Anyone going on Land of the Thunder Dragon 13th September ?

Wanted to start to start a forum for fellow travellers on the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" trip departing London on 13th September.
Anyone who has been on this trip before is very welcome to chip in with comments and advice.

Excitement and anticipation are building as the date approaches.

How about you ?

Hi Zenon. Good to hear from someone. After all the uncertainty following the earthquake in Nepal, it's difficult to believe that we have less than 3 weeks to wait until we are on our way. Like you I'm very excited about the trip and to meeting up with the group - I just need to get a bit more exercise in before I go. It will be interesting to see the conditions in Kathmandu and the sights in Bhutan look amazing. I can't wait.

Hello Pete,
I phoned Exodus yesterday with a heap of questions about various subjects and found out that our trip is fully booked - 16 people. Unless we spot each other at Heathrow or Delhi airports, the first we meet face to face is in Katmandu - but hopefully other people will join this forum, so we can get to know each other a bit beforehand.
I joined a gym a couple of months ago so as to get a bit fitter for the trekking - it's working slowly - but I thought I'd better get the walking boots on and try some steep hills.
Since I live in Sussex I went to the South Downs which aren't very high but have got some really steep slopes. I'm glad I did as I'd forgotten how much your feet can ache after walking on a hard surface for a couple of hours.
I also found out yesterday that foot-reviver cream and energy bars are readily available in Nepal and Bhutan, so there's no need to take them with us.
Speak soon

Just to say hello - I'm Heather (I know the post will say Anonymous but can't seem to change it!) and will be travelling with my family - husband Dave and two (adult) sons Owen and Adam. We should be fairly easy to spot at either Heathrow or Delhi airport, with our four Exodus kitbags!
Looking forward to the trip and to meeting the rest of the group.

Great to hear from you both. I'd spoken to Exodus a few weeks back and it sounds as though we have a really mixed group with a good range of ages, genders, independent travellers, couples and Heather's family (though I obviously didn't know that at the time!), and also nationalities. I live in the midlands, so no great hills or mountains here! I've managed a few coastal walks and I'm off to the Peaks for a decent walk this week. It would have been good to have done more, but hopefully I'll be ready. It will be great to meet up with everyone in Kathmandu - the first time we get together is always good. It's also a good test of the memory for everyone's names! Have a good week - just two weeks to go!! Pete

Wow Heather what great parents to take their children on an enlightening holiday like this.

I can't quite work out how much cash to take. It appears that we need to cover 2 evening meals in Katmandu, any local purchases like foot cream and a brolly plus spending money for mementos. Can't think of anything else. Can either of you ?
Last walk on the South Downs this weekend. Last weekend I met someone who had climbed Kilimanjaro so she didn't think 4200m altitude would be too bad.

Look forward to meeting you both
Zenon

Hi Pete and Zenon, good to hear from you. Sounds as if we'll have an interesting mix of people in the group, Pete! We also haven't really done enough hillwalking practice - our excuse is that we're from the Midlands too.
Zenon - you'll need cash (about £20 I think) for the Nepalese visa (if you haven't got it already) and the trip notes also say you need money for drinks in the hotels and tips for the guides, etc.
See you soon and here's hoping for some good weather!
All the best, Heather

Hi Zenon and Heather. I hope that you had a good weekend - the next one might be just a little bit different!! In terms of cash, I emailed Exodus last week about the same thing. My thinking was that the trip notes give some guidance about what money to take, but I wanted to check my interpretation with them. Based on the trip notes it looked to me as though I need to take roughly:
o $25 for the Nepal visa (though presumably sterling would do as well)
o £50 for meals and drinks in Nepal
o Say another £50 for sightseeing and souvenirs in Nepal
o Something for drinks in hotels in Bhutan – maybe £50
o Something for souvenirs in Bhutan – maybe £50
o Tips including the leader and the rest of the support group – say £100
o Total around £300 plus $25, plus contingencies.
The reply from Exodus was that:-
You can easily exchange Sterling at Kathmandu and Paro airports. Bhutanese currency, the Ngultrum, is impossible to exchange back to Sterling. Therefore, if you are left with any at the end of the trek make sure you exchange them for Indian notes which can be used in Nepal. I agree with your calculations. You will need around £300 for this trip, because all activities and meals in Bhutan are already included. I hope that this helps. Pete

