From the Himalayas to the Sahara, the search for unusual and exciting experiences has ignited the travel bug of relentless adventurers.
The Himalayan mountain range stretches from Pakistan across India, Bhutan to Nepal and Eastern China. The Eastern sub-region is the most spectacular section running 2,500 kilometres from India, Bhutan, Nepal and China, cited the World Wildlife Fund website.
The region holds the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar cap. They feed three of Asia’s renowned rivers: The Ganges, Indus and Yangtze.
The Eastern Himalayas houses Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. At 8,848 metre high, stunning mountains, valleys and glaciers dominate the landscape.
Nepal – Fabled Shangri-La
Nepal occupies about 70% of the Eastern Himalayas. The fabled landlocked Shangri-La is a hiker’s paradise. Nepal offers scenic beauty with ancient monasteries and quaint hill villages peppered with rice terraces.
The country’s diverse climate and forests (from subtropical to temperate) provides a natural habitat for thriving wildlife. Nepal-based travel companies that offer tours in the region include Davema Travel Solution and Skypak Holidays.
Bhutan: Happiness is the Place
In neighbouring Bhutan, the small Himalayan kingdom is shrouded in mystique waiting to be unravelled. Happiness is the Place, according to the country’s tourism tagline.
The Roof of the World is best known for its ancient Buddhist shrines, temples and religious sites. A pilgrim destination whose vibrant culture is deeply embedded in ancient Mahayana Buddhism. Other attractions include the many colourful festivals and scenic treks.
Spice lovers would enjoy the tantalizing Emma datshi, the country’s national dish. The chili cheese stew is a combination of chili pepper, onions stewed in local yak cheese.
Canadian based Bhutan Mindful Travels offers cultural and special interest tours as well as trekking packages for independent and group travel.
World War II Allied pilots labelled the eastern Himalayas as ‘The Hump’ due to the poorly charted, harsh-weathered and often fatal terrains. Radio navigation aids, and transport infrastructures like airstrips were virtually non-existent then. Accessibility has improved significantly since 1942.
Drukair and Bhutan Airlines are the only two carriers that fly into Bhutan’s only airport at Paru. Flights are accessible from Kathmandu in Nepal and major Asian hubs including Bangkok, New Delhi and Singapore. Unlike Bhutan, Nepal is served by many international carriers. There is also a train service that runs from Delhi to Kathmandu.
Call of the Sahara
From mythical Bhutan to captivating Nepal, exotic Morocco beckons the adventurous to the open desert of the Sahara. At seven million years old, the Sahara is 10 times younger than the Himalayas.
The world’s largest hot desert covers about 10 percent of the African continent.
Morocco: Gateway to Africa and the great Sahara
The North African country lies on two coastlines, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. North of Morocco is the Rif Mountain and to the southwest, the Atlas Mountains. The Sahara Desert edges the south and western borders of Morocco.
We asked client service manager Elaine Dixson of Come to the Sahara what’s unique about Morocco. She says,
“Morocco is an exotic country with a rich and ancient culture, and modern sensibilities.”
“The landscapes are iconic and ever-changing. Morocco is made for the up-close-and-personal experience: weave a carpet, harvest saffron, ride a camel, sleep in a nomad tent, hunt for fossils, or learn to cook couscous.”
For a physical adventure, Dixson says, Morocco offers world-class surfing, unspoiled beaches, mountain hiking including multi-day treks, and cycling trips through kasbah (fortress) ruins, palm oases and fields of roses.
The travel company, Come to the Sahara is the Canadian administrator for Sahara Adventures, a Moroccan-owned, registered and licensed tourist transportation company. They create custom tours to celebrate life events and also co-ordinate special interest tours.
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“We organize private or “join me” tours across the entire country: we go where others don’t, always in safety and comfort. When you book, you deal directly with us — no middle-man,” says Dixson.
Uganda: Wildlife at Every Turn
Uganda is the place for a gorillas safari in the misty mountain forests of Africa’s secret garden. Or watch elephants, giraffes, zebras and other wildlife feed and roam the endless savannas.