Kayaking the Seti River

I went on a three-day-long river-kayaking trip through Paddle Nepal down the Seti River outside of Pokhara. Because the schedule of the standard four daylong beginners clinic did not work for us, my friend and I made our own custom trip through the company where we stayed at one campsite the whole time and then drove up and down the river each day depending on which length of the river we wanted to do.

Although the company recommends doing one of the trips, we really enjoyed having the flexibility to choose our own schedule each day and adjust our itinerary depending on what we wanted to learn. We also had two guides for just the two of us, who were both wonderful and always made sure that we felt safe and were having fun.

All the company members at the campsite were courteous and helpful. We enjoyed being the only two customers at the campsite. We learned how to roll our kayaks and other forms of rescue on the first day and for the second two days, we went down the river. Luckily neither of us flipped, but we had a lot of fun racing down the rapids and talking with our guides during the scenic portions of the river.

For more information about kayaking and rafting in Nepal visit the iTrekNepal website


Kathmandu or Bhaktapur?

Since I arrived in Nepal, when I am not out adventuring or on treks, I have lived in Bhaktapur, which is located right outside Kathmandu. I have loved living here because of the access to great hiking paths, hidden valleys, and temples, and it is away from most of the noise and pollution.

But after visiting the main tourist area in Kathmandu (Thamel) a few times, I can see the advantages and disadvantages of staying in both places. If I were only in the Kathmandu Valley for a couple of days before and after going on a trek I would probably decide to stay in Thamel because it is the most happening spot, an easy place to meet other travelers, and if you were to look in a guide book it would probably be the recommended place to stay.

It is a difficult decision though because, in my experience, it is not a very authentic picture of what Nepal is like and the people who live here.

Before going to Thamel, other than on my way to Everest Base Camp, I had seen very few white people. I had just assumed that Kathmandu did not have that many tourists until I walked around Thamel and realized that all the tourists just congregated in one area.

The streets of Thamel are crowded with stores, people trying to sell you things, and white tourists with dreadlocks; at night there are a lot of bars and tourists out having a good time. Whether this is your scene or not is up to you. I am happy living outside of the city, and being able to go visit with reasonable ease.

My one major recommendation is that if you do decide to stay in Thamel remember that there is a world outside of those busy streets, and go and explore other parts of the Kathmandu Valley. Definitely take the time to see the beautiful city of Bhaktapur, and the temples in the valley, and check out Gundu Valley or the other mountain and valley villages outside of Kathmandu.

An easy way to do this is to rent scooters if you feel comfortable, or just take the public buses and walk. It is definitely worth it because these villages are truly something magical. The people living in them are genuine and happy to see tourists because it is uncommon.

They will invite you into their homes, let you pet their animals, practice their English with you, walk with you for a while, offer you food, tell you their names, yell and wave to you from windows, and give you the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. This kind of exchange is not possible in Thamel. So, no matter where you stay, see if you can catch a glimpse of both parts of the Kathmandu Valley.


Nepal Featured in National Geographic Top Ten

Two out of National Geographic’s Top Ten Climbs are located in Nepal, which makes Nepal a perfect destination for any trekking enthusiast.

Annapurna, Nepal
In terms of sheer geological and cultural diversity, a trek to Nepal’s Annapurna region is unbeatable. By circumnavigating the giant Himalaya, you’ll see everything from lush bamboo forests to arid high mountain landscapes. Most visitors here climb over the famous Thorung La (17,599 feet; 5,368 meters). The hike into this glorious mountain pass rewards one with spectacular blazes of orange as the sun rises, casting the white Himalayan peaks in a fiery glow.

Mount Everest, Nepal

Rising 29,035 feet (8,856 meters) above sea level, Everest is the highest mountain on Earth. For decades, reaching the top of this giant has been considered one of the greatest mountaineering achievements. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay accomplished this feat in 1953 when they approached the peak along the South Col route. Since then, more than 2,000 others have made ascents through South Col. It is, by far, the most successfully climbed route on the mountain.


Bisket Jatra (Nepali New Year) is just around the corner!

