WHAT happened to Nepal’s Royal Trek?

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

The Royal Trek was named because Prince Charles and his 90 person entourage followed this route in 1981 shortly before he married Princess Diana.

It was once a BIG DEAL. Mick Jagger did it too, for example.

Some walked a loop to and from Pokhara. It was jungle.

But by 2019 (during the dry season) you could drive most of this route. Take a taxi to any of these villages. Buses run to each, in fact.

Road building has degraded the experience to the point where very few hikers now visit.

That’s a shame because it’s a great way to see three of the highest peaks in the world from one spot: Manaslu 8,156m, Annapurna 8,091m, Dhaulagiri 8,167m.

Companies will still guide you. 9 days for $600 and up.

We did it independently in 2 days. Walked no more than 35 km.

A taxi from Lakeside, Pokhara to Kalikasthan cost $26.

It’s almost entirely a road walk now. Dusty at times.

Do not go unless the weather is clear. You want to see the big mountains including Machapuchhre (Fishtail).

The highlight for us was not the mountains, however, but learning about Gurung village life in the foothills.

You’ve heard of the Gurungs. They’ve been prominent soldiers in Nepalese, British and Indian armies.

Winter is coming. They were bringing in firewood.

Every village now has water pipes. But in the old days it was carried up from far below. Rain collected in giant concrete cisterns.

Our plan was to hike to Syaklung where I assured the guys there should be plenty of guest houses and restaurants.

Despite having 3 online map apps and a hard copy of the Around Pokhara Valley map, our main method of navigation was to ask people ‘which way to the Royal Trek?’

Eventually … we were lost.

Backtracking to the village of Lipeyani, we were incredibly fortunate to meet a gentleman named Rishi who had come up to the family farm for the Diwali festival. We met his people too.

Moma is age-71, but still works the farm. Her eyes have been damaged from decades of cooking smoke.

She picked fresh ginger and chilies. Their small, hard oranges were excellent too.

Rishi’s brother brought fresh buffalo milk for our coffee (Nescafe).

For Diwali, Nepalis clean and decorate their homes.

Fresh coats of mud applied.

They illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas (oil lamps or candles), electric lights, etc. .

They offer puja (worship) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth. Many homes have a trail into the house.

Rishi suggested we stay in his village instead of Syaklung Danda, our intended stop. We were very happy we did.

It was Dal Bhat for dinner, of course. The staple. But for an appetizer we were offered a special treat — dried, smoked, spicy goat meat from the high Himalaya. They call it sukuti.

That night we were welcomed into the annual Diwali festivities. Much dancing, chanting and singing. And a bit of drinking. I had the local boiled rice wine called roxy.

We slept well on hard mattresses. And dreamed of having the big vistas early morning.

It dawned not as clear as the previous day, but we did see the three big peaks from one vantage.

Mission accomplished, we decided to walk out as directly as possible to Begnas Lake. Our Royal Trek route ended.

It was mostly downhill on dirt or paved roads.

Rice looks to be the most important crop.

Rishi is a specialist in rural development. He told us these village are in trouble. The young people leave for the cities, India or the Middle East, and those who remain have trouble making ends meet. He consults on new initiatives for the foothill farmers.

Begnas lake is impressive, but I prefer Lakeside, Pokhara as a tourist destination.

We took lunch at a local restaurant in Begnas Tal Bahar, then caught the Lakeside bus.

It’s only 30km back to town, but the local bus is SLOW. If I did it again, I’d taxi back to Pokhara.

Other highlights:

  • hillside rice terraces
  • no permits required
  • a good first Nepal hike to start acclimatization
  • low risk of altitude sickness

Best months for the Royal trek are March – May and September – December. It can get cold at night.

Annapurna: A Trekker’s Guide by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons might still include the Royal Trek. Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya (2016) does not.

If you like this vista, do the Royal Trek on your own. You’ll be unlikely to see any other foreigners.

top 10 hikes – Göreme, Cappadocia

For the next 10 days we’ll be rolling out our top 10 day hikes around the world.

Unique walks. Days you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

For example, exploring the “fairy chimney” rock formations of Cappadocia, Turkey. Göreme makes an ideal base.

