Road to prosperity
While you wander around the Manaslu Trek, it’s easy to overlook the fact that trekking trails are just unmotorable roads. All goods and service providers must use these trails. It’s slow and expensive, and perhaps it is no surprise to learn that improving road access its the biggest key factor in reducing rural poverty in Nepal. While no road up to the Nubri Valley is envisaged, trail improvement is still crucial to the improvement in the lives of people of the area.
In 2005 and 2006, USAID funded the construction of 44km of improved mule trail from Philim to Samdo. It starts at Philim, on the bank of the Budhi Gandaki River, and continues along the river until Samdo village, near Larke Pass, in north-west Gorkha where the Tibet/China pass is situated.
The following video tells of the lives of people in this area, and shows something of this improved section of the Manaslu Circuit Trek. Incidentally, the Lonely Planet guidebook describes the Manaslu Trek route as difficult – this is out of date, and in fact the trails are actually great for trekking.
USAID says, “The mule trail was of strategic importance for the people living in northern Gorkha, majority of whom are from the Ghale, Sherpa, and Gurung ethic groups. The trail has significantly improved the safety and mobility of the local people and their cattle’s used to haul goods, increased trade with Tibet/China, and has also increased the number of tourists and trekkers in the region. Prior to the project, the people of northern Gorkha had very little support for development efforts due to the region’s low population density.”
Video credit: SAMAGRA and Mr. Dhurba Basnet.