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About us - 2012

**This is a historic page frozen in time - see Our treks for the current website**

Frequently asked questions

Who are you dealing with? Real people who really care!

We are not commoditized, running treks all over the world, we really are specialists who love what we do.

Why trek with us?

+ we are some of the most knowledgeable, caring trekking guides in Nepal-India

+ we try harder than almost anyone to make sure you have the best experience
(read the eulogies about Joel and know that Kim has an equally dedicated following...)

+ NO other outfit run exploratory trips like we do, these are real pioneering efforts

+ we run amazing Ladakh and Zanskar treks

+ our Dolpo and Manaslu treks are also the best

+ we will be totally honest with you

+ we enjoy what we are doing!

Our star crew and trekking team - this was one of the many so memorable treks. Joel took the picture

We have been trekking the region for a while - here is a glorious 2001 Ladakh memory:
Lobsang, Tenpa (Temba), Sherap and Punsok (Punchok) still work with us, Kim now guides since 2002,
Luke (Lucas) worked with us for 2010-11-12, and John is still in touch - photo by Joel Schone

Who/what is Project Himalaya?

Basically Project Himalaya is Jamie McGuinness and Kim Bannister (and Joel Schone, now very sadly dead). We organize and/or run things ourselves where appropriate and with good local companies for more logistically challenging trips. Project Himalaya is an internet-based business, we live much of the year in Nepal-India and each person spends around 6 months a year in the mountains.

Our business model is lean and clean; we are beyond paperless - we are officeless, only a laptop each. The trip leader is responsible for the trip as a whole, including the web pages, email, organizing and leading. This means virtually all of your money goes directly on our ground operation and the staff. Jamie handles the marketing, web design and maintenance. We are not interested in expanding, in fact actively keep the operation small.

Leading trips really is our passion; we are not focused on the bottom line. We don't have to satisfy investors or company directors etc, none of us own a car or house. We make enough money to live and don't cut corners on the operation to make more money. Rather, we find the right balance on spending for the trip so that we (you and us) have a fantastic trip.

Jamie started leading his own treks in the mid 1990's and started the website in 1997, Joel started running PH trips from 1999, Kim in 2002 and Luke from 2010 to 2012, so Project Himalaya has long, successful history. Truly, trekking is our passion and lifestyle.

Are we a company?

No. The New Zealand Inland Revenue service kindly suggested that if Jamie is based out of NZ and satisfied certain criteria then we won't have to pay any NZ tax. We have done this. Rather than running our own trekking company in Nepal and India, we use locally owned companies instead.

We are not interested in expanding, we keep our operation simple and tidy.

How are clients protected legally?

Basically you are relying on our honesty - and you can. Many of our clients are generated by word of mouth and repeat business.

Booking from NZ you are protected in that I am a New Zealand citizen and even if we operate overseas it is possible to sue someone for breach of contract etc, and judges use fairness as a yardstick. New Zealand has strong reciprocal rights with Australia.

In Nepal the rights of tourists and foreigners is dubious at best. However all organized treks must be organized thru a Nepali trekking agency and here you have a small degree of protection. In India, I am not sure.

Can I contact some previous clients?

Sure. Email us with your appropriate contact details, your area of interest (climbing/trekking/which region...) and this will help us to recommend the most appropriate people to contact.

What are our REAL specialties?

The treks and trek-climbs that we have run many times previously are:

+ Zanskar and Ladakh treks, trek-climbs and exploration

+ teahouse trekking in the Everest region

+ Kanchenjunga region treks, trek-climbs and exploration

+ real exploratory treks and exploratory 6000m peak climbs

+ Manaslu Circuit

+ Dolpo

+ Nar Phu

+ Kailash trips

+ 8000m expeditions

+ trek and expedition photography

A stranger says:

I was on a trek to Everest Base Camp with ... a well known Australian company and I got rather a noticable case of altitude sickness (nose bleeds, eyesight problem, walking like a drunk). Hence I started the walk down through the mountains to get to a hospital, although I still couldn’t keep either food or water down and having had a few days like this, I was scared. Fortunately, in the "middle of nowhere", I ran into Joel from Project Himalaya. Joel gave me [a drug to stop me] vomitting, stayed with me to make sure I could eat something, measured my oxygen [saturation] level and generally made sure I was OK. He then organised to catch me around lunch time the next day on the way down, just to check I would still be OK. Joel didn't know me at all, he'd never met me, I wasn't his client, yet he did more to ensure my health and safety in getting back to Lukla than the well known trekking company I'd paid!

... I can't thank Joel enough! You got a total stranger out of an awful situation. I couldn't recommend you more highly. Thank you.

Paula Allen, 2009

Friends say:

Beau writes to Lee, considering trekking with us:

A bit of general feedback for you on the Project Himalaya set up.

I first joined a PH trip back in 2000 on the Himalayan Caravan, and such a good time that I have since been back to India and Nepal with the team on 4 other occasions - most recently the High Manaslu / Annapurna Trek in 2008.

The set up differs slightly between the Indian and Nepal treks (at least on the treks I have done), with Nepal offering more in the way of pre-prepared camp sites (usually by tea houses or other small hotels). What stays the same, however, is the PH approach to trekking and organisation - something I found to be unique among trekking groups in this region.

