Showing posts with label The Great Himalaya Trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Great Himalaya Trail. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2013

King of Trekking the Great Himalaya Trail(GHT)

The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is the longest and highest alpine walking track in the world winding
4500kms through the tallest mountain ranges and most isolated communities from Tibet to Pakistan.
The trail, which can be undertaken in one continuous trek of 156 days, will traverse the country from
east to west.

The Nepal section of the GHT offers a kaleidoscope of experiences and World Expeditions are proud to
offer ongoing commercial treks beginning in February each year. Winding beneath the world’s highest
peaks and visiting some of the most remote communities on earth, it passes through lush green valleys,
arid high plateaus and incredible landscapes. It covers 1700km of tracks, divided into 10 different
sections. The trail covers the full distance of the Himalayan Range in Nepal from the district of Taplejung
in the East to Humla and Darchula in the West and ultimately continues through Tibet, India and
Myanmar in East of Nepal and Tibet, India and Pakistan in the West. The treks can be done subsequently
or completely separate from each other. Besides, each GHT section features a number of side-treks of
varying duration and difficulty, some of which require camping equipment and others that can be done
teahouse style. With numerous trekking options and new tourism attractions, each GHT section forms a
distinct trekking and adventure destination within itself.

Trekkers can choose between two routes. Nepal’s Upper GHT is winding through high mountain ranges
on an average altitude of 3000 to 5000 metres, providing for breath-taking views on the country’s
towering peaks. Along the Lower, Cultural route, tourists will get the chance to visit small communities
and villages and learn about the culture and traditions of Nepal’s various ethnic groups.

Upper Trail: Trekking along the Upper GHT Trail makes for an unforgettable adventure and for some it
will be the trip of a lifetime. The trail stretches over a distance of about 1,700 km and passes through
spectacular, high altitude mountain landscapes, visiting some of the most remote villages on earth,
where life remains as it was centuries back. Trekking along the Upper Trail requires to cross high passes
with altitudes up to 6,200 m and the whole trek takes about 150 days on average. Proper trekking gear
and mountaineering equipment is needed and anyone attempting this trek should be physically fit and
ideally have some trekking and mountaineering experience. For safety, a local mountain guide who
knows the terrain is definitely recommended especially in high altitudes. Due to the remoteness of the
trek, camping is required for most parts of the adventure and it is necessary that you (or your porter)
carry a tent, food and cooking equipment. But what could be better than pitching your tent surrounded
by the mighty snow-capped Himalayas and sleeping under the star lit sky?
Nepal’s Upper Trail starts north of the Kanchenjunga Base Camp and ends in Hilsa at Nepal’s Tibetan
border in the Western district of Humla.

Lower Trail: Nepal’s Lower GHT – also called the cultural route – goes mostly through the country’s mid
hills with an average altitude of 2000m. However, there are still a couple of passes to cross with the
highest being the Jang La at 4519 m between Dhorpatan and Dolpa in West-Nepal.
Trekking along the Lower GHT means walking through beautiful lush forests, pastures, green rice
terraces and fertile agricultural land, providing the basis for Nepal’s rich culture and civilization. You
will come across local settlements of many different cultural groups, giving you the chance to see
what authentic Nepali village life is all about. For most parts of the trek, you’ll be able to stay in small
guesthouses or homestays, but make sure to still take your tent for some of the more remote sections
of the route. With lots of local restaurants around, you’ll find a place to eat almost everywhere and so
you don’t necessarily need to carry large amounts of food. Shorter then the Upper Trail, the Lower GHT
stretches over a distance of 1,500 km and the whole trek will roughly take around 95 days.

