Mountain Travel Nepal

Milestones

It has been more than 50 years since Colonel Jimmy Roberts founded Mountain Travel Nepal, the first commercial trekking company in Asia.

Indeed, he coined the very word “trekking” as the expression for this novel kind of holiday experience when he registered his company with the Nepali Government in 1964.

Mountain Travel Nepal created the very guiding principles and standards of ‘adventure tourism’, an industry that is evolving worldwide. Today, Mountain Travel Nepal is part of the Tiger Tops Group of Companies, which includes the famous Tiger Tops Safari Lodges, the travel agency Adventure Travel, and of course Mountain Travel Nepal.


1963

“I decided to form a company which would undertake the inclusive arrangement for outfitting clients to travel and camp comfortably in the mountains of Nepal. This mode of travel and this type of business I called ‘trekking’. Trek is of course an old Boer word, and although it was novel to some in 1964, it was quite commonly used in the Himalayan literature to describe the walk from airfield or road head to a mountain base camp.” (Major Col. JOM Roberts, personal notes; hereafter Jimmy Roberts)

1964

“Towards the end of 1964 I registered my company MOUNTAIN TRAVEL with the Industry and Commerce Department of the Government of Nepal.” (Jimmy Roberts; pn)

1965

With the introduction of a Tourism Act, Mountain Travel was registered as a Travel Agent with the government of Nepal; the first travel company to be registered in Nepal. This was the inception of what would become a world-wide phenomenon called ‘trekking tourism’. (Jimmy Roberts; pn)

1967

Well-known Australian climber and adventurer Warwick Deacock started ‘Ausventure’ in 1965. He had become close friends with Jimmy and they joined forces in 1967 to promote adventure trekking in Nepal for Australians; organised exclusively by Mountain Travel.

1967

Some of the first Mountain Travel trekkers reached an elevation of 5638m (18,500’) on Mt Everest in Dec. “When some of the girls heard that the boys were planning a trip and no women were allowed, we all decided [at Ausventure] to organise a mixed group.” (Daily Telegraph, Sydney Australia, Jan. 30, 1968) Dorothy Brown (L) Margaret Cameron (R); both teachers. Between 1965 & 1969 Mountain Travel remained the only agency making ‘trekking tourism’ arrangements in Nepal. (Jimmy Roberts; pn)

1969

“Sometime in the spring of 1967, a letter landed on my desk proposing that the writer would bring two trekking groups to Nepal in the fall [to be led by Mountain Travel]. It was signed ‘LEO’ in large flourishing letters. That was the beginning of a long & fruitful association”. (Jimmy Roberts; pn) Leo LeBon (second left), Allen Steck (far left) & Barry Bishop (far right) established Mountain Travel USA (now Mountain Travel Sobek). Later, it was determined (for clarity) that Mountain Travel (in Nepal) should become Mountain Travel Nepal

1970's & 1980's

During the 1970’s and 80’s MT Nepal grew vigorously (guiding up to 30 group trips concurrently across various countries). Its success was due in large part to the loyal Sherpas Jimmy hired, trained and loved; whose affection and admiration was entirely reciprocated.

In addition, MT Nepal’s eminent reputation attracted outstanding international and Nepali mountain guides and managerial staff, who led the company forward with agility and uncommon foresight. (In 1975 Jimmy Roberts resigned his position as Director due to arthritic hips; the company was amicably sold to Tiger Tops with Jimmy retaining consultancy status.)


1980

With his talent for seeing potentially good treks and his in-depth knowledge of the mountains as a climber, Jimmy Roberts and then General Manager for Mountain Travel Nepal, Major Robin Marston, planned and conducted The Royal Trek for HRH The Prince of Wales.

“The Sherpas were quite excellent and there was nothing but praise for their cheerful helpfulness on trek and for that culinary expertise at meal times. Partemba Sherpa did an outstanding job in looking after His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in every way and this was commented on by His Royal Highness. Without a doubt it was a trek that few if any could equal and will, I am sure, go down in History.” (The British Defence Attache to Nepal, Col. K.G. Robinson)


1990

MT Nepal continued to be a popular choice among trekkers; always maintaining its historical focus on environmentally and culturally responsible tourism, amid a burgeoning trekking industry which by 1992 had issued 71,439 trekking permits. Camping had largely been replaced by lodges, which significantly changed the overall ambiance of trekking, as well as the environmental impact. (Jimmy Roberts; pn)

2019

MT Nepal celebrates 55 years of leading ‘trekking tourism’ in Nepal, having always nurtured ecotourism at its core. The company is expanding and again leading the industry by firmly: re-establishing sustainable high-end small group camping; addressing the need for more diverse trekking options; and concurrently supporting more remote Nepali communities. “Stated simply, I would say we are trying to show you the mountains of Nepal, its valleys and villages and people, under the best possible conditions but without shielding you from reality”. (Jimmy Roberts ca 1970; pn)

Mountain Travel Nepal

539/61, Subarna Shamsher Marg
Baluwatar – Kathmandu – Nepal

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