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Nepal Trip Reports and Season Review

Posted on: January 6th, 2016 by Lost Earth Adventures

Trekking Trail and Trip Updates Autumn/Winter 2015-2016


Nepal Trek
From October through to December, Lost Earth Adventures ran seven expeditions across Nepal.

Highlights were plentiful and memories were created to last a lifetime; from reaching high-mountain passes, rafting of the Himalaya’s finest rapids, camping under the light of a million stars, trekking through ancient kingdoms and mountain biking down deep gorges. Along the way we were lucky enough to spot an elusive black leopard, were invited into stay in a monastery by its Head Lama, and trek into an extremely remote area far beyond the beaten path.

The trips were in great company with clients joining us from across the UK, Europe, North and South America. Thank you to everyone that came out to Nepal with us. Here’s our season in review!

Rafting the Bhote Kosi and Kayaking the River of Gold

kayaking Nepal
Kicking off the season, guide Richard Goodey was leading a 23-day private expedition with the affable and exciting couple, Heather and Steve. Both were extremely fun and likeminded, keen for an adventure!

Day one saw them kayaking grade 2 rapids of the Sun Kosi (River of Gold), often regarded as one the top ten river journeys in the world. The next morning they were rafting the fierce grade 4+ white water of the Bhote Kosi. With expert guide Manish Sunuwar commanding the craft they ran some newly created high volume, gurgling rapids that were formed by landslides during the last monsoon.

Read more about kayaking and rafting in Nepal

Hanging up their paddles, rucksacks were packed and the group set off in a Landcruiser to the village of Jagat. Next on the agenda was an epic adventure, trekking and mountain biking around the colossal Annapurna Circuit.

trekking-annapurna-circuit

Annapurna Hike and Bike

Heather, Steve and Richard trekked the western side of the Annapurna’s for the next nine days, across the world's biggest terrain, with constantly changing vistas eventually bringing them to the summit of the 5416 meter high Thorong La pass... this is where the action starts!

Our bike guide Jevi delivered the mountain bikes (full suspension, Giant Trance X3’s), bringing them up from the eastern side of the pass. The next few days would cover 3000m of descent and is the perfect way to finish off the western side (and downhill portion of the circuit). This is three solid days of off road biking, covering 100km through the world's deepest gorge!

Mountain-bike-tour-Nepal
The Annapurna Circuit has oft been recommended by many adventure writers and publications as one of the world's best walks, where every corner is a treat to the senses. Astonishing panoramas and high mountain culture gives this a truly jaw dropping experience - even better with a mountain bike!

If you'd like more information about this epic adventure visit our Annapurna Hike and Bike page.

You can also read Heather's review on Trip Advisor

Annapurna-Sanctuary-Trek

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

While Richard was circumnavigating the Annapurna’s, Lost Earth Adventures’ guides Nick Read and Dipak Bhatta were having just as much fun, leading a group on our Annapurna Sanctuary and Mardi Himal Trek.

This is an all-around superb trekking itinerary that brings you into the heart of the Annapurna’s and along the remote ridge to Mardi Himal Basecamp. The group faced some heavy rain showers but were rewarded with spectacular views spanning across the Himalaya.

Continue reading about the Annapurna Sanctuary

Poon-Hill-Trek

Poon Hill

The fantastic and highly acclaimed Krishna Laminchaine was guiding Martin on a private trip to Poon Hill. They too attempted to walk into the Annapurna Sanctuary but were thwarted by heavy snowfall, which created an avalanche danger. The weather this October was highly unusual for the time of the year. Krishna sensibly diveretd the route to lower ground. One of the highlights of this region is the vast network of footpaths that can be found, meaning there’s always diverse and interesting trekking routes to be found.

Read Martin's review on Trip Advisor

Mardi Himal

Unusual weather patterns interupted plans for the next tour to Nar and Phu – heavy snowfall on the 5200m Kang La meant meant crossing the pass would not be possible. There was a longterm low pressure system looming over the Himalaya. With this in mind, Richard diverted the group to Mardi Himal Basecamp and then on to Annapurna Sanctuary.

Mardi Himal is a remote and rarely visited region and is a haven for rare species and wildlife. Between the team they spotted a black leopard, vultures and a Himlayan pika.

The Mardi Himal Base Camp trek climbs a high ridge to a rustic lodge called High Camp at 3700m. Settling in with dozens of hot drinks and plenty of food the group had an early start the next morning. Matt and his dad, Steve set off with guide Bhairas at 4:00am for a moonlit scramble to 4500m for some of the best views in the Himalaya, including most of the Annapurna range and Machapuchare. Guide Richard, Barbara and Claire climbed another peak where Barbara decided that rather than walk on the path she'd prefer to scramble on the steep hill sides through long grass. Richard said to Binod, one of our porters, “she looks like a mountain lion.” Binod pointed, then started shouting, “mountain lion, mountain lion!” Richard laughed, thinking Binod was agreeing with him, until he realised that in-fact a mountain lion was bounding down the hill and across the ridge. A black leopard, the size of a greyhound had been disturbed by Barbara, our very own mountain lion, that was more at home in this habitat than that fury feline.

Read Barbara's review on her blog.

Nepal Xtreme

Nick was on another mission; two weeks of never-ending adrenaline filled adventure leading our signature offering - Nepal Xtreme. Crossing the Himalaya on kayaks, rafts, through canyons on ropes, mountain bikes, paragliders, jeeps, light aircraft and also for Bret a day was spent exploring the Himalayan foothills on a Royal Enfield motorcycle. Never a dull moment!

Read Shane's review on Trip Advisor

Poon-Hill-Trek

Tailor Made Across the Himalaya

Krishna then had the pleasure of leading David and Katie on a tailor made trekking and sightseeing tour, showing off some of the best sites of his beautiful country. In just ten days they visited the lofty hill top retreat of Bandipur, enjoyed a four day trek to Poon Hill, sunrise views from Nagarkot and explored Kathmandu and the ancient city of Bhaktapur.

