of the existing mysteries of Upper Mustang still leave archaeologists bewildered. Housed in the Trans-Himalayan region of Nepal, the kingdom lay forbidden up until two decades back. Besides the polished white landscapes, enthralling mountains, outlandish villages and the sublime remoteness, the presence of more than 10,000 cave complexes add up a mystical charm to Upper Mustang.

The Sky Caves on the opposite of Yara, Upper Mustang

Human beings have a whole ancestral history entangled to caves as that is where the evolution started. Back in the Stone Age, humans were cave people. And the most interesting thing is, Upper Mustang has shreds of evidence of the whole cave civilization attached to it. We can find the multi-storeyed Sky Caves in the hills and cliffs (30 meters and above), which reflects an ancient era of humankind. Whether Lamas used to fly up to the caves (a widespread belief) or not; Or is it the water level that has gone down in thousands of years, is inexplicable. Let’s not sink into that! However, we have compiled a list of purposes that the caves in Upper Mustang might have served from older to the more recent times.

1. Caves systems of Upper Mustang represent a settlement type:

Thousands of years ago, people established settlements in caves. This is because, caves kept people warm, protected from the strong winds and fluctuating temperature in the Himalayas. In later years, humans started to build multi-storeyed cave complexes with different compartments used for various purposes which can be evidently analyzed by studying the remains and more. Also, the connectivity can be seen as the houses in the villages also follow similar structures.

Cave complex on the opposite of Tetang

2. People took refuge in the caves of Upper Mustang:

Various folklores state that caves were the place to seek refuge from demons and evil spirits. Also that, the height of the caves were made shorter to avoid the demons from getting access to the caves as the demons couldn’t bend, making people safe. Not sure how true the story is, but another fact about Upper Mustang is that it lies along the ancient Salt Trade Route. And at that time, there used to be constant tension and war in the area. The remains of the ruined towers depict that they used to be the watch towers during the war.  Thus, caves were the safest place to hide.

Cave in Tangbe

3. Caves were used as a Vault for the Valuables:

Even after people started cultivating lands for food, they used to live in these caves. This is evident as most caves can be seen near the agricultural lands and river basins. The caves also served the purpose of storing grains, valuables like gold and silver, etc. To be precise, it was the safest option to store such precious stuff in the caves for nobody could catch a sight easily.

Jhong Cave, Chhoser

4. Upper Mustang Caves even served Religious purposes:

Would you believe if I said there are cave temples and cave monasteries in Upper Mustang? Yes, everything we practice in the modern days used to be practiced inside the caves in ancient days. Some of the caves have stupas built inside it, like the ones in Luri and Tashi Kabum. From being a meditating place of the Lamas to the storage site of religious scripts, papers, and valuables, caves served various religious purposes. We can still find cave paintings and scribbles to prove the point. Besides, the performance of Bon practices is also witnessed in the cave monasteries of Upper Mustang.

Luri Cave or Luri Gompa

5. Caves of Upper Mustang were used as Burial Sites:

Another astounding fact that can be derived from some of the caves is that the burial practices after death were also performed inside the caves. There are several burial caves in different parts of Upper Mustang too. The Chokhopani burial caves located on the northern banks of Chokhopani Khola, which was excavated in 1992, contained grave goods like pottery, bronze, bones, beads, copper jewelry, etc. Besides, in 1995, several human remains were found in the burial caves of the northern bank of Dzong river along with animal remains ornaments of deceased, beads, bracelets, baskets, utensils, wooden bow, bamboo mugs, pottery, etc. The dead were boxed in carved wooden coffins. However, a very strange practice is that the bodies were first cut into pieces and defleshed before burial. Another burial cave was found in Samjong in 2010, which was an interesting exploration by National Geographic on Mustang caves as 27 individuals were found in simple coffins. However, one of the coffins (probably of a superior person/ lama), which was made of hardwood and painted, wasn’t defleshed (Unlike the rest). The coffin also had remains of a 10-year-old and a horse in it.

