Pokhara > Kathmandu for departure
April 29 @ 9pm Nepal time
The Kristin teams rolled into Bodhanath stupa around 5:30pm after their long journey from Pokhara. We had enough time for a snack at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the stupa before once again boarding the buses for the ride to Kathmandu Airport. Check-in for the Silk Air flight went well and they have checked everyone's bags all the way back to Auckland and also handed out the Singapore > Auckland boarding cards, so the team is set. Unfortunately, the Silk Air flight departing Singapore for Kathmandu left an hour late, so that will push back the departure from Kathmandu to 11pm.
Because of the large group size, we're all very sure the connecting Singapore > Auckland flight will wait on their arrival to load the bags and passengers. As of now all looks good for a 10:30pm arrival back into Auckland on Monday evening. I'll continue to update if/when I get any additional information from Andrew in Singapore.
April 29 @ 2:45pm Nepal Time
A quick update on the all important transfer from Pokhara to Kathmandu for the international departure this evening.
The team woke up early in Pokhara and loaded everyone and their bags into our two buses and headed back to Kathmandu around 6am this morning. Because of the early departure, the road were clear and the group was able to enjoy the smooth ride and wonderful final views of the Annapurna Himalayas. They all stopped for lunch around noon at a nice restaurant located on the banks of the Trisuli River where the rafting excursion took place over two weeks ago.
We just heard from the team and they are entering the Kathmandu Valley and it's default setting of gridlock traffic jams. We all hope they make good progress through the urban labyrinth and are able to reach the gigantic Buddhist stupa of Bodhanath where we have a light lunch prepared for them in a restaurant overlooking this magnificent historical structure. Our plan is to then depart for the airport by 6:30pm so that we can check the large group in for the Silk Air flight to Singapore well before the crowds form and complicate things unnecessarily. I'll keep you updated as the final day in Nepal comes to a successful conclusion.
Ghandrung Village to Pokhara
April 26 @ 8am Nepal time. I just spoke with the trekking team and they are all making their way down from the final overnight lodge in the village of Ghandrung to the pick up point in a small settlement called Naya Pul. It will be about a 5 hour hike total with a final picnic lunch before the group boards the buses we'll have waiting for their arrival. They will then be driven an hour back to Pokhara. We expect them to arrive at Hotel Meera around 2pm Nepal time. The afternoon will be free for hot showers and a bit of shopping time in the Tibetan markets of Pokhara that are right outside the hotel. After dinner in the hotel, the evening discussions and planning will turn to the two days of community service work that will begin on Friday morning.
Bamboo Village to Chomrong Village
April 24 @ 2:30pm Nepal time
The Kristin student group has finished the 5 hour trekking day that brought them from Bamboo Village (2,310m) down to their previous lodge in the village of Chomrong (2,170m). The weather pattern of the previous few days has remained consistent with beautiful clear mornings until about noon when clouds and even a bit of rain rolls in. Everyone is hiking strong and are in good health, but are also most likely very much looking forward to the hot showers and comforts of Hotel Meera in Pokhara that awaits when they complete the trek on Thursday. Tomorrow they will continue the descent to the village of Ghandrung for the final overnight on the trekking trail.
We are all busy making final preparations at the location of the community centre project gathering together the solar panel parts, mounting racks, batteries, wiring and concrete drills bits so the system can be installed April 27 & 28. We're also buying water filter systems to distribute to each household in the local villages. We're in the home stretch of a very successful trekking expedition!
Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo Village
April 23 @ 6pm Nepal time
The Kristin trekking team woke up this morning in Annapurna Basecamp under clear blue skies and flawless weather. Everyone enjoyed the spectacular sunrise and stunning high mountain views of the Sanctuary before starting to descend once again to lower altitudes.
After breakfast at Annapurna Base Camp, they all then trekked back down though Machapuchare Basecamp(3,700m) and the previous overnight lodge at Deurali(3,230m) all the the way back to the relatively moderate altitude of Bamboo (2,310m). They reached the lodge in Bamboo around 3pm and enjoyed the benefits of almost 1,800m lower elevation as well as the comfort and security of the lodge while a light rain fell. The weather has settled into an optimal pattern of clear skies in the morning until about noon and then clouds start to form with a bit of rain in the afternoon after the group reaches the lodge. Tomorrow the group will continue the descent back to the village of Chomrong(2,170m).
