In early April, National Geographic Traveller Aus/NZ editor Geordie Torr and competition winner Laura Waters joined a group of Kathmandu Summit Club members for a 14-day ‘Rebuild Nepal’ trek through the foothills of the Himalaya. Having raised funds for the Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF) as a way of giving back to the communities that they would visit, the group visited schools in the Solukhumbu district to see first-hand some of the work that’s being carried out by rural education and environment NGO REED Nepal, with support from the AHF and Kathmandu, before joining the ‘tourist circuit’ for views of Mount Everest and other famous Himalayan peaks.
At last night’s briefing, KK warned us that today we would be sharing the path with large groups of ‘donkeys’ (actually mules) and gave us some tips on how to survive our encounters with them – chief among them being to stay on the uphill side of them in order to reduce the likelihood of being bumped off the path. We didn’t have to wait long this morning to have our first encounter as a group of 16 clip-clopped past our campsite as we were packing up, bells tinkling and clanking from their necks.
Today’s walk began with a pleasant downhill stroll through Kharikhola, past KK’s teahouse and across the river via a short suspension bridge. This was, however, just a deceptive prelude to the reality of our task today, which mostly involved a long, steep uphill slog. The regular passage of mule trains down the hill offered us respite, as we did our best to make ourselves small while covering our mouths – the rocks here weather down to form an incredibly fine talc-like dust that the mules kick up in a choking cloud. Most of the mules are all loaded up, mostly with a pair of gas cylinders each.
After lunch, and another steep climb, the track finally flattened out. Rounding a corner, we could see our destination, the village of Pouyan, but although it wasn’t that far away as the big black raven flies, we still had a long walk ahead of us. The village was situated on the opposite hillside and we had to make our way along the side of the hill we were on until we could loop around and cover the final distance to the camp. The hillside we were on was cloaked in forest, with numerous blooming magnolia and rhododendron trees.
We were all very relieved to reach the camp, which was situated on some open ground below a restaurant, in which we had our evening meal. And after a tough day’s walking, most of us were in bed by 8pm and asleep not long after.
Australian Himalayan Foundation
Kathmandu community partnerships
Kathmandu Summit Club treks