Perched on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, Nepal is a natural fortress. A unique mix of vast plains and towering mountains, it is home to some of the most inhospitable heights that are breathtaking (pun intended). It will entice you to try your sinews and tempt you with its characteristic serenity – Nepal is irresistible to the adrenaline junkies.

Nepal also provides umpteen opportunities for an ‘up close and personal’ rendezvous with the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, and other coveted terrains treaded by intrepid adventurers like Lhotse and Ama Dablam. The best thing about trekking in Nepal is that you travel through the villages for a good part of the journey. Savour this chance to know about some of the remotest areas in the world, the people and their culture. They are also amazing hosts, so much so that you may complete most of the popular trekking trails in Nepal without setting up camps for a night halt – the tea-houses are rapidly becoming a rage among the trekkers on popular trekking circuits in Nepal.

Popular Trekking Destinations in Nepal Tea-houses, as the name suggests, were initially set up by locals to provide weary and cold trekkers with some quick snack and a hot cup of beverage. Gradually, they expanded both in scope and reach – several tea-houses now offer basic accommodation and amenities at a nominal price, with a limited but possible chance of upgrade. These moderate lodgings are an integral part of ‘tea-house trekking’, as it is popularly known as in Nepal. Meet fellow travellers and share your story beside the warmth of fire over a home-cooked meal – pack your rucksacks already?

Everest Base Camp Trek

Before he ventured for the last and fatal climb, George Mallory famously said he will go back for a third time to the Everest because ‘it is there’. Such is the lure of the Everest, locally known as ‘Sagarmatha’. Most of the trek will take you through the Sagarmatha National Park, which is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. The park offers magnificent views and is a haven for musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, black bear and several types of pheasants. Take time to experience the culture of the sherpas and visit the monasteries and museums on the way to understand your most trusted friends on the journey. Know more about Everest Base Camp Trek!

Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal
Everest Base Camp – On my Wishlist

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The Annapurna starts teasing you at Pokhara and does not give up until you are right in front of the enormous massif. Picturesque views of Machapuchare (meaning fish-tailed mountain; considered sacred by locals and therefore has never been scaled), Annapurna South and Hiunchuli can be seen from Ghandruk. The trails passes through the vegetation-rich Annapurna Conservation area – walk on the pretty rhododendrons and ferns amid the thick oaks and bamboos. Trees with thick bark, locally called Daphne, are found here and used for making paper. Know more about Annapurna Base Camp Trek!

Annapurna Base Camp Trek in Nepal

Annapurna Circuit Trek

For the more adventurous souls, Annapurna Circuit Trek makes a rather interesting trip. It offers great views of the Annapurna and Marshyangdi River throws up a challenge every time you cross a river on a suspension bridge or walk through the deep gorges it created. A big plus is that the length of this trek in central Nepal can be customised between 160 and 230 km, depending on how many days you want to spend. And you will not mind spending a fortnight among the incredible variety of natural vista – regale in the sub-tropical meadows near Besi Sahar and rise through striking alpine peaks enroute the famous Thorung La pass at 5,416 metres (17,769 ft) to descend into the Mustang region. Explore more about Annapurna Circuit Trek!

Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal

Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri Trek

If you want to avoid the mad rush to the coveted ‘EBC’ (a popular acronym for the Everest Base Camp) and yet view the majestic peak, this is the one you should settle for. The turquoise lakes fed by the glaciers and view of ‘eight-thousanders’ including Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu from the peaks can easily vie for the title of Nepal’s most memorable sights. This trek also takes you to Renjo La (5340m), one of Nepal’s most beautiful passes. Bust the myth of yeti as you walk through the Sherpa town of Khumjung, home of a ‘real’ yeti skull, and as you reach ‘Scoundrel’s viewpoint’ near the fifth lake, look closely for the Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest in the Himalayas that you may otherwise miss as a wasteland of rock and ice. Explore more about Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri Trek!

Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri Trek in Nepal

Poon Hill Trek

If short and rewarding is your idea of a trek then Poon Hill fits the bill. It takes you through a part of the Annapurna region and largest settlements of the the Gurung community. Allow the photographer in you full authority in these picturesque surroundings – virgin scenic tracts and an unforgettable sunrise at the Poon Hill along with a panorama of Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna II, III, and IV, Dhaulagiri, Lamjung Himal, Gangapurna, and Manaslu ranges among few others. Know more about Poon Hill Trek!

Poon Hill Trek in Nepal

The mystic monasteries, cute little monks, ponderous yaks grazing on quaint village fields and salubrious breeze from the high mountains soothe your city-battered soul like no other medicine.

Machu Picchu, a name the whole world is familiar with today, was not known to mankind a century ago. Spirit of adventure, curiosity and the quest for the unknown led to its discovery in 1911, when a party of three chanced upon it while looking for the legendary lost city of Vilcabamba. The leader of this party was Hiram Bingham.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Bingham was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on 19th November, 1875 to a family of missionaries. However, he found his true calling in history and archaeology, especially Latin American History and that motivated him to pursue his doctorate in the same field and take many trips to South America. His 1911 expedition, as mentioned above, was to seek out the Incas’ last capital, Vilcabamba, which was believed to have been the last refuge of the defeated king Manco Inca II in 1536, when he had fled after being defeated by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. There was a lot of speculation about the location of this city to be somewhere in the valleys of the Vilcabamba and Urubamba River.

