Kakani, a great day trip from Kathmandu

I recently took a group of customers to Kakani. They didn’t come to Nepal for trekking, but they wanted to see as much as possible. We decided to go to one of the most beautiful places I know for people who wish to do a short and easy hike.

Beautiful terraces

Kakani is a settlement in the Nuwakot district  of the Bagmati zone in central Nepal. It is one of the most accessible settlements from Kathmandu over 2000 meters. This hill station hosts a British Ghurkas welfare bungalow and is the home to a memorial park to the victims of Thai Airways International Flight 311.

Kakani is also very popular for its amazing panoramic mountain views of Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang Lirung and 20 other mountains over 6,000 meters above sea level. My customers really enjoyed the magnificent view over Kathmandu Valley.

You have so much to see there, you’d be surprised. Everybody spent some quiet time at the memorial park to honor the memory of those who died in the plane crash. Then my customers had the opportunity to talk to some strawberry farmers. Kakani is indeed famous for its strawberry farming. With the assistance of a United Nations  development programme project, a local farmers’ cooperative now produces close to 250 000 kg of the fruit per year.

Kakani is definitely my favorite one day trip for people who want to have fun, enjoy amazing views of the Himalaya Range et love strawberries!

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My trek in the Manaslu Valley

I just came back from a two week trekking adventure in the Manaslu Valley. This trek is one of the most pleasant trekking routes. The valley is located in the western part of Nepal and is also known as the Larkya Pass route (the highest point you pass on your journey – 5142 meters). My trekkers had the opportunity to see Mount Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world (8156 meters ). It is the highest peak in the Lamjung District and is located about forty miles east of Annapurna. Its name means “Mountain of the Spirit”, so I let you guess what we did when we saw it. We looked at it quietly and peacefully and felt very grateful we were able to be there. Its majesty made us feel very small!

Majestic Mt Manaslu

My trekkers also loved seeing the amazing Himalayan ranges.  The natural beauty of this trek will indeed amaze you. You can see some wild animals and wild birds there. I believe there are over 110 species of birds. I honestly have to tell you that I don’t know every single one of them! We unfortunately (or fortunately) did not see any snow leopards. Monks are trying to protect the wildlife there by putting a hunting ban in place.

We walked across a very interesting diversity of religions and cultures (strong continuing links to Tibet in the upper Buri Gandaki – called Nupri ‘the western mountains’ –  and the Tsum Valley). It is culturally fascinating. There are two ethnicities mainly inhabiting this region: Nubri and Tsum.  While Nubri has been frequently visited after Nepal opened itself for the tourism in 1950, Tsum, still retains much of its traditional culture, art, and tradition. In the central hills of the region, Gurungs are the main ethnic group who have joined the Gurkha army in large numbers. Closer to Tibet, the Bhutias, related to the Sherpa group and of Tibetan ethnicity dominate the scene. They are distinctly Buddhists. The region has a lot of monasteries that you can sometimes visit.  The faith of non-violence and compassion helps to increase the wildlife diversity of the region.

Getting closer to Mt Manaslu

Of course the trek is not only about history and culture, it is also about the physical challenge. Crossing a pass at more than 5000 meters is not an easy thing, but the progression of the trek allows you to have a perfect acclimatization. We hiked up in the mountains little by little every day, so our bodies were acclimatized. We made it across the Larkya La (“La” means “pass” in Nepali) without any problem! My trekkers were very happy and satisfied and we celebrated our success with an excellent dinner and some good laughs!

The way down was easy and beautiful. It is so difficult not to stop every minute to take pictures! The view is so breathtaking. My trekkers always tell me that hiking the Himalayas can be a challenge but at the end they all agree they would do it all again in a second.

So… See you soon in the Manaslu Valley!

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Etre guide dans l’Himalaya

La raison pour laquelle j’ai décidé de devenir guide est parce que j’aime mon pays, le Népal. J’aimerais que tous les randonneurs et les personnes qui aiment la nature en général apprennent à le connaitre. Cependant, personne ne devient guide immédiatement. Vous seriez en effet surpris de savoir qu’il y a un certain nombre d’étapes à franchir afin de devenir guide. J’ai commencé en tant que porteur, puis j’ai fait partie de l’équipe de cuisine et je suis devenu chef cuisinier. Les guides connaissent donc  toutes les “ficelles”. Cela vous donne plus de crédibilité avec vos collègues, mais aussi avec vos clients. Je pense que c’est rassurant pour tous de savoir que votre guide est fort physiquement et mentalement!

