North Everest Base Camp

There are two Base Camps for Everest. Southern Everest Base Camp lies in Nepal, whereas, the Northern EBC lies in Tibet, China. Both are the highly visited tourist destinations, however, the Nepali side tends to get more visitors because of the popularity and ease of access.


Overview

The locals in Tibet call Everest “Chomolungma,” whereas Chinese call it “Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng.” The base camp is located at Tingri County in the Tibet Autonomous region of China. The international border between China and Nepal runs across the precise summit point of Everest, hence of the mountain lies in the Chinese region.

There are also two different base camps in the Everest (North), Tourists Base Camp at 5,150 m is about half-way between Rongbuk Monastery. You can easily reach the Tourist base camp in a vehicle. The Climbers Base Camp which lies at 5,180 m is reserved for the climbers.

Access

Many private vehicles run chartered service from Lhasa to Everest, and can be booked along a packaged tour from any outdoor agency.

You’re required to obtain permit from the Chinese government beforehand. Applying for the Tibet permit can prove to be a complicated affair from ones home nation. therefore, you are suggested to first arrive in Nepal or contact any local agency in Kathmandu to obtain the permit for you.

The base camp can be reached through a 100 km road branching to the South from the Friendship Highway near Shelkar. The road trip from the Lhasa to Tingri county, passing through remote landmasses, glaciated lakes, monasteries and dry deserts, can prove to be an overwhelming experience. Spotting Yaks on the way carrying loads is common. There are fewer tourists at any given time, hence, you can have more peaceful time.

Everest base camp (North) is generally toured during Spring, Summer/Monsoon and Autumn seasons. The farther higher regions of Tibet is mostly inaccessible during Winter due to heavy snow and cold.


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The Thar Desert

The Thar located in India and Pakistanis the largest desert in the Indian subcontinent . Also known as the Great Indian Desert, the area of the entire desert spans over 200,000 km2. It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in India for its rich culture, picturesque sites and historical palaces.


Overview

The Thar desert in India mostly lies in the state of Rajasthan. The rest spans across Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat. Around 15% of the desert lies in the state  of Sindh and West Punjab in Pakistan.

Rainfall is limited only during July-September, with 100-500 mm of annual rainfall; hence, vegetation is scare. Most of the irrigation is conducted through the water supplied from canals. The people living in the desert mostly involve in animal husbandry and agriculture. The lifestyle is simpler.

Lithic tools belonging to the prehistoric Aterian culture of the Maghreb have been discovered in Middle Paleolithic deposits in the Thar.

People & Lifestyle

Old man smoking hooka
Old man smoking hooka

The Thar is the most populated among the desert areas in the world. The people of various religions are found in the area, mainly; Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. There are fewer large settlements in the area. Jaipur remains the highest populated city. followed by Udaypur, Kota, Ajmer, Bikaner, Jaisalmer are others.

The inhabitants of the area have a well suited lifestyle for desert. They tend to conserve more water. Their meals tend to use less water during preparation. The clothing and texture derives from the history of the region. Their certain colorful texture, calligraphy and art is endemic to the people of Rajasthan.

The former royalties, comprising of Rajputs and their sub-clans are still found in the region. The palaces and historical sites are well preserved for the incoming tourists.

Most of the inhabitants of the desert enjoy folk music and culture. Rajasthan has a diverse collection of musician castes, including langas, sapera, bhopa, jogi and Manganiar.

Wildlife

There are several protected areas inside the desert established to preserve local culture and wildlife. The Desert National Park, Tal Chhapar Sanctuary, Sundha Mata Conservation Reserve, and Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary of Pakistan are the designated protected areas.

Blackbuck, Chinkara, Indian Wild Ass, Red Fox, 141 birds, 23 species of lizard and 25 species of snakes are found in the region.

Tourist Attractions

Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Mehrangarh Fort, Jantarmantar, Ranthanbore National Park, Lake Pichola, Jal Mahal, Jaisalmer Desert Festival, Pushkar Fair, Mohenjo Daro and Derawar Fort are few of the best tourist sites in the Thar.

Ati Atihan Festival of Philippines

Ati Atihan is a local festival of Panay Island, Philippines. It is a religious feast which involves tribal dances, parade and music. it is popularly known as the ‘the mother of all festivals’ in Philippines.


