Himalayas - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Himalayas


Trekking is the most popular activity in Nepal and is the best way to experience the natural splendour and cultural riches of the Himalayas. Differences in altitude support a wide range of vegetation types and lifestyles and famous peaks shelter remote mountain villages that are untouched by modern ways of life.

Most treks follow well-used foot trails that have been in use for hundreds of years, connecting pastoral settlements, little mountain villages of stone and wood, and monasteries, temples and shrines. Mountain trekking is not a solitary wilderness experience, as trails are shared with pilgrims and traders driving fully laden yaks or donkeys over the high mountain passes. Herders and other parties of tourists can also provide some company, along with their guides and quick-footed porters beneath their enormous loads. Trails cross high over rivers on swaying suspension bridges, meandering up valleys and past green terraced fields, through Tibetan-style stone hamlets a-flutter with colourful prayer flags, where ancient prayer wheels on the main route are kept spinning by the stream of passers by.

Whatever region one chooses to trek in, the magnificent scenery is always dominated by soaring heights and icy mountain peaks. Different regions allow a range of trekking options, from easy walking for a few days to strenuous expeditions lasting a few weeks, from circular routes around the Annapurnas, to summit assaults on Mount Everest. There are also different approaches to trekking in Nepal, depending on time, money and experience. Organised, all-inclusive treks include porters, guides, cooks, tents, equipment and transport, and provide comfort and security as well as eliminating lengthy preparations beforehand. Teahouse treks follow the most popular trekking routes in the entire Annapurna region, Langtang area and the Everest region, and allow walkers to make their own way from village to village, carrying minimal equipment and relying on 'teahouses' for food and accommodation. It is also possible to hire a guide and/or porters for these expeditions. For those wanting to get away from it all there are also many less-developed routes in more remote regions.

A trekking permit is no longer required in many regions, including the popular Annapurna, Everest and Langtang areas; however a fee must be paid to trek in a designated national park, conservation area or wildlife reserve, which can be paid at the entrance (NPR 1,000 or NPR 2,000 for most areas). The Annapurna region requires the fee to be paid in advance at the ACAP office in Kathmandu or Pokhara (NPR 2,000 for the permit and NPR 1,400 for the TIMS Card), which goes towards environment conservation and maintenance of the area. Fees and entrance charges have been known to change without notice, it is best to check the situation on the ground before you embark on your trek or risk paying a NPR 4,000 penalty whenever you are caught without the correct permit.

Information & Facts

Nepali is the official language. English is spoken in all major tourist areas.

The official currency is the Nepali Rupee (NPR), which is divided into 100 paisa. As change can be a problem it is recommended that visitors have a supply of small notes handy. Tourist activities are often quoted in US Dollars and it is advisable to carry new dollar bills in varied denominations. Both Euro and US dollar travellers cheques are widely accepted in tourist areas and can be cashed easily in most banks and major hotels throughout the country. There are ATMs in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards are accepted in many tourist hotels, shops, restaurants and travel agencies. Banks and moneychangers are present in all tourist places and in the major cities; all receipts from foreign exchange transactions should be kept so rupees can be exchanged back into foreign currencies on departure. Cash is needed when trekking.

The most popular trekking region in Nepal, the Annapurna region passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, with deep valleys and close up views of mountains over 22,966 feet (7,000m) tall, ancient stone settlements, Tibetan culture, and Buddhist temples and monasteries. Excellent lodges line the main routes of the Annapurna Circuit, the Annapurna Sanctuary, and the Jomson trek to Muktinath. The Circuit is one of the most walked treks in the country and is one of the most exceptional trekking routes on earth, crossing Thorong-La pass at 17,769 feet (5,416m) and requiring about three weeks. The Sanctuary requires about 10 days and is a direct route straight to the heart of the Himalayas, where tremendous sheer-walled peaks of 19,685 to 26,247 feet (6,000 to 8,000m) encircle the reverent trekker at the Annapurna Base Camp.

Easily accessible via a short flight from Pokhara or Kathmandu, Jomson is a town situated between two gigantic mountains in the Kali Gandaki Valley, at the bottom of the world's deepest gorge. From Jomson there are options to walk in either direction along the Circuit - the trek to the holy shrine at Muktinath is very popular and follows the ancient trade and pilgrimage route across the Himalayas.

Many trekkers and adventurous mountaineers are drawn to the sight and challenge of the highest mountain in the world within the Sagarmatha National Park. Most fly to the airstrip at Lukla at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850m) from where the trek begins to Everest Base Camp at the foot of the ice-covered giant. Highlights en route include the famous Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar and the Tengboche Monastery. By flying in and out, the trek requires about two weeks; it is also possible to walk in, but this requires more time.

One of the most popular stops on any Himalayan trek, Namche Bazaar makes a good rest stop on the climb to Mount Everest, and many trekkers spend a day there to acclimatise to the high altitude. The town has a variety of accommodation, restaurants, teahouses, internet cafes, and shops that mostly sell supplies for trekking. From just above the village, trekkers will get their first view of Mount Everest itself. One of the principal attractions in Namche Bazaar is the weekly market at the centre of the village.

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