(Jump straight to the Nepal Photo Tour page on my personal website)
Nepal is Awesome
Our first year travelling in Nepal was a genuine journey, filled with emotional and spiritual meaning that made the experience very special. Two years on the photographic experience is every bit as rewarding for me, partly through learning more about Nepal and partly through finding softer ways to photograph it.
Before my first photo tour in Nepal had no idea what to expect of this country. Many of my friends have been leading trekking tours over there for decades so I was a relative late-comer to the scene. I was used to them returning home to talk of the rugged Kathmandu streets and the high altitude vistas in the Annapurnas, but being there myself felt like a whole new planet. It inspired my photography and filled me with energy to shoot all day long.
By the time night came around I would find myself exhausted and craving sleep. Nepal is not always the most comfortable place in the world to travel, and once you leave Kathmandu the quality of accommodation can very. Most hotels are over priced for what you get, the guesthouses are very basic and the food is acceptable rather than sensational. We did find some great meals and enjoyed some lovely hospitality, that's for sure, but don't expect a culinary indulgence to compare with China or Thailand. Just expect the essentials and indulge in the photography.
Where We Visit
Our itinerary for 2012 includes some fabulous access to villages of the Kathmandu Valley, with a chance to stop and shoot into the evening and early morning. This gave our group a chance to see the towns when they are filled with residents instead of tourists, and hence we grew rather fond of the Durbar Squares, Chaitya and Stupas. Kathmandu itself is not short of highlights, from the sacred Hindu site of Pashupatinath, the Tibetan Quarter and Boudanath, and the graceful mixture of Hindu and Buddhism at Swayambunath (The Monkey Temple). Plus we know of a few other treats by way of surprise.
The highlight for me was still the Annapurnas. I don't like trekking so have found a way to get our group as high up into the mountains as possible without making them hike! A trail leads from Jomsom to the sacred Hindu site of Muktinath, just serviceable enough for jeeps to travel up and down. We spend over a week at a height of 2600m or higher (starting slowly to acclimate before heading higher), culminating in two nights at 3800m at the village of Muktinath. The road is bumpy and the air is thin, but the slow and careful progress from lower down the mountains make the journey easy enough.
Along our travels in this path of Annapurnas we see the graceful peaks of Nilgiri from many angles. We shoot the mountain at sunset and sunrise and do so as often as we can. You just can't stop taking photos of the peaks when the light catches the ridges and snow is being shunted off the edge by the winds. How many shots are worth keeping is another matter, but I hope more than a few will be truly worth keeping.
In years to come I'll plan a few research trips to explore lesser travelled parts of the country, perhaps on horse back or maybe even a few treks. I don't like walking up hills, this is true. But having had a taste of how lovely Nepal can be I just want to see more and more of it.