Nepal is a country for which mere adjectives barely suffice. In truth, you really need to go there to understand why we are so excited.
As we can’t take you there right this moment, allow us to give you a verbal flavour. Nepal is vibrant, exciting, fascinating, beautiful, diverse, majestic, spiritual, uplifting, humbling and yes of course, phenomenally photogenic.
Nepal is home to unrivalled natural beauty and unparalleled human interest. Nepal is the roof of the world, the melting pot of Asia, a place where impossibly high peaks pierce impossibly blue skies, and incredibly diverse people co-exist, for the most part, in peace.
To visit Nepal is to embark upon an adventure of the mind, body, soul and camera. Let PhotoJourney take you there.
Nowhere are two major religions more poignantly or beautifully juxtaposed. In Kathmandu the holiest sites of Hinduism and Buddhism, the temples of Syambunath and Boudhhanth, stare calmly at one another over the chaos of the city. Holy sites like Muktinath are equally revered by Hindu and Buddhist alike and pilgrims of both faiths come from afar to bathe in its icy waters.
From a photographer’s perspective these religions offer an array of opportunities: Buddhist prayer flags adorn the summits, bright colour fluttering vibrantly against deep blue skies. An orange robed Buddhist monk, shaved head, rosary beads in hand or a Hindu sadhu who has renounced worldly possessions choosing instead a loin cloth and begging bowl: both are equally part of the religious landscape.
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Nepal is a relative minnow by comparison to its powerful neighbours India to the South and China to the North. It is as profoundly affected by its geography as any country in the world, the mighty foothills of the Himalaya proving in spite of technology to be an enduring impediment to development.
Elements of life in the hills remain unchanged through millennia: oxen plough terraced fields, porters carry goods, wool is spun by hand and old women smoke home made cigarettes and watch the world go by. At the same time, solar panels and satellite dishes have arrived, roughly hewn ‘roads’ push further into the hills only to be destroyed come monsoon, and internet connections are faster than in parts of Europe. It is this absorbing melée that forms the focus of our Village option.
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Home to some of the mightiest ranges of the Himalaya, Nepal hosts more 8000m peaks than any other country. From Pokhara we can see the full spread of the Annapurna arrayed before us, among which are two of the world’s fourteen 8000ers.
The Annapurna is also home to one of the world’s most beautiful and holy mountains: Machapuchare (which translates as the Fish Tail – thus named on account of its twin ‘fish tail’ summits). A closer examination of its features is a main attraction of our Mardi Himal trek and a truly humbling, awe-inspiring experience.
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Nepal is one of the world’s most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries. In a nation roughly the size of mainland Britain there are 36 recognised languages. The two main ethnic groups are derived from the mongols of the Tibetan plateau and the Aryans from the Indian sub-continent. This is the crudest of divisions, within which lie tribe and sub-tribe, caste and sub-caste. Nepal is truly a land of a thousand faces, a portrait photographer’s dreamscape.