Meet Mr. Hari Kumar Shrestha, the founder and managing director of ‘Icicles Adventure Treks and Tours’ Company. He loves nothing more that managing the trips around Himalayan countries and with his years of dedication, knowledge, experience and leadership skills, it wouldn’t be wrong if we called him a true tourism veteran entrepreneur of Nepal. As it is said that success doesn’t comes easy, there were lots of struggles, resistance, patience and hard work in his life too. He started his tourism career as a porter in 1998. Since then the passion and his love towards this profession has only grown. After couple of years of gaining the expertise in adventure trekking, peak climbing and tourism industry he gained license as trekking and climbing guide from government of Nepal. During his two decades of tourism career, he has also worked as managing director of reputed trekking company of Nepal, worked with numerous trekking leaders from Australia, Italy, Germany, UK, Taiwan, South Africa and other countries. He has been to almost every trekking region of Nepal leading all types of trips including extreme adventures and peak climbing upto 6000m like Island Peak, Mera Peak, Lobuche Peak, Chulu Far East Peak and several others. In this way of pursuing his dream of doing something in tourism industry, the Icicles Adventure Treks was born. Personally, he is more like a friend to every staff, helpful and possesses the qualities that should have in a leader and entrepreneur.
Here is a short interview with MD Hari Kumar Shrestha and lets see his side of story:
How did you start Icicles Adventure Treks?
Icicles Adventure Treks was my dream come true moment to do what I love owing my own company partnering with like minded personalities. Also the motive of giving birth to IATT was to offer the travel services, share my experience, knowledge with travelers, adventure lovers around the world. In short time of opening, we have already organized many trips around foothills of Himalayas and I guess this is just a beginning.
Among so many trekking companies in Nepal, how is Icicles Adventure Treks different?
First of all, we only prefer to compare with ourselves and we focus on performing better than yesterday. Our competitor trekking companies of Nepal are also focused on developing Nepalese tourism industry, so, we do respect them. However, we all love our work and the major thing that differentiates from others are:
Icicles Adventure claims they are sustainable and socially responsible company. How does IATT practice environmental and sustainable tourism?
That’s another thing that differentiates us from others. We not only say and claim, we also bring our sayings into action. We practice environmental and sustainable tourism on our every trips. I mean we organize pre-trip meeting where affects, things to do and not to are discussed, from being safe to keeping environment safe, we follow green tourism policies.
Being a socially responsible company we are also associated with non-profit social organization ‘Disable Concern Nepal’ that looks after and provides shelter to differently able people. A part of our profit always goes to support ‘DCN’.
Likewise, regarding sustainable tourism, our trip leaders, trekking and climbing guides are from local areas, we support local economy by generating jobs and play a part in making positive impact on society as well.
How can tourism make positive impact on economic growth of country like Nepal?
Tourism is one of the most important sources of income for under developed country like Nepal. Booking your treks in Nepal with local trekking company means helping the local economy grow. Our company (Icicles) has dollar bank account certified by government of Nepal and every cent is calculated, and 13% of total income is paid as tax to government.
Also we generate the employment at grass root level; the local experienced and registered guides get benefited. Similarly, staying at local guest houses, buying local products and services will be financially beneficial to local inhabitants.
Therefore, tourism is important sector and plays vital role in overall economic development of nation.
Which one was your first trek as trip leader?
My first trek as a trip as a leader was Ghorepani Poonhill trek at Annapurna region of Nepal. I still remember that day with my Australian client waking up early in the morning, getting at Poonhill and enjoying spectacular sunrise views over the Himalayas. It was just the kick off of my career. Then in coming years after that trek, I got a wonderful opportunity, actually a chance to work with various foreign trip leaders around the world (trip leaders were from Italy, Australia, UK, Germany, Russia, Romania, and Taiwan). It was also great learning opportunity how to deal with clients, look after their travel needs and most importantly share and learn the cultural differences.
What was the most memorable/awkward incident of yours while trekking, peak climbing?
There are quite many memorable moments to cherish. Every trip that I had gone has special memory and captured special place in my heart. While all those memories are appearing in front of me now, if I have to pick the best one, then it should be my first peak climbing trip as a leader to summit of Island Peak in 2007.