En tête de la cordée pour l'ascension du Rupina La

Etre “l’homme de la situation” est en effet très important. Respecter son équipe et travailler d’arrache-pied est le seul moyen pour un guide d’avoir la confiance de tous. Etre patient est également une clé de réussite. Je suis toujours patient avec mon équipe et mes clients.

En tant que guide, je me dois d’être très organisé. En effet, je ne suis pas seulement responsable pour mes clients, mais également pour mon équipe. Je peux être en charge de 30 personnes et plus, donc oui, être organisé est très important. Il en va de même pour mon aptitude à prendre des décisions rapides. Toutes sortes d’urgence, du mauvais temps aux blessures légères, demandent une réaction immédiate de ma part. Je n’ai pas la possibilité d’hésiter. Mais ne vous inquiétez pas, ce genre de situation n’arrive pas souvent!

Un autre élément essentiel pour un être un bon guide est d’avoir des connexions, aussi bien à Katmandou que sur les sentiers, au Népal ou au Tibet. J’ai réalisé qu’avoir des contacts un peu partout rend mon travail plus facile. Si l’on rencontre un changement de programme lors de la randonnée, par exemple si l’on finit plus tôt que prévu,  je peux réserver un hôtel en étant sur les sentiers. Pouvoir résoudre un problème lorsque l’on est dans les montagnes en appelant mes contacts est incroyable et rassurant!

J'aime rencontrer les gens et apprendre à les connaitre

Ce que j’aime aussi dans mon travail est que je rencontre un grand nombre de personnes. J’aime écouter les histoires de mes clients, apprendre à les connaitre et je suis même ami avec la plupart d’entre eux.  J’aime également parler de ma vie, de mon pays et de son histoire. Connaitre les sentiers n’est pas la seule chose qu’un guide a besoin de connaitre. Un bon guide doit aussi pouvoir parler de son pays et son histoire. J’aime beaucoup l’histoire et c’est donc très intéressant quand mes clients me posent des questions! Bien sûr, mes montagnes, l’Himalaya et la nature n’ont pas de secrets pour moi. Il en va de même pour le nom des fleurs que l’on rencontre sur les sentiers, ou le nom des arbres, ou encore les différentes sortes de climats. Je sais également reconnaitre les plantes toxiques, même si l’on en rencontre peu sur les sentiers!

J’espère que j’apporte beaucoup à mes clients et qu’ils connaissent mieux le Népal quand ils rentrent chez eux. Le Népal est un petit pays, mais un grand pays quand il s’agit de la nature. Je suis très fier d’être Népalais. Les gens ici travaillent très dur et nous sommes toujours heureux de rencontrer les randonneurs. Mon but est que ces derniers voient, comprennent et profitent du Népal autant que possible.

J’essaie toujours d’établir un contact avec mes clients avant la randonnée, surtout si c’est la première fois qu’ils viennent. De cette façon, je peux leur dire comment se préparer pour leur aventure à venir: il est toujours bon de s’entrainer (marcher, courir) afin de muscler ses jambes! Parler avec des gens de différentes nationalités et différents langages me permet aussi d’améliorer mon anglais et mon français. Bien entendu, c’est toujours un plus pour un guide de connaitre un peu d’allemand ou de japonais, ou d’autres langues en général!

Comme vous avez déjà pu le deviner, j’adore mon travail. L’industrie du tourisme est la branche d’activité qui me correspond. Je ne me vois pas faire autre chose. Je respecte et j’aime mes clients. J’aime la nature et mon pays.

Je suis guide dans l’Himalaya et fier de l’être.

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What does it mean to be a Himalayan guide?

The reason why I decided to become a guide is because I love my country, Nepal.  I really want to introduce it to the trekkers and to anyone who loves natural beauty. However, no one becomes a guide immediately. People may be surprised to know there is a whole process/organization you need to go through before becoming a team leader. I started as a porter, then I was part of the kitchen staff, then an assistant cook and finally a cook. The Nepali way guarantees that every guide knows all of the jobs very well. You have more credibility with your team, but also with your customers. They know you are strong physically and mentally and it is reassuring, I believe.