Overview

Ati Atihan Festival is an annual feast held every January marking the birth of Infant Jesus ‘Santo Nino’ in the town of Kalibo, Aklan in the island of Panay, Philippines. It concludes on the third Sunday and is commemorated with much grandeur.

Although, it is a religious feast, both Christians and Non-Christians tend to observe it.  It is marked by tribal dance, tribal make-up and costumes, music and parade. The locals believe that the miraculous Child Jesus will protect them from harm and illness.

The word Ati-Atihan means “To be like Atis.”

History

The legend suggests,

A group of 10 Malay chieftains called Datus, fleeing from the island of Borneo settled in the Philippines, and were granted settlement by the Ati people, the tribes of Panay Island. Datu Puti, Makatunaw’s chief minister made a trade with the natives and bought the plains for a golden salakot, brass basins and bales of cloth. They gave a very long necklace to the wife of the Ati chieftain. Feasting and festivities followed soon after.

To add,

Some time later, the Ati people were struggling with famine as the result of a bad harvest. They were forced todescend from their mountain village into the settlement below, to seek the generosity of the people who now lived there. The Datus obliged and gave them food. In return, the Ati danced and sang for them, grateful for the gifts they had been given.

Chandragiri Day Hiking

Chandragiri is a historical and a popular tourist destination located on the outskirts of Kathmandu city. Due to ease of access and natural riches, it makes a great day hike for the tourists and locals alike.


Overview

Chandragiri is a small hill located 7 km southwest of Kathmandu city. Measuring 2,551 meters above sea-level, it makes a great day hike. You can choose to the hike when you are at Kathmandu. It generally takes 7-8 hours at most  to complete the entire trip. The temple of Bhaleshwor Mahadev atop the hill is a major tourist attraction.

The temple is accessible through cable car or hiking. A day hiking is enough to reach the top and come back down. Himalayas such as Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang Ranges, Gaurishankar and Everest are visible from the top. . The hill is filled with various kinds of flora and fauna. It becomes a delight for the hikers to witness natural riches at such close distance from Kathmandu.

History

The historians suggest that King Prithvi Narayan of the Shah dynasty worshiped at the temple before attacking and conquering the entire Kathmandu valley. It is here, he take a glance at Kathmandu and was mesmerized by its beauty. He then took oath to conquer the valley, which then was popularly known as “Nepal.”

The mausoleum of Kalu Pandey, the trusted General of King Prithvi N. Shah lies near the Chandragiri hills.

Annapurna III

Annapurna III is a peak from Annapurna massif which measures over 7,000 meters. It was first climbed in 1961 by the Indian expedition through the Northeast face. It’s Southeast face has never been climbed.


Overview

Annapurna III is the 42nd highest mountain that is not the subsidiary of another peak. It measures 7,555 meters (24,787 ft). The prominence of the summit is 703 meters. Along with Annapurna I, II,IV and V, it forms the greater Annapurna massif.

Annapurna I remains the popular peak for climb among the all.

Summit

The Northeast face of the peak was first summited by an Indian expedition led by Cap. Mohan Singh Kohli in 1961. It comprised of Cap. Mohan Singh, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Girmi.

The Southeast fae has never been climbed before. The summit was attempted by a team, however, the entire team perished before they could make it to the top.

The latter summit was attempted by David Lama and the team in 2016 and 2017. However, they failed to successfully scale the peak.

Ghandruk; The Gem of Annapurna Region

Ghandruk is an ethnic village located in the Annapurna region of Nepal. A village predominantly inhabited by the Gurung and Magar tribes of Nepal, is also an important tourist destination of the country.


Overview

Ghandruk is the second largest village in the entire ACAP region, however, not more than 8,000 people reside in the village today. Due to its close proximity to the road and ease of access, the village is well equipped with many modern amenities, well-built houses and staircases.

Most of the houses are built out of stone, stone slabs and mud; well-resistant materials for the cold weather. Few houses in the region are found to be made out of concrete, cement and bricks too.

It connect the major roadways to many other important villages leading up to Annapurna Base Camp. Generally, people start trekking from Nayapul through Ghandruk, Chhomrong, Phedi, MBC and the Base Camp and back.

Annapurna range, Machhapuchhre, Gangapurna and Himchuli peaks can be seen up-close from the village.

You can only get to Ghandruk on foot. Buses and jeeps move between Pokhara and Kimche, 1-2hrs walk from Ghandruk.

