The name alone is enough to set a mountain-dreamer's pulse racing; a vision of sky-scratching peaks blocking every horizon; glaciers and snowfields and sharp crests outlined against a vault of Himalayan blue.
You're into trekking? Then the Himalaya will no doubt be your ultimate destination.
Legendary mountain explorer, Bill Tilman, summarised its appeal when he wrote: "I felt I could go on like this for ever, that life had little better to offer than to march day after day in an unknown country to an unattainable goal."
Nepal is no longer an 'unknown country' and year by year the number of 'unattainable goals' are gradually being reduced by climbers at the sharp end of their sport. But the lure of trekking in the Nepal Himalaya has not diminished one jot, and every trail and hard-won pass of this mountain wonderland has its own rewards.
Yet it's not only the mountains that reward. There's the wrinkled foothill country too, with its terraces of rice, millet or barley; the thatched houses, clustered villages, lush vegetation; the smiling faces of those who live there. Every day on trek is an adventure, an experience to savour, and those who gain the most from it are those who can leave their own culture behind, put Western sensibilities on hold, and accept that there is much to learn from the unsophisticated hillfolk whose country they're wandering through. Grow receptive to their ways and you'll be enriched.
Tom Longstaff, one of the greatest of the early Himalayan climbers and explorers, once wrote: "Happiness is most often met by those who have learned to live in every moment of the present; none has such prodigal opportunities of attaining that art as the traveller."
For traveller, read trekker, for trekking in the Himalaya brings you face to face with the 'now' of living; there's an immediacy that's intoxicating. Life is stripped down to the basics and becomes truly instantaneous.
What you get out of trekking is entirely up to you. No-one can live it for you. Yours is the only experience that counts.
But whether you choose to trek independently (eating and sleeping in simple lodges along the way), go with a commercial group, or organise your own expedition, you may find one of the following guidebooks will help in your preparations and, hopefully, add something to your days on trek.
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