Trekking routes in Nepal
Ram is a passionate trekking leader of Holy Mountain Treks. Working in the different trekking agencies he has co-founded his own company and leading several groups in the Himalayan regions including Annapurna, Manaslu, Langtang, and Everest. Today he tells us a little more about him and his experience as a trekking guide.
Shall I get your short introduction?
Myself Ramchandra Khatiwada, born and raised in Gorkha- a Himalayan district, Gandaki Province, Nepal. After the completion of my study School Leaving Certificate equivalent to class 10, I moved Kathmandu, the capital city for my higher studies.
As I was deeply passionate of traveling, I began my journey to the Himalayan sections of Nepal as a porter in 2012. Most of the people assume that after the graduation, must get the jobs and should settle; however I did the opposite one. I started to carry the heavy duffle bags of my guests to the Himalayan foothills. It is quite revolutionary decision for everyone. But I was dedicated and crystal clear towards my destination to be the trekking and tour leader directing the people in the different destinations of Nepal.
Carrying the duffle bags, I got to know about the trekking trails and destinations spending around a couple of years. Then I got the training of the trekking guide in 2014 and began my career as a trekking leader. Since the day, I have been work as a trekking guide leading the guests from the different world.
What was the first trip or the one you remember the most? Where did you visit? Who?
In 2009, I got opportunity to travel Pokhara, the heavenly shrine from our school. All the students from class 10 and a couple of teachers were in the group. Visiting Phewa Lake, boating in Begnas Lake, exploring Gupteswar Mahadev’s cave, Mahendra Cave, Bat Cave, and Bindawaseni Temple made our journey awesome which I remember vividly till the day.
How is your passion for traveling born? What types of trips do you like? Within your itinerary do you also like to visit Himalayas?
My maternal uncle and his family were already engaged in the tourism industry. They had run their own company and as I used to go visiting them, would talk about tourism and its merits. Then I gradually decided to march in this industry and explore oneself. After completing my intermediate level’s study, I began journeying in the mountain foothills as a porter. Obtaining the training of trekking guide, my career starts as a trekking leader.
I have visited most of the trekking destinations from low lands to the high Himalayas. Certain destinations as Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Manaslu and Upper Mustang are mostly visited Himalayan destinations in Nepal. Trekking in the Himalayas and exploring the new destinations gives me an immense pleasure. Therefore I prefer to create new itineraries for some Himalayan sections.
What motivated you to be a trekking leader? Who motivated you?
Trekking itself is a fascinating, adventures and enjoyable activity where one can explore both nature and culture of the diverse place and destinations. While visiting different places with family and friends, I got to know that traveling is a never tiring profession where I can interact the people from the entire world. My maternal uncle Mr. Parashu Ram Nepal and his wife Mrs. Indira Bhatta are my real motivators who guided in every steps to enter in this field.
What Changed did it bring in your life?
Even being born and raised in Nepal, I had only a little knowledge regarding the culture, history, ethnicity, religions and traditions of Nepal. When I started trekking and traveling, I got practical knowledge of all of them. Both learning and earning is possible in this profession.
Can you describe about Nepal in Short?
Nepal a federal republic, multiethnic, multilingual, multi-religious country, situates southern slopes of the Himalayan mountain ranges. A landlocked country is between China in the north and India in the east, west and south. It is a small country in Asia occupies only 0.03% of land in the planet and 0.3% in Asia. Its territory extends roughly 500 miles (800 kilometers) from east to west and 90 to 150 miles from north to south.
Politically it is divided in the 7 provinces, 77 districts and 753 local bodies. A multi religious Nepal has majority of Hindus around 81% of the total population. People celebrating Buddhism, Christianity, Muslims Jains and others are living here in peace and harmony together.
Nepal, a bucket list country in the world for touristic activities. Visitors can organize a plethora of activities from a day hikes to summiting world’s highest peak- Mt. Everest, city tours, jungle activities, safaris, and other adventures activities of paragliding, bungee jumping, rafting and many more.
