The Himalayas This September

An Experience Like No Other

By autumn in the Himalayas the monsoons have subsided. The highest mountains on earth soar radiant in the sun. It is a panorama stunning in its invitation.

Machupucharie, revered in the Himalayas

We’ll fly beneath one of the most graceful Himalayan peaks of all, the twin-spired Machupuchare, which reaches thousands of feet above the world’s deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki. And we’ll touch down in a legendary city called Jomsom, where Marco Polo walked centuries ago along history’s Silk Road.

Join us in September for an experience you’re sure to treasure.

This time we will not come to climb a mountain, or embark on a laborious siege on a trail that demands equipment and time. Our trek in Nepal in September will be a kind of pilgrimage in a part of the world once mysterious but now a reasonable and transforming destination for those who come to discover or to renew an experience like none other. No heroics are needed. What you need above all is curiosity and it’s rewarded memorably.

If you would like to trek with us from Jomsom to a monastery in the sky in Muktinath at 12,000 feet, with its eternal blue flame rising from under ground, and its 108 fountains plunging from the cliffs of the Annapurna Range, you can do it without having to extend yourself.

But if you would rather trek moderately to ease yourself into the Himalayan experience, that too, is available. You can follow the trail flanking the Kali Ghandaki River that links the centuries old villages of Marpha, Kalopani and Landrung with views of the icefields of the massive mountain, Dhalagiri.

The dates are Sept.15 to Sept 29. We’ll fly into the exotic Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, a literal crossroads of the world, spend two days there, sight seeing and preparing; then a photo-filling riverside ride beneath the Annapurna range for a night in Pokhara. From there we’ll make one of the most spectacular flights in international travel, to the city of Jomsom, which for centuries has echoed to the bells of pony caravans bearing spices from Tibet.

Meeting a Himalayan Family

If you have been there before, this will be your renewal, and welcome. Treasure it. It will be great to travel with you once more. If you haven’t been to Nepal or the Himalayas, please know that this is an  experience you will  cherish.

 

Our partners will be the Sherpas of Mountain Legends, the Nepalese travel agency with which we have worked safely and successfully for many years.

Why are we offering choices here? Some on our trip will have experienced extended treks before and can comfortably manage four or five days trekking at higher altitude. Others may prefer a more leisurely pace in experiencing the mountain valleys, its villages and landscape. It’s a spectacle at every turn in the Himalayas.

But thanks to modern transportation, some who want to reach the shrine of Muktinath can do so on wheels with only a few days of actual trekking. That is a bonus of traveling in this part of the Himalayas — trekking traditionally or occasionally on wheels, or both. These choices will be available to you after we meet our hosts in Kathmandu. But however we travel in this Himalayan landscape, we can do it safely and in sight of mountains like of Annapurna and Dhalagiri. They thrust miles into the stratosphere, two of just 14 mountains on earth that reach an altitude of more than 8,000 meters, above 26,000 feet. All of them are in Nepal.

You’ll find here an itinerary that will describe each day’s activities for the two separate groups that will be reunited after a few days. Two groups because once we’re in Kathmandu and then in the mountains themselves, you’ll be able to decide after consultation with the Mountain Legends folks which group is better suited for you. We’ve done this before with success. The goal is to make this a satisfying and memorable trip for each one in our party; and it invariably works out that way. So we’ll have a little fun with our designations of the two groups. The first one will be heading from Jomsom for the trail to Muktinath by way of the medieval village of Kagbeni; these we’ll call the Tenzings, honoring the great Sherpa guide who teamed with Ed Hillary as the first to reach the summit of Everest– which by the way we should be able to see on our flight into Kathmandu. The second group we’ll call the Marco Polo Stars, honoring the Italian explorer who six centuries ago introduced the western world to the advanced civilization of China. And for those who’d like to do limited trekking but still experience Muktinath, vehicles with excellent drivers will be available. All of which can be easily explained when we meet with our Mountain Legend folks in Kathmandu.

Painting by Irene Kotula

 

The land cost for this trip if the group numbers 10 to 14 people will be $2,650 for the full tour, $3,195 if the number is between 6 and 9. Those costs include all hotels, the Shangri La for three nights in Kathmandu and a night at the lakeside Hotel Barahi in Pokhara, air fare Pokhara to Jomsom and return, overnight lodges throughout with sleeping bags, all meals and supplementary snacks daily, the services throughout of Sherpas and guides, trek permits, airport transfers, and a half day sightseeing in Kathmandu with bus transportation.

The land costs assume double occupancy. A single supplement is available for $425, but often we can pair singles . The air cost from the states and return will vary depending on your departure point. Most of you will be making your own flight plans, which may include frequent flyer miles, of course. The most common route from the states is to fly to Los Angeles on one of the major carriers including, Delta, and from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand. After a short layover there fly Thai Air to Kathmandu in Nepal. Whatever your flight plan, you need to be in Kathmandu by Sept. 17, meaning a departure from the states on Sept. 15. But please know help and advice is available from two expert sources in making your choices.

You’ll want to get acquainted with the problem-solving Kari Jerstad of Portland. Ore., who will provide flight information into Kathmandu and visa requirements (you can purchase a Nepalese visa on arrival at the Kathmandu airport) plus valuable suggestions on clothing, local customs and potential travel ad-ons. Her contacts are with our providers in Nepal. She can help you with suggestions for your flight into Kathmandu from Bangkok,, which is the connecting airport for most flights from America to Nepal. Kari, not so coincidentally, is the daughter of Lute Jerstad– a Minnesota native and revered figure in American mountaineering  who was a key member of the first American expedition to reach the summit of Everest. Karie can give you excellent flight advice and possibly cut some corners. Her contact numbers are 503 798 9613 and by email at jerstadadv@msn.com.

