Hem Raj Bastola
Hem Raj Bastola is a permanent inhabitant of Pokhara-22, a rural area in the outskirts of Pokhara. He has been working as a tour and trekking guide since 2010. Formerly he has worked as a guest service agent in a hotel in Pokara. He started his career as a Cave guide, ticket salesman at Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave in Pokhara. So most of his working experience is related to tourism and hospitality industry. Beside his guiding profession, he enjoys reading and writing poetry. His poets have been published in different forums and medias. When he is not Guiding , he is a full time farmer; raising cows, goats and farming with his wife and two children.
Having done all the treks in Annapurna region, upper Mustang and Manaslu area over many times, he is our expert in the area. He is extremely patient, empathetic and joyful person is what each our guests say !
What Our Guest Says about the guide
Margaret MilneOct 17 - Nov 02. 2018
Firstly, many apologies for not being in touch before now. I have been meaning to write to thank you and Windhorse for organising such a fantastic trip for Gavin and I. We had a truly wonderful month in Bhutan and Nepal. Kadinche-la! You asked for feedback, so here’s my comments below. A rather long email, but I hope you find it useful!
From the moment we arrived in Paro airport, we loved it. What a beautiful country. Our itinerary was just fantastic, with every day a delight, even the long days travelling along the precipitous mountain roads. We travelled over 1600km, met so many wonderful people, trekked glorious sun-dappled forest paths, ate ema datshi and crows beaks, explored historic temples and castles, went bird watching, and attended fabulous festivals.
WINDHORSE GUIDE AND DRIVER
When you are spending 17 days together, often in close quarters (ie a car,) it is so important to have a guide and driver you connect with, and whose company you enjoy.
Karma, our guide, was absolutely terrific. He was funny, kind, considerate, knowledgeable and lovely company. (He was really good at researching birds for Gavin too, which G really appreciated.)
And Chimi, our driver, was also wonderful. He was quiet, but with an infectious giggle. He was also kind and considerate and such a good driver. I always felt 100% safe with him, despite the vertiginous roads! Chimi’s car was always immaculate.
Both Karma and Chimi were very organised and totally reliable. (We miss them both!)
I was expecting rather basic accommodation, especially in the east of Bhutan. But some places were excellent and really exceeded our expectations. By the end of our time in Bhutan, we were rather tired of one-night stops, though this was understandable due to the distances we were to cover.
Some details of the places we stayed in:
Paro: Janka Resort (4 nights) – this was rather basic – clean enough, food okay. It was noisy at night with guests talking and bumping cases along the cold echoing corridor and stairs. Three nights here at the beginning and one night at the end – four nights was too long here…though it was a good location for exploring / airport.
Thimpu: Hotel Druk (2 nights) – international standard, very comfortable, good staff, lovely restaurant. An ideal capital city hotel!
Phobjikha: Dhangsa Resort (supposed to be 2 nights, but had to move elsewhere for 2nd night). This is very new, with some teething problems. Staff were lovely and eager to help! Fab location, good food, lovely rooms. Gavin’s shower did not work. Very cold at night, but stove in bedroom was great. The second night (can’t remember name of this hotel) – staff seemed unfriendly, not very clean bathrooms, food rather poor. Very cold, though again a bedroom stove (but not much fuel!). This was probably our least favourite hotel.
Bumthang: Wangchuk Resort (3 nights) – the woman who ran this place seemed to do almost everything herself! She was lovely. It was basic but fine.
Mongar: Wangchuk Hotel (1 night) – this was a lovely surprise after a very long day travelling east. Food excellent, staff helpful, bedroom very comfortable. Very different indeed to previous Wangchuk place in Bumthang.
Yong Khola: Trogon Villa Lodge – really liked this quirky place. Owner was great. Food was lovely. Rooms were enormous and very clean and comfortable.
Chumey Nature Resort: Pretty place. But very cold indeed, and it took a while to work out how to get radiators to work. Our rooms were quite far from the restaurant, though there were hardly any guests. Food okay. I’m sure it’s lovely in the summer.
Punakha: Wangdue Eco Lodge – our favourite place in Bhutan. Fab comfortable rooms, great views of dzong, lovely staff, and the food was very imaginative and excellent. Great atmosphere. Loved it here.
Punakha: Phurba Farm House – homestay. Great! Leki, the owner, was lovely and her food was very good. Very clean. Really enjoyed this.
The Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu was a great choice of location for the first night of our trip. Comfortable, interesting place, and good restaurant.
