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Lapsi Achaar

Lapsi achaar

lapsi achaar
Lapsi achaar in an unlabeled package

Lapsi achaar is one of the most delightful pickled fruits in Nepal. It is flavorful with hints of fenugreek, black cumin, fennel, and turmeric. Chilly and salt are also added to balance the sweetness of the fruit. Sounds great, right! In this article I will review how lapsi achaar is made in Nepal. If you are interest in preserving olives, check out this blog post.

Lapsi fruit

lapsi fruit for lapsi achaar
Lapsi fruit

Lapsi (Choerospondias axillaris) is a fruit tree that grows naturally in southern and south east Asia. It is especially predominant as an agricultural commodity in Nepal and less so in other Asian countries. The tree produces gulf ball sized fruit that are sweet and sour and have a texture like mango.

In the winter the fruit ripens and are harvested by communities or food processors. The lapsi fruit are eaten raw, turned into a delicious gummy candy, and pickled. The pickling process is explained below.

Lapsi achaar

lapsi achaar
Lapsi achaar in boiling mustard oil

Lapsi achaar is Nepali for lapsi pickle. The pickling process in Nepal is a little different than in the US. First all the fruits are boiled for about 15 minutes. The fruit will plump up and split, which makes it easy to peel.

The peeled fruits are added to a boiling mustard oil. If you try this at home, make sure you are outside or have excellent ventilation before boiling mustard oil because it will make you cough and tear up. Fenugreek, black cumin, fennel, and turmeric are added while the lapsi as its being stirred. Next salt and chili powder are added.

himalayan black salt
Himalayan black salt

The resulting pickle has a water activity of 0.85, and a pH of 4. These 2 quantitative measurements predict the potential for microorganisms to spoil the food. A water activity level of 0.85 and a pH of 4 are values within the industry standard for “safe to eat.”

Himalayan food tour

If you are ever in Nepal make sure you go on a food tour, which visits different ethnic communities and samples traditionally prepared food. It is a great way to tour the country and try delicious cuisine at the same time.

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Preserving Olives

Preserving olives

preserving olives
Equipment to preserve olives

Preserving olives is as much of an art as it is a science because many factors must be considered when making olives. You must consider the variety of olive, its ripeness or maturity, your available resources, time required, and if you want to use olive brine or lye. But before we begin a quick note:

In this article I digress from trekking and climbing to homesteading. Though still focused on Nepal, this article marks the beginning of a segment on homesteading in the Himalayas and DIY projects to try to get a feel for life in Nepal. If this is something you are interested in, let me know in the comments or send me an email. Thank you, I hope you enjoy the article.

You may be thinking “preserving olives in Nepal?” I know Nepal does not have olives but they do have a lot of other fruits and vegetables that they preserve. In the next article I cover preserving lapsi fruit. You can read that article here.

Why you need to preserve olives before eating them

Olives contain a very bitter compound called oleuropein. The processing or curing process removes the oleuropeins from the olives making them taste delicious!

Olive preserving methods

The bitter flavor of uncured olives can be removed through different processes. Each process is appropriate for different olive varieties and at different olive ripeness. In short, the curing processes use:

  • Brine
  • Dry salt
  • Water
  • lye

and combinations of them

Varieties of olives

processing olives
From left to right: Kalamata, Manzanillo and Mission olives

There are 5 commercially important olive varieties. They include:

  • Manzanillo
  • Mission
  • Sevillano
  • Ascolano
  • Barouni

Other varieties include

  • Kalamata
  • Hojiblanca
  • Picholine

Selecting the best olive for processing

You want to only use freshly harvested olives for processing. Some other sources also say use un-bruised olives for processing however I am hesitant to include that because you must bruise the olives in some curing processes. Bruised olives will be softer after curing than non-bruised olives.

When to harvest

There are several stages of olive ripeness that are perfect for different processing techniques. The stages include:

  • Green ripe
  • Yellow green to straw
  • Rose to red brown
  • Black

The riper the olive is at harvest, the greater its oil content will be. Each variety and each of the stages require a different processing technique.

  • Manzanillo olives are best when lye cured and Spanish-style green olive style
  • Mission olives are best with a dry salt cure and ripe style or California black ripe style
  • Sevillano olives are best for Sicilian style fermented olives
  • Kalamata olives are best for kalamata style water-cured

Water cured olives

processing olives
Taking olives out of water

Water curing your olives does not remove all the bitter flavors in the olive, but it is a simple process.

  1. Crack or cut your olives
  2. Fill a bucket with cracked/ cut olives
  3. Fill the bucket with water
  4. Change the water 1x per day for a week or longer depending on the desired flavor
  5. Create a finishing solution with water, salt, and vinegar
    1. 1 lb. or 1 ½ cups of salt
    2. 1-gallon water
    3. 1-quart (4 cups) vinegar

This will cure 10 lbs. of olives. You can also add herbs and spices to the finishing solution for a stylized taste. Please note: DO NOT ADD garlic in this phase because of an increased risk pathogen contamination.

Brine cured olives

Brine is a salt water solution that preserves the olives. The olives go through a natural fermentation process that changes the olives’ flavor. This process can take up to 6 months however experience has shown it to not last longer than 3 months. Green ripe olives will take longer to cure than black olives.

  1. Place olives in a container that can be caped
  2. Fill the container with your brine solution
    1. add enough salt to water so that an egg will float on the surface or 1 lb. salt per gallon
  3. fasten lid on top of the container
  4. change brine solution once a week until finished

You can also add herbs and spices to the brine solution to stylize your olives, but do not add garlic because it can introduce pathogens to the solution.

Dry salt cured olives

processing olives
Salt cured olives

You need full ripe black olives to use this method of curing because this method is not as efficient at extracting the bittering compounds. It is easier for the oleuropeins to extracted from the full ripe black olives than the less ripe ones.

You will also want a smaller olive because this process will soften the flesh, dry it out, and make it wrinkled like a resin. Mission olives are commonly used for this olive processing procedure.

This process can be done in a few different ways, but the one described below was taught to me by a Greek woman, who learned it from a man nicknamed grandfather.

  1. Get a pillow case you do not want anymore
  2. Weigh out your olives
  3. Weigh 1 pound of salt for every 2 pounds of olives
  4. Add the olives and salt in the pillow case in layers.
  5. suspend the pillowcase with olives and salt
  6. place tub or bucket under the pillow case to catch the olive juice (the juice will stain so be careful). Discard the juice.
  7. 1x per week stir the olives by transferring them out of the pillow case then back again. Add enough salt to cover the top layer of olives
  8. When the olives are finished sieve the salt off and let dry for 24 hours.

The process takes about 5 to 6 weeks to finish. These olives will keep for 1 month if left out of the refrigerator, or 6 months if refrigerated.

Lye Cured olives

processing olives
Lye cured olives

Preserving olives with lye is the fastest way to cure olives. It leaves the olives with neutral “buttery” flavor that will absorb the flavors of any herbs or spices you store the olives with. There texture is firm and smooth.

Please note: be sure you understand the requirements of preserving food with lye before trying this. Also make sure your lye is 100% pure! If it is not, it might poison you! Extreme caution is warranted when processing olives with lye.

This method can be used to produce black or green olives. The only difference is an additional step to add oxygen to the olives. The method outlined below makes black olives.

  1. Sort all your olives to same size. Otherwise you will have different olives curing at different rates.
  2. Put the olives in a plastic or glass container. (do not use aluminum because the lye will eat though it.)
  3. Add 1 ½ ounces (42.5 g) of lye to every 1 gallon of water. Do not add the water to the lye, because it increases the risk of lye exposure and the lye will “cake up” and not dissolve. Make sure you do this step outside or in a well-ventilated area.
  4. Let the water cool to 65 to 70 degrees F
  5. Add the lye solution to the olives and let sit for about 3 hours or until you can see a discoloration underneath the olive skin. (you must open the olive to see this.)
  6. After the lye solution penetrated the skin of the olives, pour out the solution (but save, you can use it again later) and let the olives breathe.
  7. Stir the olives 3x at evenly spaced intervals throughout the day
  8. Pour the lye solution back into the container with the olives and let it penetrate the olives 1/8 inch into the flesh.
  9. After the lye solution penetrated deeper into the olive, pour out the lye and expose the olives to air again. Stir 3x as described before.
  10. Make a new lye solution by adding 2 ounces (85 g) of lye to every gallon of water. Let this solution penetrate the olives to the core.
  11. After the lye solution has reached the core, pour the solution out (it makes a great drain cleaner) and let the olives breath for another day.
  12. Soak the olives in clean fresh water.
  13. Replace the water 2x per day for 3 days or until you can no longer taste the lye. This may take up to 8 days. (lye tastes soapy)

These olives can be stored for up to 2 months in a brine solution. They can be kept longer if refrigerated or frozen.

Preserving olives

That’s pretty much it to preserving olives. If you still want to read more about olives, I wrote a couple of segments about the history of cultivation, where they are cultivated in the US, there uses, and nutritional benefits. Thanks for reading!!!

History

Olives have been grown in Mediterranean climates since 3,000 BCE. One part or another is used in almost every single facet of life in these regions. From babes’ baptisms to their last supper, you can be sure the olive has an important place at the table.

Where are olives grown in the United States

For the most part, olives are grown in the central valley of California.

Uses

Food, medicine, cooking, salve, lamp fuel, and soap. After all, how do you think palm and olive got its name?

Nutritional benefits of olives

Olives and olive oil contain over 70% monounsaturated natural fat. They also contain antioxidants including flavonoids and phenolic compounds

 

 

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Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing Norgay

In many respects the first official summit of Everest would not have been possible without the help of Tenzing Norgay. He  saved Edmund Hillary’s life and guided him on their assent to the top of the world. This article is about the second man to summit Mt. Everest, Tenzing Norgay.

Early life

Tenzing was born on May 29th, 1914 in Tengboche, Khumbu, which is just below Mt. Everest. However, there are alternate accounts of his origin. One such account is that he was born in Tse Chu, which is in the Kama Valley of Tibet. He identified his parents as Tibetan but said he was born in Nepal.

His parents named him Namgyal Wangdi, but on the advice of the head lama at Rongbuk Monastery, it was changed to Tenzing Norgay. His name translates as wealthy/ fortunate religious disciple. Norgay’s parents had 13 children, but most did not survive childhood. Norgay was 11th born.

He was sent to a monastery to become a monk, but decided he wanted to climb mountains. As a teenager he moved to Darjeeling, India for work as a porter because Darjeeling was the starting point for climbs at that time.

Eric Shipton, in 1935, hired Norgay as a high-altitude porter on his British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition. This was his first opportunity as a professional porter. He was then hired as a porter on 2 other British attempts to summit Everest before 1940.

In the 1940’s he was hired as a personal assistant to a Major in the Indian army. He worked and lived in Chitral, which is now part of Pakistan, but once part of India. He married and had 2 daughters in Chitral, but after his wife’s death and Pakistan’s invasion of India he left with his daughters.

Mid life

After his escape from Pakistan, he was hired by Earl Denman help him summit Everest in 1947. Their attempt at the summit was prevented by bad weather.

Edouard Dunant and Gabriel Chevalley hired Norgay in the spring and autumn of 1952. Both expeditions failed to reach the summit, but the first expedition reached 28,200 feet and opened a new climbing route. The second expedition was stopped by bad weather.

Everest summit

In 1953 John Hunt hired Norgay on his 400-man expedition to climb Mt. Everest. The expedition included 362 porters, 20 guides, and 10,000 pounds of baggage. Norgay met Edmund Hillary on this expedition.

While climbing up Everest, Hillary fell into a crevasse, but was saved when Norgay secured Hillary’s rope to an ice axe and dug it into the snow. Norgay became Hillary’s climbing partner because of his fast thinking and quick action.

Tensing and Hillary were halted on the South Col for 2 days because of bad weather. On the first sight of clear weather, they made their first attempt at the summit. Carrying 30-pound packs they maneuvered over the Hillary Step and onto the highest point on earth, 29,028 feet.

They spent 15 minutes on the summit before returning to base camp. Their decent was a little tricky due to their tracks being covered by drifting snow.

After Everest

Before they made it down the mountain, they were famous worldwide. Norgay received the George Medal from Queen Elizabeth II, while Hunt and Hillary were knighted.

Norgay became the 1st director of Field Training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in 1954.

Tenzing negotiated and arranged for the first American tourist party to enter Bhutan in 1975.

Norgay founded Tenzing Norgay Adventures in 1978. The company is run by his son today.

Family

Tenzing Norgay married his 1st wife’s cousin after his wife’s death. They did not have any children, which was a factor in his decision to take a 3rd wife. He had 3 sons and 1 daughter with his 3rd wife.

Death

Tenzing Norgay died on May 9, 1986, from a cerebral hemerage. He was 71 years old.

 

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Sand in Nepal

Nepali sands

I heard a captivating story about sand on NPR. The story was told in an interview by Lulu Garcia-Narrvaro and Vince Beiser. Vince Beiser wrote a book about sand titled, The World in a Grain. This immediately caught my attention because it reminded me of the poem Auguries of Innocence by William Blake. I realized how fitting the name of the book is after learning about sand. The interview inspired me to write this article about sand in Nepal.

What is sand and how big is it?

The stuff at the beach? Yes, that is one answer, but did you know there is a scientific definition for sand. Sand is identified by the Unified Soil Classification System as particles with a diameter between 0.074 and 4.75 millimeters (mm). Geologists identify sand as particles with a diameter from 0.0625 to 2 mm.

Inland continental sand is composed of silica and oxygen bonded together (SiO2). Tropical coastal sand is primarily made of calcium carbon and oxygen bonded together (CaCO3). Inland continental sand (quartz) is non-reactive to common chemicals and extremely hard, which makes it an excellent building material.

Abundance

Sand is one of the most abundant things on the planet, however only some of it is useful for manufacturing purposes. There is a limited amount of useful sand in the world and since it is the 3rd most consumed (oxygen and water are 1 and 2) natural resource, it is becoming scarce.

Uses

Sand is used in a multitude of manufactured products. A short list includes windows, computer chips, elastic, filtration, building, concrete, sanding, and insulation. In short it is the stuff our daily lives are made from.

Sand in Nepal

Nepal is primarily composed of sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks. The sedimentary rocks include marl, dolomite, siltstone, shale, and limestone. These rocks are made from the same components as tropical coastal sand. The metamorphic rocks found in Nepal, schist, phyllite, and gneiss, are composed of the same elements that make inland continental sand.

Abundance of sand in Nepal

If you were to take Nepal and lay it out flat, it would be comparable to the size of the United States (3.797 million square miles). Nepal is a huge land mass, but vertically stratified, which provides it the potential to produce a lot of sand. Nepal produces hundreds of thousands of tons of sand per year.

How is sand made

Sand is naturally made by 2 types of erosion, water, and wind. It is also artificially made by people. Sand produced by wind erosion tends to be rounded and is considered a poor quality for construction.  On the other hand sand created by water erosion tends to have angular edges and is better suited for construction.

Sand mining and production in Nepal

Nepal is going through a huge industrial boom right now. You can see sand mines processing sand on the banks of nearly all major rivers in Nepal. To a lesser extent you can also see people pounding on rocks with hammers and sieving the sand produced. This sand is going into concrete for houses and buildings that were destroyed during the 2015 earth quake, and to new homes and an international airport in Pokhara.

Sand in Nepal

Sand is not something that is not naturally considered when thinking about Nepal. Most people think of Chitwan, the Annapurna mountains, or Mt. Everest. Considering the amount of rain fall (about 63 inches), and snow that lands in Nepal each year, it is easy to assume most of the sand is created by water erosion.