I chose PH for my first trek for a variety of reasons - they focus on smaller groups, the people you deal with when booking your trip are actually the people going on the trek with you, the team leaders are all extremely personable and they offer some of the best trekking and climbing itineraries around. All together, trekking with PH is a much more personal experience than you may find with larger tour companies, and avoids that "conveyor belt" feeling you can get in larger tour groups. Certainly, this has been my impression on those occasions when we have met other groups on the treks, many of whom have been very impressed (and not a little jealous) of the PH set up compared to their own. Another consideration is that, with smaller groups, the itinerary can be more fluid, and tailored to suit the group's preferences (e.g. side trips, extra days, etc.).

It also helps that the support team are uniformly excellent, and all pitch in to ensure a smooth operation and to make sure that you are ok at all times. The equipment is all top-notch and the food is very, very good. In addition, the smaller, more "informal" style really promotes interaction between members of the group and the guys helping out, which is a rare thing.

I have trekked / climbed with Joel, Kim and Jamie, and they are all really friendly, down-to-earth people - so much so that I try to meet up with them whenever we happen to be in the same city (as do many other previous trekkers)! They each have a great deal of knowledge about the trekking regions, local history and customs, and are very happy to answer any questions you have. A good measure of the success of these trips is the number of returning trekkers and climbers that choose PH again and again for their holidays - the trip diaries on the website can give you an idea (and also add a nice touch to the whole trekking experience).

I'd have to say that every trip I've made with PH has been a really special experience. Obviously this is due in part to the region itself, but I cannot overstate the contribution that the team has made either. Suffice to say, not once have I been tempted to join any other trekking group.

Anyway, hopefully this gives you an idea of some of the praise and enthusiasm I have for the PH team - no doubt you'll receive similarly effusive emails from the other trekkers! I'd be happy to answer any other questions you may have, so drop me an email if you need any more info. Otherwise, I hope you take the plunge with these guys and have an awesome trip.


Regards, Beau


Louise also said:

Hi Lee,

Kim tells me you're thinking about trekking with Project Himalaya next year. Do it! I have been trekking with these guys since 2002 on and off, and I have been lucky to have done about 7/8 treks with them over the years. I have trekked with Joel, Kim and Jamie and can highly recommend them all as professional, fun, adventurous, knowledgeable and expert guides. Their genuine passion and love for these regions and what they do, is highly infectious. Not only is the trekking and being in the mountains fantastic they also really look after you in terms of safety and ensure that they share their passion with you. You have your own top of the range tent and the food is amazing! I love nothing more at the end of each day than sitting in the dining tent with everyone drinking numerous hot drinks and eating the freshest and tastiest food sharing the days' stories. I always come away feeling so fit,! happy and healthy. It is also very social and I have trekked with some great and like minded people who I have kept in contact with and become friends with, visiting them in their home countries when the trek is over. We have even had a reunion trek too, which was alot of fun! I have trekked in all weather conditions in different seasons in India, Nepal and in Tibet and Project Himalaya have always put the enjoyment and safety of their clients first. I have a fear of ice and Kim and the guys instinctively know when I need extra support and are with there with me all the way. Every evening they brief you on the day ahead, what to expect, the terrain, the practicalities, degree of difficulty, what to look out for, altitude and information about the history of the regions and villages we will be passing through. We have alot of laughs too.

What always strikes me about Kim, Joel and Jamie is their interactions with the local people and the wonder and awe they express about these beautiful people and surroundings..it's as if they are seeing it all for the very first time.. every time! This is contagious and why I keep coming back. I went to Manaslu with Kim last year and can definitely rate it as one of the most beautiful regions I have trekked, in Nepal. Check out some of Kim's photo albums. The same goes for their fantastic crew who go that extra mile to ensure that the group gets the best out of their trekking experience. They are all such fun guys too. One story that I will never forget was in Ladakh back in 2002 I think it was. We had spent hours walking up quite a steep mountain which had been quite challenging and we were all very tired by the time we all reached the top. A Dutch couple who were on the trek reached for their camera in t! heir backpack to take a photo, when suddenly the camera slipped out of their hands and it went rolling and tumbling down the mountain. Understandably they were very upset. Not only had they owned this camera for years but it had all their trekking photos on it! They kept on walking and resigned themselves to the fact that their camera was gone! To cut a long story short, when we finally reached our camp at the end of the day and all sat down and chatted about our day, out of nowhere Lobsang one of the crew...pulled something out of his bag and said to the Dutch couple nonchalantly " Is this your camera? " Lobsang had taken it upon himself to walk all the way back down the mountain and then all the way up again to look for their camera. The camera did not have one scratch on it! There are many more stories like this. Mmm, got me thinking about my next trek now.....

I could go on!

Lee, have a wonderful trek with Project Himalaya, my friends!


Kind regards, Louise.


Bob R writes:

"First, regarding Project Himalaya: They're definitely my #1 recommendation for trekking if you need a group led by a Westerner. They represent the best "middle way" of trekking between the ultra-cheap (just having a Nepali guide and staying in tea houses, where the food is not always the most hygienic) and the ridiculously expensive (XYZ company with its deluxe coffee, sit-down toilets, and huge crews).

Project Himalaya will assemble a crew for you which meets your needs, knows the area, and will keep you safe, healthy and happy. The three main leaders all have lots of experience and lots of local contacts. Jamie is best for expeditions (he has climbed several 8000 meter peaks) and is fluent in Nepali; Joel is best for general enthusiasm and attending to group morale (and also an expert on the Ladakh region); Kim is good at being organized and efficient, with specialties in Tibet."


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