Kiwis in flight: 7 reasons you can’t miss trekking the Himalayas
There is no feeling quite like standing at the foot of the world's tallest mountain range in complete silence – above the clouds, above most other humans, above the busyness and stress of modern life. It's one of the best travel experiences we've ever had.
But we almost didn't do it; we simply thought it would be too hard. And while it was tough, it turned out to be much less strenuous than we thought – we've done treks in New Zealand that made our legs ache more.
So, put the excuses aside and take a trip to the Himalayas: here are 7 reasons you can't miss it.
1. Sunrise is like no other
Unless you're in a plane, not many people get to watch the sunrise above the clouds. But when trekking in the Himalayas, it's standard.
Because the peaks are so tall, you'll see them turn a fiery orange well before you get a glimpse of the sun. Then eventually, the cloud all around will also start glowing. No other sunrise is quite like it.
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2. The stars
The Himalaya range has virtually no light pollution and has been named one of the best "dark skies"on Earth.
Take a look outside in the middle of the night and you'll see more stars than you thought possible.
3. The trekking trails are spectacular
You'll find hundreds of different treks for all fitness levels that range from a day hike, to more than 12 days.
You'll also never be short of a spectacular peak to admire – in Nepal alone there are more than 1300 mountains higher than 6000 metres!
The treks typically begin in dense bush, and wind their way up through valleys and rhododendron forests until you reach the mountain range proper. Some treks are very popular and busy; on others you'll see very few tourists.
4. You'll be taken back in time
Each trail weaves through a network of old Nepalese villages, generally perched on the side of a hill above terraced fields for growing rice and vegetables.
Each region has its own customs, dress and traditions - so every village is different. You'll get a glimpse of true mountain life, where food even arrives by donkey!
5. The guesthouses are spectacular
There are very few places on Earth you can open your window to a breathtaking mountain view – and only be paying $4 for the privilege.
The Nepalese have spent decades refining their offering to tourists; and despite being at 10,000 feet your guesthouse will probably offer hot showers, a huge variety of food (from traditional Nepalese to Italian and even Mexican) and then a warm apple pie for dessert.
6. It's easier than you think
We almost gave up on the idea of trekking in Nepal - fearing it would be too difficult, or that we might get altitude sickness.
But if you space the trek out, you'll only need to walk 3-4 hours per day, and at that pace the risk of altitude sickness is greatly reduced. Our guide told us it's those who go too high too fast that have problems.
There are also dozens of teahouses on most routes, meaning a well-deserved rest is never far away.
You can hire a porter to carry your bags for around $15 a day, and a guide will cost around $20 a day. Having both makes it significantly easier. And don't let age be a barrier; on our trek we met a group of fellow New Zealanders in their 60's going higher than us!
7. The hot springs
There's no doubt you'll get some pretty achy muscles, and that makes the 50 hot springs dotted on the Nepalese side of the Himalayas an absolute paradise. An entry ticket only costs around 50 cents!
Last year Brook Sabin and his partner Radha Engling quit their jobs and sold everything to travel. They started a blog onflightmode.com and now call themselves fulltime travellers, making a living selling travel photos and video all around the world. Each week Kiwis in Flight will take you on their adventures.