Sand is one of the most important solid substances in the word, in my opinion it is second to wood. Without it, we wouldn’t have modern civilization. It may also become one of Nepal’s most valued exports because sand values have quintupled in the past 30 years.

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Edmund Hillary

Edmund Hillary mountaineer

Edmund Hillary and his mountain guide Tenzing Norgay were the first people confirmed to have climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest. This action secured Hillary’s position as the most famous mountaineer to date. The fame later helped him secure philanthropic roles, and government positions in New Zealand. Edmund Hillary has a developed biography full of adventures and contains memorable quotes. This article is about Sir Edmund Hillary and his life.

Edmund Hillary height

Hillary described himself as being a small and lonely child although he grew to the height of 6 ft 5 in by the age of 16. He was more comfortable indulging in books than in the company of his peers. He was born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 20th, 1919. It wasn’t until 1935, 16 years later, that he became interested in mountaineering.

Edmund Hillary Biography (in brief)

By 1939 Hillary climbed to the top of Mount Olliver (6,342 ft), his first major summit. Hillary put his passion for mountaineering to the side in 1943, because of the threat of Japanese invasion of Pacific countries. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator, but in 1945, he was injured in a fire and medically discharged.

In 1948 He climbed to the summit of the south ridge of Mt. Cook.

Hillary climbed Cho Oyu in 1952.

The defining moment in Edmund Hillary’s lice came on May 29, 1953 when he climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest.

Hillary crossed the Antarctic shelf in 1958 to reach the south pole.

In 1960, Hillary joined a big foot tracking team. His goal was to find evidence of big foot. The team explored the Himalayas for 10 months, but Hillary was only with the team for 5 months. They only found evidence that disproved big foot’s existance.

Hillary established the Himalayan Trust in 1960 after his summit of Everest. His goal was to help the Sherpa people by improving health, education, and lively hoods in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal. His efforts led to the construction of schools, and hospitals and helped improve the lives of people who live among the mountains.

Hillary created the 3 poles challenge when he and Neil Armstrong flew to the North pole in 1985.

Edmund Hillary became the ambassador of Nepal and the commissioner to India and Bangladesh from 1985 to 1988.

In 1992 his image was printed on the $5 note of the New Zealand currency. This made him the only living person that wasn’t a government official to appear on a note.

Edmund Hillary death

Hillary died from heart failure on January 11, 2008, in Auckland City Hospital. His body was cremated and most of his ashes were released in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. The other portion of his ashes were taken to Nepal to be released on top of Mt. Everest.

Edmund Hillary famous quotes

  • “it is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
  • “you don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things… You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.”
  • “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”
  • Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.
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Top 10 highest mountains in Nepal

Top 10 highest mountains in Nepal

Its about time I did a top 10 highest mountains in Nepal article, because 8 of the worlds 10 highest mountains are in Nepal. However, most of these mountains are shared by neighboring countries like China, and India. In this article I give a brief overview of the top 10 highest mountains in Nepal. I hope you enjoy it.

Everest

Everest
Mt. Everest is the darker mountain in the background

First up on the list of the top 10 highest mountains in Nepal is Everest. Everest is probably the most well-known Mountain in Nepal. China also claims ownership of the northern part of Everest. In fact, the north base camp in China can be driven to in a car! It takes about 13 days to hike to Everest Base Camp, which is an amazing hike. Pro tip: on your way to EBC, hike to Kalla Patthar for the best views of the area.

Everest is known in Nepali as Sagarmatha and is in the Sagarmāthā National Park. The Sagarmatha National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site. The highest mountain in Nepal rises to a staggering 29,029 feet above sea level.

You can continue reading about Everest by following this link.

Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga is claimed by Nepal and India. It is in the south eastern area of nepal and the north eastern area of India known as Sikkim. The highest point of the mountain is at an elevation of 28,169 feet above sea level. Kangchenjunga is part of the Kangchenjuga Himalayan range and is the tallest mountain in India. This mountain is called “Five Treasures of Snow”, which relates to the 5 peaks in the range.

You can continue reading about Kangchenjunga by following this link.

Lhotse

Lhotse Main
Everest, Lhotse, Amadablam

Lhotse is a beautiful mountain. It is right next to Everest in the Sagarmāthā National Park. If you hike to Everest Base camp from Lukla, you will see Lhotse before you see Everest. The highest peak on Lhotse is 27,940 feet above sea level. Nepal and China share ownership of this mountain.

Lhotse has 3 peaks above 26,000 feet. Lhotse main is the tallest, Lhotse middle 27,605 feet, and Lhotse Shar 27,503 feet above sea level.

You can continue reading about Lhotse by following this link.

Makalu

Makalu is in the Makalu Barun National Park, which is an extension of the Sagarmatha National Park. Makalu is 12 miles south east of Everest in the Mahalangur mountain range. Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu can be seen together from the gompa above Dingboche. Makalu’s tallest peak is 27,838 feet above sea level. China and Nepal share ownership of the mountain as it is on the border.

You can continue reading about Makalu by following this link.

Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu is the 5th highest mountain in Nepal, but the 6th highest mountain in the world. Its highest peak is 26,864 feet above sea level. Cho Oyu is about 12 miles west of Everest in the Khumbu sub-section of the Mahalangur mountain range and is partly owned by China. It is one of the most prominent mountains visible while hiking to Everest Base Camp. Cho Oyu has gentle slopes and is regarded as one of the easiest mountains above 26,000 feet to climb.

You can continue reading about Cho Oyu by following this link.

Dhaulagiri I

Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri range above Poon Hill
Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri range above Poon Hill

Dhaulagiri is a delight to see after trekking the Annapurna Circuit or from the top of Poon Hill. It is the 7th tallest mountain above sea level in Nepal at 26,795 feet.  Dhaulagiri mountain range is wholly owned by Nepal and has 5 notable peaks. The mountain range extends into 5 districts along the Kali Gandaki River. Dhaulagiri I was first summited by a Swiss/ Austrian/ Nepali team on May 13, 1960.

You can continue reading about Dhaulagiri I by following this link.

Manaslu

annapurna 2, pisang peak, manaslu
Annapurna 2, Pisang Peak, and Manaslu from Upper Khangsar

Manaslu is a beautiful mountain just off the main trail of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is the 8th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. The highest elevation of Manaslu is 26,781 feet. This mountain is wholly owned by Nepal. The Nepali government has restricted access to this mountain to only group treks. Restricted area permits are required to go on the Manaslu Circuit Trek.

You can continue reading about Manaslu by following this link.

Annapurna I

top 10 mountains in nepal
Annapurna I in the center

Annapurna I barely breaks the 26,247 foot elevation. Its highest point is at 26,545 feet above sea level. It is the 8th tallest mountain in Nepal and the 10th tallest in the world. Annapurna I can be seen from the Annapurna Circuit Trek, the top of Poon Hill, and the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Attempting to summit Annapurna I is one of the most dangerous mountaineering activities in Nepal. It has a fatality to summit ratio of 32%.

You can continue reading about Annapurna I by following this link.

Gyachung Kang

Gyachung Kang is the 15th tallest mountain in the world, but the 9th highest in Nepal. It is in the Mahalangur Himal range in-between Everest and Cho Oyu at an elevation of 26,089 feet. It is 158 feet below the 8,000-meter range and thus far less popular or well known than any other mountain in its height class. The peak was first climbed on April 10th, 1964. The peak was summited again the day after, by 2 people who rarely receive credit. Their names are K. Machida, and K. Yasuhisa.

You can continue reading about Gyachung Kang by following this link.

Annapurna II

Annapurna 2 and Lamjung Himal
Annapurna 2 and Lamjung Himal

Last on the list of the top 10 highest mountains in Nepal is Annapurna 2. Annapurna II is one of my favorite mountains on this list. It reminds me of an old volcano due to its characteristic opening at the top of its peak. Annapurna II is 26,040 feet above sea level. You can have the best view of the mountain while hiking up to Milarepa Cave. As the name implies, Annapurna II is second to Annapurna I in terms of height.

You can continue reading about Annapurna 2 by following this link.

Conclusion

That concludes the list of the Top 10 highest mountains in Nepal. If you would like to visit any one of these amazing geological masterpieces please contact us for a personalized trip or you may secure your travel package directly from mynepaltrek.com

 

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Annapurna I

Annapurna I

top 10 mountains in nepal
Annapurna I in the center

This is the mountain that started it all. Annapurna I was first officially summited on June 3, 1950. Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal climbed 26,200 feet above sea level to reach the top of Annapurna I. Though higher elevations had been reached during failed attempts on Everest, this was the first successful summit of a mountain above 8,000 meters. This article contains entertaining and useful information on Annapurna I. I hope you enjoy.

Annapurna I main

Annapurna I
Annapurna Massif, Niligiri, Annapurna 1, Annapurna S, Hiun Chuli, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhre at Poon Hill before sunrise

The highest peak of the Annapurna Massif is Annapurna I or Annapurna main. It is the 10th tallest mountain in the world above sea level and the 8th tallest mountain in Nepal.

The entire Annapurna Massif, including Annapurna I, is contained within a 2,946 square mile park called the Annapurna Conservation Area. This is the first conservation area created in Nepal and the largest in the country.

You can see Annapurna I main from several climbing and hiking locations within the park. Some of the most popular trails to see Annapurna I are the Annapurna Circuit Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, and from the top of Poon Hill.

Prominent peaks

There are 5 prominent peaks (not counting Annapurna 1) within the Annapurna Massif. The following list identifies the peak and its height.

  • The 2nd highest peak in the massif is Annapurna II, 26,040 feet
  • Annapurna III is the 3rd tallest peak at 24,786 feet
  • The 4th tallest peak is Annapurna IV at 24,688 feet
  • GangaPurna is the 5th tallest peak in the range at 24,457
  • And Finally, Annapurna South at 23,684 feet is the 6th highest peak in the mountain range.

Climbing

More than 191 people have summited Annapurna Main. More than 60 attempted summits resulted in fatality. The fatality to summit ratio is around 30%. This is the highest fatality to summit ratio of all the 8,000-meter-high mountains. The South face route is the most difficult of the 12 known routes to the top.

Routes

  1. North face
  2. Dutch ridge on north face
  3. North ridge north face
  4. South face
  5. South face variation
  6. Central pillar on south face
  7. East ridge
  8. East ridge and north face
  9. Up to east peak via north ridge
  10. East ridge and north face
  11. North west face
  12. North west ridge
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Annapurna 2

Annapurna 2

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Annapurna II is the 10th tallest mountain in Nepal. It is also the 17th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. This is my favorite mountain on the Annapurna Circuit Trek because of its prehistoric and dormant volcanic look. It reminds me of Death Mountain from the Legend of Zelda, but with out the death. This article contains informative information about Annapurna 2.

Location

"Abandoned

Annapurna 2, as the name suggests, is in the Annapurna mountain range. It is the eastern most mountain of the range and the 2nd tallest. The tallest mountain is Annapurna I. The Annapurna mountain range is about 35 miles north west of Pokhara, as a bird flies. The closest point attainable by car is about 55 miles north west of Pokhara.

How to get to Annapurna 2 to see

It takes about 12 hours to reach Chame from Pokhara by bus with a car transfer. Chame is the most common starting point of the Annapurnna circuit. If you want to start at the beginning of the circuit, you will start trekking in Besisahar, which is about 66 miles and 3 hours away from Pokhara on the Baglung PVT highway. Chame is the first village on the trek where you can see Annapurna 2.

The best place to see Annapurna II is along the secondary trail up to Milarepa’s Cave.

Routes to the summit of Annapurna 2

There are a few different routes to the summit of Annapurna II. Richard Grant, Chris Bonington and Ang Nyima were the first people to officially summit Annapurna 2. They climbed to the summit using the west ridge in 1960.

Katsuyuki Kondo solo climbed the north face then hiked the west ridge to the summit in 1973.

Tim Macartney-Snape mapped out and climbed the south spur of Annapura II in 1983. His team was caught in a blizzard after their summit, which delayed their decent for a week. They were thought to be dead until they were seen having drinks in Pokhara. This created a lot of media attention.

 

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Gyachung Kang

Gyachung Kang

Gyachung Kang is the 9th highest mountain in Nepal. It is the 15th highest mountain above sea level in the world. Because its highest point reaches 26,088 feet above sea level, it is also the highest mountain in the world that is not above 26,247 feet (8,000 meters). This article focuses on the relatively unpopular but extremely interesting mountain Gyachung Kang.

Location

Gyachung Kang is located on the border of China and Nepal in the Mahalangur mountain range. The Mahalangur Himal also includes the mountains Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu. Gyachung Kang is the highest peak between Everest and Cho Oyu in the range.

Route

The summit of Gyachung Kang is normally reached via the south east ridge on the border of Nepal and China. To reach the south east ridge, you must fly into Lukla and trek to Gokyo along the Everest Base Camp trekking route. When you reach Gokyo head north to cross the Ngozumpa glacier to Gyachung Kang Base Camp.

The route is simple with minor technical skills required to reach the summit. The summit consists of twin peaks separated by a narrow saddle. The western most peak is the highest.

Summit history

Gyachung Kang was first summited by a Japaneese team of mountaineers. The team contained Y. Kato, K. Sakaizawa, and Pasang Phutar. They made the first official summit on April 10th, 1964. Since then, maybe a couple of dozen people have climbed it. It is relatively unpopular because of its height and prominence (700 meters).

People of the area

This area is a near a major trade route from Tibet to China. Because of its importance, a few ethnic groups frequent this area. They include Tibetan Sherpas, Nepali Sherpas, Tamang, and Sunwar. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

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Manaslu Facts

Manaslu facts

Manaslu is the 8th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. Its highest point rises to 26,163 feet above sea level and overlooks the Annapurna Circuit. Because the Marsyangdi river flows between the Annapurna Massif and Manaslu, Manaslu is put into the Mansiri Himal sub range. This article contains entertaining and useful information and Manaslu facts.

Brief history

Manaslu fact 1. Manaslu was first officially summited on May 9th, 1956. Before the first successful summit, the mountain was scouted, and several unsuccessful summit attempts were made.

Mount Manaslu was first identified as a mountain of interest by H.W. Tilman in 1950 while on his way to Annapurna IV. Tillman returned to Manaslu to scout a feasible climbing route 3 months after his failed attempt on Annapurna IV

In 1952 a Japanese team of climbers attempted to climb Manaslu during the Monsoon season, but failed because the area is prone to avalanches in the summer.

A second team of Japanese climbers attempted to climb the summit of Manaslu in 1953. They reached an altitude of 25,430 feet before retreating because of the difficulty of the route. After the team descended, an avalanche destroyed the Pung-gyen Monastery and killed 18 people. The villagers of the area blamed it on the Japanese climbers.

Another group of Japanese climbers attempted the mountain but villagers in Pung-gyen did not allow them past Samagaon camp. This was because they believed the prior year’s avalanche was caused by upset gods.

As a result, a fund was set up and its proceeds were donated to help rebuild the destroyed monastery. The villagers were still unhappy and tried to stop the 1956 Japanese expedition. This team circumvented the hostile villagers and successfully summited Manaslu.

The first official summit of Manaslu was made by Toshio Imanishi and Gyaltsen Borbu on May 9th. It wasn’t until 1971 when the next team attempted to climb Manaslu, because the threat from hostile villagers.

Fatality to summit ratio

Manaslu fact 2. Manaslu has been climbed over 300 times since 1956. There have been over 65 fatalities since then. The fatality to summit ratio is about 30%.

Routes

Manaslu fact 3. There are 9 routes to reach Manaslu’s summit. Of the 9, the north east route is most often used. Because it is the most used route, there have been more deaths on this route than the others. The following is a list of routes and when they were first used for a successful summit.