Here is some information regarding this festive New Year celebration in Bhaktapur on April 14th:

Bisket Jatra is the annual celebration of two of the most important deities of the town of Bhaktapur, the wrathful god Bhairab and the goddess Bhadrakali.

Bisket Jatra heralds the start of the Nepali New Year and is celebrated with the most intensity in Bhaktapur. In one of the most exciting annual events in the Kathmandu valley, a huge chariot carrying images of the god Bhairab is hauled by dozens of young men to Khalna Tole.

Biska Jatra
Biska Jatra

The creaking and swaying chariot lumbers around town, pausing for a huge tug of war-between the eastern and western sides of town. The chariot also rests at certain time-honored places in the city and people come out to throw offerings of flowers, rice, coins, and red sindur powder.

After the battle, the chariots head to Khalna Tole, where a huge 25m-high lingam (phallic symbol) is erected in the stone yoni (female genital symbol) base.

In the evening of the following day (New Year’s Day), the pole is pulled down by contesting terms of men, a moment of danger and excitement and an often-violent tug-of-war. As the pole crashes to the ground, the New Year officially commences.

Long banners hang from the pole, symbolizing the conquered in a mythological battle. On New Year’s Day, contesting terms of men pull the pole to the ground, a moment of danger and excitement.


Visa Process in the Kathmandu, Nepal Airport

I got my tourist visa upon arrival at Kathmandu airport. I accidentally did not bring enough cash with me, which made the process a lot more difficult. Remember all the necessary materials! If you want to make the process even more convenient you can also mail in the visa application to the Nepal Embassy before leaving and have it made. Although it was not very difficult to get the visa upon arrival, it would make it even quicker to get through the airport.

Here is what you need upon arrival to get a visa successfully:

-A passport photo: I would bring at least four passport photos before arriving in Kathmandu because you seem to need a passport photo for everything here. Including trekking passes and passes to get into Bhaktapur. So although you only need one for your visa it is good to bring some extras.

-Cash: 15-day tourist visa is 25 USD, a 30-day tourist visa is 40 USD and a 90-day visa is 100 USD: It can also be paid in euros, but not in rupees. The nearest ATM is outside the airport so it was really hard to find and the airport is so hectic that it made it a way longer journey than it should have been. Bring cash with you!

-Visa Application Form: Print and fill out this form before landing in Kathmandu. Here is a link to the pdf: http://www.nepalembassyusa.org/resources/visa_application_form.pdf

-Passport: of course!

-Immigration form: On the airplane, they will hand out an immigration form and it is necessary to fill out the visitors’ section as part of your visa application.

If you have all of these materials you should be all set! Have a great trip.


River Rafting Expedition

Rafting down the Bhote Kosi River was an adventure, to say the least. The Borderlands Company took twelve travelers including Andy, the two trekkers I went to Everest Base Camp with, and me. Out of the four of us, Andy and I were the ones who did not fall off the boat during the rapids. Both of them, on separate occasions, managed to fall backward off the boat into the water. Luckily, neither of them was hurt so it ended up making for a good laugh and lots of jokes.

The first day was the easier of the two days and the river had at the highest class three rapids, so it seemed more like a scenic tour of the riverside villages than an epic adventure. After the first day down the river, we headed to the Borderlands Resort, which was very charming. We stayed in luxury safari-style tents, which were large and had comfy beds and blankets. The dining area was probably my favorite part of the resort; with low tables, large pillows to sit on, a bar area, paintings on the walls, and lots of space it was a perfect place to hang out and get to know our fellow rafters after many hours in the sun.

The next day we headed back to the river, but this time instead of a scenic day it was one rapid to next. The other boat completely capsized. Luckily, we managed to stay afloat the whole time, although we probably got stuck on rocks over 10 times. At times, it may have felt like we were paddling more for our lives than for fun, but it made for a great adventure and a full day of madness. All three of us, completely exhausted, fell asleep on the bus on the way back to Bhaktapur.



