When you’re planning a wedding, people always ask you the same things: When are you getting married? How many people are you inviting? Have you bought a dress? Cue a slew of mundane wedding-related questions…
But for someone as travel obsessed as I am (I’ve travelled to over 45 countries and my Lonely Planet collection would rival any bookshop), the main question people asked was ‘What are you doing for your honeymoon?’.
I can guarantee that ‘Climbing to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal on a small group tour’ wasn’t the answer they were expecting.
It wasn’t our choice of destination that had people stunned. We’re known among our friends for travelling to unconventional destinations, hiking for days in the wilderness, or road-tripping to surf tucked-away beaches. It was the ‘small group tour’ bit that people couldn’t understand.
So why on earth would we think this was a good idea, when we could stick with a more conventional honeymoon destination, like an island in Fiji or a jungle retreat in Costa Rica?
Well, a few reasons…
1. We didn’t have to plan a thing
I usually adore planning trips – working out itineraries, choosing hotels, researching where to find the most authentic and delicious meals in town… But after organising a wedding, I loved the fact that my honeymoon was already planned for me. Everything about it. Flights? Done. Hotels? No worries. Transport? All over it. This was bliss, and such a relief after months of wedding mania.
It meant that we could just relax. We had an awesome local leader with us, so we didn’t need to worry about a single thing. Logistics, safety and meals were all taken care of; our leader Chitra was even our alarm clock most mornings, waking us up early to watch the sun rise from behind the mountains – a pretty incredible way to start the day.
2. We got to eat the most incredible food
When I’m travelling, my absolute favourite thing to do is eat. And after months of wedding planning, eating was definitely a honeymoon priority.
Travelling with Chitra meant we ate and drank like absolute kings. He took us to restaurants we would never have gone to on our own, recommending dishes and encouraging us to try crazy new things. Without him, there’s no way I would have ordered ‘the best enchilada in Nepal’ from a Nepali guesthouse on the side of a mountain.
On our last night in the mountains, Chitra got our group of 11 into the kitchen of our guesthouse so we could learn how to cook dhal bat for our porters (dal bhat, made with rice and lentils, is a real staple when you’re hiking in Nepal). Thanks to him, food was a highlight of our honeymoon, which you wouldn’t expect on an 11-day hike.
3. We made a bunch of new friends
All this being said, you’re probably still wondering why we’d want to share our honeymoon with nine strangers. What was great about travelling with Intrepid was that we still had plenty of spare time where we could go off on our own and have some time to ourselves.
However, we had such a great group that we never did this, and instead opted to all venture out together. We love meeting people and making friends when we travel; it’s always special connecting with new people from around the world. Besides, we have the rest of our lives to spend together, right?
4. It brought us both back to earth
Getting married is an indulgent experience, and although our wedding was quite small, it still cost us a small fortune. So going on a honeymoon with Intrepid was an unexpected way to ground us again. From start to finish, there was a focus on the environment, local communities and gender equality.
At our welcome meeting on the first day of the trip, we were given canvas tote bags to use instead of single use plastic bags. We were encouraged to use reusable water bottles and water purifying tablets instead of buying plastic bottles every day. Each of the porters were encouraged to talk to us about their village and families which opened up a dialogue between them and our group very early on. We spent some valuable time with them on the hike, and played countless rounds of ‘kill the ten’, a Nepalese card game.
Chitra took us to a restaurant in Pokhara that only employed women in order to train them up in the tourism industry. Our group also did a cooking class at Seven Women, an organisation in Kathmandu that empowers Nepali women.
We didn’t expect our honeymoon to be so humbling, and this was a breath of fresh air after a time in our lives that was so self-indulgent. We loved our Annapurna hike with Intrepid, and although unconventional, travelling with a small group of travellers from around the world made our honeymoon even more special.
Have your own adventure – perhaps even a honeymoon – on an Intrepid small group adventure. Check out our range of trips in Nepal now.