When you want to go on a trekking trip to Nepal there is a host of international and local Nepalese companies offering their services. It can be quite bewildering which one to choose, actually. A way to decide which company and which trek you should decide on is of course to compare web sites and, even more important, to read other travellers' reviews.
Annapurna Foothills Treks have a very professional and inviting web site with loads of valuable information. On top of that this company gets only the best of reviews. We decided to try and send an email to Annapurna Foothills Treks to enquire about a trek to Upper Mustang to take place in July 2016. This review hopefully explains why we made the right decision to go along with this company.
Prior to our arrival we had a very good communication with the company's managing director Ngima. Ngima was very responsive to all our emails and questions regarding everything related to our trip, and Ngima even had suggestions to slightly alter and further tailor-make the itinerary to accommodate our interests.
Arriving in Kathmandu we were met by the company's representative, the very friendly and knowledgeable Tashi.
We were not in the best of moods, however, as half of our luggage had somehow got stuck in Istanbul where we had our connecting flight to Kathmandu; the lost luggage included half of our trekking gear, of course. That made it impossible for us to go on our trekking tour that was due to start two days later. Again Ngima and Tashi were extremely helpful in calling airport and airlines representatives for us to enquire as to the whereabouts of our stuff. They also drove us back and forth to the airport the next couple of days when news were that our luggage should be "on the next plane", all in vain though. Our 10 days permit to Upper Mustang had previously agreed and fixed dates so Tashi and Ngima had the bother to constantly renegotiate the dates on the trekking itinerary on top of rebooking and pushing our domestic flights.
As a military coup suddenly happened in Turkey we thought that we might never see our trekking gear again. So we had to make the decision to buy all the missing stuff in Kathmandu. Ngima was again very patient as he drove us around the various outdoor stores in Kathmandu and helped us replenish our gear list, giving us valuable recommendations along the way. We didn't have to buy or rent new sleeping bags as Ngima lent us two professional sleeping bags for free. Those sleeping bags proved very valuable keeping the cold mountain nights at up to 3800m at bay.
The trip to Upper Mustang was also amazing. The mountain scenery was nothing short of spectacular and we enjoyed our walks at altitudes going up to and sometimes beyond 4000m. It was easy to see that trekking groups from other companies were also assisted by some skilful and knowledgeable guides. But it was also clear for us that no group had a guide in the same league as ours. Our guide Dawa was a true expert, experienced and a treasure chest of information on the mountains, nature and the local culture. Dawa was very good at reading our stamina and fitness level and knew when small breaks were due.
Besides his mountain competence, and equally important, Dawa had a wonderful sense of humour. We had many a good laugh on the trek.
It can sometimes be challenging to spend 12 days in very close company of people you don't know that well. But we never felt like that with Dawa and our porter Minbadhu. They were both very gentle characters and it was also nice to see how well they got along with the local Mustang people we met on our way.
The trekking tour we had bought did not guarantee ensuite bathrooms. But Dawa always tried to find a guest house where we could have a hot shower in a bathroom of our own. We were always happy when we got lucky there. We always felt in really safe hands with Dawa, yes, a bit pampered actually.
One day Dawa got a text message from Ngima back in Kathmandu with photos of our lost luggage that Ngima had picked up for us at the airport when it eventually turned up.
Due to the delayed start to our trekking tour plus some later weather-related delays while on the trek we had to cancel some of the hotel reservations we had made for the last week in Nepal, after finishing our trek. These were reservations we had made ourselves beforehand, i.e. not through Annapurna Foothills Trek. But even here our friends at the trekking company were helpful beyond their duty. In order to make use of the "free cancellation" through booking.com we would have to cancel while we were still in Upper Mustang. As there was no internet connection in the area the only thing for us to do to save us losing money was to send a text message with our login and password to Ngima back in Kathmandu. Ngima logged in for us and made the cancellations, saving us a lot of money. You should normally never share your login and password with anybody! But this example just shows how much we trusted Ngima, a trust that was warranted.
When we came back to Kathmandu Ngima invited us home to dinner to meet his family. Tashi was also there and we got to meet Ngimas lovely wife Tenzin and their aunt and children. They were all really eager to hear about our experiences on the trek and this was a very nice way to end an eventful trip and say goodbye for now.
As should be clear from this review, we are very grateful to Annapurna Foothills Trek for making our trip to Nepal an amazing one, full of good and warm memories. Ngima and his employees all went above and beyond to make our stay in Nepal a pleasant one. If you plan to visit Nepal, check in on Annapurna Foothills Trek's very informative web site and send them an email - you won't regret it!
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