The beginnings of Cross-Himalaya trekking: Not many people have walked the length of the Himalayas
in the last few decades (and written about it). However there have been some expeditions with the goal
either of traversing Nepal or going further trying to traverse the greater Himalaya range.
In 1980, one ‘inspirational’ Mr Shirahata is mentioned in the classic book “Trekking in Nepal” by
Toru Nakano as having walked the length of the country from ‘east to west’ in Nepal but no further
references or information has been found. In 1982, Arlene Blum and travel and adventure writer Hugh
Swift became the first westerners to complete a 4,500 km great Himalayan traverse across Bhutan,
Nepal and India. Starting from the eastern border of Bhutan, Swift and Blum, climbed up and down the
Himalayan range over 6,000m passes and down to river valleys at 600m, gaining and losing an average
of 1,000m each day to reach Ladakh. This is documented in Blum’s book –“Breaking Trail”.
In 1983 two British brothers, Richard and Adrian Crane ran the Himalayas, from before Kanchenjunga
to beyond Nanga Parbat in less than 100 days. According to the Crane’s book, “Running the Himalayas”,
“…in 1980 an Indian army team set out from Arunchal Pradesh in India’s north east corner and, after
one and a half to two years of travel along a high mountain route, they finished their journey just north
of Leh in the Ladakh region of the Karakorams…. it progressed in ‘relay’ fashion and possibly no one
member stayed with the expedition for the full course”. On their way, the Crane brothers met the British
Women’s Trans-Himalaya Expedition who set off from Sikkim in January 1983 and used buses where
necessary on their journey. The Cranes themselves though were however “travelling super-light. One
rucksack, one sleeping bag, one set of clothes, one pair of shoes, and shared between us: map, diaries,
camera, penknife, water jar and two plastic teaspoons. No guides, no porters, no shelter, no food, no
water. And we would be running. Looked at logically, the idea was preposterous”.

Similarly, in 1994 the French duo of Paul-Eric Bonneau and Bruno Poirier made a crossing of the
Himalayas in Nepal in 42 days (October 21 – December 1, 1994) and called their adventure “Trans-
Nepal-Himalaya”. They travelled 2000 km (+ / -55 000 m) between Pashupatinagar (eastern border) and
Mahakali (western border) including Everest base camp.

Then nearly two decades later in 2003, Rosie Swale-Pope ran the length of Nepal, and early Great
Himalayan Trail route, with a support team, doing an estimated 1,700km in 68 days to raise money
for the charity Nepal Trust. Dr Gillian Holdsworth walked a similar route in 2007 which is documented
on the British Nepal Medical Trust website. Between 2008 and 2011 Jean-Claude Latombe walked a
winding trail across Nepal in two sections of 56 and 53 days. His website has a wonderful collage of
images of the people and landscapes he encountered.

However it was early 2009 that truly gave birth to a Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal. Robin Boustead
supported by his wife Judy Smith and friends walked the trail in stages beginning in September 2008. It
took a lot of research to identify a true high-alpine route that was feasible for trekkers. Robin said: ”if
someone gathered enough information on that area, it would be a great trek for everyone”. Robin
was that someone and he has documented his route meticulously using GPS. The route, distances,
elevations, water sources, villages and camp sites are all detailed in his Great Himalaya Trail guide book.
In 2010, another adventurer, Sean Burch completed a route across Nepal in 49 days with the help of
Nepal Trust and in 2011 Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter walked an unsupported trek of 57 days across

In 2006 the Dutch development agency SNV and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain
Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu proposed to the Government of Nepal to develop an official
Great Himalaya Trail from near Kangchenjunga in the east to Api-Saipal in the Far West of Nepal and

to harness the trail for pro-poor development in Nepal’s remote mountain regions. The route would
be based on the route identified and documented by Robin Boustead. The idea was well received by
the tourism industry and development actors alike and in 2008, the Government of Nepal with Support
SNV, created the Great Himalaya Trail Development (GHTDP), a public private initiative lead by the
Nepalese Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation. With funding from the UK Department for International
Development UKAID, the Government of Nepal is working closely with the tourism industry, NGOs
and host communities to ensure that the GHT is developed into an iconic and globally significant new
tourism product for Nepal and managed in line with responsible tourism best practices, generating vital
jobs and income for local communities and contributing to the conservation of the country’s natural and
cultural heritage. Still, the Great Himalaya Trail is new and will evolve over the coming years through
the preferences and suggestions of trekkers completing the route or sections of it. This is why it is so
exciting to get on the trail now.

Source: The great Himalayan Trail