Click on this photo and look carefully, and you may be able to see the mules coming to our rescue.
The little log and stick bridge is supported by sandbags at each end. It has sagged onto the surface of the muddy river, its waters swollen by melting snow from the surrounding peaks. It has no handrail.
Local children skip over its 15-metre span. Village women stoically struggle across, carrying absurdly large bundles of animal fodder on their backs.
Nobody seems to have any trouble. Until it’s our turn – six Dutch hiking friends, one Australian and our Berber guide Khalid, two hours into our five-day trek through the foothills of Morocco’s High Atlas range. Continue reading
A fairytale sandcastle, melting into the desert.
We’ve never been to Morocco before, so everything seems wonderfully exotic. And our first night’s accommodation is extraordinary.
It’s all go at Tyangboche Monastery, Nepal. But wait, what’s that I see through the break in the cloud?
I didn’t find this an easy Weekly Photo Challenge. Usually I’m trying to focus my camera on the main subject, consciously avoiding distractions in the background.
Then I thought of this…
After a solid day’s walking we were pleased to emerge at Nepal’s Tyangboche Monastery, just under 4000 metres high.
It was Trekker Town, crowded with yaks and mules, Sherpas and Germans. The gongs and vuvuzela-like horns from the monks provided the soundtrack. The bakery provided real coffee. Tenzing Norgay, Sir Edmund Hillary’s fellow climber, was born in the Kumjung region and studied at this monastery.
All very interesting. Then suddenly the clouds parted, and there was Mount Everest beyond.
Need I say that the trek itself was one of the best I’ve ever done. To read more about it, CLICK HERE.
Climbing Mt Hvitserkur. That’s our team up ahead – there’s nobody else around.
My mainstream media client has just published my article about our fabulous trek in Iceland, so I can now release the full story on this blog. Let me simply say it is one of the best treks I’ve ever done in my life.
‘Stop a moment,’ says Rob. ‘You hear it?’
We’re the photographers in the party. On yet another high col we’ve lagged behind our hiking group to take yet more panoramic shots. My boots crunch to a halt. I listen.
‘Hear what?’ I ask.
For the first time I notice it. No murmur of traffic, no hum of a town in a distant valley. There’s not a blade of grass and not a breath of wind to rustle it. It’s impossible to imagine a deeper silence. It was probably often like that during the five days we’ve been walking, but I was distracted by the scenery. Continue reading
Peregrinos coming through.
Making a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago had never been on my bucket list. Everybody had ‘done’ the Camino, like they’d ‘done’ Kilimanjaro, the Milford Track and Machu Picchu.
I’ve yet to tackle any of those famous walks, being slightly deterred by their popularity, but now I’ve started along the Camino, I feel differently about it. Yes, lots of people have done it, hundreds of thousands of them, maybe millions over the centuries, and that’s the whole point. Continue reading
Filed under Hiking, Spain
It’s pretty simple really. Lots of places have great hiking, but Nepal has the greatest treks of them all. I was privileged to be invited on this trip, and ‘voluntourism’ was an excellent way to start. I can’t gush about this enough!
As we gasp for breath in the thin air above his village, Ang Tshering Sherpa tells us a story. When he was a little boy, his mother sent him up this mountain to tend the family yak. It was cold, so Ang sneaked some matches and lit a fire to keep warm. But the wind sent the blaze racing out of control, burning the whole hillside and bringing all the neighbours running to save their livestock.
Thirty years later, Ang has more than repaid his village for the trouble he caused them. At thirteen he became a mountain guide. Then when a grateful Australian client asked what his village most needed, Ang explained that the nearest medical help for many Sherpas was a gruelling 2-day walk away. Not only are there no roads here, there are no wheels. Sick or injured patients have to be carried on the back of man or beast.
Kushudebu Medical Centre. Photo - Rebecca Thornton
So funds were raised, and in 2006 the Kushudebu Medical Centre
opened, with Ang Tshering as its president, and support from organisations including Australian schools, travel company World Expeditions
and many individuals. It now treats over 10,000 patients a year, and pays for the medical training of young Nepalis who will be its future staff. We’ve just visited it, and we’re starting to realise we’re in an extraordinary place with a remarkable man.
Ten Australians and three Britons have come to Nepal to work on Ang Tshering’s next initiative, building incinerators to dispose of the garbage polluting land and waterways. Then he’s taking us on a nine-day trek. Continue reading
Navigation in the Himalayas is not difficult, at least, not when following the ‘Everest Highway’ in peak trekking season. Just follow the yaks, the guides, the porters and the Germans and you’ll be fine. It’s not a road you’d want to divert from anyway. A step or two off the beaten track could leave you several hundred metres lower in a matter of seconds. Continue reading