Readers’ adventure travel

September 28, 2023 • 8:15 am

I’m not getting any new wildlife photos, and while I have a few in reserve, I implore readers to send me their good photos if they want to keep this site going. Here’s an unusual contribution:

In June my friend Andrew Berry, who teaches at Harvard, took a long trek (several guides are is required, along with pricey permits) to Dolpo and the fabled (and previously off-limits) kingdom of Mustang in northern Nepal. Andrew has converted his 3,000 photos, plus some iPhone videos, into a 53-minute account of the trek, which I’ve put below. It was a fantastic journey.

It’s also a trek I always wanted to make. Sadly, now that Mustang has opened up (though only a few tourists still go),  I’m too old to make this arduous trek, though when I hiked around Annapurna I used to stand at the border of the plateau at Jomsom and gaze northwest toward the (then) forbidden kingdom.

Note the dancing starting at 38:45: an authentic folk festival given that Andrew was the only foreigner in town. (It was the monsoon season.)

And if you want to read a brief, illustrated description of the trek, click on the screenshot below. The intro:

June ’23 was pretty open for me — time (yay!) for a visit to Nepal.  Problem: the monsoon arrives in Nepal around the middle of June.  Hiking through the rain isn’t what I had in mind, and it’s also rather self-defeating if you’re interested in seeing anything — the views are mainly, in the monsoon, banks of grey cloud.  But there are parts of Nepal, contra the long-ago Heineken ad, that the monsoon doesn’t reach, namely regions the North of the main range, in the rain shadow of the big peaks.  These transhimalayan regions are politically in Nepal, but are functionally — geographically, linguistically, and culturally — Tibetan.  Hence my trip to Dolpa/Dolpo and Mustang.  Remote country, and regions I’ve long wanted to visit [the first time I became aware of these areas was 41 years ago, during my first visit to Nepal.  I hiked back then to the boundaries of both Dolpa and Mustang, and stared, tantalized, into both.  They were however in those days off limits — foreigners prohibited (partly because of the proximity of the Chinese/TIbetan border).  That’s however changed: these days the Nepalese Govt both restricts access and makes money by charging top dollar for permits].  The virtue of the expense (permits) + low season + remoteness is that these areas are relatively unfrequented by foreigners like me.  In three weeks in the region this summer, I didn’t encounter a single non-Nepali.

I am of course wildly jealous.  If you want to see all of Andrew’s photos, go here.

6 thoughts on “Readers’ adventure travel

  1. Thank you so much for posting. The scenery is absolutely spectacular. It is amazing that such small settlements can exist at those altitudes, especially since it must be very cold, with much snow there in the winter. The people must have developed adaptations over the years that make that possible. I’m just over half way through the video and am looking forward to the dancing.

  2. Raptors who eat birds are identified by their silhouette in flight. A pigeon walking in on a resting bird doesnt recognize the falcon as a raptor. It might have survived. It didnt look like its wings had been plucked though it did lose quite a few tail feathers.

  3. Hello Jerry. Age should not be an excuse for not going. You can train to get in shape. If you trained for a solid year you could easily go on a trek like that. (Check out uphill athlete or evoke endurance for training plans.) It is all about going slowly and keeping your heart rate low.

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