|A FORGOTTEN REGION OF NEPAL|
|It is 30 degrees when the plane lands in the Terai region, in the south of Nepal. However, our down jackets are already in our backpacks. The bright green of the rice plantations contrasts with the blue of the sky. Long hours of driving on a winding road follow, contemplating the rice and tea cultures of the famous Ilam region. The contrasts are striking. Each kilometer reserves its batch of surprises: Children on the side of the road walking to school; a goat crossing the street; a woman cleaning utensils for the next meal; a man with a hood of freshly cut grass. Each detail captivates our eyes.|
Finally, we put our backpacks on. We are overwhelmed by a feeling of freedom at the thought that we will not see any vehicles or other motorized means for the next two weeks. Before reaching the high peaks of the Himalayas, the path goes through luxuriant and humid vegetation. The leeches watch and tame us. Once out of the jungle, we gently recover our spirits. The first snowy summits attract our attention. The altitude increases; the silence of the horizon covers the rhythm of our steps. As the days go by, we discover small authentic villages with simple but welcoming wooden houses. The colored prayer flags above each dwelling brighten the greyness of the first days in altitude. We finally see some yaks. These powerful but shy animals, native to the Himalayan highlands, graze peacefully in freedom on the slopes of the surrounding mountains. We are disconnected from the rest of the world. The daylight and morning crowing roaster punctuate our day in each village. The women in their traditional costumes are busy at the family home at dawn preparing delicious Tibetan bread rolls.
Each day brings its share of discoveries. We sleep for the majority of the nights in small lodges in the heart of the family home. The meals are delicious, each time composed of fresh vegetables until 4700 meters of altitude! The population of the Kanchenjunga region is heartful. And yet, the harshness of their daily life does not spare them. They have to collect wood for the cold winter days to come; take care of the animals, such as goats, cows, yaks, chickens; wash dishes, and do laundry with cold water coming directly from the streams of the mountain. Slowly, we take altitude and leave behind us the last villages for small mountain pastures.
The landscape is breathtaking. The atmosphere that emerges from these virgin Himalayan highlands is fascinating. In the changing colors of the autumnal vegetation at more than 4000 meters of altitude, the high vertical walls of the snowy summits bring a seizing contrast. We cross above 4900 meters, where we distinguish herds of Himalayan chamois grazing peacefully. We sleep in tents by starlight. Until that day, when we leave in the morning coolness at 4700 meters and get suddenly closer to the third-highest summit of the world: the Kanchenjunga, 8586M. We are at the Base Camp at nearly 5200 meters, facing this immense and impressive massif at the border between Nepal and India (Sikkim). Around us, the silence is sometimes interrupted by a serac fall. The pureness of the Himalayan sky outlines the whiteness of the eternal snows. Despite the high altitude, the temperature is pleasant. We are the witness of a unique moment that will remain forever engraved in our minds.
Long hours of walking, along with our WILD YAK Team. Hard days but a great team spirit. A region isolated from the rest of the tourist flow. A fascinating discovery. Disconnected from our daily lives, the energy assimilated during our days in an authentic, exciting environment and among a population that does not care about this materialistic obsession but offers us so much caring is priceless. There is simply no room for the artificial. The genuine human being is in perfect harmony with nature. What an extraordinary privilege!
Our Kanchenjunga WILD YAK Trek helps support the economy of this Himalayan population living in the foothills of the border with Tibet. As the trade route with Tibet has been closed for almost two years due to the global pandemic, the supply from lower altitudes is complicated. Consequently, these villagers remain for many months isolated from the rest of the world in simple self-sufficiency. The superfluous is not part of their vocabulary. Generosity and humility are integral parts of the Sherpa people who originated from Tibet.
For more information: Kanchenjunga Trek