TREK RELIEF: LANGTANG VALLEY

Bulletin #1

Introductions, Giving Back, Transparent Expenses, &

What We Need from You

Dhanyabahd,

(Nepali for “thank you”)

Thank you for your interest in joining us on our compassionate adventure to Langtang Valley, and welcome to the Trek Relief family! By joining us, you are making a beautiful impact on the lives of the people that we will be visiting. To start getting you excited about this trip, here are some details about what sets our program apart from others:

Introducing our team

We are partnered with a high-end Nepali trekking agency who is deeply appreciative of the work we are doing and has given us a special rate, enabling us to redirect funds toward our service projects. Our professional trip leaders have worked for prestigious companies such as National Geographic Adventure, Mountain Travel Sobek, Peregrine Adventures, World Expeditions, and Overseas Adventure Travel - so without a doubt, you will be well looked after! From serving wake up tea and coffee to carrying yoga mats on the trek, our team strives to provide the best experience for your philanthropic trip to the Himalayas.  Come to help communities at the roof of the world, equipped with the knowledge that you will be with the very best.

Compassionate travel

As travelers, we gain so much from visiting a new land… but why can’t the favor be returned? We believe in a two-way exchange, where our participants get to both give AND receive. With Trek Relief, you will experience what it is to Travel with Purpose. Please feel free to bring your friends - on this service-oriented fundraising trip, the more the merrier and the greater the impact!

  • Volunteer work

At the gateway of the Langtang Valley trek in old Syabrubesi, Trek Relief has adopted the crumbled Komin Shyamey Wangphel Secondary School. Our project funding and main volunteer work is focused on reconstructing the school. Additional volunteer work may be possible on the trek depending on availability, community needs, weather conditions, holidays, and special events.

  • Trail cleanup

As a way to give back to the Earth, our team picks up the occasional trash on the trail that we see as we go uphill. You are invited to join this optional activity, which also allows you to take breaks and gain elevation slowly while being stewards of the Earth.

  • Material donations

If you are looking for another way that you can help Nepal, we know of several causes to channel needed resources. Please let us know if you can bring any of these items. Or, if you have access to any resources not listed below that you’d like to donate, please let us know and we’d be happy to help you find a deserving recipient!

  • Medical supplies - we are currently seeking donations for our Everest Medical Project. When asked about specifics, the local doctors said they were short on EVERYTHING. Medical instruments would be the most valuable contribution because medicine is generally cheaper in Nepal.

  • School supplies - the schools are in need of educational posters, maps, and science teaching materials. English is fine. Notebooks and pens are always welcome.

  • Projector - it has been requested to be able to show public health education programs at the Salyan Primary Healthcare Center and for classroom lessons.

  • Children’s books and toys - we are in contact with an orphanage in Kathmandu that houses many children. Good condition, second hand items are fine. If it works within your schedule, we can arrange a visit for you to deliver these donations personally.

Transparent finances

Trek Relief operates on a lean and carefully planned budget where any and all revenue is reinvested back into the organization to enable our programs to be created, implemented, and run smoothly.

In order to be radically transparent, we have separated our program fee from our charitable contribution - so that you know exactly where and how your money is being spent!

For this program, each participant is contributing on average $690 toward enabling our school project goals. This covers the school build material and transportation costs, construction personnel, and program organization and implementation. This project is entirely funded by Trek Relief’s participants and donors - so thank you for making this community’s dream a reality! Please visit our website for the latest updates and progress.

$810 covers the trip cost, which includes 2 nights of accommodation at the International Guest House (before trek departure and upon return), free airport pickup arranged through our hotel, yoga class emphasizing high altitude breathing techniques, welcome and farewell dinner, 10 days of trekking and activities, our exemplary trekking guides and porters, food and accommodation in transit and on the trail, private transport to/from the bus station, bus transport to/from the trailhead, trekking permits, Langtang National Park entrance fee, and a duffel bag, sleeping bag and down jacket for personal use on the trail.

Please note: each trip is unique and service expenses and fundraising distribution may fluctuate according to group size and circumstances.

What we need from you

Your trip is confirmed when we receive the following items from you:

  1. Completed Trek Relief Participant Information Form

  2. A clear picture of your passport details

  3. A clear picture of a 2" x 2" passport-style photo (white background)

  4. Donate or fundraise a minimum of $1,500 for Trek Relief at least 2 weeks from departure

  5. Your plane ticket confirmation

The next couple bulletins will give you all the information you need to get you geared up and prepared for your upcoming trip to the Himalayas with Trek Relief!

