"To HELambu and back !" Langtang by alanyeti
Langtang Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 12 photos
I was at home in November 2010, immediately after a hip replacement when Terry, with whom I''d trekked twice before in Nepal, called with grapes, sympathy, and whisky. He mentioned that he'd been given permission to come out to play again in Nepal.
It didn't take much thinking about. Within weeks Robert and Alex, fellow members of a very enjoyable Annapurna Sanctuary trek in 2009, were rapidly recruited, and a few weeks later Tom, an occasional acquaintance, was added to the team.
Ignoring the fact that our combined ages were 300 (despite Alex being only 24 . . ) I suggested a crossing of the Laurebina La and exit via Helambu. I'd crossed this p[ass four years previously, but had then gone south to reach Kathmandu, so the Helambu bit would be new to me.
Planning didn't take long - simply I sent a draft itinerary to Sanam at 'Spirit of the Himalayas', and he replied instantly with one or two additional suggestions, and a good price. I also emailed Dhanraj Rai, my guide for the past 7 trips, and he declared he'd be totally insulted if we didn't get Sanam to employ him for this trip too
Booking flights to Kathmandu isn't easy, particularly when Robert, Alex and Terry had an abysmal experience with Air India two years ago, and consequently refused to fly via Delhi. Qatar, my favourite carrier, was expensive, and so afer much shopping around we found flights with Emirates to Dubai then on to Doha, and Qatar to Kathmandu, for £710 per head. The only real drawback was a seven hour wait in Doha. We also found that for the older members of the party (i.e. all of us except Alex) insurance was difficult, particularly for Terry as he has had two knee replacements, and for me because of the new hip.
Nevertheless we were going ! The ensuing months were enlivened by many emails fom Tom, our first-time trekker, and his questions gave me a vicarious freshness about the whole 'going to Nepal' thing. October finally arrived, and by car, then bus, we arrived - at Heathrow.
The onward journey was much as we expected, enlivened by artificial joints setting off the alarms every time we went through security.
Fortunately the long wait at Doha wasn't too bad - it's a pleasant airport as airports go and the catering staff are mostly Nepali: I'd worn my t-shirt embroidered, in Nepali script, with my Nepalese nick-name - 'burrah yeti', which always produces an amused reaction from Nepalis. Apart from several entertaining conversations it also produced copious amounts of free coffee, and Qatar provided a couple of meals which helped while away the time.
Unfortunately our flight to Kathmandu left late in the afternoon so that we were denied any views of the Himalaya during the flight, and I admit to some trepidation as we approached KTM airport at 10 - 30 p.m. - I'm still a nervous flyer, particularly t landing time, and I've never landed there at night before. My worst fears were not realised, though once down the Visa process seemed to take an age even though we'd downloaded and filled in forms in advance.
As expected, Krishna, the company go-for, was there to greet us, with garlands of marigolds, a broad smile, and the company minibus. He steered us through the great mass of would-be porters, taxi and hotel touts, etc., and soon we were speeding through the almost traffic-free streets, and by midnight we were in the blissful tranquility of the courtyard of the Kathmandu Guest House. I like the KGH, but its booking system seems rather random, so I'd asked that Krish should call at the hotel in the evening to check that our rooms were available. They were ! Before long we'd dumped our gear, and gathered for a roof-top toast in duty-free scotch
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