Nepal | Trek with Mr. Shiva
Travel Dates | August 28, 2017 to September 11, 2017
Nepal is colorful in every sense of the word. There’s the capital, Kathmandu, which is chaotic. The sidewalks and streets are one in the same, forcing pedestrians to dash into storefronts, hoping to dodge run-ins with motorcycles, bicycles, or cars.
And tucked in the alleyways are bright canvases of smells and textiles. Merchants kindly peddle masala, turmeric, and Himalayan salts, as well as a mix of handcrafted and wholesale Tibetan rugs, pashmina scarves, and hemp button-ups. Yet I was shown the real beauty of Nepal when I trekked in the Annapurna Conservation Area.
Michael and I started the hike with our guide, Mr. Shiva (pronounced see-ba). At first he was quiet, but later he would be the reason this trek was so special.
Our first views and conversations with Shiva were about the small villages we passed through. There was a little turn into politics, too – mostly about the new democracy, their first female president, and the glimpse of corruption as seen on Nepal’s pockmarked highways.
And as we climbed the valley’s heat dissipated, as did the sheet metal shacks and tea fields that obstructed our view of the mountains. But when we reached Ulleri (6,430ft/1960m) I could finally see the top of Annapurna South (23,684ft/7,219m). That first view was one for the storybooks.
There we settled into our teahouse and learned a little more about Shiva.
Nepali Flat | A Little Bit Up, A Little Bit Down
Shiva would often describe our hikes as flat. But he really meant to say sections of the trail were at less of an incline than others. We hiked about 10 miles per day for 5 days, pushing through true ups and downs, as well as Nepali flat.
It seemed the further we got away from the city, the more Shiva shed his reservations. We weren’t just making small talk, but he began telling us about where he fell in the caste system, his childhood, and his family. Yet I think Shiva showed his true cards, so to speak, when we learned to play Dumbal.
Wine-Wine & A Nepalese Card Game
On the 3rd day we reached Tadapani. It’s the centrally located mountain village on the Annapurna Circuit. So most hikers pass through at some point on their trek. We reached Tadapani quite early, around 12pm, and true to the mountains the weather was shifting quickly. So Michael and I decided to stay for the night. And we started making conversation with fellow hikers, and met Tanya, a Ukrainian mathematician, who tried to teach a Ukrainian card game called Durak, or Fool.
Neither Michael nor myself quite grasped the game, leaving us looking like literal fools, but we chalked it up to a language barrier.
“Do you want to learn a Nepalese game?”
Before I realized Shiva was watching us struggle, he benched himself next to Michael and started doling out cards and teaching us Dumbal*.
Of course we agreed, because only days before Shiva had let us know that everyone is a winner when he plays cards. But that man is a card shark. So after a few hands, and a bottle of actual wine** later, Shiva opened up.
*See below to learn how to play.
**In Nepal there is Raksi, a Nepalese wine that’s similar to Japanese sake. It’s made from rice, has a strong flavor, and normally made at home. However, they do have wine, but be sure to specify.
A New Friend
Michael and I agree that our trek experience was incredible, and mountains aside, I think the credit goes to Shiva. He has this beautiful personal story that makes him relatable, but more importantly, kind. When we were exploring, I felt that guiding wasn’t just Shiva’s job, but he really loved sharing the mountains, his home, and most importantly, his story.
If you’re visiting Nepal, have Shiva be your personal guide. Our trip wouldn’t have been the same without him. And if you’re curious to hear his personal story, please visit unbabbled.com and listen to Michael’s feature on the man himself.
Trek with Mr. Shiva
Private Travel Guide in Nepal
Mr. Shiva provides Nepal-based excursions tailored to suit every adventurer’s needs. He is certified as a mountain and city guide, and is well equipped to assist with any planning or safety questions that might arise.
Some Tour Options
Wildlife, Trekking, Cities, Religious, and Historical
For further questions, contact Shiva directly at the email listed below. Together, you can create a trip perfect to your needs.
Groups and individual trips are welcome.
Shiva will take care of everything. He has been a guide for over 16 years, and has an incredible knowledge of the mountains, as well as every teahouse and teahouse worker. Also, Shiva purchases the hiking permits and maintains flexibility even on the hike. “When you’re happy, I’m happy.”
Our Trek Schedule
Day 1 | Nayapool (3,542ft/1080m) to Ulleri (6,430ft/1960m)
Day 2 | Ulleri to Ghorepani (9,429ft/2874m)
Day 3 | Ghorepani to Poon Hill (10,531ft/3210m) to Tadapani (8,513ft/2595m)
Day 4 | Tadapani to Chhomrong (7,119ft/2170m)
Day 5 | Chhomrong to Nayapool