This isn’t an idea that crosses the minds of many parents. It’s too impractical, unsafe, they may think but the truth is many parents have done it and loved it. So in case you have been putting off your own plans to explore the mountains of our country because you have children or you can’t quite decide how best to make your kids’ next vacation a memorable family bonding experience, The Week is here to help.
Chhatra Karki, from Nepal Eco Adventure, has been helping his foreign clients with their family trips through the Nepali hills and mountains for years now. He admits that compared to other kinds of tours featuring solo travelers and tourist groups, those who come with their children are less. Nevertheless, it isn’t an uncommon practice. He has had foreigners come with their children, some as young as 8 and 9 years old, wanting to go the Annapurna Base Camp. He has even had families with toddlers wishing to make short hikes around the various routes of our valley and beyond.
The trend hasn’t quiet caught up among Nepali families yet, he says, but he stresses that trekking with your kids is a plausible plan. With good preparation, efficient guides as well as porters and some determination, you can end up having a memorable trip indeed.
“The first thing you need to consider is the capability of your own child. Then you can settle on a route according,” Karki begins to explain. He doesn’t recommend taking children below the age of 10 to altitudes higher than 4,000 m but the rest of the options are open for consideration. Apparently, for younger children, you can easily arrange porters to help you with baby carriers as well.
Reasons to consider trekking with your children
As we all know, travelling is the best way to expand your horizons and it is never too early to start. Many parents like to take their children along on their travels because it is a great way to teach them the ways of the world beyond the four walls of a classroom. Trekking experiences, in particular, introduce them to a lot of new things. Not only can you bring them closer to nature and give them a fresh breath of air, you can also teach them to be more adaptable and social. Then there are the new cultures, lifestyles, and geography that they are bound to be exposed to. If you have been trying to provide them a break from the digital world, this could really be the best option. The experiences that you have together up in the hills and mountains can prove to be an amazing bonding experience as a family.
Before you set out on a trip
When you are out and about traveling, it’s normal for things not to go according to the plan. When you have children with you on trips, the likelihood of such scenarios is even more so. So, as a parent, you have to always be ready says Karki.
He elaborates, “Yes, you will have a guide and porters but your child is your responsibility. The guide or porter won’t and can’t take on your duties. So if they throw a tantrum or feel tired or don’t want to stick to the plan, that’s a problem that you as a parent must take care of. Mentally prepare yourself for this.”
It’s best to let the kid know about your travel plans as well. This is as much their travel adventure as it is yours. Talk to them about where you are going, how you will get there and share about your experiences as you go along. This will make the trip even better.
Karki stresses on choosing hiking or trekking routes as per your child’s capability, interest, and enthusiasm. Consider the number of days you will on the road, walking. According to him, this is more important than the number of hours you will be walking each day.
Preparation for the trekking trip
When you are setting out on a trekking trip with your child, you can’t expect to ’slug’ it like you might have when you are on your own or in a group of adults. You must make sure that they are well fed, hydrated, and rested at all times. So you should always pack in extra snacks and other of their favorite food items, water, and warm clothes. Packing a first aid kit as a safety precaution goes without saying.
Then double check your gear list. Where the essentials are concerned, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Consult with your guide about the weather conditions, lodging facilities and the state of the routes. If you are concerned about the hours of walking, you can also opt to take vehicles half way.
Popular destinations for trekking with kids in Nepal
Shivapuri National Park
If this is your child’s first time on a trip of this nature, Shivapuri is the ideal practice ground. The hike up the north side of Kathmandu has forests, rivers, and monasteries along its trek route. But it isn’t too steep or high. Nepal Eco Adventure claims that the Shivapuri National Park trekking can take from three to 13 days depending on the areas you want to cover.
The Poon Hill Trek
This is a popular four-day route around the Annapurna range. It is obviously very popular for the views that it offers. The maximum elevation of this trek route is 3210m and there has never been a case of altitude sickness. But nevertheless, if there is an emergency, you have access to immediate help with very good infrastructures.
The Royal Trek
This trek starts from the north of Pokhara and passes through several villages, one of them being the Gurung village. Here you have unrestricted view of the snow-clad Mt. Annapurna and the trek ends on day four at the peaceful Begnas lake and its village settlement. The route was dubbed as the Royal Trek after Prince Charles walked the route back in the 1980s. The maximum elevation of this route is only 1700m.
The Annapurna Community Homestay Trek
This happens to be one of the less crowded routes. Its landscape is mesmerizing with plenty of forests, mountain ranges, and river streams along the way. The community of homestays also allows comfortable lodging. The highest point of this trek is the Manohar Dada at 3,320m and it will take up to five days for you to get there with your children.
#Tip: If your children have had prior trekking experiences and are interested in the activity, Karki believes places like Mustang and Langtang will also be suitable for a family trekking expedition.