For many, stepping off a plane into Kathmandu is a shock to the senses, from the loud traffic-jammed alleyways of the old town to the city’s intoxicating incense temples. But for our Exodus Guide, Bikash Tamang, these sights, along with the breath-taking Himalayan mountains, are his playground.
Taking avid trekkers to the Everest Base Camp, the famous “thin-air metropolis” – is all in week’s work for Bikash. On this exhilarating ascent, he leads the way past ice seracs and ancient monasteries to make it to the foot of the Khumbu Glacier where the group reaches their final destination – the Everest Base Camp, that’s situated 17,500 ft above sea level and encircled by some of the most iconic peaks on Earth. Read on to find out how Bikash came to be a guide in Nepal and discover the country’s deeply rooted affinity with these iconic mountains.
Tell us how you became a guide in Nepal?
Bikash smiled and explained, “I was raised with my family in Hetauda”, a sub-metropolitan city in Bagmati Pradesh situated in central Nepal. He continues, “But after finishing 10th grade, I moved to the bustling capital city of Kathmandu to look for a job so I could help support my family financially. During this time, I made a lot of friends from the travel and trekking industries in the backpacker district of Thamel.”
“They advised me to go into trekking with them, so that’s when I really started considering it as a career and began working as a porter.” He says, “After finding my feet on the mountains, I started training as a trekking guide and completed my qualifications in 2015. I’ve been working as a guide in the Himalayas ever since.”
Since the 1950s, when Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary’s daring expedition made history by being the first trekkers to make a successful ascent to the top of Mount Everest, avid trekkers have continued to flock to Nepal in search of adrenaline-inducing hikes, spiritual strolls around ancient monasteries and incredible Himalayan mountain vistas.
Bikash comments, “Tourism in Nepal has got big scope for me and for many locals living in rural communities, so it was important for me to continue training and exploring new areas in the Himalayas.”
What was your training like, and how do you get to know every group you travel with?
Studying for two years, Bikash explained that he undertook intensive training to become a fully qualified guide, completing modules in advanced wilderness first aid (where he trained with Himalayan medics), Buddhism training, mountain leadership, and rescue training. He also told us that he spent an incredible month backpacking and guiding disadvantaged youths with Initiative Outdoor.
When asked how it feels each time he heads out on a trek with another group of travellers, he was quick to comment, “For me, I feel wonderful after every trip. It’s something I really enjoy doing and it makes me happy.” He continues, “It also gives me an opportunity to connect with new people from different cultures, and I can learn more about their traditions and way of life back home. More importantly, all of my clients I meet along the way become good friends for life.”
“I start by telling them my name, Bikash, but I tell most of my friends to call me “B”. During the treks I always carry smile on my face, which I think they like the most.”
What’s your favourite trekking route, and what are the main highlights to see along the way?
He continues, “On the Everest Base Camp trek, one of my highlights is going to the Everest View Hotel, which we visit on Day 5 of the trip. It gives us all the chance to take a well-deserved rest, where the group can enjoy some tea at the hotel with a stunning mountain view.”
Built by the Japanese, the Everest View Hotel opened in 1971 and made it onto the Guinness World Book of Records in 2004, for being the Highest Placed Hotel in the world standing at 13,000 ft. Nestled in between the rhododendron forests of Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, Bikash explains that the hotel is the ideal tea break spot, rewarding trekkers with, “360 degree views of the awe-inspiring peaks of Mount Everest and Ama Dablam.”
Another highlight for Bikash is the stunning views you can see from the summit of Gokyo Ri. After an exhilarating ascent on day 10 of our Everest and Gokyo Lakes Circuit, you can experience this beautiful vista for yourself. Stretching out for miles the view from the summit not only shows you the breath-taking views of the Ngozumpa Glacier, Nepal’s longest glacier, but also gives you a view of four out of the seven highest peaks in the Nepalese Himalayas.
Bikash comments, “Gokyo Ri is one of the best mountain views in the Khumbu region, situated at an altitude of 5357m. This peak is one of my favourite 360-degree views in the Himalayas, as it takes in Mount Everest and other towering snow-capped peaks that stand over 8000 m.”
What do you love about trekking and sharing your country with visitors?
Bikash comments, “I love to walk in nature, take in the beauty of the Himalayas and engage with local communities. I always like to entertain friends on my trips by talking about Nepal’s fascinating history and culture. It’s important for me to tell travellers about traditional festivals while also sharing stories of our country’s deeply rooted values in mountaineering and trekking.”
He continues, “I love to teach them our local language and about typical Nepalese cuisine too. They always get excited when I explain to them about local foods, and I’m only too keen to share!”
In your own opinion, how do you think clients should prepare for the trek mentally and physically?
He explains, “No matter if you’re an avid hiker or complete beginner, it’s important to always plan and prepare ahead for the trek. Bikash continues, “Our Exodus trip notes are always fully updated, and really useful for travellers who want to hike in the Himalayas, so I recommend that everyone read them. The trip notes are full of friendly, useful advice that leads them in the right direction.”
He stresses, “Being mentally prepared is the most important thing. I would say, never underestimate where you are going. It’s essential during the trip that you listen to your body, while also being kind and respectful to each individual in the group. We work as a team in the mountains.”
What would you recommend to pack for the trip and what is the one essential thing customers usually forget to pack?
Bikash explains, “I’d recommend travellers to bring sunglasses with UV protection and a polarized, warm jacket. Hats, gloves and thick socks are also good to bring, along with proper waterproof trekking shoes and trekking poles for the tougher ascents.”
“Another thing I’d really recommend taking with you is water purification tablets or any kind of water treating device, like Steripen for example. We really encourage all of our clients to make plastic-free trips, so we can continue to keep the mountain clean, and show respect to nature.”
He also mentions, “We’re lucky that most of our clients usually bring everything they need with them, but we have had a couple of occasions where travellers forget to bring trekking poles. They’re really handy to have as they provide good anchor points to balance against as you make your descents.”
Why should customers choose an Exodus trekking holiday?
Bikash explains, “One of the main reasons why I continue to guide with Exodus and why I believe clients should choose to holiday with us, is because I am proud to work with a company who believe in giving back to local communities they visit.”
He continues, “Also, we have very hardworking, knowledgeable and friendly faces on the ground, who always make the safety of their clients their number one priority. I’d also say that the routes of each trip are specifically designed to show the best of the Himalayas, while embracing the unique cultures and traditions in Nepal that not many other travellers get to see.”
Bikash ends the interview by commenting, “I honestly feel very lucky to be able to show travellers and trekkers the unique beauty of the Himalayas and we love to welcome anyone who wants to explore these iconic mountains with us.”
Discover the beautiful mountains of Nepal and thrilling trekking routes across the Himalaya for yourself with Exodus Travels. To find out more information about our adventure holidays in Nepal, click here.