Trekking in Nepal with USYAKS
By Ruth Higdon
USYAKS is sponsoring a trek to the Khumbu region of Nepal. We will visit the Sherpa yak herders that live in the region of Mount Everest and learn from the people who have worked with yaks for hundreds of years. The trip will launch in the first part of November and will promise to be an adventure of a lifetime. Trekkers can be any age but must be reasonably fit. You should allow about 20 days total including travel time. The trip will be led by Dr. Peter Hackett (who happens to be an expert in high altitude medicine and previously lived in the Khumbu) and Dr. Ruth Higdon who has traveled in this area many times.
Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu, check in to hotel; rest, walk about.
Days 2: Tour the markets and temples including Swamayabhu (monkey temple) and the Stupa at Bodnath. Kathmandu is a lovely, ancient, colorful and chaotic fusion of Buddhist and Hindu cultures. The Ason Bazaar is something to behold.
Day 3: Meet with yak scientists to learn about yak research and yak breeding and health issues in Nepal; finish sightseeing.
Day 4: Fly to Lukla 9317 ft. (2840 m) Landing in Lukla is an adventure. We will then start the trek into Sherpa country. The hike is along the Dudhkosi River and we will begin to see yak-cattle hybrids along the way. Everything enters this magical part of the world on the back of people or yaks. Camp on the way to Namche.
Days 5-6: Arrive in Namche Bazaar 11,286 ft. (3440 m) Namche is the capitol of the Khumbu. We will spend 2 days meeting yak herders, visiting the market and immersing ourselves in the Buddhist culture. We will do several short hikes in the area to acclimatize to the altitude,
and we will visit the government yak farm. You will know you are in the Himalaya now because of your first views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dahblam.
Days 7-13: We will trek around the Khumbu region visiting yak herders and beautiful villages and monasteries. We will learn how to saddle and load yaks, and learn about local animal husbandry practices and pasture management. We will visit weavers using yak hair for ropes, saddlebags and carpets, and hope to see knitters of fine yak wool. Our highest sleeping altitude will be Dingboche, at 14,470 ft., but day hikes may go higher. Our exact itinerary will depend on how everyone is acclimatizing, weather conditions, movement of yak herds, and opportunities that present themselves. Highlights will include the Thyangboche and Pangboche monasteries, the Hillary Hospital, the Himalayan Rescue Association clinic where Dr Hackett was the medical director many years ago, and interaction with the marvelous Sherpa people. We will stay in tea houses and keep warm by yak dung stoves. Great views of Everest and other Himalayan giants will be plentiful.
Days 14-16: We will make our way back to Namche, trek to Lukla and fly back to Kathmandu. Flights from Lukla are often delayed, and we will have an extra day in either Lukla or Kathmandu, depending on when we fly.
Days 16-17: Kathmandu
Day 18: Fly home
Day 1-3 Kathmandu Day 4 Phakding Day 5-6 Namche Day 7 Thami Day 8 Khumjung Day 9 Thyangboche Day 10 Pangboche Day 11, 12 Dingboche/Pheriche Day 13 Phorste Day 14 Namche Day 15 Lukla Day 16 Kathmandu Day 17 Kathmandu Day 18 Fly home