Tag Archives: Pokhara

Top 3 Adventures in Nepal

The following is a guest post I did for the CheapOair travel blog:

Nestled between two giants (China to the north and India to the south) sits Nepal, a tiny country famous for the Himalayan range.  Since 1951 when Nepal opened its doors to foreigners, the country has maintained a sense of majestic wonder for visitors.

Despite its small size, Nepal packs a major punch.  Within the country’s borders are some of the greatest adventure opportunities on Earth: Mt. Everest, the Annapurna circuit, raging rivers, craggy cliffs and more.  Nepal is known for its awe-inspiring trekking routes, so here are three other extreme adventures to try out on your next visit.

1) Bungee Jumping

The bridge bungee jumpers dive off at The Last Resort.

The Nepal bungee jump, run by The Last Resort, is the perfect antidote for the extreme adrenaline junky.  Participants jump off a metal suspension bridge that’s strung between two cliffs over the churning Bhote Kosi river.  After being strapped around the ankles, jumpers dive off the teetering metal platform into the 160-meter deep gorge.  Travel agencies based in Kathmandu can arrange the bungee jumping trip, which includes a bus ride to and from the location, the jump itself and lunch.

2) Paragliding

Paragliding is an extreme sport that induces an adrenaline rush while at the same time inspiring an overwhelming sense of tranquility.  Flying high through the Nepal skies is perhaps one of the greatest adventures in the country.  Most paragliding flights open to travelers are based in Pokhara, a town about 200 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu (5-7 hours by bus or minivan).

There are several paragliding companies based in Pokhara, including Frontiers Paragliding and Sunrise Paragliding.  Paragliding companies will arrange tandem flights, most of which depart from a location high on a hill near Sarangkot.  Start out running and glide off the hill with your certified paraglider steering the whole way down.  On clear days, the Annapurna mountain range, including Macchapucchre (Fishtail Mountain), can be seen jutting into the sky.  Try catching a thermal air pocket and soar through the clods with hawks.  Make sure to bring your camera to get snapshots of the shimmering Phewa Tal lake below.

3) White Water Rafting

Churning rapids, raging white water, seething river dips and curves: these are just a few things to look forward to on a rafting trip in Nepal.  All those mountains means a great deal of runoff, which means some epic white water rafting opportunities .  For a surprisingly reasonable price, private trips can be arranged for small or large groups.  Between the heart-pounding sections of river, expect to see some jaw-dropping scenery: lush green jungles, spiky cliffs, herds of goats and huge mountain ranges.  There are white water rafting companies based in both Kathmandu and Pokhara that are readily available to arrange trips and river guides.

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How To: Remove Leeches On Trek

Situation: It’s wet.  A jacket invading, perpetual dampness, soggy kind of wet.  And you’re on trek.  The lush green hills rise around you.  Birds screech in the trees, busting with green leaves and bright flowers.  Maybe it’s raining or maybe the downpour just ended.  You stop for a drink of water, perching on a rock.  After a few swigs, you look down at your ankle and notice a tiny black, raised blob.

“What the?…” you think to yourself.

Upon further investigation, you realize what it is…  A leech.  A slimy, creepy, blood-sucking leech.  You quickly peel off your socks and find a few, maybe a dozen more leeches that have somehow invaded your shoes and your socks.  A few have even found refuge in your toes.  Ugh.

This situation has become a  reality for scores of trekkers in Asia.  Whether you’re hiking in the Himalayas, in Northern Laos, or in the steamy Malaysian jungle, leeches will be there, especially if the environment is wet.  The little black blobs are the bane of many trekker’s existence.  Although their bite is not painful, the would looks rather ghastly because of the stream of blood that flows from the spot.  There are some simple preventative methods to take before your trek to avoid leeches and, there are a few methods to keep in mind when removing a leech on trek.

What Are Leeches?

Leeches vary in size, depending on the environment.  They can be found on land, in fresh water and in salt water.  Many leeches found on treks in Asia are around 0.5-3 inches and very thin.  They move like a slinky going down stairs: flipping one side over the other in a continual motion.  Although the little suckers are an annoyance to hikers and trekkers, leeches were (and still are in some places) used in medicine for bloodletting.

Leeches sense heat and motion in their environment.  Whether it’s a dog, cow or human that moves through the woods, leeches will likely sense the heat and quickly slinky over to the fresh blood source.  When trekking in a wet environment, leeches sometimes fall from trees, but most often attach to their subject from the ground.  This means that the leech will attach to the shoe, move up to the sock area and burrow down from there.

Leech Bites

Once a leech bites and begins engorging itself in blood, it’s very difficult to remove them properly.  When a leech bites, the subject will likely feel nothing: not pinch, no pain and no aches.  After a bite, the leech will feed off blood until it is totally full, and then it simply drops off.

The tell-tale sign of a leech bite is a large bloody spot on the socks or shoes.  Blood will continue to flow from the bite often for hours after the animal drops off because of the anticoagulant they secrete from their mouth parts.  The anticoagulant allows for the free flow of blood from your body to theirs.  This is why, even after you remove the leech or they drop off, the blood continues to seep out.

