On my trek in Nepal last January our trekking group passed many yak trains on the path. These animals are quite amazing, considering their size and the burdens they are expected to carry up and down the mountains paths. They are smaller than I had anticipated, being short but very stocky in build. They are obviously very strong and resilient, hauling large loads up steep inclines over long periods of time.
Our guides warned us to always give way to the yak trains. Some of the loads were quite wide, taking up quite a deal of some of the narrower paths. One could easily get a nasty bump from the load. The guide also stated that some yaks have a nasty habit of giving trekkers a hefty nudge, so it was always wise to be on the uphill side of the yaks.
Getting behind a yak train can be frustrating on several counts. They are inclined to be plodders, walking at a much slower pace than even slow trekkers like myself. This makes overtaking on the narrow paths a hazardous undertaking.
Another hazard was the dust stirred up by these animals. Some sections of the track we hiked were covered in dry and very powdery dust. Many of us were severely affected by the dust which clogged our nasal passages causing great discomfort. The dust from our own feet was bad enough. The yaks just made it far worse. The dusty conditions were far more hazardous than their manure which was deposited in copious amounts all along the track.
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On the acclimatisation day at Namche Bazar one of the highlights was adding a number of new birds to my “life list.” A birder’s “life list” is a list of all the species seen in one’s lifetime. For me this list stands at a meagre 369 out of a world list of nearly ten thousand. Of those 369 I added 55 of them in Nepal during my visit last January.
In Namche Bazar I saw a flock of Snow Pigeons and several Yellow Billed Choughs (also called the Alpine Chough). I was particularly “chuffed’ to see the choughs as it was one of my target species to see. We have an unrelated species, the White Winged Chough, resident near where we live in South Australia. A flock regularly visits our garden.
One species of bird I saw in Nepal will never be recorded in our home garden, the Himalayan Monal. This turkey sized bird has stunning colours on its wings. On the trek we saw several flocks if this beautiful bird but they were too quick for me to photograph. The above photo was taken in a museum. According to the Lonely Planet Guide, the Monal has a peculiar habit. It doesn’t really fly but prefers to glide instead. If it wants to go uphill, it walks instead of flying.
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On our acclimatisation day in Namche Bazar I thought we would be having a rest day.
We probably did more walking that day than any other day on our trek. The only difference was that it was mostly at about the same altitude. Before breakfast we walked up a very steep ridge to view Mt Everest at dawn. I wrote about that here.
After breakfast we headed up the ridge again and then around the ridge and along a very beautiful track which happens to be the route to Tibet. Mind you, the Tibetan border was still seven days’ walk away.
Along this track we passed through rhododendron forests which unfortunately were not in flower being the middle of winter. We were also fortunate to see a small flock of Himalayan Tahr, a close relative of the wild goat. They actually look like a very large goat. They are native to the Himalayan regions of Nepal, India and Tibet. Feral populations exist in New Zealand where they are a popular target for hunters. For more information click here.
- Travels in Nepal – archive of my travels in Nepal.
On my trek in the Himalayas last January one of the most impressive aspects of my time in the mountains of Nepal was the constant mountain views to be had in every direction. Possibly the most amazing of all were the views from Namche Bazar. Towering mountains in all directions is the norm. No matter which way one looks the views are worth a thousand photos. Above is just one of many I took during my stay at this village.
I must admit to spending quite some time just sitting in the dining room of the lodge where I was staying and simply staring out of the windows at the scene. I tried to soak up the staggering scenery on show in every direction.
In the late afternoons the dining room is the place to be, especially when the heater is lit. The setting sun sets the surrounding mountains ablaze with light and colour. As the nearest mountain leaves the lodge in its shadows the temperature plummets in minutes. That is when the fireplace becomes a magnet for the trekkers.