Sudarshan KC was the winner of Explore's Tour Leader Awards 2011 and part of his prize was a trip to the UK. He was originally due to visit us in November of last year but fell victim to the weather in his home country of Nepal. He was one of thousands stuck in the mountain town of Lukla as the clouds closed in making flights in and out impossible. He finally made it over this week and while here we sat down to talk to him about his life as a Tour Leader, his pride in his work and what he loves about Nepal.
Why should people travel to Nepal?
The thing many people don’t realise is that the word ‘trek’ actually started in Nepal, so people should come to the country which originated trekking! Nepal also covers a wide range of altitudes – from 67metres above sea-level to the heights of Everest - so there is a huge range of bird and flower species which people don't appreciate when they think of Nepal. We have 873 species of bird here for example.
What advice do you have for people travelling to Nepal?
Listen to the Tour Leader, even if you are a regular walker. All of us are highly experienced mountain guides and set the pace on all walks – let us! It may seem slow but take it slow and you’re more likely to enjoy the treks and successfully complete them. Plus, taking your time means you get to appreciate the beautiful surroundings more.
What is your favourite place to walk and why?
I love walking in the countryside, often away from the mountains. For me, the secrets of a country can be found in its countryside.
What top tips would you give to someone thinking of booking a trek?
I think the first thing is to know your own fitness and ability. Make sure you choose a trek which is right for you and one where you can handle the walks as this means that you’ll enjoy the holiday so much more than if you choose one too difficult for you. Also, leave you troubles and ‘real life’ at home. Just take in what’s around while you’re on trek to make sure you really appreciate it!
Do you recommend using walking poles?
Yes, definitely. They’re great when used properly, especially when walking downhill as they take the pressure off your knees. Plus, when walking in snow you can use them to help see where there is uneven ground and avoid crevices! If you don’t have any, you can pick them up in Kathmandu at the start of all our treks.
What about food in Nepal? What should people definitely try?
Rice and lentils are a staple while on trek and we try and give people a variety of things along with these. Dumplings, or ‘momos’ are good and are often steamed with meat, vegetables and spices. They’re great for energy and very tasty!
What is your favourite time of year in the mountains?
Definitely springtime. There are lots of flowers and usually good weather.
What is one thing you are never without when trekking?
Earplugs! They’re great for blocking out any heavy snorers. Plus, hand sanitiser is a also a must-have.
What are your favourite things about being an Explore tour leader?
I think the appreciation Explore has for the work we do and the trust which is put into us to do it. We are free to lead the tours and make any necessary decisions but there is also always 24 hour support in the Explore office if we need it. I also love that Explore customers like a bit of adventure, more so than most people. They don’t mind if things go wrong – in fact it often adds to the sense of adventure for them!
Tell us about an amazing moment you’ve had on tour?
It’s difficult to pick one moment – Nepal is full of amazing moments. When I receive good feedback from customers, that is the wow moment for me.
Do your groups find the treks emotional at all?
Yes, even the most experienced travellers! People always make great friends on tour. There are jokes, singing, dancing and often making fun of each other so you bond like a family very quickly. This makes leaving at the end of the trek hard – I often see tears in their eyes as we get to the airport.
Anything else you’d like to share about Nepal?
I think it’s not just the mountains which make my country special – it’s the people. The leaders and the people you meet on trek all enhance the experience. Everyone is one big family and is very welcoming – that’s how we do it in Nepal!