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I have grouped a few weeks together in the hopes of getting my updates caught up. In week 9, we finished up our time in India with a few days in Delhi, before heading to a new country for all of us: Nepal.
Nepal has been somewhere we have wanted to visit for decades and we were so excited to finally be getting there. Especially since our good friends from Australia would be joining us and we would become “10 Lost Together” for 3 weeks. The kids were super excited to have travel mates and we were all excited about reuniting after not seeing each other since we left Australia 9 months ago.
We did have to brief our kids on the fact that they were on a 3 week holiday while we were on a 3-month budget trip. We still had to maintain our budget while travelling together, which would mean we couldn’t always stay at the same hotels or have those fancy holiday drinks. They really got this and rarely complained!
We had a rough layout of what our time in Nepal would look like, but had intentionally kept it very flexible. The main part of the itinerary was a trek in the Everest region, but we also wanted to see some other parts of Nepal as well.
2 Quick Days in Delhi
I had assumed that we wouldn’t want to spend much time in India’s largest city, which is renowned for its traffic, poor air quality and scams. However, there is actually quite a lot of things to do in Delhi and in our two days we barely scratched the surface.
Getting to Delhi involved a 20-hour train journey from Jaisalmer. This was the longest train journey we have ever been on it, but the time passed surprisingly quickly. We even managed to order food delivered to us at one of the stops, a modern Indian version of Uber Eats! The kids consumed too much screen time, but we arrived in good spirits.
Delhi has many street children and it is heartbreaking as a mother to see kids so young all by themselves on the streets. We had heard about a charity, Salaam Balaak Trust, that helps street kids and they also offer city tours by former street kids. It is tours and activities like this that I love to find. We visited a first contact centre at the train station (where we had been scammed weeks earlier), wandered the nearby streets and heard about the life of a street kid, including our guide’s personal story. We felt very good supporting this important organization, instead of giving hand outs on the street. (min. donation 400 rupees/person)
With our limited time in Delhi, we chose a few other key things to do, which just so happened to be different places of religious worship. We were interested in Gurudwara Bangla Sahi temple, the largest Sikh temple in Delhi because of the large Sikh population in our community in Canada. Every day, the temple serves 10,000 free meals, called langar. It was an incredible peaceful and welcoming place to visit and we enjoyed learning more about the Sikh religion.
Next, we visited the beautiful Baha’i Lotus temple, a stunning building and a great opportunity to learn about another faith we weren’t very familiar with.
We wrapped up our time in Delhi with a visit to Akshardham Temple, which is a temple and religious complex about Swaminarayan. It was like a religious Disneyworld! We rode boats a la “It’s a Small World” to learn about Vedic life in India through 10,000 years and experienced a ride-like experience where we learned about the life of Swaminarayan. Lastly, we watched an incredible light and sound show in the evening. Entrance to the temple was free and you pay a minimal fee for the exhibitions (rides) and light show. It was absolutely massive and super impressive, although we did find it a bit strange.
Delhi was much more pleasant than I anticipated and we could have easily spent a few more days there. We didn’t find it that crowded or polluted and there are certainly lots of things to do.
The Tourist Ghetto of Kathmandu: Thamel
Visiting Nepal has been on the top of our bucket lists for so long and we were so excited to finally be there. It was a complete shock to land in Thamel, with thousands of other foreigners, Western food and hundreds of gear shops. We hadn’t planned to spend a week there, but we had another round of tummy woes, which gave us the excuse to slow down and recoup.
This last part of our trip was also different in that we would be travelling with friends. Our good friends and neighbours from Australia, would be meeting us in Nepal for 3 weeks. Before we left Australia, we had casually mentioned to them that they should join us in Nepal the following year and were delighted when they jumped on board. Our kids were good friends and we knew having friends would make the trekking much more enjoyable for the kids. So, for those 3 weeks, we became “10 Lost Together” even getting badges and hats made with our new logo?
We hadn’t booked anything in Nepal, but had decided on a rough idea of what we wanted to do. We planned to trek in the Everest region, visit the mountainside town of Pokhara and do a safari in the southern lowlands of Nepal.
We spent our time in Kathmandu, getting ourselves outfitted for our trekking. Down jackets, wool socks, trekking poles and more had to be purchased since we hadn’t brought much from Canada. Luckily, the district of Thamel has so many North Fake shops that you can get decent gear at cheap prices.
In addition to the shopping, we did see some of the cultural sights in Kathmandu. Unfortunately the 2015 earthquake had devastated the country and they are still in the process of attempting to rebuild. We visited Durbar Square in Kathmandu to see the historical temples. Most interesting for us was the house of the Kumari, Nepal’s child goddess that is selected as a child through a long list of required features.