I would like to share another memory too. I was a team leader of Australian trekking and peak climbing group to Mera and Ama Laptcha Pass. One of the client approx 50 years old fell ill at the most remote area where there was no means of communication to outer world at all. It was very hard situation to deal with. After giving him first aid treatment and garlic soup, I carried him on my back for hours until we descend to our destination of the day. Next day, he recovered gradually and finally was on his own feet.
What advice would you give to travelers looking for good trekking company in Nepal?
Of course being the owner of trekking company, I would say anyone to trek with us. But my advice in selecting a good company would be do some research first, check either they are government registered or not, their customer reviews and so on.
In addition, also always choose the trip and trekking company that suits your fitness level, interest and budget of course. Travel with Icicles and feel the expertise in services.
What’s next? Where do you see Icicles Adventure Treks in next 10 years?
Better services to our clients, establishing Icicles Adventure as a brand and of course holding the top position as Adventure Company in Nepal.
In next 10 years, from the business perspective, we look forward to expand our business on global level, venturing with foreign companies and offering custom Icicles services at international level.
Likewise, from social perspective we also plan to build own building, shelter and further developments for our partner social non-profit organization ‘Disable Concern Nepal’.
Overall, better tourism industry and better Nepal in coming years, that’s what I am looking in coming years.
(Icicles Trekking Guide)
Tell me something about yourself?
I am Shiva Shrestha from Dhading district, full time professional and government registered trekking guide in Nepal.
How did you come in this field? What do you love the most about your work?
As I was born and raised around hills, walking up and down the rugged trails has been there since my childhood. I had seen foreigners/ travelers with stick on their hand visiting around the village and trying to explore the new things. And when I saw their happy face, it was the moment I thought I will be doing the same. And bringing the smile in travelers face by guiding around my beautiful country is what I love the most about my job. That’s what I do.
So, when did you professionally started your career?
I started my career as a porter, carrying the loads. I guess knowing the job from ground level is important in any field to gain excellence. After I got my government license as trekking guide in 2004, I have been in this field full time since then. In all these years, I have learned a lot, visited almost every trekking region, and brought smile in many faces of my clients. OMG! It’s been more than a decade. Time really flies!
Which are the places that you simply love to show visitors? Why is it so special?
There are plenty actually. To name the few, my first Everest base camp trek during winter, Annapurna Circuit Trek and Langtang valley Trek has been my best places.
Everyone loves to be at Everest mostly because of its height, altitude. But I love this place more because of the satisfaction and delightfulness that I will be able to gain and share with my clients. To show some of the highest Himalayas walking along the beautiful Sherpa villages is the best feeling in the world for me. Sherpas are really heroes of Everest, climbing is in their blood. I have many Sherpa friends there and they love to welcome new guests showing their lifestyle, culture, traditions and of course snow capped mountains.
Annapurna Circuit is the trek that’s popular among all. Walking through the diversified topographical variations, exploring from tropical to alpine surroundings with plenty of pilgrimage and natural highlights mixed with happening good vibes at Pokhara. I enjoy every time I join in.
Langtang valley is a place that I never feel tired to discover. Nearby Kathmandu in fewer efforts, excellent views of Lantang and Manaslu Himalayas are seen. It is a Wonderful site to join in for those who love to see Himalayas in close proximity avoiding crowd. Peaceful, less crowded and beautiful views are three things that makes this place best site to show visitors.
What is the most awkward thing that has happened on trip with you?
Hehe, there has not been many such moments. But once, I accidently went into the toilet that was already occupied! I thought someone forgot to lock the door, but later while I discovered that there was no lock! It happens sometimes; I apologized later with her later and asked the lodge owner to repair the locks as soon as possible.
Tell me something special about your way of guiding. How a visitor does typically spends a day with you?
Planning, preparing and performing are the three P’s that I focus on my work. First I plan where to go, what to show and how to go there and finally put all the things into action that I had put together in my mind. I get ready early before my clients and ensure they have proper preparations and everything, everyone is ready to go. I follow the finalized itinerary and always be aware of my client’s travel needs. Are they enjoying my company, are they feeling awkward, feeling ill, I will know just by seeing them. I try to make the most out of their trip and give more than the value they have paid. Delighting them and guiding them and letting them free when they want, I work according to time and situation. And let me tell you, I have more foreign friends than local friends on my facebook too. J
What are the few tips that you would give to visitors visiting Nepal on trekking holidays?
