In this job I am extremely fortunate that I get to visit far flung corners of the globe and have amazing experiences with some fantastic groups, but of all the countries that I have visited in recent years nowhere has got under my skin like Nepal. Obviously it is an incredibly beautiful country and if, like me, you are moved by the mountains there can be few better places, but it is so much more than that. The people are amazing, they are proud, warm, friendly and enthusiastic I have never felt more welcomed by people who have had an incredibly tough few years since the earthquakes in 2015, the food is delicious and the culture is intriguing and ancient, there is much to like. This trip was with King’s Al Barshar who I have already travelled with to Borneo and Cambodia, one of the most interesting things about working with the Dubai schools is the mix of nationalities that we travel with, on this trip we had students from the UK, Ireland, USA, Jordan, Italy, Egypt, the Netherlands and Kenya, this diversity whilst remarkable to me is taken for granted by the students and I find this extremely refreshing.
Working with Camps International we use The Last Resort (home of Nepal bungy) as our base and it’s a fantastic place reached by an intimidating suspension bridge that hangs 180m above the Bhoketosi River. From this amazing base we spent a week adventuring around the district, we hiked, climbed, abseiled off bridges and down waterfalls and rafted…..all of which had some of the students at the edge of their comfort zone but all of which were completed successfully but a committed and determined team. Perhaps the highlight for most of the students was the visit to the village of Tyangthali where we visited the local school, made Momos (delicious Nepali dumplings stuffed with chicken and herbs) for the community and visited the home of a local student to find out more about the very tough life of the local residents most of whom practice subsistence agriculture. The village was very badly affected by the 2015 earthquake with the school being completely destroyed by a huge falling boulder and the majority of dwellings also badly damaged. Coming from the West and living the comfortable lives we live, activities like this are always very humbling and during the reflection sessions we do with the students it was this activity that came up again and again.
After we had completed all our adventurous activities we headed back towards Kathmandu stopping for a night at the city of Bhaktapur where we had a fascinating exploration of the old city and learned about the heritage of the Newari people who live in the area, many of whom are potters and have been for generations. We saw the spectacular Nyatapola Temple and the Palace of 55 Windows and the students were able to indulge in some souvenir shopping that tested their haggling skills! Our trip ended at one of my favourite places, the Boudhanath Stupa, a spectacular whitewashed dome adorned with prayer flags and constantly circled by troops of pious visitors. Nepal is a truly wonderful place and I cannot wait to go back!