The Lost Earth Adventures Blog

Trekking through Ghorepani and Poon Hill

Posted on: June 5th, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

Nepal: More than just Mountains

Fishtail Mountain LandscapeBy the time I arrived, Kathmandu was in full swing. A symphony of car horns greeted us as we pulled out of the airport and into the chaos that is Kathmandu. Raj, our guide for the upcoming trek, sits in the front seat, pointing out famous landmarks as we zoom through the traffic, dodging fearless pedestrians and suicidal moped drivers. Eventually we pulled out of the chaos of beeps and honks and turned into a quiet side street rolling up to the entrance of Kathmandu Guest House.

Moped Kathmandu Streets

In direct contrast to the busy streets that surround it, Kathmandu Guest House is a quiet sanctuary in the middle of the city’s busy tourist district. Walking through the gates you find yourself in a quiet garden courtyard following in the footsteps of famous mountaineers and movie stars alike who have all favoured Kathmandu Guesthouse as their chosen place of residence while in Nepal.

After checking in, I’m guided back through the courtyard and across to the old wing of the guesthouse. On the way I notice the walk of fame leading up to the old wing. Names of politicians, climbers, explorers and celebrities remind you of the lively history that the Guesthouse has seen.

Jeep Luggage

After freshening up, I leave the peace and quiet of Kathmandu Guest House behind and head out into the busy streets of Thamel to explore. Thamel is Kathmandu’s main tourist district. It’s hectic streets full of locals going about their day-to-day business and trekkers looking for souvenirs or picking up last minute gear before setting off on the trails. Signs that look like they’ve endured the test of time line the streets advertising outdoor pursuits and various wares for sale. Dodging rogue mopeds and impatient rickshaws I potter through the streets getting lost and discovering magic at every turn with dynamic characters smiling and saying hello amongst the chaos and pockets of quiet surrounding understated shrines and temple entrances.

During a traditional nepali meal with my fellow travellers, Raj teaches us all about the wide variety of cultures in Nepal as well as the country’s history, and then we all opt for an early night so we’re ready for the road ahead tomorrow.

The Road to Pokhara

Pokhara Road MountainsThe next morning, we load up our bags and hop in the minibus to head off to Pokhara and ever closer to the trails.

The road to Pokhara is long and winding and we spend most of it passing a never-ending stream of colourful trucks and buses adorned with everything from pictures of Hindu deities, to Manchester United FC Logos. Slogans such as ‘Road King’ and ‘Speed Demon’ written across the front bumper. After a stop for lunch at a popular all you can eat buffet, we’re back on the road and moving much faster now that the traffic seems to have thinned out. A few hours later we arrive in Pokhara, just as the weather is starting to clear, giving an atmospheric misty view over Lake Phewa as solitary fishermen began to make the most of the break in tourist boats on the lake.

Nepal Lake Phewa Mountainscape

After a relaxing night by the lakeside, we set off from Pokhara to the trail head and embarked on our first few days of trekking. Passing through thick Rhododendron forests, quiet villages, terraced hillsides and over surprisingly sturdy suspension bridges as the sun shone overhead. Much of the trail takes you up staircases cut into the sides of the mountains meaning you gain height quickly, leaving the forest behind and giving incredible views stretching for miles back down the valley. Our first two days were spent in the warmer lower terrains but as we climbed higher up to Ghorepani, we started to walk through a mist of cloud. The trail ahead was obscured from view as we ventured on, feeling very much like we were in an Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider movie.

The Trail Ahead

The Trail AheadWe breathed in relief as we reached a sign welcoming us to Ghorepani and marking a reprieve for our calves from the steep staircases.

Raj had paused and grinned at us as we caught up with him. When asked whereabouts we were staying he cheerfully informed us that this was lower Ghorepani and that we were staying in Upper Ghorepani as he quickly made his way up the path. So onwards and upwards we pushed, on to the blue roofs just visible though the clouds, a Shangri-La in the distance, and our beds for the night.

Teahouse on Route

When we reached Ghorepani we were greeted by the porters who had long beat us to it and given hot tea and a dinner of Dal Bhat to warm us up. Dal Bhat is the delicious local dish of steamed rice and lentil soup. It is credited for being the magic behind how the guides and porters manage to take on the steep hillsides in record time day in and day out. ‘Dal Bhat Power, 24 hour’ Aneil informs us with a knowing grin on his face as he brings our food over.

From Ghorepani the trail rises steeply and we stop to catch our breath at a monument at Thapla, at 3165m high and with cloud starting to clear, we get our first sighting of Annapurna South up close and personal.