Prevention

There are several measures you can take to prevent leeches from biting you in the first place.  These measures take some a bit more time and planning than simply peeling the suckers off after they’ve bitten.

Choice 1: Anti-Leech Socks

Casual hikers probably won’t need these, but the more hardcore mountain trekkers might want to consider these anti-leech socks.  This particular brand of socks cover the foot to the upper knee and are worn underneath the boot and over the normal sock.  It’s very difficult for the leeches to penetrate these socks because they are long.  This particular sock brand will set you back $40, but they are very durable and will come in handy for long, deep-jungle treks, or treks during monsoon season.

Choice 2: Soak Socks in Salt Water

This option is good for a while, but if you will be trekking through streams or other very wet areas, you probably won’t stay leech free for long.  Soaking your socks in salt water and then drying them is a better option when you are trekking in dry weather.

Choice 3: Insecticide

Too much Deet is not a great idea, but applying some strong insecticide around the ankles, on the socks and even on top of the shoes is a good way to ward off leeches.  Make sure to reapply the insecticide every few hours.

More Resources for Anti-Leech Measures: http://www.mysabah.com/wordpress/?p=177

EPIC Nepal: Paragliding

Nepal is the adventure sport enthusiasts Shangri La, their paradise, their heaven.  Home of Mt. Everest and some of the most epic trekking in the world, of course the country is going to draw crowds of thrill seekers.  Had your fair share of trekking already and looking for something else to satiate your appetite for adventure?  Look no further.  The answer is: paraglide Nepal.

The main central for paragliding in Nepal is Pokhara, a small town about 200 kilometers away from Kathmandu.  Pokhara draws scores of tourist and travelers every day who seek more peace and tranquility than they can find in chaotic Kathmandu.  The town is a wonderful place to get some R&R, especially after a long and exhausting trekking stint.

There are several paragliding companies based in Pokhara, the main ones being Frontiers Paragliding and Blue Sky Paragliding.  Both are readily accessible from almost any hostel or hotel in Pokhara.  Frontiers Paragliding was the first paragliding company in Nepal and has been running for over 13 years.  Blue Sky Paragliding was founded in 2001 and is staffed with 7-10 expert pilots.  Both companies have a good track record and have certified people working for them.

How to Book a Paragliding Trip:

When you get to Pokhara, visit both paragliding companies and see which one you like better.  Both offer similar deals and similar prices, so pick the one with the people you like best.  After all, you are going to be flying with the hawks, through the clouds over the Annapurna range with the person you go with, so it’s best to be comfortable with them.

When you visit the company, you will sign up before hand and sign a release for.  Basically, if you fall to your death, we’re not responsible (just kidding!). You pay in advance and they’ll let you know what time to meet at the storefront.

The Price:

Paragliding, unfortunately, not that cheap, especially for budget backpackers.  But, if you have the funds, paragliding in Nepal is definitely worth it.  You’ll get to float on thermal air pockets with birds, look down at tiny Nepali houses, see the Himalayan range from above and feel more free than you’ve probably ever felt before.  When we were last in Nepal, the price of one tandem flight (you and your guide) was about USD $125.  The flight itself lasts about half an hour and the whole trip including the truck ride to the top of the take-off point is about 2 hours.

Trip and Preparation:

The most popular take-off point for paragliding in Pokhara is the Sarankot Ridge.  It is possible to hike to the top of the ridge, but with the paragliding equipment, you’ll take a large off-road truck or van.  Once to the top of the ridge, the pilots lay out all the chutes and untangle all the cords and ropes while nervous first-time paragliders wait from the side and chew their nails.  After the chutes are laid out, you’ll step into a two-person harness with your guide.  The guide sits in the back position so he or she can maneuver the chute through the sky and land with ease.

The pilots take the upmost safety precautions before take-off so there is no need to worry about falling to your untimely death.  You and the guide are required to wear a helmet.

The Flight:

This is probably the closest humans will get to the feeling of birds flying in the sky.  This style of paragliding uses no motor, so the flight is very peaceful, but exhilarating at the same time.  The take-off is one of the hardest parts, even though the guide does all the hard work, because you’ll essentially have to run off a cliff.

During the flight you can take pictures and observe the beautiful Phewa Tal lake glimmering below.

Landing:

The guide, again, does all the hard stuff for the landing and it is usually quite smooth.  The guides and pilots fold away the chutes and then a van meets the group to take them back to town.

Advice for Your Flight:

+Wear closed toed shoes.  Your pilot probably won’t let you even fly with sandals on.

+Wear warm clothes.  Even if it is sunny out, you’ll be flying at high altitudes, so it’s best to bring a sweatshirt or a coat with you.

+Keep your camera strapped to your wrist!  Because that’s a loooong way for it to fall and you’ll never get it back.

Tandem Flights and Beyond:

Can’t get enough of paragliding?  Then why not become a certified pilot yourself?  Both Frontiers Paragliding and Blue Sky Paragliding offer courses and certification.