Why We Like This Hike

  • Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are World Heritage sites
  • start on the Rose Valley trail (5km), perhaps the best section of all

  • Love Valley is … interesting

  • to finish it’s downhill back to Göreme. A nice but often crowded trail.

Don’t miss the balloons of Cappadocia.

Click over to our Göreme information page for details.

Charles Darwin was a hiker

He got into hiking in his 20s, but it was trekking and scrambling in little know wilderness on four continents visited on his five-year-long H.M.S. Beagle voyage between 1831 and 1836 that cement him as one of the most worldly hikers in history.

 “Mount Darwin” is the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego. On February 12, 1834, Captain FitzRoy named a mountain after him on his birthday. …

Mt. Darwin

Darwin walked mainly to discover plants and animals unique to those regions.

I learned all this by reading his travelogue Voyage of the Beagle.

By the way, the famous phrase “survival of the fittest” comes from Herbert Spencer’s 1864 publication, “Principles of Biology.” The term is largely thought to have been coined by Darwin regarding his thoughts on evolution; however, this is a wrong assumption.

Legend hiked the Great Western Loop

6900+ miles.

Andrew Skurka invented the Great Western Loop and was the only person to complete it before Jeff ‘Legend’ Garmire in 2018.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. (24min)

In 2019, the Great Western Loop will officially become the Great Western Loop Trail and expanded to include the northern and southern termini of both the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). …

Wales – Pembrokeshire Coast Path – day 4

Trip Report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

I made coffee in the vestibule of my tent in the dark. Packed up and was on my feet by 8am. BIG day ahead. The toughest and most physically demanding of any on the Coast Path.

It was about 2 miles to town. Another 14 miles more (at least) to finish.

I finally saw rabbits on one farm. (SLUGS are much more plentiful.)

Giant mushrooms.

I detoured to Newport town to pick up provisions. There was some chance I’d need to wild camp again. I had no reservation for the hostel. And it was Saturday.

Scones and fruit cake are high calorie. Easy to eat.

For the first time in my hiking career an official trail crossed a golf course. That’s cool.

In the parking lot Duke of Edinburgh hikers were unloading. These are students who had to plan and execute an expedition of at least 2 days and 1 night. They looked woefully unprepared to me.

The steep, sheer, non-stop cliffs begin. The highest 575ft (175m). There’s only one emergency exit all day.

Narrow trails. Far less used than those in the south.

Yes. Muddy.

Most of the coves are inaccessible except from sea.

Stunning scenery. The weather improved over the day.

October in Pembrokeshire. You know what that means? 🙂 It’s Atlantic grey seal breeding time!

I did see dozens of seals. (And 5 distant dolphins.)

But I saw only one pup. The baby (white) looked nearly as big as Mom.

Pups can’t swim yet. And they are very uncoordinated on land. Helpless as a human baby.

Click PLAY or watch a similar baby on YouTube.

Mom was in the perfect protected spot, however. A collapsed sea cave called Witch’s Calderon.

Weather was great. Aside from the wind.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I was quite happy to round the corner and see that cliffs had ended. I’d been walking for nearly 8 hours.

On a weekend, I feared Poppit Sands hostel would be full. I’d need to wild camp again.

Happily there was space at the inn. I spent about 25 minutes in the hot shower! Welsh hostels are excellent.

It was a fun night chatting with an entertaining, informative Irishman. (Are there any other kind?) He was just finishing up a 3 month cycling holiday.

Before dinner I walked Poppit beach. My Coast Path would be ending first thing in the morning.

____

After coffee in the morning I had 2 miles left to trail end in St Dogmaels.

I visited the ancient Abby. And church built 1847 from Abby stones.

Here’s the finish.

Over 4 days I’d walked the first 20 miles. And the last 25 miles. About a quarter of the Coast Path. It was enough.

Then I walked another 2 miles along the Wales Coast Path, an 870-mile (1,400 km) route around the whole coast of Wales, to the bus stop at Cardigan. From there I planned to catch a bus to the train station.

What! What?

In October there are no longer ANY buses to anywhere on a Sunday. Bus service has been shrinking for years for rural towns in Wales. ☹️

The closest train station was 50£ by cab. I hate taxis. So checked into a lovely hotel instead for 45£. A holiday from my hiking vacation.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path is definitely one of the top 10 coastal hikes in the world.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Cicerone publishes an excellent guidebook with detailed map.