Read David's review of the trip

Secret Trails of Nar Phu

Nepal Trek

The weather charts showed a solid block of high pressure for the next ten days so Richard, on the last trek of the season, ventured into the ancient village of Nar and the Phu Valley. Giddy with excitement, this was the first time leading the trek for Richard, whom was joining good friend and guide, Bhairas Tamang on the trail. Bhairas had recced the route for us the year before.

Nar-Phu-Trek
This trek is about as far off the beaten path as you can go. If you want big mountain terrain, no tourists, some serious dosages of remoteness paired with un-touched Himalayan culture and you don't mind challenging and tough trails then this is the trek for you.

There are villages dotted around this region where food and lodging can be secured but they are too far apart to comfortably walk between each day so tents are needed.

During the week spent in this region the group passed only four other trekkers. Camping at 4000m on a grassy plateau with front row seats overlooking the 7937 meter high Annapurna 2 and the 6983m Lamjung Himal we sat round a campfire while chef Kumar served us a 3-course meal with cheese and biscuits to finish, watching the moon rise over the Annapurna's.

Descending to Nar they spent a couple of nights at a monestary with the Head Lama and his elderly lady assistant. Time was spent relaxing and reading books whilst the monk and his assistant prepared an endless stream of food and drinks.

Nepal-Walking-Holiday
The monastery is set high above a deep rocky gorge and totally surrounded by 6000m peaks, the people living in harmony with the many animals. Fresh milk came from the monk’s pet cow after giving a blessing and good luck for the next part of the journey.

On our way back to civilisation the group donated all of the uneaten food to a poor family who'd touched them on the way up. Whilst drinking tea with them it was noted their daughter was severely underweight. We’re not sure what they thought of the very un-Nepalese chocolate brownies and custard but they started tucking into the biscuits without delay.

jeep-ride-nepal
Back to Jagat and the group was met by our jeep driver, Mahendra. He is the best 4x4 driver we’ve met in Nepal and is seriously in-tune with his vehicle, in this case a rugged Indian made Mahindra Bolero. On all our trips in this region he is our man. The 'road' from Jagat to Besisihar is 3 hours of some of the most spectacular driving the Himalaya has to offer and having a driver and vehicle you can trust makes this journey truly enjoyable!

Read more about this trek to Nar Phu

Manaslu Circuit and Langtang Valley Trekking Routes

Update for 2016 and Current Conditions

The April 2015 earthquakes affected both trekking regions and we took the decision to suspend treks to these areas for the autumn 2015 season. Thankfully we can report that both areas are possible and open for 2016.

Manaslu Circuit

The circuit is fully open, with the trails and teahouses throughout the route in good condition. Over the past few months, groups of trekkers have completed the circuit and a dedicated team have been restoring the trails to optimal conditions. We’re looking forward to trekking around Manaslu throughout 2016.

Langtang Valley

Trekking in the Langtang Valley is possible however there have been some amendments to the itineraries, due to rerouting of some of the paths.

Trekkers must enter via Sherpa Goan and a stop at Langang Village is no longer possible however there are tea houses available close by in other villages. Tserko and Kianjin Ri are still possible as are trips out to Yak Kharka.

Pairo and Lama Hotel are not possible this year due to extensive damages but lodging is available in close by Rimche. lodges are being restored in Lama Hotel and should be finished by April 2016. Thulo Syapfru has tea houses operating and is ready to accept trekkers.

Dhunche, Gosainkunda and Helambu is now possible with lodges opperating in all villages and trails repaired.




 

Rebuilding for the Future

Posted on: December 14th, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Breaking Ground at Shree Krishna Primary School, Nepal



Lost Earth Adventures and our charity, Share the Load Foundation are funding the rebuilding of a primary school in Shirkhabesi, an area of Nepal devastated by the April 2015 earthquakes. Construction of the Shree Krishna Primary School began on the 7th December 2015. Company Founder, Richard Goodey recently visited the village (cycling from Kathmandu) to see the project come to life and to speak with students, teachers and community members. Richard writes of his experience below:

Rajan and Ron, two of Nepal’s most talented professional mountain bike racers were waiting for me at the bike shop in Kathmandu. Rajan is within the country’s top five and both compete internationally. It was 10am and we were due to be riding our bikes to Shirkhabesi. The lads were all smiles as they told me it was going to be a leisurely 4-hour ride. I envisioned a distance of 40km through the stunning Nepali foothills. I was absolutely shocked when they nonchalantly told me it was a 75km trip (one way) with over 2000m of ascent, 40% of which was off-road! They also warned me of a 17km hill climb (4km longer than the infamous Alp d’Huez hill in the Tour d’France).

Both Raj and Ron are part of Nepali Cyclists Ride to Rescue (NCRR), an NGO comprised of professional mountain bike riders whom were some of the first guys on the ground helping people in the aftermath of the earthquake. Their knowledge of the footpaths and tracks that intertwine the villages close to Shirkhabesi was paramount in ensuring that emergency supplies got to the right places, at the right time. We are proud to be working in conjunction with NCRR to rebuild the Shree Krishna Primary School, as part of a wider project to rebuild 7 schools in 7 weeks.

Shirkhabesi is a remote idyllic village, a far cry from Kathmandu and its hectic pace of life. The village’s namesake literally means flat place below the mountain. And it’s true, Shirkhabesi has existed here for centuries, in a sublime alpine meadow, nestled high between lofty Himalayan summits. The beauty of its surroundings is immense. However, directly beneath the surface is a fault line between the Indian Sub-Continent and the Mongolian Plateau. In April 2015 the earthquake rocked this village, bringing homes, buildings, health posts and the primary and secondary schools down with it. 90% of the village and the surrounding neighboring settlements have been destroyed.

