A land buzzing with culture and rich in its beauty. The snow-capped mountains and hill-side rice fields truly took our breath away as we came down to land in Kathmandu. High up in the clouds, it seemed so quiet and serene, but as we were leaving the airport, the true bustling life of the city was there to greet us. The sound of motor engines, the beeping of the tuk tuk’s horn, the sweltering heat and a strong scent of diesel in the air. Although our bags weighed heavy on our backs, we were all desperate to discover the wonders this country had in store.
We were in Nepal for 10 days, and in this time, we stayed in three very different locations. The intense capital city, Kathmandu, a quiet hillside village, Bagmati, and a city famous for its incredible scenery, Pokhara.
For the first 2 days we explored Kathmandu and ventured out into Thamel to visit Swayambhunath, a monkey temple! The group all agreed that this was a big highlight of the trip; to be able to immerse ourselves in the culture and atmosphere of the city.
Our next stop was our community initiative, to stay in a village called Bagmati, and help out where we could. We stayed with different families in the village who were all so kind and welcoming to introduce us to their way of life. In our time there, we were able to help with chilli planting, milking cows and making butter. We were taught how to make leaf plates/bowls and made a visit to a local secondary school! It was very interesting for us and the Nepali students to learn more about education across the world. On our last evening in the village, we had a celebration of culture. The girls were dressed in saris and boys in daura suruwal, as we sang and danced into the night.
The next morning, we travelled back to Kathmandu and visited another temple called Boudhanath Stupa where we spun prayer wheels and admired the architecture. On our penultimate day in the capital, we had a cooking class where we learnt to make delicious and authentic food. We made a vegetable curry, lentil soup, tomato pickle, fried potatoes and a rice pudding.
Our next destination was the beautiful city of Pokhara, known for its stunning lake framed with mountains as far as you could see. The lush, green vegetation was alight with life as it thrived throughout monsoon season. The elegant egrets roosted in trees, as the golden eagle circled above. Swallows danced and soared, crickets chirped and jumped. Everything united, in harmony. The reason we were in Pokhara was to complete a 16km trek on the Peace Pagoda trail. We set off early in the morning to avoid the heat later in the day and were lead through quiet forests and hills to reach the temple. At one of our break points, we were able to see the Annapurna Mountain Range which is part of the Himalayas. It was an amazing view. We continued our trek until we reached the World Peace Pagoda, a beautiful Buddhist stupa overlooking the whole of Pokhara, including Phewa lake. At this point, our Sherpas decided to take us a little further to a relatively new statue of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god. This structure was built in 2021 and stands at 1500m above sea level! It was an extra 610m up from the Peace Pagoda, we all slept very well that night...
Unfortunately, the next day was our last full 24hrs in Nepal. We started travelling back to Kathmandu but made a stop to do some white-water rafting. Again, this activity was seen as a group favourite, because even the people who were afraid beforehand had an amazing time. We sailed down the Trishuli River, riding over the waves and through the currents, singing along to the rhythm of our paddles as they pushed us through the rapids.
By the time we reached Kathmandu it was dark, and the ups and downs of the last 10 days bore heavy on our eyelids; which were slowly beginning to close. To end our fantastic trip, we ate momos and reminisced on our time in this fascinating corner of the world. Thanks were shared, tears were shed, gifts were given, and it was then that we realised how close Nepal had brought us. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the hardworking and caring teachers, giving up their time and supporting us the whole way through. We’re very grateful for Mr Winstanley and Mrs Noel-Smith who worked closely with our World Challenge Guide, Bug, to make this trip so enjoyable and unforgettable for every student.