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NEPAL HAS long been known as one of the best places in the world to go trekking, boasting eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including Everest. However, it is not just the lure of the mountains and ice blue glaciers that is the draw. For many, it is the chance to explore the unique


culture and wildlife of the Himalayan kingdom as you trace the ancient trekking routes. These meander through slumbering valleys, terraced fields and beautiful rhododendron forests and connect the picturesque mountain villages inhabited by a variety of ethnic groups, including the Sherpas. In recent years, many routes have become increasingly busy, with 95 per cent of the 120,000 visitors never venturing beyond the most well known in the Annapurna, Langtang or Everest regions. This year, however, that’s set to change with the opening of four new trekking routes as part of Nepal’s 2011 Year of Tourism. Previously these areas were controlled by Maoist


rebels, who were involved in violent clashes with the government between 1996 and 2005. Since the political situation stabilised three years ago with the end of the monarchy, new areas have been opened up to tourism. And with these new routes, the government hopes to spread wealth to impoverished areas and boost sustainable tourism. Most exciting of all the new treks is the Great


Himalaya Trail, which will afford views of all of Nepal’s 8,000m peaks. The plan is to eventually extend the trail from Nanga Parbat in Pakistan to Namche Barwa in Tibet, passing through Bhutan, China and India. Even as it stands, the new route stretches over 1,700km and will take five months to trek. At £20,000 it doesn’t come cheap – but what it


offers is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore remote cultures. And it is still much cheaper than the cost of scaling Everest, which has seen 4,000 ascents compared to this new trail, which has only been traversed by a few people.


On your feet World Expeditions, a UK operator, are offering this trek, which will be led by respected experts including Stephen Venables, the first Brit to summit Everest without oxygen. It’s not for beginners, but is perfect for those looking for adventure. And if you can’t take


A climber in the Himalayas


Most exciting of all the new treks is the Great Himalaya Trail, which will afford views of all of Nepal’s 8,000m peaks


April/May 2011 businesslife.co 57





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