Gripped with fear, I put on a brave face and said, “let’s do it!” The distance, mountain biking 75km seemed unfathomable to me, and I genuinely didn’t think that mentally or physically I was up for the challenge. We negotiated our way through 15km of Kathmandu traffic, weaving our way past rickshaw drivers, heavy-footed taxi drivers and an abundance of freely roaming holy cows. Finally, we were out of the congestion, but a very daunting 7km hill was our next obstacle, not something I was looking forward to. I did get to the top and it was a relief and pleasure to spend the next couple of hours freewheeling my way to Chharhare Bazaar – the halfway point. My emotions were as up and down as the hilly terrain I was riding on, at this point I knew I could do it, at ¾’s of the way, I was certain I couldn't! Shortly after was sunset and we carried on into the darkness, climbing hard through the forest. This however is nothing close to the suffering and hardship the people of Shikharbesi are facing.

Arriving in darkness we put our bikes in a temporary relief shelter and proceeded on foot for another half hour to Ron’s family home that has just been re-constructed after being destroyed in the earthquake. Ron’s caste is Tamang and these are people of Tibetan origin that have settled in Nepal at various points in history. They are very gentle, welcoming people and their hospitality was apparent straight away. The village, made of 70% Tamang has been settled here for hundreds of years and they know nowhere else as home and have neither the funds nor desire to live anywhere else.

After refreshing myself by drinking from the stream outside Ron’s house we sat around the fire while his mother cooked us a chicken curry and plied us with home made whisky. We were all tired so I bedded down with the two lads in traditional fashion, all of us sharing a bed outside on the terrace. The next morning we watched the sunrise over the foothills. Shirkhabesi and its surrounds really is beautiful.

We were invited into the home of Nil Kumari, listening to her tales of mountain living over cups of sweet black tea and warm milk, fresh from her buffalo. Nil explained to us that nine of her close friends from the village died and her family home, which was just 2 years old was completely destroyed. The many years of saving for the house and a lifetime of memories went down with it. Nil’s house will cost $5000 USD to rebuild, but the much needed and promised funds from the government have never arrived.
Nil is no stranger to helping other people and spends her time volunteering in the village health post. The community spirit here is amazing though and everybody is mucking in as best they can. The villagers helped build Nil a temporary house and they are keen to work hard and get the village back right.
What they do lack though is money for much needed materials. For the majority of Nepali’s, $5000 is a lot of money and would take several most people in the village several years to save.

Breaking Ground at Shree Krishna Primary School – Rebuilding has Begun!

For the past seven months the 40 primary students at Shree Krishna Primary School have been studying in temporary corrugated iron shelters.

My trip in the village continued, as I met with the the head of the school, Mr Puskar Dhungana. He showed me where the school once stood and we both watched in excitement as the first sacks of sand and construction supplies arrived in the village. We went over to the school's foundations and he showed me where the different classrooms would be built.
Making our way into the temporary shelters where the children were learning, I got the opportunity to speak with some young students of Class 3. Dinas Nepali, aged nine told me how scared he was when the earthquake happened. Dinas ran home as quickly as he could, only to find that his home had crumbled and fallen down. Now Dinas is living in temporary accommodation with his family.
Puskar has an unenviable task. I find it difficult to grasp the difficulties he’s facing, teaching in three tin sheds, without electricity or supplies.

I continued to walk through the village, visiting the outlying houses and other schools in the area. I can’t imagine the hardship this community is going through. So many stories similar to Nil and Dinas’.

In this region, seven schools have been irreparably damaged and many students are still being taught amongst the rubble, in dilapidated buildings and precarious conditions.

After two days in Shirkhabesi, it was time to let the construction of the new school continue. Supplies are being locally sourced and we are also using local labourers, contractors and engineers as a way to ensure our project has maximum benefit to this community. Rajan, Ron and I got back on our bikes and made the long 75km journey back to Kathmandu.

The story of Ron, a young man from this remote village successfully making it as a professional athlete is unusual. For most boys and girls the chance to succeed in life will be through learning and going to school.

Education gives stability, hope for the future and an opportunity for a better life. Let’s help make this happen!

Lost Earth Adventures’ Share the Load Foundation has so far raised £5000, of our £8000 target. Please consider donating towards the purchase of desks, school uniforms and equipment by clicking on the Donate Now button below.

Many thanks to those of you that have donated already and to British climbing legend Johnny Dawes who gave up his time to host our fundraiser last summer.

Stay tuned for video of our work to come in the New Year and on-going progress reports of the school and the community of Shirkhabesi.

Update - January 2016

We have raised the £8000 needed and work is well underway. The Shree Krishna Primary School now has its foundation! Thank you so much to all of you that have helped so far. We are now raising money for classroom equipment and school uniforms. If you'd like to help support this remote little school then please click the donate button below. Thank you.




UNESCO Sites of The Kathmandu Valley

Posted on: December 4th, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Kathmandu Post Earthquake Review


Kathmandu-Valleu-City-View-UNESCO
7 months has passed since an earthquake rocked Nepal and a busy season for Lost Earth Adventures is winding down. Company Founder, Richard Goodey initially went to Nepal in September to assess the impact of the damage to our trekking areas, but also to see how the country’s cultural sites had been impacted.

The entire Kathmandu Valley is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and comprises of 7 historic and culturally significant monuments, temples and buildings. The good news is that for the vast majority of these spots, damage has been minimal. Conservation workers have also been able to preserve ancient artefacts, wood carvings and relics from the buildings.

Nepal has been extremely quick in the restoration/rebuilding process and for the most part we’ve been able to enjoy the rich cultural history of Nepal with our guests all season long. We’ll be updating information regarding the country’s trekking routes shortly, but for now here is a current update on the Kathmandu Valley.

