Called a “rest day” to help us acclimatize to the altitude, it involved a three hour walk to a tea house on the hillside far above the township. We had our heads in the clouds, so could see none of the magnificent peaks surrounding us, but the diversity of flowers was more than enough compensation. Our resident botanist Louis has identified 3 species of blue gentians, many daisies and edelweiss.
Tirtha told us that the life expectancy in some regions of Nepal remains low – for example only 36 years old in Dolpo – with many women still dying in childbirth for lack of basic medical services. Even the medical centre in Manang only has a medical doctor present during the trekking season, and many more remote parts of Nepal don’t even have a basic health post with medications for diarrheoa and common childhood diseases.
Our trek is through one of the wealthiest regions of Nepal, as mountaineers, trekkers and tourists have been attracted to the since the 1950s. Firewood collection is restricted to 15 days per year in Sagarmatha National Park, with additional energy needs for locals over-wintering in villages above the snow line, and for tourists, met largely by bottled gas. This is imported from China or India and either flown up by helicopter or carried up by yak trains.
This morning was our first news of the Australian election… a grim outcome for a group of Australians committed to action on climate change and protecting the environment.