In 1965 Colonel Jimmy Roberts introduced the world to trekking. As a former Gurkha Officer and Military Attaché at the British Embassy in Kathmandu he had spent years of his life walking the hills of Nepal. His idea, revolutionary for the time, was to provide tents together with Sherpas, to guide and cook. This made Nepal and the Himalaya available to a wide community and was an immediate success. Nowadays the formula is well established; groups travel through the hills, walking for five to six hours each day with all their equipment carried by porters or yaks; good quality meals are provided along with warm sleeping bags and comfortable tents; the trekker carries a personal pack with camera, day clothing and snacks. Walking for days on end might sound daunting, but actually it is not too difficult, anyone who has tramped the New Zealand hills with their own pack will find Nepalese trekking much easier, and more stylish! I have taken seven to seventy year olds on many excursions into the Nepalese hills. Age is no barrier, the most important attribute for enjoying the trek and Nepal generally, is right attitude.


The first trekker in Nepal was Bill tilman, who somehow wrangled permission from the maharaja in 1949 to make several treks, including the Kali Gandaki, Helambu and Everest. His Exploits are described in Nepal Himalaya, a mountaineering classic that has been reprinted by the Seattle Mountaineers as part of a Tilman collection, the Seven Mountain-travel Books. Anothere early visitor was maurice Herzog, who led a French expedition to Annapurna in 1950.


During kin Tribhuvan's visits to India, the king met Boris Lissnnivich, a Russian ballet dancer who was running a club in Calcutta.Boris Convinced the king that people would like to visit Nepal and would actually pay for the experience. Soon a few well- heeled landies flew from patan to kathmandu's Gaucher ('cowfield') airport in an Indian Airlines Dakota. Boris accommodeted them in his new establishment, the Roal Hotel. The women were charmed by Boris and the exotic kingdom of Nepal. Thus Nepali toursm was born. The Royal Hotel and its yak & Yeti bar became the meeting place fro climbers from the 1950s until 1971, when the Royal Hotel was closed.

Colonel James OM Roberts was the first person to realise that trekking would appeal to tourists. Jimmy Roberts had spent years in Nepal attached to the British residency and accompanied Tilman on his first trek. In 1965 he took a group of ladies up the kali Gandaki and founded Mountain Travel, the first of Nepal's trekking companies and the inspiration for the adventure travel industry.

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