Archive for the 'Air Journey' Category
TotalAdventure flew from Colombo,Sri Lanka to Kathmandu, Nepal on March 14th. It was a comfortable 3 hour flight, almost entirely over smoky India – hard to see much from the air.
I was greeted at the airport by my colleague and guide Shahadev Shrestha – CEO of Everest Pioneer Trek Nepal Ltd. We met at the Adventure Travel World Summit In Anchorage, Alaska in 2016. I was planning a trip to Nepal in 2020, but of course worldwide lockdowns and border closings made that impossible. Now ,in 2023,TotalAdventure finally arrived. For the next 9 days I would explore the ancient cities of the Kathmandu Valley and climb thousands of meters on the challenging stair trails in the high hills leading to the Annapurna Range.
The first day was spent in the city. Monkeys are city dwellers also.
Nandi The Bull. Nepal is both Hindu and Buddhist.
Gods Are Omnipresent – Kathmandu is a city of lively prayer. WATCH THE VIDEO .
One of the Nepali national dishes is Momo. This special Momo, a type of dumpling, has chicken and is extra spicy. Nepali food has more meat than Indian, but cow beef is forbidden.
Monkeys Love Ice Cream ! The extreme cold causes them to eat it slowly.
In Old Bhaktapur – What lies behind these mysterious doors ?
Lord Buddha is ever calm and wise.
Ancient palaces have been restored over the past two decades.
A life of prayer and piety lead to desirable conditions for reincarnation.
A visit to the Burning Ghats sees reincarnation in action. When a Hindu departs, they are cremated within the next day, if not sooner. The ashes go into the water ,while the spirit rises into the Heavens, soon to return in a new life.
The oldest son prays before his Father.
A Holy Man reads scripture.
The price list translated from the original Nepali.
In Kathmandu TotalAdventure stayed at Kathmandu’s most iconic hotel – the Yak and Yeti. It was originally a palace.
The pool is spectacular. In addition there are clay tennis courts,a state of the art gym and sauna, as well as world class international restaurants and bars.
Manager Robinson Maharjan with Shahadev Shrestha.
Though quaint, i t’s nice to read an old fashioned local English paper, even though we can get the same news 24/7 on our electronic media.After your passport, your phone is now the most important travel item.
Now, it was time for the adventurous part of the Nepal Adventure. We boarded a 25 minute flight to Pokhara. The drive is 12 to 15 hours due to major road contraction, even though it is only a little over 100 km.
We stayed at the Mount Kailash Resort in Pokhara. One can see this beautiful Himalayan view on clear mornings.There is a great swimming pool and spa to recuperate from a strenuous trek in the nearby Himalayas.
The trails in Ghorepani Poon Hill are nearly vertical – sometimes a 60 degree grade. Instead of rods, because the grade is impossible for cars, there is an extensive network of stairs . All transport is on the backs of humans and sometimes small agile horses. SEE THE VIDEO ! There are many simple guest houses in a network of villages. Your morning eggs and coffee was carried up on someone’s back. As a result prices are higher than the lowlands, but still quite reasonable.
Mt.Fishtail 6,993 Meters 22727 feet – has never been climbed. It is extremely dangerous and the Nepali Government does not grant permits.
TotalAdventure’s Permit, secured by Everest Pioneer Trek.
TotalAdventure details and routes.
Annapurna – 10th highest mountain in the world – 8,091 Meters, 26,545 feet. Nepal has 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world. Mt.Everest is farther Northeast and takes 2 weeks just to get to base camp – remember – cars are not an option.
The proprietress of our lodge with Shahadev and our porter Raj Kumar.
The snow lasts all year at higher elevations. It actually snows more in the summer, as that is monsoon. At our level around 3000m ,we had some light snow in the early mornings.
Mt.Fishtail In The Clouds.
The videographer at work.