We returned to Kathmandu after Bhutan and stayed for three nights in Balthali Village Resort. We had very mixed feelings about this place. An idyllic hilltop location, with friendly staff, and food was okay. But it was very noisy with loud music reverberating from the valley below (not the hotel’s fault!). And my room was not clean – I attach a photo of the bathroom door, horribly dirty. My bed linen had bloodstains on it. The electricity was off in the rooms from 9am to 5.45pm – dark and cold in late afternoon, and very cold at night. But we were able to relax in the sunshine and explore the valley during the day. 3 nights was too long here.
We walked to Namo Buddha resort, and Laxman arranged for our luggage transfer. Fantastic place, and great accommodation in cottages. The best food. We wished we had had more time here.
We then had the ‘issue’ re our transfer to Bhaktapur. We were so looking forward to the Milla Guesthouse and being located in the city, where we could explore the sites during the day, enjoy Diwali/Tihar celebrations, and walk to our choice of restaurants at night. Laxman texted that we would transfer to Paradise Hotel. As you had assured me the Nepal arrangements would not change, we thought this was a mistake. So we were very disappointed. The Paradise Hotel was actually okay, but it was a considerable walk from the centre of Bhaktapur, and not at all what we had wanted for this stage of the trip. But Laxman was great, and his solution of the Thagu Chhen was ideal. So, Bhaktapur was excellent. We also visited Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan etc. Fantastically interesting places.
In conclusion, we had a wonderful time and would like to thank you for organising a great itinerary. There were so many highlights – wonderful walks – amazing scenery – fascinating architecture of temples and dzongs – kind, lovely people – compelling culture – historic wall paintings in the goempas… My personal favourites were the day with the women weaving in Khoma village; the meals at farmhouses; the fabulous festivals; bird watching in the sub tropical forests of Lhuentse; and the Phobjikha valley (even though we missed the black-necked cranes by a couple of days!)
I would strongly recommended Wind Horse to anyone wishing to travel in Bhutan.
John08 - 22 Sept, 2018
These guys are the experts to turn to if you what to go to Bhutan. They choose the best guides, drivers and hotels for the price point, which is very reasonable given the quality delivered across the board. Expect local hotels with good character. By example, we had individual chalets built for the coronation of the king of Bhutan in the 70s. We did the Three Himalayan Kingdom tour.
It was physically demanding to some extent as there is a lot packed into your trip….and lots of steps on the temples at high altitudes to take. 🙂 The guide will work with you to adjust to your desires. If you want seamless travel without all the hassles of logistics orchestrated by people who know the land go with Windhorse……you won’t do better.
Diane12 - 29 Jan, 2018
Our group of 4 recently returned from a trip through Wind Horse Tours. Ugen helped us for months with all the details of the trip, answering our questions and arranging personalised custom changes for us.
We visited Northern India and Nepal. All of us have traveled quite a bit, but none of us had been to India. I cannot thank Wind horse Tours enough for the excellence we had with the activities, hotel choices and mostly the guides. With Delhi being such a big city, you can imagine pre-travel jitters, but it was all for naught. We were met at the airport by a Wind horse representative. Our guide the next day met us at the hotel. We were in the best of hands with Hemant. He took us to all of the sites we were scheduled to see. The transportation alone would have been enough to drive one crazy. Everything flowed seamlessly. Hemant was most knowledgeable and had a wonderful approach. He was able to give us a mix of history that, not only included dates and names, but also wove together incredible stories that had us begging for more. He was tireless in his delivery. He explained so much about Hinduism and cultural practices. He was with us from Delhi to Kajhuraho.
In Varanasi, we had a wonderful guide named Pankaj. He was humorous and went above and beyond. Then Rajool brought us from Varanasi to Lumbini, helping us with border security into Nepal. He and the drivers were great. In Lumbini we were met by Dillip, who had a vast knowledge base of Buddhism. On to Chitwan, where the Jungle Villa staff, namely Dukie, kept us busy for a day and a half with an elephant safari ride, canoe trip and jeep safari, as well as cultural dance and village visit. It was fantastic!
Finally, we headed from Chitwan to Pokhara, where we had Hem Raj as our travel companion along the bumpy road and then our guide. Hem was another excellent storyteller and poet who made sure we did all that we wanted to and set the pace accordingly. He recognised that we needed a slower pace for walking and made adjustments. He wrote a poem about us too!
Lastly, we finished in Kathmandu with the services of Mahendra, who, like the rest was top notch. The guides really made the trip a success. Their command of English was exemplary and the knowledge and background they have achieved to get there are truly representative of how Wind horse has gone above and beyond as a tour company. My overall experience rating of this trip is 10 out of 10. The button for the number did not let me change it, so I am writing it here….the BEST!
