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Friday, 01 January 2016

Trekking in the Lantang Valley in Nepal, Before the 2015 Earthquake - Page 3

Written by Jean-Marc Theodorowicz
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Some people always underestimate the effects of the altitude, especially the most in shape individuals. Anticipating how the body is going to react is very unpredictable, so it is best to exercise caution or risk ending confined in bed for a couple of days, too sick to put a foot in front of the other.

 

That is where the experience and savvy of a good guide is invaluable. Serge had chosen a trek in the Lantang Valley for several reasons. 

 

Bill Tilman, the famous British Himalayan explorer and mountaineer, called Lantang: “one of the world’s most beautiful valleys." Despite its close proximity to Kathmandu, one is able to reach an area as wild as any of the Tibetan highlands, on a trail less traveled by tourists, and be immediately immersed in the unique culture of the Tamang tribe who inhabit these mountain villages. They are the oldest tribe in Nepal, and are Tibetan Buddhists who are the direct descendants of Mongols, going back thirty thousand years ago.

 

When you first arrive in Kathmandu, soon after clearing customs, you will find yourself in a taxi speeding down a road made, it seems, entirely of potholes with garbage spread all around like dung in a cow pasture, overwhelmed by a cacophony of sounds, and inhaling dirt and exhaust fumes by the bucket load. 

 

Pretty soon though, you will come to peace with the sensory overload of the surroundings, and the city, along with its people - arguably some of the friendliest in the world - will have cast its charm on your unsuspecting self.

 

In spite of the harsh living conditions and the over-bearing traffic and pollution, people are always eager to greet you with a smile and a ‘Namaste’ wherever you go.

 

Cat Stevens described Kathmandu in one of his songs: “as a place where a strange bewildering time will hold him down, as soon as he touches her”. 

 

After a few days of exploring the city and being alternatively bewildered, amazed and humbled, it was time to go and explore the Lantang valley.

 

Our group was fairly big by tour standards. We were a total of 16, the youngest was an 8 year old French girl, with her brother and parents. Then there were a couple of older guys and gals, and several teenagers and young adults. 

 

Everybody had a prior connection to Serge in some way and that made for easy camaraderie within the group.

 

Upon leaving Kathmandu, the road climbs very quickly out of the valley, leaving the city far below. As soon as we reached the rim, we caught a glimpse of the Lantang peaks in the distance. The road winds around lush green hillsides, terraced with paddy fields. The word paddy is derived from the Malay word padi, that stands for rice plant.

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Friday, 01 January 2016

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