Tag Archives: Hiking Trail

Trekking into the Nepal’s Annapurna on the Sikles Trail

From the Sikles Trail: I realize that no matter what anyone says, the adventurer in me is never going to die! I recently watched YouTube videos on packing my rucksack. I want to learn how to best pack my gear so that I am always ready to go and have the equipment for the expedition. To test this I decided to go on one of the treks in Nepal’s Annapurna region. I called a friend and luckily he was ready and available to go with me.

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We had plans of doing the Royal Trek but instead we wound up doing the Sikles Trail. Sikles is longer, and less used than the Royal Trek which can be hectic with visitors. Sikles Trail is also off the beaten path, and only popular among explorers trying to escape the more frequented trails. We spent our first days hiking through the greenest rice-paddy fields I have ever seen in my life. And, beautiful villages with the warmest Nepali people. The first day as usual was backbreaking; we decided only to walk a short, easy distance, and enjoy the incredible views. But, it rained cats and dogs almost the entire day, and leeches enjoyed our fresh blood! Anyway calling a short day is always nice, especially at the beginning of a trek when your body needs to get warmed up!

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In the days to follow we waded across beautiful streams with our boots on, and exchanged words with local farmers working in their fields. Lush green forests merging with these small villages was such a captivating sight that every inch forward took our breath away. The freshly fried fish from the river and a warm bowl of local grown lentils offered us a wonderful mountain meal. Something I always miss when back in the city.

The Sikles Trail has its own charm, but we found navigating its path and direction very difficult. Firstly, this trail was clearly not used since the trekking season ended six months ago. Second, the abundance of rain fostered wild plant overgrowth, and disguised the trail’s path. For these reasons we periodically deviated from the main trail, and ended up on temporary side trails that we made with our footsteps. But thanks to random children, men and women we met in the fields, and a drunken villager, we were shown the right way to continue on the Sikles Trail, and luckily found our proposed stopover for the night.

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Over the course of this trek, we stayed in traditional Nepali tea houses. We walked about 10 hours each day, from one tea house to another. I have always liked lodging in tea houses as they not only serve excellent food and slumber, but wonderful chances to exchange stories and information with the locals.

The days along this trek were all good, except for a few tedious moments where I was drenched by down-pouring rain, and didn’t have any “juice” to continue the ascent. On one of those days I counted the man-made steps from the foot to the summit of a hill. I broke a twig for every 100 steps and figured out there were 7,527 steps to reach the Sikles Village. Sikles is about 850 houses cascading down a mountain side. It is a small village of Gurung people, these are practitioners of Buddhism and have an ancient culture. Everything was fine except the view. We trekked for the view. The view known from this point makes the tedious trek rewarding. But, the mountains were playing hide and seek, in and out of the clouds, and I was feeling disappointed. After waiting for a couple of hours with my camera on my tripod, I had it and asked my friend Govinda if he would go with me to travel further to other possible viewpoints. The chance of denial from my friend who had agreed to join the trip for this reason was very unlikely to say “no”. So, together we made some brilliant pictures of the Annapurna region including its lower mountains and villagers and their wonderful handicrafts.

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The views cleared in the days to follow, but we had already been in the mountains for over 15 days, and could not afford to stay longer. The mountains were so tempting though that I could not resist myself from taking more pictures. We left the village and its beautiful people behind, but we carried them in our memories. The experience was so rooted in us that the drenching rain on our way back home did not change our feelings about this incredible time at Sikles Village. The amazing homemade liquor Rakshi which kept us warm on a cold starry night, the jolly and caring mountain people who served us warm meals, and the beautiful mountain scenery that pushed us a step further on our journey, re all things that I will always think back to when back at my home in Kathmandu.

 Check out more of Uzol’s explorer journals about his adventures in Nepal, and his website, Wonderful Everest View Treks and Expedition… and make your dream of trekking Nepal a reality!

Clouded Mountains on the Mardi Himal Trail in Nepal

From Mardi Himal Trail in Nepal: On any day I find myself sitting all day, I pretty much get bored. I am not the kind of guy who likes his butt glued to a chair. I can’t stay at one place for long. Every time I get bored, I have an itch to go somewhere where there are fewer people, and where the presence of nature is in abundance. A serene place where cool wind blows and scenery is set by snow-capped mountains is absolutely my kind of escape. I find such a place very relaxing.

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After Nepal’s tragic high magnitude earthquake earlier this year, I visited many places for relief work. But these visits are not the “getting out” I itch to experience. I was going to these damaged places, and that in no way is fun travelling. I went from village to village, but not for me, it was for a responsibility to my people, the people of Nepal. Nevertheless for five months I missed mountains; the mountains that I have visited since I was a teenager. I call them my home.

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With the amount of severe damage from the earthquake, I wasn’t sure that the trails to the Himalayas would be safe to hike, or the villages of the mountains would still be intact! I wasn’t sure I would find any lodging for my stay on such travels. So I packed my tent along with my usual trekking rucksack. I had everything I needed, plus some Snicker bars with some dry fruits… great energy and quick nutrition for a hike! Nothing could stop me now as my mountains were calling me!

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The thought of travelling did not let me sleep that night. I began to have the kind of feeling I always get when I am to head back into the arms of Nature. I had jitters in the middle of the night thinking about the bus ride, gushing rivers, the warm people of the mountains, and the mountains themselves. I was headed to one of the off beaten trails in Annapurna, Nepal. I usually take the tourist bus to Pokhara, rest a day there and take another bus the next day to the gateway. But, this time I hitched straight to Kande. Kande is the gateway to the Mardi Himal Trail in Nepal’s Himalayas. I was so desperate to see the mountains that I did not even stop to eat my main meal, just a bowl of noodles.