JenniferMay 14 - 28,2017
We planned a trip with Wind Horse for Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan, traveling for approximately 2.5 weeks, with a local guide and driver in each of the three destinations. We opted for the Three Kingdoms Tour. Wind Horse has many different pre-packaged tours to choose from, from challenging, lengthy treks, to horseback riding adventures, to culture tours with mostly easy walks. They can also customize the trip for you depending on your preferences.
We planned this trip from the comfort of our homes in the U.S. Communications/email was fast and easy during the entire planning process. They helped us book flights to/from Bhutan and helped us obtain Bhutan visas and Tibet permits. (The Nepal visa you can get at the Kathmandu airport on your own.) They also provided us in advance with a detailed and comprehensive itinerary, along with descriptions of each region and attraction.
I will focus this review on the Bhutan portion of the trip (we love Bhutan!):
In Bhutan, we had the pleasure of having Sonam Loday as our guide and Dawa as our driver. Both are very experienced in what they do. Big thank you to Dawa as he got us everywhere safely, despite the often very narrow and bumpy roads. Also big thanks to Sonam for providing rich and detailed descriptions at every attraction so we could learn the history, custom, and culture of Bhutan. Sonam was a great pleasure to be around, personable, very funny, outgoing, and a tremendous help when we hiked Tiger’s Nest (he had to help me descend and carry our bag).
We upgraded to the 4-star hotels in all regions which was well-worth it, if that’s your cup of tea. Sonam also made sure that we got the best rooms possible.
Wind Horse is also great because even though we opted for the cultural tour of Bhutan, Wind Horse planned a few easy/moderate hikes for us so we got to see lots of nature and unbeatable sceneries (in addition to lots of temples, stupas, and monasteries).
They also provide tours in central Bhutan and eastern Bhutan, if you’d like to see the villages and more rural ways of living. This requires more trekking.
The other big plus is that they take credit cards (with an extra charge), PayPal, or you can also mail checks to their office in Minneapolis when you need to pay your fees. We thought this was safer than wiring money to some strangers overseas.
We could not have asked for a greater vacation/tour in Bhutan and I’d highly recommend Wind Horse should you decide to visit Bhutan, Tibet, or Nepal (or India).
DianneMarch 26-April 18,2017
I was fortunate enough to book a last-minute trip to Nepal through Wind Horse for March/April 2017. I had confidence in them because I had a wonderful experience with them in Bhutan. Ugen and his team are really great at putting custom trips together. I was interested in wildlife and trekking, and seeing the Himalayas, and every day was simply amazing!!!
Three days in Chitwan National Park watching rhinos, elephants, crocodiles, and an amazing array of birds. The hotel was beautiful and right on the river, and you could even see rhinos from the deck every day! Then off to a 5-day trek in the Annapurna region. I had never really done trekking before, and my guide, Hem Raj Bastola, was really helpful and kind. I learned so much about the region and stayed in fun trekker lodges with gorgeous views. The hiking was so diverse…with jungles, sweeping vistas, monkeys, and to top it off, sunrise with clear views of the Himalaya from Poon Hill!
Then it was off to the Everest region for a 10 day trek. My guide, Lhakpa Sherpa, was simply and amazing person and I felt very lucky to spend time with him and explore this spectacular region. I loved every town, every day, every minute of this part of the trip. Seeing Everest for the first time, and all the peaks around it and in this region was one of the highlights of my life, made so much more so by the amazing open and big hearted people of this region.
I also got to see beautiful and important sites in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur thanks to Mahendra, my guide in Kathmandu and overall contact in Nepal. No matter where I was in the country, Mahendra was keeping track and making sure everything was going well. I really appreciate his outstanding efforts to provide an excellent and varied experience for me. I went on this trip solo, but I never felt alone.
I highly recommend Wind Horse Tours and am looking forward to my next adventure with them!!
William McComasMay 21- June 06,2016
Bhutan Tour and Nepal Trek (Spring 2016)
Ugen and Jambey,
Michel and I want to thank you for the amazing job your team did in organizing our recent tour to Nepal and Bhutan. Every detail was perfectly arranged and exceeded our expectations. Our guides in Bhutan and Nepal were very knowledgeable and very pleasant and the pacing of the trip (even the trek in Nepal) was perfect. I have been traveling the world for almost 40 years (on organize trips and by myself) and your company did among the best jobs I have ever experienced. If future clients have questions about your company that I might answer, you should feel free to send them to me — be assured that I will say very nice things about WindHorse!