Everyone is in fine shape and the few minor altitude related headaches have cleared now that the group has trekked down to a dramatically lower elevation. All continues to go very well in Nepal.
Trekking from Machapurchare Base camp to Annapurna Base Camp
April 22 @ 12 noon Nepal time
Andrew Churches has just reported from Annapurna Basecamp that the Kristin group enjoyed the best day of the trek thus far with glorious clear blue skies as team made their way up the final 400m to the Annapurna Sanctuary at an altitude of 4,130m. They are all settled into the lodge and will head out after lunch for a 2>3 hike to explore the glacier and take in the spectacular views. Mr Churches noted that clouds were starting to roll in which is pretty common for the higher altitudes.
There are no medical issues to report and everyone seems to have successfully acclimatised to the altitude due to the gradual elevation gains over the past 7 days. There is a weak and unreliable wifi signal available at the lodge and Mr Churches is going to try and send through a few photos of the ascent to ABC a bit later in the day.
It's a red letter day that has been many months in the planning and now the team is successfully in Annapurna Basecamp on a splendid afternoon! All is good in one of the most beautiful locations in all of Nepal if not the entire world!
Trekking from Deurali to Machapurchare Bacecamp
Current location: http://fms.ws/vBLM7/28.52655N/83.90768E
April 21 @ 5pm Nepal time. The Kristin Nepal expedition group woke up to clear blue skies this morning for the trek to Machapuchere Basecamp. It was a short, but steep climb up to the cluster of guesthouses located just below the spectacular peak known internationally as "Fishtail" because of it's unique "fin" shaped summit. After reaching the lodge around noon, the weather once again changed and the group got their first Himalayan snowfall in the afternoon.
Everyone is doing very well and are having no problem acclimatising to the gradual elevation gains each day. The location of the lodge the group is staying in tonight is at 3,700m which is pretty much the summit of Mt Cook! Tomorrow will be the crescendo day when they trek though light snow until reaching Annapurna Basecamp itself at an altitude of 4,130m. All is going very well, spirits are high and there are no medical issues to report. Cell phone coverage is virtually impossible, so I am getting reports from the lodge SAT phone. More photos will not be possible until the team descends back to a lower elevation.
Trekking from Bamboo to Deurali - April 20
The group made their way higher up the trail leading to basecamp and along the way encountered a bit of rain and then just as they reached the lodge in the village of Deurali, the sky opened up with a spectacular hailstorm. Mr Churches reported that there were several inches of hail covering the ground outside the lodge.
Mountain weather sometimes delivers 5 seasons a day and the Kristin group is getting a bit of everything as they make their way higher into the narrow canyon leading to basecamp. I'm hoping to get some photos sent from the lodge, but perhaps the hailstorm knocked out the already weak 3g signal that sometimes reaches as high as Deurali at 3,320m.
All are well tonight in Nepal!
Trekking from Chomrong to Bamboo
April 19 @ 8am Nepal time. Great news! The weather has finally cleared and everyone woke up to glorious views of Annapurna South, Machapuchare (Fishtail) and the other snow-capped peaks in the Himalayan range they are trekking toward. Today's hike will first descend for an hour and then once again ascend to a slightly higher elevation of 2,310m at the small settlement of Bamboo where the group will spend the fourth night on the trek.
The weather forecast is for continued clear skies, so the timing of the trek seems to have been blessed with optimal weather for the final approach to the high glacial basecamps. The group will soon enter the "blackout" zone as far as mobile phone signals are concerned, but there will be SAT phone options at the lodges each night so I'll be able to get reports each evening which we'll continue to share with you all. All good in Nepal!
Trekking from Landrung to Chomrong - April 18
Landruk - 18 April
April 17 - Trekking to Landrung Village
4:30pm Nepal time - April 16
Everyone has arrived in the first trekking night destination of Australia Camp.
The sherpa team is very impressed with the strength and fitness of the group who made it to the camp in just over 2 hours of uphill hiking. The weather is a bit hazy, but hopefully the clouds will part and afford everyone a wonderful view of the entire range of the Annapurna Himalayas that is available from the camp. Here are a few photos taken as the group arrived.