After 3 days of climbing – from 2200 meters to 4000 meters , it was time to return to Pokhara. After a day of relaxation – we returned to Kathmandu – where I flew on to Qatar and the USA
We had a farewell dinner at the Yak and Yeti before I caught my 2 AM flight to Qatar. Pictured are Shahadev’s family, wife and daughter, along with an old college colleague of mine, Beth Brewster. We first met on a school trip in Mexico over 40 years ago. Beth has been in Nepal over 25 years. and is in charge of Giving Asha. The organization provides help to marginalized women and children in Nepal. Nepal has a great tourism industry, but there are still many poor. Please donate on the page.
Everest Pioneer Trek just launched three new adventures on TotalAdventure.Travel Click in the top left page of TotalAdventure Magazine or directly link to the trips from these links :
This article is the first of a two part story – where TotalAdventure explores the southernmost reaches of the inhabited world. TotalAdventure was invited by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and SERNATUR ( Chile Ministry of Tourism) to joining two expeditions – one in Torres del Paine National Park – more detail in the next article and another engaging in other activities on Estancias and in the vast preserves of nature. SERNATUR paid for air travel and other essentials. The trips I joined were run by Chile Nativo. Besides exploring the incredible nature of the region – we met with 25 companies chosen to work with us to sell their packages on TotalAdventure. 32 other buyers , along with press , were invited to promote the pristine unspoiled remote areas of Chilean Patagonia , the Strait of Magellan – the Gateway To The Antarctic.
TotalAdventure has been commuting to the Southern Cone this year. First, 8 hours to Santiago. Then another 4 hours down to Puerto Natales.
To El Fin Del Mundo – The End Of The World.
From Summer To Winter.
Where The Guanacos Roam.
Stripped Clean By Pumas.
Rheas, A Smaller Version Of The South African Ostrich.
Argentina Border. In order to drive to other parts of Chile, one must drive over 1600 km through Argentina. Chile is almost all islands or impassable glaciers and forest from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. Relations between the two competing Latin giants are cordial ,but not always friendly.
We spent the day at Estancia Cerro Guido, very near the Argentine border crossing at Río Don Guillermo. The Estancia has huge herds of sheep, and allows visitors to experience daily life on the Patagonian steppes.
The sheep are very wooly by winter’s end.
It’s time for a haircut. While the ewe is mildly annoyed, there is no pain. It can be dangerous for the wool to get too thick and heavy. In freezing rain and heavy snow, the animals can’t move and can die of cold. This past winter ( May to October) was the coldest and snowiest in many years – the Estancia had to rescue some herds .
The wool is shipped all over the world to be made into high quality sweaters, dresses, socks and hats.
Lunch at Estancia Cerro Guido. Parilla del Cordero. ( Lamb ) A guest might enjoy this daily.
View From On High – Towards Torres Del Paine.
The next day, outside of Puerto Natales we rode horses up Cerro Dorotea. The outfit was not totally my choice. The horses were well tempered and responsive to more experienced riders, such as myself.
Led by Guachos – Born In The Saddle !
A warm fire at the mountaintop. It was sleeting at the top.
Patagonia Before The European Settlers.
On the final day, before sales meetings began, we boarded a cruiser for an expedition through Fjord Ultima Esperanza to Glaciar Balmaceda, about 50 km from Puerto Natales.
The saltwater fjord extends a long way from the Pacific.
Seals live in caves along the cliffs.
Mother And Pup.
The days are spent fishing and getting some late winter sunshine.
A low flying bird . The caracara ? Ornithologists please let us know..
I’ll Have A Grant’s . On 3000 Year Old Glacier Rocks Please.
The Explorer At Work.
Glacial Waters spilling into the fjord.
Purest Water Anywhere !
Down From Glaciar Balmaceda.
Bandera de Patagonia.
Magellanic Penguins Live On The Cliffs – Safe From Seals.
Outdoors Adventures Concluded – At the Hotel Rio Serrano we were greeted with an incredible Parillada de Cordero. The next two days were spent meeting with 25 local adventure providers – all of whom we hope sell adventures on TotalAdventure Chile Nativo already is !.
