The walk was great - a trip to Kanchenjunga (the third highest mountain in the world) and its north and south base camps - a 21 day camping trek with KE Adventure Travel. The walk had everything, lovely Nepalese villages and welcoming friendly locals, as well as the spectacular scenery of the high Himalaya. It was cold at night, and when it was cloudy in the day time as well, but we got some amazing weather particularly when were at the base camps. The north base camp is particularly stunning and, unlike Everest, you get the views of Kanchenjunga right from your tent.
Was a bit disappointed with KE if I'm honest. Have let them know about the specific complaints but really don't understand why a company claiming to support sustainable tourism used a non-Nepalese speaking western guide to lead a trip like this. Nepal has a really well established trekking industry and individual Nepalese leaders have made the effort to learn virtually every language under the sun and responsible companies wanting (and needing) a successful Nepalese trekking industry should use them. Not only is it good practice to support local leaders it also gives the trekkers a better experience (based on my trips) and at much lower cost (western guides cost 10 times as much as their Nepalese equivalent). The KE leader was a nice guy and, in a general sense, was very experienced. He didn't however speak Nepalese and had only been to Kanchenjunga once before. KE might come back to me with a response and I will update the blog if they do. I suspect however that they feel that they can attract more customers if they offer them the security of a western guide - if so then it really doesn't say much for "adventure travel".
I'm a bit annoyed with myself actually and should have checked it out before I booked. After all I am trying to raise money for a Nepalese charity and going on holiday with a company whose practices are off the pace in what I regard as good sustainable tourism practice is a bit of an "own goal". Fortunately the charity I'm working for does fit the bill in terms of sustainable development and the personal highlight of the trip was meeting the charity's leadership and staff in Kathmandu at the end of the holiday. Although initiated by British medics in sixties the Britain Nepal Medical Trust is now essentially a Nepalese charity successfully developing Nepalese solutions for Nepalese problems.
Spending an afternoon with the BNMT team gave me a real fillip and in particular a much better understanding of how the money raised from my walk could used to fund initiatives which struggle to attract money from the usual development resources. The final package is still being developed and will be subject of a blog within the next week or so.
Before travelling home I made my first ever visit to India and Delhi. Talk about noise, hustle and bustle - what a place - has certainly wetted my appetite for more visits. And then back to London, Brighton and snow - washed my thermals after Kanchenjunga and put them on again. The only thing that has warmed me up was watching the recordings of three amazing Spurs victories on the trot (have now revealed my true colours!).
|Map reading skills essential|
|Getting seriously cold - Jannu (7710) in the background|
|Around the corner and it's Kanchenjunga (8586)|
|Nice view to relax to - underpants drying|
|Early morning view across the glacier to Kanchenjunga|
|A lot of shouting children - assured it was friendly banter|
|With co-directors of the BNMT|
|Once in a lifetime photo|