The World's Best Long-Distance Trekking Trails

The World’s Best Long-Distance Trekking Trails

From Nepal to the USA to Portugal and South Africa and Jordan… if you’re up for a really big challenge, I’ve written an introductory guide to some of the world’s best long-distance trekking trails. Some of these require months of preparation and months to walk. Others can be divided into smaller, more manageable sections of a week or even a day. This was really fun to write because I got to do a whole lot of research on places that I’d love to go. I’ve trekked sections of the Great Himalaya Trails in Nepal, and the Te Araroa Trek in New Zealand, but the rest have swiftly been added to my must-do list. Here are the treks I cover in this article: The Via Dinarica, Western Balkans The Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal Rota Vincentina, Portugal Jordan Trail, Jordan Iceland North to South Traverse, Iceland Transcaucasian Trail, Caucasus Mountains Triple Crown of Hiking, USA (Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail) Te Araroa, New Zealand Drakensberg Grand Traverse, South Africa and Lesotho Shikoku Pilgrim’s Trail, Japan Read the full article on Kimkim.

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Pakistan on My Mind

Pakistan on My Mind

Pakistan has been on my mind rather a lot today. First, I helped publish (edit) a great article over at Inside Himalayas on a solo woman’s motorbike trip along the Karakoram Highway. Then I got listening to some Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Then, I discovered that Himal Southasian, my dear old employer, republished an article of mine from 2014 that had originally appeared in print. Now you can read it online, for free. It’s called “Of Shadows, Skins and Stones“, and is a literary essay on Pakistani women’s literature. I’ve been saying for years that I will make it to Pakistan soon, but it hasn’t happened yet. I know, I do actually have to make it happen, but I’ve been very busy making all sorts of other things happen. So, the closest I’ve still been to Pakistan is the Wagah Border Crossing in Indian Punjab, in 2008. Although Pakistan is near Nepal, this part of the world isn’t very well connected, transport-wise, and I don’t trust Pakistani or Nepali airlines all that much. Plus, getting a Pakistan visa in Nepal seems like rather a headache. But, these are just excuses. I don’t think this year will be my Pakistan year, but next might be. You can read an extract of my Himal Southasian article below, or the full article on the site. ‘For a few years, Pakistani English literature has been on the verge of a ‘boom’; not quite an explosion, but what scholar of contemporary Pakistani literature Claire Chambers…

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Monasteries of Tibet

All travel in Tibet has to be done as part of a tour. That means that unless you’re going on a trekking tour, you will be visiting a lot of monasteries. And even on a trekking tour, you’ll likely still visit a lot of monasteries! I have just had this short article on the monasteries of Tibet published. Clearly it’s not exhaustive because I spent just ten days in the enormous region. But I got a good introduction to the architecture and culture of Tibet this way. My favourite by far was the remote Sakya Monastery, which is about 1000 years old and houses over 80,000 Tibetan Buddhist scrolls in its library. It was a rare example of a monastery that was relatively untouched by the Cultural Revolution. Here’s an extract from that article. See the original for more. “One of the main attractions of visiting Tibet is touring the region’s beautiful monasteries. While many thousand were destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, and countless priceless artefacts lost, a number did survive. Plus, many more have been restored to some degree since. Each monastery is unique in its history and cultural position, and is different from the last. So even though you may be visiting two or even three monasteries per day on your tour of Tibet, you will discover new things each time. Here are the monasteries you will visit on a ten day trip from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp, stopping in Gyantse, Shigatse and Shakya…

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Circus Act in Costa Rica

Circus Act in Costa Rica

A story I wrote soon after my trip to Costa Rica and Panama in January 2015 was recently given a home at Sonderers Travel Magazine. An extract is reproduced below, you can read the rest on Sonderers. Circus Act I met Annalise over breakfast in Costa Rica’s dreary capital, San Jose. She was Asian Australian with a bright smile, a shaved head, and a ready laugh. I was wrapped tightly in the Indian shawl that accompanies me everywhere, that helps me either blend in or stand out depending on my mood and where I am. San Jose was dramatically colder than the Pacific coast, where I had just spent a week at the beach. I told Annalise that I’d had a cold shower that morning. Having been there a few days, she explained which showers in the hostel spurted cold water, which were lukewarm, and which were just right. I told her I’d lived in Kathmandu for a year. “My water was heated by solar panels, so in the winter, when there wasn’t much sun, I had to boil water on the stove and have bucket showers for two months.” “Wow, you were committed!” she laughed. “I just put up with the cold water in Honduras. And what came out of the tap was usually brown.” She explained that she was touring Central America after a stint as a volunteer development worker in Honduras. She was relieved to be in Costa Rica. “In my mountain village, it was like the…

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Things to See and Do in Lhasa

Things to See and Do in Lhasa

Most trips to Tibet spend a significant amount of time in Lhasa. This is necessary for acclimatisation reasons–the city is at 3600 metres, and much of the rest of the country is even higher. If you simply arrived in Lhasa and immediately took off into the mountains, you’d likely suffer from some bad altitude-related problems. I found Lhasa to be a curious place. But with four nights there during my ten-day trip to Tibet, I got to see and experience several of its highlights. I recently posted about these on Inside Himalayas: 7 Amazing Things to See and Do in Lhasa. An extract is reproduced below. “1. Potala Palace The Potala Palace is a symbol of Lhasa, and the whole of Tibet. It was originally built in the 7th century, and then developed in the 17th century into the grand, sprawling palace complex that it is now. It was home to the Dalai Lamas, the kings of Tibet and heads of Tibetan Buddhism, between the 17th and mid-20th century. Although the view of the outside is iconic, the smaller chapels, meditation rooms and living quarters inside are just as beautiful and interesting, and require quite a lot of time to see. As well as visiting in the daytime, take a walk after dark to appreciate how the palace is lit up at night. 2. Drepung Monastery Drepung Monastery is the largest monastery in Tibet, and is situated at the foot of a hill on the edge of Lhasa. It is…

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