  1. North east face, 1956
  2. North west face and west ridge, 1971
  3. South face, 1972
  4. North west face, 1981
  5. South ridge and south east face, 1984
  6. East ridge north east face, 1985
  7. North east face east ridge, 1986
  8. South east face south east spur, 2001
  9. North east face (center), 2006

North east face

The north east face has 1 base camp and 4 high camps before the summit. From base camp the route follows Manaslu Glacier up to camp 1. Climbing from base camp to camp 1 takes about 4 hours.

Camp 1 is the safest camp on the mountain because it is in a protected area below the north peak. Camp 1 to camp 2 is the most technical part of the climb. It takes about 6 hours to reach camp 2.

The section of the route from camp to camp 3 is steeper than the prior sections. Climbing from camp 2 to 3 takes about 3 hours.

Camp 3 is notorious for strong winds capable of ripping tent stakes out of the ground. From camp 3 to camp 4 the route winds through seracs with steep sections and through a lot of snow. Climbing to camp 4 takes about 8 hours.

Camp 4 to summit follows a moderately sloping trail before reaching a summit plateau. There are 3 summit plateaus before the actual summit. It takes about 8 hours to reach the summit and about half that time to return back to camp 4.

Manaslu fact 4

Despite the dangers associated with climbing Manaslu, it is the 5th most climbed 8,000 meter high mountain. Its popularity is a testament to its beauty.

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Dhaulagiri Trekking

Dhaulagiri Trekking

Gurja Himal, Dhaulagiri 6, Jirbang, Dhaulagiri 4, 5, 3, 2, 1, and Tukuche Peak
Dhaulagiri mountain range over Poon Hill

Dhaulagiri is the worlds 7th tallest mountain above sea level. It is the highest mountain wholly owned by Nepal and the 6th tallest mountain within Nepal. Its highest peak overlooks the Annapurna mountain range at 26,795 feet. You can first see Dhaulagiri from the top of Poon Hill or from over Thorung La Pass. This article contains entertaining and useful information regarding Dhaulagiri trekking.

Dhaulagiri mountain range

There are 15 prominent peaks in the Dhaulagiri mountain range. Dhaulagiri I-Dhaulagiri V are the highest. These peaks are named in order from highest to lowest. Dhaulagiri II reaches a height of 25,430 feet. Dhaulagiri III reaches a height of 25,311 feet. The 4th tallest peak in the range is Dhaulagiri IV at 25,135 feet. And finally, the lowest of the 5 is Dhaulagiri V at 24,992 feet.

Brief History

rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri
Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri 1

Dhaulagiri I was recognized as the world’s tallest mountain due to a survey error in 1808. It remained the world’s tallest mountain for 30 years until 1830 when Kangchenjunga was given that honor. Mount Everest claimed the position in 1858.

Dhaulagiri I was first officially summited on May 13, 1960 by a Swiss, Austrian, and Nepali team. Since then, there have been nearly 400 Dhaulagiri trekking summits. From 1954 to 2009, there have been 62 fatalities while attempting a summit. The summit to fatality rate is about 16%, however the current year to year fatality rate is much lower (less than 4%).

Dhaulagiri trekking routs

Dhaulagiri and range above Muktinath
Dhaulagiri and range above Muktinath

There are 9 Dhaulagiri trekking routes. Of these 9, The north east ridge route is the most commonly scaled.

Routes and when they were 1st used for a successful summit.

  1. North east ridge, in 1960
  2. South west in 1978
  3. South east ridge in 1978
  4. East face, north east ridge in 1980
  5. North face, northwest ridge in 1982
  6. West face, northwest ridge in 1984
  7. Southwest pillar in 1988
  8. West face in 1991
  9. North face in 1993

Best time to go

May is regarded as the best month to summit Dhaulagiri. October is the second-best time to summit the mountain. 90% of all summits occur within these two months. This is due to great weather conditions. The pictures in this article were taken in April, which hints to the weather condition.

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Cho Oyu Helpful Information

Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu is the 5th tallest mountain above sea level in Nepal and 6th in the world. Its highest peak towers to 26,864 feet above sea level. Cho Oyu is part of the Mahalangu Himalaya range in the western most area of the Khumbu sub-section. Everest is only 16.25 miles (peak to peak) from Cho Oyu. Cho Oyu is regarded as the easiest 8,000-meter peak to climb due to its gently rising slopes. This article is about Cho Oyu, its climbing route and indigenous people of the area.

Brief History

Cho Oyu was originally inaccurately measured to be 26,750 feet above sea level in 1802. This mismeasurement made it the 7th tallest mountain in the world, just below Daulagiri I. In 1955, Edmund Hillary approximated the height to be 26,867 feet. The mountain was re-surveyed in 1996 and found to be at a height of 26,864 feet.

Cho Oyu was first officially climbed on October 19, 1954 by Joseph Jochler and Pasang Lama. They were part of an Austrian expedition. It has since been summited over 25,000 times. This mountain was the 4th 8,000er to be climbed after Annapurna 1, Everest, and Nanga Parbat.

Cho Oyu has the lowest death to summit ratio out of all the 8,000ers (9 people per 100 safe returns). Because of Its gradual slopes and plateaus, Cho Oyu is considered a “trekking peak.” Trekking peaks are perfect for entry level mountaineers who are physically fit. They are also perfect for intermediate to experienced mountaineers.

Climbing route

The most common route to the summit of Cho Oyu is via the Nangpa La pass. This route follows the glacier along the north face of the mountain in China. From here climbers and trekkers will stop at a series of camps until the summit is reached. The summit is a flat plateau and is often misidentified as not being the summit.

Indigenous people

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

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Makalu: History, Routes, Weather and more

Makalu

Makalu is the 5th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. Its highest point is 27,838 feet. Makalu is located 12 miles south east of Mount Everest in the Mahlangur Himalayas. It has 2 subsidiary peaks, Makalu II at 25,190 feet, and Chomo Lonzo at 25,604 feet. Makalu is a 4-sided mountain in the shape of a pyramid. This article identifies Makalu’s history, indigenous people, and other interesting facts and useful information.

History

The first recorded attempt to climb Makalu was in 1954 by an American team. However, the first recorded summit of the mountain was made on May 15, 1955 by a French team including Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy. Makalu has been summited a little over 200 times. The fatality to summit ratio is 11%.

Routes

Makalu is probably the 3rd most difficult mountain to summit, behind Annapurna I, and Kangchenjunga. The routes on the western side of the mountain are extremely steep. The easiest route to reach the summit is along the north face of the mountain and along the northeast ridge. The ridge connects Makalu II to Makalu.

The climbing route is divided into 3 sections. The first involves hiking to Base Camp on a glacier. This section has a gradual slope and is reported as being the easy part of the climb. The second part involves climbing along the ridge in exposed conditions, which is more difficult. The last part of the route is the most difficult and involves an extremely steep rocky ridge summit.

Weather

Most people choose to summit Makalu in May. May is generally regarded as the best time to summit an 8,000-meter peak in Nepal. If you are visiting and have no intention of summiting, fall and winter have great weather for views. Spring is also good, but it can get a little cloudy. Summer time is probably the worst time to visit.

People

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means golden.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area

The Makalu Barun National Park is the 8th national park in Nepal. The park is over 580 square miles and protects endemic plants and animals. The parks ecosystem ranges from tropical to alpine tundra. The National Park was established in 1992 as part of the Sagarmatha National Park.

Naturalists identified 3,128 species of flowering plants and over 500 animal species with many of them being endangered.

 

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Lhotse Main

Lhotse

Lhotse Main
Everest, Lhotse, Amadablam

Lhotse is the 4th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. It is the 3rd tallest mountain in Nepal, just behind Everest and Kangchenjunga. Its highest peak (Lhotse Main) summits to 27,940 feet, however its lower peaks are not far behind. Lhotse Middle has a high point of 27,605 feet, and Lhotse Shar has a high point of 27,503 feet. If you are planning a trip to Lhotse, this article is for you. In this article, you will read about its history, summits, indigenous peoples, and much more.

Location

Lhotse is in the Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. It is part of the Everest Massif and connects to Everest through the South Col. The South Col is the last base camp before reaching the Summit of Everest or Lhotse. Lhotse is on the border of Nepal and China in the eastern region of Nepal.

Lhotse Main Climbing History

Everest
Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam

Lhotse’s main peak was officially first summited on May 18, 1956 by Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger. Sepp Mayerl and Rolf Walter were the first 2 people to officially summit Lhotse Shar. They did so on May 12, 1970. Lhotse Middle remained unclimbed until May 23, 2001. A Russian team including Eugeny Vinogradsky, Sergei Timofeev, Alexei Bolotov, and Petr Kuznetsov were the first people to officially climb Lhotse Middle.

Since 1956 about 373 people have summited Lhotse main. About 21 people, who have attempted Lhotse’s summit, have died. The fatality to summit ratio is about 0.06.

Climbing Route

The standard climbing route to reach the summit of Lhotse Main follows the same route as the main trail to Everest’s South Col. Climbers headed toward Everest will make a left, while climbers headed toward Lhotse will turn right.

Turning right will lead climbers to Lhotse Face. Lhotse Face is a 3,690-foot wall of ice, which is known as the Reiss couloir. This section of the trail is slanted 40 to 50 degrees with the occasional 80-degree push.

Best time to summit

Lhotse
Lhotse in the middle of Everest and Amadablam

Most people summit Lhotse in May. This time allows for the best conditions including good views and warm temperatures. After May, October is the second-best time to climb Lhotse.

If you are interested in only viewing Lhotse from a distance, the best time to go is in the fall. However, I prefer the winter as there are fewer people and the views are just as good.

People in Sagarmatha National Park

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

 

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Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga
View of Kangchenjunga from India

Kangchenjunga is the 2nd tallest mountain in Nepal and the 3rd tallest mountain above sea level in the world. It reaches a height of 28,169 feet above sea level. It is in the far east region of Nepal and borders the Sikkim region of India. This location puts it 78 miles south east of Mt. Everest (link to blog post). In this article I review the 3rd tallest mountain in the world including its history, climbing routes, and inhabitants. I hope you enjoy it.

History

The first recorded summit of Kangchenjunga was documented on May 25th, 1955. A British team of climbers and mountaineers made it to the top, but did not summit, because they made a promise to the monarchs of Sikkim to leave the top untouched. Joe Brown and George Band left set a good example for future climber, who have followed the tradition ever since.

Up intel 1852, it was believed that Kangchenjunga was the tallest mountain in the world. As a result of the Great Tigonometrical Survey in 1849, which I’m assuming took about 3 years to record and process the data, Mt. Everest was identified to be 860 feet taller than Kangchenjunga. The survey crew wanted to be sure of their calculations and measurements, so they spent the next 4 years conducting more surveys. In 1856, their conclusion was officially announced.

Climbing routes

The main peak is the highest peak of the Kangchenjunga Himal range and is on the border of nepal and India along with the middle and south peaks. The other 2 peaks lie wholly within Nepal’s Taplejung District.

There are 4 known climbing routes to the summit of Kanchenjunga. Nepal has 3 of the routes, and India has 1. In Nepal the routes start from the southwest, and northwest. In India the route starts from the north east, however this route was closed in 2,000 by the Indian government.

Fatality summit rate

Kangchenjunga is not a popular destination for climbers. As a result, it has seen far less summit attempts than Mt. Everest. Unfortunately, it has a fatality to summit ratio of 20%, which is greatly higher than that of Everest’s (link to Everest fatality summit rate). Because of its high fatality rate, Kangchenjunga has only been summited about 246 times since 1955.

Kangchenjunga is the 2nd least summited mountain in the 8,000-meter club due to its difficulty. The only other mountain less climbed is Annapurna I.

People of the area

The two main indigenous groups that inhabit the area. They are the bhote and Limbu peoples. Both groups have their own traditions, language, and customs. The people of Darjeeling and Sikkim, which includes bhote and Limbu people revere the Kangchenjunga as sacred.

Limbu

There are about 350,000 Limbu people living in Nepal.  They live by the lunar calendar, which guides their agricultural season, and festivals. Chasok Tangnam is most celebrated festival of Limbu. The Nepali government declared Chasok Tangnam a national holiday for Limbu people, awarding them 3 days to celebrate. They have a dance called the yalang that is sometimes performed during the festival.

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Mount Everest

Everest

Everest
Mt. Everest is the darker mountain in the background

No other mountain in the world can claim that it has reached the popularity of Mount Everest. Everest has infiltrated its way into pop culture and into the hearts of many.  It is not just the subject of movies, documentaries, books, or songs. It is a destination for people to challenge themselves under adverse conditions. This article dives into Everest. I hope you enjoy it.

Sagarmatha

Everest
Nuptse, Everest (behind the cloud), Lhotse, Ama Dablam

Mount Everest is known in Nepali as Sagarmatha. It is the tallest mountain in the world, reaching a peak of 29,029 feet above sea level. Sagarmatha is in the Sagarmatha National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2013, 36,750 people visited Sagarmatha National Park. Of the 36,750 people, most of them visited the park in the Fall (September through November).

Popular destinations in Sagarmatha National Park

everest
Everest base camp

Most people that enter the Sagarmatha National Park are trekking to Everest Base Camp. The second most popular destination is Namche Bazaar. Another major tourist attraction is Gokyo Lakes, which is on the way to Everest Base Camp. Lukla is another popular destination.

People in Sagarmatha National Park

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

Mount Everest mountaineering

Tenzing Norgay and Edmound Hillary are the first recorded people to summit Everest. They did so in 1953; however, they are probably not the first people to summit the mountain. I believe the first-person summit Mount Everest was a native to the area.

George Mallory and Andrew Irvine may have been the first non-native people to summit Everest in 1924. They were attempting to summit Mount Everest from the north side (They probably took a car to get to base camp (jk)). They were last seen at elevation, but inclement weather developed and prevented any future sightings. Mallory’s body was found 2,274 feet below the summit in 1999.

Every year there are around 200 to 375 permits issued by Nepal to summit Everest. Each permit costs $11,000. On average 4.3 people die trying to summit Everest for every 100 people who summit. About 16 people die every year climbing Everest.

Mountaineering equipment

  • Rope (200 feet long and 9 to 10.5mm thick)
  • Helmet
  • Harness
  • Boots
  • Crampons
  • Belay/rappel device
  • Pully
  • Carabiners (locking and non-locking)
  • Head lamp
  • Avalanche transceiver
  • Ice axe
  • Supplemental oxygen

Trash on Mount Everest

Everest
Trash on Mount Everest

Attempting to summit Mount Everest is an exhausting task. The addition of any gear can make it exponentially more difficult. That is why, many of the people who have climbed Everest did so at the mountain’s peril.

Many people will litter their used materials on the mountain. This created a degraded and aesthetically eroded environment for future climbers. Fortunately, restoration efforts are underway to clear away some of the debris. Some mountaineering companies will also remove the human waste from the mountain.

Why Everest?

Everybody has their own reason for climbing Mount Everest. Some people do it because they can, and other do it to honor the forefathers of mountaineering. I would say a lot of people do it for the prestige and honor they get from it. I known a lot of people go to Nepal looking for something. Some of them try to find it on the mountain, when its inside them the whole time.

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Pangong Lake China

Pangong Lake

Pangong
Yaks resting on Pangong Lake shore

Salt is known to collect on the shores of Pangong Lake, giving it the characteristic “white halo” common to salt lakes.  The lake is a beautiful deep blue and the surrounding grey and brown mountains buttress its natural beauty.  Just beyond the shores of the lake, are grassy meadows, where yak herders bring their ruminant animals (yaks) to graze.

Pangong Lake is Tibetan for “High Grassland Lake.”  It is a salt water lake in the autonomous region of Tibet and extends into the north-western region of India.  The elevation of lake Pangong is 14,270 ft.  The lake has a surface area of 233 square miles.  The source of the lake comes from both sides of the border as glacial melt, and precipitation.  I am unaware of an outlet for the lake and its depth and volume.