Meanwhile, please like us on Facebook to keep up with our progress and updates - and thank you for sharing! https://www.facebook.com/trekrelief


TREK RELIEF: LANGTANG VALLEY

Bulletin #2

Traveling in Nepal, What to Expect, and The Trail

Namaste,

(Nepali greeting, meaning “I bow to the divine in you”)

What does teahouse trekking in the Himalayas look like? In this detailed bulletin you’ll find information on travel logistics in Nepal, what to expect on a trip with Trek Relief, information regarding health and safety, trail descriptions, and tips on how to train for your trek!

AT A GLANCE

Destination: Kyanjin Gumba and Kyanjin Ri peak

Max Altitude: 4779m/15,679ft

Trekking distance (RT): 54km/33.5mi

Activity level per day: ~ 5-7 hrs walking

Trip Highlights

  • Trek through rhododendron forests, yak pastures and villages

  • Experience the local's unique Tamang culture and Tibetan villages

  • Gaze at the icefall from Kimshung and Langtang Lirung peaks

  • Enjoy the glory of Kyanjin Gumpa from the famous Dorje Bakery

  • Witness firsthand the massive landslide that marks where Langtang Village once stood

  • Volunteer with rebuilding the Komin Shyamey Wangphel Secondary School

TRAVEL LOGISTICS

Nepal visa

Visa on arrival is available at the airport. A single entry visa for 15/30/90 days costs $25/40/100. You can use the automated kiosks when you exit the terminal. However, if the kiosks are not functioning you’ll need to provide a 2X2 photo to obtain your visa (bring one just in case).

Travel insurance

Please note that Trek Relief does not cover travel insurance for its participants. Though purchasing travel insurance it is not required to attend, it is highly suggested. Policies that cover high altitude trekking and helicopter evacuations are preferred. Bring a copy of your insurance policy with you and leave a copy with your designated emergency contact. This will speed up the claim process in the case of an emergency. If you choose to not to get insurance, you are responsible for paying out of pocket for any emergency expenses. We recommend Trawick International, which can cost anywhere from $7-40 to cover your entire trip: https://www.trawickinternational.com

Getting in

If the skies are clear, you will see the great Himalayan range as your plane lands in Kathmandu. It normally takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to Thamel, the main tourist center of Kathmandu. Airport pickup is arranged through our base at the International Guest House in Thamel - just send us your flight details! Our pre-trek briefing and high altitude yoga class is held in the lovely courtyard garden at 4pm the day before departure unless otherwise specified, followed by a welcome dinner.

We depart the hotel at 7AM the next day to catch the bus to Syabrubesi, the starting point of our trek. It is a bumpy 8-9 hours from Kathmandu; the road conditions in Nepal are very poor, but the scenery is well worth it! Try to sit on the left side for the best views.

Money and tips

1 USD is around 100 Nepalese Rupees (NRS). ATMs and money changers can be found right outside the airport and every corner in Thamel. There will not be any opportunity to take out or exchange money on the trail. If you plan on buying souvenirs or beers on the trek, perhaps prepare $100 in leisure money to spend.

Trek Relief does not cover tips - this is up to your discretion. If you appreciate the services provided by our staff, please consider tipping them. As a guideline, the suggested amount per participant for the entire 10-day trip is $100, to be divided among the staff. Generally, the trip leader receives 30% of the total and will be collecting the tips on our last night in Syabrubesi. Please prepare for this in Nepalese rupees before leaving Kathmandu.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Accommodation and showers

On the trek, you will be staying in Nepali teahouses. Lodging is clean, basic and generally double occupancy. Be prepared to use eastern squat toilets and for the possibility of no hot showers. If that is the case, our staff will be providing washing bins with warm water at the lodge.

Food

On treks in Nepal, it is customary to eat dinner and breakfast where you have your lodging. The staple diet of Nepal is dal bhaat, or lentils and rice with a side of vegetables. Langtang Valley is populated by Tibetan Buddhists, so upon starting the trek be prepared for all vegetarian (and organic!) food. If you have any special dietary restrictions or allergies, please be sure to indicate them on our Trek Relief Participant Information Form. Though all food is covered on the trip, we encourage you to bring snacks and comfort foods from home for variety.

Drinking water

As a service to our guests, our staff will be providing safe, treated Himalayan water at the lodges. Remember to leave your bottles at the dining table to be refilled!

Electricity and internet

Langtang Valley operates purely on solar power, and sometimes their batteries become depleted. On the trail, there will be limited opportunities to charge your batteries, and expect to pay up to $5 per charge in some lodges.. Please come prepared by bringing a headlamp/flashlight, extra camera batteries and a backup battery bank.

*Tip: to extend battery life, keep your batteries in your pocket to prevent them from being drained when it’s cold out!

Wifi is available at guesthouses, nicer restaurants, and cafes in Kathmandu and even at our base in Syabrubesi. However, there is no wifi on the trail. If you wish you may pick up an NCell SIM card for 3G network (you’ll need a 2X2 photo and your passport to do so) but you will get signal only up to Rimche, at the end of the first day of the trek.