Kathmandu is an incredibly diverse, antique city with amazing architecture, exquisite wood carvings and metal craft which showcase the skills of the artisans of 2nd century BC to 21st century. Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed in Kathmandu valley from time immemorial and the valley residents make little distinction as they worship in both Hindu and Buddhist shrines. It is surrounded by four major mountains: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Kathmandu Valley is part of three districts (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur), has the highest population density in the country, and is home to about a twelfth of Nepal’s population.
Popular as a city of temple one can find numerous temples and other religious shrines in every corner of the city. Pashupatinath; one of the most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Mahadev, Boudhnath Stupa; one of the largest stupas in the world, Swyambhunath; popularly known as monkey temple, Kathmandu Durbar Square; one of the royal palaces for several centuries surrounded by beautiful temples, antique monuments are some of the prime examples of the historical, religious and artistic shrines of the city.
Visitors can explore rest two cities viz. Lalitpur and Bhaktapur within a single day. The royal palace museums, centuries old temples and other wooden as well as metal carvings, diverse cultural and historic monuments can be witnessed throughout.
Which trekking region of Nepal have you trekked most? In which countries have you traveled as a guide? Only in Nepal?
I have trekked almost every trekking destination in Nepal. Amid all, I have trekked to Everest and Annapurna regions mostly. Most of our clients prefer to trek in those destinations and so do I. Apart from them, I also trek in Manaslu, Upper Mustang and Langtang region frequently. Although I have visited India and Tibet, I have trekked Nepal only as a trekking leader.
What are best trekking destinations in Nepal?
The base of the tallest ranked peaks of the worlds from the lowlands are the best trekking destinations. As 8 of the 14 tallest peaks of the world are here, I never hesitate to say there are hundreds of the trekking destinations in Nepal. Among them, Everest Base Camp, Gokyo Lakes k, Annapurna circuit and Base Camp, Dhaulagiri Circuit, Upper Mustang, Manaslu Circuit, Tilicho Lake, Gosaikunda, Lower and Upper Dolpo, Langtang Valley, Poonhill are mostly trekked destinations in Nepal.
Did the coronavirus pandemic affect your work, and how are you coping?
From the 25th of March 2020, Nepal went under strict lockdown following the regulations of World Health Organization (WHO) and it continued up to 8 months. Although all other sectors revived, tourism is still struggling to come in its original track.
Notwithstanding with this, it became opportunity to spend quality time with my family members.
After several years, I invest some months helping my parents in their works, sharing happiness and problems with them. Staying idle without any works is one of the biggest challenges. Hoping for the tourism to be revived and continue my works, I have been living in my village doing some agricultural activities.
What do you like most about your profession? And what less? Favorite moment of the flight?
Guiding is my profession and traveling is my passion. While guiding I visit diverse places where my profession fulfills passion as well. I meet new people in most of the trips, I explore new routes and destinations while trekking; these all make my profession awesome.
Flying Lukla, one of the most challenging airport of the world, for the first time was quite thrilling experience. Short runway, surrounded by giant mountains and snow-capped peaks and amazing sceneries was one of the favorite experience of the lifetime.
Do you read travel blogs? Which?
I have to know about different places and people of Nepal for my guiding profession. For that I have to go through different books, magazines and other online guidebooks. Mostly I read Lonely Planet, The Longest Way Home and Tripadvisor as a reference articles. Different blogs written in the website of agent companies are also useful.
What is a typical day like now that you don’t travel?
Apart from traveling I like to go swimming, cinema, theater, and get refreshed. I visit my friends who are involved in different professions and share our happiness and problems. If it is off season, I go to visit my parents and help them with their works in the agricultural lands.
Something you want to tell that I didn’t ask you?
Visiting Nepal is itself an amazing experience. Trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas is a lifetime experience. Spotting the first yellowish rays of the sun over the giant peaks from the different vantage points is spectacular.
Visiting national parks spotting rare species of animals and birds and animals is astounding. Trek passing diverse ethnic communities exploring their primitive way of living is amazing. As a trekking leader I welcome all of you to visit Nepal at least once in lifetime.