Tag Archive for Tibet

Meet the Locals!

At Charity Challenge we are lucky enough to have friends in some of the most remote corners of the globe. We pride ourselves on promoting responsible tourism though supporting and working with nomadic communities, in particular by employing local guides and support teams. The challenges are not only physical but can be emotionally challenging and it is often the generous, welcoming nature and knowledge of the local people that really makes the experience.

Below are some of our friends and where you can find them…Maasai

Mingle with the Maasai communities of Africa on our African Bush Trek

The Maasai, known as the fiercest of warriors and perhaps the most revered of the great African nomadic tribes originated in the Nile basin and migrated south through Ethiopia to Kenya and Tanzania in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, today they struggle to retain their modest lifestyle.

Our African Bush Trek takes you to the foothills of the 2,590m tall Mt. Longido, a sacred Maasai mountain, you can trek across the floor of the Great Rift Valley right to the foothills of the visually stunning Crater Highlands with the Maasai as your guides.

En route, you will also have the chance to visit Mt. Kitumbeine, the game-filled plains of Nagarirat, Gelai Village, and the escarpment of the Great African Rift Valley. Expect to be captivated by the beauty of this region, which is known as “the Cradle of Mankind”.

Get your Poncho on with the Andean communities of Peru – Trek Machu Picchu 

This unique alternative to the extremely busy Inca Trail is far off the beaten track, and you will see diverse and spectacular scenery as you glimpse a way of Peruvian life that has remained untouched for centuries. As you walk through these endless stunning valleys, youAndean community will meet Andean farmers dressed in their traditional brightly coloured ponchos tending herds of Llamas and Alpacas. You will get to meet the local communities and visit a local school supported by Charity Challenge.

The region is also home to the Baños Del Inca, probably the best hot springs in southern Peru. Situated at an altitude of 2,667m, the springs offer spectacular views of snowy peaks and glaciers such as Mounts Veronica, Chicon and Pumahaunca. As you continue along your route, you will also take in the dazzling sights of glacial blue lakes. You will eventually have some time to explore the ruins at Machu Picchu, the ‘lost City of the Incas’. These breathtaking pre Columbian ruins are nestled high in the Andes between two peaks. The ruins were rediscovered in 1911 by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham and are one of the most beautiful and enigmatic ancient sites in the world.

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Bunk with the Buddhists in Burma on our Burma Trek

Famed for its regal history, unique culture and magnificent temples, Burma (Myanmar) remains one of the last unexplored countries in Southeast Asia. This challenge will take you to the beautiful Inle Lake through the Shan Hills where you will trek for five days through mountainous tribal villages staying in Buddhists monasteries on route.Buddhists Burma

The route will take you from the modern, bustling city of Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon with its colonial architecture and the golden Shwedagon Paya (pagoda and stupa) the most sacred site in the country for Burmese Buddhists. You will have a full day to explore the city with its fabulous mix of architecture and religious sites. The streets are filled with historical buildings many of which have a faded colonial charm not seen elsewhere in Asia.

Burma lakeAbsorb yourself in the life of the tribe’s people still practicing the same traditions as their forefathers finishing the challenge at Inle Lake, Burma’s most beautiful site. You will spend a day exploring the lake on a private boat, and pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles.

Make like the Mongolian’s on our Mongolian Horse Trek

Ride like a Mongolian, your challenge begins in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar where you will spend a day visiting the Gandan Monastery and Bogd Khan Palace before heading to the homeland of Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan was the founder and Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed “Genghis Khan”, he started the Mongol invasions that mongolian horsesresulted in the conquest of most of Eurasia. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.  Mongolian horses are renowned for their speed, strength and dexterity. This outstanding challenge will take you through partly forested, partly mountainous landscapes, interrupted by streams and rivers, being crystal clear, if not swollen from the summer rains.

Your horse riding adventure heads out to an engirdled and secluded region, for the most part untrodden as yet by tourists, though still within a few hours’ journey from the capital. You will ride along with your pack horses, starting from the Baga Khentii Mountains and ending at the Bogd Khan Mountain just south east of Ulaanbaatar. On the way you will see nomadic life at its finest. Being “Nomads” ourselves, we will experience their hospitality and mongolian childrenlearn about their lives.

You can hike along the forested hillsides or visit a local village to find out about traditional ways of life. A stranger is immediately a friend and the comfort of the ger is remarkable, making Mongolia a true gem for the intrepid traveler.

 

Share secrets with the Sapa Hill Tribes in Vietnam

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Trek into one of the most densely populated hill tribe areas of the country, with a natural, wild feel about the region.  Sapa is a typical rugged northern Vietnamese area with lots of terraces, large rolling hills, deep valleys and rice fields.  Your trek takes you along scenic trails and off the beaten path, through remote hill tribe villages of Nam Ket, Red Dao Village of Sin Chai, Nam Cum village, Thanh Phu and  Seo Mi Ty village of the Black H’mong.