Breaking the trail for my customers over a pass

Being a strong team leader is indeed a very important requirement. You need to respect your team and to work hard. This is the only way your coworkers will respect you and trust your leadership. Patience is also very important. If your are patient, you will make everything work. It is one of the keys for success.

Another important thing for a guide is a good organization. You definitely need to be very well organized. You are not only managing your customers/trekkers, but also your team. You can easily be managing 30 people or more, so organization matters a lot if you want to be successful! The same rule goes for being able to make quick decisions. Any kind of emergency, from unexpected bad weather to minor injuries, can require me to make quick decisions. I don’t have the luxury of hesitation. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t happen very often!

Talking with a local woman

I love meeting people on the trail

The fact that I have a lot of contacts everywhere in Nepal, in Kathmandu (in hotels, airport…) and on the trails, also makes my job easier. I realized a long time ago that having a lot of connections would help in my job. If there is a change in the trekking schedule, like finishing the trek earlier, I am actually able to make a reservation at a hotel in Kathmandu from the trail. So, yes, having such a network is a big part of my success. Being able to solve any problems while in the mountains just by calling people (with my cell phone or satellite phone) is just incredible!

It is easy for me to make friends and keep in touch because I love meeting people. I love to listen to customers and their stories, get to know who they are and I love to tell them about my life, my country and its history. Knowing the trails is not the only thing you need to know to be a good guide. It is very important to be able to explain about your country and its people. I love history so it is very interesting for me when people ask questions! I also know a lot about nature and the Himalayas, my mountains. Of course, as a guide, you also need to know the names of the flowers you see on the trail, the names of the trees, the different kind of climates you meet during a single trek. And knowing poisonous plants is very important, even though we don’t meet a lot of them on the trails, fortunately!

I really hope I bring a lot to my customers, hoping they know Nepal more when they leave. Nepal is very small, but very big when it is about nature. I am very proud of my country. People here work very hard and we are always happy to meet the trekkers. I want my customers to see, understand and enjoy my country as much as possible.

I always try to get in touch with my customers before they come to Nepal, especially if they come for the first time. That way, I can tell them about what they can do before the trek: it is definitely better to hike before coming here so your legs will be stronger. Training is always good anyway! Is it also an opportunity for me to practice English and French. Of course if you know a little German, Japanese or other languages, it is even better!!!

As you probably assumed, I really love my job! I think the tourism industry is the best choice for me. I don’t picture myself doing anything else. I respect and love my customers. I love the Himalayan nature and my country.

I am a guide and I love it.

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Ma randonnée préférée au Népal

Sans aucun doute, ma randonnée préférée au Népal est celle du Pike Peak, qui se situe dans la région du Solu.

On trouve deux zones principales de randonnée dans la région de l’Everest, le Solu et le Khumbu. Le Solu est moins populaire que le Khumbu. Ce dernier est un des circuits de randonnée le plus populaire au monde. Le Solu, quant à lui, est non seulement moins touristique, mais également unique par le nombre restreint de sentiers qui mènent aux fameux Sherpa et leur culture. Cette région se situe à la base du Numbur Himal.

J’aime beaucoup cette randonnée – déjà faite cinq fois – car cela me donne l’opportunité de retourner dans mon village, Basa! On rencontre différentes cultures, différentes sortes d’oiseaux sauvages, différentes sortes d’arbres et de fleurs, surtout au printemps. Le paysage est impressionnant et l’on peut voir le Mont Everest et la grande chaine de l’Himalaya. C’est là que l’on se rend compte à quel point ces montagnes sont majestueuses. C’est tout simplement magnifique et à vous couper le souffle. Vous ne serez plus jamais le même après cette expérience.

Cette randonnée peut être réalisée en 15 jours. J’aime plannifier un jour de repos à Basa. C’est une opportunité pour moi de vous montrer la nature environnante et c’est une opportunité pour vous de voir comment les gens de mon village vivent au jour le jour. Les meilleurs moments de l’année pour randonner au Népal sont le printemps et l’automne. La saison des moussons est à éviter.