Tashi Kabum, cave that consists a chorten inside of it.

There are many more interesting findings and stories in Upper Mustang. If you want to know more, Subscribe to our newsletter to keep updated with our latest posts!

Also find all the fascinating information about Upper Mustang in our video. And for more videos, you can check out HoneyGuide’s youtube channel.

5 Weird Things In Jomsom-Muktinath Trek

As extravagantly beautiful the trails stretching from Jomsom-Muktinath (a part of Annapurna Circuit Trek) are, there are some weirdly cool kinds of stuff that you might witness as you devour the journey. But you don’t have to worry. It has nothing to do with the optimum possibility that you shall return home (from 3800 meters) a rich storyteller- to tell people that you have eaten the YacDonald’s burger and been where Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, supposedly had been. Haha! Fact or Fallacy? Well a lot of them still unanswered.
Okay, let’s get started!

1. Did Jimi Hendrix Actually Visit Nepal?

It is said that Jimi Hendrix visited Nepal in October 1967, following the Hippie trails, round the Annapurna Circuit. On his visit, he stayed at a hotel in Jomsom (far-flung area of Jomsom actually), which is currently named as ‘Thak Khola Lodge and Jimi Hendrix Restaurant.’ Mark it.. ‘Room no 6’, that’s where he stayed (At least that’s what they say!). And taking pride, at present, the signboard lures the visitors stating ‘Your chance to stay in the same lodge as Jimi Hendrix.’ How can one even miss the opportunity to stay in the same room where the greatest artist rested his head on! The evidence? -A stone scribbled ‘If I don’t see you in this world I’ll see you in the next one don’t be late- Jimi Hendrix- Jomsom Oct 67”.
Signboard in Jimi Hendrix hotel
But, did Jimi even get time to visit Nepal in such a short lifespan of his, and especially 67, the year he had his first album released, is very questionable! As we dig deep, Jimi released his first single ‘Hey Joe’ in 1967 which was a smasher, soon proliferating his career with other crowd-pullers like ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘The wind cries Mary’. He was extremely busy touring around to promote his first album and flying to and fro America and Sweden that year. Also, towards the end of ‘67, Jimi released his second album ‘Axis: Bold as Love’ (Reference: http://www.biography.com/people/jimi-hendrix-9334756#career-breakthrough).
So, it is very controversial to state that Jimi took a tour to Nepal during the turning point of his career (October 1967). Also, no concrete evidence proves that he had any interest in the Hippie movement.
Whatever the fact be, seems like Jimi has been the godfather to some businesses back in Jomsom eh!

2. What is the secret behind the popularity of Bob Marley Hotel at Muktinath?

It is believed that Bob Marley visited Muktinath and the place he ate, later metamorphosized as ‘Bob Marley Hotel’. The same controversial question as for Jimi Hendrix arises here again. Did Bob Marley visit Muktinath? The biography of the reggae king (pretty well accounted) does not suggest that he travelled to Nepal in the 70s. That year he had been struggling to sustain his livelihood in Jamaica. The resource constraint and lack of time incline the statement towards being a hoax. When he finally was able to travel, he went to unearth his Rastafarian roots in Africa in 1978.
We are not to decide if the enchanting voice of the popular star was heard on the foot of Muktinath temple or not. But is this alone the reason why the hotel is so renowned? Not really.
Besides the legend, the thing that everybody ballyhoos about Bob Marley Hotel in Muktinath is the food– The deserts to be specific! Another fun fact about the gala place is the common sight of people smoking pot. No wonder the dessert is so mouthwatering! Is it the chef or the marijuana trip, we shall leave it up to you to find out!

