The 13 day ‘Above the Clouds Trek’ is a magnificent walk. I rate it more interesting, enjoyable and challenging than the Everest Base Camp walk which I completed 15 months earlier.
The trek takes you through remote and wild country. For much of the time, the trail follows along the southern edge of the Himalayas and only 2-3 hours walk from the Tibetan border. It is also the home of the snow leopard. Although it is unlikely you will see one, the realisation that you are walking in their country is exciting. I felt privileged to see the paw prints of a leopard that had walked the trail just the previous night.
The trek begins with 3 relatively easy days of gentle climbing up to the Mt Jomolhari base camp where you have a rest day for acclimatisation. This must be one of the most spectacular camping spots anywhere. Watching the sun rise, turning the face of Jomolhari (the sacred mountain) orange is unforgettable.
Enjoy the rest because during the next 6 days you will trek over 4 high passes with the highest being the Shingela Pass at 5050 metres. Making your own pace, these days are the most exhilarating of the trail. The climbing is strenuous at times, but always the views are spectacular and the time passes quickly. Before you know it, you will standing on another high pass, taking photographs of where you have come from, and looking forward to the decent down to the camp.
Unlike the Everest base camp walk, you will see very few other trekkers on this trail. Rather you will find yourself sharing the trail with villagers on the 2-3 day trip into the nearest town with their pony teams to get supplies. You will also see the yak herdsman living their traditional lives of moving the yaks higher into the mountains for the summer grass.
Along the way, the camping was as close to 5 star as would be possible for such a remote and long trek. Yonten – the guide – was knowledgable and always tuned into my needs. The cook always surprised me with the variety of foods and flavours that he was able to produce. From pizza and French fries through to soups and traditional foods, there was more than enough for me to eat.
So if you are interested in trekking in the high mountains through spectacular, remote and wild country without having to share the trail with hundreds of other trekkers, then I think you should seriously consider the ‘Above the Clouds’ trek.