How to get there

There are two routs possible from Lhasa to Pangong Lake.  The longer route (1,048 mi) takes approximately 42 hours and passes Namco Lake on the 301-highway west.  The shorter route (978 mi) takes approximately 27 hours and passes Mt. Kailash, and Manasarovar Lake on the 219-highway west.  Both routes have their benefits.  If you would like to travel both routes, I recommend traveling from Lhasa on the shorter 219-highway west to Lake Pangong.  Then taking the long way back to Lhasa on the 301-highway east.

Though we do not have any featured travel packages to Pangong Lake, customized tours are available upon request.  Please contact Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure to customize your trip and to arrange your booking.

What to bring and where to stay

This lake is fairly cold throughout the year.  I highly recommend packing warm clothes for all seasons.  You will want to bring comfortable shoes too.  Boots are not necessary, unless you wear them to keep your feet warm.  A beanie hat is a good choice to keep your head warm.  You should also bring a water filter, UV protected sunglasses, and chap stick.  You can substitute a SteriPEN or water purification tabs for the water filter.  A sleeping bag is recommended but not needed.  Sun screen should be used to cover all exposed skin.

There are plenty of places to stay while traveling to Pangong Lake.  There are tea houses, hotels, guest lodges, and hostels available along the highways.  You are almost always likely to find somebody eager to offer their generosity, which translates into a place to stay and warm food and tea.  These resting areas offer comfortable beds and lots of blankets.

While you are traveling through Tibet, make sure you layer your cloths.  It is a little bit of work at first but once you get balance right you will be very comfortable in the weather.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has a lot of good quality equipment that is designed to be layer-able.  Because you will be staying in hotels or tea houses you will not likely need camping equipment, but if you want a new sleeping bag or additional equipment for your trip, try Eastern Mountain Sports.  They have a great selection of camping and hiking gear.

When to go

Pangong
He’s going to Pangong Lake

The best time to see the lake is in the summer (May through September).  During the summer season the grass is green, the lake is water, and temperatures are warm (highs of 60s to lows of 40s (Fahrenheit)).  You will also not likely experience much precipitation in the summer.  The average amount of rain is less than 1/2 inch per month.

The winter season is violently cold.  The temperatures plunge well below freezing into the negatives in Fahrenheit.  It gets cold enough to freeze a saline lake.  The lake completely freezes in the winter months (December through February).  If you prefer cold temperatures and frozen lakes this is probably the preferred time to go.  Below is a graph of the average monthly temperatures.

Figure 1 Average Monthly Temperatures

Expenses

The Chinese government requires all visitors entering Tibet be accompanied by a guide through a licensed guide company.  Visitors are also required to have a Tibetan Entry Permit, which is acquired and paid for by most travel companies.  In addition to the permit travelers are required to have a Chinese Visa.

A round trip on the shortest route will take about 12 days.  This depends on your driving preference.  The trip can be shortened a few days with longer driving segments.  A 12-day trip to Pangong Lake will have a total cost about $1800.  Below is an explanation of charges.

  • $50/day guide
  • $20/day food
  • $30/day room board (some locations have tent style rooms for $5/ night)
  • $140 Chinese Visa
  • $20 Tibet Entry Permit (actual cost)
  • $200 transportation
  • $200 government tax

Historical significance

There are no known religious attachments to Lake Pangong.  However, the lake has been featured in over a dozen films and music videos.  The lake is also the sight of border disputes between India and China.  Venturing too far West toward the Indian boarder may lead to complications from the Chinese military, which controls the boarder.

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Yamdrok Lake China

Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake is another beautiful lake in Tibet.  It is delightfully located a short distance outside the peaceful towns of Gyantse and Lhasa.  It has a memorizing turquoise luster that shimmers under small crescent waves.  It is also one of the largest lakes in Tibet, with a surface area measuring 246 square miles.  The lake has an average depth of 98 feet but its maximum depth is 200 ft.

Although this lake is considered sacred, it is commercialized.  Fish are harvested from this lake and sold to restaurants and grocers in Lhasa.  There is also a Hydroelectric power station.  It was built in 1996 in the north-west section of the lake by Baidixiang city.  The power station is the largest in Tibet and provides electricity throughout the region.  There are many small inlets to the lake, each deriving from glaciers and snow melt.

How to get there

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake

There are 4 tour packages, offered by Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure, that lead to Yamdrok Lake.  Each package offers varying experiences, including Everest base camp and Namtso Lake tours.  Specialized tour packages are also available upon request.  Please contact Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure to personalize your vacation to Yamdrok Lake.

The distance from Lhasa to the center most interior of the lake is about 130 miles.  It takes about 5 hours to reach it.  If you are like me, you did the math and came up with 26 miles per hour.  I know it seems slow, but there are a lot of twists and turns in the lower stretch of the highway.  In general, you want to take the 318 out of Lhasa to the 101.  The 101 will merge onto the 305 then into the 301.  You can then take exit 122 to reach the lake.

Lhasa and Everest Base Camp Tour itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Lhasa

Day 02: Visit Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and a traditional hospital. -06 hrs, 3,650 m / 11,972 ft

Day 03: Visit Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar. -06 hrs, 3,650 m / 11,972 ft

Day 04: Travel to Gyantse and visit Yamdrok Lake. -06 hrs, 3,950 m / 12,956 ft

Day 05: Travel to Shigatse. -02 hrs, 3,900 m / 12,795 ft

Day 06: Travel to Rongbuk. -09 hrs, 5,000 m / 16,400 ft

Day 07: Visit Everest Base Camp and return to Lhasa. -10 hrs, 5,200 m / 17,060 ft

Day 08: Conclude trip

What to bring and where to stay

This lake is warm for Tibetan standards.  However, you should still pack warm cloths.  You will also want some comfortable shoes.  You do not need boots for the Lhasa and Everest Base Camp Tour, because it is accessible by car.  You will still want to bring a hat, UV protected sunglasses, sleeping bag (recommended, not needed), water filter and chap stick.  You can substitute a a SteriPEN or sanitizing tablets for a water filter if you prefer.  Sun screen is also always a good item to have on hand.

As far as clothing, you will want to layer in light to medium weight cloths.  Depending on the season you are traveling in, you may also want some water proof gear.  The area is in a rain shadow and even during the monsoon season you will not likely experience soaking rains or precipitation.  A weather chart is provided in the section below.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has a lot of good quality cloths that were designed to be layer-able and warm.

There are a lot of hotels and guest houses available to visitors in China.  They are included in most tour packages offered by travel agencies.  Unless specifically stated in the tour package you will not need camping gear.  You can however request to camp out.  This can save money and can be a rewarding experience.  If you need camping equipment you can buy it from Eastern Mountain Sports.  .

When to go

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake in the summer

I recommend visiting Yamdrok Lake in the summer months from May through September.  The summer months still receive freezing temperatures; However they are not nearly as cold as in the winter, where the daily average temperatures are freezing.  If you prefer cold temperatures, the winter may be your preferred time to visit the area.  The winter does not see any precipitation, so your chances of building snow men and making snow angles are low.

There are a few advantages of visiting in the winter.  The advantages include fewer tourists, clear skies, great views, less expensive, and faster paperwork processing.  Though these advantages are nice, I prefer green pastures, thawed lakes and warmer temperatures.  Below is a chart of the weather in the Yamdrok Lake area for 2016.

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake visitors by month

the blue line represents the average monthly high temperature in ˚F.  the lower orange line represents the average low monthly temperature ˚F.  The summer months of June July August, and September offers pleasant temperatures.

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake precipitation (inches) chart

The Average Monthly Precipitation at Yamdrok Lake graph may seem a tad extreme.  It is a little deceptive without looking at the scale on the y axis.  In my opinion 3 inches is extremely reasonable for a monsoon.

Expenses

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake

The cost of an 8-day tour that visits Everest Base Camp, cultural heritage sites, and Yamdrok Lake will cost $2130 through Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure.  A more budget minded trip to Yamdrok lake can be arranged to include fewer days in Tibet and at a reduced cost.  The entire trip can be done in 3-days for $800.  A short 3-day visit can be just as rewarding as an 8-day trip.  There are time limitations in the 3-day visit that limits the amount of experiences that can be had.

You may be upset to find that China does not allow unsupervised visits into Tibet.  Yes, that means you must book your trip through a tour company and have a guide with you.  This also means you must have a Chinese visa as well as a Tibet entry permit.  The following is a detailed list of charges you will most likely acquire while in China.

  • $50/day guide
  • $20/day food
  • $30/day room board (some locations have tent style rooms for $5/ night)
  • $140 Chinese Visa
  • $20 Tibet Entry Permit
  • $100 transportation
  • $200 government tax

Historical significance

Lake Yamdrok has a lot of spiritual and religious significance.  I am unsure as to weather a goddess was transformed into the lake or she transformed herself into the lake. But in any case, the lake is believed to be the transformation of the goddess Dorje Geg Kyi Tso.  Maybe manifestation or embodiment might be a better word than transformation.  As such, the lake is considered sacred and is believed to contain spiritual powers.  The lake is one of the 4 most religiously significant lakes in Tibet.

 

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Phoksundo Lake

Phoksundo Lake

Phoksundo Lake is a freshwater lake in Nepal.  The lake is located within the Shey Phoksundo National Park in the Dolpa region.  The lake rests at an elevation of 11,849 ft above sea level.  During the last surveillance of the lake, the lake was measured to have a surface area of 1.91 sq mi and a maximum depth of 476 ft.  The lake was formed when a land slide blocked the passage of the river below it, and in the process, also creating a 548 ft water fall on the other side of the natural dam.  The lake was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s conservation on wetlands in 2007.

How to get there

The only way to get to Phoksundo Lake is on foot.  It is possible to get within a few days walk to the lake by taking 2 domestic flights.  After the flights, I do not know of any roads that lead to the lake, you must walk through Chhepka, and Chunuwar, villages to Ringmo, which is on the lake.  The whole trip can be done in about 8 days.  I am outlining the itinerary below.

Phoksundo Lake trekking itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu and fly to Nepaligunj

Day 02: Fly from Nepaligunj to Juphal (2,475 m / 8,120 ft) and trek to Chhepka (2,838 m / 9,311 ft) 7 hrs

Day 03: Trek to Chunuwar. -7 hrs, 3,130 m / 10,269 ft

Day 04: Trek to Ringmo Village. -3 hrs, 3,641 m / 11,945 ft

Day 05: Explore Phoksundo Lake

Day 06: Trek to Chhepka. – (2,838 m / 9,311 ft) 7 hrs

Day 07: Trek to Juphal. – (2,475 m / 8,120 ft) 6 hrs

Day 08: Fly to Nepalgunj and Kathmandu.

If you wish to go on this trek please contact Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure.  This trek is on our secret menu.

What to bring and where to stay

Phoksundo Lake is a remote area but has all the same facilities of the more popular treks like the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp treks.  You can expect cold temperatures from fall to spring and should pack accordingly.  The summer season brings high temperatures and a lot of rain.  If you are attempting this destination in the summer, make sure your gear is waterproof or quick dry.  For the winter season, I do not recommend packing heavy cloths, but instead lighter cloths and layer them to stay warm.

When you spend a long duration of time outside, you should protect your eyes with UV protected eye glasses.  Tinted glasses alone (not UV protected) will not help your eyes, but will increase the risk of damage to them.  You should also pack a sleeping bag, hat, sunscreen, trekking poles (if you use them), chap stick, hiking boots, and a water filter.  You can use a SteriPEN or purifying tabs if you do not like filtering your water.

Tea houses are available on this trek.  During the winter months, December through February, tea houses may be closed.  Make sure you plan your trip in advance or have your travel company make the arrangements for you.  If you do not plan to stay in a tea house, tent camping is available.  Make sure you have good gear and a guide for this.  If you think you might want to upgrade your gear, I recommend Eastern Mountain Sports for camping equipment, and Sherpa Adventure Gear for clothing.

When to go

The best time to visit Phoksundo Lake is during the spring and autumn months of May, and September, and October.  March, April, and November tend to be cold.  According to Nepal’s Tourism Board, most people visit the area in September.  In September, Nepal is coming out of its summer season and drying up from the monsoon rains.  Because of its geographic location, Dolpa experiences a slight rain shadow, which allows for some fantastic trips early in the season.  I am posting the visitor data, I graphed out, below.

phoksundo lake
Upper Dolpa visitors

The graph shows the trend in visitors to the Upper-Dolpa region in 2016.  Visitation does not pick up until the middle of the spring season.  The peak of the spring season is in May.  The traffic declines a little in the summer season but is still higher than the first two months of the spring season.  September and October are the highest trafficked months.  During November, only 17 people visited the area.  This is only 3 more people compared to April.

Expenses

If you are interested in going on a trek and visiting Phoksundo, the trek will take about 28 days and cost about $5,890.  There are shorter treks available too, that won’t cost as much.  If you are interested in only visiting the lake.  The trip will take about 8 days, depending on how long you would like to stay at the lake and cost about $1,500.  Dolpo is a restricted area, which requires a Restricted Area Permit in addition to the other permits indicated below.  I provided an itemized list below.

  • $25/day guide
  • $15/day porter
  • $30/day food
  • $30/day room board
  • $10 -$20 Trekkers Information Management System Card (group or independent)
  • $500/ 1st 10 days and $50/ day thereafter Restricted Area Permit
  • $250 transportation

For an 8-day trip to Phoksundo Lake your expected costs will be in the ball park of $1,440.  Because the area is restricted you must have a guide with you and be in a group of 2 or more.  The other cost will fluctuate depending your dietary requirements, where you stay, and how long you are in the area.  You can contact Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure to book your trip.

Historical significance

Though there are quite a few religious stupas adorning the lake’s shores.  There is also one gompa where people leave offerings.  The lake, however, has no known historical or religious significance.  Tibetan Buddhism and Bon are the prevailing religions in the area.

 

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Rara Lake

Lake Rara

Rara Lake
Rara Lake

Rara Lake is located in the far western region, in the Mugu district of Nepal. This amazing lake is the biggest and deepest lake in Nepal.  It has a surface area of 4.2 sq mi and a maximum depth of 548 ft.  The lake’s altitude is 9,810 feet above sea level.  Due to the unique habitat this lake provides to many endemic species, it was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s conservation on wetlands.  Though the lake only covers 4.2 square miles, the actual protected area is 6.11 sq mi because of the extending wet lands.

Rara Lake receives water from snow melt and monsoon rains. However, in recent years, the monsoon rain volume has been less than normal.  This coupled with habitat destruction and pollution increases the vulnerability of aquatic species associated with the lake.  Some of the aquatic life also lives in the streams and rivers the lake drains into. The lake drains into the Mugu Karnali River through the Nijar River.

How to get to Rara Lake

Rara Lake does not have a direct land route leading to it.  By car or bus, it will take approximately 21 hours and 18 minutes to get there from Kathmandu.  The route follows the Prithivi Hwy until it merges with E-W Hwy/AH2.  Once on the E-W Hwy, it merges again onto the H 12 and Karnali Hwy/H 13.  This highway flows into F 154, which takes you to Briat and 10 linear miles away from Rara Lake.  From here you must walk through uncharted terrain to get to the lake.

If you are looking for more of a direct route and less of an adventure you can take a flight from Nepalgunj to Talcha Airport, which is about 14 minutes by car and 5 miles away from the lake.  Flights are conducted by Nepal Airlines and Tara Air.  Of the 2 ways to get to Rara Lake, I would choose flying.  It is about 20 hours faster and less dangerous.  Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure can charter your trip for you.  Note: airlines may not offer flights to Rara lake for days at a time.  Be careful when planning your trip, if you are going without a travel company, you could get stuck.

