What to Expect:
Strenuous yet indescribably beautiful, your trek will lead you through amazing Himalayan foothills to a new home and host family.
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What You’ll Trek Through
You and your fellow Trek to Teachers will trek, with a Trek to Teach guide, through the foothills of the Himalayas to your each of your villages. Each teacher will be dropped teachers off at their village along a portion of the Annapurna Circuit Trek’s well marked trails, and will never be trekking alone. Because each of our partner villages is located on a world class trekking route, they are often bursting with the life and diversity of hikers from all over the globe, while still holding onto the local culture of the Gurung people of Nepal.
Each step of the way, you will be welcomed with open arms to various “tea houses” or “guest houses” (think a cross between motels and hostels) where you’ll be able to stop for lunch and to sleep in sheltered rooms you may share with your fellow teachers. Though accommodations are basic, you won’t have to worry about packing in meals or sleeping bags.
The trek will be four to five days, and consist of strenuous uphill climbing. Though there is no technical climbing to get to your villages,
Trek to Teach-ers should keep in mind that the hike is six to eight hours a day, considered quite strenuous, and will largely consist of walking up one to three thousand stone steps each day.
Because teachers are needed in these regions year round, teachers should be prepared for cold in the winters, monsoon rains, leeches, and heat in the spring and summer months.
That being said, the experience of hiking through lush Himalayan jungles beneath monkeys and rhododendron in the spring, and through the beautiful clear autumnal skies, is unimaginable. These incredible mountains tower over the forests before you, peeking out of the clouds. Because of the isolated nature of this area of Nepal, you’ll be trekking on an “living trail” a route where goods are sent between the cities and rural villages by horseback and manpower alone, all carried on foot. You’ll trek past lush rice fields, beside wild animals, below monkeys swinging through the jungle above you, through small stone pathed villages and past many Nepali locals showing you their bright smiles. The feeling of being so deeply immersed in a culture so foreign, and yet so welcoming, is something indescribable.
- 4-5 days
- 6-8 hours/day
- Cold, leeches, heat, monsoon rains
- Tens of thousands of uneven stone steps
- The best views you’ll ever see of the Himalayas
- The greatest feeling of accomplishment you can imagine
Where You’ll Trek to
Each village we send our teachers to is in, or very near to, the Annapurna Conservation Area. Most are directly off the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trekking route for foreigners, and a route of commerce for locals. Each village we place our TTT-ers in has a school located in it. All are within walking distance from your guesthouse. The villages tend to consist of several to many guest houses, and personal homes. Some include small shops and businesses where you can get basic amenities such as laundry detergent, soap, toilet paper, and snacks although your guest house will be able to provide with many of these items as well. All villages are established with running, hot water, wifi and electricity, although these amenities can often become unavailable for days at a time due to power outages and weather conditions.
Teachers can expect to be known by not only their guest house and school communities, but by villages as a whole. Trekking around and between villages, teachers can expect to see familiar faces and be greeted by affectionate nicknames.
Teachers should keep in mind that there are no banks or ATMs in the Annapurna Conservation area, and that at a certain altitude, plastic water bottles are not sold for disposal reasons.
The people of this region of Nepal, and of Nepal in general, are jovial and welcoming. Good natured and giving, Nepali people treat guests highly. As teachers become more familiar with their host families, levels of formality tend to fall and host families speak more candidly and affectionately with their guest teachers. Some host families speak English better than others, and some not at all, but motivated teachers have been able to navigate these language barriers by learning bits of Nepali and communicating through a mutual love of food and laughter. These small communities foster a strong sense of friendship and kindness which often takes the form of food shared seated around the kitchen table and rice wine split into tincups.
Traditions and Festivals
Nepali people have a strong sense of gratitude and giving towards guests of all sorts. They welcome guests with flowers, silk scarves and tika placed on foreheads.
The Nepali and Gurung people celebrate many festivals throughout the year. Tihar (the festival of lights), and Dashain (festival of family and community) are just two examples of the many local festivals celebrated, often with drums, dancing and food.
One of our teachers, Taylor, described her experience at a festival in Dhampus:
The village of Dhampus, welcoming me into the arms of their culture and village, invited me to dress in a beautiful sari, dance traditionally, and play familiar games with the women at the celebration for International Women’s Day. Being able to participate in an important event that was meaningful to the women of Dhampus allowed me, despite the language barrier, to better connect with these amazing women and see all that they have accomplished.
The full blog post can be read here.