Lifestyle

Gurung male
Gurung male

Ghandruk is preserved as the ethnic Gurung village. It lies inside the Annapurna Conservation Area, hence, the entire preservation of culture and geography is monitored by the ACAP community and local leaders.

Most people still use firewood for heat and cooking purposes. Mules are the common form of beast-of-burden in the area. Well placed stone slabs are found throughout the narrow alleys of the village. Most inhabitants are the adherents of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Lhosar along with other national festivals are celebrated with much awe. People prefer to keep the village clean and use plastic less. Most of the items are re-used or are sent for the recycling. Operating hotels, lodges, tending sheep and livestock is the major form of trade in the area.


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Makalu Barun National Park

Makalu Barun National Park is one of the Himalayan nature reserves of Nepal. It was established as the eastern extension of the Sagarmatha National Park but was later instated as the separate protected nature reserve.


Overview

Thulo Pokhari
Thulo Pokhari

Makalu Barun National Park was established in 1992. It is the only National park in the world with the elevation gain of 8,000 meters. One of the highest peaks in the world. Mt. Makalu, is located inside the park, along with other great mountain ranges, such as; Chamalang, Baruntse and Mera Peak.

Spanning across 1500 km2, the park touches both Solukhumbu (Khumbu) and Sankhuwasabha districts. In the north, the park shares the international border with Tibet. The park also comprises into the Sacred Himalayan Landscape.

History

During 1980s, personnel of The Mountain Institute (TMI) conducted surveys in the Barun Valley for studying the biological diversity of the region. The results of the survey led to the creation of an entirely new protected area. A respective proposal was formulated in 1985.

In 1988, the Makalu-Barun Conservation Area Project (MBNPCA) was started in the joint of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and TMI. It was gazetted in 1991.

The conservation area was to be regulated in joint effort of the locales and the respective department. In 1991, the conservation area converted into a buffer zone.

Trekking

The Makalu Base Camp makes a wonderful trek for the outdoor lovers. More than 20,000 tourists visit the Makalu trail every year. The entire trek may last 16-17 days, and you must fly from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar to do the trekking.

The trail lies inside Makalu-Barun National Park, hence offering a rare glimpse of the Eastern Nepal’s rich biodiversity.


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Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park located at North East India is one of the most popular ecological sites in the Indian subcontinent. The national park is popular for hosting the two-third population of the One-horned Rhinos in the world. Established during the British Raj in 1908, it boasts the most varied flora and fauna in the entire nation.


Overview

Kaziranga National Park 430 km2 is located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, India. The park is located on the edge of Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot. Even though it was established in 1908, the park was added to the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO only on 1985.

Kaziranga
Kaziranga

The park is popular for hosting the largest amount of One-horned Rhinos along with Royal Bengal Tigers. Kaziranga is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.

The park experiences 3 different weathers; Summer, Monsoon and Winter. During Monsoon (Jul-August), most part of the park is submerged into water, due to rising level of water from rainfall and flooding.

History

The history of the national park dates back to 1904 when Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston and the wife of the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, visited the area. After failing to see a single rhinoceros, for which the area was renowned, she persuaded Lord Curzon to take immediate measure to protect the lessening Rhino species in the region.

On 1 June 1905, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created with an area of 232 km2.

One Horned Rhinos

[Full Article One-horned Rhino]

There are over 2,200 One-horned Rhinos in the Kaziranga area, approximately 2/3 of their entire population. One Horned Rhino is endemic to Indian subcontinent. Found mostly in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, they have been listed in the IUCN Red list for the most vulnerable animals, and only about 3,000 are left in the wild.

One-horned Rhino at Kaziranga
One-horned Rhino at Kaziranga

Rhinos are one of the most hunted and poached animals in the history. The passionate hunters from 20th Century reduced their numbers from thousands to mere few hundreds.

The activity of rampant poaching which started in the 1990s made them even more scarce. They were being mostly poached for their horns, which are believed to carry medicinal qualities. The local authorities and UNESCO helped prevent poaching in the Kaziranga park. Today, it boasts the most amount of Rhinos in the world.

These rhinos live in tall grasslands and riverine forests but due to habitat loss they have been forced into more cultivated land. They are mostly solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers and calves and breeding pairs, although they sometimes congregate at bathing areas.

Preservation

Kaziranga contains significant breeding populations of 35 mammalian species, of which 15 are threatened as per the IUCN Red List. It is also home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds.

