I had dreamed of traveling through Rajasthan, India - Land of Kings - for two years. My plan to go was finally in place and at the top of my List of things to do, was a camel trek through the Thar Desert, near Jaisalmer, in the Far East of the state.
A camel trek has to be one of the all time quintessential adventures. Every big time adventure movie star at one point in their career has been on the back of a camel. Why shouldn't I give it a try. I can tell you it's nothing like riding a horse. A camel puts you much higher off the ground than a horse. A horse has a smoother gate meaning a much more comfortable ride. A camel seems to lumber at its regular pace and this is where you can develop severe muscle ache and strain from the butt down. Camels are nastier too. Don't expect a bond built on touch that perhaps develops as part of a riding relationship with a horse.
Despite the realities of riding of a camel I had an inspirational trek into the Thar Desert with my wonderful guide, Gunput. I felt the deep down feelings of being a nomad resurface from ancestors or past lives. Sleeping on the dunes under the stars awakened perspective and the tiny space I occupy in the universe.
During my travels through Rajasthan I also spent a day on a cultural safari through Bishnoi villages outside of Jodhpur.
The Bishnoi are the original tree-huggers. Many of them sacrificed their lives while embracing trees in the local villages in the 18th century over a dispute with the then maharaja.They are also caretakers of local wildlife. It is said that you never want to come across a Bishnoi while hunting.
Kagbeni is at the crossroads of two very important trekking routes in Nepal, The Annapurna Circuit and The Upper Mustang. I visited this town during my trek through to Lo Manthang and the Upper Mustang. It is one of the most unusual towns in Nepal filled with a mix of Buddhist and Bonn religious deities and temples, plus the only location of Yak Donald's.
I hope these stories and images of South Asia in this issue inspire you to get out and see what I believe are some of the most exciting and culturally rich destinations on the planet.John Saboe