Follow by Email

Monday, February 1, 2016

Photo Galleries | Kim Bannister

Kamzang Journeys 
Photo Galleries

A few of my non-trek photo galleries from Nepal, India, Tibet + Bhutan.

Himalayan Food, Spices + Markets
Himalayan Food, Spices + Markets

Himalayan Heart Rocks
Heart Rocks

Himalayan Flowers

Himalayan Wildlife

Himalayan Birds

Hand Prints

Teej Festival | Kathmandu Nepal
Teej Festival

Shivaratri Festival | Kathmandu, Nepal
Shivaratri Festival

Kim's Flat in Kathmandu
Kim's Flat in Kathmandu

Kamzang Kids
Kamzang Kids

Kamzang Journeys

Kamzang Earthquake Aid | Photo Galleries

Photo galleries from Kamzang Earthquake Aid 

Photo Galleries & Trip Reports | Google+
Majhi Fishing Villages
Photo essay of two lower-caste fishing villages on the border of Sindhapulchowk & Kavre districts

Palep, Tamang Village | Langtang Region
Photo essay of our visit to supply aid to a Tamang village in Langtang Region

Samdo Tibetan Village | Manaslu Region
Photo essay of our helicopter drop of aid to a remote Tibetan village in Upper Manaslu

Sankhu, Newari Town | Kathmandu Valley
Photo essay of a historic, exquisitely beautiful Newari town in the Kathmandu Valley

Durbar Square | Kathmandu
Photo essay of Kathmandu's iconic Durbar Square

GHT: Kanchenjunga to Makalu Barun Trek
(Our 'Nepal Earthquake Trek')

Photo Galleries | Facebook
Majhi Fishing Villages (Sindhapulchowk & Kavre) - Nepal Earthquake Relief
Facebook Gallery

Palep, Tamang Village - Nepal Earthquake Relief
Facebook Gallery

Samdo, Manaslu Region - Nepal Earthquake Relief
Facebook Gallery

Sankhu, Newari Village - Post Earthquake
Facebook Gallery

Durbar Square - Post Earthquake
Facebook Gallery

Kathmandu (General) - Post Earthquake
Facebook Gallery

Tarps for Kathmandu - Post Earthquake
Facebook Gallery

Kamzang Journeys

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kamzang Journeys | Why Trek with Us?

Why Trek with Kamzang Journeys?
Kamzang Journeys

5-Star Trip Advisor Reviews!

Kamzang Journeys | All About Us
About Us

Our Unique Kamzang Style Journeys
Kamzang Style

Boutique Style Trekking
Western AND Sherpa Guided
Unmatched Safety Record
Satellite Phone AND InReach Satellite Messaging System
Personalized Care & Attention on Treks
Photography Buffs

The Kamzang Orange & Yellow Dining Tents
Incredibly Delicious & Diverse Food
Catering to All Food Allergies
Comfortable & Relaxed Atmosphere in Yellow Dining Tent
Library of Regional Books
A Passion for Each Region
Years of Trekking Experience in all of the Regions
Close Relationships with Locals in our Trekking Regions
In Depth Experiences in Villages
Nomadic Expertise

Local Staff (+ our Kamzang Team) in Remote Regions 
Ropes + Safety Equipment
Ecologically Friendly
Sanitary Kitchen & Staff
Extensive Medical Knowledge & Medical Kits
Knowledgeable & Responsible Staff
Extensive Rescue Experience
Back-up Company in Kathmandu
Attention to Detail

We LOVE the Himalaya!
And we love our jobs ...

15+ Years of Safe Trekking & Guiding Experience in the Himalaya

There are so many more reasons. Join us and find out why our repeat clients rate is well over 75%!

Great Trekkers Testimonials + Reviews
Why Trek with Kamzang Journeys?

The Kamzang Team
Our 5-Star Staff

Come trekking or bicycling with us!

Kamzang Journeys

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Tibetan Story: Lobsang Dolma

This is the story of an inspirational Tibetan girl named Lobsang Dolma, now living in Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Indian Himalaya. Lobsang has just completed an International Baccalaureate Diploma (2 years) in England fully funded by a registered charity called Pestalozzi International Village. This organization sponsors around 50 selected students from 10 nations including Tibet.
She graduated in June 2014 with a score of 32 from IB total 45. She has taken language test IELTS and scored 7 out of 9. 