It was scorching hot but often the rains cooled me off. Most of the time it rained buckets! After a long, tiring first day hike, we spent our first night in the mountains at a place named Deurali, a focal point for the Mardi Himal Trail and the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. I was excited to be headed to the Mardi Himal Trail for the first time. We had the opportunity to stay in traditional Nepali tea houses, which I was not expecting. Just as the entire world must picture, I thought all of Nepal must be devastated from the enormous earthquake, but instead the houses in these mountain areas did not even show a single crack.

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The day started with pouring rain. I didn’t expect this as we were in August! We spent half our time on the trail removing leeches, and finding our trail hidden behind the overgrown bushes. At times it was raining so heavy that our tents got drenched, and we were forced inside the local hotels: tea houses. I found the Mardi Himal Trail pretty easy. I’ve experienced much more difficult treks into Nepal’s Himalayas. So in no time that day we reached Low Camp. We arrived late in the evening to find only three tea houses, and all of them closed. Luckily I had taken a phone number for one of the owners. Thankfully he made sure a member of his team trekked down from High Camp, opened the tea house and served us a meal before bed.

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So far along this trek the view had been pathetic. Most of the time the mountains played hide and seek within the clouds. It was no different this morning. We had a heavy breakfast of Tibetan bread, and set off on the trail entering an amazing dense forest of Rhododendron. Arghhh. I was pissed. It was raining relentlessly. We had been on the trail three days, and not even a single glimpse of the mountains. And, we now had arrived at the scenic vantage point, the zenith of this trek, High Camp, and nothing. If you don’t get a good shot from here, you don’t get a good shot from anywhere on Mardi Himal Trail! I made a call that we were staying at High Camp for another night, in hopes of the view clearing and getting a good shot. Staying another night came as a godsend as we were blessed with one of the most exotic views of the mountains!

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After all the heavy rain, bites from leeches, 8 hours of trekking and a lot of patience, the trip felt worth it. We met our purpose, and finally after seeing what we came to see, we headed down the mountain. The experience energized us, and we headed home with such pace that we covered 3 days ground in 1 day! We reached Pokhara the same day from Mardi Himal High Camp.  And that was the end of our expedition on the Mardi Himal Trail in Nepal.

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If you enjoyed the Mardi Himal Trail in Nepal, check out more of Uzol’s Xplorer Journals from further adventures in Nepal, and his website, Wonderful Everest View Treks and Expedition… and make your dream of trekking Nepal a reality!

Sunrise Over Mount Everest

Sunrise over Mount Everest continued from Kathmandu to Mount Everest Base Camp

Over the following days our expedition team trekked to the villages of Khunde and Khumjung, or to the locals Khurnyung, that lie adjacent in a valley of Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This part of the expedition held more memorable moments of Nepalese cultural sights. While hiking in this valley we looked up at the amazing Khumjung Gompa (“gompa” translates in English to monastery). It was destroyed by different reasons time and again since its first construction about 350 years ago. The ambiance of the gompa was the most interesting thing of all. Although lamas, Buddhist monks, carried out their daily chores in and out of the monastery, it was as silent as it could be. Another surprising artifact we came across the same day was a chance to see what the locals call “the skull of the mystical mountain animal”, known also as the Yeti.

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Tengboche Gompa in Nepal by Uzol at XplorMor

Leaving these significant villages behind, I along with our expedition team headed up higher elevations towards Everest Base Camp, which still was a long distance away. As we went further up, the mountains got closer and closer, so close that for a moment I felt like I could touch them with the tips of my fingers. Days went by on the trails and we reached a very small village, home to a world-famous monastery named Tengboche Gompa, it is also known as Dawa Challing Gompa. The gompa rests at an elevation of 3,870 meters or 13,700 feet. The Tengboche Gompa is also the biggest monastery of entire Khumbu region. Tengboche is not only famous for the architecture and artwork of this monastery, but also as a viewpoint from where to see an amazingly close view of Mount Everest; closer even than that from Namche Bazaar. The breathtaking color combination of white mountains kissing the deep blue sky is spectacular, and imprinted in my mind a never-fading memory of incredible Everest.

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Uzol looking up at Mount Everest

As we got closer to our destination I felt uncomfortable and realized that our entire teams’ pace was ridiculously slowed down, and we were breathing heavy. The elevation had affected us, and come into play in a serious way, and it became a dominant reason for making the trek difficult. Finally we made it to Everest Base Camp at an elevation of 5,364 meters or 17,598 feet. This is not the highest point in Nepal, but I felt like I was at the top of the world. Upon reaching the camp I was excited and depressed. I was excited that I successfully reached my destination after days of tedious hiking, and was depressed for the fact that I could no longer see Mount Everest from any direction. I realized several other tall mountains rising ahead of Everest completely blocked our view. So here at Everest Base Camp all we could see were tents, tents and more tents, and people either getting ready to summit the peak or resting from the climb, and a lot of snow.

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The next morning around 4:00 AM almost everyone in the base camp flocked up to Kalapathar, or Kala Patthar, which in straight translation means “black rock”, is at an elevation of 5,550 meters or 18,209 feet. Some call Kalapathar a mountain, and others a view-point to watch sunrise over the summit of Mount Everest. No matter what people consider Kalapathar, the view of the sunrise over the Everest was pure breathtaking. I forgot who I was… where I came from… what my name was… for a split second I thought I could spend my whole life watching the sun rise and set over Everest. I have no words to truly describe what I felt while watching the early morning light on Everest. All I am able to come up with is our Everest Base Camp Expedition was one hell of a trip of my life time!

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To trek an expedition to watch sunrise over Mount Everest and to explore other locations in and around Nepal, contact Uzol at Wonderful Everest View Treks and Expeditions.