An Aberdeen family on the trip of a lifetime got more than they bargained for when they found themselves stranded while in lockdown in the Nepalese mountains.
Julie Smith and her husband Kris, along with their children Jacob, 3, and nine-year-old Erihn, arrived in Nepal on March 6 as part of a round-the-world trip.
Having travelled previously, Julie and Kris, 41, wanted to do it again – this time with their children.
Julie, 46, said: “Jacob and Erihn are growing up so fast and we wanted to embrace this time with them and show them the world.
“So far we’re in country number 19 of our trip and it’s been life-changing for them. We’ve seen them grow in confidence and interact with other cultures.”
The family, who are from Hazlehead, started out in Kathmandu before embarking on a 30-day trek to Everest Base Camp.
Nepal is on lockdown having reported its fifth coronavirus case at the weekend after a teenager tested positive following a trip to Belgium.
Four patients are in isolation while one has recovered.
Hundreds of tourists were left stranded when the lockdown was introduced on Wednesday with more than 100 rescued from different parts of the country, including its high trekking trails.
Julie said: “We started our trek on March 19 and we walked for seven days, covering very little ground in that time because Erihn and Jacob are both walking with us.
“We got to a place called Pakhepani, which is around 2,800 metres in elevation, and that’s when we found out that there was a total lockdown happening.
“We knew a couple of days beforehand that the transport was stopping within Nepal but we made a decision not to go back there and to stay in the mountains because it is probably safer.
“At the moment we’re staying with a local family of Sherpas who have a teahouse and they are very kind. We aren’t going anywhere just now, we are in a valley that looks over to the mountains and it’s absolutely stunning.”
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Julie said the family are in good spirits despite being thousands of miles away from their home in Aberdeen, which they left in July.
She added: “We’re taking things one day at a time. We get news from Lukla which is the closest town to us, and we’re also in touch with the Foreign Office back home.
“We are travelling long-term so we need to take into consideration all the safe options available to us. Once things open up, we may continue to Everest Base Camp if it’s safe, but if it’s not, we will head to Lukla and get a flight to Kathmandu and figure out where we are going after that.
“The kids are happy and we’re all in good spirits, and we can get fed and watered here.
“One of the most worrying things about being stuck here is running out of money because you pay everything with cash in Nepal and you can’t pay by card.
“But we’re able to pay the Sherpas by bank transfer which is a relief.”
The family have gone back to basics while living in the mountains.
Julie added: “We have limited electricity and no heating, but a wood-burning stove at night.
“We’re using an outside shower to wash or a bucket of hot water and we’re washing our clothes by hand most days.
“We washed the children outside today in a big bucket of water. Thankfully the sun was shining and they loved it.”