Sunday, July 17, 2011

* To All Potential Trekkers in Nepal

This is a most sincere recommendation for Prem, the owner/manager of Raniban Treks and Expeditions of Lake Side, Baidam-6, Pokhara, Nepal.

Last year my wife and I had just completed a six week tour of Tibet and Nepal. We decided to spend our last remaining week in Pokhara, in the shadow of the impressive Annapurna Ranges. I had not originally intended to trek on this occasion. But the beauty of the area and the mountains convinced me to change my plans at short notice, and take the opportunity while it was offering. At 72 years old, I felt I might not get another chance! I eventually extended my stay in Nepal and did an 11 day trek up to Annapurna Sanctuary (Annapurna South Base Camp - colloquially known as ABC). The trek took me up 10,000ft in 5 days, with an extended trek back through the foothills to Pokhara. The whole trip was a brilliant experience.

I became acquainted with Prem through an American Baptist Missionary whom we met in the main street of Pokhara. We were discussing the area - where to go, what to see and trekking options. After giving me some helpful advice, he suggested that I speak to Prem of Raniban Tours if I wished to proceed with a trekking expedition. This advice was invaluable.

Prem gave me an excellent run-down on the Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Sanctuary and a range of other walks. He also gave me a wealth of good advice regarding weather conditions, temperature, clothing, equipment, food, drinking water, accommodation and trekking permits required. When I decided to do the Annapurna Sanctuary trek, he rapidly organised an outstanding guide - Nara, and lent me a sleeping bag. In 36 hours I was organised, equipped and off 'up the hill'. But not before I had failed to extract any cash out of the ATMs in Lake Side. These had either run out of money (a Hindu festival was in progress) or would not accept my Visa Card. In these embarrassing circumstances, Prem was trusting enough to make me a loan until I arrived back in Pokhara!

I have nothing but praise for Prem's professionalism, helpfulness and personality. Apart from some wonderful trekking, my memory of Nepal is more enjoyable for having known him, his wife Maina and son Shyam. We still keep in touch, and I may well be back in the Annapurnas in the future!

Retired Royal Australian Navy Submarine Commander

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