Swayambhunath

The main point of worship and the focal point for any visitor here is the main stupa and it is still standing proud for all to see, a few cracks but nothing significant and will easily be rectified. Those of you that know Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) will know that there are two distinctive white pillars that can be seen from across the city. The pillars are called Pratap Pur and Ananta Pur. Unfortunately Ananta Pur fell down along with the Karmaraja Mahabihar Monastery. These are being reconstructed at present. Around 80% of the heritage site remains open for visitors and your entrance fee will help in restoring this amazing place for future generations.
Pashupatinath
This intricate temple complex is the holiest Hindu site in Nepal. Thankfully very little of the temple and surrounding grounds have been affected.
Boudhanath
Of the Kathmandu Valley’s 3 main temples, Boudhanath Stupa was the most severely damaged. Currently a dedicated team is working swiftly to repair the building and its religious relics. Work is expected to be complete early in 2016, ready for visitors arriving for the spring trekking season.
Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur is rightfully so, one of our favourite places in Nepal. Known as the City of Devotees it stood as the ancient capital of Nepal until the late 15th century. This is a town that has been frozen in time, enthralling visitors with its pagoda style Hindu temples, rich Newari heritage and architecture that dates back more than a thousand years.

Nepal’s most well preserved city faced significant damage to its buildings, with approximately 60 structures completely destroyed. Miraculously though, many of the cities homes and temples remain standing and in good condition.

Imagine a Nepali Tudor village (the town itself hails from the same period as the Tudors), walls of buildings made from red brick, without the white cladding, supported by black wooden beams. Bhaktapur is totally unique. Today, wandering its cobbled streets, you’ll still see women weave cotton in the open and men drive herds of buffalo or move goods by horse and cart. To bare witness to a town’s living history is a real treat.

The oldest temples in Bhaktapur are the Dattatraya temple, Nyatapola temple and also the Golden Gate. They are all still standing undamaged and are considered the most important to Hindus. Nyatapola is the biggest temple at 43m high and one of the biggest in the whole of Nepal, which is thankfully still standing proud.

Patan
Three ancient Vishnu temples have fallen down, taking all the intricate erotic carvings with them. Fortunately all of the woodwork has remained intact and work has already begun restoring them The 14th century Krishna temple is the most important and fortunately is still standing. Krishna is the preserving God and devotees from all across the sub-continent come to worship here.

Patan’s Durbar Square is still a very attractive place to come and visit and the culture and peaceful ambience remains. There are two main pillars, the most memorable is that of God Hanuman (the monkey god) and the other is the Vognarendra Malla statue in remembrance of the17th century king. Hanuman is still standing but the King’s Pillar has fallen.

Cities
Pokhara - the city lies 200km east of Kathmandu and was not damaged at all from the earthquake.

Kathmandu - outside of the temples mentioned above, damage to the city is not noticeable. Hotels and other tourist infrastructure remain in excellent condition.

Bandipur - No visible damage.

Chitwan - The area surrounding Chitwan National Park was not affected.

District of Sindhupalchowk - This is an area north of Kathmandu which was affected by the aftershocks of the initial earthquake. It is known for its world class rafting, kayaking and canyoning. Richard spent a few days exploring the region and his overall feedback showed genuine surprise at the lack of visible damage in the area. It was reported that homes and local buildings in more remote areas were damaged/destroyed, though residents were waiting until post-monsoon to begin reconstruction. Lost Earth Adventures have been bringing our clients to this area all season long.

Nepal's busiest tourist season (October-December) saw an overall 85% reduction in tourism this year. Having spent the past 3.5 months travelling extensively throughout the country, it is in our professional opinion that Nepal is genuinely ready to welcome tourists back.

We look forward to sharing Nepal's rich cultural history with our guests in 2016!

Where the Road Ends

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Trail Running through the Annapurna’s

trail-running-annapurna-base-camp
Company Co-Founder Richard Goodey recently landed in Nepal at the end of the monsoon to recce the trails of the Annapurna region, post earthquake and before our clients arrived for the busy autumn season. With limited time and hopeful that the wind would be at his back, Richard ran across the Annapurna’s, to Annapurna Base Camp, Poon Hill and Mardi Himal. From where the road ends and the trail begins, here’s his account.

I was in Kathmandu, surrounded by a cacophony of horns blowing and engines revving, negotiating the busy, narrow streets on my motorbike. En-route to Pokhara (the gateway to the Annapurna’s), the journey takes 6 hours and I was already second-guessing my choice of transport. The bike wasn’t exactly built for comfort, but it did have quality brakes and a brand new, very loud horn – an essential item that I was grateful for.

I was excited to be leaving this for the serenity of the mountains, but my first port of call when I arrived in Pokhara was a newly discovered coffee shop that served delicious cakes! I tucked in and also brought a few with me for my impending adventure.

A late start the next day and a short taxi brought me to Nayapul, the trailhead into the Annapurna Sanctuary. Though I intended to start the trek here, I managed to hitch a ride with a jeep, grabbing the front seat and sharing it with a man and his 48 eggs. Thirty minutes later and I was ready to start the trek in earnest.

I’m by no means a trail runner, but I’m a positive person and love a challenge. I was also envious of one our guides, Will McEvoy, whom last year ran solo across the Langtang Valley and Gosaikunda Lakes – a trek that takes most people 10 days, was completed in 4!

My pack for the next 11 days weighed a mere 5.5kg (including the 1kg of water) and in hindsight it could have been stripped down even further, while still carrying enough equipment to be safe in a high altitude alpine environment. Mountain Equipment had provided me with a few garments to test in Nepal, like the Modus base layer that was worn everyday for the next week! It stood the test of +30 steamy jungle weather all the way to the lofty, chillier heights of Mardi Himal Base Camp (4450m).