Beautiful warm pool, with nearby saunas, whirlpools and gym to warm up after a day on the glaciers !
All too soon, the adventures came to a close and it was time to head to the airport. Observed outside at a roadside cafe – two sheepdogs entertaining themselves.
From Punta Arenas it’s a 4 1/2 hour flight to Santiago, where I had a 7 hour layover, so went into the city to have dinner with a friend. After a connecting flight through Bogotá on Avianca, I was back in Miami the next afternoon. Punta Arenas is the second most southerly commercial airport in the world – with actual flights to Antarctica – about 800 mies south.
I first came to the Far South of Patagonia in February, 1991. I drove to Puerto Natales from Rio Gallegos, Argentina. I was one of 5 cars to cross the border that day. This photo is on Glaciar Moreno in El Calfate, Argentina. 31 years later, I am happy to report that the nature has not been changed much – due to strict and well planned conservation and sustainable tourism. Of course there are many more hotels, restaurants and tour companies catering to adventurous travelers from all over the world. Also technology is far more advanced. That’s a Sony Hi-8 video camera – considered quite advanced for the time with 480 lines . I had a custom made battery belt that powered it all day. To edit, I had to rent a $ 200 per hour studio in New York. Now I shoot on a GoPro 10 with up to 5300 lines and edit on my MacBook Pro. It was great to be back – stay tuned for TotalAdventure’s return to Tierra del Fuego and onwards to Antarctica next month – December 2022 !
On the morning of Monday March 21, The Equinox , TotalAdventure chartered a single engine Cessna from Ogle Airport in Georgetown. A couple of other passengers joined to help with costs. I took the seat next to the pilot.
Our one hour flight first went out over the murky waters of the Atlantic Ocean, then across the Demerara River , down the western bank. After that , houses and roads vanished, it was just thick green Amazonian jungle all the way,
From the airstrip it was less than a half mile walk to the viewing points. TotalAdventure has traveled much of the world; Kaituer Falls is certainly one of the more forceful creations of nature witnessed. From 1500 feet it falls to 750 feet. According to the guides only two people have ever gone over the falls , with no trace to be found.
As it rains almost every day of the year, the river flow never slows down.
We returned to the Park Lodge for a box lunch of curry chicken and then it was time to return to Georgetown.
Almost every weekend are flight tours. On other days a charter may be necessary, which may be more expensive, but a better chance of having the Falls to yourself.
- Klyuchevskaya Kamchatka Siberia RingofFire ArcticTropic
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In the Summer Of 1993 when Perestroika was in full bloom , with Russia and the United States in full economic cooperation, most attention was focused on the traditional Moscow St. Petersburg realm, with some forays into oil-rich ,newly independent Kazakhstan.
The above video, “Russia’s Wild East “ focuses on business opportunities in the Russian Far East. Alaska Airlines was the bridge for US investors and explorer to travel there. At the time, Russia, emerging from the breakup of the Soviet Union needed to make an immediate move into a market economy . Americans were there to help. The Peace Corps , normally sending young people to Africa, recruited older ,experienced businesspeople as advisors to Russian companies. We interview some of them here, along with younger entrepreneurs , lawyers and other pioneers. We even visit the nascent Vladivostok Stock Exchange.
The video, produced in the analog age, was formatted for television, so there is a few seconds of black before the program starts .
11 time zones to the East – the diplomatically long frozen Bering Strait crossing had thawed. Alaska Airlines began twice weekly flights to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Yakutsk, with first stops in Magadan.
The focus of the trip was to explore the Russian Far East for cross strait opportunities for American business who were opening up the market economy on Russia. Rehabilitating old Soviet companies and factories, bringing in new products and services for sale and train the former communists in the nuances of a market -for-profit economy. In addition, we were to discover the incredible natural wonderland, especially in Kamchatka.
