A Guide to Trekking in Nepal. Stephen Bezruchka. The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1981. 256 pages, black-and-white photographs, sketch maps, glossary, bibliography. $8.95.
A Guide to Trekking in Nepal is the best and most comprehensive guidebook of its kind. Its wealth of information should be as complete and indispensible to the traveller in Nepal as The Joy of Cooking is to the American cook.
Dr. Bezruchka opens with an up-front discussion about different styles of trekking—possibly the most important decision each trekker must face. Many guidebooks present large commercial agencies as the only sensible way to travel; thus, leaving readers with different tastes without a choice. Although the author is in favor of small groups, he succeeds in presenting all possibilities fairly and completely.
Travelling halfway around the world with no idea of what to expect can be disconcerting. This book deals with all the burdensome details such as visas, trekking permits, airplanes and how to hire a Sherpa. There is a section devoted to health matters (as useful in the field as in advance planning) and a chapter of communicating with the people of the country together with a glossary of common words and phrases.
The standard treks and a glimpse of other possibilities are fully detailed to aid in planning one’s trip. There is a map of Nepal and nine additional maps of the standard routes. Personally, I like a small group and a vague map; but for those who want them, incredibly detailed route descriptions are also provided.
Chapter 4, “Interacting with Nepal,” is really the heart of the book. Everyone should read its message carefully. “Nepal is there to change you, not for you to change it. Lose yourself in its essence. Make your footprints with care and awareness of the precarious balance around you,” writes Dr. Bezruchka. “Take souvenirs in your mind and spirit, not in your pockets. Nepal is not only a place on the map, but an experience, a way of life from which we can all learn.”