The views of Annapurna South and Macchapuchare, the holy mountain, are exactly the picture-perfect image that your mind conjures up when you think of trekking in the Himalayas. The snowy giants would be in the background from here until we hit the lower trails in a few days and as much as I enjoyed seeing all the different terrains through the Poon Hill route, the mountains made me catch my breath every time I’d spot them in the distance.

Welcome to Annapurnas

Welcome to AnnapurnasWe reached Tadopani mid afternoon. With cloud obscuring the view and a few hours before dinner I decide to take a quick nap.

An hour or so later I’m awoken by a loud, constant clattering on the roof and as I come to my senses I realise it’s hailstones. I sniff, a weird smokey smell filling the room. Groggily I walk over and peek out the door to see hailstones the size of malteasers bouncing off the terrace in front of me. I stand for a minute or two, just glimpsing sight of the far off peaks through the cloud as lightning flashes and thunder peels around me. Suddenly three guys rush past me, leaving the safety of the covered walkway and into the thick of the storm, the first carrying a chair followed closely by a man with a long wooden pole dragging behind him and a second or two later one rather brave man in a tshirt and shorts runs out with an umbrella. I watch as they run over to the tank on the roof with a now smoking pipe beside it. The man with the pole hops onto the chair and starts fishing down the pipe with the long wooden stick. Hailstones crash down around them and after a few minutes a large bellow of smoke wafts out of the pipe. Success! The three men cheer, pick up their chair and run back down to the teahouse common room.

Raj and Aneil

Shortly after, I follow suit down to the main room to find weary trekkers and tired travellers making the most of the heat. As soon as I open the door I’m hit by a suffocating wall of smoke, my eyes watering as I grab a seat near the fire. The owner of the teahouse is poking the fire periodically with a concentrated frown on his face, trying to figure out what’s gone wrong. With more smoke escaping the metal burner and the occasional orange glow from a lick of flames he eventually concedes and throws open the front door as hailstones continue to bounce off the ground. Gradually, one by one everyone starts offering their own take on how to stop the fire smoking, none of which actually appear to have much success.

The three fearless warriors grab their gear and head back up once again to tackle the problem from the roof. Eventually someone opens another door and the teahouse owner starts lobbing still lit logs out into the cold in an attempt to calm the fire while the teahouse’s resident cat watches on with a look of disinterested boredom. Eventually the fire dulls and comes back under control, just in time for the owner to add a few more logs and start the whole humorous saga all over again.

Over tea and biscuits we trade stories with our fellow trekkers and gather words of wisdom from the more hardened climbers among us. After a hearty dinner, the storm clears and we head upstairs for the night to spot the sun setting behind Annapurna South and Macchapuchere. In awe of the almighty peaks towering around us, I head to bed, my head full of travel stories from across the Himalayas and magical views.

A View of Annapurna South

Annapurna South From TadopaniSunrise gave way to more stunning views over the pair of mountains cheering us on and from Tadopani we dropped down the hillside into thick jungle as the sun came up.

With temperatures rising, we made our way down the sun dappled paths with an accompaniment of bird song and stopping periodically to look at the Grey Langurs crashing through the trees. The downhill lured us into a false sense of security and we were quickly learning that in Nepal, what goes down, must go back up as we began climbing again before dropping down into Jhinu Dhanda.

We arrived just in time as a tropical storm began to pick up and we watched from our teahouse as the lightening passed over us and down the valley. As the rains stopped we gathered together for our last night in the teahouses with a pack of cards to keep us entertained. With everyone in high spirits after dinner, Raj and a few other guides began sharing their best card tricks, delighting trekkers and porters alike before retiring for our last night in the mountains.

When you imagine Nepal, you think of massive mountains, snow and mountaineers but Poon Hill and Ghorepani take you on a tour through a multitude of terrains and different cultures. If you’re looking to see just how diverse Nepal is, Poon Hill is a must as it lets you take in just as much of the famous mountains as it does the colourful Rhododendron forest and dense monkey filled jungle. It lets you see just how much more there is to incredible Nepal than just the mountains that it’s become famous for.

Interested in experiencing the diversity of Nepal for yourself? Book the Ghorepani and Poon Hill Trek, Nepal here.

Tadopani Macchapuchare

The Ten Best Restaurants in Kathmandu

Posted on: May 17th, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

Our Favourite Food in the Thamel District

Rosemary Kitchen Kathmandu

Deri Mitho Cha – The Tastiest Food in Nepal’s Capital

I’ve been visiting and living in Nepal on and off for the last 17 years, and over that time I’ve managed to get a pretty good grasp on what’s hot and what’s not in the capital food-wise. I’m also a classically trained chef and spent ten years on the pans of up-scale restaurants around the world before becoming a guide and co-founding Lost Earth Adventures.