And another excellent source for information on your flight plans from the states and return is Suzanne Zapolski of Borton Overseas Travel in Minneapolis. Suzanne has organized many of our overseas tours and can be reached at 612-644-6404 or 612-661-4624. In Kathmandu we can rely on excellent advice from the staff of Anil Gurung, the CEO of Mountain Legends and a longtime friend. Make sure your passport is up date. If you don’t have one, there’s time. Those flight options, of course, can include frequent flyer miles.. The most common route from the states is to fly to Los Angeles on one of the major carriers including, Delta, and from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand. After a short layover there, fly Thai Air to Kathmandu in Nepal. Whatever your flight plan, you must be in Kathmandu by Sept. 17, meaning a departure from the states on Sept. 15.

As an additional advisor and the group escort, I welcome your calls and mail. I can be reached at Jim@jimklobuchar.com and 763-258-1371. This will be my 18th visit to Nepal as the director of Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures. Nepal and the Himalayas are always a gift. There is the immensity and beauty of its mountainscape; the discovery available to each of us, each day; befriend these folks, and we understand there efforts to find some uplift for the hard lives of their millions of rural folk; and there is the amiability on the mountain trail. You might stop to greet a Thakali woman on the trail coming up from from the Kali Gadakhi. Her head and shoulders are bent forward from hauling vegetables in her doko basket; but still smiling when she passes the visiting stranger she will say, “Namaste (nah-mah-stay). And we reply, “Namaste.” It’s a word out of the old Sanskrit and it means, in its most lyrical translation, “I praise the God who lives within you.” Consider. Within you. Within me. I never tire of it. It’s among the most beautiful words I know.

A $500 deposit that is due by May 20 is refundable by July 30 or if the trip is canceled. Make checks payable to Lute Jerstad Adventures. PO Box 612. Beaver Creek OR. Payment is by check only. The total land cost, less the $500 deposit, is due Aug. 15. 30 days before Sept. 15departure.

The itinerary we’ll provide here is a day to day blueprint of what is available to each group. A bonus is that we’re going to spend our overnights in the village lodges, so we can travel lightly. Make sure your passport is up to date. If you don’t have one, there’s time. Most of you will be making your own flight plans, which may include frequent flyer miles, of course. The most common route from the states is to fly to Los Angeles on one of the major carriers including, Delta, and from Los Angeles to Bangkok. After a short layover there fly Thai Air to Kathmandu in Nepal. Whatever your flight plan, you must be in Kathmandu by Sept. 17, meaning a departure from the states on Sept. 15. Please note that our lodging reservations in the hotels assume double occupancy. Arrangements can be made for singles; and we can also link up singles who might prefer a roommate.

Each Day A Discovery in the Himalayas

Day 1. Arrive Kathmandu and transfer to Hotel Shangri La.

Day 2. A fascinating half day of sight-seeing in Kathmandu.

Day 3. Drive to Pokhara for an afternoon of sight seeing and visit to the Mountain Museum. Overnight at Hotel Barahi.

Day 4. Fly to Jomsom by early morning flight. You have all day to get acquainted with this historic linkage with both Tibet and China. Overnight in Jomsom.

Day 5. Tenzings trek or ride to Marpha and join the Marco Polos in their trek to Marpha.

Day 6. Tenzings hike to Yak Kharka with its splendid views, or some join the Marco Polos to visit the Chirok Tibetan refugee camp. Overnight in Marpha.

Day 7. Tenzings trek (or their friends ride) to Kagbeni, the ancient and always fascinating gateway to the once forbidden city of Mustang and Tibet. Here you might see huge Lammergeyer eagles with wingspans 12 feet wide. The Marko Polos trek to Yak Kharka and back with shifting views of the H imalayan landscape.

Day 8. The Tenzings trek to the monastery of Muktinath, pausing at Jakart , the site of a fortress out of the Middle Ages.. Those riding join them in Muktinath. The Marko Polos trek to Kalopani, on a fascinating caravan route in the heart of the Ghadaki gorge.

Day 9. The Tenzings enjoy a day of rest and relaxation after visiting the fountains and blue flame of the historic monastery. The Marco Polos day hike to Nupsang Karka via Kokrethanti to view the Dhauligiri icefall. Overnight at Larjung.

Day 10. The Tenzings joyously begin the downword trek with its striking views of the Himalayan mountainscape. Then overnight in Lupra ,The Marco Polos visit the Guru Rimpoche’s Cave and then hike to Tukuche.

Day 11. The whole group reunited treks comfortably back to Jomsom to celebrate their times in the Himalayas and the friendships that grew there.

Day 12. We fly from Jomsom to Pokhora for one last view of the Annapurna Range and Machupuchare, then drive back on the now familiar road to Kathmandu for our farewell dinner as guests of Mountain Legends.

Day 13-14. Overnight at the Shangri La and a leisurely breakfast in the dining room to share our memories. Then ride to the airport, say good bye to Nepal and our new friends, and board the early afternoon flight to Bangkok to begin our return to America, from a time and land to remember.
Namaste, from us to you.

Jim Klobuchar