What to bring

Rara Lake
Rara Lake t-shirt and and vest

This is always the question I struggle with.  There are a few variables to contend with before deciding what to bring.  Some of my concerns when wrestling with this question are over-packing, and under-packing, being prepared for weather, ability to purchase gear on location, and if I really need it or if it’s a luxury.  What I normally settle on is packing layers for the season I will be in.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has great quality products with a wonderful selection for both men and women.  Their products are designed and manufactured to be layer-able.

In addition to your standard clothing, I recommend you bring sunglasses, water filter, or SteriPEN or sanitizing tablets, sunscreen, hat, and a sleeping bag.  If you need any of these items or camping and outdoor gear, try Eastern Mountain Sports.  They have great deals on a lot of necessities.  You will not need a tent to visit Rara Lake, unless you want to camp outside of a lodge.

When to go and where to stay

Rara Lake
Rara Lake, stay here!

The geographic location of the area offers opportunities for summer travel not permitted by the eastern part of Nepal.  The far west district of Nepal receives less rain during the monsoon season.  The average 10-year volume of rain from July through September is about 31 inches.  During the summer season the temperatures are also quite warm.  It is possible to explore this region without too much distress during this time.

I would still say the best times to travel to Rara Lake is during the spring and autumn months (March through May, and September November respectively).  April, May, September, and October offer ideal weather conditions, which are warm, dry and clear.  Winter conditions though clear and beautiful are quite cold.  This area does receive a lot of snow, which makes it quite picturesque in the winter.

There are 3 hotels on the lake and 1 down the street from the airport.  They all seem to offer the same service and provide the same Nepali style lodging.  Your three choices for staying on the lake are Village Heritage and Resort, Rara Hotel and Lodge, and Danphe Hotel.  Hotel Chandanath is available for people not wishing to stay on the lake.  If you wish to stay at Rara Lake Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure can arrange it for you.

Expenses

The most expensive item on this trip is the airplane ticket.  The rest of the costs are associated with living expenses such as food and housing.  Fortunately, you do not need any permits or licenses to visit the area.  You could probably do the whole trip with less than $300.  I am including an itemized list of expected costs below.

  • $20/day food
  • $20/day room board
  • $200 transportation

This area has yet to attract groups of foreigners like some other popular destinations in Nepal.  As a result, the prices have remained relatively low.

Historical significance

Rara Lake does not have much historical significance.  The locals around the area speak of a legend involving Lord Krishna and the lake.  As legend has it, every year the monsoon rains would cause the lake level to rise to such an extreme degree that it flooded nearby villages.  After many years of repeated flooding the villagers spent 8 months dedicating their prayers to and worshiped the god of compassion and love, Lord Krishna.  Krishna was honored by their devotion.  At the end of the 8th month Krishna shot an arrow into the south-east side of the lake forming the Nijar river and opening the lake to drain into the Mugu river.

 

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Namtso Lake in China

Lake Namtso

Namtso
Namtso Lake and Himalayas

Namso Lake is renowned as being one of the most beautiful lakes in Tibet.  It is a salt water lake with no known outflows.  It receives its water from snow melt and springs from the nearby Tangulla Mountains.  The lake rests at the base of the mountains at an elevation of 15,479 ft.  Because there are no drainage outlets for the lake, it has grown to be 740 sq mi.  Its size makes it the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, but not the largest in China.

Lake Namtso has 5 large islands.  The largest island has an area of 6,900 sq ft.  The average depth of the lake is 108 ft while the maximum depth is 410 ft.  The lake is estimated to hold 623,000,000-acre ft of water.  The lake has been popularized by being the filming location for Shangri-La, The Touch, and Himalaya with Michael Palin.

How to get there and where to stay

A surfaced road, completed in 2005, connects Lhasa to Namtso Lake.  A round trip visit to the lake can take 8 to 10 days depending on the number of side attractions you want to see, like visiting Everest North Base Camp.  The trip to Lake Namtso passes many cities offering great overnight accommodations.  These range in quality is luxury to intimate and cozy bed and breakfasts to mega-conglomerate style hotels.  Below is an itinerary of how to get to Namtso Lake.

Lake Namtso itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Lhasa and travel to Tsedang to spend the night. -2 hrs, 3,550 m / 11,646 ft

Day 02: Visit Samye Monastery, Chim Phu caves and Yambulakhang palace on the way to Lhasa. -10 hrs, 3,550 m / 11,646 ft

Day 03: Visit Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and a traditional hospital. -06 hrs, 3,550 m / 11,646 ft

Day 04: Visit Namtso Lake. -08 hrs, 3,550 m / 11,646 ft

Day 05: Visit Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar. -06 hrs, 3,550 m / 11,646 ft

Day 06: Travel to Gyantse and visit Karo La Pass, and Yamdrok Tso Lake. -06 hrs, 3,950 m / 12,956 ft

Day 07: Travel to Shigatse and visit Shalu Monastery. 2 hrs, 3,900 m / 12,795 ft

Day 08: Travel to Rongbuk and visit Sakya Monastery. -09 hrs 5,000 m / 16,400 ft

Day 09: Visit Everest Base Camp and Travel to Lhasa. -10 hrs, 5,250 m / 17,220 ft

Day 10: Conclude trip

What to bring and where to stay

Namtso
Namtso Lake, a man brought his yak to the lake.

You are likely to experience snow and ice during your trip.  Even the low temperatures during the warmest months can dip below freezing.  When you go, take some decent shoes.  You probably won’t need hiking boots for this journey, unless you are visiting the caves above the lake.  I would pack a sleeping bag because I am not comfortable sleeping in guest houses or hotel beds.

I always recommend a solid pare of UV protected glasses for any sustained outdoor activity.  You will probably want a water filter or SteriPEN or sanitizing tablets, but these may be rendered useless due to the prevalence of boiled water.  As always it is your call.  Sunscreen is also a good item to bring, if you use it.  I like to stay covered up and generally don’t put sunscreen on.  The trick to staying covered up and warm is to dress in layers.

I will normally start with 3 layers of pants (bottoms) and 5 layers of shirts (tops).  I will then layer down progressively as I trek.  Depending on how cold it is, I will generally be down to 2 bottoms and 3 tops.  Experiment with this until you find a right combination of what works for you in the weather you are in.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has great quality products with a wonderful selection for both men and women.  Their products are designed and manufactured to be layer-able.

If you are going to spend your nights on the open trail, ask your travel company if they provide camping gear.  Some of them have great quality products that they loan out.  If you would prefer having your own, try Eastern Mountain Sports for some great deals on great camping gear.  Using the travel agency’s camping gear is a great way to test out a product before you buy it, but it comes at a risk of being dirty.  Also, the weather is unpredictable so make sure you have gear for rain and snow.

When to go

Namtso
Namtso Lake with a photographer

I prefer Tibet in the summer months of June, July, and August.  During these months you are more likely to experience warm weather, and mild rains.  Fortunately, the amount of rain you will probably experience is low.  This is due to Tibet being in the rain shadow of the Himalayan mountains.  The summer months tend to receive 3 to 5 inches of water per month.  With each month having 10 to 15 rainy days.  Summer temperatures range from lows in the 40s F to highs in the 70s F.

Any cold weather enthusiast wishing to visit Lake Namtso during the winter can experience temperatures ranging from the teens to the 40s, measured in Fahrenheit.  During the winter months of December, January, and February you will not likely experience any precipitation, and will be granted with amazingly crystal-clear views.

Expenses

China does not allow foreigners to enter Tibet without the supervision of a tour company.  In addition to the Chinese Visa, you must also have a Tibet entry permit, which costs around $20, but is paid for by the travel company.  An all-expenses paid 10-day vacation touring Tibet, monasteries, caves and Namtso Lake will cost $2,790.  If you are only interested in visiting Lake Namtso you can probably do the trip in 7 days for a price of $1,000.

If you go to Tibet, you will probably be charged a singular rate by a travel company.  For those that like to know, I am providing an itemized list of the prices you can expect to pay on your trip.  I am including the cost of the Chinese Visa in cost of the trip.

  • $50/day guide
  • $20/day food
  • $30/day room board (some locations have tent style rooms for $5/ night)
  • $140 Chinese Visa
  • $20 Tibet Entry Permit (actual cost)
  • $180 transportation
  • $200 government tax

Historical significance

Namtso
Namtso Lake pilgrimage

Namtso Lake is 1 of 3 holy lakes in Tibet.  The 5 islands within the lake are said to represent gods in heaven.  The name Namtso comes from the Tibetan word for heaven or sky.  Monks have been known to use the islands as spiritual retreats.  During the winter, monks pack food and supplies and walk on the ice to a chosen island.  They let the lake thaw and spend the summer and fall meditating on their island before returning home the following winter.

I was able to find information relating Lake Namtso to Nyainqêntanglha peak as being either its mother or wife.  I also found a source linking Lake Namtso to God Dishitian (Indra in Hinduism/ Sakka) as his daughter.  Namtso is described as having dark blue skin and possessing a 3rd eye.  She also is believed to ride a dragon and protects other gods; However, I found contradictory evidence to this.

It is believed that circumnavigating the lake will bring knowledge, good luck, and will cleans the body and soul.  If it is done during the year of the goat (next one starts Feb 26 2027 and ends Jan 25 2008) on the Chinese calendar, the blessings will be magnified by a hundred thousand times.

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Tilicho Lake

Tilicho Lake

Tilicho lake
Tilicho lake covered in snow

Tilicho Lake was formed from an ancestral glacier that carved a depression into a mountain in the Manang district of the Annapurna range.  When the glacier melted if filled the depression, forming a lake with a surface area of 1.9 sq mi at an elevation of 16,138 ft.  As an interesting side note, the lake is one of the highest lakes to have been scuba dived in.

Tilicho Lake is in the Annapurna massif, which is an amazing mountain range with gorgeous views.  From Tilico Lake you can see Tilicho Peak, Khangsar Kang, Glacier Dome, Gangapurna, Annapurna III, Om Myurpa, and Idam Phra mountain peaks. However, at the top of the trail to Tilicho Lake you can see Pisang Peak, and all the Chulu peaks. The hike is a wonderful experience.  I love everything about this place, especially its proximity to Pokhara (34 linear miles).

How to get there

Tilicho Lake
Tilicho Lake in the summer

The only way I know how to get to Tilicho Lake is by walking. Tilicho Lake is about 3 to 4 days hike off the main Annapurna Circuit trail.  To get there, people generally start in Besisahar and follow the Marshyangdi River north on the Annapurna Circuit trail. The trail then passes through Manang, where people acclimate to the high elevations.  The next stop before Tilicho Lake is in Shree Kharka.  Tilicho Lake is a 4-hour hike from Shree Kharka.

You can also go the opposite way, which starts in Marpha, Syangja, or Jomsom. Most people start this route in Jomsom, but it is accessible from any of the three locations. There are 2 alternate routes to the Tilicho Trek. The southern route has a lower altitude and is preferred by people who are prone to altitude sickness.

Tilicho Lake Trek

Day 01: Meet guide and check into a hotel

Day 02: Be chauffeured to Jagart. -08 hrs

Day 03: Trek to Dharapani. -05hrs

Day 04: Trek to Chame. -05

Day 05: Trek to Pisang. -05 hrs

Day 06: Trek to Manang. -05 hrs

Day 07: Acclimate in Manange and go on local hikes

Day 08: Trek to Shree Kharka. -04 hrs

Day 09: Trek to Tilicho Lake. -04 hrs

Day 10: Trek to Tilicho Base Camp. -04 hrs

Day 11: Trek to Phu through Mesokanto. -06 hrs

Day 12: Trek to Thinitaon through Kaisang. 07 hrs

Day 13: Finish the Trek in Jomsom. -02 hrs

Day 14: Travel to Pokhara.

What to bring and where to stay

Tilicho Lake
Tilicho Lake in summer with prayer flags

When you go on the Tilicho Lake trek, make sure you have a solid pare of hiking boots, a sleeping bag, UV protective sunglasses, water filter, warm cloths, hat, sunscreen, trekking poles (if you use them), and maybe some chap stick.  You can also use a SteriPEN in place of a water filter.  A lot of people also suggest water sanitizing tablets.  I prefer using a water filter but it’s your choice.  Also, make sure your sun glasses are UV protected.  Tint, and polarization do not guarantee UV protection.

When you pack your cloths make sure you can layer them, and that they are warm.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has great quality products with a wonderful selection for both men and women.  Their products are designed and manufactured to be layer-able.  I am taking the extra time to write this because Tilicho lake stays frozen through April and into spring.  However, if you go in the summer, you may want to dress a little lighter, and with rain gear.

Tea houses/ guest lodges are spread throughout the trail.  You can get a good night’s rest and a hot meal at these locations.   This eliminates the need for tent camping; However, there are sites available to people who wish to tent camp.  If you are one of the hardy souls that hasn’t given in to glamping in tea houses, check our Eastern Mountain Sports for some great camping gear.

When to go

The most commonly quoted “best time” to visit Nepal is in the fall months of September through November.  The second “best time” most often quoted is the spring months of March through May.  I’ve even herd April through June to visit Tilicho Lake.  I prefer the spring season over the fall because rhododendrons bloom in April.

The fall season, September through November of 2016, experienced the highest volume of traffic in the Annapurna Conservation Area.  In total, 43,263 people visited the area in this time.  In September, October, and November 11,432, 19,780, and 11,951 people visited the area respectively.

People generally find the winter season uncomfortably cold.  And therefore, less people visit the area during this time.  The winter season, December through February 2016, experienced the second lowest volume of traffic in the Annapurna Conservation Area.  In total, 14,502 people visited the area during this time.  In December, January, and February 6,789, 3,226, and 4,487 people visited the area respectively.

The spring season, March through May 2016, experience the second highest volume of traffic in the Annapurna Conservation Area.  In total, 27,440 people visited the area in this time frame.  In March, April, and May the number of visitors were 10,702, 11,757, and 4,981 respectively.

People generally find the summer season uncomfortably hot and wet.  Due to the monsoon rians road conditions are not great and landslides are a frequent occurrence at this time.  Therefore, fewer people visit the area in the summer season.  The summer season, June through August of 2016, experienced the lowest volume of traffic in the Annapurna Conservation Area.  In total, 9,589 people visited the area in this time frame.  In June, July, and August the number of visitors were 2,065, 3,272, and 4,252 respectively.

Table 1 number of visitors to Annapurna Conservation area by month

Figure 1 number of visitors to the Annapurna Conservation area by month

Expenses

An all expenses paid trip to Tilicho Lake will cost $2,090 through premium websites like Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure.  You can do the trip independently, without a guide service, on a “pay as you go basis.”  I provided a list below of expected costs.  If you still want the benefits of having a guide service at a reduced rate, you can pick which items you want to pay for.  Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure will be happy to accommodate you.

  • $25/day guide
  • $15/day porter
  • $30/day food
  • $30/day room board
  • $40 licenses
  • $100 transportation

If you were to go to Tlicho lake on a budget, you could probably do the entire trip for about $770.  That price does not include guide or porter, and it only allows for $15/day to be spent on food.  You can reduce the price by an additional $30/ day by not staying in hotels or tea houses.

Historical significance

tilicho lake
Looking off the edge of the world at Tilicho Lake

There is no known historical significance or religious importance of this lake to Hindus or Buddhists.  In recent times though, August 2001, Hindu pilgrims from around the world ascended to Tilicho Lake to meditate and to listen to Morari Bapu read from the 7th chapter of the Ramayana.

