kimkim is a new online travel company, based in California, started in December 2015. We offer a trusted online marketplace where travelers can connect with local experts to plan and book trips. We focus on travel experiences that go beyond the usual and push the traveler slightly out of their comfort zone because from personal experience we know that these kinds of experiences create lasting memories.
In April 2016 we decided to go on our first field trip with our small founding team of three and chose Nepal as our destination. The purpose of our trip was threefold: to meet with our Nepal-based experts, to explore Nepal first-hand and get a feel for the current travel conditions, and to have an unforgettable travel experience with our 3-person founding team. What better place to go for team building than the Nepalese Himalaya?
Two of us, Joost and Alex, had been to Nepal several times, while for Benoit this was his first time visiting Nepal. After a couple of days in Kathmandu it was time to hit the trails. We chose the Khopra Ridge trek, since it combines the spectacular views on Annapurna and Dhaulagiri with a an off-the-beaten path extension that makes use of centuries old community trails that have recently been rediscovered by trekkers.
As far as team off-sites go, it’s hard to overstate the uniqueness of doing this on the trekking trails of Nepal. While we have a habit to do walking meetings around our office in California, a fifteen hundred meters climb over steep stone stairs to Ghorepani is an entirely different matter. The amazing views of green hills and snowy mountains, the sounds of cattle, birds and rivers and the slower pace when movement happens on foot form a perfect setting to look at things with a new perspective.
One of the great aspects of adventure travel is the small unexpected things that create memories that last forever. When we reached the village of Swanta, between Ghorepani and Khopra, we stopped for lunch at a guest house, with a large vegetable garden and a beautiful smooth lawn typically used for camping. We sat down on the lawn and ordered dal bhat. Our friendly hostess went into the vegetable fields with her young daughter strapped to her back and returned a few minutes later with copious amounts of kale and headed to the kitchen. As we relaxed on the lawn, the little girl appeared with a football, and started kicking the ball to us. Before we knew it we were all engaged in a fun ball game, a mix of football and volleyball. After a while the little girl headed back inside and the three of us, and our guide Pemba and our porter Prakash kept kicking the ball around like excited little boys while our loud laughter filled the valley. The dal bhat that followed was among the best we tasted during our trip, and as we all resumed our trek towards Khopra on a narrow trail through dense forest everyone had a big smile on their face.
To me this experience proved once more that traveling opens the mind and tends to wake up the passionate side of us that too often remains hidden as we go about our daily lives. It also shows clearly that Nepal is as ready as ever to welcome travelers and to provide those great, unique, unexpected travel experiences that create lifelong memories.