Katmandu, in Nepal, has long been the starting point of many a fabled and exhilarating adventure. The stuff of daring men and women who have pushed the boundaries of endeavour literally to the highest of heights. The finest mountaineers of every recent generation have in fact set off from the Nepalese capital to challenge the peaks, the glaciers and the ridges of the Himalayas with bravery and determination. Many have succeeded in their extreme hiking quests but more than just a few, unfortunately, have failed tragically and perished whilst trying. All however, in their own way proved how daring humanity’s collective stamina and resolve can be.
The biggest prize without doubt still remains the summit of Mount Everest that at a staggering 8,848m (29,000ft) is of course the highest natural peak above sea level in the world and has currently been reached by no fewer four thousand people (as of 2017).
With all of the above said, it seemed only right to me that in the name of “humanity and resolve” I should also be part of a little Himalayan mountain action. Thusly, I decided to make the Nepalese capital a must see stop of my motorcycle trip across Asia.
The Guest House
The guest house I lodged at in down town Katmandu had a regular procession of very fit mountain enthusiasts coming in one day and setting off the next. Annapurna, Ganesh Himal, Lang Tang, Everest Base Camp and more were names of desirable places I rapidly became aquainted to along with descriptions of lakes, forests, amazing landscapes, bright glaciers and crisp sparkling snow capped peaks to be found on route there or on location. A fantastic experience for most it seemed. However, scratching away at the surface and with the undeniable aid of a few beers, I also found out about weeks without a shower, altitude sickness, broken bones, lost camera equipment, poor food, lack of sleep, low temperatures and emergency helicopter evacuations. I made my mind up pretty quickly that my very own experience of the Himalayan marvels of Nepal would have none of this later nonsense to deal with.
I woke up at four o’clock on the day I had scheduled my Mount Everest approach. I checked my gear: my warm beenie, my gloves, my jacket, my hiking shoes, thick socks, all were in place. With my Go Pro camera locked and loaded, spare charged battery in pocket, I was ready for action and set off into the darkness.
The taxi was waiting for me at the guest house gate and silently drove me through the empty dusty streets of a sleepy Katmandu. The driver uttered not a word as all the way but wished me well as he knowingly dropped me off at the agreed destination where others were also gathering in silence.
Dawn was breaking, as I exited the bus next to the waiting ATR 72. I looked up at the sky, it was clear, it looked like a perfect day for flying without a doubt.
So, I think the images speak for themselves….
There is a daily “Himalaya flight” that routinely takes off from Katmandu International airport, reserved for those whom desire a more leisurely option to the hiking frenzy of this part of the world. It’s pretty much a sight seeing tour I have to admit. The flight cost me around $300 (US dollars) and I got a warm air conditioned cabin in the company of like minded adventurers.
I was in the air for just over an hour and from the comfort of my seat beheld some spectacular scenery. The glaciers, lakes, forests, peaks and ridges, were all there, just as described to me by my hiking buddies at the guest house. I can say I saw them too. However, I was served warm coffee by an attractive smiling hostess in the process and never once had to worry about taking a shower, twisting an ankle or a helicopter evacuation or worse.
I enjoyed it…seriously I did! ….and I’m pretty sure I even dozed off for a minute or so on the way back too!