hiking Kamchatka, Russia

There are certainly fantastic treks and volcano climbs on Kamchatka Peninsula.

Climbing Koryaksky (3456m) close to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is quite doable, for example.

You can find a number of trekking guides with Google.

But are they reliable?

It’s possible to hike Kamchatka independently.

But we’ve not yet talked to anyone who’s hiked there. (Leave a comment below this post if you have more information on Kamchatka.)

In the meantime, check some photos from Dark Roast Blend:

Wilderness without bounds, in a typical Russian style.

There is a place in the world so remote and so wildly beautiful, that very few decide to go there and those who do, carry the enchantment for the rest of their lives. Land of towering volcanos and magnificient Pacific coastline, as boundless and pristine as the Canadian North, but far less known and definitely less travelled. Life is harsh there, and ghosts of communist past are never too far behind.

With the exclusive permission of “Kamtravel” – Kamchatka photography site, we give you some examples of its exhilarating terrain:

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski lies in the shadow of Avacha volcano

more photos – Dark Roasted Blend: Kamchatka – Magnificient Russian Far East

EVERYONE should support planting more TREES

No matter what your opinion on CO2 levels higher than they  been for at least the past three million years, you can support planting more trees.

Trees are good in MANY ways, including pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, some guy who got popular on YouTube, started a campaign that raised enough money for more than 20 million trees to be planted across the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, and the United Kingdom.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Secondly, we should STOP subsidizing fossil fuel industries. One study calculated $5 trillion / year in subsidy worldwide.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Greta Thunberg has inspired millions of students to become environmental activists for climate change.

I love to see how some previously unknown teenager scares so many of the rich and powerful worldwide.

She’s the youngest individual Time Person of the Year.

Thunberg was also nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

Darn Tough socks – a review

Over the years I hadn’t found a favourite hiking sock.

Halfway Anywhere loves Darn Tough getting about 700 miles out of each pair.

I finally bought a pair online and wore them 5 days in a row in fairly dry alpine conditions hiking near Whistler B.C.

  • 65% Merino Wool, 31% Nylon, 4% Lycra Spandex

They’re my new hiking sock. Felt great. Held up very well. And only smelled a bit after 5 days.

I got two new pair for Christmas 2019.

related – Halfway Anywhere review

SHOULD we hike Pakistan?

Since 2013 I’ve been recommending hikers boycott Pakistan after terrorists killed 11 at Nanga Parbat Base Camp.

The U.S. State Department advises against travel due to terrorism.

On the other hand, I’m inspired by Eva zu Beck, a Polish travel vlogger, who spent many months there. She thinks it could be the next Nepal for trekkers.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I’m talking to the Epic about their trips in 2020.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Best INDEPENDENT hikes Nepal 2019

by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I’m just back from Nepal, my first trip since 2014 where I hiked Langtang.

Around 9,000 people died during the Nepal earthquake of 25 April 2015.

One tiny village in the Langtang Valley accounted for 243 of them: 175 villagers, 27 local tourism staff (guides and porters), and 41 foreign trekkers.

Yet in the 2018-19 fiscal year, a record 21,945 tourists (16,386 foreigners and 5,559 Nepalis) visited Langtang National Park.

So far as I could see, Nepal trails are busier than ever. And easier than ever as you could connect to the internet almost everywhere with a Nepal Telecom (Namaste) SIM card in my mobile phone. I didn’t once have to pay for electricity in the mountains.

The big 3 trekking areas for those who want to hike independently are

        1. Sagarmatha National Park (Everest)

        2. Annapurna Conservation Area

        3. Langtang National Park

We love Nepal because it’s so easy and inexpensive to access many of the best hikes in the world.

Hiking other Himalayan nations is problematic for different reasons: Bhutan, China, Tibet, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan.

On the other hand, arriving in Kathmandu or Pokhara you are faced with a bewildering number of options.  😐

 

In this post we rank the very best hikes you can do independently in 2019.

Best independent hike – Sagarmatha Region

If you can only do one hike in Nepal it should be Everest Base Camp 3 Passes:

Kongma pass (5,535m)
Cho pass (5,380m)
Renjo pass (5,388m)

Plus Kala Pattar peak (5,545m) and Base Camp (5,380m).

Ideally you’d want 3 weeks. Two weeks would be risky in terms of rushed acclimatization.


Best independent hikes – Annapurna Region

The classic trek is the Annapurna Circuit. But but road construction has degraded the experience.

Though still popular in 2019, the Circuit now might be better for mountain biking than hiking.

Best of the alternatives is another classic:

Annapurna Sanctuary (ABC)

OTHER alternatives somewhat similar to ABC include:

Khopra Ridge (opened 2012)
Mardi Himal 

Annapurna Base Camp (ABC)

Ideally, we’d love to do one continuous hike:

Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Trek starting Banskharka (Bans Kharka) to acclimatize → continuing on 1. Khopra Ridge → connecting to 2. Annapurna Sanctuary (ABC) → finishing with 3. Mardi Himal .

The 2-3 week adventure in green connecting those 3 hikes would be far more enjoyable than the Annapurna Circuit.

You can do all on the same permit.


Best independent hikes – Langtang Region

Our recommended route. Perhaps 14-16 days.

Drive to Syabrubesi, trekking Langtang first (top of the map). Then backtracking to the Gosainkund & Helambu trek, walking most of the way back to Kathmandu.

langtang_gosainkund_helambu_trek
map via NepalSanctuaryTreks.com
Our group atop Kyanjin Ri (4773m) Langtang
Laurebina Pass (4600m) on the Gosainkund & Helambu

This will be far less crowded than either Everest or Annapurna regions.


You can easily and inexpensively hire a guide and/or porters on any hike in Nepal for your whole trip … or short sections. But we’d recommend you do those listed above independently.

If we were to do a guided hike we’d choose areas of Nepal where guides are mandatory. For example:

Best GUIDED hike – Manaslu Circuit

The Manaslu Circuit (lodges open since 2010)  was fantastic and uncrowded before the 2015 earthquake. Reports are that it’s fantastic again in 2019.

The Tsum Valley sidetrip is still a recommended add-on in 2019. But  China is developing a road. It could be a dusty construction zone soon.

Manaslu finishes on the Annapurna Circuit. In 2013 I did Manaslu with a guide — then continued independently on the Circuit hiking & cycling.

Since I was acclimatized, the high pass on the Circuit seemed easy.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page.

support Inca Trail porters

American human rights activist and hiking guru Marinel de Jesus moved to Peru full-time.

Right now she’s fundraising to put together a documentary on mistreatment of porters on the Inca Trail.

KM 82 is the documentary that will tell the porters’ stories directly to the world and reveal the inequities behind the trekking tourism industry.

The women porters have recently become a part of the trekking industry and we want to support their voices to ensure that porter conditions improve and that they can work safely on the trails.

Details on indiegogo.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The Inca Trail is one of the world’s best hikes. But this is one of many problems which makes us prefer the Salkantay Trek to Aguas Calientes followed by a visit to Machu Picchu. Salkantay can be done independently carrying your own backpack. For the Inca Trail you must be guided.