Life below Lukla

When I decided to visit Lura and my Friendily there, I forgot one very important factor: the monsoon. It meant i could not rely on flying out, and that was that: walk out to Jiri and bus to Kathmandu, like in the good old days.
In 1984, I walked in with my sister Veronique and friend James, as a satellite group to Peter Hillary’s west ridge expedition. The walk was a lot of fun, with many leeches, red clay slippery dips providing the locals with endless entertainment and us with dirty wet pants, and a thriving lodge and tea shop business. See, in those days, everyone walked from Jiri.
This time, monsoon or not, I saw two Belgians and one French, on the first day below Lukla. The rest of my sojourn in Solu, only Nepali people walked the trails: poor porters carrying 85 plus kgs loads from Phaplu to Namche for one hundred rupees per kilo, ‘Lukla People’ who did not want to pay us$ 500 for a helicopter flight out, and workers going back to Kathmandu after the trekking season.
I ll tell you more about my Lura Beyond the Smile later. As I lie on my bed in Jiri waiting for the bus tomorrow, what I remember of this walk is the beauty of the landscape and the people , and the run down character of the lodges around Lamjura Pass. Their paint must have been fresh in the 80’s, everything was fresh then. And the rhododendron forests must have been lush. Now, with fields of blackened stumps and dripping monsoon clouds, it looked very sad indeed.
I do not know if trekking was a major cause of deforestation or a contributing factor. What I know, is that Trekkers flying to Lukla instead of walking in, turned the whole area into a ghost of its former self. For better or worse? Go and check it out and make up your own mind…

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2 responses to “Life below Lukla

  1. I love the Jiri walk-in! The hospitality of the locals and the overall ambiance of the trail will keep me coming back, but the deforestation is quite jarring. Trekking has probably been a contributing factor, but the deforestation continued through the lean years of the civil war and continues today even though tourist numbers (on the Jiri trail) never bounced back after the conflict.

    Population growth in a country where wood-burning stoves are the norm does its part. Government mismanagement combined with institutionalized corruption is another factor. Corrupt officials in the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation have protected illegal loggers. Another reason is the creation of temporary grazing fields for pack animals.

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