Tibet & Nepal trip makes it to the Top 10 Trips by National Geographic

April 17, 2014

National Geographic Traveler editors have scoured the globe to compile their annual list of the most innovative and immersive guided trips: Tours of a Lifetime: 50 of the World’s Best Guided Expeditions. Apart from it, ten additional tours of a lifetime have been enlisted by National Geographic, which features “Tibet and Nepal: Journey to the Highest Himalaya” as one of the trips.

Expedition Details: Delve into the fascinating world of mountain lore and Tibetan and Nepalese cultures while visiting the fabled cities of Lhasa, Shigatse, and Kathmandu. Take in some of the most magnificent mountain vistas on Earth as we journey overland across the Tibetan Plateau to the North Face Base Camp of Mount Everest and into Nepal.

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Snowfall hits Everest climbing activities

April 16, 2014

Incessant snowfall at the Everest Base Camp has started affecting climbing activities and is taking a toll on mountaineers, officials and doctors stationed there said.“Weather condition is not normal with the base camp witnessing snowfall for the last three days,” said Krishna Lamsal, Under Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation. Lamsal, who leads a team of government officials at the base camp contact office, also informed over phone that nearly 500 persons, including climbers and their support staff, have already arrived at base camp. “Continuous snowstorms and fluctuating weather this spring season have affected climbing activities as a whole,” he said. Read more

Surya Nepal Masters countdown begins

April 15, 2014

The countdown to the most coveted international golf tournament in the country, the Surya Nepal Masters 2014 has begun. This year’s edition will be held in April 23-26 April at the Gokarna Golf Course with a prize purse of Rs 4.8 million. Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd has ensured the local professionals come into this event without being short of match practice as the promotion of the local Surya Nepal Golf Tour has seen some quality performances in the season so far.

Defending champion Shivaram Shrestha has a wonderful chance of repeating his path breaking effort from last season when he won in a nail-biting finish from India’s top-ranked Abhijit Singh Chadha.

Shivaram has been a regular member on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) Tour and is back, bigger and better than ever to continue to carrying the mantle of Nepali golfably supported by young Rabi Khadka, Sanjay Lama to name a few.

The top Indian golfers in this year’s field include Shamim Khan, S Chikkarangappa, Abhijit Singh Chadha, Manav Jaini and former national champion Shubhankar Sharma along with experienced war-horses like Feroz Ali, Mukesh Kumar and Gaurav Ghei.

Source: ekantipur.com

Date: April 14, 2014

Happy New Year 2071! John Kerry says to Nepalese people

April 13, 2014

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has extended his best wishes to all Nepalese people on the occasion of Nepali New Year 2071 B.S.

“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I offer the people of Nepal best wishes for a prosperous and joyful New Year,” Kerry said in a statement released on April 12, Saturday.

“Nepal has achieved important milestones this past year, including the democratic election of a new Constituent Assembly,” Kerry further said.

“I hope that the coming year will bring further progress towards enduring political stability and the full completion of a new constitution, keeping your country on the path of prosperity and peace,” Kerry added.

Kerry concluded his New Year message saying in Nepali: “Naya Barshako Shubha-Kamana!”

This time around, Nepal is celebrating the New Year on April 14, Monday, as per the Bikram Sambat calendar.

source: nepalnews.com, 12 April 2014

Eastern Nepal to be promoted through Kanchajunga Makalu Travel Mart 2014

April 13, 2014

With an objective of promoting tourist attractions and destinations of Eastern Nepal specially in India market Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Nepal Tourism Federation (NTF) along with the local stakeholders have planned to jointly organize Kanchanjunga Makalu Travel Mart (KMTM) 2014 in Hile. In this regard, preliminary interaction programs were held with local tourism stakeholders of Eastern Development Region in Kanyam, Hile, and Dharan respectively on 1st, 3rd and 6th April 2014 respectively. The interaction meetings were well participated by major Travel Trade Associations and travel trade as well as transport and other tourism service providers,hoteliers,destination development/management committees, home stay organizations etc.

Mr. Rewat Thapa, Member of NTB Executive Committee and Chairman of NTF and Mr. Roshan Thapa, Co-coordinator for upcoming KMTM 2014, highlighted the importance of the Mart for overall development and promotion of tourism of Eastern Region. They further requested for significant presence and support of key stakeholders in the proposed Mart. Mrs. Ujjwala Dali, Sr. Manager – India desk,Nepal Tourism Board and Coordinator for KMTM 2014, briefed the audience about the initiative, objective, and necessary preparation of KMTM 2014. While highlighting the importance of holding such International Marts within Nepal, she stressed on the unified initiative and willingness of all concerned local stakeholders to come forward with their valuable suggestions and assured cooperation to extend hospitality to the visiting local as well as Indian tour operators and media, to ensure grand success of the Mart.

