Nepal is the home of the world’s most renouned mountain range, the Himalayas. As such it is a very popular destination for trekkers, both serious climbers and those not so serious.
But if you are planning a visit to Nepal there is one place you should definitely make time for- Chitwan National Park.
Chitwan National Park is located near the town of Bharatpur which has an airport that is only a 20 minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu, making Chitwan National Park fairly easy to get to.
There are a lot of animals to see at Chitwan including elephants, tigers, crocodiles, monkeys and even rhinos. That’s right, rhinos in Nepal (I was surprised).
Activities at Chitwan include river cruising and safaris on elephant back- the best way to travel through a jungle.
The highlight of Chitwan for me was the elephant baths- if you make the trip this is not to be missed and I would suggest packing your bathers!
When planning a trekking holiday one of the big questions is whether or not to hire a guide and porter to help make your trip a success. My personal experience on this matter comes from two treks in the Mt Everest region of the Himalayas, Nepal.
Reasons why people may be reluctant to hire help:
For a lot of people the expense of having a guide is a deterrent, this is fair enough for those who are on a very tight budget. It can also be difficult finding an appropriate guide, one who is experienced, speaks english well and who is not going to try and charge you too much above the norm. For some people they just want to go it alone and get that sense of achievement of not needing a guide. That’s understandable, some people like to be independent and might feel having a guide along could take away from the picturesque views, isolation and experience of the holiday.
Positives of hiring a guide and porter: if you hire a guide you are supporting the locals. Most guides cost about $30 a day and porters are $15 a day plus tip. The average daily income in Nepal is something close to $2 (AUD) so this is a decent income for the locals. I also believe that travelling with a Nepalese people will improve your trip significantly. My guide had reasonably good english and he taught me a few Nepalese words so I was able to interact with the locals who didn’t speak english and I loved being about to do that. The guides also know the names of all the big impressive mountains which can be interesting. Additionally, as not many of the locals speak good english having an english speaking guide along is a major help. The positive of hiring a porter is you don’t have to carry a heavy bag yourself! I know this sounds a bit mean paying someone $10 a day to carry your bag but its not as bad as it seems- the locals are very strong, whilst I was walking along carrying nothing but a camera and struggling up the hills the porter was flying up the hills and finishing most of the day’s walks at least an hour quicker than me without breaking a sweat.
Personally I would hire a guide if going to Nepal and probably a porter as well. To make sure I got a good guide I would book through one of the larger trekking agencies in Nepal one which had lots of reviews so I know what I’m getting in to. That is the more expensive way of hiring a guide- it is also possible to hire a guide at the start of the trek, when you arrive in the region. This seems like a good option to me as you have the chance to meet the person face to face and determine if you want to share your trekking experience with them.
Trekking through the Himalayas has undoubtedly been a highlight of my life. The mountains and scenery are picturesque and the culture still relatively untouched by the western world. It is the type of holiday that afterwards when you come home, you have a sense of achievement for what you have accomplished. It isn’t just sightseeing and posing for photos; trekking is tough.
But one of my favourite parts of trekking through the Himalayas is that it allowed me to interact with the local Sherpa people and gave me an insight into their daily lives. The people are hospitable and when you pass them on the road they give you the common greeting “Namaste”. For me, the adorable Nepalese children were a highlight. The children seem to like trekkers a lot as most children my group saw waved and said hello as we passed through their villages.
Some Nepalese children approaching our group
One charming moment I experienced was on the second day of my trek when my group stopped for a break in a village. These two little kids from the village came running up to our group and started chatting away in Nepalese to us. We had no idea what they were saying so my group tried to say hello to the little kids in both Nepalese and English but we received no response or reaction from that. I was sitting on a rock and the kids came up to me and started hitting my backpack softly with some leaves they were carrying. None of my group knew what the kids were up to, we all just thought the little kids were cute. I should mention at this point that along the trek most trekkers buy chocolate bars as snacks to eat during the day. So anyway, One of the kids was looking at me, talking away and then in the middle of a sentence of Nepalese I hear the kid say ‘chocolate’. My whole group started laughing, the kids didn’t know how to say hello but chocolate they had down packed. I had one Twix bar left in my bag so I pulled that out and broke it in half for the two kids to share. Didn’t need to offer the chocolate to the kids, they snatched the chocolate out of my hand the second I had split it and ran back to their house yelling out something in Nepalese. So I found out that cheeky kids are everywhere, even in extremely remote areas such as the Himalayas!
We spent a while laughing about the kids cheekiness after they ran off, they must try to get chocolate off every tourist that comes through their town. I’m sure the kids are successful more times than not, I instantly caved to their cuteness!
Please post your own stories below, I would love to read them! Particularly the stories that made you smile.
The cheeky chocolate kids