Nepal is as big in beauty, nature and culture counter to its area as seen on world map. Get ready to see, learn and explore the diversity in these three terms. Also prepare and research well before you join in. Always book your trip through recognized and reputed local travel company. 100% money goes to growth of local economy. Simply say ‘namaste’ with smile, while greeting and you will be treated like god. In Nepal visitors are like god according to famous saying ‘Athiti devo bhaba’.
What’s next? What are your further plans?
Travel, share and learn. This is my plan. Further I am learning other foreign languages to provide my services to even more international visitors. I love traveling, that’s what I do.
Trekking/Climbing leaders or guides are the most important persons in any trip with whom you will be spending most of the time and who will make your trip extra special. They are special persons who give their full time, energy and everything they have got to ensure you get more than what you paid for.
All of our trekking and climbing guides are professional, government license holders and have gain excellence in what they do. Among others Shiva Shrestha and Kipa Sherpa are two of the best trekking and climbing guides respectively who won the employee of the year as local trekking/climbing guides/leaders.
Why trekking with local trekking guide is important?
It is very important to plan your trip with local trekking company accompanied by local trekking guides. They are more than just guides, they are the ones who will:
Know few of our trip leaders who will make your trip happen in the most happening way.
(Founder Member/ Trip Planner)
Mrs. Indira Bhatta is founder member and trip planner of ‘Icicles Adventure Treks and Tours’ Company. With immense passion towards travel, trekking and tourism sector, she pursued her career in this field and now along with founder member and trip planner, she handles travel enquiries, sales and related business affairs.
Here is the short QnA session with her that helps you know get acquainted with her:
Madam, first please tell me something about yourself, your passion and how was your beginning days in this field?
Well, there is a popular saying that where there is a will, there is a way. I must say, similar thing happened to me. As I had passion and interest towards tourism field, after my completion of formal education, I got an opportunity to start my career in travel world as trip planner in one of the reputed trekking company of Nepal. Since then there has been no looking back. The main thing I love to do is planning the trips that involve mail/phone correspondence, knowing the need of clients, sharing the factual information and delivering the service value.
So madam, when did you start working professionally?
I graduated on 2005 and since then, I am into this travel, trekking and tourism field. Its been more than a decade now, I have planned more than 1000 trips and the more I do, the more I learn and excel myself in my job.
Which was the first trip that you planned?
I remember it was November 2005 and my first planned trip was Everest base camp trek for American Client. It was challenging for me, but after the completion of this trip, getting the positive feedback and response from client is what made me happy about my job and continuing it in coming days.
After being in tourism field for so long, what type of people do you think are more interested for trekking in Nepal?
Nepal is one of the top destinations especially for adventure lovers. And we can see Nepal quite frequently on top of the lists of trip-advisor, rough guides and other travel media. People from all over the world are interested in Nepal, but in my experience I have seen mostly Americans and Australians after Indians. In recent years, there has been huge increase in number of visitors from China too.
Is there any memorable incident while dealing with travelers?
Yes, of course I can never forget one senior citizen from USA who had completed Annapurna Circuit. He was 76 years old and mentioned that he had a dream of doing Annapurna Circuit Trek in his life. But due to busy life schedule and other responsibilities, he was not being able to. When he contacted me, he said how badly he wanted to go for Annapurna Circuit. And he was not being able to find travel insurance too. But after all these years of experience, I had few insurance companies that I recommended him. After successfully completion of his Annapurna trek, he was so happy that I still remember his blessings and I guess blessing is all we need to motivate and work harder in life. I simply can’t forget this incident.
Which is your favorite place that you would recommend others to visit? Why?
I have many favorite places and Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of which I would recommend others to visit. Manaslu Circuit Trek is less crowded with plenty of natural and cultural exploration. It is best for anyone looking for more peaceful trekking, off the beaten and who loves to fully immerse in different colors of nature.
What are the most asked questions by travelers or what do they want to know most?
Enquiries on safety issues and financial securities are the most asked ones. Also in recent years, there has been plenty of enquiries by solo female travelers looking for female trekking guides. And we feel proud to serve them with our premium travel services. I would like to say that Nepal is safe destination for female travelers.
What tips would you give to travelers looking forward to visit Nepal for adventures?
