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Frequently asked questions
Project Himalaya is owned and managed by Jamie McGuinness, and in addition to running treks and expeditions, he has written guide books to the region and is in involved with development projects with conservation as the focus.
"I liked the fact that we trekkers were treated as competent adults who did not require hand holding rather than numbers moving through the operation."
- David Koelle 2014
+ we are some of the most knowledgeable, caring trekking guides in Nepal & India
+ we try harder than almost anyone to make sure you have
the best experience
+ we have our own dedicated trek crews, and most staff work exclusively for us
+ our equipment and trek meals are second to none
+ our exploratory trips really are unique, these are real pioneering efforts
+ we run amazing, adventurous Ladakh and Zanskar treks
+ our Nepal treks are also the best
+ all itineraries are planned with acclimatization in mind
+ we will be totally honest with you
+ we enjoy what we are doing!
We have been trekking the region for a while - here is a glorious 2001
Lobsang, Tenpa (Temba), Sherap and Phuntsok (Punchok) still work with us, Kim worked as a partner from 2002 to 2015, Luke (Lucas) worked with us for 2010-12, and John is still in touch - photo by Joel Schone, who lived Project Himalaya from 1999 until he died in 2010.
Basically Project Himalaya is Jamie McGuinness and other leaders. We organize and/or run things ourselves where appropriate and work with good local companies for more logistically challenging trips. Project Himalaya is a lean internet-based business.
The trip leader is responsible for the trip as a whole, including the web pages, email, organizing and leading. This means virtually all of your money goes directly on our ground operation and the staff. Jamie handles the marketing, web design, additional info and maintenance. We are not interested in expanding, in fact actively keep the operation small.
Leading trips really is our passion. We don't have to satisfy investors or company directors etc, none of us own a car or house and don't cut corners on the operation to make more money. Rather, we find the right balance on spending for the trip so that we (you and us!) have a fantastic trip.
Jamie started leading his own treks in the mid 1990's and started the website in 1997, Joel started running PH trips from 1999 (and died 2010), Kim in 2002 until 2015 and Luke from 2010 to 2012, so Project Himalaya has long, successful history. Truly, trekking is our passion and lifestyle.
No. The New Zealand Inland Revenue service kindly suggested that if Jamie is based out of NZ and satisfied certain criteria then we won't have to pay any NZ tax. We have done this. Rather than running our own trekking company in Nepal and India, we use locally owned companies for selected services instead.
How are clients protected legally then? Basically you are relying on our honesty - and you can. Many of our clients are generated by word of mouth and repeat business.
PH treks are distinguished from others as the leaders are passionate about the people and what they do. The staff are amazing and Jamie and Kim care for their crew.
Jamie's treks are truly wild and exploratory with a unpredictable element that lends itself for true adventure. The small group sizes mean there is always an option to be adaptable and flexible and to cater to people's interests along the way. As well as fantastic, remote trekking there is sometimes the opportunity to bag 6000m along the way, Or as we did last year we slept out on some amazing high passes to photograph the stars.
Kim's treks are fun! I love that she knows so many of the locals intimately as she had come back again and again, so has those great relationships with people. The food and ambience on her treks are fantastic.
It was an outstanding success, one of the best I have ever done. There was a tremendous variety of scenery, and a great deal of cultural interest. For much of the route there were relatively few other trekkers and our journey was quite peaceful. The team looking after us were of exceptionally high quality. Kaji was thoughtful, intelligent, a very nice man, and worked tremendously hard to look after the clients and the rest of the team. Karma and "Saribung" Kaji were also very hardworking, skilled and lovely people to be with. The cook team were the best I have ever had and, under Dagelje's cheerful lead, produced an amazing variety of delicious and healthy food, both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Hygiene standards were very high. It was also very welcome when Dagelje produced flasks of hot juice on the trail on our tougher days. The porters were very strong, friendly and helpful. We have been on treks where we had to wait a long time at cold campsites waiting for tents and kitbags to turn up, but that never happened on this trip. All in all, the service of Expedition Himalaya was excellent, and I would happily recommend you to any other group.
Martin Plackett, private Saribung expedition 2013
I wanted to write and thank you both for an amazing trip. From the beginning you’ve both been super helpful and informative, and to then see the trip run in a highly professional manner [Luke as leader], we can’t thank you both enough. I’m certain that none of us on the trip truly understand the effort and organization that goes into a trip we’ve just experienced. Given the weather earlier in the trip, you both did an incredible job to keep the original itinerary in place, efforts we really appreciate.
Jamie – thanks again for all the ‘behind the scenes’ work.
Andy Calder, Aussie Island Peak Private 2010
Me and Matt would just like to thank you for writing and posting all the information in the first place as this was a good catalyst for our research and it is great that someone is being so helpful and responsible and telling it how it is as we dont want to be with porters who dont have proper clothes and get abandoned en route etc. Also great to have the advice about the acclimitisation etc as it is apparent how short the itineraries are of companies all over the world when they are trying to jam in the numbers of people to maximise the time of work, so shorten ascent times. Unfortunately I am guilty of this I suppose as I am coming over for a month then going back to work but hopefully we've sussed out something that will work out well for everyone - about twelve days independently on the annapurna circuit including the thorong la pass over to marpha , then meet our staff there to do the dhaulagiri circuit and they are already on it before us so hopefully will be happy and acclimitised but we are going to check out the kit situation in kathmandu before we go on trek.
And after their trek:
I just wanted to say thanks so much for all the information at the time. We ended up having a really great trip to the Dhaulagiri circuit ... We definitely definitely agreed that we wouldn't have been happy to do the itinerary in reverse with a crew so were really grateful for all your guidance and tips. Thanks again.
