Namaste Nepal

With hands pressed together at the breastbone, our driver bowed slightly and welcomed us to Nepal with the traditional greeting of “Namaste”. This mystical and mountainous country is our newest travel frontier. Our two-month mission: to go further from home and higher in altitude than we have ever gone before.

Hindu sacred cow on the streets of Kathmandu

For the first month, we will be based in Nepal’s second largest city of Pokhara, and for the second month we will move to the capital and largest city of Kathmandu. In both locations, we will explore Nepali culture, observe important Hindu festivals, and embark on hiking treks into the highest mountains on earth.

Hindu human cremations on the banks of the Bagmati River, Kathmandu

Just as the Himalayas are central to Nepal’s earthly identity, Hinduism and spirituality dominate Nepali society and culture. Worldwide, Nepal has the most citizens per capita that identify as Hindus. They practice Hinduism more as a way of life than as a religious duty, and worship various gods and deities in temples scattered around the country.

Hindu festival, Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

During these early autumn months, Nepal celebrates its two most important Hindu festivals. The largest and most prominent is the 15-day Dashain harvest festival commemorating the Goddess Durga’s victory over evil. Two weeks later, the enchanting 5-day Diwali festival kicks-off with singing, dancing, and the lighting of oil lamps and firecrackers.

Himalaya trekking scene, by Prakash Gurung

While we are excited to experience Nepal’s Hindu festivities and culture, the primary purpose of this trip is to hike in the Himalayas. First, we will attempt a ten-day trek to the base camp of Annapurna, the world’s tenth highest peak. Later, we will endeavor a 12-day trek to the base camp of Mount Everest, the world’s highest and most famous mountain.

First beers with Claire in Nepal

For this two-month expedition in Nepal, we transported over 8,000 miles to hike over 18,000 feet in elevation. We have never been this far from home or tried to climb this close to the stars. In recognition of the experiences and challenges that lie ahead, we return our driver’s greeting with our own humble bow and reverent reply of “Namaste”.

“Namaste”, Shopkeeper, Kathmandu

Feature Photo: Our eldest daughter Claire meeting us at the Kathmandu airport. Back in April, Claire set off on an open-ended around-the-world backpacking adventure. She is an extremely adaptable and high-spirited traveler. We are thrilled that she could meet us in Nepal, and overjoyed that we can travel together for the next several weeks.

Blogger’s Note: This week, we will begin our first hiking trek into the Himalayas. For ten days, we will be on the trail and off the grid. As such, I may not be able to react to your comments in a timely fashion. I apologize in advance and promise to reply when I return to civilization. Wish us luck.

13 thoughts on “Namaste Nepal

  1. This sounds like an epic adventure, Joe. During lockdown, I watched endless YouTube videos of Mount Everest hikers, including many alone of that angular landing at the Tenzing-Hillary airport — certainly not one for the faint-of-heart! Good luck to you both! – Marty

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    • Too excited to sleep, Marty. We leave in the morning for the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. Later in October, we will fly into Tenzing-Hillary in Lukla to begin our trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. I will probably loose another few hours of sleep anticipating the landing on that mountainous runway. Thanks for the timely encouragement and well-wishes. I am going to need them!

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    • Hi Moira! This is a trip that Esther and I have wanted to do for a long time. We finally realized that we weren’t getting any younger and the trails weren’t getting any easier. Given the remote nature of the treks and limited internet access in the teahouse lodges along the way, I will have to wait to write my next post. We will be collecting lots of pictures; however, and should surely have some good ones to share. Thanks for cheering us on!

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    • I will look for your old footsteps, Neil. You must have some indelible memories of your own epic 1982 trek to Everest Base Camp. We are also planning to hike to Kala Pattar for the spectacular views of Everest, weather permitting. It will be the highest elevation we will reach while in the Himalayas. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll be thinking of you up there.

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    • Thank you, Janis! This is a very special adventure for us. Having the chance to travel to Nepal and hike in the Himalayas with Claire is really an exceptional opportunity. She may have inherited her love of travel and adventure, but she is doing things that I never dreamed of. We are fortunate that she was in the area and our schedules fit together so nicely.

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  2. Oh wow this is going to be amazing just following you, let alone actually being there and doing it. Love your dual objectives, so exciting to have aims and ambitions with travel. The trek to the first base camp is something I’ve coveted for years – not sure I’ll do it now but will definitely enjoy tagging along with you two. Good luck to you both!

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  3. I’m so glad you are able to see your daughter and share part of this trip with her! Clearly, she inherited your love of travel. And I’m very impressed with your upcoming trip! I’m looking forward to reading about it, and I know you’ll have lots of great photos too!

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  4. Joe, wow… such an amazing adventure. Something that Brian and I have had on our travel wish list for ages. I will be there with you guys vicariously, can’t wait to hear all about it? Will you be joining a group or will you be trekking independently?

    Sent from my iPhone

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  5. Hello Joe and Esther,
    Love hearing if your safe arrival and seeing some of the sites and people so far.
    You are such a wonderful writer – we will enjoy learning of your new discoveries along the way.
    Safe trekking and Namaste!
    Kimberly and Steve, Pia too

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  6. I didn’t know there was a way to top the Inca trail, but somehow you’ve managed it. I look forward to the stories and the pictures.

    I understand Hinduism is by far the oldest continuously active religion in the world. I’d be curious if you find any insight into that.

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