The NTB officials Ms. Dali and Mr. Deepak R. Joshi – Asst. Manager Incharge also visited the potential tourism areas in Eastern Region of Nepal as a recce visit to understand the basic infrastructure facilities before finalizing the Fam Trip itinerary, which is being designed for Travel Agents and Media from Kathmandu and bordering Indian Cities. The team explored tea-garden and processing in Ilam ,home stay and sunrise view in Shree Antu, pilgrimage sites like Arjun Dhara,Satakchhidham in Jhapa; Moutain Views and scenic beauty of , Bhedetar and Hile Hill-stations, nature walks in Dhankuta and Koshitappu wildlife resreve; and pilgrimage and leisure segments in Sunsari as some of the major product offers for the tourists in Eastern Region.

The Mart is scheduled to be organized soon after final discussions of Core committee and is expected to be a milestone for the development and promotion of Eastern Region tourism attractions with a different and focused approach. It will surely help in creating awareness for development, strengthening of infrastructure and conscious efforts from the local stakeholders to upgrade the tourist facilities in Eastern Region.

source: NTB, 11 April 2014

A brief introduction of Kumbum Monastery

April 13, 2014

Located 26km south of the city proper, the sacred Kumbum Monastery (Ta’er si), is the best of the sights in the Xining area. This attraction is generally acknowledged to be one of the six most important monasteries along with the Ganden, Sera and Drepung monasteries in the Lhasa area, the Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse and the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe. The ancient monastery, built during the 39th year (1560 AD) of the reign of emperor Jiajing (Ming Dynasty 1368-1644 AD), boasts a Tibetan name, Kumbum, which means a grand place housing 100,000 Buddhas.

The sight is most sacred due to the personages who have graced it with their presence. It was originally built upon the birth place of the founder of the Gelukpa Sect (Yellow Hat) of Tibetan Buddhism, Tsong Khapa. Two of his disciples from this region also went on to become famous in the Buddhist world, one becoming Dalai Lama, the other the Panchen Lama, both great living Buddhas. The present Dalai Lama, now in exile in India, also studied and lived here.

Constructed on a slight mountain slope on the edge of a wide valley, the monastery consists of a number of different prayer halls, an exhibition hall, the monk’s dormitories and various pagodas. There are a total of around 20,000 religious paintings and embroideries within, as well as numerous yak butter sculptures and idols of Buddhas past, present and future. Despite the destructive climate and an earthquake in 1990, the monastery has been well preserved in parts, and well restored in the rest. In total the walled monastery covers about a quarter of a mile squared, making it hard to cover all of the sights within and nearby in one, or even two, days.

There are a number of highlights however that should make it easier for you to select where to see. The most interesting are listed below, but of the others, worth a visit include the Propitious Pagoda (Ruyi baota), the Peace Pagoda (Taiping tai) and the Buddha Pagoda (Puti ta). A quick detour will take you to the Kitchens (Chu fang), where 3 huge bronze cauldrons are kept to feed the temple masses (now the resident monks number around 600). The area around the monastery is also worth spending a bit of time in, a valley of fields, with mountains in the distance, that is nice for hiking. From here you can view the pilgrims who devoutly circle the monastery with plodding, praying steps.

The Great Hall of the Golden Roof (Da jinwa si) is a large building containing a number of murals depicting scenes from Buddha’s life, and a silver stuppa within which is contained a statue of Tsong Khappa.

The Lesser Hall of the Golden Roof (Xiao jinwa si) is a temple for lovers of taxidermy, containing within its walls some well-preserved stuffed specimens of bulls, antelopes, bears and monkeys, and a white horse, which is said to have taken the ninth Panchen Lama from Tibet to Qinghai within one day.

The Great Hall of Meditation (Da xingtang) is a large, dark prayer hall that contains dozens of hanging silk tapestries and thickly carpeted pillars.

The Hall of Butter Sculptures (Suyou hua tang) contains many of the famous yak butter sculptures. This art has existed for many hundreds of years, originally coming from Tibet to Kumbum in the sixteenth century. The better of the sculptures are put on display during the Lantern Festival (Yak Butter Lamp Festival, see below).

The First Two Halls contain many imposing statues, carvings (on their huge supporting poles), silk embroidery works and gold-, silver- and copper-ware.

Special attention: Photography is prohibited within the monastery.

How to get there: To go to the monastery, you can take a mini bus to nearby Huangzhong (RMB5, leaves every 30mins, takes 30mins) from the west entrance of the Xining City Gymnasium (Xining tiyuguan), at Dashizi in the western part of Xining (from the railway station, take bus No.1 for seven stops). The bus drops passengers off at the Huangzhong bus station, about 20 minutes’ walk uphill to the main gate of the monastery. To go back, you may head to the Huangzhong town square, where buses back to the city are available until 6pm.

