Star trekking opens up a world of possibilities

Star trekking opens up a world of possibilities

MENTION Nepal and most people think of Mt Everest.

However, while this tiny, remote country may boast the world's highest and most famous mountain, you do not need to be a professional mountaineer, or even a serious trekker, to enjoy it.

A number of operators now cater for clients who not only want to see the spectacular scenery and experience the culture on foot, but who would prefer to go at a gentle pace and stay in comfortable accommodation.

Bales Worldwide group tours manager Chris Grimes said: "The most popular option for people going to Nepal is to do a tour and then add on a trek.

"As well as the scenery there is a lot to see culturally.

"Places like Bhaktapur, famed for its wood carvings, are stunning."

The operator's latest brochure, launched on August 12, offers a 14-day itinerary which includes four days trekking starting at the city of Pokhara and taking clients through the Modi Rivervalley.

Grimes said: "The tour is gentle. You start at 3,600ft and gradually walk up to higher areas, but you never go above 6,500 ft.

"Also, all your luggage is taken for you so you don't have to worry about carrying any excess weight."

The tour leads in at £1,599 and accommodation is in basic lodges rather than tents.

"Some people just don't want to sleep in a tent. Staying in the lodge means you get a good meal and a bar where you can swap trekking stories," said Grimes.

As well as trips for the seasoned trekker, Cox and Kings offers a softer option in the Annapurna mountain range of west Nepal.

"We are sending a lot of people to Annapurna. It is flat and not at a high altitude," said product manager Charlie Ridout.

The lead price for a four-night trip staying in tea houses, traditional village lodges built in local style, is £350.

"The trip starts in Pokhara and involves about 5hrs walking a day," added Ridout.

"Part of it involves walking through a forest of rhododendrons, which is an amazing sight."

Next year Cox and Kings is introducing a three-day rafting trip on the Seti River which can be added to any tour at a cost of £250.

Ridout said: "The country we travel through is not accessible by road so you are getting a special insight into thecountry.

"It is quite an adventure; you travel on an inflatable raft for 3hrs a day and spend the nights camping."

There are plenty of options for those who want more of a challenge.

Both Bales and soft-adventure specialist The Imaginative Traveller offer trips to the mountain kingdom of Mustang, which up until quite recently was inaccessible to tourists.

Six new tours of varying degrees of toughness were introduced by The Imaginative Traveller this year: two in the Everest region, two in the Annapurnas and two - including Mustang - off the beaten track.

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