Hikers without Borders 2019
1st TRIP: October 19-November 6, 2019
2nd TRIP: November 2-20, 2019
PRICE: $2600 USD Per Person
GROUP SIZE: 10 Participants
Join BACKPACKER magazine on a life-list trek in Nepal and help with earthquake recovery efforts. BACKPACKER and Wildland Trekking are partnering to send multiple teams to Nepal in fall 2019!
- Join fellow BACKPACKER readers on a weeklong recovery project — no skills required; training will be provided.
- Support communities in need. After a 2015 earthquake devastated Nepal, thousands of schools and villages were damaged or destroyed. Long after the disaster faded from the news, the recovery efforts continue.
- Trek through the world’s highest mountains on a 9-day journey on the little-known Nar Phu route in the Annapurna region. After the service project, we’ll spend a layover day in Kathmandu, then depart for the trek.
A note from Dennis Lewon, BACKPACKER Editor-in-chiefOn a steep hillside above Manang, one of the highest villages on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, a lone monk lived in a one-room dwelling made of stone. Locals said he’d taken a vow of silence more than two decades earlier and hadn’t spoken a word since. I climbed up to see the monk when I trekked the route—apparently, he had a sweet tooth and appreciated visitors who brought him cookies. I found him sitting in his hut, and he grinned brightly when I deposited the treat on his small wooden table. He raised his hands to bless me, we smiled some more. Not much happened, really, but I remember the moment clearly 30 years later.
I’d learned about the Annapurna Circuit from an article in this magazine. The story extolled the unequalled beauty of the Himalaya and the people who lived there. It contained a photo of 26,545-foot Annapurna. I was sold.
I wasn’t the only one. Since 1973, BACKPACKER has run more than a dozen articles on Nepal, always saying: Go. Go have the experience of a lifetime. Go meet people you’ll never forget. It worked for me and it worked for generations of trekkers before and after.
So when an earthquake devastated Nepal in April 2015, it felt like a friend was in crisis. We at this magazine had a special obligation to help a country that had long helped us. We championed ways to give back, everything from donating to relief funds to traveling there to help restore the tourism industry. But one fact quickly became apparent: The damage was so extensive that the recovery would take years and require continued efforts long after the disaster faded from the news cycle.
That’s why we’ve launched this special project to put teams of BACKPACKER readers on the ground, in places where help is needed most. This time, we’re not asking for donations; we’re asking for volunteers. It’s time to put some sweat equity into a place that needs safe schools as well as a trekking economy.
Of course, trekking is also on the agenda. We’ll spend the first week working in a rural area. The second week, we’ll go on a trek in the mountains. Think of it as closing the circle between lifesaving aid and life-list adventure. I’ll bet that monk would approve, even if he couldn’t say so.
- Dennis Lewon, BACKPACKER Editor-in-chief
Participants fly into Kathmandu. Participants are responsible for their own flights. We will rendezvous at the airport and make our way to our first night's hotel. We will have dinner together and an orientation meeting this evening.
Today is an acclimatization day and rest day from the international travel. We will tour Kathmandu, relax and orient ourselves to Nepal.
Today we transfer to the project site, meet the project managers, orient ourselves and prepare to get started.
These days we will be working on the building project for 8-12 hours each day. Training and tools will be provided. All meals are included during this time.
We will finish up our work on the project, pack up, and head back to Kathmandu to prepare for our trek.
Today we transfer to Koto Village in jeeps. It is an 11-12 hour drive along one of the most unique and scenic roads in Nepal. One part of our route takes us along an incredible road blasted out of a cliff, and we drive by waterfalls, deep gorges and amazing views. After our arrival in Koto we will get settled in our tea house accommodations for the evening, and enjoy a classic Nepali dinner.
- Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 8,592 feet
- Highest Elevation: 11,748 feet
Today we embark on our trek with an initial stretch to the town of Meta. We begin by crossing the river and entering the Nar and Phu Valleys. Today's hike takes us through majestic forests, through a narrow canyon, under a broad waterfall, and out into the open for big mountain views. The last stint into Meta ascends a steep hill, where we earn jaw-dropping views of some of the giant glaciated peaks in the region.
We will check into our tea house, have some to relax and/or sightsee, then meet for a much-deserved dinner.
- Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 11,748 feet
- Highest Elevation: 13,464 feet
After breakfast we'll depart Meta, and begin to see some of the iconic, spectacular Tibetan Buddhist chortens for which Nar and Phu are known. Our hike meanders along a ridge with a wonderful view of a magnificent monastery. We'll continue hiking through breathtaking canyons and gorges, then up a steep ascent to the village of Phu.
After getting settled into our tea house we'll go on a short hike up to the famous Tashi Lhakhang Gompa to honor Lama Karma Sonam Rimpoche who arrived in Nepal with the Dalai Lama in the late 1950's. We'll return to Phu for a wonderful hot, Nepali dinner.
- Hiking Time: Optional up to 5 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 13,464 feet
- Highest Elevation: 15,748 feet
Today is a layover day to acclimatize in Phu. You'll have the option of exploring the village and relaxing/recuperating, or hiking up to the Himlung Himal base camp. Phu is a fascinating village, and a day of exploration here is well spent. Opportunities abound to be around the villagers as they spin wool (sheep and yak), crush seeds into oil paste, and engage in other daily activities.
For those participants interested in an extra challenge, we offer a trek up to Himlung Himal base camp. Himlung Himal (23,379 feet) was recently opened for climbing, and the route to its base camp takes us through a stunning glacial valley and past herds of blue sheep grazing on steep cliffs.
