If you have ever considered taking on an adventure with THISWORLDEXISTS, I'm here to tell you to go for it!
A school in Phulkharka was destroyed by the devastating April 2015 earthquake, which killed over 8,000 people. Our mission was to rebuild it. Not only was this a humanitarian mission, but also a chance to trek through the beautiful landscapes Nepal has to offer!
Meeting in Kathmandu, the team got acquainted after hours of transit. To give you a sense of the group's diversity, there were team members as young as 15, and almost an equal ratio of male to female. We had people from Australia, England, Mexico, and the USA.
Sitting on the rooftop of the hotel, overlooking the city at one of the best sunsets made for the perfect setting to quickly become friends!
After briefings over a Nepali breakfast, the trekking began. This particular venture was to walk the Poon Hill route towards Ghorepani, in central Nepal. With porters to carry extra gear, and to arrange food and lodging ahead of us, the team headed up. And up, and up.
Be prepared for many stairs up and down, and views that will make you forget about them! Guest houses made out of incredible stonework were a welcomed site after each day of trekking. Rooms were comfortable and the guesthouse owners were so accommodating and friendly. We enjoyed swims in freezing waterfalls, Everest brand beers, and hot meals.
Ghorepani is a small village set at the final stretch to Poon Hill with almost everything one can ask for. Before any reasonable hour, we began climbing countless stairs to the top. The morning sun began to rise, revealing a vast view of... clouds. I've been on the Earth for 36 years and know how it works. If you have patience, you will often be greatly rewarded.
After a little while, the clouds moved away and the colors moved in! Mountain peaks like Fishtail and Annapurna South poked through the vapours in spectacular fashion. There were many more truly fantastic locations along the way.
After a week of trekking, we returned to our hotel in Pokhara to recover and prepare for the school building phase. Buses weren't built for trips like the one to Phulkharka. Narrow roads and high drop offs mixed with a sandy and muddy paths added up to an exciting ride!
Arriving late at night, thankfully camp was already set up and the transition to our new lodging was easy. Thanks to the locals, our every meal was prepared and always delicious. Tents were set up for toilets, and there is even a shower tent to clean off after productive work days.
We were greeted by school children with beautiful flowers, a banner, and a bindi. It was great to see the faces of those we were there to help. Talented builders on site taught us how to build with Earth Bags. Work days consisted of shovelling, mixing, and carefully connecting while also constantly laughing and having an overall good time.
This trip is definitely not for the lazy! Everyday began with early breakfasts and late dinners. It was so impressive to see everyone step up and work as hard as they could. But after fundraising, travelling long distances, and falling in love with the people of Nepal, how could we not give our all?
Children constantly surround the camp site and the work site, shouting our names. I gladly gave them my name and was forever greeted as "Dean is cool!". Playing volleyball and singing with these beautiful children was a welcomed recharge after an exhausting day.
You have the opportunity to create positive change in these communities. With your help, we can give these children the gift of education, setting the path to brighter futures. THISWORLDEXISTS have a range of trips in store for 2016, to Nepal and many other countries.
Written by Dean Chytraus
Dean is a THISWORLDEXISTS Ambassador. See more of his adventures on Instagram: @chytrausphoto