Nepali Times
Under My Hat
The joys of trekking


A trek is a highly recommended past-time, which is by definition a unique and rewarding mountain holiday in which you will come face to face with the real Nepal.

The word 'trek' is derived from the Afrikaan word 'trekken' which means: "Carry your body weight and a backpack weighing a ton up and down vertical mountainsides for 10 days, share sleeping quarters with yaks, while attending to calls of nature in the company of local people." Why we had to import a South African word for a completely indigenous invention of a form of torture, I have never figured out. But I suspect it is because the sheer agony of a trek must be similar to concentration camp conditions during the Boer War.

The whole philosophy of trekking is to get unsuspecting visitors like you to pay $40 a day for the masochistic pleasure of inflicting extreme hardship on yourself so that when you return home to your mundane materialistic existence it will seem like paradise. Here are some useful tips on the joys of hiking in Nepal and how to make your trek fulfilling for mind, body and sole:

Am I fit?
The main pre-requisite to trekking is that you should train yourself in the art of walking straight up and straight down like a gecko. Practice on a wall at home. One month before trek, stop using the lift. Climb 36 floors to your office every day, and use the stairs down. Now multiply this by 10, and you get a fairly good idea of the kind of workout you get on an average trekking day.

What should I eat?
Muesli. This dynamic cereal is what they give mules to eat for breakfast on the Mustang trail so their after-burners can kick in during the steepest inclines, adding critical thrust to propel them over Chuksang Pass in time for lunch. Important hint: According to Newton's Third Law of Thermodynamics, burping slows you down. (Monitoring cockpit instruments for proper bodily functions is an important part of a trekker's enroute task.)

Dal-bhat. There is no free lunch on a trek, and tea-shops along the trail have a wide variety of dal-bhat so you never get tired of Nepal's national dish: dal-bhat with alu, dal-bhat with mula, dal-bhat with banda, dal-bhat with bodi, dal-bhat with sag, or even dal-bhat with dal-bhat. If, like most people, you get hopelessly addicted to dal-bhat, you can even have freeze-dried dal-bhat packed in foil so you can partake of it in the comfort of your own home and relive nostalgic memories of your trek.

To level out a steep uphill there is nothing to beat the locally-brewed high-octane apple brandy. Pour a little of this into your tank just before a particularly steep bit of ukalo and watch yourself fly like the wind, leaving gasping fellow-trekkers in the valley below. (Statutory Govt Health Warning: Hangovers are a pain in the ass.)

Is it safe to drink the water?
The first rule of thumb is not to drink anything that doesn't have the mandatory hologram Seal of Approval of the Nepal Bureau of Standards ISO 90002. Adhering to this rule will mean that you will die of thirst on the first day of your trek, therefore exceptions are allowed in emergencies which means you can drink pure Himalayan spring water straight off the spout provided there are no yaks upstream attending to calls of nature. Management does not bear responsibility for any untoward incidents

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)