Inntravel introduces a Nepal not mentioned in Guide Books

Way off the Tourist Trail

While tourism is by no means a new concept in Nepal, visitors are principally drawn to Kathmandu and the iconic peaks of the Himalayas, neglecting the rest of the country. However, thanks to Inntravel’s new walking holiday in Nepal, which has been created in conjunction with community tourism pioneers Village Ways, there is now another side of Nepal to discover. Launching this month (March 2014) in a region not featured in guide books, is their holiday among the mountain communities of the mystical Sailung Valley. Inntravel’s privately guided, non-group, village to village walking in the so-called mid-hills of the Nepalese Himalaya is very different to trekking and it’s a world away from the Base Camp tourist trail.

With thrilling, but accessible mountain walking, visitors gain privileged access to the customs, traditions and lifestyle of this most welcoming of people. Beneath an ever-present backdrop of the world’s highest and most spectacular mountains, visitors journey back in time to traditional villages scattered across steeply terraced hillsides, where the people live a simple but productive agrarian way of life. A huge variety of crops is grown, including millet, rice, sugar cane, vegetables, herbs, spices and filingee, a yellow-flowering plant used to make cooking oil. With little mechanisation, there is hardly any noise – just men encouraging their yaks in the fields, women chatting as they tend their crops, and children laughing as they play. Here, old customs and traditions prevail and visitors are greeted, as honoured guests, often by an overwhelming number of smiling villagers.

As bags are transported ahead, walkers are accommodated in authentic guesthouses (not home-stays) built, managed and run by the communities – a result of this pioneering village tourism enterprise. On average the walks take between 4-5 hours each day, arriving at a destination in time for lunch, with the afternoon spent relaxing and exploring surroundings. In all three villages, expect meals of delicious, locally-grown food – delicately spiced dishes with rice, daal and the local speciality of buffalo cheese (Nepalese food is not hotly spiced). For a special experience, one night is spent at 2,950 metres in a camp of safari-style tents that are comfortable and sufficiently robust for the mountain conditions.

From the camp, Inntravel recommends climbing to the peak of Sailung to see the sunset. This mountain has been a mystical place of holy significance for both Hindus and Buddhists from Nepal for centuries. It’s a 30-minute walk each way on a path that passes through the natural rock Tiger Gate before reaching the summit, where stone shrines are bedecked with fluttering prayer flags. There, enjoy a 360-degree uninterrupted panorama of rolling hills leading north to the high Himalayan peaks – including the giants, Nuptse and Lhotse – and stretching as far as the eye can see south to the Indian border. Simply breathtaking.

Details

Himalayan Panoramas from £1,860pp based on two sharing including return fights London to Kathmandu via Delhi, 10 nights’ B&B (a rural hotel, 3 village guesthouses, 1 tented camp and one hotel in Kathmandu), 7 lunches, 7 dinners, own local walking guide, car and driver in Kathmandu, and all transfers. Available from now until 15 June, and from 1 October-15 November 2014.

For more information go to www.inntravel.co.uk or call 01653 617000

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