Saturday, January 12, 2019

Kangtega and Thamserku | The Lesser Peaks of the Everest region

Thamserku from Namche Bazar at dsuk
The Everest region has a galaxy of star studded so called "lesser peaks" in the range of 6000-7000 metres. Most of these are extremely beautiful and in most cases over shadow Everest itself. Other than Ama Dablam which is really the "jewel in the crown", Kangtega and Thamserku are visible along both the Everest Base Camp and Gokyo trails.

"Kangtega, known also as The Snow Saddle, is a major mountain peak of the Himalayas in Nepal. Its summit rises 6,782 metres (22,251 ft). It was first ascended in 1963 1963 David Dornan, Tom Frost, Michael Gill, Jim Wilson  in an expedition led by Edmund Hillary.
Thamserku is a mountain in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal. The mountain is connected by a ridge leading eastward to Kangtega. Thamserku is a prominent mountain to the east of Namche Bazaar and lies just north of Kusum Kangguru.
The first ascent was made in 1964 from the south by members of Edmund Hillary's Schoolhouse Expedition: Lynn Crawford, Pete Farrell, John McKinnon, Richard Stewart and Phu Dorje Sherpa. Below the basin on the southwest face, they reached the south ridge after climbing a difficult couloir. The team described the climb as difficult and the route has not been repeated in its entirety by anyone else." From Wikipedia

Some photographs of these two magnificent peaks are below

Reflections in the first lake of Gokyo

Walking from Lobuche towards Dzongla on the Cho La route

On the trail near Dole, Gokyo trek

Early morning view from Luza, Gokyo trek

Evening at Kyanjuma

From the pass above Dingboche on the trail to Dugla
South Col Expeditions treks in the Everest region every year.  For details of our 2019 treks do visit and for photographs from the Himalaya do visit

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Mustang | Flowers and Plants in the Trans Himalaya

The rain shadow area of Mustang close to the Tibetan border is similar to the rest of the Trans-Himalaya and close to Tibet in topography and features.

One would expect that this desert like terrain where the winds howls up the Kali Gandaki river valley every day would not be conducive for plant life.

A South Col team trekked Mustang  to Mustang twice in 2015 and again in 2016. We were very surprised to find so  many flowers and plants in bloom.

Here are some photographs of the plants and flowers we saw:

For more information and photographs on Mustang do visit

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Imja Khola Valley in Nepal

The massive south wall of Lhotse seen from near Chukung
In the shadow of the highest mountain in the world lies a land of high passes, flower drenched meadows and massive glaciers.

The Imja Khola is one of the rivers that flows down from the upper reaches of the Imja glacier and joins the Dudh Kosi at Thyanboche. This essay covers the Imja valley of Nepal- the river flows down from the glaciers of Imjatse and joins the Dudh Kosi  below Tengboche.

A lone lammergier  approaches the sheer wall of Ama Dablam as seen from Pangboche 

Rocks and clouds

Yak in a snow storm 

Tibetan snowcock calls out to it's mate

The Imja Khola 

Rhododendrons in spring


For our treks in the Everest region and the Himalaya do visit

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Kandy Temple of the Tooth Relic | Sri Lanka

Entrance of the temple
One of the most sacred places of workship for Buddhists is the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy Sri Lanka which is visited by pilgrims the world over. On a recent visit to Sri Lanka I spend the morning at this temple.

From Wikipedia
Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Site mainly due to the temple.

Bhikkhus of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present.

The temple sustained damage from bombings by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in 1989 and by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1998 but was fully restored each time.

Flowers ready for offering outside the temple

A smaller temple in the main complex

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Everest Trek Updates November 2018

I trekked the Everest region in November 2018 and some updates which will be useful for trekkers are below:

The TIMS permit is no longer required and it is also not necessary to buy any permits in Kathmandu. The Pasang Lhamu Municipality permit is available in Lukla on arrival ( NPR 2000/-) and the Sagarmatha Park permit is available at Monjo ( Foreigners NPR 3000/- Indians NPR 1500/-).

Mobile Phones
Ncell is the service provider of choice and has good connectivity except at Dingboche, Pheriche and Lobuche and Gokyo. Nepal Telecom is the second choice in this area as the coverage is more limited.

Everest Link
There is now a wifi card available from Everest Link which works in most lodges. The cost of the card is NPR 1999/- for 10 GB data and NPR 2999/- for 20 GB data. I used the 10 GB card on this visit and found it worked quite well. The period of the card is 30 days.

Lodge Accomodations

Since October 2018, above Namche Bazar, it is not possible to make payments to lodges for rooms directly. There is a newly formed Khumbu Hotel Association which has a checkpost at each village and collects the payment for the rooms directly. At present the minimum rates are NPRs 500/- per room excepting in Lobuche and Gorak Shep where it is NPRs 700/- per room. Lodges can and do charge higher rates depending on the type of accomodation, attached bathrooms etc.

Updated Prices for Meals etc.
There has been a steep increase in costs of meals, tea, coffee, hot water etc since my last visit. I photograped a lodge menu at Lobuche and the costs as per menu are given below. At Gorak Shep it would be another 5-10% more while at Pheriche/Dingboche/Namche it would be 10-15% less. Based on these costs the average cost per day for meals only (excluding rooms) would range between $30-40 per day.

Trekking Numbers ( October -November)
There were a record number of trekkers in the Everest region this autumn. The month of October 2018 alone had around 14,500 trekkers  which was up from October 2017 ( 12,479 trekkers). As result, lodges were extremely crowded, flights overbooked and trails very busy. Trekkers to Everest next year should consider this in planning their dates. Interestingly, the crowds dropped by the 18th of November and when I returned on 26th November there would be around 40-50 trekkers coming in as compared to 400-500 in October!

The statistics for 2017 and part of 2018  as per the Sagarmatha Post is below:

For more information on our Everest and other treks do visit
For the best seasons for Everest trek do visit

Friday, November 30, 2018

Galle and Unawatuna | Sri Lanka - The Coast

Sunset over the Indian Ocean
One of the nicest areas of Sri Lanka near the coast is the beach of Unawatuna and the nearby former Dutch settlement of Galle. After a Sri Lanka tour covering all the highlights of Anuradhapura, Kandy, Dambulla, Sigriya etc it makes sense to stop for two or three nights here before returning home.

We stayed at the astonishing Hotel Sun n Sea at the far end of Unawatuna beach with rooms perched right on top of the sea!

Some photographs from this area:

View from the balcony of Sun n Sea Hotel Unawatuna

Fishing on Unawatuna beach

The fish market, Galle

Bananas of all types at the Galle market

Restored Dutch mansions near Galle fort

The ramparts of Galle fort

An antique car in front of a cafe at Galle

The Clock Tower - Galle Fort

Interior of the Dutch Church, Galle

From the deck of the Sun n Sea Hotel Unawatuna

For more photographs do visit


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