Several students "walked in the shoes of the Nepalese" by taking over porter duties and hauling the 30>40kg loads in traditional style. All good in Nepal!
Day Two... White Water Rafting
Current Location: https://www.findmespot.com/mylocation/?id=uzWiJ/27.86561N/84.63263E
After a thorough safety briefing and fitting of flotation jackets and helmets, the group is off for the 4>5 hour raft trip. The weather is clear and warm, so the conditions are perfect.
All the Kristin students & staff really enjoyed the white-water raft trip today on the Trisuli River. Everyone is now safe & sound in the riverside tented camp and are enjoying hot drinks and a bit of time to relax before dinner is served by the rafting crew.
After dinner the crew will put on a nice campfire so everyone can enjoy the relaxing sounds of the river and the first star filled night in Nepal. There were no accidents or incidents to report on the rafting excursion. Everyone is looking forward to a night in the tents and then departing early tomorrow morning for the start of the trek to Annapurna basecamp. All good in Nepal!
Day One in Nepal
We've all have had a very good day here in Nepal. Everyone woke up from a well deserved night of rest and enjoyed a breakfast buffet in the hotel dining room. We then spent about 2 hours repacking from the travel suitcases to the new Kristin duffel bags so that everyone is ready to go tomorrow morning. After a lunch in the garden of the hotel we drove though the traffic, earthquake damage, urban intensity and city sprawl to the outskirts of Kathmandu and the location of the VVM School.
Because this was Nepalese New Years day, the students of the school were on break, but the Kristin students were welcomed by the principal of the school who expressed his sincere gratitude for the generosity extended by the Kristin students in raising funds necessary to service and replace the internal filters of the school's water filtration system.
There are almost 600 students attending the school and the clean, hygienic drinking water that will now once again be possible because of the new filters and UV light sterilisation parts will have far reaching benefits in not only the health of each student, but also the quality of education they are receptive to because they are not distracted by gastrointestinal distress, dehydration and other consequences of a fouled water supply. The Kristin students also turned over a wonderful supply of new sports equipment to the principal. Before leaving, I reminded the principal that the Kristin students and community also collected a large amount of toothbrushes and other extremely useful medical supplies which we will be utilizing in our major dental and vision camp to be held at the school on April 27.
After receiving traditional garlands, the Kristin team left for the ancient hilltop temple of Swayambunath where they will enjoy this 2,500 year old sacred monument and it's splendid panoramic view of the entire Kathmandu Valley. After dinner once again in the hotel the teachers will be getting everyone to bed so we can have an early and efficient departure for the rafting tomorrow morning.
Breakfast at the Hotel Manaslu
Today’s plan is pack for the trek, visit VVM school in Patan and present the UNICEF donation and then explore Kathmandu.
Arrival in Kathmandu!
The Kristin Nepal expedition team arrived safe and sound here in Kathmandu. The Silk Air flight touched down on time and after about 1.5 hours to secure visas and collect the luggage and cargo, everyone rolled out of the airport. We drove everyone back to Hotel Manaslu where the students were give a short briefing and encouraged to head right up to their rooms and get a well deserved night of sleep. Mr Churches requested that we not wake everyone up until at least 7:30 tomorrow morning.
All the students and staff are tired, but grateful the long journey to Nepal has been completed. We'll get started on the good stuff tomorrow morning. The hard part is over. Warm regards from Kathmandu!
Nepal Trip 2018 - Packing with a difference!
This Wednesday 39 students boarded a plane for Nepal, participating in a 3 week adventure aimed at making a positive difference for earthquake ravaged villages in the Himalayas. Alongside personal packing, the students packed a whole range of donated goods, after dedicating hours of their time these last 18 months.
Nils Bachmann and friends worked weekends doing odd jobs, sausage sizzles and refereeing to buy sports equipment for local children and tools for the community centre project Kristin School is helping to build. Over 1500 toothbrushes have been packed in bags, ready to get to the dental clinics that need them.Briar Petrie and her team wrote letters and collected 2000 feminine hygiene products, to help ensure girls stay in school all year round.