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Live life like a local in Little Tibet

Isolated for many months of the year by snow, Ladakh remains one of the best places to experience the unique culture of the high Himalaya.  With its snow covered peaks, remote villages, and ancient Buddhist monasteries, Ladakh truly is like being transported to another world!

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Your flight from Delhi to Leh, or ‘Little Tibet’ as it is commonly known, takes in many of the Himalayan peaks. The peak of Stok Kangri stands out in the mountains as it turns from crimson to sparkling white on the skyline of Leh. Leh is the product of various cultural influences, today it is a Buddhist refuge, and in the past a trading post on the ancient silk route.

A walk to the Shanti Stupa will give you fantastic views of Leh, the Indus Valley and River, and the beautiful surrounding snow-capped peaks. You will be invited for tea at the Lingshed Area Project, a children’s home project based in Ladakh.

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This wildly beautiful desert region high in the Western Himalayas is a place of few resources and an extreme climate, yet it has been home to a thriving culture for more than a thousand years. Trek through picturesque and ancient villages with a lifestyle unchanged for centuries.

This trek is one of the most varied and beautiful treks that we offer, the route passes through terrain which changes from incredibly narrow valleys to wide-open vast expanses! It is made all the more interesting by the ancient form of Buddhism that flourishes in the many monasteries that dot the landscape.

Test Thai hospitality in our Thai Jungle Trek

This expedition takes place in western Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province, location of

thai jungle trek 1 the infamous Death Railway and Bridge over the River Kwai. Kanchanaburi is inhabited by a mixture of Burmese, Karen, Mon and Thai peoples. The challenge will take you through the rugged jungles in remote parts of the province close to the border with Burma.

You will spend six days trekking, rafting and kayaking through the forests and mountains of the Thung Yai Nareusan Wildlife Sanctuary. The Thung Yai area is home to the Karen people who traditionally live in small villages and forest communities. They know the region better than anybody else and will be your hosts and guides for the challenge. You will stay overnight in a Karen village consisting of bamboo stilt houses and at a campsite on the banks of the river. Once the challenge is complete, you will return to Bangkok, home to the Royal Palace and Wat Po.

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Spread smiles for miles in our Saigon to Angkor Wat Cycle

This challenge entails cycling 450kms past plantations, across waterways and through villages deep in the heart of the lush Mekong Delta in Vietnam, to the dry lands and contrasting sights of ancient Cambodia.

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You will pass temples and countless colourful pagodas, havens of calm and tranquility and bustling markets. Few locals will have seen foreigners cycling past, and their interest and hospitality will spur on even the most tired cyclist.

Your final destination is the town of Siem Reap, from which you can explore the ancient city of Angkor. Built from 879-1191AD by the Khmer civilization, Angkor represents one of humankind’s most astonishing architectural achievements, becoming a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

If all this has got you in the mood to make some new friends, head to the Charity Challenge website and begin your challenge now!

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Charity Challenge Operations Manager Jo experiences India for the first time on our secluded ‘Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek’ challenge!

As the Operations Manager for India and Asia at Charity Challenge, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to venture into the Himalayas on trails only trodden by Charity Challenge trekkers and the local Tibetan Community. Being the Operations Manager of the Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek, I know that the Himalayas are a very sought after trekking destination, especially with the spiritual element of a visit to the home of the Dalai Lama. This popularity can sometimes make the Himalayas appear to be a crowded place, but many of our participants come back from the challenge and write to me saying how quiet and exclusive their trek was, and how much more they loved it for this reason! So I decided to head out to India and experience the tranquility for myself.

Those that don’t know much about India, apart from the overwhelming crowds of people, not to mention the usual clichés of, crazy roads  jam-packed with vehicles, tuc tucs, cows and dogs walking along the roads and pavements, and the sheer extremes of poverty and riches, may be surprised when I tell you that I felt free from the hustle and bustle of London and enveloped in the peace and tranquility of India!

I trekked our most exclusive and secluded challenge, the “Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek”, and whilst trekking in the shadows of the world’s highest peak I found myself stopping and listening to the silence and taking in the awe-inspiring scenery of alpine forests, beautiful meadows back-dropped with snow capped mountains, and small Tibetan villages hidden in the rolling hills.

If you are new to the life of Tibet and the movement into India following the Dalai Lama then you will find this challenge as fascinating as I did, as you start in Dharamsala with a ‘clockwise’ walk around the Dalai Lama’s Temple. You will learn about Tibetan Buddhism and the issues it faces today, and see how Tibet is preserved in India through the practicing of traditional Tibetan arts and crafts at the Norbulinka Institute.

I will have to apologise to you now, as after just a few days I have learnt so much and realised how little I knew about India, and I won’t feasibly be able to share with you all the amazing experiences and revelations I’ve had so far! However, I can say with certainty that if you want a challenge where you will trek the mountains with tribal Tibetan nomads and their goats, learn all about why cows are head of the household, be greeted by the friendly faces and smiles of the Tibetan/Indian people and see how you can help Charity Challenge give back to the communities of this area, then you should definitely check out our September and November 2013 departure dates for our Dalai Lama Himalayan Trek. Click here for all the info!

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Jo Warren