On the trek, satellite phones are available in some lodges and cost $1/minute if you would like to make an international call.

Laundry

Laundry services are available in Kathmandu, but on the trail you will have limited opportunity to wash your clothes. In the lower elevations small items can be hand washed and dry easily, but above 2,500m it may be too cold. Some people prefer to bring plastic bags to separate clean from dirty clothes and wait to get back to Kathmandu.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Immunizations

There are no official immunization requirements to enter Nepal, but the following should be considered with the consultation of your doctor:

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Meningitis

  • Cholera

  • Typhoid

  • Tetanus-Diptheria

  • Polio

  • Measles, mumps and rubella

  • Japanese Encephalitis B

Altitude sickness

Acute mountain sickness (AMS), or altitude sickness, becomes a concern above 2,800m.  The symptoms are a headache, feeling breathless on exertion, loss of appetite, nausea, difficulty in sleeping, dry cough, and/or general fatigue.  

Prevention

One drug currently known to prevent AMS is acetazolamide (diamox), which can be taken preventatively or as a treatment; start with 125 mg diamox every 12 hours, with a maximum dosage of 500 mg per day.  However, you should not use this medicine if you have cirrhosis, severe liver or kidney disease, an electrolyte imbalance, adrenal gland failure, or an allergy to acetazolamide or sulfa drugs.  It also causes some minor side effects, such as tingling fingers and a funny taste in the mouth.

Natural supplements to prepare the body’s cardiovascular oxygenation process are gingko biloba and chlorophyll, which should be taken (in the form of tablets or drops) consistently at least a couple of weeks prior to your arrival to high altitude.  Ginkgo biloba improves blood circulation and increases saturation in arterial oxygen, allowing the brain to tolerate lower oxygen levels. Chlorophyll increases the amount of red blood cells in your system; the more red blood cells there are, the more opportunities there are for oxygen to be absorbed.

During the trek, go up slowly, take it easy, and give your body time to get used to the altitude.  The body has an amazing ability to acclimatize to altitude, but it needs time. For instance, it takes about a week to adapt to an altitude of 5000m.

Treatment

The first thing you should do when you start feeling symptoms of AMS is to continuously drink lots of water.

If the symptoms go away, you should continue your trek. But if they persist or get worse, you must descend. The deciding factors for immediate descent are: inability to walk in a straight line and breathlessness even when at rest.

To learn more about AMS, visit: http://www.altitude.org/altitude_sickness.php

Safety while volunteering

Please protect yourself at the school construction site by wearing high ankle boots while volunteering. Use your sunglasses as eye protection, and we will provide work gloves and dust masks. Before starting the volunteer work, your trip leader will be giving a safety briefing highlighting the potential hazards on site.

TREKKING CONDITIONS

Weather

Because we will be gaining 3,200m in elevation, what you experience at the beginning of the trek will be drastically different from the top of the valley. Please be prepared for all conditions - hot, cold, wind, rain, snow, hail, and bright sun. Below is a chart detailing temperatures in Langtang Village (3430m), near the top of the trek.

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Trail description

The trail starts in Syabrubesi and follows the Langtang Khola (river) all the way to our final destination, Kyanjin Gumba. In total it takes 3 days to walk uphill and 2 days to return following the same path. Every few hours you will pass a settlement, populated by newly reconstructed homes and teahouses. The earthquake’s effects are evidenced by the various landslides that you will cross, which makes the trail quite rocky and uneven at times.

On the first day of the trek, the trail will take you up the forested canyon of the Langtang Khola, where langur monkeys are often spotted. By the second day you will leave the tree line and enter the broadening Langtang valley, where you will catch your first glimpses of yaks and zopkios (yak and cow hybrids). On the third day, you will pass an unimaginably massive landslide that marks the grave of Langtang Village, which used to be the largest settlement in the valley. The final stretch to Kyanjin Gumba is incredibly scenic and has many chortens and mani walls dotting the path. Kyanjin Gumba itself is a charming small town, and you will spend 2 glorious nights in this scenic settlement. The view of Langtang’s tallest peak, Mt Langtang Lirung (7246m), is extraordinary from Kyanjin Gumpa. On the 4th day, an optional half day hike up Kyanjin Ri peak will give you rewarding panoramic views, and is followed by volunteer work with the community. To return, we follow the same path downhill over the next 2 days. Our last day is dedicated to volunteering at our school site in Syabrubesi.

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Trip itinerary

The following is a flexible itinerary, dependent on trail conditions and group pace.

