10/26/2013

The nomad people in Changtang, Ladakh

The region of Changtang is a high altitude plateau (average elevation 4500 meters) mainly located in western and northern Tibet, but a small part of Changtang crosses also the border into Ladakh. Changtang in Ladakh is the home of the Changpa nomads, a semi-nomadic Tibetan ethnic group. The Changpa speak a dialect of Tibetan and practice Tibetan Buddhism. There are also more than 7000 Tibetan refugees residing in the region whose settlements are scattered across the plateau.

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The vast majority of Changtang is uninhabited and inhospitable for farming. The nomads are pastoralists and raising mainly yaks and goats. Pashmina goats grow a thick, warm fleece and they are able to survive the harsh winter in the region, where the temperatures plunge to as low as -35 °C. These goats provide the wool for Kashmir's famous Pashmina shawls. The nomads sell the Pashmina wool to buy rice and grain.

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09/26/2011

The apple pie trek: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

The Annapurna Circuit is still considered as one of the best treks in the world. The scenery is outstanding: this trek takes you through breathtaking sceneries of rivers, flora and fauna circling the Annapurna massif. The trek goes usually counter-clockwise from Khudi to Pokhara and reaches its highest point at the pass Thorung La (5416m). Three eight-thousander can be seen on this trek: Manaslu (8156 m), Annapurna 1 (8091 m) and Dhaulagiri (8167 m). The trek goes through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites, most notably the village of Muktinath, a holy site for both Buddhists and Hindus.

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The best time for the trek is in October and November, right after the raining season. Beginning of October there is still a chance of rainy days, but from middle of October to end of November you have always blue sky and almost no rain. In December/January it can be very cold and the pass Thorung La can be blocked because of snow. We had rain the first 4 days of the trek (beginning of October) and the path was blocked on the third day because of a landslide. We lost almost one day which we tried to catch up the fourth day, and we reached a small simple teahouse very late in darkness and heavy rain. As a 'welcome present' we got a bucket of hot water for a shower, a place at the huge tiled stove to dry the clothes, a simple but tasty Nepalese dinner and a place to sleep. Luckily the next day all the rain was gone and since then we had beautiful weather every day.

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