My coproducer Yuriko Gamo and I met in Seattle. She flew in from San Francisco and I from New York. We spent a day there interviewing the Alaska Airlines marketing team at their headquarters. It was a big investment for them to open up the Russian Far East. We then boarded our four-hour flight up to Anchorage. Alaska Airlines paid for our flights from Seattle to Anchorage and on to Vladivostok round trip. In Russia we took two internal flights on Aeroflot on its ancient Soviet fleet.
We landed at 10 PM on a sunny Alaska night in early July. It never got completely dark there, some twilight around 2 AM. We had 2 days until our Russia departure so went down to Homer where we swam in the far North Pacific and visited villages where Russian was still spoken from times before “Seward’s Folly.
At 1 PM on Saturday July 10th We departed ANC for a beautiful flight, first seeing Mt.McKinley in the distance, then swampy Tundra. The Bering sea, Chukotka, in Russia and then leading at the Arctic port of Magadan. On landing, our pilot said welcome to Magadan Russia – where it is 1 PM – tomorrow. While we had a 4-hour flight, with a four-hour time change backwards, we crossed the International Date Line. It was 1 PM Sunday, July 11. In Magadan we entered a primitive Soviet cinderblock terminal to have our visa booklets and passports stamped – then back on the plane to Vladivostok – 4 hours to the south.
Arriving in Vladivostok , my co-producer and I were greeted by Dimitry Motovilov. We stayed at his sunny, comfortable apartment in a pleasant Soviet flatblock. He was our guide for our several days there .
A journalist by background he went on to teach journalism at the local university and is currently the Media Assistant of the US Consulate in Vladivostok.
The US Consulate ( not pictured above) was invaluable in setting up the Peace Corps program, and along with Dmitry, set up interviews with businesspeople, factory supervisors, shipyard owners, and the stock exchange. They are the go-to for American businesses in the region, including the US oil companies drilling in Sakhalin. In an uninformed ,shortsighted move, outgoing Secretary of State Pompeo temporarily ceased operations at the Consulate. It is hoped that newly appointed Secretary of State Blinken can quickly restore the very important American outpost – rather than having to rely on Moscow embassy ,6000 miles away.
From Vladivostok station we took an overnight train ride on the Trans Siberian to Khabarovsk. A sleeper compartment was about 1000 rubles – $ 5.
Khabarovsk is the main gateway to Northeast China. Chinese markets sprang up all over the outskirts of the city for Russians to buy much needed consumer goods. The main currency in the markets was dollars- not rubles or yuan.
We visited ancient, dusty factories to try to determine how they could be converted to a modern day business model. Please view the video “Russia’s Wild East ” above.
In our rare calls to the US we did not use this phone. We had to speak on satellite pay phones at $ 12 a minute. Needless to say , we did not engage in idle chat about the weather.
The Khabarovsk weather by the way, was beautiful – hot and dry, nearly 100 degrees along the Amur River, a nice contrast to cool foggy Vladivostok. Khabarovsk, on the edge of Siberia sees -50 in winter.
From Khabarovsk, we flew on an ancient Aeroflot TU-34 to Petropavlovsk, only city on the California sized Kamchatka Peninsula. Kamchatka is the most volcanically active area in the world, with 16 active volcanoes.
We drove the full 80 miles on Kamchatka’s only road to a geothermal plant high in the mountains. We slept in dormitories there. After a long hike to the volcanoes, it was great to have a hot shower from the unlimited supply of hot water pumped up from the earth. One could take a shower lasting millions of years and the hot water would never run out.
Kamchatka is one of the most adventurous and hard to get to places in the world. This coming summer of 2021 , Yakutia Air plans to start weekly (return ) flights from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk. TotalAdventure welcomes Kamchatka providers to upload trips immediately. We welcome providers from all over the Russian Far East and Siberia.
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Tomorrow Evening , June 10,2019, TotalAdventure Boards Turkish Airlines From Miami To Istanbul – After 3 days in Istanbul, we fly to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. We will then tour Turkmenistan – the fabulous desert capital city and the Dharvaza Gas Crater. We move into Uzbekistan and follow the Silk Road – from Khiva to Samarkand and Bukhara. We’ll most likely stop in Almaty, Kazakhstan and finally up into the Tien Shan mountain range in Kyrgyzstan. TotalAdventure should be posting most days, except from areas with no electricity or telecommunications.
