Tamang Heritage Trail
Nagthali (Nepal), December 26th 2007

Smelling socks, dirty underwear, sweaty armpits and beautiful views. We are doing a trekking again. This time, we have chosen for a 12-day camping trek through one of the less visited areas of Nepal. The name of the trek is: Tamang Heritage Trail.

Our intention was that we would not do a trekking in Nepal during this visit. The winter has started which means that it is too cold for a comfortable trekking high in the mountains. Unless you a very tough of course. And we are not tough enough! Besides that, we heard from several other travellers that their trekking experience was not that good in Nepal. These negative experiences were all related to the popular treks in the Everest and Annapurna region. The problem of these popular treks is that these areas are also full of money-grubbers these days. Unfortunately, also in these areas tourists are treated as cash cows. We heard from travellers that they had to pay € 2, - for a bottle of purified water, € 4,- for a pot of black tea (one pot of hot water and one tea bag), were confronted with a non-existing mountain taxes and sometimes could not find a hotel room because they were trekking alone or in a group of only two persons (hotels prefer to rent the rooms to bigger groups because than they also earn more on food and drinks). We even heard that some travellers had to pay extra for blankets and for recharging their photo camera batteries (€ 3, - per hour!). We really do not like these kinds of trekkings in where you have to battle everyday with the ‘vultures’ of the Himalaya to get reasonable prices. We also prefer to go to areas where not many tourists come. Because of the huge number of tourists that visit the popular areas every year, an extensive tourist infrastructure is developed along the treks. You will find many hotels and hostels, most of them with telephone and internet connections. You will also find places along the popular routes where prostitutes offer their services passing hikers. In our opinion, this area has lost all the charm and allure it once had. So, for these reasons we thought that we wouldn’t do a trekking this year in Nepal.

View on the 7225-metres high Langtang Lirung

Two weeks ago, we were stopped at a roadblock between Bardia N.P and Butwal in western Nepal (see also the article: stop the bus). While we were waiting we met an Australian couple that was also stuck in the roadblock. We told them about our opinion over the popular treks in Nepal and that we had the intention not to trek in Nepal this year. They both like trekking a lot and they come already for more than 15 years to Nepal for it. They even make trekking maps of certain areas. They told us that there are still many areas in Nepal that are not touristy and that can be easily visited in the winter. Some areas are even within a day ride of Kathmandu. He finally advised us to do the Tamang Heritage Trail and directed us to a small and young trekking agency in Kathmandu that can arrange the camping trekking for us. Three days later we were in Kathmandu and decided to do a 12-day trekking over the Tamang Heritage Trail.

We have the strong preference for a camping trek in stead of a tea hut trek. When you do a tea hut trek, you make use of the facilities that can be found along the popular treks, like hotels and restaurants. In that case you do not have to bring a lot of luggage with you on the trek. It is even possible to do these treks without a guide. In contrast, on a camping trek you are completely self-sufficient. This means that you have to take with you all the things you need for the duration of the trek. Things you need are for example: tents, sleeping bags, food, petrol burners, petrol, food, etc. Not only for yourself of course, but for the whole crew. Because you have to take a lot of things, you have to make use of porters. A camping trek is more expensive than a tea hut trek, but it gives you a better trekking experience is our opinion. You can go to remote areas without the tourist infrastructure and besides that, a camping trek gives a special feeling when you cross the mountains with your own ‘team’. Another advantage is that you agree everything (like price) beforehand, which gives you a more relaxed feeling during the trek (no hassle anymore).

Small kid in traditional clothes in the village of Gatlang
Our trekking team consists of 13 people. Besides ourselves we take one guide, one assistant guide, a cook and eight porters. The tasks in the group are very clear. We do nothing. We only enjoy the trek. The guides are leading us through the mountains, translate when we talk to local people, and manage the cook and porters. The cook prepares the breakfast, lunch, dinner and the several tea moments in between. The porters carry the entire luggage from camp to camp and help the guides and cook with setting up the tent and preparing the food. Like during the trekking in Ladakh, we are lucky again. The cook seems to be a master cook on petrol burners. He makes the greatest meals on his two petrol burners. We are halfway the trekking now, and besides the regular (great) meals we also enjoyed pizza, apple pie, cake and different kind of bread. The meal are really delicious, especially when you compare them with the simple meals like pasta/sauce, momo’s and daal bhaat (lentil soup, rice and a vegetable curry) that you get on most tea house treks. We are at this moment on the camp site that is called “high camp” and we are enjoying a rest day. So far, this is the absolute highlight of the trek. The view is really fantastic. We see snow-capped mountains around us. The most impressive mountain is undoubtedly the 7225-metres high Langtang Lirung. Also the view into Tibet is fabulous.

The sun has set which means that it is too cold to stay outside the tent. We ‘installed’ ourselves in our warm sleeping bags. When the sun is gone it immediately starts freezing. At night, the cold even freezes the water in the bottles that we keep in our tent. During the day it is really great. The sun is present all day and we did not see any serious clouds so far. It is perfect weather for hiking. Our cook just started the petrol burners. He started preparing our dinner for tonight. We are curious about what he will serve tonight to us. It will undoubtedly be special again. After we finish dinner, we will immediately go back to our tent again and conclude the day with a small bottle of whiskey that we brought from Kathmandu. This is an excellent way to end Boxing Day 2007.

See also the photo impression about the Tamang Heritage Trail.

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