Monday Sessions – Nepal


Today’s Monday Session is with Linda who I have known for a few years. In October of 2016 she travelled to Nepal and saw the top of the world. Linda shares with us her experiences seeing Everest from Base Camp and the people of Nepal. Thanks Linda!


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WTW:  You traveled to Nepal in October 2016. Why did you choose to visit?

Linda:  I decided to go to Nepal because I was in dire need of adventure and Nepal seemed to be the right place to go. They had the mountains, the culture and the diversity that I was looking for. After reading the book “Into Thin Air”, I became hooked on the fascination of humans climbing Mount Everest. I wanted to hear people’s stories and experience a small portion of the adventure. 

WTW:  That is a fantastic! You went with a tour company.   Which company was it and how did you find this form of travel? How long was the tour?

Linda:  I was in Nepal for just over 3 weeks and I went on a 14-day tour with G Adventures and I would absolutely recommend them.  This was my first time going on a “tour” and I feel like I experienced the hike in a way that I may not have been able to if I hadn’t had a local guide. While you can do the hike on your own, the local government highly recommend doing it with a guide for safety reasons and to help the economy. We had 2 guides, Nima and Tsering, and 4 porters. The guides have the answers to all of our questions, they kept us going at a great pace, and kept our spirits up when we were feeling the effects of the high altitude.  The porters were so amazing. They beat us to each stop by usually half the time and had our duffel bags waiting for us in front of our rooms as soon as we got there.  They didn’t speak much English, however we felt a bond with them instantly and we were all so grateful for their hard work. Towards the end of the hike, some of the trekkers couldn’t carry their own day-packs due to weakness and oxygen deprivation. Without hesitation and on their own time, some of the porters came back to assist some of the trekkers up to the next stop.

WTW:  What an experience. What surprised you the most in Nepal?

Linda:  This was my first time traveling by myself and what surprised me the most was how safe I felt.  Everyone in Nepal wanted to show you around and teach you about their culture and home.  Whenever I thought of Nepal I though of mountains, however, since going I realized that Nepal has a very rich culture to explore away from the mountains too.  I had also been told that the food was not great, however, I learned pretty fast that when people were talking about bad food, they were talking about the food on the trek. The food in the city was delicious. When I first arrived in Kathmandu, I dropped off my bags and went on a hunt for dinner.  My first meal was so delicious that after I made a conscious effort to eat somewhere different everyday and I was so happy I did. 

WTW:  Great to know. What is your fondest memory of this trip?

Linda: I have 2 memories that really stick out for me in regards to my highlights of the trip. The first is meeting a few other girls on the plane and being able to explore Kathmandu with them for a few days before I met up with the group tour.  I remember getting off the plane after traveling for over 30 hours and seeing the chaos of Kathmandu and wondering what the heck I got myself into.  We went to the Pashupatinath Temple on our second day.  This Hindu temple is very active and there were several ceremonies and cremation fires happening while  we walked along the holy Bagmati River. I wasn’t expecting to be able to witness these ceremonies and the whole experience was very humbling and spiritually enriching. Pashupatinath Temple is also home to several Sadhus, who are wandering holy men who have given up everything in their lives to practice their own spiritual journey in Hinduism.

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The second fondest memory would be meeting the Nepalese people living in the villages while we hiked. Their culture and energy  was so amazing. It really felt like I was out of my realm while walking through the little villages up to base camp. It was so fascinating seeing how they live at such a high altitude without any access to pretty much everything.  The people living in these villages have zero transportation and agriculture is very limited.  Everything is carried on their backs or by yaks. This also includes a lot of the food and supplies that they sell to the tourists.  I really realized how lucky we are to have so many simple luxuries that we take for granted here in Canada.

WTW:  Nepal suffered 2 devastating earthquakes in 2015.  From what you learned, how has that affected the Nepalese?

Linda:  The earthquakes have been quite devastating for Nepal.  What hurt me the most was when the Nepalese people would ask me to tell people back in Canada that Nepal is safe and to please come visit.  It was heartbreaking hearing their efforts to bring tourists back to their country just by word of mouth.  Many guides had reached out to past groups to try and get them to come back with friends.  In fact, a lot of the other tourists that I an into had been to Nepal already and they were visiting because they wanted to bring money into the country again.  Structurally, a lot of monuments and history have been lost forever.  Many homes are also still damaged.  When I asked what I could do to help, most of the locals recommended to just come to Nepal and give directly to the people.  The government distributed money to the people after the earthquake, however, it just wasn’t enough.  From what I understand, tourism in slowly increasing in the area since 2015 and I am seeing Nepal on a lot of blogs recently so hopefully the tourists will keep coming!

WTW:  That is heartbreaking yet glad to hear people are still wanting to travel there. What were you thoughts and feelings when you saw Mount Everest?

Linda:  Seeing Mount Everest was pretty amazing.  When people ask me to describe Everest I usually respond with “it was really, really big, every thing was just really big”.   Standing at base camp, I really understand the desire and the call to climb to the top.  I spoke to several locals who were Sherpas taking people to the top of Mount Everest and what fascinated me the most was how they were still amazed and humbled by the enormity of the mountain.  While us Westerners want to “conquer” everything, the Nepalese people are all about the journey.

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WTW:  I like that, being all about the journey.  Do you have any tips or suggestions for anyone considering travelling to Nepal?