While analyzing the enquiries that I receive, I have noticed that people are more influenced by others decision and sayings. So first tip would be first get acquainted with your fitness level, interest, budget and then only plan for the trip. Choose the one that suits you best. If you don’t love walking or have altitude allergies then going for Everest base camp trek would simply be waste of time and money. So first do proper planning, research, and contact reputed local trekking company in Nepal. Rest is just adventure of lifetime, simply can’t be described in words.
What are your future plans and goals?
My future plan is to develop myself professionally and take Icicles Adventure Treks to heights making it best travel company of Nepal.
Whereas, in present context, we can clearly see female trekking guides are outnumbered in comparison to male guides. Therefore, I have vision of promoting female trekking guides in Nepal by providing them required training, expertise, opportunity and help them live independently through this profession developing the professionalism in them.
(Icicles Climbing Guide)
Tell me something about yourself?
I am Kipa Sherpa from Everest region, the Everest summiter in 2016. Professional and well experienced peak climbing guide for Icicles Adventure. Wow! Saying the Everest summiter myself is really a proud feeling.
How did you come in this field? What do you love the most about your work?
I am a born Sherpa. Sherpas are known for their climbing skills and this is what we do. It is in our blood. I simply love to guide my clients and fellow climbers to summit of the peak. Either it’s a 6000m peak or 8848m Everest, with proper planning, preparations and other resources made available, sharing the satisfaction of stepping at top of snow capped mountain is what I love the most about my job.
So, when did you professionally started your career?
I was running up and down the Everest trails since my early days. I can remember that taking the tourists to monastery, taking pics with them, bring them to my home. It seems that I was a guide since my school days. When I grew up during my teen age, I worked as porter too and since 2006, I have been professional trekking and peak climbing guide in Nepal. I have taken more than 100 clients to summit of various peaks of Nepal and enjoyed every bit of it. With all these decade of experience I have learned a lot and love to share these feelings, experiences with visitors.
Which are the places/peaks that you simply love to show visitors? Why is it so special?
There are plenty of peaks suitable for beginners and professionals to summit. There have been many favourites. But Island peak, Pisang Peak and Naya Kanga has been the best of them all.
I have been to Island peak most number of time, which is also the acclimatization peak before climbing Everest. Frankly, I love to climb this peak because it has most number of visitors and more climbers is economically beneficial to me, company and also local economy.
Pisang Peak and Naya Kanga both are comparatively technical peak climbing in Nepal and challenging too. And I simply love to take more and more challenges. Even after summiting the top of the world, the hunger of climbing snow capped Himalayas in me has just begun.
What is the most memorable thing that has happened on trip with you?
Of course, summiting the Everest was the most memorable thing that has ever happened to me in my life. This is the happy memory. But one year before, the memory of April 25th 2015, was the most devastating one. At the time of earthquake I was at the Everest base camp with my fellow Sherpa mates, climbers, mountaineers, doctors and other team members. All thanks to god, nothing happened to me, but we lost our base camp doctor Marisa Eve Girawong in an avalanche. We were just talking a moment before, and in just few minutes, she had gone very far away from us. Probably in a better place. May her soul rest in peace, I will always remember her.
Tell me something special about your way of guiding, leading a group. How a visitor does typically spends a day with you?
First of all I keep my client’s safety at top priority. Then simply put the planned itinerary into action. If a client is beginner, then I take special care of them, making an extra effort to make them comfortable with climbing gears and equipments. Also of course, I help them clicking a photograph at summit. Overall I try to make their climbing journey a worthwhile experience.
What are the few tips that you would give to visitors visiting Nepal on peak climbing holidays?
First of all, I would suggest anyone to know their limits, physical fitness and capability. Everyone has different limits of their own. If you are beginner climber then, try easy peak climbing like Island, Mera Peak. And in asimilar way, slowly upgrade your skills and experience along with altitude. The more you go, the more you know. Another thing is a recommendation to book your peak climbing holidays with local reputed climbing and trekking company in Nepal. It really helps the local be independent, growth of local economy and your effort to make this world better place to live.
What’s next? What are your further plans?
As I have said earlier, the hunger for climbing the snow capped mountains forme has just begun. I have been at the top of the world, but still many summit to plan, attempt and lead my clients along.