I'm Elen, welcome to my travel blog, 'Wilderness, metropolis...' because whichever I'm in, I long for the other, and my travels take in everything. I'm an editor, writer, blogger, traveller...
The Most Difficult Treks in Nepal

The Most Difficult Treks in Nepal

In truth, any trek of any duration in any location is a challenge. Uneven terrain, exposure to the elements and the unpredictability of accommodation can leave anyone feeling tired and grumpy and wondering why they have bothered (or is that just me?) But usually, the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. I’ve just published this round-up of the most difficult treks in Nepal. I can’t actually imagine myself doing any of them, except for the Upper Dolpo trek, which is my life’s ambition. The 9 Most Challenging Treks in Nepal There are many trekking routes in Nepal suitable for a range of fitness and experience levels. You don’t have to be capable of scaling Mount Everest to enjoy many of Nepal’s outdoor pursuits. However, some treks are just hard. Whether long, cold, high in altitude or a combination of these, here are our picks of the most challenging treks. But you know what they say – no pain, no gain! Three Passes Trek This very challenging trek crosses three passes of over 5,000 metres – Kongma La (5,535 metres), Cho La (5,420 metres) and Renjo La (5,340 metres). It passes through the Everest region, starting and ending at the same point (Lukla) so it’s a good option for experienced trekkers who have perhaps already done Everest Base Camp and are looking for a greater challenge. It also visits Kala Patthar, for incredible views of EBC, and the vibrant Gokyo Lakes. Read the rest of the article here. Top image: Sunset over…

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Is it Ethical to Climb Mount Everest?

Is it Ethical to Climb Mount Everest?

Is it ethical to climb Mount Everest? No, I don’t believe it is. Not these days, with the enormous financial cost, the healthy/life risks and the frequent disregard for the life of Nepali guides. I’ve written a short article summarising these problems for Culture Trip. Read an extract below, or the full article on Culture Trip. Is it Unethical to Climb Mount Everest? “Every year, hundreds of people from around the world pay thousands of dollars to expert climbing companies to get them up Everest. It’s an activity that the country is famous for. But, with all the rubbish on Everest (including human bodies), enormous financial costs, and a frequent disregard for the lives of the Nepalis hired to help foreign climbers reach their ambitions, is it ethical to climb Mount Everest? English mountaineer George Mallory, who participated in the first three British expeditions to Everest in the 1920s, famously stated that he wanted to climb Everest “because it’s there”. In those days, climbing the 8,848 metre-high mountain was even more of a major undertaking than it is now, with less logistical support or high-tech equipment available. It wasn’t until 1953 that New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay successfully made it to the summit, as part of a British expedition.” Top image: Mani stone bearing Tibetan Buddhist mantras on the Everest Base Camp trek. Taken by myself in October 2015.

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Save the Karnali River, Nepal

Save the Karnali River, Nepal

The Karnali River is Nepal’s longest, at 507 kilometres, originating near the holy Mount Kailash in Tibet. It flows down into India, where it becomes the Ghaghara River, a tributary of the holy Ganga. The river starts high in the rainshadow of the Himalayas and flows down through the jungle in remote Western Nepal, watering the habitat of all kinds of wildlife as well as villages. It’s a favourite among white-water enthusiasts and is the only major river in Nepal to not be dammed. But, it is in danger from hydropower developments. Here’s why -and how – environmentalists are fighting to save the Karnali River. Development in Nepal has happened at a rather haphazard rate, hindered by the country’s rugged topography, inaccessible remote communities and political instability (the country suffered a civil war between 1996 and 2006). Now, 10 years after the country officially became a republic, some infrastructure development projects that have been talked about for a very long time are gaining momentum. But this isn’t necessarily good news for all. Read the full article here on Culture Trip. Top image courtesy of GRG’s Adventure Kayaking

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The Philippine Island of Camiguin, Mindanao

The Philippine Island of Camiguin, Mindanao

Although I spend most of my working time writing about Nepal, I’m not just a one-trick pony. I’ve travelled to lots and lots of places, and potentially like to write about them all. I just had this article published in the Indian newspaper LiveMint. It’s about the pretty little island of Camiguin, which sits about an hour’s ferry ride off northern Mindanao. Read an extract below, or the full article on LiveMint here. Come Again to Camiguin “Just off the coast of northern Mindanao in the Philippines is the volcanic island of Camiguin, covered in thick tropical jungle and waterfalls, and surrounded by turquoise waters and rainbow reefs. In a country of 7,107 tropical islands, Camiguin is firmly off the well-trodden South-East Asian beach circuit. However, the short hour-long ferry ride from mainland Mindanao doesn’t reflect its relative remoteness. Martial law was declared across Mindanao in May by Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte in response to an attack on Marawi city by the Islamic State-affiliated Maute group. Marawi city was besieged till October, and several hundreds were killed, mainly members of the Maute group.” Top image: Camiguin Island from the ferry, taken when I visited in October 2016.

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Essential Reading About Nepal

Essential Reading About Nepal

It’s been a while since I’ve written about books (I used to run a book blog!) but I was pleased to get a chance to write about my favourite books about Nepal recently. To be clear, this is not a list of the best books by Nepali authors (although 50% of the authors on the list are Nepali), or a list of Nepali-language literature. These topics deserve their own list, preferably written by someone who has read/studied more Nepali-language literature. This round-up is a collection of books that are especially enlightening, educational and helpful to readers who are visiting Nepal, or interested in the country. Read an extract below, or the full article on Culture Trip. 12 Books You Must Read Before Travelling to Nepal “There’s hardly a better way to research a country than by picking up a novel or collection of essays and learning about the place from the people who really know it. While not much Nepali language literature is translated into English, fortunately there are a number of excellent writers—both Nepali and international—who have astutely written about the country in English over the years. So whether novels, poetry, short stories, political analysis or travel writing are more your thing, this list has you covered. If you run out of time to read these before your trip, there are a number of excellent bookshops in Kathmandu and Pokhara where you’ll be able to find them.” Here’s a list of the books featured in the article. Those that…

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