In the evenings I slept in my Matrix thermals and under blankets provided by the teahouses. This, with a just a few extra bits of essential items (such as my first aid kit, camera, map, compass and head torch) was all that I would carry with me, as you can get all the rest in the villages you pass through. It was liberating to not be laden down with heavy bags, to be free to run in the hills.

I was hoping my enthusiasm would serve me well, as today I had 2000m of ascent to cover across 30km, and the lack of remaining daylight was not on my side. There’s a vast network of trails that link remote communities to each other, routes that have been used for thousands of years. I stopped and asked villagers for obvious deviations in the paths and went on my way.

Nepalese maps are notoriously inaccurate, and I have always found the most reliable form of navigating is to use my compass, as well as the rivers and the contours of the land to guide the way. Soon the monsoon weather reared its ugly head, as rain began to fall, the mist settled in and darkness fell. The atmosphere was wild!

After a long day, I finally arrived in Ghorepani, soaked through, tired but elated. Having not eaten very much throughout the day I devoured a full tube of Pringles, a heaping portion of dal bhat and splurged on a gas powered hot shower. What a day!

The next morning I ran to the top of Poon Hill, at 3200m this offers an awesome panoramic view. The weather was still a bit temperamental from monsoon, but I managed to catch a glimpse of Dhaulagiri – the world’s 7th highest mountain, before continuing on.

At 18:30 I arrived in Chomrong in the dark, wet from sweat and rain, covered in mud, happy as a pig in mud. It was quick to bed this evening. Although the last two days were long and hard tomorrow would bring its own challenges, with another 25km to cover and 2000m of ascent.

With the air getting noticeably thin I ran the flats and the downs and walked quickly on the ups. I made the village of Himalaya in 6 hours and walked the last 2 hours to Machhapuchchhre Base Camp (3700m) as I was sure I'd probably get a headache from the altitude with too much exertion.

trail-running-annapurna-base-camp

It was a chilly pre-dawn start the following morning, as I quickly dressed, popped my head torch on and walked to Annapurna Base Camp. I watched just as the sun was rising across the mammoth south face of Annapurna, enjoying a breakfast of Tibetan tea, bread and honey.

An inversion meant I was high above the clouds as I descended back down towards Machhapuchchhre Base Camp. It didn’t seem right to race along the trail surrounded by such beauty, a contrast between white-capped peaks and meadows of wild flowers, so full of life from the monsoon rains. I took in the majesty of the views and savoured the experience. It’s moments like these why I continue to come back to the Himalaya time and time again.
In Nepal, place names usually mean something in a literal sense. For example, Nak Dunga means nose stone (stone shaped like a nose!) or Tatopani (hot springs). In the case of Annapurna, it’s meaning translates to ‘more food than is necessary’. When the Gurung people first migrated here from Tibet, they thought there was an abundance of food, more than they’d ever need. Nowhere in the Annapurna is this truer than in the verdant, fertile slopes that line the lower elevations of the region. Here there is a plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables grown in small plots, with villagers showing great pride in their produce. I saw the owner of our teahouse with a vegetable that looks like a type of fern, which he called 'newroe'. When I said I'd like to try it I could see the excitement grow in his eyes "it grows everywhere, you can find it all over the jungle, there is so much of it!"

Having moved fast through the lower valleys I finally arrived back in Chomrong where I met my good friend and Lost Earth Adventures’ guide, Dipak Bhata. We stayed in Panorama teahouse, so called because of its superb views of the Annapurna Himal and Machhapuchchhre. The view extends about 30km down a huge jungle covered, steep sided valley, with the monsoon fed river, the Modi Khola gurgling at the bottom. We had a much needed rest day enjoying tasty home cooked food and recharging our batteries. Dipak had met me so that we could explore a much more remote valley up to the base of Mardi Himal (5587m), and so the adventure continued!

First we were in for a nice treat, descending into Jinu Dhanda hot springs, where we paused to soak our worn muscles, watching as a langur monkey and deer darted into the forest beyond.

The trail to Mardi Himal rises steeply onto a ridge up to 4500m high, due to its lack of use and the monsoon rains, the route was hard going at times and difficult to follow. As luck would have it, we met a man that was able to give us timings for distances between villages, though no confirmation as to whether the villages were occupied with people. In anticipation we stocked up on cookies, noodles and dry goods before venturing into the jungle and the unknown.

Daylight was quickly fading, with about 2 hours remaining before sun down, and an estimated 3-hour trekking time and 1500m of ascent ahead of us. Leeches, commonplace in the monsoon were in abundance, giving us an added incentive to move now and move fast! The only time we stopped was to pluck the horrid bloodsuckers from our legs and dowse them in salt. The slimy suckers were dripping from the trees above. I never hear Dipak curse, but even Dipak was getting squirmish. As he was brushing them off his leg more would fall from above… we made it to the village in a swift 1hr 45min!

An older Gurung woman wandered over, gesturing for us to meet with her. She offered us freshly squeezed buffalo milk, warmed over the fire. As we drank our milk she told us that she often makes the journey on foot to Pokhara, a 5-day trek! Did I mention she’s also 84 years old?

The Gurung people in this area are extremely kind, very welcoming and gentle natured. Of Tibetan origin, Nepali is their second language. They are very round in the face, have deep voices and are always smiling. Every person I asked for a photo with happily agreed and an old lady had the best time taking selfies with me, giggling hysterically after each photo.

With such a hectic life in the UK, I’m often left appreciating the slower pace of life found in Nepal. Dipak spent his childhood in the mountains, days away from roads, cars and city living. I had asked him if he’d be upset or annoyed to walk 6 hours to the next village if he had to buy or collect something, as can often be the case. He responded in typical Nepali fashion. “It is only time. I do not worry about the time. If you like to go, we go, if you don't, we don't, I don't mind."