- Hiking Time: 6-7 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 11,517 feet
- Highest Elevation: 13,464 feet
Today we retrace our steps back toward Meta, but deviate at the Nar Phedi monastery, which is our accommodation for tonight. Amazingly, the monastery is all that Nar Phedi consists of.
The monastery accommodations are neat and clean, and the nuns are exceptionally gracious and welcoming. We'll join them in the kitchen and help/watch them cook supper on a rustic fireplace. In the evening the nuns often do a blessing ("puja"), which we are welcome to observe. A modest donation box exists for visitors to contribute to the health of this wonderful, friendly place.
- Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 11,517 feet
- Highest Elevation: 13,563 feet
Today is a relaxing hike. We ascend from Nar Phedi and hike along a winding trail up a hill toward Nar. We hike past a line of colorfully painted chortens on the way into the ancient village of Nar around lunch time. Nar is not very far from the famous, very popular Annapurna Trail, but it is off the beaten path enough to be rarely visited by trekkers and is as stunningly picturesque as Nepal gets.
The rest of today is set aside to explore and enjoy Nar. We'll reconvene for dinner at our tea house.
- Hiking Time: 8-9 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 13,563 feet
- Highest Elevation: 17,292 feet
Today is a strenuous hike so we'll wake before sunrise, have a quick breakfast and begin trekking towards Kang La Pass, which connects us to the popular Annapurna Circuit. Kang La Pass is not a technically difficult pass, but the high elevation (17,292 feet) will take its toll on us. From the pass we will soak up views over Tilicho Peak, Gangapurna, Annapurna II, and other towering Himalayan giants.
We'll descend from the pass and make our way to Ngawal, which sits along the Annapurna Circuit. You will notice the difference of being on the Circuit, as the tea houses are larger, the menus much more extensive and we will have access to cell signals and wifi.
- Hiking Time: 4 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 15,003 feet
- Highest Elevation: 11,748 feet
Today is the last of our amazing trek. We'll notice the temperatures rise and the flora become much greener as we descend more than 6000 feet from where we were yesterday, at Kang La pass. We pass a beautiful lake and arrive in Pisang, where we get picked up by jeeps and driven to Besisahar, where a comfortable lodge awaits.
Today we board jeeps and drive back to Kathmandu.
This is the departure day for which to schedule your outbound flights. As a group we will make our way to the airport and say our fond farewells. What an amazing 2+ weeks it's been!
- Transportation for the duration of the trip
- Tea house lodging during the trek
- Professional, certified Himalayan hiking guides
- The majority of meals (lunches/dinners in Kathmandu before/after the trek and lunch/dinner on day 2 are not included)
- Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
- Transportation to Kathmandu, Nepal
- Backpack, sleeping bag and trekking poles
- Bar bills, drink bills, extra snacks, telephone bills , wifi bills and other personal expenses (shopping/ laundry)
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
- Kathmandu and Day 2 lunches/dinners
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- All expenses due to unavoidable events e.g. flight cancellation, personal illness, strikes, etc. (we recommend trip insurance coverage for these variables)
- Trip insurance that includes medical coverage and at least $200,000 in evacuation and repatriation coverage (required)
- Gratuity for trekking guide(s) and crew (industry recommendation is 10-15% of trip cost; please tip your lead guide and they will distribute responsibly to the crew. USD is recommended.)
BACKPACKER and Wildland Trekking will communicate directly with the group on the details once the trip is filled.
We will meet you at the airport on Day 1 and transport you to the first night's hotel, where we'll conduct an orientation meeting the first evening (your flight should arrive in Kathmandu before 5PM).
Age restrictions are as follows:
- 12 and older to join this trip
- Anyone younger than 17 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian
Field evacuation and repatriation insurance is required on all Nepal trips as a condition of partnership terms with our Nepali vendors. We also recommend medical insurance.
If you need to purchase field evacuation or repatriation insurance, we recommend IMG/iTravelinsured. They are one of the world’s leading providers of travel insurance and policies meet all Nepali requirements.
For information on the recommended IMG/iTravelinsured policies please click here.
For even greater information, or if you simply prefer communicating with a real, live person, feel free to contact our exclusive agent Michael Bennett. Michael will help you identify the best product for your needs, and there is no cost associated with his assistance. You may contact him at:
Email: WildLandTrekking@EasyToInsureME.comIf you already have the required insurance or wish to purchase from anyone other than IMG/iTravelinsured, we recommend careful consultation with the provider to ensure appropriate coverage. This is because many providers have a number of policy exclusions (of particular note for Nepal is to check field evacuation elevation limits).
US by Phone: 877-305-9083
Direct/International by Phone: 702-448-3664
Please bring a copy of your insurance policy to provide to your guides at the orientation meeting.
Nepal is home to the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas. Kathmandu is at an elevation of 4600 feet (1400 meters), but the high points on our Nepal Treks are very high (13,000 to 18,000 feet). Because of these wild elevation changes, the temperatures and weather can also vary wildly.
The average temperatures and precipitation in the Himalayan region are:
|Kathmandu||Himalayas (11K ft)|
|March||75° F||46° F||10 mm||49° F||27° F||31 mm|
|April||82° F||54° F||29 mm||55° F||31° F||36 mm|
|May||84° F||59° F||70 mm||57° F||38° F||55 mm|
|June||84° F||63° F||129 mm||59° F||42° F||171 mm|
|July||81° F||64° F||325 mm||60° F||45° F||283 mm|
|August||81° F||64° F||239 mm||60° F||45° F||261 mm|
|September||81° F||63° F||175 mm||58° F||42° F||161 mm|
|October||77° F||57° F||67 mm||54° F||34° F||63 mm|
To reserve a spot, please complete this form and we will respond promptly with availability and any other requested information. A $500 deposit is required to reserve your spot.