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

Friday, November 23, 2018

Udawalawe National Park | Sri Lanka

We recently spent two days in the Udawalawe National Park in southern Sri Lanka. While lacking the so called glamour of Yala - the signature park of Sri Lanka - this shrub land park offers a host of wildlife including possibly the best views of elephants at close quarters including many birds and other smaller mammals.

From Wikipedia
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area and was established on 30 June 1972. Before the designation of the national park, the area was used for shifting cultivation (chena farming). The farmers were gradually removed once the national park was declared. The park is 165 kilometres (103 mi) from Colombo. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan elephants. It is a popular tourist destination and the third most visited park in the country.

The cost of a jeep for a single half day safari will vary between LKR (Sri Lanka Rupees)  3500 to 5000 depending on the pick up and drop points. The jeep can take around 6 persons. The cost of the entry to the park per visit is given in this photo below:

Some photographs from our visit to the Park

The land monitor

The best park to see elephants in Sri Lanka

A peacock greets the morning sunshine

A storm brews over the reservoir
Elephants in a jeep jam trying to cross the road

The elephants are not afraid of the safari vehicles

An elephant crosses a river with painted storks on the bank

A toque macaque

A red wattled lapwing

A peacock waits for the rain

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Elephant Trail Lodge | Udawalawe Sri Lanka

One of the nicest forest lodges where  we have stayed in recently is the Elephant Trail Lodge in Sri Lanka five minutes drive from the gates of Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe is the third popular park in Sri Lanka after Yala and Wilpattu but it's well worth a visit and Elephant Trail is the ideal place to stay.

The lodge has around fifteen rooms with high ceilings, a well appointed large bathroom and a sit out overlooking the swimming pool. The best rooms are on the second floor with plenty of light and air.

For more information on the lodge please do visit

Some photographs are given below:

The park is famous for elephants

The swimming pool and sit out area seen from the rooms
Gallery image of this property
Relaxing by the swimming pool
A room at the lodge

Each room has an independent sit out area overlooking the swimming pool  


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