Day 1 - Check into hotel, 4pm pre-trek briefing, yoga class and welcome dinner

Day 2 - Bus to Syabrubesi (1503m) and team icebreaker at school site

Day 3 - Volunteer at school site

Day 4 - Trek to Lama Hotel (2410m)

Day 5 - Trek to Thyangsyap (3130m)

Day 6 - Trek to Kyanjin Gumba (3830m)

Day 7 - Optional hike Kyanjin Ri (4779m)

Day 8 - Trek halfway back

Day 9 - Trek to Syabrubesi, if time permits volunteer at school site

Day 10 - Bus to Kathmandu and farewell dinner

Day 11 - Check out of hotel

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Training for the trek

Prepare yourself for walking 5-7 hours a day on the trek. Many people begin moderately fit and end the trek feeling amazingly healthy. To maximize your enjoyment on the trip, plan an exercise program that trains  you for endurance hikes well in advance before you go. Brisk walks are a good start, building up to include long walks up and down hills while wearing your hiking boots. Carrying a weighted pack will help you get stronger. Whenever possible, take the stairs to train for ascents/descents, and seek out exercise programs that build up your cardio.

The best way to prepare for altitude is to go to elevation - if possible, within 2 weeks prior to your trek spend at least a night or two somewhere 3,000m or above to acclimate.

Whew! We know that’s a lot of information, but we hope it has helped paint a clearer picture of what’s to come. Feel free to print this out to keep as a reference on your trip. The next bulletin will walk you through in how to pack for the Himalayas!


TREK RELIEF: LANGTANG VALLEY

Bulletin #3

How to Pack for the Himalayas!

Tashi delek,

(Tibetan greeting, meaning “blessings and good luck”)

Let’s talk gear! Once you get to Nepal and before leaving Kathmandu, we need to make sure that you have everything you need to survive the Himalayan elements. Regarding clothes, think conservative. Bare shoulders and knees, especially in rural mountain villages, are culturally inappropriate and should be avoided.

Himalayan conditions

The weather in the Himalayas is unpredictable and can change from clear skies in the morning to snow in the afternoon. Please prepare for all extreme weather conditions: bright sun, wind, rain, mud, ice, hail, and snow.

The sun is much brighter and harsher at altitude, especially if there is snow. Fair skin will burn easily, and most people wear sunglasses and a large brimmed hat or baseball cap. The wind and cold can leave your skin chapped and cracked; thick moisturizers and vaseline and a buff or scarf to cover your face will help protect you from the elements.

The trail in Langtang can be quite rocky since we cross many landslides caused by the earthquake. High ankle boots will protect you from rolling an ankle, and they will provide you with more protection at our volunteer sites. Break in new shoes before coming to trek - you’ll be happy you did! Sandals will be a happy compliment to your boots and useful for showers, at the lodge, and resting your feet at lunch.

Trekking poles are a good option for those who are older or are concerned about their knees for the long downhill descents. If you are unsure, bring them just in case - they can be collapsed and kept in your duffel if you don’t need them.

Fun in the lodge

The day doesn’t end when we stop hiking. There will be down time while food is being prepared, after meals, and in the mornings before departure. We will be providing yoga mats for some much-needed stretching, but how you choose to spend your time in the lodges is up to you! Feel free to bring games, instruments, hobbies, speakers, etc. to share with your fellow trekkers and staff. And who knows, perhaps the people who will enjoy the entertainment the most will be the locals!

What we provide

As a service to our participants, we are providing a 55 liter trail duffel bag, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, down jacket, and toilet paper rolls. These will be distributed to you at our pre-trek briefing the day before departure.

All of the essentials can be picked up cheaply and easily in Kathmandu, the knockoff trekking gear capital. You can even stock up on your medications in the local pharmacies - no prescriptions necessary! We’ve included below estimated costs in Nepal, with variance depending on the style.

Luggage logistics

The porters will pick up your duffel bag from your room each morning and deliver it to the day’s destination. Expect to not have access to your duffel until you reach the lodge at the end of the day.

During the day, you’ll be carrying your own daypack which should have all the Himalayan trail essentials: rain jacket/poncho, fleece top, sun hat and sunglasses, and water bottle/thermos.

If you are traveling with extra luggage that you won’t need for the trek, you can leave it at the hotel in Kathmandu free of charge.

TREK RELIEF PACKING CHECKLIST

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We hope that this gets you excited as we are to get on the trail. Don’t forget, let us know you’re coming by filling out the Trek Relief Participant Information Form. And with that, happy packing!


TREK RELIEF: LANGTANG VALLEY

COST BREAKDOWN

The values below reflect the trip costs and contributions for an average group size of six. Group costs are shared among trekkers, which allows more funds for our projects. We encourage inviting friends and family to participate to create an impact together!

Most of the trip costs incurred are shared costs, and therefore the more people that attend a single trek, the more money is contributed to our beneficiary.

Please note that although the United States IRS only approves tax-deductibility for project contributions specifically, money that goes towards trekking service fees fuel the local economy and provide for families in need.

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