I have known Lobsang Dolma's family for 15 years. Her father Ang Chuk came to India when he was three years old, carried over the Himalayan passes by his parents while fleeing the Chinese invasion of Tibet. He has driven for our treks in Ladakh, rescued us on numerous occasions, and been an integral part of our Kamzang Journeys & Project Himalaya team. With very little money coming in from driving a truck, then a small jeep and now a 4WD jeep he has supported sending all of his 5 children to school. 

Lobsang is now unsure if she will be able to continue her schooling as finances are a real concern. She has applied to Westminster University in London to work towards her BSC in Biomedical Science but needs a full scholarship to be able to attend. She is very determined, and I am trying to promote her cause by publishing her story. 

Please let us know if you would like to help sponsor the rest of her education, or - perhaps better - if you have any contacts for scholarships abroad. 

Lobsang Dolma's father Ang Chuk

Lobsang Dolma's story below, all her own words:

"A bomb flew overhead. It was the Chinese chasing away my grandparents with their three toddlers. My father was one of them. Without the tiniest flicker of idea about where to flee, they landed at the northern border of India, Ladakh. My grandpa despite being the protective shield of his family, passed away shortly after being in exile. By then, my grandma had to raise six children on her own. My father had turned ten when he began collecting leftover food on the rocks from the army camps to bring home as their meal every day. Their supposed home was a tent: rugged, torn and without the faintest hope of livelihood. Education was already an impossible opportunity for my father and his siblings.

My mother had similar hardships to that of my father, the only difference being that her father has always been the lifeline until now. My mother is the fifth child of my grandparents. They had ten children. Only the youngest child could get a free education later on.

In exile, Ladakh is both a remote and a poor place. However, my parents, despite being uneducated themselves, dared to dream about their children’s education. They have five children. I am the second youngest among my siblings. I was born on 13th May 1995. My father works both as a labourer and a hired driver. Like my sisters and brothers, my parents sent me for school. For them, the free schooling was a blessing from his holiness. I was always the very persistent and studious girl. I remained as one of the top students throughout my primary schooling.

I had already begun to dream more about education reinventing me. I reached 11 years of age, when I was selected for the best Tibetan school in exile. By then, my parents had realised my capability and therefore wanted me to get into the new school. I was hesitant to be in a boarding school with even fiercer competitions and challenges, but I was excited as well. Although the new school had only Tibetan students, they were from a wide range of financial, social and family backgrounds.

I faced the discrimination of being from a considerably poorer place and background in my initial year. That actually was a blessing in disguise. I was pushed and compelled more to show my own capability. As a result, I began to gain more friends and remained in the top five of my class throughout my secondary schooling. By the time I reached 16, I was clear that I wanted to go further and achieve something for my family and in fact, for the whole Tibetan communities. I was also certain about wanting to work in the medicine field. On the other hand, I knew I would not get a free entry for colleges after my schooling. My parents at the same time did not have any hope of supporting me financially.  

After several months of fearing about the possibility of ending my education, I was elated again. Pestalozzi International Village, a registered charity in England was providing scholarship for five Tibetan students to study International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB Diploma) for two years. Certainly, I slogged hard throughout my preparation to get the scholarship among fifty other Tibetan students. I got the scholarship to study IB Diploma. My two years in England gave me the courage to dig the hardest for my ambition and I really learnt to believe in myself.

During my gap year, I have been volunteering at a government hospital in Ladakh and at a Tibetan children’s centre in Dharamsala.   I really hope to help them and I bear an endless capacity to learn from the people I meet every day. Getting a place at university with a full scholarship is indeed a massive new challenge for me but I see it as the next step of my journey and would really relish the opportunity to continue to live my dream of education."

Lobsang Dolma
Reference from Pestalozzi School available on request.
Grades & reports also available.

Kamzang Journeys

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kamzang Journeys Recipes

Masala Peanuts

A simple, slightly spicy Nepali snack that you can throw together in a pinch with some fresh cilantro (coriander) from the garden. Perfect with cold beers ...

