Robin Boustead - Hiking Amidst the Beauty of the Himalayan Mountains
One of my close friends, Robin Boustead, has established the 'holy grail' of Himalayan trekking; a route through the remotest peaks of the Great Himalaya Range that joins all the major trekking regions across Nepal.
Dreams of Adventure Can Turn Into a Real Live Experience
After five years of research, the Nepali section of the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is now a reality due to the success of two epic treks that began in September 2008 and lasted to July this year. Boustead’s starting point was Kanchenjunga in far-east Nepal and ended in the Api Himal near the Indian border along the highest feasible route, which made him the first person to cross every himal (mountain range) in the Nepal Himalaya. In doing so Boustead and his Nepalese support team traversed some of the most amazing mountain scenery on the planet and discovered an incredible wealth of ethnic and natural diversity. The result is an extreme trekking trail over 162 days with more than 150,000 metres of climbing and descending, a proposition sure to tempt adventurous trekkers. Over the next couple of years, he will be trekking through the Eastern and Western Himalaya to complete a trans-Himalayan trail over 4,500km that will take between 12-14 months to trek continuously.
Nepal's three main trekking regions, Everest, Annapurna and Langtang, attract tens of thousands every year. The trails here are well maintained and safe, and offer novice and experienced trekkers alike the opportunity to explore the Himalaya in relative comfort. The other two thirds of Nepal's mountain terrain are normally considered 'off the beaten track'. From the lush rhododendron forests of the east to the dense woodlands of the west, relatively untouched wilderness and remote communities await discovery. Indeed, a small trekking group in these regions can make a real difference to lives that are barely subsistence. I’ve been leading small groups (Lyn Taylor’s Adventure Travel) to some of these areas for the past 18 years and seen first-hand the adverse environmental effects that can be created by uncaring trekking groups. A growing worldwide movement for sustainable trekking practices includes codes of conduct and best practices for anyone visiting the fragile ecosystems and cultures anywhere on the planet. If you also have a dream of exploring the Himalaya then I encourage you choose your operator carefully and ask how they minimize their impact and take care of their local staff – see www.ippg.com or more details.
Boustead explained that in 2002, the Nepali government resolved all its border disputes with its northern neighbor China. This demilitarised seven border areas and for the first time in over fifty years, tourists were allowed to safely explore these areas. All of these areas offer unique trekking opportunities and increase tourism. They also tend to be next to the major trekking routes, so it's possible to design itineraries combining old and new routes. Even though the famous Annapurna Circuit is no longer a popular trekking route due to the building of roads on either side of the circuit, it will now bring in a different kind of tourist, one who wishes to see the fabulous Himalayas can now take a 2 day bus trip from Pokhara, instead of the hard 0-15 day trek.
Although the mountains are beyond compare, it is the people you meet along the trail who linger in your memory. You can't help but admire their indefatigable boldness and energy, their independence and resilience, and their open-hearted, generous nature towards strangers they may never see again. It's impossible to make a comparison, but surely the people of the high himal are among the very best of humankind?
Boustead says, “I hope that the GHT will inspire other trekkers to embark upon their own GHT trails, helping develop micro-tourism projects in communities too remote for major infrastructure development. Creating value in regions that previously had little to offer could also precede the establishment of a trans-boundary corridor for animal migration, helping to save many endangered species. The snow-covered crown of Asia may then become one of its greatest assets.” At the moment, Boustead is finalizing a new guidebook to every major trekking route in Nepal, which will be available to Trailblazer Publications in the New Year. In conjunction with a publisher in Nepal he has also launched a stunning coffee table picture book, ‘The Great Himalaya Trail – A Pictorial Guide’ that provides an insight to the myriad people, cultures, traditions and awesome mountains of the Nepal Himalaya.
All of these magnificent inspiriational photos are from the book 'The Great Himalaya Trail - A Pictorial Guide', by Robin Boustead.
More from Lyn Taylor’s Adventure Travel for Women, Couples, Families and Seniors