Nepal has long held a fascination for all manner of travellers, from those who seek the entrance to the Himalayan and Annapurna massifs to those who make the pilgrimage to Lumbini to see the birthplace of the Lord Buddha. However, it was the path less travelled that we were in search of and that is certainly what we encountered during Blue Sky Escapes latest Insider Journey to the Roof of the World. This collection of images barely scratch the surface of the stunning and unique landscapes that Nepal has to offer beyond your average trek to the Everest or Annapurna Base Camp.
By Savi J
The first few days of our journey were spent soaking in the rich history and cultural landmarks of the Eastern Kathmandu valley. We were transported in time as we entered the ancient Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom stands proudly, despite the devastating earthquake in 2015, while tourists and locals alike strolled around its buildings and boundaries.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
One of the most marvellous experiences of the journey was coming across a local potter, a long-time resident of the famous Pottery square in Bhaktapur, crafting a masterpiece in a matter of minutes with his nimble hands. He worked fast and efficiently as he showed off his trade that has been passed down for generations. After completing his task this small, deceivingly fragile looking craftsman attempted to get us all to try our hand at it. One of our Insiders was brave enough to follow his lead and it was certainly one tough act to follow.
Kathmandu to Kuri
The next day we left town, hoping to trade in the man made marvels for the raw, rugged terrains and found that we did not have to venture far. Starting with a very bumpy bus ride across country roads, followed by a short but exhilarating trek, we found ourselves abruptly traversing above the clouds with awe-inspiring views of the lofty ranges of the Himalayas. Our 3 day 2 night trekking journey began with some of us still acclimating to the new elevation, but it was safe to say any weariness faded away as we emerged over the last few hills and saw our first campsite in Kuri amidst the sunset.
Kalinchowk to Dhumthali Trek
Day two began as we set off on our trail to the reach one of the highest points on our hike, the Kalinchowk temple at 3,842 m. The Kuri Valley disappeared below us as we climbed the steep ascent to the temple, but not before capturing its immense beauty. We encountered Nepali people at the summit, there to pay tribute to their gods. We understood quickly why this temple was so revered by its worshippers when we saw the unobstructed views of the Gauri Shankar Mountain range from the temple’s vantage point.
As we continued our trail, we could not help but marvel at our support team. The team consisted of 24 Nepali mountain lads from villages near and far, most of whom were overtaking us by leaps and bounds even with the heavy trekking equipment they were carrying. These jovial men were never without a smile on their face and were an absolute highlight of our trekking experience.
The trek continued over several mountain ridges, peaks and valleys. Thrilling, invigorating and at times challenging. Every turn and summit gave way to a sight more beautiful than the last. It was exactly as we had hoped it would be. We were blessed with great weather and visibility during the entire trek, and therefore were able to see as far as the human eye allowed. Every now and then we would hear the mountain call from one porter to another, but otherwise it was only the sound of the mountain wind that provided us the chance to really soak in the moment of being surrounded by these ancient mountains and reflect on our journey.
Our holistic journey culminated with the group retreating into comfort at The Dwarika’s Resort, Dhulikhel. The warm honey tea that welcomed us eliminated all weariness and thus began Blue Sky Escapes’ Wellness Program. Planned in conjunction with Stephanie Bovis, our journey leader, the group attended a lecture on ancient Ayurvedic teachings, completed sunrise yoga sessions and active meditations overlooking the expansive mountain views. Our journey ended here with the group feeling revived, revitalized and ready to take on life slightly more equipped.
Our hopes for our Nepal Insider journey was to allow our travellers to access and unlock a side of Nepal that is rarely seen. I can now say with more certainty than ever that Nepal has so much more to offer. This unique destination has the ability to challenge and charm in equal parts. I am looking forward to the day when I can return to venture off the beaten track and continue to conquer the Himalayan peaks.