Bonnie V.SMarch 4-13,2016
We were delighted to find a Bhutanese company with an office in the States that could help us plan trips to both Nepal and Bhutan. The fact that Ugen , a partner in the business and our stateside contact made the trip to both countries himself a month before our trip, gave us current updates and information relevant to our itinerary.
My husband and I are both seniors (he is 65 and I am 72) . I had some concerns about the Nepal leg of this trip; concern about my physical fitness to take it on after some serious spinal surgeries and knee replacement in my 60’s, US State Department warnings regarding an Indian oil embargo , border closures, and Maoist activity, as well as the effects to Nepal’s infrastructure as a result of the disastrous earthquake just one year ago. Added to this, and most scary of all to me. was the fatal plane crash of a Tara Airlines flight between Kathmandu and Johmson- a route we were scheduled to fly. The crash happened about a week before we were to fly through the same narrow Himalayan pass. When I checked the safety record of the smaller Nepalese airlines, they had the lowest of safety records-on par with Air Congo and Air Kazakhstan! Yikes!
Wind Horse and Sixth Sense, it’s Nepalese affiliate worked with us at every turn. Our Indigo flight from New Delhi was met by one of the owners of Sixth Sense, Mahendra. Our 4th floor corner room in the Shambala Hotel couldn’t have been nicer. We found the air quality Kathmandu to be nearly as polluted as we remember Beijing. As a person who suffers from asthma, it felt a bit alarming to me. We stopped immediately and brought face masks to help filter out particulate. We did some light sightseeing, had a welcome dinner in a restaurant featuring folkloric dancing and looked forward to getting back to the hotel to downsize our packing to trekking only gear. Sixth Sense provided us with duffels, trekking poles, and -10 degree North Face (or knockoff) down sleeping bags. They were happy to store things from the Indian leg of our trip until our return. While guide, driver and accommodations were all excellent, we were happy to leave Kathmandu and hopefully find the clean, fresh air of the mountains!
We changed our trekking itinerary to a route , still part of the Annapurna Circuit that did not require the risky flight. Air Buddha, which flies larger planes on safer routes took us to Pokhara where we started our trek. Here where the magic began. Our new guide, Hem Raj Bastola, and, porter, Rajendra Bahadur Singh met us, ready to head to the mountains. I was immediately comforted when Hem told me he had recommended we alter our trekking route to a safer alternative, even before David and I came to that decision. The roads to our ‘put in’ spot were primitive at best, often narrow with huge rocks and potholes. Our vehicle felt sturdy and our driver, careful. We carried our day packs, while Rajendra carried our combined gear (which we think came to about 40 lbs or less.) A few pace out of the car and we were met with our first ‘up’- 3600 stairs !
The magic I referred to earlier was really a lovely marriage between exquisite scenery, well paced physical exertion , deep gratitude on our part and the lovely old souls , Hem and Rajendra who would be our guides, hosts, teachers, coaches, historians, and friends for the next seven days and whom we will hold in our hearts forever! Their mutual respect toward one another, toward us (always Sir and Madam), love of their country and tight choreography was no less than inspirational! Both are culturally Hindu, our discussions were deep, interesting and stimulating. Hem, a passionate , published poet, quoted from the giants of Western literature when it was appropriate on the trail. He read his original poetry to us at breakfast and dinner. He wrote poetry in our honour about our specific journey.
Both men are conversationally fluent in English. I could write volumes on each of them! At the end of our trip, Hem scaled a 40 foot rhododendron tree to pluck a blossom to congratulate me on our successful trek!
We were met at the first vehicle accessible road by our car and driver, delivered to the airport and whisked back to Kathmandu. Here, we were met by a new face, Kumar. I was not excited to breathe the polluted air and ready to excuse myself from our scheduled outing. I was so glad that I changed my mind. Kumar took us to the UNESCOWorld Heritage Site at Dunbar Square. While damage from the 2015 Earthquake was evident, the intact buildings are magnificent. Later we climbed more stairs to the Buddhist Stupa and saw hordes of monkeys, people and magnificent views!
From planning to execution, Wind Horse and Sixth Sense were collaborative and cooperative They personalised our trip and made it comfortable at every turn. To the very end, the guides actually waited at the airport until our planes took off to make sure we were safely in route to our next adventure. We feel we chose well and enthusiastically recommend Wind Horse and Sixth Sense to our friends and fellow adventure travellers!