He and his followers believe Tilicho Lake (Kak Bhusundi Sarovar) is a lake mentioned in the Ramayana.  According to the story, a crow recited the Ramayana to Garuda (a humanoid bird god) at the lake and it is also the place where Lord Shiva found solace after the death of Sati (goddess of marital happiness and longevity).  The text sites the lake as being at the base of Annapurna and north of the Nilgiri mountains (Blue mountains).

 

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Lake Manasarovar

Lake Manasarovar

Manasarovar Lake
Manasarovar Lake and Mt. Kailash

If a magical wizard named Tigran was flying around the world in his Buddy Lee Dungaree jeans and his buzz cut haircut and decided he would stop to rest on the highest plateau in the world when the wind was soft and the grass was green and to think to himself “gee it sure is pretty here, I wonder what it would look like if it was a lake”, he would turn that plateau into a lake and name in Lake Manasarovar.

Okay, that’s not really how Lake Manasarovar was formed.  But I thought it would be funny, especially if your name is Tigran or you know somebody named Tigran.  For the 99% of you who don’t, lets move on.

Lake Manasarovar is not the highest freshwater lake in the world.  Comfortably resting in the autonomous region of the Tibetan plateau, the lake has an elevation of 15,060 ft.  The maximum depth recorded in the lake was 300 ft.  The lake has a surface area of 123.6 sq mi and is completely frozen in the winter, which makes it the largest outdoor ice skating ring in the world (does it count if people don’t actually go ice skating on it?).

The lake receives water from glaciers on Mt. Kailash and from precipitation.  The lake drains into a neighboring lake, Lake Rakshastal, through the Ganga River.  Its water also flows to the Sutlej River, which is a tributary of the Sindhu River.

How to get there

People visiting Manasarovar Lake usually do so while on a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash.  I will cover the reason for this in the historical significance section of the post.  I will also describe how you can get there directly and how to go while on a pilgrimage.

Lhasa is the capital of Tibet and is the starting point of most journeys through the country.  Directly traveling to Lake Mansarovar by car would take about 20 hours and cover about 733 miles.  Breaking the trip down to include stops in Xigaze and Saga would make the trip more enjoyable.  Lhasa to Xigaze takes about 5 hours and covers 168 miles.  From here you can travel to Saga, which would take just over 8 hours and cover 278 miles.  The next stop might be in Payangzhen at a distance of 145 miles and just over 3 hours away.  This puts you within 161 miles and 3 and a half hours away from the lake.

Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar Pilgrimage

Day 01: Arrive in Lhasa.

Day 02: Visit Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and a traditional hospital. -06 hrs

Day 03: Visit Sera, and Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar. -06 hrs

Day 04: Travel to Saga. -13 hrs, 446 mi

Day 05: Travel to Lake Mansarovar. -07 hrs, 304.5 mi

Day 06: Travel around Lake Mansarovar then to Rakshastal Lake. -04hrs

Day 07: Trek to Dehara caves. -08 hrs, 5,000 m / 16,400 ft

Day 08: Trek over Dolma La Pass. -12 hrs, 5,943 m / 19,500 ft

Day 09: Conclude the Trek and travel to Saga.

Day 10: Travel to Shigatse. -08 hrs, 278 mi

Day 11: Travel to Lhasa. -05 hrs, 168 mi

Day 12: Conclude trip

What to bring and where to stay

No matter what time you visit the lake, you will probably want to bring cold weather cloths.  The monthly average high temperatures do not normally reach 60o F, and the average monthly lows are in the freezing range 9 months out of the year with the remaining 3 months just a few degrees warmer.  The following temperature table was taken from Wikipedia.  The table starts in January and progresses to December on the right.

Daily mean °C (°F) −8.9
(16)
−7.6
(18.3)
−4.2
(24.4)
−0.1
(31.8)
3.1
(37.6)
7.1
(44.8)
8.4
(47.1)
8.0
(46.4)
8.0
(46.4)
5.4
(41.7)
−0.2
(31.6)
−5.1
(22.8)
1.16
(34.07)

If you are looking for cold weather cloths you can get it at Sherpa Adventure Gear.  You may also want to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, a sleeping bag and a water filter.  You may also want to bring some water wings in case you feel the urge to jump into the water (or snow depending on the season).  Also, some chap stick might save your lips.  In general, dress in layers and keep your skin protected.

There are plenty of places to stay along China National Highway 219, which connects Lhasa to Lake Mansarovar.  You can tell your lodging requirements to your travel company or to your guide.  Either party can find the best options based on your described requirements, and make the bookings.

When to go

The summer is the perfect time to visit Lake Mansarovar.  July, August, and September are the warmest months.  I’m not saying those months are actually warm, but compared to the others they are a tropical summer.  During this time monsoon weather from the south will barely reach the interior.  Just enough rain will fall at this time to make the vegetation lush and the landscape green.  This is also a good time to see yaks grazing.  Most people that visit Lake Manasarovar say the best time to go is anytime from April to October.

Reliable statistical data on the number of tourist entering Tibet, specifically Lake Mansarovar, could not be found.  However, according to the China National Tourism Administration, about 98% of tourist entering Tibet were Chinese.  It makes sense that domestic tourism is more than foreign tourism.  But no hard numbers were provided.  I suggest making your decision based on the weather forecast.

Climate data for Lake Manasarovar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year  
Average high °C (°F) −3.2
(26.2)
−2.0
(28.4)
0.9
(33.6)
6.4
(43.5)
10.2
(50.4)
13.7
(56.7)
13.7
(56.7)
13.1
(55.6)
13.1
(55.6)
11.1
(52)
6.5
(43.7)
1.0
(33.8)
7.04
(44.68)
 
Daily mean °C (°F) −8.9
(16)
−7.6
(18.3)
−4.2
(24.4)
−0.1
(31.8)
3.1
(37.6)
7.1
(44.8)
8.4
(47.1)
8.0
(46.4)
8.0
(46.4)
5.4
(41.7)
−0.2
(31.6)
−5.1
(22.8)
1.16
(34.07)
 
Average low °C (°F) −14.5
(5.9)
−13.1
(8.4)
−9.2
(15.4)
−6.6
(20.1)
−4.0
(24.8)
0.6
(33.1)
3.1
(37.6)
3.0
(37.4)
−0.2
(31.6)
−6.8
(19.8)
−11.1
(12)
−13.3
(8.1)
−6.01
(21.18)
 
Average precipitation mm (inches) 52
(2.05)
34
(1.34)
52
(2.05)
30
(1.18)
26
(1.02)
40
(1.57)
125
(4.92)
135
(5.31)
66
(2.6)
29
(1.14)
7
(0.28)
18
(0.71)
614
(24.17)
 
Source: Climate-Data.org

Expenses

Tibet is a relatively financially poor area by American standards.  Its per capita annual national wages are around the $7,700 mark as of 2011 (sorry I couldn’t find any data that was more recent).  Therefore, anyone traveling to Tibet will likely enjoy fairly inexpensive costs associated with travel.

From what I could gather, people must book their trip through a licensed travel company.  You are required to have a Chinese Visa, and a Tibetan Entry Permit.  The entry permit is free when booked through a travel agency.  A 12-day adventure touring Tibet with hikes around Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar can cost upwards of 2,500.  An 8-day general trip, without hikes, will cost $1,200.

Below is an itemized list of what you can expect to pay.  Please note: The cost of the Chinese Visa is not included in the cost of the trip.

  • $50/day guide
  • $20/day food
  • $30/day room board (some locations have tent style rooms for $5/ night)
  • $140 Chinese Visa
  • $20 Tibet Entry Permit (actual cost)
  • $180 transportation
  • $200 government tax

Historical significance

There are 4 separate religions that hold Lake Manasarovar in high regard.  Hinduism, Buddhism, Bon, and Jainism all value the lake for its historical and religious importance.  In Jainism, Manasarovar is associated with the place where people go to attain nirvana.  In Bon, the founder of the Bon religion bathed in the lake after his pilgrimage around Mt. Kailash.  It signifies purity.  Buddhists believe it is the site of Lord Buddhas birth, and a place where he meditated often.  I am going to give Hinduism its own paragraph because of the number of Hindu pilgrims that visit the lake.

The Name of Lake Manasarovar originates form a Hindu belief that the lake was first created in the mind of Lord Brahma, then manifested itself on earth as the embodiment of purity.  It is believed that anyone who drinks from the lake will stay with Lord Shiva after death.  It is also believed that anyone who baths in the lake will have the sins of a hundred life times washed away.  Every year people from Nepal and India visit the lake on a pilgrimage known as Kailash Manasarovar Yatra.  On the pilgrimage they circumnavigate Mt. Kailash, then wash their bodies in Lake Manasarovar.

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Gokyo Lakes

Gokyo Lakes

Gokyo Lakes
Gyokyo Lake under snow, and Everest

Gokyo Lakes is a set of 19 high mountain lakes in Sagarmatha National Park.  It is one of the destinations on the Gokyo Lakes Gokyo Ri Trek.  This lake complex is a must see to anyone on their way to Everest Base camp, because it is extremely close.  Gokyo Lakes is the worlds highest freshwater lake system at an elevation of 15,400 ft to 16,400 ft above sea level.  The lake complex covers a surface area of 30 square miles. In 2007, it was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s convention on wetlands.

I could only find the sizes of 6 of the largest lakes in the system.  In order from largest to smallest the 6 Gokyo Lakes include, Thonak Cho (161 acres), Gokyo Cho (106 acres), Gyazumpa Cho (72 acres), Tanjung Cho (42 acres), and Ngojumba Cho (36 acres).  These lakes receive water from glacier ice melt such as Ngozumpa glacier, and others.  They also receive water from precipitation in the form of rain and snow.  Their water flows out forming the Dudh Kosi River

How to get there

The easiest way to get to Gokyo lakes and back is by taking a direct trail there and back bypassing Everest Base Camp completely.  If you want to include Everest Base Camp, make sure your trail passes the lakes, because there are 2 primary trails to Everest Base Camp.  The Everest Base Camp trail that passes Gokyo Lakes is named Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes.  Other names include Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri, Gokyo Lakes trail, and other variations.  This trail is about 4 days longer than the standard Everest Base Camp trail and has the advantage of being a circular route.  The Itinerary below is for a direct route to Gokyo lakes and back.

 Gokyo Lakes Gokyo Ri Trek:

Day 01: Meet guide in Kathmandu and check into a hotel.

Day 02: Go on a sightseeing tour and prepare for the trek

Day 03: Travel by plane to Lukla and trek to Phakding. -04 hrs, 2,652 m/8,700 ft

Day 04: Trek to Namche Bazaar. -06 hrs, 3,440 m/11,283 ft

Day 05: Acclimate in Namche Bazaar

Day 06: Trek to Phortse. -06 hrs, 3810 m/ 12,496 ft

Day 07: Trek to Machhermo. -06 hrs, 4,470 m/ 14,663 ft

Day 08: Trek to Gokyo Valley. -06 hrs, 4,800 m/15,744 ft

Day 09: Climb Gokyo Ri and hike to Gokyo lakes. -06 hrs, 5,357 m/17,570 ft

Day 10: Trek to Dole. -04 hrs, 4,038 m/ 13,248 ft

Day 11: Trek to Namche Bazaar. -05 hours, 3,440 m/11,283 ft

Day 12: Trek to Lukla. -08 hrs, 2,800 m/9,184 ft

Day 13: Take an airplane to Kathmandu to Finish the Trek

What to bring and where to stay

gokyo lakes
Gokyo Lake and a cairn

No matter what season, make sure you bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, water filter, and a sleeping bag.  All other gear is entirely dependent on the season and if you plan on tent camping or staying in a tea house.  I also recommend bringing some chap stick.  In general, dress in layers and you shouldn’t have a problem staying warm.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has great quality products that were designed to be worn in layers.  Their selection features garments for men and women, which were sustainably sourced from Nepal.

The trail to Gokyo Lakes is, for the most part, the same trail to Everest Base Camp.  Being on the same trail as the 2nd most trekked to destination in Nepal, there are a lot of facilities available to trekkers.  These facilities are the tea houses/ overnight lodges lining the trail and offering hotel style accommodations.  In my opinion though, they can better be described as glamping sites.  If you are into tent camping though, there are plenty of unobstructed areas to throw up a tent for the night.  If you need supplies, Eastern Mountain Sports has a great selection of camping gear available online.

In place of a water filter, you can use a SteriPen.  I have had friends use it without any problems.  I prefer a water filter though.  Make sure your sunglasses are UV A and B protected.  Tinted glasses that are not protected can be more damaging to your eyes than not wearing glasses.  Take a guide with you too.  They can help you out of a bad situation should one arise.  Also, it doesn’t hurt to bring extra money.  Trekking poles can help too.

When to go

gokyo lakes
Gokyo Lakes in the fall

If you would like to see the lakes frozen, you should go late fall to early spring.  If this is your preferred time, you will have excellent views of the mountains and may have to walk through snow.  There will be more people on the trail in the late fall, less so in the spring and even fewer in the winter.  The summer is probably the worst time to go, but it depends on what you’re looking for.  I don’t like the summers because of the increased risks associated with monsoon rains, landslides and poor road conditions.  During the late spring to early fall seasons the trails are almost void of people.

Ok, so if the above paragraph didn’t answer the question of when to go, keep reading.  I will break down the tourism population for Sagarmatha National Park by season and month.  The stats provided were collected in 2017 by the tourism board of Nepal.  I then took the data and split it up to match the Gregorian Calendar.  To summarize the data below, in order of decreasing visitors, the seasons with the most visitors are, spring, fall, winter, summer.

The summer season saw the fewest visitors.  The grand total of the number of visitors entering Sagarmatha National park from June through August of 2016 was 1,464 people.  July had the fewest visitors with only 212 people visiting.  August had the second greatest number of visitors with 317 people.

The winter season had the 2nd fewest visitors.  Only 3,480 people visited Sagarmatha National Park from December through February.  The majority of the visitors came in December (1,407 people).  In February, 1,138 people visited the area.  January received only 935 visitors.

Fall receives the second greatest surge in visitors.  From September through November, 10,132 people visited the Sagarmatha National Park.  October had the greatest number of visitors at 4,524 people.  November had the second greatest number of visitors at 3,413 people.  And September had 2,196 visitors.  Fall is often quoted as being the primary trekking season but it receives 2,587 fewer people than the spring.

The spring trekking season, March through May, received 12,719 visitors in 2017.  During that time, most travelers who entered Sagarmatha National Park came in April, 5,580 people.  March had the second greatest number of visitors, which was 3,844 people.  In May, 3,295 people visited the area.

Expenses

A 13-day Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri trek will cost $1,990.  This includes all expenses from airport pickup to drop off.  For the more budget minded adventurer, a trip to Gokyo lakes can cost about $675.  The price might be a little bit less, depending on dietary needs.  I would highly recommend hiring a guide and porter for many different reasons.  Even though it would increase the cost of the trip it could be a life line.  A following is a cost breakdown to trek to Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri.

  • $25/day guide
  • $15/day porter
  • $30/day food
  • $30/day room board
  • $40 licenses
  • $180 to $200 transportation

Theoretically guides, porters, rooms and board are not needed for this trek.  It can be done legally as a “free individual trekker”. The required items are the food, licenses and the transportation. You don’t really need transportation either, but it sure saves time.

Historical significance

Gokyo Lakes are considered sacred and holy by Hindus and by Buddhists alike.  The area is believed to be the house of the snake god ‘Nag Devata’.  There is also a temple on the western shore of Gokyo lake dedicated to Lords Vishnu and Shiva.  I couldn’t find any reasons behind this, but from what I could piece together, the lakes could have been formed by Lord Shiva when he formed Lake Gosainkunda.  This would explain why people visit the lakes during the Jannai Purnima celebration.  It might be a bit of a stretch but it might explain why Gokyo Lake is home to Nag Devata.