3. Why did YacDonalds change it’s logo?

Sheltering in Kagbeni, ‘Hotel Mustang Gateway and YacDonald’s Restaurants’ is one of the top-ranked hotels in the area that serves the visitors with yummy burgers and oh, They’re Loving It! Something sounds familiar? Spot on! The name of the restaurant twins with the world’s favourite burger point, McDonald’s and what a coincidence, the specialty of YacDonald’s is also their burgers, happy meal and fries. Many stops by to munch on these famous burgers during the trek.
So the question, Is YacDonalds the baby brother of McDonald’s or a franchised dealer? Oh no no! YacDonald’s is a mere replica of McDonald’s in the Himalayan Kingdom. Because replicating a famous brand is directly proportional to success. A great marketing gimmick, isn’t it? (Let’s accept it, Non ‘Donalds’ names are so uncool!) Another fun fact, the signboard that reads ‘Mustang Gateway’ with a yak-like ‘M’ structure and ‘Yac Donalds’ that doesn’t even spell ‘Yak’, didn’t use to be the same. A few years back, the logo of ‘Mustang Gateway and YacDonald’s Restaurant’ happened to be the same famous ‘M’ as MacDonald’s.
Rumor has it that McDonald’s India even sent an official letter to change the logo. What are the odds that could have been the reason for the name change!

P.S Not just the twin brother of McDonald’s, you can also find Applebees and 7Eleven in Kagbeni. If you think this is crazily awesome, you should witness the crazily hypnotizing trails of Jomsom-Muktinath trek as well.

4. Is Yartung in Muktinath worth it?

Yartung is celebrated every year in the trans-Himalayan region (especially Mustang) to mark the end of monsoon. It is the time of the year when a huge fair is held accompanied by days-long series of merry-making. Finally, after all the hard working days in the fields, the land is ready for harvest. That’s when the Mustangi air fills with festivity, for everybody is geared up to celebrate, and just celebrate! The main charm of the festival is the exuberant horse racing in the horse riding kingdom itself. Yartung officially starts in the walled city of Lomanthang, where the royal family and locals gather with their horses all set in spirit to relieve the stress and race. The sight is so lively and eye-pleasing as the environment is decorated with people in traditional clothes and horses. All the men and women feast and drink in a fair amount, Shebru dances are performed. That is the beauty of Yartung. While in Muktinath, the festival is celebrated after a few days with a huge fair, on the full moon day.

But, Is Yartung at Muktinath really worth it? Well, not really. Muktinath has turned into a very touristy place. The horse racing and other competitions like football and archery are still conducted and people from various clubs, nearby areas, and villages participate to make the festival jolly. However, the authenticity and traditional touch to the festival is all gone. The modern youths’ participation is mostly witnessed while it seems like the older people aren’t very amused to get sunk in the mood of Yartung due to lack of originality. The whole of Muktinath, a night prior to the full moon day (Janai Purnima) is fully drunk. Reality– The sublime festivity adulterated by the drunken vibes; and the haywire crowd dancing to the beats of modern day pop stars, making noises at comedians’ acts and hooting at almost everything! (Bummer!) The only thing speaking is booze! The main day of the fair is a fine sight, but you know it starts very late because of the hangover of the previous night.
So, if you are anticipated to witness the authentic Yartung better, go to Lo-manthang instead! Or end up dancing to the peppy Indira Joshi songs with a beer bottle in one hand. The choice is yours!

5. Why are the wierdly exotic human structures in Kagbeni there?

Kagbeni was originally smaller than the current settlement and was surrounded by a defensive wall. Considering the fact that Kagbeni was once an important place in terms of the salt trade, there used to be constant tension in the area which is why the defensive wall makes sense. These walls had two entry/exit gates which were guarded by human guards back then. Only about a century ago when the need for guards faded, were they replaced by Khenis (ghost eaters) representing a man and a woman. And the makers have made it very evident; you can clearly figure out which one is the male and which one is the female.

These statues must be really excited to guard their village. These khenis are grotesque primitive figures which reflect age-old animistic beliefs (Bon) which were practiced here before the advent of Tibetan Buddhism in the 11th century.