Ask Joan

Trekking in Nepal and getting to Slovenia

Tourists gather on Poon Hill to watch the sunrise over the Annapurna Himal, in   Annapurna,  Nepal. Photograph: Getty Images

Tourists gather on Poon Hill to watch the sunrise over the Annapurna Himal, in Annapurna, Nepal. Photograph: Getty Images

 

My wife and I are planning a 10-day trekking holiday in Nepal next year, probably May. We are looking at two options: booking the holiday online via a Nepalese based trekking company, or booking it when we get to Kathmandu so we can take advantage of obtaining a cheaper price. Do you have any advice on which option would be best?

– JT, Waterford

It may or may not be cheaper to book when you get to Kathmandu, but you may waste time looking for a tour company and you cannot always guarantee the level of service or experience. I think for such a big trip and the distance and complexity involved, it would be better to go with an experienced tour operator.

In the unlikely event of something going wrong you would be in good hands. Major tour operators abide by strict safety standards and many also have responsible travel policies which ensure that guides and porters earn a fair wage, carry proper equipment and are not overpacked.

There are quite a few companies with packages to Nepal and they work with local trekking companies. Prices will depend on where you go, the level of activity and style of accommodation.

Tucan Travel’s Highlights of Nepal tour over 10 days begins from Kathmandu with visits to Chitwan National Park, trekking in the foothills of Annapurna and cycling from €799pps, not including flights, tel: 1800-553559, tucantravel.com.

If you are experienced trekkers, the idea of tackling Everest Base Camp might appeal. The G Adventures trip stays in tea houses and the strenuous treks take 15 days. Prices begin at €1,099 plus food and flights. That is one of 11 Nepal trips available, with varying levels of activity and length, see gadventures.com.

Responsible Travel runs a number of tours to Nepal with the focus on culture and interacting with locals in the places visited. The Annapurna Sanctuary trek costs from £840pps (€1,055) plus flights, responsibletravel.com.

At the other end of the scale Aurora Adventures with Tashi Tenzing, grandson of Tenzing Norgay, will lead an easy paced nine-day trek, called the Yeti Trail to Everest without climbing mountains. There will also be a helicopter trip over the Gokyo Lakes and base camp. Prices are from £2,415pps (€3,034) plus flights, auroraexpeditions.co.uk.

I have long been curious about our EU partner Slovenia, which I’ve heard is beautiful, and its capital Ljubljana. There do not seem to be any direct flights to Slovenia from Ireland. What is the best way to get there? How could one approach planning a visit, even a short break to the capital? – BMK, Dublin

The good news is that there are holidays to Slovenia every year from Ireland during the summer, from the end of May to early September.

They are operated by Crystal Holidays and include stays in the resorts of Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and Kranjska Gora in the Julian Alps.

Trips can be booked for next year from €626pps for a week, half-board, crystalsummer.ie. It would be possible to take a day trip to Ljubljana by rail or bus, or even stay overnight.

A city break to Ljubljana is possible via London Stansted with Easyjet. com. Prices come down from October and you could book a return for about €100 plus the Dublin to Stansted fare.

Send your travel queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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