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Volunteer Experience: Trekking Helambu

Volunteer, Let me start off by saying I made it! From the look of the first couple of hours, that was not a given.

I am now back in Kathmandu, after a week of trekking in the Himalayas. Sitting at a cafe, drinking a well earned decent cup of coffee, I’m trying to process and sum up the last week. It is not easy as I seem to have impression overload. But I’ll try.

I say it was not a given to make it. Let me expand..


Day 1 the trek started in Sundarijal, with stairs, stairs and yet some stairs. It was like a slap in the face. This day, we climbed stairs for 6 hours and gained 1100m. I was not prepared. I had had too little sleep, too little breakfast, and way too little time on the stair climber at the gym back home.. While the guide and porter (who carried a heavy load) easily skipped up the steps, not breaking a sweat, I was out of breath in an instant. Fighting for each step. But after lunch, I was luckily re-energized and could start appreciate the surroundings – beautiful forests and hills – and could start believe the climb was possible. The fact that we met a happy and slightly (very) intoxicated elderly American whom seemed to be able to do the climb with ease, might have given me an extra push to make it as well..

In the afternoon we arrived at Chisapani, our goal for the day. It was a small “village” of only three lived-in houses at the hillside. The view of the mountains was beautiful, but the view of the village sad. There were a few other houses on the hill as well, but they were completely destroyed by the earthquake in 2015. They would be the first of many we’d see along our trek.

Getting Stronger

Day 2 we were not to gain too much altitude, and we naively believed this day would be a chill day before a big climb on day three. Little did we know, that the day started with a steep descend, followed by an equally steep climb back up again. But we were fortunately stronger this day.

Towards the afternoon, clouds and fog rolled in and the hills and forests looked like something from the fairytales. We walked the same trek as a few others this day, and the company along the way was nice. In the evening, we thought our guide and porter to play dice to pass time before heading for an early sleep.

Reaching the highest point

Day 3, we headed for Tharepati which would be the highest point of our trek at 3600m. The weather was not the best, with fog and clouds, but as soon as the sun shone through, we could see the impressive mountains around us. We managed the climb well, and when arriving at the top and our days goal, my brother had not had enough. He saw a higher top, and we headed out again, climbing an extra 400m up to 4000m (which the guide claimed was only a hill, not a real mountain..).

The teahouse we were staying at this night was very basic, and the night was cold. I was wearing everything I had in my backpack – thank God I didn’t pack light.

A magnificent sunrise

Day 4, we woke up to a beautiful morning, and the sunrise over the mountains were magic (and sadly not really transferrable in pictures).

This day we parted ways from the other trekkers and headed for more remote areas and towards the village Helambu, where one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the region is found.

We pass through several Sherpa villages and plenty of Buddhist monuments (stupas) and it’s evident that we are no longer in regions where tourists are common. Seeing the raw, rural areas has a deep effect, and you realize the conditions under which these people live – they are hard. Yet, their way of life appears happy. Being invited into their warm homes, we could feel that clearly.

Our guides are our heroes!

Waking up day 5, we were shattered, sore all over. Legs hurt, knees hurt, backs hurt. When asking the guide if he had any muscle ache at all, he plainly said “No. Sometimes we walk very far”. Putting us down to earth, making us realize our trek is just a walk in the park to them, we mustered up for the last couple of days. They were less challenging, and a nice way to end the trek, almost tricking us into believing it had been an easy walk altogether. The 5h on a local bus back to Kathmandu was en experience all in itself, but altogether, apart from a couple of leech bites (and the obvious ‘minor’ freak out over them), we made it back in one piece.

The most incredible experience of my life…

Something worth to be noted: for the full trek, our guide walked in suit pants (he was at work after all). Amazingly, the pants stayed without a single spot or crease throughout the week. I was muddy all over. Equipped with all the right trekking gear and clothes, we still ended up dirty, sore, tired and full of new impressions. He did not. It tells an evident story – our big adventure is his everyday life. And it was incredible being a part of his everyday for a week. Challenging. But easily one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Source: This article came from Kristin her blog. Thanks Kristin for sharing with us.