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Kim Bannister

Kim is the creator of Kamzang Journeys, personally leading almost all of the featured treks in Nepal and the Indian Himalaya, also including an occasional bicycle trip in Tibet and Bhutan, a trip to Burma or Mongolia. She works closely with Lhakpa Dorj Sherpa, her business partner of 10+ years who grew up in the mountains of the Everest region. Based in Kathmandu, Kim worked together with Jamie at Project Himalaya for nearly 15 years, creating and running some of the wildest and most adventurous treks in the Himalaya.

Kim oversees everything to do with Kamzang Journeys, from the trek shopping, to the design of the signature yellow Kamzang dining tent, to personal emails, writing and researching the itineraries, exploring new routes, taking photos and liaising with hotel and restaurant owners.

Kim also founded the Kamzang Fund, a non-profit which helps to education Himalayan children, provide medical aid for villagers, aided with the Nepal earthquake and more ... The Kamzang World is a mélange of adventure travel, indigenous design and foreign cultures, dedicated to giving travelers a deeper insight into the Himalaya.

Kim grew up in the USA and completed her university education by traveling the world for many years, many times over. Kim has been looking for a spot to build the perfect bamboo hut since graduating from Colgate University in 1988. Her search has taken her on many years of travels throughout Asia, Africa, Australia & NZ, the South Pacific and cross-country in the States, but although she now has a basement (her parents') full of ‘curios’ to fill several houses, that idyllic dwelling still eludes her and her semi-nomadic lifestyle continues. She now spends most of her time in the Himalayas, often in her 'Kamzang-style' tent.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"I live and work in both Nepal and the Indian Himalaya, and do many trips also in Tibet and Bhutan, moving into Burma and Mongolia in the coming years. Kathmandu and Nepal are probably my real specialities, followed closely by the Ladakh and Zanskar in the Indian Himalaya.

My focus has always been trekking - longer, adventurous camping trips in the Himalayan countries - but also run cycling trips in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan and organize 'boutique' style trips and tours in all of these countries.

Off-the-map treks and travels in the Himalaya, run in our unique 'boutique' style, which basically means that our treks, besides being unique, challenging and remote, are comfortable, with our renown 'Kamzang' dining tent (Central Asian style, cotton rugs, tablecloths, camp chairs, library, light music in evenings, solar lights), an amazing chef, new Western tents, full medical tent + medical knowledge and many other amenities that keep our clients coming back again and a gain. I'm probably best known for a personal approach to trekking and travels, so making friends and taking care of my clients is what I love to do."

How did you get involved in travel?

"I was always a traveler myself, from just out of university when I spent a year and a half traveling part of the world, to my late 20s when I spent 2 years traveling even more of the world. Between these long travels I lived and worked in places like Maui HI, Lake Tahoe CA and Steamboat CO where life was outdoors oriented and the people from all over the world. I'm happiest when living overseas, discovering new destinations, walking in the mountains.

For a short time I did marketing for a high profile adventure travel company in San Francisco, but office life wasn't for me so in my early 30s I left to go to Nepal and see what happened. "

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"My most challenging travel experience was probably in Ethiopia in the mid-90s, when there weren't many guide books in English, the Lonely Planet had 1 1/2 pages in the Africa guidebook, hardly anyone spoke English and all signs were in Aramaic. Although this was by far the most interesting country I'd ever been, the challenges were being 'helped' by Ethiopians that were just after money. And I was a seasoned traveler! Of course I'm dying to go back ....

Offhand, another unique experience was traveling on top of a loaded cargo truck with Akka villagers to the far-flung border of Laos, China and Burma, in order to take the slow boat all the way down the Mekong. This turned out to be an incredibly dangerous and muddy jungle road, often insanely exposed, and the 75 or so kilometers took us over 12 hours to travel. In the end there was no slow boat, I'm not sure if a Westerner ever came to this small village, and took a fast boat the next day down the Mekong."

Featured trips & expertise

Manaslu Circuit Boutique Camping Trek: 22 Days

The Manaslu Circuit Trek, crossing Larkya La pass (16,752 ft. or 5106 m.) to the legendary Annapurna region, is one of Nepal's most spectacular and culturally diverse treks. Its dramatic Himalayan vistas, challenging terrain, mix of Gurung and Tibetan villages, Tibetan Buddhist gompas, birds, and wildlife make it one of Nepal's best camping treks.

Donkey Train in Upper Mustang

Buddhist Caves in the Clouds & the Last Nomads of Mustang | Upper Mustang Trek

The Buddhist Caves in Upper Mustang offer a truly unique trekking experience in a remote area of Nepal, far away from the beaten path. The trek takes you into the hidden Buddhist kingdom of Upper Mustang and ventures deep into the world of 'sky-caves', including the famous Luri Gompa and Tashi Kabum, which are adorned with some of the most exquisite murals of the Tibetan Buddhist world and dating back to antiquity.

Lumba Sumba Pass | Great Himalayan Trail

Nepal is a land of breathtaking beauty around every corner, ancient cultures, adventures and mind-boggling diversity. So what makes a crossing of one of many of Nepal's high pass worth writing about?

Recent trip reviews for Kim

Private ghorepani / poon hill trek, Nepal - Jun 26 - Jul 3, 2016

Traveler: Zen C. - Local specialist: Kim Bannister

She was very patient in addressing some of my concerns. It was nice that prior to my trip the team at KimKim reminded me about some of the small details such as visa application, which i had completely forgotten.

Kim Bannister, local specialist, responded to this review:

We're glad you had a good trip to Nepal, Zen, and hope to see you again for an even longer trek with us!

Incredible nepal journey, Nepal - Mar 13 - Mar 25, 2016

Traveler: Kim C. - Local specialist: Kim Bannister

Loved planning the trip working closely with my expert - she answered so many questions and really helped me solidify our perfect itinerary

Kim went above and beyond to make our trip amazing - she arranged special anniversary gifts at check-in, had staff pick us up and take us to the airport and she even included us in a pre-trek dinner with her Upper Mustang group - so fun to feel like you have a local friend.

Kim Bannister, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thanks for the feedback, Kim. I'm so glad we had time for a few dinners together in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and we enjoyed setting up your perfect anniversary trip to Nepal! Hope to see you again in the near future!