Before the lakes were formed Lord Shiva gave advice to some other gods to help them fight some demons.  He suggested that they stir the ocean with a snake.  The snake released its venom, which threatened all of humanity.  Upon finding this out, Shiva drank the poison. After the gods stirred the ocean, the story doesn’t say what happened to the snake.  It instead goes on to talk about Shiva stabbing earth with his trident forming Lake Gosainkunda and maybe Gokyo Lake.

If this is true it would make sense that the snake god would take up residency at the lake.  It would signify the yin and the yang or the venom to the antivenom.  But I can’t confirm this.  If you know the story of what happened to the snake after the gods used it to stir the ocean with, please leave a comment below.

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Gosainkunda Lake

Lake Gosainkunda

Gosainkunda
Gosainkunda

Lake Gosainkunda is amazing!  I love everything about it.  I love the trek and how to get there, the surrounding landscape, its religious significance and its isolation.

The lake sits at an elevation of 14,370 ft in Langtang National Park.  It feeds the Trishuli River in late spring, summer, and early fall.  During the other months, the lake is frozen over.  Gosainkunda lake covers a surface area of 34 acres and is part of a larger lake complex that spans around 2,560 acres or 4 square miles.  The lake complex (108 lakes) was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s convention on wetlands in 2007.

How to get there

There are a few different routes that lead to Gosainkunda.  All of routes except for a helicopter tour are strictly foot paths.   The primary route begins in Syabrubesi, just inside the Langtang national park at an elevation of 1,550 m or 5,100 ft.  From Syabrubesi, the trail passes near waterfalls, Buddhist monasteries, temples, forests, and meadows that almost reflect the mountains in their beauty.  The trail then leads through Bamboo Village and Thulo Syabru to Shin Gompa.  From Shin Gompa the trail leads directly to Lake Gosainkunda.

Lake Gosainkunda itinerary:

Day 01: Meet guide and check into a hotel in Kathmandu

Day 02: Visit world heritage sites and prepare of the trek

Day 03: Be chauffeured to Syabrubesi. -08 hrs 1,550m/5,100ft

Day 04: Trek to Lama Hotel. -06 hrs, 2,380m/7,830ft

Day 05: Trek to Mundu through Langtang village. -07 hrs, 3,543 m/11,621 ft

Day 06: Trek to Kyangjin Gompa. -04 hrs, 3,870m/12,697ft

Day 07: Acclimate and explore Tserko Ri. -08 hrs, 5,000m/16,404ft

Day 08: Trek to Lama Hotel. -07 hrs, 2,380m/7,830ft

Day 09: Trek to Thulo Syabru. -06 hrs, 2,230m/7,316 ft

Day 10: Trek to Shin Gompa. -04 hrs,

Day 11: Trek to Gosaikunda. -06 hrs, 4,460m/14,632ft

Day 12: Trek to Ghopte. -08 hrs, 3,440m/11,286ft

Day 13: Trek to Melamchi Gaon. -07 hrs, 2,560m/8,399ft

Day 14: Trek to Tarke Ghyang. -06 hrs 2,590m/8,497ft

Day 15: Trek to Sermathang. -05 hours 2,610m/8,563ft

Day 16: Finish the trek in Melamchi Bazaar, and be chauffeured to Kathmandu. -04 hrs trek, -06 hr drive

What to bring and where to stay

This is a good question as it directly relates to when to go.  In general, pack for the season you will be trekking in. But because it is an altitude trek, I recommend dressing a little warmer than normal.  I always like to dress in layers when I am trekking.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has great quality products with a wonderful selection for both men and women.  There products are designed and manufactured to be layer-able.

Tea houses/ guest lodges line the path to Gosainkunda Lake.  Due to the moderate amount of traffic normally associated with this route, you will always be able to find a place to spend the night at one of these locations.  This eliminates the need for tent camping.  However, if you want to tent camp, there are unmarked spaces along the trail for it.  Eastern Mountain Sports has a great selection of camping gear on their online store.  It is easy to navigate and streamlined.

At the bare minimum bring a sleeping bag, UV protective sunglasses, water filter, warm cloths (layers), hiking boots, trekking poles (if you use them), hat, sunscreen, extra money, a guide, and a friend.  If you prefer a SteriPEN to a water filter, that is also fine.  Make sure your glasses are UV protective.  You can take them to an optometrist to check.

When to go

gosainkunda
Gosainkunda

After posing the question “when is the best time to go”, I thought it might depend on weather or not a lake is still a lake if it is frozen.  After doing a little bit of research the conclusion I came up with is yes.  A lake is still called a lake if it is frozen, however one might make the argument that it can also be a glacier.  With that being noted, I will proceed with the best time to visit Lake Gosainkunda.

In my opinion, the best time to visit is during the main trekking season from September through November.  In early September the lake is almost guaranteed to be liquid.  During the main season the trail has surprisingly few trekkers on it.  In September 2017, 275 people registered for the trek.  The main trekking month in 2017 was October, which had 532 people registered for the trek. In November 2017, 485 people registered for the trek.

If you would like to see the lake frozen and covered with snow, the winter season (December, January, February) would be perfect.  During these 3 months in 2017, only 537 people trekked to Lake Gosainkunda.  These are slightly higher numbers than the summer season, which received 488 people.  I do not recommend this trek during the summer.  I believe the risk of landslides and traffic accidents are too great.

Trekking during spring is great alternative to fall.  The weather is wonderful, however historically there tends to be more people on the trail at this time.  From March through May, in 2017, 2,381 people registered to go on this trek. The mountain views also tend to be cloudy.

Expenses

An all-expenses paid trip to this beautiful lake will cost $1,660.  This includes a 16-day trek, all meals, lodging, licenses, and transportation.  If you wanted to visit Gosainkunda Lake without the support of a trekking agency, the trip would likely cost $620.  This price includes budget meals and does not include a guide and porter.  For the hardcore campers who don’t stay in the lodges, their trip would cost about $240 less.  A breakdown of the prices follows.

  • $25/day guide
  • $15/day porter
  • $30/day food
  • $30/day room board
  • $40 licenses
  • $100 transportation

Historical significance

Gosainkunda
Gosainkunda and Shivas trident

There was once this really bad dude named Durva.  He was actually a bro because of all the douchy things he would do.  One-day Durva had just finished robbing a fairy for her wreath of flowers she picked from the gardens of heaven.  Durva had just put the wreath on when the king of heaven road by on his elephant.  Durva panicked because he didn’t want to get in trouble, and like a bro, he lied about the wreath.  He said it was a gift for King Indra, who took the wreath and placed it on his beloved elephants head.  The elephant was allergic though and couldn’t stand the pollen filling its long nose so, it knocked the wreath of its head.

Durva was upset by the sight of his gift being thrown to the ground.  With his special powers given to him by Shiva, he cast down Indra.  At the time though, Indra and the rest of the Gods in heaven were fighting with demons.  The Gods being at a disadvantage sought the wisdom of Shiva, who suggested they stir the ocean with a giant cobra to get the elixir of immortality.  When they did, the cobra released its venom.  The venom threatened to kill all of life on earth.  The Gods went back to Shiva for help.

Shiva saw what had happened and being a righteous and just dude drank the poison, but kept it in his throat.  The poison burned Shivas throat, so he went to get a cold beverage from his refrigerator.  It was empty.  Shiva was a really cool dude and didn’t panic.  He took his trusty trident and thrust it into the Himalayan mountains.  When he pulled it out, ice cold water sprang forth.  Shiva drank this water quenching his thirst.

This created Lake Gosainkuda.  Shiva and his wife Parvati now live at the lake.  The lake water is considered holy and is a destination for people on pilgrimage.  Around June and July, during the Gangadashahra festival and the Janai Purnima festival, respectively, people bath in the water originating from Lake Gosainkunda.

 

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Phewa Lake

Phewa Lake

Phewa Lake
Lake Phewa

Phewa Lake is the best.  However, I must give a full disclosure first.  I love Pokhara. Pokhara is the city by the lake (it is actually surrounded by Sarangkot, Kaskikot, and Raniban “Queen Forest”).  It is comparable to the Carmel of Nepal.  And in my opinion, it is what makes Phewa Lake so great.

The lake sits at an elevation of 2,434 ft in stunning proximity to the Annapurna massif in Pokhara Valley.  It is the second largest lake in Nepal and the largest lake in the valley.  It has a square area of 1.71 sq mi.  It’s maximum water depth is about 62 feet, while its average is about 28 ft.  Its estimated maximum water holding potential is 12.15 billion gallons.  The lake is fed by the Harpan River, and feeds into the Pardi River.

Phewa Lake is the most visited lake in Nepal.  Apart from visitors coming for its natural beauty, adventure seekers visit it for world class paragliding, and as a resting point for their treks.  It also has a few water activities like boating, kayaking, and fishing.  There is a temple on an island in the center of the river that also attracts a lot of crowds.  I will discuss this in the religious significance section of the post.

How to get there

You can reach Phewa Lake by driving on the Prithvi Hwy or by plane.  The distance from Kathmandu to Pokhara is about 126 miles by car.  The trip takes about 6 hours to get there driving nonstop.  Buses generally take about 8 hours, with a stop for lunch along the way.  Be careful about riding on the bus.  People often get sick and throw up inside and outside the window.  If you hear somebody say “plastic” be extra cautious.  Believe me, you don’t want to be sitting behind somebody with your window down while they are throwing up outside.

I have never flown from Kathmandu to Pokhara so I can’t speak of the experience.  I do know it takes about 30 minutes and is about 88 miles in a straight line. This is ideal if you want to save some time, don’t want to get throw up on you, or are worried about the road conditions or the drivers.  The Pokhara airport is just west of the city.  It is about a 30-minute walk to the lake or a 10-minute drive.  Taxis are everywhere and finding a ride isn’t hard.  Tip: if you schedule your trip with a company they will often provide free shuttle service from the airport to the lake/ hotel.

Flights can easily be booked inside the Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport.  They can vary in price.  I will give a detailed description of the cost of transportation later in this blog post.  Taxi service from the airport to a bus park can vary in price too.  I have only not been overcharged by a taxi 2 times during my travels.  You can also take a micro bus, but you need to know the routes and where the Pokhara bus park is.  Micros can get extremely crowded.  Be prepared to sit on someone’s lap or have someone sit on yours.

What to bring and where to stay

Phewa Lake
Phewa Lake and Pokhara Valley

If you are coming to Pokhara just for Phewa Lake, you can get by with everyday attire.  In the summer you will want some rain gear like an umbrella, poncho, and waterproof shoes or flipflops.  The spring and fall temperatures can get cold at night but you can generally walk around in a t shirt.  Winter sees cooler temperatures that call for sweatshirt or jacket.

Most of anything you need can be purchased in Pokhara.  For bargain prices try shopping outside the tourist areas.  You still might be charged more but you can generally get a better price.  Bhat Batini is a wonderful market.  It’s a little difficult to find but it has everything from entertainment to groceries; its also a little overpriced.

I have stayed in a quite a few hotels in Pokhara.  I have also visited a great many of them looking for a place to stay.  There is only one that I recommend.  It is the Lakeside inn.  It is a quaint and intimate hotel.  The owner is a really happy go lucky guy that prides himself on the quality of his customer service and his garden.  The rooms are simple and affordable.  A few rooms have connected bathrooms but the rest share showers and toilets.  The showers are hot and the room service is good.  They also have laundry service too.  Make sure you book your room in advance because they are busy.

When to go

I prefer the spring and winter seasons.  There is one exception to that though.  I do not like new years eve in Pokhara.  A lot of people (tourists and locals) drink way too much and sometimes misbehave.  The winters are cold but mild and the mountain views are amazing!  Winters in Pokhara by the lake are the ultimate hygge experience.

Winter

I can best describe Phewa Lake in the winter as Hygge.

Hygge describes the feeling of being content while the atmosphere around you is unpleasant.  I like to think of it as being cuddled up in a warm and cozy blanket while the outside is uncomfortably chilly.  My friends and I went to the Luna Wine Lounge, which overlooks the lake.  We shared a bottle of wine in a most enjoyable atmosphere with great views in the winter.

Spring

The spring time is also good at Phewa Lake.  The rhododendrons are blooming and the air is clean.  It reminds me of In Bloom by Nirvana.  If you do not know about Nirvana, stop reading and listen to their Nevermind album.  In the spring time, you can see fishermen, and small painted boats line the shores.  The boats are iconic to the lake.  Spring time views of the mountains are also good.  Varying shades of green populate the landscape.  Speckles of reds and pink show through the vegetation.  It is reminiscent of the stars in space.

Summer

The summers at Phewa Lake are hot, humid, and very, very wet.  It is however kind of enjoyable to watch the rain from a hotel room or from one of the many shops lining the street where you can seek shelter in.  I am childish at heart and enjoy jumping in rain puddles with big plastic boots on.  I highly recommend doing it at least once.  The smell of the rain is also very enjoyable to me.

Fall

Falls are an excellent time to visit Phewa Lake.  It is arguably the best time to visit.  It is also the most crowded during this time.  Most of the visitors who come to trek, come during this season and often spend time in Pokhara.  If you like crowds, beautiful weather, waiting in line, or struggling to find a hotel room, come during the fall.

Expenses

I will include all the expenses for average accommodations, meals, travel expenses for buses as well as for flights.  I am not covering all activities, but if you want the prices for a specific activity, you can find it at himalayantrekandadventure.com.

  • $120 Plane ticket from Kathmandu to Pokhara
  • $8 to $12 for Bus fare from Kathmandu to Pokhara:
  • $12 to $20/ night room and board
  • $20/ day food
  • $3/ hour boat ride on Phewa Lake
  • $8 to $10/ night drinks

Historical significance

Phewa Lake
Island temple in Phewa Lake

The lake itself does not have and religious or historical significance.  However, there is an island in the lake that has a temple on it.  The temple is dedicated to the water goddess Barahi.  The temple is locally called Barahi Mandir, but its official name is Taal Barahi Temple.  Its about a 5-minute paddle from the shore next to the boat launch.

 

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Top 10 Himalayan Lakes

Top ten pristine Himalayan lakes

Tilicho lake
Tilicho lake16,138 ft.

Nepal is well known for its mountains.  Mt. Everest is, after all, the most popular mountain in the world, and the tallest.  However, Nepal is not well known for its lakes and water sports (I’m talking dynamite fishing, with real DYN-O-MIGHT!)  Nepal may not rival Minnesota in quantity of lakes but, by God, its lakes sure are beautiful.  Did you know that Nepal and south China have the highest lakes in the world? This is a list of the top 10 Himalayan lakes.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast who loves water, this blog post is for you.  In this article you will learn about 10 amazing lakes of The Himalayas.

Lake Gosainkunda

Coming in at number 1, is Lake Gosaikunda.  Yes, that’s right, I didn’t save the best for last.  Because I like you so much, I’m not going to make you wait for it.  Lake Gosaikunda is amazing!  I love everything about it.  I love the trek and how to get there, the surrounding landscape, its religious significance and its isolation.

The lake sits at an elevation of 14,370 ft in Langtang National Park.  It feeds the Trishuli River in late spring, summer, and early fall.  During the other months, the lake is frozen over.  Gosaikunda lake covers a surface area of 34 acres and is part of a larger lake complex that spans around 2,560 acres or 4 square miles.  The lake complex (108 lakes) was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s convention on wetlands in 2007.

There are actually a few other UNESCO conservation areas in this list of the top 10 lakes Himalayan lakes. Keep reading to find out more.