Four main types of vegetation exist in this park. These are alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests. The park is mostly an expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests.

The area is controlled by the Government of Assam. They receive financial aid from the state government and the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change of India.

The Tale of Machhapuchhre

Machhapuchhre or the Fishtail is also known as the virgin peak because no human has ever conquered its summit. There are many stories and folklore in Nepal dedicated to the mountain, however, very few of them clarify why the peak has never been climbed.


Overview

Machhapuchhre standing at 6,993 meters is one of the small peaks of Nepal. It is popularly known for its majestic and unadulterated beauty, and the unique geography of its summit which gave its name ‘Fishtail’.

machhapuchhreThe peak lies just opposite the Annapurna massif and is closely connected to the Hindu God Shiva. It is believed among the Hindus that Shiva lives atop the mountain hence the peak is forbidden from climbing.

The trekkers doing the Annapurna Base Camp Trek must pass through the Machhapuchhre Base Camp. The peak from the base camp is up close. It is also seen from Pokhara, a tourist city located 23 km away from the mountain. The peak dominates almost every photo taken at the Pokhara due to its promising visibility.

History

It is generally believed that the peak hasn’t yet been climbed because it holds an important religious position among the Gurung inhabitants of the region.

One popular story goes as such;

In fact, it was a member of that expedition, one Wilfrid Noyce, who came the closest anybody ever has to the summit on a 1957 expedition. The king of Nepal had asked Noyce to respect Hindu religious customs and not set foot on the summit. He and his climbing companion, A.D.M. Cox, turned back 150 feet short of the summit. This expedition produced the only climbing record of this mountain, a very rare book called Climbing the Fish’s Tail.

However, the reason for not being able to scale the peak is more personal than religious. Col. Jim Roberts, a British Gurkha officer who led both the reconnaissance (1956) and expedition (1957) teams to the mountain, had to retreat just 45 meters short of the summit due to heavy snowfall.

Dr. Harka Gurung points out,

Col. Roberts happened to be Military Attache at the British Embassy in Kathmandu and it is not difficult to imagine that his sentimental advice to the Foreign Ministry (that handled expeditions) regarding Machhapuchhre’s sanctity influenced the fate of the mountain. ref

Dr. Harka, along with other stakeholders of tourism industry, believe that the mountain should be opened for the climbing, whilst more employment can be generated.

In his memoirs, Col. Roberts mentions,

So Machhapuchhre became for me the ideal mountain, a personal possession yet out of this world, unattainable but mine by illogic right, brooding over a country and a people which will shape the rest of my life.

The High Passes of Everest

The High Passes trek is one of the most challenging treks available in Nepal. Located entirely at the Everest (Khumbu) region, you must cross three individual passes which are above 5,000 meters.


Overview

It is comparatively a lengthier trek compared to most other treks in the region. Kongma La 5,535 m, Renjo La 5,360 m and Cho La 5,368 m are classified as the 3 high passes.

  • The first leg of the trek begins at Lukla, a small airport town in Khumbu. The trail ascends up towards Renjo La and Gokyo valley.
  • The second leg of the trek passes through Cho La Pass, and towards the Everest Base Camp. You can hike up the Kala Patthar 5,643 meters as well.
  • The third leg takes you towards the Kongma La Pass, and concedes at Lukla.

Renjo La Pass

Renjo La is one of the high passes located in Everest region at an elevation of 5,360 m (17,585 ft). It is the first pass you reach, following the path leading to Gokyo.

The Renjo La trail is quite strenuous; snowfall during winter makes it difficult to attempt the pass. Renjo La and surrounding regions are culturally Tibetan and Sherpas are the indigenous tribesmen.

Cho La Pass

Cho La at 5,420 m (17,782 ft) is another high pass located along Gokyo trail in Khumbu valley. It connects the village of Dzongla to the east and the village of Thagnak  to the west.

One can cross Ngozumpa glacier on the way to Cho La. To the east the trail joins the classic Everest Base Camp route.

Crossing Cho La can be physically demanding. One can get best view of Lobuche peak from the top. Crampons come handy while crossing the snows.

Kongma La Pass

Kongma La at 5,535 m (18,160 ft) is another high pass located between Chjukung village and Lobuche. it is the final pass located to the east of Everest Base Camp. It is also the highest pass among the three passes. The panorama of surrounding mountains is quite amazing when seen from Kongma La.


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