Hi Zenon and Heather. I hope that you had a good weekend - the next one might be just a little bit different!! In terms of cash, I emailed Exodus last week about the same thing. My thinking was that the trip notes give some guidance about what money to take, but I wanted to check my interpretation with them. Based on the trip notes it looked to me as though I need to take roughly:
o $25 for the Nepal visa (though presumably sterling would do as well)
o £50 for meals and drinks in Nepal
o Say another £50 for sightseeing and souvenirs in Nepal
o Something for drinks in hotels in Bhutan – maybe £50
o Something for souvenirs in Bhutan – maybe £50
o Tips including the leader and the rest of the support group – say £100
o Total around £300 plus $25, plus contingencies.
The reply from Exodus was that:-
You can easily exchange Sterling at Kathmandu and Paro airports. Bhutanese currency, the Ngultrum, is impossible to exchange back to Sterling. Therefore, if you are left with any at the end of the trek make sure you exchange them for Indian notes which can be used in Nepal. I agree with your calculations. You will need around £300 for this trip, because all activities and meals in Bhutan are already included. I hope that this helps. Pete

Hi Zenon and Heather. I hope that you had a good weekend - the next one might be just a little bit different!! In terms of cash, I emailed Exodus last week about the same thing. My thinking was that the trip notes give some guidance about what money to take, but I wanted to check my interpretation with them. Based on the trip notes it looked to me as though I need to take roughly:
o $25 for the Nepal visa (though presumably sterling would do as well)
o £50 for meals and drinks in Nepal
o Say another £50 for sightseeing and souvenirs in Nepal
o Something for drinks in hotels in Bhutan – maybe £50
o Something for souvenirs in Bhutan – maybe £50
o Tips including the leader and the rest of the support group – say £100
o Total around £300 plus $25, plus contingencies.
The reply from Exodus was that:-
You can easily exchange Sterling at Kathmandu and Paro airports. Bhutanese currency, the Ngultrum, is impossible to exchange back to Sterling. Therefore, if you are left with any at the end of the trek make sure you exchange them for Indian notes which can be used in Nepal. I agree with your calculations. You will need around £300 for this trip, because all activities and meals in Bhutan are already included. I hope that this helps. Pete

Thanks for the detailed info Pete. I will be not taking a cash card and too much cash is better than too little, so approx £300 it is then.

I also have been gathering info from Exodus, so here are a couple of points;

1.Luggage.
They suggested that a "leave at base " bag is important during the camping days, and that since the Exodus kitbag
is designed for camping / trekking it might be best to carry it in a larger case during the flights. The case then acts as the "leave at base " bag while the Exodus bag is used for carrying camping / trekking items.

2. Shower gel and soap can be bought locally, so no need to transport these from the UK - trying to keep the weight of luggage down in whatever way is possible.

Hi again Zenon.
I think that the idea of leaving a bag at base is a good one - apart from anything else, it is handy to have some clean clothes back at base for the final day and the journey home. This feels so good after a few days of remote camping! One thing to remember, though, is that the baggage limit on the flight is 20kg and the limit while we are trekking is 15kg - so you only have 5 kg available for the bag at base and its contents, which means careful planning. Not long now. Pete

Hello Heather and Pete,

Looking forward to seeing you both at Heathrow. I'll be arriving there just before 5 pm - wearing my walking boots probably, as the most weight efficient way of getting them to Bhutan.

It's going to feel rather weird but at least I can take the boots off during the flights.

Last day of shopping tomorrow for camping / trekking equipment - I've got a long list of stuff that I didn't think of previously as I don't do much trekking nor camping as a rule.

See you soon.

Zenon

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