Making it to Everest Base Camp

I am surprised to be writing this, but my favorite part of the trek to Everest Base Camp was not seeing Everest itself. I went on the trek expecting this to be the most monumental part, but there were so many other parts of the trek that I loved equally. First off, just being in such close proximity to the Himalayas was magical. It would spark a sense of adventure in anyone. I have never seen anything so dramatic in my life. The sheer mass of these snow-covered peaks was really something special.

Another part of the trip that I loved was the friendliness and excitement of all the other trekkers and the two other travelers I was with. Everyone was heading towards the same goal and equally as excited about making it to Everest Base Camp. At all of the teahouses, we stayed at we ran into the same travelers and ended up making friends with some of the other groups from all over the world. We played cards with others and talked about our travels. Everything about it was so friendly and exciting. iTrek did a really fantastic job setting me up with two other travelers who were close to my age. The three of us got along fantastically and sharing the experience and becoming friends with them ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Making it to Everest Base Camp is something that I will definitely remember for the rest of my life. Being up in thin air created a challenge that I was not expecting and added a new element of difficulty. The views were incredible around every turn, friendly families ran the teahouses, the company was fantastic, our guide and porter were helpful and informative, and I was able to fulfill a dream of mine. It was truly an awesome experience for anyone with a love for the outdoors who is ready for a challenge.

For more information about trekking in the Everest region visit the iTrekNepal website


Flight from Kathmandu to Lukla

One of my favorite parts of going to Everest Base Camp was the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and back. I heard about the flight before I left because Lukla airport is rated the #1 most extreme airport in the world, but it actually ended up being quite a pleasant experience.

Although the Kathmandu domestic airport is probably the most disorganized place I have ever been in my life, our guide was able to sort everything out easily and we were soon transported to a small 20-person plane. I was lucky enough to grab one of the few seats on the side where I could see the view of the Himalayas. We took off smoothly and soon we were above Kathmandu and looking over the hills to the wall of the Himalayas in the distance. There was some minor turbulence and the plane seemed to sway with the wind. The one who seemed to be the most frightened by this was our guide Dill who grabbed the seat in front of him. We landed safely in Lukla, all three of us ready for our adventure and trek to Everest Base Camp.



Preparing for Everest Base Camp

I am heading to Everest Base Camp on the first departing flight from Kathmandu to Lukla bright and early tomorrow morning. I am so excited to finally see the mountain that I dreamed about climbing as a child and be right next to such a massive mountain range. In all of my travels, I have never seen something as monumental as the Himalayan mountain range. In order to prepare for my trek I went through iTrek’s extensive supply of equipment. Here are the main things on my packing list:

-Sleeping bag

-Fleece (hat, pants, gloves, pullover, neck warmer)… basically a body suit of fleece

-Sturdy hiking boots (mines are Keen hiking boots, which I wrote about earlier and highly recommend)

-crazy huge down/puffy jacket

-warm socks

-day pack


-rain poncho

-rain pants

-long underwear



-flashlight (headlamps are great if possible, so you can read or use the outdoor toilets with more convenience)

-filter water bottle (don’t want to get sick!)


-first aid kit (with medicine for altitude sickness, which can be a big concern at such extreme heights)

-toiletries, book, journal, cards, camera, iPod, phone… and whatever else you fancy!

And I’m ready to start my trek! (Many of these things are available to you through iTrek. For example the map, first aid kit, down jacket, filter water bottle, sleeping bag, and many other necessities. The main supplies you need to bring are hiking boots, headlamps, and a daypack). Mt. Everest, here I come.


Bhouddhinath Temple

I visited the Bhouddhinath Temple the day before Losar (Tibetan New Year). It was crowded with monks, tourists, and locals coming to enjoy this monumental Buddhist temple, with its white dome and gold pyramid top with two giant blue and red eyes.

Nick, Savannah, and I walked clockwise around the temple and then entered and made a second circle. The square was humming with the sounds of monks chanting, beating drums, and bells ringing in preparation for Losar. It was only a 40-minute journey by bus and definitely worth seeing!

monk at the premises of Bauddhanath temple
Monk at the premises of Bauddhanath temple
Bauddhanath Stupa
Bauddhanath Stupa


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