The following morning we set off, following the crest of the ridge, as the elevation rose and the temperatures dropped, the leeches disappeared. What was most surprising were the little teahouses dotted along the way, ready to warmly accept visitors. We took our time, stopping at each one, drinking tea and listening to their stories. Eventually we got to the final hut at the end of the ridge, meeting two British Army Officers whom served alongside the Gurka’s. That night we shared a dram or two of their potent “Indian Scotch.”

4am came early and as a team of 4 we began the next day’s mission, to reach the Mardi Himal Base Camp. Giddy with excitement we followed a brief outline of a path that increased in steepness and difficulties as it rose higher into the night sky.

trail-running-annapurna-base-camp  
The sky seemed endless and was vast, filled with a million stars and a full moon reflecting off the world’s highest snow slopes. We used the moon and the small beam of light from our head torches to find the way. The delight of travelling quick and fast with a competent group on a mountain ridge in the middle of the night is a mix of adrenaline and elation and a common bond gave some high emotions as we reached our summit. We watched the morning glow on the Annapurna Himal and Machhapuchchhre and became awestruck. There before us was a 360-degree view of the Greater Himalayan Range, standing 8 kilometres high directly in front of us and the foothills and the Gangatic Plains to the south. What a moment!
After a pause to catch our breath and savour the experience, Dipak and I retreated, high tailing it back down the ridge with speed. Although I wanted to stay longer we were under the clock, having to make it back to Pokhara, then Kathmandu in a couple day’s time. 12 hours later and 3000m of descent, we found ourselves in the village of Siding, with the rumour that a jeep was available. How or where it was coming from was anyone’s guess. Alas, it meant 1 more hour of trekking to get to the jeep, but before we left we made sure to have hearty bowl of homemade vegetable soup.

1 hour later and our driver Kul Prasad eagerly greeted us. I convinced him to let me take the reigns back to Pokhara and got behind the wheel. I navigated challenging mountain tracks and straight across riverbeds. Crossing the Mardi Khola, one of Nepal’s biggest rivers was nervously passed by driving straight through it at a massive estuary like spread. Happily driving along following a rugged local bus the road turned to water and without a second’s warning the river poured over our wheels, and still with 200m to cross to the other side! My heart rate went through the roof! Looking across to my mentor I said where do I go? He was laughing hard knowing the shock he’d just given and said to just follow the bus before shouting “RIGHT, LEFT, POWER” and other instructions knowing every inch of the river bed. I explained that in England we waste a lot of money building unnecessary bridges!

After a warm shower, a few glasses of cold beer and a slap-up meal at Moondance in Pokhara we were up at 5:00am on a trip back to Kathmandu. We had a motorbike with a broken fuel gauge and were facing a national fuel embargo forced by India. Short of draining our fuel tank to measure the liquid we had no idea if we could get back. Google gave us fuel consumption readings of between 25-45 km/l and informed us that the manufacturers recommendations were to be ignored. There was a full tank when first leaving Kathmandu and we figured that if we got 30 km/l we’d just make it.

On fumes and a bit of luck we made it back to Kathmandu. Though my adventure, running through the Annapurna’s was coming to end, a new one was about to begin. Tomorrow we were meeting our first clients of the autumn. The season was officially about to start!


Click on the arrows to see some more pictures of Mardi Himal and Annapurna Base Camp.

 

Sunday Stroll around Kathmandu

Posted on: September 20th, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Richard reports from Nepal:


Kathmandu-City-Daytime
Nepal’s government finished their constitution today! It has taken many years to get written, missed many deadlines and been the cause of many arguments for quite sometime, but now it is finished. It’s very important to Nepali people and symbolises a united country. Groups of revellers blocked cars around the city and painted elaborate pictures on the roads. I’ve posted a short video below that shows the happiness.

KP took me out on the back of his his wife’s scooter up to Swayambunath; affectionately known as the monkey temple and probably the most famous temple in Nepal. It’s home to many monkeys and is also a temple where Hindus and Buddhists worship together in harmony. Swayambunath is one of my favourite places in the the valley and unfortunately it has been hit the worst as it sits on top of a steep hill. Fortunately the main stupa and many of the ancient wooden parts had suffered minor damage but there has been collapses of some of the buildings around the grounds.

The people in the communities have come together to help one another and have not wasted any time in the re-building and clearing up. They are also doing a good job of trying to preserve their cultural heritage.
Some of the 500 year old temples in Durbar Square have unfortunately been lost. It was a shame to see this but again on a positive note around half the square has remained unscathed. They are sorting through and collecting anything salvageable to rebuild everything back again.

I’m motorcycling to the the location of the epicentre of the earthquake tomorrow to meet some good friends that I haven’t seen since the earthquake, find out how they are and see how effective overseas aid work is going on first hand. This is an area that I hitched hiked into from Tibet 14 years ago on my first visit to Nepal so it is a special part of the world to me.



 

Nepal Update

Posted on: September 19th, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Post earthquake report from our man on the ground


Streets of Kathmandu
Lost Earth Adventures’ Founder Richard Goodey has just landed in Kathmandu for pre-season checks and has good news to report:

As our plane flew over Kathmandu I scanned the city expecting to see widespread devastation. I was surprised that from the air I couldn’t actually pick out any damaged buildings. Once the plane had landed I went out with my camera to see how the nation’s capital has coped with such a large earthquake.

Rickshaw Nepal
In a few hours of walking I only saw one building that had collapsed and many happy people going about their daily lives. It seems life here is back to normal, in the capital anyways. Over the next 3 months I will be exploring the trekking trails and far outlying corners of the country making a video diary and updating this blog about how the Himalayan nation is recovering.
We will be helping to re-build by funding the development of a school with money raised through our Share the Load Foundation. The biggest difference I have seen so far is empty hotels and a very quiet Kathmandu airport. Sadly we were the only foreign plane on the runway.

