Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leaving Bhutan and On To Rajasthan, India

After three glorious days in Bhutan it was time to board the chartered aircraft and head back to Kathmandu. The skies were fabulously clear and the Himalaya were visible in all of their snow-capped wonder. It was fantastic! To me, it is the erosion of the valleys in the Himalaya that are most spectacular. Yes, the peaks are glorious and everyone's eye is drawn to their stupendous height's. But the mountains are mere remnants of what has not been stripped away by the power of the Himalayan rivers. And as those rivers strip off more and more of the rock here, the mountains "pop up" as an isostatic rebound - the former confining mass of that rock is now gone to the Bay of Bengal and thus the mountains rise higher and the valleys get deeper. And the mountains get higher and.... on and on. Maybe a better name for this area would be the Himalayan Canyons. But then it is the peaks we see and so much the valleys.

We boarded our private jet in Kathmandu and flew 2 hrs, 50 min. to Jodhpur, India in the state of Rajasthan. Jodhpur is called the blue city and on a future post you'll learn why. We drove 2 hours north of Jodhpur after arrival to Manvar. Here we enjoyed a night's camp in tents in the desert, another ride on camels, and sumptuous Indian dinner with a music show. As usual on this trip, it was an action packed day.

Jomolhari Peak in Bhutan came into view soon after take-off in Paro. It rises 23, 996 feet and is the 3rd highest peak in Bhutan.

It only got better as were traveled west. Clouds fill the valley's up to an elevation of about 14,000 feet here.

There were some gaps in the Himalayan chain that were visible and these gave some far distant views into Tibet to the north

And finally - the big one came into view - Everest! Standing at 29,029 feet high, it is Earth's tallest mountain. Lhotse stands to its right and is Earth's 4th highest peak at 27,940 ft.

Here is a view up the Khumbu Valley, which is the traditional route up to Mt. Everest. This is the route Sir Edmund Hilary took in his first ascent in 1953. See the same photo below with all points of interest from my 2007 trek labeled. Use any "enlarge" tool on your computer for better viewing!

Labeled photograph of the Khumbu Valley and environs

A closer view. I could actually see the trail to Kalapatar from the jet!

A final view of the Himalaya on this trip. The Gokyo Valley is the cloud covered valley in the upper left and you can see the small village of Namche Baazar at the immediate right of the lower left hand cloud.

Out jet's shadow just ahead of the engine on the ground in Rajasthan. We circled here for about 15 minutes as the Indian Air Force was conducting maneuvers in the area. The airport in Jodhpur is a huge military base as the area is only 200 miles from the Pakistani border.

Whizzing by at 50 mph on the way to our desert camp. The rocks here are composed of Precambrian age meta-sandstones and other rocks. For more information see here.

Once in the Manvar area, we saw an opium ceremony

The opium was highly diluted for our visit but it was still colorful

One of the elders of this village

We saw a jewelery maker and his wife hammering hot metal

And the town cobbler gave us a demonstration of shoe making

A young lady watched the funny-looking travelers from the gate of her adobe home

Before long, our jeeps came over a rise and we saw our evenings camp! These tents were set up (we found out) just for our trip and in a howling wind storm the previous day.

Men with their camels were lined up as we entered the camp

And a young woman was there with the red paint to put a tilaka on our forehead

Beginning of our camel ride out into the Thar Desert

We came to the top of a hill just in time for sunset on March 7

As part of the former British Empire, we were required (by TCS and Starquest rules!) to enjoy a gin and tonic and local snacks at this special spot

The music in this part of India is mezmerizing. Here four musicians play for us while our camels rest and we enjoy the G+T's!

See a short video clip of this event here. Turn your sound up!

This is the scene of our fabulous dinner in the desert of Rajasthan. Many in our group were singing the Maria Muldaur song, "Midnight at the Oasis"


  1. You sure lucked out with the clear views over the Himalyans. Clear enough to see a trail. Wow!

    Your "camp" looks cozy and I really like the music, plus the TCS G&T rule.

  2. Speechless!!!! Evevn more amazing photos! Everest was tremendous especially with the labels. Loved the video, too!


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