Lake Phewa

top 10 lakes of himalayas
Lake Phewa

If you have ever been to Phewa Lake, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, Lake Phewa is this guy’s number 2 pick!  That can have both positive and negative connotations.  Let me make the argument for why Lake Phewa is so great.  However, I must give a full disclosure first.  I love Pokhara. Pokhara is the city by the lake (it is actually surrounded by Sarangkot, Kaskikot, and Raniban “Queen Forest”).  It is comparable to the Carmel of Nepal.  And in my opinion, it is what makes Lake Phewa so great.

The lake sits at an elevation of 2,434 ft in stunning proximity to the Annapurna massif in Pokhara Valley.  It is the second largest lake in Nepal and the largest lake in the valley.  It has a square area of 1.71 sq mi.  It’s maximum water depth is about 62 feet, while its average is about 28 ft.  Its estimated maximum water holding potential is 12.15 billion gallons.  The lake is fed by the Harpan River, and feeds into the Pardi River.

Lake Phewa is the most visited lake in Nepal.  Apart from visitors coming for its natural beauty, adventure seekers visit it for world class paragliding, and as a resting point for their treks.  It also has a few water activities like boating, kayaking, and fishing.  There is a temple on an island in the center of the river that also attracts a lot of crowds.  I will discuss this in the religious significance section of the post.

Gokyo Lakes

Top 10 himalayan lakes
Gokyo Lake frozen, with Everest and Nuptse in the background

Gokyo Lakes is a set of 19 high mountain lakes in Sagarmatha National Park.  It is one of the destinations on the Gokyo Lakes Gokyo Ri Trek.  This lake complex is a must see to anyone on their way to Everest Base camp, as it is extremely close.  Gokyo Lakes is the worlds highest freshwater lake system at an elevation of 15,400 ft to 16,400 ft above sea level.  The lake complex covers a surface area of 30 sq miles. In 2007, it was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s convention on wetlands.

I could only find the sizes of 6 of the largest lakes in the system.  In order from largest to smallest the 6 Gokyo Lakes include, Thonak Cho (161 acres), Gokyo Cho (106 acres), Gyazumpa Cho (72 acres), Tanjung Cho (42 acres), and Ngojumba Cho (36 acres).  These lakes receive water from glacier ice melt such as Ngozumpa glacier, and others.  They also receive water from precipitation in the form of rain and snow.  Their water flows out forming the Dudh Kosi River

Lake Manasarovar

If a magical wizard named Tigran was flying around the world in his Buddy Lee Dungaree jeans and his buzz cut haircut and decided he would stop to rest on the highest plateau in the world when the wind was soft and the grass was green and to think to himself “gee it sure is pretty here, I wonder what it would look like if it was a lake”, he would turn that plateau into a lake and name in Lake Manasarovar.

Okay, that’s not really how Lake Manasarovar was formed.  But I thought it would be funny, especially if your name is Tigran or you know somebody named Tigran.  For the 99% of you who don’t, lets move on.

Lake Manasarovar is not the highest freshwater lake in the world.  Comfortably resting in the autonomous region of the Tibetan plateau, the lake has an elevation of 15,060 ft.  The maximum depth recorded in the lake was 300 ft.  The lake has a surface area of 123.6 sq mi and is completely frozen in the winter, which makes it the largest outdoor ice skating ring in the world (does it count if people don’t actually go ice skating on it?).

The lake receives water from glaciers on Mt. Kailash and from precipitation.  The lake drains into a neighboring lake, Lake Rakshastal, through the Ganga River.  Its water also flows to the Sutlej River, which is a tributary of the Sindhu River.

Lake Tilicho

top ten himalayan lakes
Tilicho Lake

Tilicho lake is one of my favorites on this list of the top 10 Himalayan lakes. It was hard not to put it at number 1, but its number 1 in my heart.

Lake Tilicho was formed from an ancestral glacier that carved a depression into a mountain in the Manang district of the Annapurna range.  When the glacier melted if filled the depression, forming a lake with a surface area of 1.9 sq mi at an elevation of 16,138 ft.  As an interesting side note, the lake is one of the highest lakes to be scuba dived in.

Lake Tilicho deserves the number 4 position or better.  The Annapurna massif is an amazing mountain range with gorgeous views.  From Tilico Lake you can see Annapurna II, III, IV, Gangapurna, Manaslu, Pisang Peak, and Culu West Peak.  The hike is a wonderful experience.  I love everything about this place, especially its proximity to Pokhara (34 linear miles).

Lake Namtso

Namso Lake is renowned as being on of the most beautiful lakes in Tibet.  It is a salt water lake with no known outflows.  It receives its water from snow melt and springs from the nearby Tangulla Mountains.  The lake rests at the base of the mountains at an elevation of 15,479 ft.  Because there are no drainage outlets for the lake, it has grown to be 740 sq mi.  Its size makes it the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomus Region of China, but not in the largest in China.

Lake Namtso has 5 large islands.  The largest island has an area of 6,900 sq ft.  The average depth of the lake is 108 ft while the maximum depth is 410 ft.  The lake is estimated to hold 623,000,000-acre ft of water.  The lake has been popularized by being the filming location for Shangri-La, The Touch, and Himalaya with Michael Palin.

Lake Rara

top ten lakes of the himalayas
Rara lake

Located in the far western region, in the Mugu district, this amazing lake is the biggest and deepest lake in Nepal.  It has a surface area of 4.2 sq mi and a maximum depth of 548 ft.  The lake’s altitude is 9,810 ft above sea level.  Due to the unique habitat this lake provides to many endemic species, it was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s conservation on wetlands.  Though the lake only covers 4.2 sq mi, the actual protected area is 6.11 sq mi because of the extending wet lands.

The lake receives water from snow melt and monsoon rains. However, in recent years, the monsoon rain volume has been less than normal.  This coupled with habitat destruction and pollution increases the vulnerability of aquatic species associated with the lake.  Some of the aquatic life also lives in the streams and rivers the lake drains into. The lake drains into the Mugu Karnali River through the Nijar River.

Phoksundo Lake

top ten lakes of the himalayas
Phoksundo Lake

Phoksundo Lake is a freshwater lake in Nepal.  The lake is located within the Shey Phoksundo National Park in the Dolpa region.  The lake rests at an elevation of 11,849 ft above sea level.  During the last surveillance of the lake, the lake was measured to have a surface area of 1.91 sq mi and a maximum depth of 476 ft.  The lake was formed when a land slide blocked the passage of the river below it and in the process also creating a 548 ft water fall on the other side of the natural dam.  The lake was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s conservation on wetlands in 2007.

There are so many gorgeous lakes, each with amazing qualities, on this list of top 10 Himalayan lakes. If the list was based on beauty alone, Phoksundo would be in the top 2.

Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake is another beautiful lake in Tibet.  It is delightfully located a short distance outside the peaceful towns of Gyantse and Lhasa.  It has a memorizing turquoise luster that shimmers under the small waves created by the wind.  It is also one of the largest lakes in Tibet, with a surface area measuring 246 sq mi.  The lake has an average depth of 98 ft but its maximum depth is 200 ft.

Although this lake is considered sacred, it is commercialized.  Fish are harvested from this lake and sold to resturants and grocers in Lhasa.  There is also a Hydroelectric power station.  It was built in 1996 in the north-west section of the lake by Baidixiang city.  The power station is the largest in Tibet and provides electricity throughout the region.  There are many small inlets to the lake, each deriving from glaciers and snowmelt.

Pangong Lake

Salt is known to collect on the shores of Pangong Lake, giving it the characteristic “white halo” common to salt lakes.  The lake is a beautiful deep blue and the surrounding grey and brown mountains buttress its natural beauty.  Just beyond the shores of the lake, are grassy meadows, where yak herders bring their ruminant animals (yaks) to graze.

Pangong Lake is Tibetan for “High Grassland Lake.”  It is a salt water lake in the autonomous region of Tibet and extends into the north-western region of India.  The elevation of lake Pangong is 14,270 ft.  The lake has a surface area of 233 sq mi.  The source of the lake comes from both sides of the border as glacial melt, and precipitation.  I am unaware of an outlet for the lake and its depth and volume.

Top 10 Himalayan lakes

Do you agree with my list of my top 10 Himalayan lakes? If not let me know, or apply to be a guest blogger by sending me an email. Thanks for reading!

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How to recognize Buddhist and Hindu Gods and Goddesses

How to recognize Buddhist and Hindu Gods and Goddesses

hindu sculpture
Buddhist and Hindu sculpture

With around 33 million different deities in the Hindu religion, it is easy to get some of them mixed up. Artists from centuries ago devised a cleaver way to tell them apart. You can tell Buddhist and Hindu deities apart through a combination of features. These features are the way they sit or stand, cloths they wear, their ornaments, and many other hints. This article gives you tips on how you can recognize Buddhist and Hindu deities while on your Kathmandu sightseeing tour.

Key attributes

There are several key attributes that will help you identify Buddhist and Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The most important is body language. Body language includes sitting or standing, the number of hands and heads, the symbols made by the hands, and what the deity is doing with their body. Another key attribute is possessions because some deity’s will have a certain object. The last key attribute that I’ve noticed is the inclusion of animals.

Body language

Many Buddhist and Hindu gods and goddesses have multiple poses to represent their complex nature. This list only identifies the most common poses of the most common deities because 33 million descriptions would take a long time to write.

buddhist and hindu gods
Krishna playing the flute

You can identify Krishna in his typical pose, standing cross-legged and playing the flute. It is rare for other deities to have this pose, but Lokeshvara will sometimes be seen with this body language.

buddhist and hindu gods
Vajryogini

The Buddhist goddess Yajrayogini will stand with one leg in the air, however Vishnu can be seen doing the same when he is about to take a large step.

buddhist and hindu gods
Indra king of gods

Indra is often depicted as sitting with one leg crossed and the other leg slightly raised in the royal position. He is the king of the Gods after all. He is also the only deity with a horizontal 3rd eye.

buddhist and hindu gods
Old lady Mahalakshmi

If you ever see a sculpture that looks like the skeleton of an old women, you can be certain it is Mahalakshmi

buddhist and hindu gods
Tara

The Buddhist goddess with 5 extra eyes 1 on each hand and foot and with a 3rd eye is Tara. She is also seen with the hand position mudra varada, which represents giving or granting a favor.

buddhist and hindu gods
Vajradaka

Vajradaka is a Buddhist god that devours evil. He can be identified by an upturned face and an open mouth.

hindu sculpture
Maitreya sitting European style

Only Maitreya and occasionally Buddha sit in a chair with their feet on the floor.

buddhist and hindu gods
Buddhist deities

Buddhist deities normally sit cross legged with their feet turned up. Their hands are normally in the bhumisparsa-mudra or dharmacakra-mudra position.

buddhist and hindu gods
Sadakshari Lokeshvara

Avalokiteshvara has 2 common forms. One is Sadakshari Lokeshvara, who is the lord of the 6 sylabols “om, mani, padme, hum.” He is a always seated with 4 harms. Two of his hands are in the greeting position.

Possessions

buddhist and hindu gods
Vasudhara

The Buddhist goddess Vasudhara is represented by a body with 1 head and 6 arms. The hands hold the book of knowledge, grain, jewels, and a water vessel.

buddhist and hindu gods
Hevajra

The Buddhist god Hevajra is identified by his 4 faces and 16 arms. Each of his hands holds a skull cup. Sometimes the cups have items inside them.

Maitreya may also be identified by her in the sitting crossed legged position, her feet turned up, one hand in the teaching mudra position, and the other holding a water vessel.

budhist and hindu gods
Vajradhara, not only does he want to rock, he is prepared with a bell and a lighting bolt.

Vajradhara holds a bell and a thunderbolt in his hands, which are crossed in front of his chest.

buddhist and hindu gods
Padmapani Lokeshvara

Avalokiteshvara has two common positions, one is Padmapani Lokeshvara with one hand in the giving position and the other carrying a lotus

buddhist and hindu gods
Namasangiti

Namasangiti is identified by his 6 arms with 5 hand poses. He performs the offering gesture with one hand, while another is above his head holding a water vessel, his third hand is performing the teaching gesture, his 4th hand is giving nectar, and his last 2 hands are in the meditation position holding a bowl.

Animals/ vehicles

The Hindu god Jambhala has a jewel spitting mongoose.

Yama has a bull head and a buffalo mount

Vishnu has a humanized bird, which reminds me of bird person.

Shiva has a bull mount

Ganesh rides around on a little mouse.

Chamunda does not have a mount, but he is often seen sitting or squatting above human figures.

 

 

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A Guide to Understanding Buddhist and Hindu Sculptures

A guide to understand Buddhist and Hindu sculptures

hindu sculpture
Buddhist and Hindu sculpture

Buddhist and Hindu sculptures can be very creative and elaborate. Did you know that every aspect of the sculpture has a meaning? If you find yourself on a tour of Kathmandu you will likely ask yourself what the sculptures mean. In this article, I discuss some of the meanings behind ancient Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. Have you ever seen a Budda sitting in a chair? Keep reading to find out what it means

Hand symbols

Hand symbols, known as mudra, are used to symbolize emotions, conditions, situations, and can help identify the deity being represented. The following are some common mudras.

hindu hand symbol
Namaskra-muja

Namaskara-mudra hand symbol represents devotion or prayer. It is also the national greeting of Nepal.

Hindu hand symbol
Tarjani-mudra

Tarjani-mudra is a gesture of menace. Have you ever known a pointing finger to be good?

Hindu hand symbol
Abhaya-mudra

Abhaya-mudra is kind of like a super hero pose that means have no fear, or reassurance. It is one of the most common poses in Buddhist and Hindu sculptures.

hindu had symbol
Vyakhyana-mudra

Vyakhyana-mudra represents both explanation and an argument. Just throw this hand symbol up next time your boss is getting on you about the TPS reports.

hindu sculputre posture
Bhumisparsa-mudra

Bhumisparsa-mudra is like filing a document or record. It roughly translates to “earth as my witness.”

hindu sculpture posture
Ksepana-mudra

Ksepana-mudra hand gesture reminds me of the ninja hand symbols in Naruto. But instead conjuring a giant toad, this hand symbol means sprinkling ambrosia.

Hindu sculpture
Dhyani-mudra

Dhyani-mudra is a symbol of meditation. If there is something in the hands while they are in this position, it means the deity or person is meditating on that subject. like a begging bowl, or the vessel of immortality.

 

hindu sculptures
Varada-mudra

Varada-mudra is a gesture of charity or giving of a gift.

hindu sculpture
Dharmacakra-mudra

Dharmacakra-mudra symbolizes preaching or teaching and originates from the first Buddhas first lesson, which started Buddhism. It must have been a powerful speech!

hindu sculpture
Uttarabodhi-mudra

Uttarabodhi-mudra symbolizes perfection. This gesture is commonly performed by Gautama Buddha, and Namasangiti, which is a Buddhist deity.

Postures

You can use the postures of Buddhist and Hindu deities to help identify the mood of the sculpted deity. Postures are also an attribute used to identify which deity is being represented.

hindu sculpture
Vajrapani

The “heroic diagonal” stance represents ferocity or destruction. A common deity to use this stance is Vajrapani, the thunderbolt wielder.

hindu sculpture
Sitting European style

Sitting in a “European fashion” identifies royalty. It is extremely rare to see it in a sculpture.

cross legged hindu sculpture
Cross legged

Sitting cross-legged identifies a deity as meditating or symbolizes meditation

sattavasana heroic posture
heroic posture

Heroic posture symbolizes nobility or truth.

hindu sculptures
Nrtya stance

Nrtya stance represents dancing, which symbolizes wrath.

hindu sculpture
Rajalilasana

Rajalilasana represents royalty

hindu sculpture posture
Lalitasana

Lalitasana sitting pose symbolizes relaxation

 

hindu sculptures
Tribhanga

pose is the symbol of peacefulness or benevolence

hindu sculpture
Tribhanga