I will be checking updates and local news on the Langtang and Manaslu trekking routes over the next few days and will be reporting here. You can read more information on Nepal trekking routes in an article I wrote for the British Mountaineering Council on their website.

Click on the arrows to see the photograph’s I snapped around Kathmandu

Relief for Nepal with a Little Help from our Friends

Posted on: June 15th, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Abseiling the height of Kathmandu and climbing no handed!

Abseiling-Peak-District
Johnny DawesYesterday we raised close to £3000 for Nepal and donations are still coming in! Thank you to all those who joined us at Stanage Edge and braved the rain. We abseiled a total of 1400m (the height of Kathmandu). The money raised is going towards rebuilding a school in Baluwa, Ghorkha which was destroyed in the earthquake. Thanks to you we’ve reached over 50% of our target!

A huge thank you also goes to Johnny Dawes for providing a master class in no handed climbing throughout the day (and many laughs too), Doreen Goodey for the cake and sarnies, and our superb instructors, Johnny Holmes and Holly Brigham whom stood on top of wet, windy and rainy Stanage Edge for 8 hours and last, but not least, all of the fantastic folks that came out to join us. Without you all we couldn’t have done it.


 

How you can Help

  • Read everything you need to know about running a charity abseil for this or any other charity
  • You can help build the school simply in 2 clicks by pressing the donate button below:



Johnny Dawes Climbing No Handed for Nepal

Posted on: June 3rd, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Legendary Climber Joins Our Relief Effort


Johny Dawes Climber
Johnny Dawes is a British climbing legend. In the 1980's he pushed climbing like no other and by 1986 the climbing grading system had to be extended from E7 to the bold and death defying E9 (E for Extreme, some of his routes included death as a realistic consequence of falling). His first ascents include Indian Face E9, Gaia E8 and The End of The Affair E8.

A master of kinaesthetics, conscious and unconscious, Johnny is the master of body awareness, movement and balance. He has cemented himself into the climbers hall of fame as one of the most experimental climbers of all time and was the first successful climbing coach, coaching since 1994. Recently Johnny has been concentrating on the fascinating sport of no-handed climbing, which is sure to be an eye opener to all who give it a go.

Lost Earth Adventures are holding an Abseiling fundraiser at Stanage Edge near Hathersage in the Peak District on 14th June to raise money for the relief effort in Nepal. The attempt will be to collectively abseil the height of Kathmandu (1440m) over the course of the day with as many participants as possible. Johnny has kindly agreed to donate his time free of charge to help us out on the day and is inviting people to have a go at no handed climbing before or after your abseil slot.

Stanage Edge Charity Abseil
In order to attend this fun event and learn some skilful footwork, Lost Earth Adventures are asking for a minimum of £50 donation per person, this will need to be submitted via our Share the Load Foundation page at the point of registering. Time slots will be available throughout the day.

Goodie Bags will be distributed on the day and there will also be a silent auction for some top climbing equipment.

100% of the donations will go directly towards the relief effort in Nepal, reaching vulnerable and remote mountain villages and providing safe drinking water, food and shelter as well as rebuilding the school in Shirkhabesi. Lost Earth Adventures, our guides and Johnny Dawes will all be donating our time on the day of the fundraising event and any administration costs will be covered by Lost Earth Adventures.

earthquake in Langtang Valley
Large areas of Nepal were devastated on 25 April when an earthquake hit that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale. The effects of the earthquake killed more than 8,800 people and injured more than 23,000. Thankfully none of Lost Earth Adventure’s clients or colleagues were hurt, however, for many of our guides and porters based in the area, their lives have been greatly affected. You can read local man Pasang’s story.

Please visit the Share the Load Foundation page and click the 'How You Can Help' tab for the option to donate. Please reference your name when submitting your donation.

The event will take place from 10am to 5pm, the meeting point is Hooks Car Park, Hathersage in Derbyshire. Minimum age for participants is seven, under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Pre-registration is essential by ringing 01904 500094 or by emailing info@lostearthadventures.co.uk

If you would like to donate, but are unable to come to the event, every little bit helps! Please help us to share this event with anyone you know that you think may be interested.

Thank you for your support!

The Story of Pasang

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

How We Can Help Rebuild: Pasang Tamang’s Story


Langtang before earthquake
Pasang is from Langtang Village and ran a teahouse with his family in Kiangin Gompa – the last settlement, high up in the Langtang Valley at 3900m.

For over 5 years, we’ve had the pleasure of bringing our trekking guests to stay with Pasang and his family, welcomed with open arms into their guesthouse and home.

On the 25th April, on the day of the devastating earthquake, Pasang’s life changed forever. Thankfully, Pasang survived, but he has lost his mother, father and uncles and aunts. His guesthouse and his home were completely destroyed. The village of Kiangin Gompa has seen 80% destruction and the village of Langtang is completely decimated. It simply does not exist anymore.

Pasang is now homeless, staying in communal tents in the grounds of a Kathmandu Monastery/Gompa with hundreds of other survivors from the Langtang Valley. No family, no home, no roof over his head.

earthquake in Langtang Valley
He and countless others have a long road ahead. But we, with your support can help! Lost Earth Adventures and our not-for-profit Share the Load Foundation are raising funds to support the people of the Langtang Valley and other, remote mountain communities.

100% of funds will directly go to rebuilding schools, health posts and permanent structures, as well as providing short-term immediate relief.

Pasang and the people of the Langtang want nothing more than to go back to their homeland and to rebuild. The Langtang people depend on trekking as their source of income. We can't wait to trek again and bring people back to this beautiful part of the Himalaya.

