Samjhana Khanal, a New York mom and Nepal native, took her children to her home country for their first trek last December. Many of the amazing places they visited lie in rubble following last weekend’s devastating earthquake. Read about this family's experiences, and follow the links at the end to donate to agencies aiding the rescue effort. Our hearts are with the Nepalese people, the victims, their families, and the first responders.
Nepal, we all know, is far-away land in the Himalayas. Trekking sounds amazing—but with children? That is the first question everyone asks when they hear about my trip last December. Although I was born in Nepal, I didn’t have the opportunity to go trekking when I lived there. My family moved to Colorado when I was young, and I settled with the Rockies and hiking trails across metro Denver. I finally had the opportunity to do my first trek in Nepal while I was in college. My friends and I did a 12-day trek around the Annapurna range, slept in basic teahouses and carried our own backpacks, but we had the best time together. At the end of my trek, I made a promise to myself to come back with my own family to show them what lies beneath the majestic Himalayas and in hearts of the Nepali people. I had a chance to make the epic trip last December with my two daughters, age 5 and 8, and my good friend and her 5 children! My friend had done a 13-day trek in the Everest region with her family when she was only 10 years old, and we were excited to show our children what we had experienced in our past trips.
After spending few days sightseeing in Kathmandu to get over jet lag, we drove six hours to the trekking base, the picturesque lakeside city of Pokhara. There are many trekking routes you can choose in the Annapurna region, ranging from two days to three weeks. Since this was a first trekking trip for our children, we chose a two night, three day Dhampus trek. We were fortunate to have our trip organized by Lucky Chhetri, founder of the women-led trekking company 3Sisters. A well-known social entrepreneur, Lucky is also a pioneer in Nepal's women-led trekking industry. She suggested that we have three helpers to carry our bags, and a guide to lead us through the trekking paths. We met our crew for a briefing in the morning at the hotel.
Our guide Shanti, one of the first few women to summit Mt. Annapurna, greeted us with Namaste. Our children were full of excitement to experience what they had heard from their moms and immediately bonded with Shanti and her colleagues. Our first day of trekking took us through villages and rice paddies. After trekking for four hours with frequent snacks and tea stops, we made it to our base for the night in the lovely village of Astham. Our teahouse was right on top of the hill, giving us panoramic mountain views. The children were quick to make friends with local kids and struck up a game of hide and seek.
After a night stop, we started our second day trek to the Gurung village Dhampus. Our children led the hike with the 3Sisters team, singing and learning about local floras. They met many school children in the morning, sharing Namastes and handshakes, and went through various villages, as well as barns with goats and buffaloes. We picked up the pace in the afternoon and made it to our night stop Dhampus within four hours. Our children mastered the trails, and their speed was hard to match for us adults! When my five-year-old showed signs of fatigue, one of the guides carried her.
When we checked in to our guest house, we were all awed by the magnificent view of three big peaks: Annapurna South, Machapuchre, and Himchuli. We woke up with the rays of Himalayan sun peeking through our windows and a fresh breath of mountain air. We were very lucky have one of the best sunrises of the century! It had rained at night, which cleared up the clouds, giving us magnificent 360 degrees of the Annapurna range.
Our last day of trekking was to the Australian Camp. After three hours walking through the unbeaten paths, we reached our lunch spot with a spectacular view of the Himalayan range. The final stretch was a two-hour descent down to meet our ride back to Pokhara.
This was one of the best trips I have had, especially sharing with my children. Bringing our children to share the journey was very educational. They not only mastered the trails, but they also learned about the people and the lifestyle of a village in Nepal. We are already talking about returning for the next, even longer, trekking adventure.
- 3Sisters can help you customize your trek catered to your needs. You can go from two days to a three weeks trekking around Annapurna region. All accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara plus transportation in private vans was organized by Deerwalk Tours.
- Bring lots of layers. It's sunny during the day, but nights are very chilly and teahouses do not have central heating. Long underwear, light down jackets/sweaters, hats and gloves are necessities.
- Bring snacks for the kids: energy bars, nuts, dried fruits, trail mix. To keep the kids busy in between meals, bring card games, books and kindles.
- In Kathmandu and Pokhara, you can find Nepal cuisines as well as food from around the globe.
- Spend two - three days in Kathmandu to kick the jet lag. There are plenty of things to do and see in the city. Do not miss Swayambhunath (Monkey temple), Patan Durbar Square, and Kathmandu Durbar Square, especially to peek on Kumari, a living goddess, and Boudhanath.
- After the trek, spend few days in Pokhara to relax and rejuvenate in a quiet lakeside hotel. There will be plenty of sights to see, or just stroll around the city
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