Lodging and dining: There are basically two options for those who wish to stay the night here. The first is the small Pilgrim’s Hostel in the monastery itself, a really ancient old building with ancient (and cheap) facilities to match. The second is with the two star Ta’er Hotel (Ta’er binguan, Tel: 0972-232452) at 57 Yingbin lu, just to the left of the main monastery gate as you face it before entering. Triples here will set you back around RMB55/bed or RMB180 for a double room (negotiable!). For dining there is a restaurant in the Pilgrim’s Hostel, or a few places down in the town. All serve standard Muslim food.

source: tibettravel.org, 08 April 2014

Mountaineers throng Everest with onset of spring summit season

April 13, 2014

Mt Everest has drawn mountaineers from at least 41 countries to her cold embrace as the year’s spring climbing season begins.
Nearly 300 mountaineers including 16-year-old Mathew Momiz and William Mithcell Burkey, 73, from the US and female climbers Deerness Joy Christine, 65, from New Zealand and Australian Azer Alyssa Nicole, 18, have headed towards the Everest region, officials at the Mountaineering Department at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation said. The department has permitted 75 expeditions including 28 for Mt Everest, generating royalty worth more than US$ 3.32 million. US$ 2.9 million is from Everest alone.

Each climber will have to bring back eight kg garbage in addition to their own from the top of the world as per a new rule introduced to keep Everest clean. Going by the number of mountaineers headed for the summit, at least 2.4 metric tonnes of garbage will be collected from Everest this season.

“There is no excuse and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, what your physical abilities or inabilities, as a climber you must submit the rubbish at the Base Camp,” Madhusudan Burlakoti, Ministry Spokesperson said.

According to DoM, five septuagenarians, 13 sexagenarians and three below 20 years will attempt the climb. Only 16 per cent of the mountaineers are female. “Teams comprising three members to 15 have been issued permit.” Among the mountaineers, 13 countries have one member each represented in their expeditions.

A contact office with 16 staffers will be opened at the base camp in the first week of May. Security personnel, ministry officials and support staff have reached the camp to facilitate climbers .

According to trekking entrepreneur Nima Nuru Sherpa, icefall doctors have already installed ropes up to Camp 2. Climbers are now acclimatising in the Khumbu region and expedition support staff are preparing the way by setting up camps, tents, food supply and other equipment. Generally, Mt Everest records its first spring summit in the second week of May and the climbing window closes roughly by the end of the first week of June.

As of 2013, there were 6,871 summits — Nepal side – 4,416; Tibet side-2,455 — by 4,042 summiteers. In 2013, 539 summits were recorded from Nepal side, while Tibet side recorded 119 summits. There were 248 casualties, including 161 of foreigners, according to Himalayan Database.

What’s trending

• Andy Holzer, 47, from Austria, blind by birth is in a bid to be the first blind European to summit the world’s highest peak

• Julian Mocklinghoff is filming a documentary on Holzer’s expedition titled ‘Andreas Osterreich to Everest’

• Steve Obbay, Nairobi-based entrepreneur, in bid to be the first Kenyan to summit Mt Everest

• Greg Paul, 59, from US, attempting to summit on two artificial knees

• Bill Burke, 72, from USA, climbing Everest from North Col in bid to be the oldest climber from a non-Asian country to reach the summit from both sides; he had climbed Everest from South Col in 2009

• Love birds from New Zealand Jim and Loretta got married at Everest base camp on April 8

• Google Inc shooting documentary ‘Everest Story Camp 2014’

Andrew Ivan Awes, USA, filming Khumbu region for his documentary ‘America Unearthed, Bigfoot Captured’ with approximate cost of US$ 45,000

• US$ 10 million documentary project ‘Everest Wingsuite Live’ launched by Peacock Productions, National Broadcasting Corporation, New York

• Discovery Channel is set to air first wingsuit flight off Everest by Joby Ogwyn live

• Russell Reginald Brice of New Zealand shooting documentary ‘Sherpa in the Shadow of the Mountains’ at an estimated cost of US$ 250,000

• Michael John Roberts of New Zealand, shooting a documentary called ‘Everest’

• Emma Louise Bernhard of UK, filming a documentary ‘One Planet Mountains’ in Everest region

source: Himalayan Times, 13 April 2014

29 expedition teams head for the world’s highest peaks

April 13, 2014

A total of 29 expedition teams have arrived Namche in Solukhumbu district till Saturday to scale the world’s highest mountains in the region, including Mt Everest, this season.

Program Officer at Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC), Kapindra Rai said the arrival of the expedition teams to scale Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse and Mt Nuptse is going up.

Rai shared that 22 teams would attempt to climb Mt Everest while four teams would scale Mt Lhotse and the remaining others would climb Mt Nuptse.

The expedition teams are expected to have their registration at SPCC Office in Namche before they scale up the mountains.

Likewise, Rai said that the road construction to the second camp from the first base camp of Mt Everest was completed a week ago.

The number of expedition teams is expected to further increase this year as the government has slashed the royalty to climb Mt Everest.

source: Himalayan Times, 12 April 2014