Voici une liste non exhaustive des villages que l’on peut traverser lors de cette randonnée: Jiri, Siwalaya, Dewrali, Bhandar, Chaulakharka, Taktor, Junbesi, Rigmo Taksindo, Nunthala, Basa, Sarima, Mulkharka et Phaplu. Phaplu est la ville où se situe l’aéroport que l’on utilise pour rentrer à Katmandou.

Cette randonnée n’est pas difficile. Il faut juste savoir que, comme partout dans l’Himalaya, le terrain est assez pentu, aussi bien en montée qu’en descente. Nous ne connaissons pas vraiment la definition du mot “plat”!

Ce que je préfère par dessus tout est que l’on peut voir le Mont Everest lorsque l’on est au sommet du Pike Peak. Non seulement vous réussissez une belle ascension à 4065 mètres, mais en plus vous recevez l’ultime récompense: voir le plus haut sommet du monde!

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My favorite trek in Nepal

Without a doubt, my favorite trek in Nepal is Pike Peak (prounced ‘Pi-kay’), located in the Solu Region.  

There are two main trekking areas in the Everest area, Solu and Khumbu.  Solu is less traveled than Khumbu and that makes it less spoiled by tourism.  Khumbu, on the other hand, is one of the busiest trekking routes in the world. Solu is even more special because there are few trekking routes where you can enjoy the culture of the Sherpa people. This area is below the Numbur Himal.

I love this trek because it goes through my village, Basa (in the lower center of the map). I have done it five times already! You can see different cultures, different kinds of wild birds, many types of trees and flowers during Spring. The landscape is impressive and you can see Mount Everest and many more Himalayan ranges. You then realize how majestic these mountains are. It is amazing and breathtaking.  You’ll never be the same after seeing this.

This is a 15 day trek. I like to have one “rest day” in Basa because it is an opportunity for me to show you a lot of natural things like vegetation and you can witness how people live in their daily life. The best seasons for trekking are Spring and Fall. You definitely want to avoid the monsoon season.

Here are some villages you go through during the trek: Jiri, Siwalaya, Dewrali, Bhandar, Chaulakharka, Taktor, Junbesi, Rigmo Taksindo, Nunthala, Basa, Sarima, Mulkharka, and Phaplu.  Phaplu is the airport that is used to fly back to Kathmandu.

This trek is not a difficult one, but you need to know that, like anywhere in the Himalayas you will have to walk up hill and down hill. We don’t really know what “flat” means!

What I like the most is that you can see Mount Everest from Pike Peak. So not only you achieve something by summiting a 4065 meter peak, but you get an awesome reward: seeing the top of the world!


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Hello from Basa, Nepal

A recent trek over the Rupina La (Pass)

Welcome to my blog. I am Buddiraj Rai, a professional guide in the Himalayas of Tibet and Nepal. I’ve decided to start a blog because I know that people don’t know my country or the Himalayas as well as they could and I would like to change that.

Bienvenue sur mon blog. Je m’appelle Buddiraj Rai et je suis guide professionnel dans l’Himalaya, au Népal comme au Tibet. J’ai décidé de créer un blog car j’aimerais que mon pays et l’Himalaya soient mieux connus de tous.

I’m from the small village of Basa, Nepal located in the Arun Valley, which is part of the Solukhumbu District, home to the largest mountain on earth, Everest.

Je viens du village de Basa au Népal. Basa se situe dans la vallée de l’Arun, qui se situe elle-même dans le district du Solukhumbu, où s’érige la plus montagne du monde, Mont Everest.

I have chosen to call my blog “Natural Himalayas” because this is what I try very hard to give to my clients. I have been working in all aspects of trekking for fifteen years and I have been to many wonderful, natural places in both Tibet and Nepal. It is a wonderful profession for my personality and interests.

J’ai décidé d’appeler mon blog “Natural Himalayas” parce que c’est ce que j’essaie de donner à mes clients: la nature dans l’Himalaya. Je travaille dans l’industrie du “trekking” depuis quinze ans et je suis allé dans de magnifiques et naturelles contrées au Tibet et au Népal. Etre guide est une formidable profession qui correspond à ma personnalité et à mes centres d’intérêts.

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