We also visited the nearby heritage city of Bhaktapur and ascended to the Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple) for our first real introduction to prayer flags and prayer wheels. As someone who had dreamed of visiting Nepal for years, it was amazing to spin those wheels and see those colourful prayer flags.
Read our full post of our trek here.
Trekking in the Everest region involves a flight into Lukla in the Himalayas, said to be the world’s most dangerous airport due to its mountainous location and very short runway. Weather often prevents the small propeller planes from flying and so we waited nervously at the airport hoping that the rains would clear and allow our flight to go. We ended up spending the whole say at the airport as our flight kept getting delayed. However, in the late afternoon we were ecstatic when our flight number was called and we boarded the tiny flight for our flight to the mountains.
Flying through the white capped mountain range was surreal as was landing on Lukla’s tiny runway. We pulled out our down jackets to brace from the cold, met our guides and porters and headed to our teahouse. It was basic, cold and damp, but we were so excited to finally be there and ready to start our trek.
I will write a lot more about the 9 days we spent trekking, but needless to say it was incredible. We had never planned to go all the way to Everest Base Camp, although I was very tempted once we got on the trail. The kids did wonderful walking each day and received lots of positive feedback from fellow trekkers. April is the second most popular time to trek in Nepal (first being October when you are most likely to have clear skies). But, I loved being there in April because it is climbing season with summitters preparing for a May summit. Helicopters constantly buzzed overhead delivering goods, trains of yaks, donkeys and dzos bypassed us on the trail and we were treated to cherry blossoms and flowering trees.
The teahouses were cozy and I enjoyed the frequent meals of dal bhat in the common room with the fire going. Dal bhat is the food eaten by Nepalis most meals and consists of rice, a watery lentil soup/curry and some curried vegetables. It is a simple and filling meal, although the kids enjoyed eating pasta, potatoes and soup. We played cards, drank copious amount of tea and retreated to our pattern of going to bed by 8 pm and waking by 5 am.
It was hard work, but we didn’t really have any issues with altitude, although made sure to follow the proper altitude protocols. Miles did struggle with a stomach bug for most of the trek, but was still a very impressive 7 year old hiker. The kids made up games as they walked – naming all the dogs they encountered in the villages, planning the meals they would eat upon their return and finding all of the shortcuts on the trail. We spun prayer wheels as we walked, crossed player flag-clad suspension bridges and experienced all types of weather from rain to hail to snow to sunshine.
We made it to our goal: Dingboche at 4,400 m and were ecstatic. The terrain had changed from rhododendron forest to rock screes and we were surrounded by the world’s highest peaks. It took us 5 days to reach there and we would take 3 days to get back down to Lukla.
Where We Stayed
Meditation Palace, Delhi – Abhi is a friendly host and we liked the middle class neighborhood it was located in. We had two double rooms at $32 CAD/each.
Holy Lodge, Kathmandu – a great budget option in Thamel, we returned here three times and were always greeted with enthusiasm. Santosh, the owner, helped us organize our guide and porters and we stored out luggage here. We had a family room with 4 single beds for $30 USD/night, including a delicious hot breakfast.
Everest Region Teahouses – we stayed in various teahouses and generally paid between 500-1000 rupees for a double or triple room (the 10 of us usually had 4-5 rooms). It is expected that you eat breakfast and dinner at the teahouse and meals were more expensive than we expected (400-700 rupees/person). Rooms are very basic with shared toilets and you will pay for any extras (shower, WIFI, charging), but they were perfectly fine.
What We Spent
Everest Trekking Cost (9 days)
Total Cost $1851 CAD ($206 CAD/day)
Accommodation: $142 CAD
Guides/Porters: $493 CAD (includes 20% tip)
Park Fees: $191 CAD (approx. $50 USD/person over 10)
Does not include expensive flights to Lukla (Yeti Airways) at $165 USD/person (kids under 12 discounted). Also does not include approx. $300 CAD we spent on gear.
In our last week in Nepal, we head to Pokhara, entry point to the Annapurna range. We do a wicked overnight rafting trip, before heading to Chitwan National Park for a safari.
Our three month trip wraps up with a few days in Hong Kong, somewhere new for 4 out of 5 of us. Our Australian friends are HK experts, so we loved having someone else do all the sightseeing planning.
Paul then flies back to Toronto and back to work. The kids and I get one last week in the Canadian Rockies visiting my brother’s family and meeting our new baby niece/cousin.