Mix together peanuts, chopped cilantro, tomatoes and red onions.
Add a bit of olive oil, freshly chopped chili (or red chili flakes) and salt & pepper to taste. 

Crack open a chilled beer, and that's it!
Enjoy ...

Sherpa Potato Pancakes

A traditional Sherpa meal, unique to the Khumbu region. These delicious pancakes can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Feel free to have two or three!

Grate raw, peeled potatoes (preferably from the Everest region) with a very fine grater
Mix in a pinch to a handful of white flour, depending on the type of potato. The mixture should look like pancake batter. 

Heat an iron skillet on the stove (preferably a clay stove fueled with wood), add a small bit of oil to the pan and cook like pancakes, until slightly browned on both sides.

Serve with somar (fermented cheese or yogurt curds, chive & chilly sauce)

Shake yogurt and separate out all of the butter fat. Bring to low boil the leftover, thick yogurt (curds) and keep at low boil for 1 min. Let sit in cool place overnight. Drain the cool curds with cheesecloth (you can drink the water, like whey) and this is the main ingredient of your somar. Add chopped chives and chili to taste.

Cook your potato pancakes and serve hot with a generous helping of butter and a bit of somar. 


Nepali Fried Potatoes

One of Nepal's most widespread and universally tasty dishes ...

Boil potatoes, peel and chop into medium sized pieces. Add vegetable or soybean oil to iron skillet, add chopped red onions, a pinch of curry powder, a pinch of cumin seeds, salt & pepper and stir-fry over high heat. When partially cooked add chopped spring onions and finely chopped tomatoes. 

Top with fresh cilantro and serve!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tsering Kondo in Upper Mustang

Kamzang Fund Update

We had a chance to catch up with Tsering Kondo in her remote village of Yara, Upper Mustang, during our Nar Phu to Upper Mustang trek in October 2013 ...

We've been helping her through the Kamzang Fund; she has a hearing problem and a new hearing aid which, of course, she's not using. But she's as full of life as a young child anywhere in the world, and is speaking and interacting with others more easily than she was last year. We are trying to get her to come to Pokhara with her father or mother this winter to be fitted for a new, small hearing aid with the help of NAHOH, a Kathmandu-based hearing project which is aided by Whitsunday Hearing out of Australia.

She's pictured here in a new sweater & hat, graciously knitted by one a trekker's sister in Adelaide, and further down with new school supplies and other presents.
Kids don't get much cuter than this one!

Learn more about the Kamzang Fund

Here's Tsering Kondo!
read her story

All photos Kim Bannister, Kamzang Journeys ...

Join us!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thinle's Upper Dolpo to Jomsom Trek

Dolpo Delight 
A trek through the highest inhabited region in the world ... 

(Translated from Dutch from the online magazine 'Big Black Book') 
 - Jan-Erik Rottinghuis  

Sacred Upper Dolpo to Mustang Trek

- all photos by Kim Bannister

The English mountaineer George Mallory in 1924 answered the question why he wanted to climb Everest with: "Because it's there". Jan-Erik Rottinghuis went for the second time back to the Himalayas "because it's there". Nepal's highest mountains will not let you go!  

We are now hours in that small hopper and looking outside it seems as if the airplane is not taking off. And that is almost true. We are moving from Nepalgunj to Juphal in Nepal, a flight from sea level to 2400 m altitude in a steep climb. In Juphal we really begin our trek to Dolpo, the high plateau in Nepal bordering Tibet, inhabited by the Dolpa a population of nearly 10,000 souls of Tibetan origin.  

I am traveling with 3 New Zealanders: two doctors, just married and a lady of Dutch descent who still "speaks a bit Netherlands" ..., amazing to meet in Nepal! Our group also consists of an Australian (Head of Air Traffic Control), a Slovenian UN employee, a Russian who lives in Germany, a Belgian doctor, a Canadian lawyer from Toronto, an Austrian hotel owner on sabbatical and two Americans. Plus, our American guide, Kim, who after a trek in Nepal 12 years ago stayed in Nepal because the Himalayas do not let go. She now has her own flourishing "high end" Kamzang Journeys expedition organization, in collaboration with her partner Lhakpa Sherpa. I'm the only Dutchman and I know I am in good hands. All other participants have at least 4-5 Nepal tours behind. I am only a beginner with an experience in 2005 to Everest Base Camp and High Pass route on my account ...  

