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Friday, 01 January 2016

Trekking in the Lantang Valley in Nepal, Before the 2015 Earthquake - Page 2

Written by Jean-Marc Theodorowicz
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The lord Buddha was born in Nepal. Incidentally, 81% of the Nepalese are Hindus, due to the country’s close proximity and ties with India. 10% practice Buddhism, consisting mainly of Tibetan and Burmese ethnicities who live in the mountain villages. In Nepal however, religion is not just a set of beliefs and accompanying rituals, passed on from generation to generation. Its a complex intermingling of traditions, festivals, faiths, and doctrines that have permeated every strata of Nepalese society to become the very heartbeat of the nation. It is an intricate and beautiful tapestry, where Hinduism, Buddhism, and other beliefs are woven together, with the threads of tolerance and harmony.


If you want to explore the Himalayas you have a multitude of choices depending on your climbing experience, level of fitness, and ultimately, your budget. As well as several countries to base your expedition.


Fabienne’s brother, Serge Bazin, has been a mountain guide in Chamonix, in the French Alps, for the last 30 years. He has been organizing mountain climbs with private clients all around the world. Nepal is very dear to his heart and he has been back there ‘religiously’ every climbing season, for the last 25 years.


When Serge came to pick me up at the airport in Kathmandu, we had a hard time finding each other. The airport was bustling with adventure seekers from the 4 corners of the globe and a mix of anticipation, excitement, and chaos were hanging over the whole scene. It didn’t help that we hadn’t seen each other for more than 40 years; would we even be able to recognize each other?  


Serge was in between climbing assignments at the beginning of November and had arranged for a 9 day trek in the Lantang Valley with a group of hand-picked friends and family members.

That period happened to coincide with the French school holidays of ‘La Toussaint’, or all saint’s day, which is a Christian day of remembrance for all saints and martyrs. The French, it must be said, are never to be outdone when it comes to holiday times or decreased working hours. On a side note, they also seem to be quite fond of martyrdom.


One doesn’t need to be an experienced mountain climber to go trekking in Nepal. The main challenge is getting acclimated to the high altitude; a descent physical shape, a good pair of walking boots, and the will to endure a little pain. There are some well-known and popular treks; Everest Base Camp and Annapurna are among the most famous, but they require taking a flight from Kathmandu, which can be highly unpredictable in Nepal.


Lantang was the first of Himalayan National Parks, designated in 1970. The park is quite close to Kathmandu, and yet stretches all the way to the Tibetan border. You could take an 8 hour bus ride to Dhunche and start your trek from there, or even start from Syabru Bensi, which is another 2 hours at the end of the road. You won’t need to be in the greatest shape to explore Lantang National Park, although you will need to pace yourself and stay at established lodges along the way, in order for your body to deal with the altitude. If you'd rather go solo and carry your backpack yourself, as opposed to an organized trek where an army of porters carry the bags ahead of the group and everything has been taken care of when you arrive at the lodge in the afternoon, you run the risk of exerting more energy, by walking too far, too fast, and not acclimating properly.

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Last modified on Friday, 01 January 2016

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