Vietnam Voyage Is A 23 minute excursion from Saigon to DaNang by air, from DaNang to Hue by train and then from Hue to Hanoi by air. TotalAdventure explores the main sites of the 4 historic cities with culinary adventures ,such as cobra snake in Hanoi.
The TotalAdventure Team flew Qatar Airways from Miami to Saigon (HCM) Vietnam .On the way we had an 8 hour layover in Doha. On the way back we stopped over for two days. The above video is a compilation of the two visits.
Qatar is the wealthiest nation in the world, per capita. But tradition prevails in the desert lands outside of Doha.
It’s a 13 hour flight from Miami. 15 hours going back.
Right off the plane from Bangkok , we went riding the high sand dunes south of Doha. You can experience the adventure in the video above.
We went right dawn to the waterway that separates Qatar from Saudi Arabia, other than the narrow land bridge. The border between the two US Allies is currently closed. That’s a Saudi Army post about 3 km in the distance.
Back in the city , we went to Souk Al Waqif.
A delicious lunch of Sheep’s Head.
And Foul – a delicious Fava Bean stew.
Modest, yet colorful fashions.
Saffron and other exotic, expensive spices for sale.
The Architecture is Amazing.
Qatar Grand Mosque .
Al Zubara Fort.
It’s hot outside in July. That’s 117 F !
TotalAdventure would like to Thank Mr.Ahmed Nasser Al Rayes , Chairman of the Al Rayes Group for making our excursion in Qatar so flawless, exploring the majority of the country in a very short time. The Al Rayes Group owns 83 companies ,and is a leader in tourism investment.
Amazing Skyline Of Corporate Towers,
TotalAdventure Team Took Off From Miami on the evening of June 6th. We flew out over the dark Atlantic, across France in the early morning, onwards through Eastern Europe and the Black Sea across to Turkey and then over Iraq. Due to diplomatic problems, Qatar Airways cannot fly over Saudi or Bahraini airspace , adding about 45 minutes to the 14 hour flight.
Over War Zones,Former And Curent.
The Skyline By Night. In Ramadan,Doha comes alive at night.
June 7th was a day in the Holy Month of Ramadan. We did not eat or even have a glass of water while walking around in the the 42 C ( 108 F) heat. But after sundown it was time for Iftar – the Breaking of the Fast. We enjoyed delicious Lamb Kofta along with Iranian bread.
The Holy Quaran.
Sheikh Al-Thani .
Tonight at 7:20 PM Miami time we board Qatar Airlines Flight 778 to Doha ,Qatar arriving there at 1620 tomorrow. During our 9 hour layover we will leave the airport to explore the city . As it is Ramadan we will break fast at sunset for the Iftar meal. At 0150 hours Friday we board Qatar Flight 970 To Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon), Vietnam arriving Friday afternoon about 1400. We will be traveling all over Vietnam,Laos ,Cambodia and Thailand ! Shooting with our beautiful new GoPro 6. Follow TotalAdventure Magazine every day to take part in this epic journey !
After A Six Hour Flight From Miami, Our Flight Landed At El Alto – The World’s Highest Airport – 13,850 Feet – Four Kilometers Above Sea Level.
The Surrounding Andes Are Even Higher – Up To 21,000 Feet – 6000 Meters.
We Drove Down Into La Paz To Refresh.
And Then Got On The Road To Lake Titicaca.
At 12,000 Feet It Is The World’s Highest Inland Navigable Body Of Water. Lake Tahoe Is Tiny In Comparison.
A Reed Boat – In Use By The Incas For Hundreds Of Years. Aymara, Is The Language Here, Not Spanish.
Sunset Over Lake Titicaca. Peru Is In The Distance. Bolivia Is An Amazingly Different World,So Close To Miami.