Beth and Matt, 2010
Thank you for a very special trek. There were so many good things about it. The food was excellent, the organization smooth, the staff friendly and reliable, the tents comfortable and secure.....but the best was Dolpo itself. I had never seen such powerful beauty before. It struck me that in spite of your extensive experience trekking and climbing in the Himalayas, you had retained an enthusiasm and a passion for remote places. For me that made going to Dolpo with you and your group extra special.
Hester SS, Upper Dolpo Magic, 2008
Great to hear you're still at it! Am delighted you're still trying to get it "right". You have a sense about that, I now realize, others don't.
Dana Alford in 2007 about Jamie and a trip years ago
Anyways, I just wanted to thank you again for all your help and patience in getting us to the North Col on that perfect HOT day in May. Your guidance was most appreciated and I always felt taken care of with the whole crew.
It was great fun being with an easygoing group and I learned a ton again up there....and not just how to get that oxygen mask ready for Eric!! I am still pretty thrilled at being on the Col and the pictures are great reminders. First time to 7000m for me was TOUGH but I am pumped to be able to have done it and still smile while I was up there!
Troy Smereka, CHE North Col 2006 lead by Joe Pilaar; climbing day by Jamie
... but more importantly for a fantastic trek. You deliver an amazing product, the best staff, truly memorable food and great accommodation.
Dallas Clark, Kanchen Gola Wild 2005
There were a few people on the staff that were truly great, memorable people, and it was a privilege to embark on such an adventure with them. You will never meet nicer, more accommodating people than the people of Nepal.
Megan Spindler, Kanchenjunga Double Magic 2005
The trek was totally fantastic – everything I had hoped for and more. It was tough, mainly because I had a nasty bout of gastro early on, then was affected by the altitude somewhat. However, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the trek, it was really well organised and run and the guys did a fabulous job of everything.
It was just so exciting to see Tibet – what an amazing country, the people were great fun and everything ran so smoothly. Seeing Everest and coming up to ABC was a dream come true – although God knows what you guys thought of me sitting in the corner trying not to vomit.
I can definitely commend both you and the Explore Himalaya team on a really well-run and friendly trip – something I would definitely recommend to others. Thinking about my next trip to the Himalaya!
Belinda Boswell, Everest ABC 2005 organized by Explore Himalaya with help from Jamie
Jamie McGuinness sent me a note to say that you were interested in trekking in the Everest region and had questions regarding what is involved. We just came back after spending most of December doing just this on Jamie's regularly scheduled "High Khumbu & Island Peak" trek so it's definitely still very fresh in our minds.
If you are at all interested in seeing the Himalayas, Nepal and impressive peaks in general, or Everest in particular, I would recommend this trip without the slightest reservation. It is an absolute "must do" and unquestionably worth it. If you do decide to do it with a commercial guide, Jamie and/or Joel are definitely the people to do it with (unfortunately they didn't pay me to say that - but nonetheless it is true). If I could figure out how to take the time from work and how to convince my wife to let me go again - I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Stephen Kania, 2002
We would like to to thank you and Joel for 'persuading' us and getting us onto the India trip, for the flexibility of you and the other participants in bringing the start date forward (so we could get our return flight to UK) and for all your and particularly Joel's hard work in making the trek such a success for us. We know it can't have been easy at times, with all the snow, but we loved it and we hope to come back one day.
Peter and Susan 2002
"First of all: Thanks again for spending time on our never ending "waterfall" of silly and more serious questions.
We got your last e-mail and after we read your suggestions, we had a good laugh about the whole situation.
Finally, after endless visits to the library, surfing on the net, studying maps, chatting with you and long discussions, these not exactly first-time visitors to Nepal and normally quite-adventurous-orientated-lowlanders are going to trek.......the Annapurna circuit!
The whole idea is so simple and very suitable for the time of the year, that we keep on wondering why it never occurred to us... must be low-altitude sickness of the third degree (but fortunately not life-threatening). Maybe we should try to sleep a bit higher in the near future...
No kidding, we were kind of surprised about your suggestion but it is a real good one and we've decided to do it. What we appreciated even more is the fact that this way, after going through our questions for weeks, there will probably be not too much in it for you, as you told us that we can hire a porter-guide and his friend and pay directly to them. We could have signed up on a definitely more expensive trek, but you kept thinking with us and that's highly appreciated!"
Robert, Nina and Annette 2000
By the way, I wanted to say it's nice and refreshing to have someone speak honestly about doing things without guides etc, as everyone I've talked to here is connected to some company and only interested in selling an expensive tour and won't give advice for free. so thanks:)
Perry Judd 2000 on advice to go exploring rather than book a peak trip
Jamie is fluent in Nepali, very savvy in high mountain logistics, health, safety, mountaineering and other issues. He is personable, multi-talented, very knowledgeable about Nepali customs, language, history, and politics. He is an accomplished photographer and an incredibly strong climber.
Dana Alford, Kangchenjunga Magic 1999
I was on a trek to Everest Base Camp with ... a well known Australian company and I got rather a noticable case of altitude sickness (nose bleeds, eyesight problem, walking like a drunk). Hence I started the walk down through the mountains to get to a hospital, although I still couldn’t keep either food or water down and having had a few days like this, I was scared. Fortunately, in the "middle of nowhere", I ran into Joel from Project Himalaya. Joel gave me [a drug to stop me] vomitting, stayed with me to make sure I could eat something, measured my oxygen [saturation] level and generally made sure I was OK. He then organised to catch me around lunch time the next day on the way down, just to check I would still be OK. Joel didn't know me at all, he'd never met me, I wasn't his client, yet he did more to ensure my health and safety in getting back to Lukla than the well known trekking company I'd paid!
... I can't thank Joel enough! You got a total stranger out of an awful situation. I couldn't recommend you more highly. Thank you.
Paula Allen, 2009