Linda:   Nepal has been making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce some of the plastic they use.  They are especially working on cleaning up the garbage along the hikes, where trekkers will drink a minimum of 2 litres of water a day, all out of plastic water bottles.  My suggestion would be to bring your own water treatment tablets so you can fill up your re-usable water bottle with tap water and then treat it yourself.  I hiked for 14 days and drank about 4 litres of water a day. The more water you drink the better your chances are for not getting altitude sickness and you also save the planet from 56 1-litre water bottles. Not bad!  Many of the trekkers were still buying water bottles regardless of the environmental impact, however I hope that people will think twice.

There are so many beautiful places in Nepal and so many locals who are willing to show you around.  I would explore Nepal solo in the cities however join a group tour for the hikes.  You can also find tours once you land in Nepal which are all very reputable.  Hiking is one of the main industries so they have it pretty down pact in regards to what they need to do to make it successful.  If you are not feeling a 2 week hike there are several other hikes you can do to experience the Himalayas.  A shorter but great hike is the Annapurna Base Camp trek which is done in  5- 7 days. The Nagarkot area is also very popular for trekking with many day hikes and overnight hikes available.  Nepal’s slogan is “once is not enough” and after going, I definitely understand what they mean.

WTW:  Those are great things to know. Thank you so much Linda for you time and for sharing your photos (all owned by Linda and used with permission). It’s great to learn so much about Nepal. It sounds incredible.

*Note: Wanders The World  or Linda are in no way affiliated with G Adventures and all opinions expressed are her own. 

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Sunday Special – Slea Head Drive, Ireland


Since it was St Patrick’s Day on Friday, today’s Sunday Special will be a beautiful spot in Ireland. As many of you know, Ireland is my favourite country. It is beyond beautiful – a place that has captivated my heart like no other. During my first visit to the ‘Emerald Isle’ I joined a tour from Killarney to Dingle along the Slea Head Drive. This was my first “day tour” (via bus) in Ireland. I have to say, it did not disappoint. The mid-March day was pleasantly sunny and made for some great views. So much so that I can not  remember the name of each location the tour stopped in. I was so overtaken with the stunning views that I tuned out what the tour guide told us!  What I do recall are lush green hills, stunning vistas, ancient ‘beehive’ huts, the Atlantic Ocean, a few stellar beaches and hearing about a local dolphin named Fungie. At one stop there was a magnificent view of the ocean where it met with the rugged shoreline of the Dingle Peninsula. The cool wind against my face was strong yet refreshing as I watched as the waves pummeled the earth. The sun was bright but not hot, it is Ireland after all. The grass beneath my feet was soft as I walked along the coast not wanting to head back to the bus. This was one of those perfect moments. Along with scenic views there was a stop to visit some of the clochans or beehive huts that are believed to be centuries old. It amazes me that they have stood for lifetimes yet do not appear to give their age. Beaches and the colourful town of Dingle added to this pleasant day. This beautiful drive certainly has chipped away at my fear of renting a car and driving on the opposite side of the road, something that I do find daunting. Oh but Ireland, you may be worth conquering that fear.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula

Beautiful Dingle Peninsula

Ancient Beehive buildings 

Sunday Special – Whale Watching in Maui, Hawaii 


Second largest of the eight islands that comprise the US island state of Hawaii, Maui is known for being a lush tropical paradise. Of the various activities found on the island, whale watching is near the top of the list. The ideal time to see the numerous pods of Pacific Northwest humpback whales is November through May. During this time these magnificent creatures make their annual sojourn from the northern Pacific Ocean to the warmer waters of the South Pacific.  They travel nearly two months to either give birth or to mate. January and February are the most prolific months of “mating action” with males actively vying for the attention of the females.

One of the best ways to see the whales is out on the water (though it is common to observe them from land). Maui boasts a number of tour companies offering whale watching so there are plenty of opportunities to view these stunning mammals. Additionally, humpback whales are protected internationally by various laws and acts. No country, region or person can claim to own them. They can not be corralled, poached, harassed, fished or traded between any countries. Yay!!

Should you find yourself in Maui in February take time out to visit their annual Whale Festival. Presented by the Pacific Whale Foundation, this day aims to educate people about protecting humpback whales and oceans. They even have a parade. The next one is coming up on February 18, 2017.

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Humpback Whale in Maui _ Photo is Public Domain via Wikimedia Commoms

Sunday Special – Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand 


Ice. Moving ice. Big moving ice. It can be found in various places on our planet. I usually associate it with the northern part of the world, however that is not the only side that has these magnificent glaciers. The south does too and today we’ll be looking at two which are found in New Zealand. Considered among their most famous pieces of big moving ice are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.

These glaciers are located on the  western coast of the South Island of the country. Although they are not the largest of New Zealand’s glacier (that title belongs to the Tasman Glacier) they both share a trait not common to rivers of ice. These glaciers end at a rainforest. That means that they terminate rather close to sea level. This is due to their very high altitudes along the mountain. All that snow and ice stays cold and only begins to melt when it reaches the end of its trail which is close to sea level.

Of the two, Franz Josef is visited much more often and has more tourists. It has also been described as being more spectacular although it is smaller than Fox Glacier. Though the less touristy Fox Glacier may be an incentive as well. Either way, I do not doubt that they will provide amazing memories. I think I will add these to my travel list and I don’t even like snow!

Many tours and adventure companies are available to help you see and experience both of these mammoth ice marvels. Numerous activities and ways to experience them are open to you. From walking/hiking to the ice, helicopter tours, Glacier Hot Pools and skydiving with incredible views. Alternately you can make your way there by car and walk the region on your own (though be careful and do not stray from the paths or cross marked barriers for your own safety).

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Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons  – Taken and owned by Dramatic

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Fox Glacier, New Zealand – Photo: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)