Your guest house will be similar to some of the places you stay along your trek to your village. Most have open hallways or courtyards leading between a dozen or so private rooms. At your guesthouse, you will have your own private room, furnished with a bed, sheets, a pillow, quilt, and possibly a small table. Teachers should expect to share a bathroom with other guests. The guest house will have a kitchen and dining area that will likely be where you spend most of your time as there may be people from all over the world visiting and can be very lively throughout the day and evening.
Your host family will be the owners of the guesthouse you will live in. They will feed you all of your meals, and be your support system in your village. Most teachers grow quite close to their host families during their time in Nepal, and often eat meals with them in the kitchen rather eating in the dining hall with other guests. As the host family and teacher become more acquainted, teachers sometimes offer to do various chores around the guesthouse, and learn more about Nepali life along the way, welcomed, truly, as a member of the family. Many teachers call refer to the members of their host family at “Aama and Buwa” or “Mother and Father.”
Teachers can expect limited internet access and cellphone service in their villages. Teachers some days may be able to video chat across the world, and others may not be able to place a clear call to villages down the valley. All Guesthouses are equipped with wifi, electricity, and running water. They do not have heat or air conditioning.Hot water tends to be available although if you are last in a long line of people who need to shower, you may be out of luck. While all guest houses theoretically have hot running water, like the majority of amenities, it can be sporadic. Some guest houses have propane hot water heaters, and some are solar heated. In very rainy times, the solar heated water may not heat, and in times of propane shortage, there may not be hot water. The key here is to know the system your guesthouse uses and be aware of condition changes.
Electricity and wifi can also go out in stormy times, or in times when the weather has been perfect for weeks. Teachers should have low expectations for the consistency of these luxuries.
Laundry facilities are available in some villages. In other villages, your host family will teach you the best ways to do laundry by hand.
Guesthouses tend to have purified water, but Trek to Teach encourages teachers to double filter “filtered” water, even at their own guesthouse.
Some villages have medical facilities within a reasonable walking distance. Some do not. Most do not have mail facilities. Trek to Teach suggests that all Trek to Teach-er’s pick up a map in Kathmandu or Pokhara which will tell them exactly how to get from village to village, and what amenities each village has to offer.
As a teacher, all of your meals will be provided by your guest house. Guest houses tend to have menus and operate their dining rooms similarly to a restaurant for guests. These menus tend to have a variety of Asian dishes, sometimes expanding from traditional Nepali food into Korean or Chinese food. Most guest houses also make endearing attempts to carry foods travellers may be craving such as ”french toast,” “spaghetti and tomato sauce” or “chicken fingers.” These interpretations are often incredibly creative given the extremely limited number of supplies imported to these villages.
While teachers are free to order anything off of the menu, many teachers choose, instead of eating as a guest, to eat with their host family. Most host families eat simply, with eggs, porridge, or soup for breakfast, roti and fried rice or soup for lunch, and dal bhat (a traditional meal of rice and lentils) for dinner. Some Nepali families eat dal bhat for every meal. While this may sound tiring, most teachers and travellers look very fondly at the experience of enjoying dal bhat and all of its variations over the course of their time in Nepal.
Because of the isolated nature of these villages, imported food is often scarce, and often, in higher regions, nearly everything is imported. While potatoes, rice, lentils and garlic tend to be plentiful, fresh fruits and vegetables and meat, are often not.
Despite this sense of scarcity, Nepali people are exceptionally giving with the food that they do have. Food is used as a means of cross culture connection between locals and visiting teachers.
Here we’d like to include an excerpt from a blog* written by one of Hailey, our teachers on this topic:
Lesson one: Food is more than food, always.
Growing up in a West Coast mountain town, I learned what I thought were the golden rules of eating: ill your plate with colors and vegetables, and the moment your aren’t hungry, stop eating. In Nepal, meal time etiquette has only one simple rule: eat until there is nothing left to eat. Being full, sick, or tired is irrelevant, because when food is served, people come together. I wish I had understood earlier how important the act of eating together is to the Nepali, and more importantly, how precious a gesture the offering of food can be. Not until my second week of teaching, when a student offered me a bundle of green (not close to ripe) plums, did the lesson kick in. This student was only nine, but from generations upon generations of relatives setting the example for hospitality and generosity, my young student was able to give me the second lesson of Nepali gift giving: When you offer nourishment, you are building the foundations of friendship. Food is so much more than just fuel. It is a reason to gather, a way to celebrate and creates an ability to interact when interactions seems intimidating. In the case of Pooja, my darling class four student, it was initiating a friendship. (Read the full post here)
Your Guest House:
- Host family
- Walking distance from your school
- Many other trekkers nearby
Amenities to Expect:
Nope. 👎 😕