Over this time, things have really changed; the cuisine available has diversified, hygiene standards have improved (in some cases!), but eating great food at reasonable prices is still very much achievable.

Thamel is the best district to be based in for a stay in Nepal in all ways, not least that its vibrant streets are home to a wide range of culinary delights able to satisfy the cravings of any hungry adventurers.

1. Rosemary Kitchen & Coffee Shop

Best for: quality ingredients

This is the best restaurant in the whole of Nepal! I can attest to this because I lived in an apartment directly above it for months at a time over a 7 year period, and during this time I never tired of eating pretty much every breakfast, lunch and dinner there. Its food is excellent, the price is very reasonable, and tables set with linen and a great selection of French and Spanish wines make this the ideal place to celebrate any occasion in style.

Rosemary Restaurant Kathmandu, meal and beerIt’s impossible to pigeonhole the Rosemary kitchen as being either Nepali or Western. They do things their own way, based on sourcing the best quality local ingredients and developing a menu around them. Helped along the way by training from a Swiss chef, the restaurant not only has fantastic chefs, but also excellent standards of hygiene.

One of their specialities is Himalayan River trout. Don’t panic, this is not trout caught from the polluted Bagmati River, but rather from the crystal-clear rivers of the Himalayas. Served with a delicious zesty lemon sauce, the freshest vegetables and the best mashed potato you’ll find in Nepal, this is a dish not to be missed.

My other top recommendations would be:

  • Goat’s cheese and roasted garlic starter
  • Bruschetta
  • Mongolian chicken

2. Thamel House

Best for: Nepali food

Thamel House Set Menu

Thamel House is the place to go for an introduction to the very best of traditional Nepali food, prepared as it would be in family homes.

Dal Bhat (lentil rice) is the most famous of Nepal’s dishes, and Thamel House serves some of the best in Kathmandu. Order either the veg or non-veg set menu. Wherever you order dhal bhat, you will get a selection of the house pickles, all a little bit different from restaurant to restaurant, but always delicious. My personal favourite at Thamel House is Alu Tami Bodi – fermented bamboo shoots. Their Bandhel Thareko, spiced wild boar, is the best I’ve had anywhere.

Take the opportunity to do it the Nepali way and wash it all down with raksi, a traditional home brewed millet-based drink.

Fresh wood fired pizza

3. Roadhouse Café

Best for: pizzas
Pizzas. Really, really good pizzas. There’s not much else to say about this one, except if you want proper oven-stone cooked pizza that’s not shy with the cheese, this is where you need to go.

Interested in trying Nepal’s diverse culture? Find your own journey in Nepal here.

4. Kathmandu Guesthouse

Best for: relaxation

Kathmandu Guesthouse is without doubt the best place to take a break from the chaos of the capital and unwind. Its beautifully maintained garden is a little slice of tranquility, perfect for whiling away the day, conducting business meetings or just enjoying a long lunch.

Menu-wise, they serve a range of cuisines, but the Chinese dishes and Indian curries are excellent; all prepared using fresh herbs and spices. My personal recommendation would be the chili chicken.

garden dining in Kathmandu

5. Mitho Restaurant

Best for: Nepali & European food

Mitho Kathmandu Menu

Meaning ‘tasty’ in Nepal, Mitho delivers what it promises. Traditional Nepali food, very well-cooked European food and a great atmosphere. Make sure to tell the waiters “mitho derai, cha,” after your meal (very tasty), and keep that in the language bank for dinners in any Nepali household.

As well as good food, Mitho Restaurant also has a great story behind it. The owner has built this restaurant from a hole in the wall with questionable hygiene standards to taking over the whole building. He’s cleaned his act up (literally) and the place is unrecognisable from the early days. He also only employs people from very poor backgrounds with no education, provides them training and gives them a livelihood and a chance of a better life.

Try the badam sandecho – a really spicy roasted peanut salad.

6. Himalayan Java

Best for: coffee
After days or weeks on Himalayan trails, sometimes all you want is coffee and cake! Himalayan Java is the place to go for this: it is home to the best barista-made coffee in the whole country. If that’s not enough to tempt you, its chocolate brownies are to die for. They are also determined to maintain a sustainable business model, looking after farmers at the grass roots. Great coffee with a good heart – you really can’t ask for much more!

The perfect cappuccino

They also serve a range of savoury wares, and you will definitely not be disappointed by the size of their sandwiches.

Its flagship coffee house is located in Thamel, but it now has a number of outlets guaranteeing satisfaction to coffee snobs from all around the world at a number of locations in Kathmandu and beyond, including Namche Bazaar and Jomson.