I met Kim for the first time in KGH, Kathmandu Guest House, THE hotel in the center of Thamel Kathmandu. A haven of tranquility in the busy center of the 2,000-year-old capital of Nepal, with its million inhabitants. It seems with equal number of rickshaws, cars and cyclists ... And then all those expedition-goers who come here from around the world before they have start on their various treks in Nepal! And we sit in the middle of Dashain, the biggest festival in Nepal, which makes things even more chaotic and festive. You're instantly in another world, after 14 hours of flying.  

We all have the same urge to go into the mountains, surrounded by the giants of 7,000 to 8,000 + meters with the somewhat "smaller" 5-6000 meter mountains .... because up there you live in full nature, take distance from all worldly affairs, you will not be disturbed by the phone (you just leave your phone in the hotel, because there are no connections), you can test yourself and your stamina and you have time for yourself!  

I look outside and the airplane flies around a huge cliff that we just missed .... and there lies before us the "airport" of Juphal: a strip of grass with loose stones at the end ... nothing ... other than the Thuli Beri valley. But we make a safe landing and the plane stops in time. We are quite relieved because a month ago, a plane of another company not been so lucky ... Phew!  

We are met by our Sherpas, cooks and yak drivers with their yaks and donkeys. All the food for a month, the individual tents, the great "canteen tent" plus our duffel bags are being charged and a real caravan of 25 men and as many animals pulls in the direction of Tibet. It's a bit of adjusting but because after the 1,400 meters in Kathmandu, now you walk on narrow paths along steep hills, at almost 3,000 meters in altitude. But the views are breath taking and you quickly get into the rhythm.  

It is a dream come true. My inspiration, which also played a role in 2005, the National Book Award winning book by Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard. Peter made a trip in the same area of Dolpo with the world famous biologist George Schaller (made famous by his first studies of gorillas, later continued by Diane Fossey) and also of the Nepalese snow leopard. They did this, however, 1973 and on a much more primitive way than we do now. But nature is still the same (thankfully) and the challenge to the various passes of 5,000meters to come as well! Because you do still walk with your own backpack for daily necessities and your camera! 

Our goal (if there is a goal for a journey of nearly 4 weeks), the village of Saldang. The village where Thinle lives, the main player of the 2000 Oscar-nominated film "Himalaya, l'Enfance d'un chef" Thinle is still an ordinary Dolpo-resident and the village head of Saldang. Eric Valli, the world-renowned photographer and filmmaker (known from Hermes and Vuitton ad campaigns), who for years lived in Nepal, explained in his film the salt expeditions of the residents of Dolpo. They transported with their yaks the salt of the highest inhabited region in the world, to the lower plains, for the annual exchange against grain of salt.  

And of course now that everything we want to see and experience ourselves. A movie is just a movie!  

Our trip in 5 days increased from 2,600 to 3,600 meters to acclimatize quietly and we arrive at the almost indescribable beauty of the village Ringmo and lake Phoksundo. A huge mountain lake 150 meters deep, surrounded by snow topped mountains and a blue color that is difficult to define. Like every evening upon arrival at our camp, our brand new Marmot tents all done, and we all enjoy in an unspoken silence the view, with the rumble in the distance of the 200-meter waterfall that rushes down from the lake. The next day is a rest day and fortunately we have the time to visit the local Gompa (temple) with its Stupas (the Buddhist structures) and the only monk who lives here in silence. If you want to meditate, so this is the place. What a beauty!  

We leave the next morning for perhaps one of the most beautiful routes in Nepal: the journey along the wall of Phoksundo lake to Chabluk Phu. Blue sky, the temperature of minus 5 degrees and bright blue lake, everywhere you look. We climb to 4,200 meters and the view is breathtaking. We make a flanking movement around the lake and arrive after 5hours rising and falling again to our camp on the north side of the lake. What a day, and it gets better as we look for driftwood washed up ashore and make a huge campfire. Warmth for cold feet and a fast beating heart!  