Hiram Bingham
Hiram Bingham
Image Credits: wikipedia.org

On the morning of 23rd July, 1911, along with his companion Sergeant Carrasco, a Peruvian soldier, Bingham left Cuzco to explore the Urubamba valley. They spent the night camping near the river and while there, they were approached by a local farmer named Melchor Arteaga who informed them of the presence of some ancient ruins high up in the mountains. The next morning, 24th July, the 3 set out to explore and find out what these ruins were. They all advanced slowly, making their way across a wobbly bridge that traversed just above the rapids. Fighting the rain, they scrambled up the path, sometimes on all fours owing to its steepness. After about an hour or so, they were above the tree line and the view below took their breath away. Little did they know that something even more spectacular awaited them above.

As they moved further up, they found that the Native Americans farmed on an ancient terrace cleared of the jungle. They discovered more terraces and mazes of sorts, consisting of stone houses made of white granite blocks fitted together with clean, mortar-less joints, sitting 4000 feet above the Urubamba River. Accidentally, they had found an abandoned citadel/fortress that was to become the most celebrated ruin in South America and one of the most visited sites in the world.

William Blake, the great 18th century poet, said that great things happen when men and mountains meet. Almost two centuries later, the world saw that come to life!

World’s highest mountain range, Himalayas, is home to 14 peaks higher than 8,000 meters or eight-thousanders as these are commonly called, and till the first half of the 20th century, all of these were unscaled! While the geographical conditions were a major deterrent, political unrest in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet also proved to be one big hurdle!

Aerial view of the Annapurna Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Aerial view of the Annapurna
Image credits: Wikipedia.org

But all that was about to change! In 1949, the Maharajah of Nepal gave his consent to a climbing party of nine from France to attempt an assault on one (or more than one) of these peaks. The party, led by experienced French Alpinist Maurice Herzog, arrived in Nepal in the spring of 1950 with plans to attempt either the Annapurna (8091 m) or the slightly higher Dhawalgiri (8167 m).

This was a time when not even the local inhabitants had any knowledge of reaching higher up in those mountains through the thick forests and tough terrain speckled with gorges and ridges. Having spent some time probing for routes and backtracking, in April of 1950, Herzog, his climbing partner Louis Lachenal and the rest of the team realized that they needed to make haste if they wished to climb any of those peaks, since the ideal weather conditions would only last till June. So they zeroed in on Annapurna by the north-western glacier, which seemed like the perfect approach at the time. The next difficult step was the setting up of a chain of 3 camps in higher altitudes. The last and highest camp was pitched at 7407 m. It was already June and the threat of monsoon fast approaching was looming over their heads.

Lachenal and Herzog Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Lachenal and Herzog
Image credits: Wikipedia.org 

I was born to be an explorer…There was never any decision to make. I couldn’t do anything else and be happy“, said the man whose life is said to be the inspiration behind the creation of Indiana Jones!

Fighting Chinese brigands, braving sandstorms and wild dogs, it was all in a day’s work for Roy Chapman when he decided to go explore the Gobi Desert further up North in to Mongolia to find the origins of humanity.

Roy Chapman Andrews
Image Credits: wikipedia.org

Roy Chapman Andrews was born in Wisconsin, America in 1884 and right from his childhood days his interests revolved around nature, outdoors, animals, history and he explored fields, water bodies and forests. He taught himself taxidermy and made money with this skill to pay for his college tuition. Such was his passion that after being told that there were no openings at the American Museum of Natural History, he started working there as a janitor in the taxidermy department. He continued to learn as he worked and earned a Master’s degree in mammalogy from Columbia University.

An explorer, adventurer and a naturalist, Roy sailed to the East Indies from 1909 – 1910 and collected snakes and lizards. In 1913, he sailed to the Arctic aboard the schooner Adventuress and filmed some of the best footage of seals ever seen!

Expedition Mongolia
Expedition Mongolia
Image Credits: wikipedia.org

Every action when looked at from different perspectives could mean different things! Same can be said for this historical adventure in which a 37 year old Navy Captain and his crew of 116 became the first people ever to complete the first successful submerged voyage around the North Pole.

Let’s start at the beginning! It was the period of Polar Exploration. Many countries and governments had sent their expert teams to the far off lands both North and South of the equator. While there were political agendas, scientific aspirations, and exploration possibilities, there were also the dreams of experiencing the ultimate adventure – being there where no man has set foot before!

On 4th October, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik – the first artificial Earth Satellite and as expected it brought in new military, scientific and political developments and aspirations. One part of those developments was the Operation Sunshine – a submarine transit of the North Pole, ordered by President Eisenhower in 1958.

Nautilus in the open waters Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Nautilus in the open waters
Image credits: Wikipedia.org

The mission started on 25th April, 1958, when USS Nautilus (SSN – 571), world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, commanded by Commander William R. Anderson headed towards the West Coast starting from New London, Connecticut. After stopping at San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle it left Seattle port on 9th June, 1958. An attempt to enter the open waters was made on 19th June, 1958 but it had to be pulled back due to drift ice in the shallow waters. Special Gyrocompass built by Sperry Rand was installed just before the journey began.