The Durbar Square outlet is right by the entrance to “Old Freak Street”, so called after the hippies who made it their spiritual home in the 60s and 70s. It’s experiencing somewhat of a revival at the moment; all the better for getting a feel for the Kathmandu of yesteryear.

7. PHATKATH

Best for: steak

Sometimes nothing will do except a massive piece of meat and some carb-heavy chips. Welcome to PHATKATH, where you can get yourself a huge yak steak or a PHAT burger with all the trimmings for under a fiver. As you might imagine, this can all be enjoyed in a friendly, laid back environment. Its super-chilled vibe might just mean you end up staying there a little longer than you’d planned.

PHATKATH sign Kathmandu

8. New Orleans Café

Best for: BBQ & music

outside dining New Orleans cafe

For those of you planning to stay in Kathmandu for more than a couple of days, you should definitely add New Orleans to your hit list. Open late and with live music every Wednesday and Saturday, it’s a great place to celebrate successes on the trail.

If you’re staying at Kathmandu Guesthouse, then even more reason to check it out as it’s conveniently located so even the most tired of legs can make the short walk home.

9. Newari food – the best food in Nepal

Plate of buffalo testicles

Newari food is by far the tastiest food available in Nepal. For those with both a strong constitution and an acceptance of awaking in the company of a hangover, you should make it your mission to venture into the underworld of Thamel by night. Newari-style tapas should be enjoyed only with a side order of local beer, and buffalo are featured high on the menu. By buffalo, I mean all of the buffalo. Buffalo testicles, buffalo spines and buffalo brains are all up there in the speciality category.

Pictured is a plate of buffalo testicles to whet your appetite!

You will need the help of a local friend who enjoys a few beers to take you to the best of these places as they’re generally located on back alleys, open late at night, and with signs only in Nepali.

It is undoubtedly worth it to try amazing food prepared by chefs all trying to outdo each other. Just don’t look in the kitchen; you might regret it.

10. Tibet Guesthouse & Royal Penguin

Best for: late nights

If you’re struggling with jet lag and find yourself roaming the streets at unsociable house, then this is an invaluable local tip! Both these establishments have 24-hour kitchens serving chicken chilli and chips, a staple of Nepali fast food. At 2am in the morning, this is a much better option than eating from street vendors who work all night long with no access to hand-washing facilities. Trust me; I speak from experience.

Selection of dishes Royal Penguin

Everest Gurkha set menu

11. Everest Gurkha Nepalese Restaurant, Fossgate, York

Best for: Nepali food at home
Not strictly speaking actually in Kathmandu, but if you’re keen to suss out your favourites before you go, then Everest Gurkha is the perfect place to do a bit of research. Run by a retired Gurkha Officer, sourcing local, organic ingredients and prepared in the traditional Tibetan style, it offers excellent food at very reasonable prices. Call it part of your research.

Mending Our Mountains

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

WE’RE SUPPORTING THE BMC’S CAMPAIGN TO REPAIR BRITAIN’S TRAILS

We are proud to announce that Lost Earth Adventures is one of the first private outdoor activity providers to actively support the national British Mountaineering Council (BMC)’s campaign: Mend Our Mountains; Make One Million. In 2019, for every person that signs up to one of our UK hikes, such as summiting Snowdon, Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis or taking on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge or National 3 Peaks Challenge, £1 will be donated towards the campaign.

The partnership was agreed in March in an effort to help the BMC raise the £1 million needed to repair paths in the UK’s 15 National Parks. Last year, Lost Earth Adventures took over one thousand people on guided hikes in the UK, and so far, there has been a 30% increase in bookings for 2019.

Our Co-Founder, Richard Goodey, said of the partnership, “The surge of interest in outdoor activity is fantastic and we are busier than ever, but we need to be aware of the impact that leading large groups has on the environment. We all have a responsibility to protect the hills to make these activities sustainable into the future.

We have seen the incredible impact the campaign has had on erosion control for parts of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, which is one of our most popular hikes. This is our way of being able to give back and protect the environment we work and play in.”

Mend Our Mountains was launched by the BMC as a call to action to everyone who values the hills, mountains and landscapes or Britain, aiming to repair to damage and erosion caused by multiple use. Mountain path repair is painstaking and expensive work that can cost up to £200 per metre. It costs half a million pounds a year to keep on top of damage to paths in the Lake District alone. Those who wish to find out more about the campaign can visit https://mendmountains.thebmc.co.uk/

As well as raising direct funds for important landscapes, Mend Our Mountains also seeks to raise wider awareness of the pressures these landscapes face, promote the physical, mental and social benefits they deliver and work towards long-term solutions for their care and upkeep. Read more on the Mend Our Mountains website.

If you’re joining us on a UK hike this year or just wanting to help please do consider contributing towards the campaign.





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