The next day on the road to "Snow fields" camp. After a cold river crossing barefoot, with freezing cold water to the knees, we make a winding climb to one of the entourage surrounded by autumn colors Kanjirowa Himal (6,800 meters). This is our first trip on real height. Nearly 1,000 meters up in one piece to a whopping 4,800 meters ... Fortunately, we climb in the valley of a river, which we have to jump several times over so we can refill our bottles regularly. The experienced colleagues walk up the mountain whistling, hands in their pockets (almost!). I am proud not to be the last to arrive at over night camp! Quickly taking off the boots and into the sleeping bag, because it's freezing 10 degrees and a catnap is now needed. After a delicious dinner I ask myself again how our Sherpa's get it done: a full pizza with salad and a delicious tea ....  

The next day we continue to rise to the final destination for Peter Matthiessen, but for us halfway: Shey Gompa. After the passage of the Kang La Pass of 5,400 meters, we descend to the Shey Gompa valley and we encounter whole herds of Bharal Himalayas (a large type of mountain goat), the meal of the snow leopard. What a sight these wild animals in their natural habitat. George Schaller can be proud of us. We see traces of the leopard, but unfortunately not the leopard itself.  
On day 17 of our journey we arrive in Saldang and we are welcomed by a Breughel's spectacle: everywhere in the fields the harvest the barley is still with old-fashioned flails by the women worked. The wind dashes the dust sky-high and people are working in that 12hours a day, during the critical harvest period. If only I could paint ....! Now the Nikon to great use, because the light in the late afternoon is great, but very clear at this altitude of 4,500 meters.  

We get offered tea at Thinle with the famous Tibetan hospitality: ie. yak-butter tea; we reach to room via a narrow staircase, high-lying sit-kitchen-bedroom! After a long day of walking at 4,500 meters altitude, everything is delicious. (And it's the first time I have tea with a "Hollywood star"). Children climbing in and out the open hatch at the end of the narrow stairs: all the foreigners remains an event, even though "Eric" (Valli), as everyone here calls him, is a good friend (the whole village had a role had in the movie "Himalaya").  

My mission is now accomplished and we can "return" to Kathmandu, but that is still 5 days of walking, climbing and descending. For one of the last camp sites in Mendo, against the Tibetan border, I walk slowly alone in my own thoughts to enjoy the huge Mani-stone walls built in this desert environment, they are walls of sacrificial stone, with all their personal and sacred texts, but most of them with the famous "Om mani padme um". Suddenly I hear hooves on the stone path and a Lamaon his pony, rides towards me in a fast gallop. He is as surprised as me and he greats with a big smile to that stranger lost in this wild country, with its roaring streams. One of the many encounters with all those friendly people who apparently lead such a happy and simple life.  

Back in Kathmandu, I treat myself to the best hotel, Dwarika's, a hotel built with and around the ancient crafts of Nepal. Beautiful woodwork and brick facades. I get a nice suite of 150 m2 and I can not find the bathroom so big is the room. Two hours in a huge bathtub with warm water is a very pleasant change from washing in rivers of zero degrees. Now the first steps back into the chaos of Kathmandu and civilization? The first meal at the table with linen, to work back the lost 7 kilos.  
And because we can not resist, in the afternoon on my way to one of Nepal's most beautiful and moving temples: Boudhanath for the sunset. Every Nepali should visit Boudhanath. You see young and old in their clockwise tour make around this, dating from the 5th century stupa with colorful prayer flags. And all the prayer bells turn by the hands of all the pilgrims who pass by. What an experience!  

And of course before I board the next evening my plane, a very early morning visit for sunrise at the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, the holiest of holies of Shiva. When I arrive, the Sadhus are already sitting in "their place" and cremations have already started, the smoke rises into the clear blue sky. From a respectful distance, I watch and photograph the whole scene of life, death and rebirth ....  
After my trek of 200 KM., 10,000 meters up and 8,000 meters down, with the 5 passes of 5,000 + meters, I am recharged with energy from all those encounters, smells and sights .... and I take my taxi to KTM airport for a flight back to the western civilization ...  

Tah-shi de-leh Nepal. Till soon I hope.