We asked Pasang to share his story with you, in his own words.

------
Temporary camp in Kathmandu
My name is Pasang Tamang I was born at Langtang village of Nepal which stand on altitude of 3900m. I was happy to be boy from Langtang. My father used to own small lodge so I used to work there.

It was 25th of April 2015 as I notice weather today was different then usual days, dark morning with foggy all over, I didn't notice how time passes, like wise, it was already 11 am of day I was just having talk with my guest from our lodge. Then I decided to prepare lunch for guest I was just about to step in our kitchen I feel something is shaking then I made all my guest to move at open ground and at last I also move there as it was earthquake.

It was shaking very badly then stone from my house start falling down I was like mad for moment. I thank god as earthquake stopped.

Just two minute after earth quake I saw really big avalanche coming from mountain toward us. I don't know what to do I just run hard but who can challenge with avalanche so I just made mind that now I m gonna stop I gave up with my life I stay on front of big stone praying to God that let me die peacefully.

After almost 3 minute Avalanche was gone and luckily I was alive I can't believe it.

homeless in langtang
Every people who are saved start yelling and crying my mind was no working I was just blind I walk to my lodge but everything was gone nothing was left so I walk away from there, rolling million drop of tear from my eyes to know how are my parents, who used to live at next village.

I was mad and broken but was able to take step forward hoping that my parents are alive.

I could not sleep. Whole night outside with no roof, hungry stomach but reason why I was not able to sleep was not because of outside with no roof or my hungry stomach but about my loss and about my parents weather they are fine or not.

It was 5 at morning everyone was sleeping I just made walk near where my lodge used to be I spent hours of time thinking about my pass days which I made at my lodge that happiness and love moment I am so unlucky that I lost such from me.

Langtang Valley devastation
After a while me and few people we decided to go to village where my father mother and rest parents was, after walk for 2 hour we were at that village but there was no one, it was just silent, no single house was standing and was strange that I even can't find house where my my parents used to be, beautiful village was just like desert!!
I can't imagine how I felt at that time I have no word to express. I was left alone with no one, nothing, I don't know how to control my own mind and heart.

I was just thinking it was just a dream and waiting for morning to come but it was not.

After three week stay at Langtang government request us to come to Kathmandu then we came to Kathmandu with no bag luggage nothing empty hand.

Pasang Tamang

An Update on Nepal

Posted on: May 4th, 2015 by Lost Earth Adventures

Nepal Trekking
The events over the past week have truly been devastating. We’re all feeling very fortunate that our friends and colleagues in Nepal are safe, but are acutely aware that others haven’t been as fortunate.

We have been speaking with our basecamp manager in Kathmandu, ‘Kul Prasad’ (KP) and discussing how we can best help in Nepal and agree that we will need a firm plan that outlines the best way to do so. KP has also informed us that the government along with international aid agencies have so far been doing a good job at getting emergency supplies to rural areas, providing shelter and relief.

Long Term Relief

However the issue remains that this aid while beneficial and lifesaving, is only focusing on short term, immediate relief. The biggest problem facing Nepal going forward will be the need to rebuild, in some cases whole villages – from their homes to schools and health clinics, from the ground up.

KP, along with a small team are going to visit some of the more remote villages this week in Gorkha, meeting with local leaders and village elders strategising how best our money can be spent. Thousands of people have been displaced, losing their homes and cannot afford to rebuild them, confined to sleeping in tents.

A proper plan put in place will ensure that funds end up in the right places and the people whom need it most receive it.

One area that Lost Earth Adventures and Share the Load Foundation (our not-for-profit organisation) would like to focus on is the village of Baluwa, in the heart of Gorkha District. For those that may not be aware, we along with our clients and donors have been supporting this village with small-scale projects over the last few years. To date we have provided school supplies and uniforms, offered hygiene classes and most recently, built a much needed water tank, giving access to safe drinking water.

Unfortunately, the village of Baluwa has crumbled, and the school has fallen down, in need of rebuilding. KP will be assessing the overall damage and report back to confirm whether any materials can be re-used. The estimated cost of rebuilding the school alone is approximately $10,000 USD (£6700). As the village of Beluwa has experienced widespread building damage you can see that many thousands of dollars are needed, as the average daily income is just about £2 per day in this region.

Nepal Tours and the Future

In regards to trip cancellations, the only trip we have cancelled was one that was due to arrive in Nepal the day the earthquake struck. Everyone on this trip has postponed until October/November.

We’ve been receiving ongoing updates from our teams in Nepal and we’ve also had the chance to sit down and discuss our future trips. With the information we already have, we don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to go forward with our scheduled tours. As we get more information it may be a case where slight modifications are made to the itineraries, but information we have been receiving from our colleagues, friends and people on the ground has been positive. Aid has begun to reach more remote areas, roads are being re-opened and people are re-building and getting back into the fields farming.

All of the hotels and resorts that we use in Nepal are still in good condition and while there is some damage on the trekking routes we can make slight changes to the itineraries that still get you high in the Himalaya.

Nepal’s biggest industry is tourism and in the past, no matter the situation, what has always remained is the importance that this part of their economy has on the country. The Nepalese are resilient and hard working and we do believe that regardless of the situation now, the emphasis of rebuilding and “getting back to normal” has already began and will continue to be a priority.

By visiting Nepal your tourist dollars will be an enormous help to getting the Nepali’s back on their feet. The mountains are still there, the rivers are still flowing, the people will always be kind, welcoming and gentle and the culture and spirit of the Nation remains.

Richard and a team of experts will be heading out in September to check all the buildings that we use, assess all the routes, check in with all our staff and their families and make sure that the season gets off to a great start.

Thank you for continued support and we look forward to seeing you in Nepal this autumn.

Sarah & Richard Goodey
Founders
Lost Earth Adventures
 

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