More Inspiration

On the Couch with Nina Karnikowski

Travelling with intention, or Mindful Travel, is part of a new slower style of travel – but what does that entail? 

We enlisted travel writer, tour guide, and mindfulness expert Nina Karnikowski to work out what Thoughtful Travel truly means and how we can become more mindful travellers. 


Your upcoming trip, Mindful Travel in the Himalayas with Nina Karnikowski, focuses on the concept of travelling mindfully - can you tell us a little bit about what it means? 

The term mindful can be subbed out with conscious or thoughtful, so it's about travelling with intention and clarity.  

This idea of the obliteration of presence has become solid in modern life. The trip is really about reclaiming that sense of presence, so about connecting intentionally to our surroundings through things like journalling and mindful photography, which is something we could all learn a lot about in the day of smartphones where we click away a million times a day and don't take in what's in front of us. 

So, I want to encourage people to take in the moment with all of their senses and be present there. Be present for the people – for the culture, for nature – because otherwise, what a tragedy, we miss these beautiful places we'll see. When you think about it, a lot of modern travel is taking away from us being present in the area, so this is returning to how we used to travel. When you're attuned to the place that you're in, you can see how you can give back to a place, and you're mindful about what you're doing there, and how you're behaving so there's that charming cross-section there that we'll be able to explore in this trip. 

Nina Karnikowski Nepal

So, you’ll be heading to Nepal in October; one thing we like to say about Nepal is that it’s a boomerang destination – people keep coming back. As someone who’s spent their fair share of time there, what is it about Nepal that keeps you coming back? 

I'm a big fan of visiting a place multiple times. I interviewed with ABC recently about precisely that, and there are two camps - the people that say ''been there, done that, tick that off" and then the people that go back all the time. 

A trip like this makes it even more insane to be in that mindset of just ticking things off because what you want to do is develop a deeper relationship with a place, and when you go somewhere like Nepal, you want so badly to create a connection to it. 

I think, in so many ways, the Nepalese have the keys to a good life, and that's due to a mixture of a lot of things. It's a mixture of the incredible natural beauty that is there and the kind of energy that is in the Himalayan region that really can't be described. You have to go, you have to feel it, and once you've felt it, you just crave more of it. 

It's also the Buddhist underpinnings of the Sherpa people in the Himalayas who came from Tibet. There's all this Tibetan Buddhism weaved into the culture there, so the idea of interconnectedness between all things is a significant tenant of the Buddhist belief. Understanding that connection between the natural world and yourself is just something that is inherent in Nepalese culture, in Sherpa culture, and witnessing that in people's lives first-hand is just so beautiful and moving, and, when you go to places like the monastery that we'll be visiting, you see that in action - you see it in action in just about everybody you meet. There's that lightness of being; there's this incredible sense of humour that Nepalese people seem to have. 

Nepalese people have been through the most horrendous these things, most recently the earthquake and then Covid, but when you speak to them about those times, they'll be telling you a horrible story, but they'll be laughing and saying, "What can you do? This is life." What can we do? We continue and always prevail. I think those beliefs are just so beautiful to be around. I think they really change us as people. 


There is so much to love about Nepal - What location are you most looking forward to sharing with them? 

Well, I think just sharing the Everest region in the Himalayas, just being in the mountains, in high altitudes, makes you feel amazing. You feel this sense of presence that comes with that. 

Of course, I can't wait to go to Namche Bazaar - that's the "capital of Sherpa culture", so there are little Sherpa shops and Tibetan stalls and all that sort of thing, but then rounded by the majestic Himalayas.  

I wrote a book a couple of years ago called 'Go Lightly', which was all about how to travel more sustainably, and those kinds of places are just that in action. You're in a natural environment, you're taking things slowly, you're seeing these beautiful places, and you have no choice but to interact with the locals because you know there's all these amazing local handicrafts that you can support the local community by buying, and I think also staying in eco-camps is another really exciting thing for people to experience as well. 


Nina Karnikowski Nepal Nina Karnikowski Nepal Nina Karnikowski Nepal

In the upcoming trip, there will be exclusive workshops with you -what’s the outcome for travellers who choose to take part? What do you want them to walk away with? 

It's not only about the experience within the destination. I hope people connect more deeply to Nepal by doing things like reflective writing and taking time to take far fewer photos and do that more mindfully. Walking slowly, with a consciousness about what's around - all of these things will enhance the moment, yes, but then when they go home, I would hope that people continue some of those things.  

Not everybody, for instance, would love to continue journaling. However, I teach a lot of journalling, and I have yet to meet anybody who finishes and goes, "I'm never going to do that again" I've had people from teenage girls to 75-year-old men saying oh my gosh, I had forgotten about this, or I never knew I had access to this. It's such a life enhancer, so I'm very passionate about people taking that on, but really, it's about just developing a more significant presence in this special place.


The trip will also feature a special presentation with Dr Ananda from a great project called T-HELP; why was this a must-do on your itinerary? 

Well, I'm constantly thinking about this idea of being as nourishing for the places we visit as they are for us. So, people have in their heads ''I've got to go and build an orphanage if I want to give back" or something similar. 

It's actually not about that at all. It's so much wider than that, and there are things that we can do, such as spending money in local communities at places like the stalls in Namche Bazaar or eating at local restaurants. 

This is such a beautiful project. To facilitate women to learn about worm farming and, if we're trying to do things that are beneficial for the environment - what could be better than empowering women to learn new skills in ways that can help move them away from any kind of industrialised Agriculture? Worm farming is a tenant of permaculture and regenerative farming, so for people to understand what's happening in that in that area is really beneficial. 

 Nina Karnikowski Nepal


So, the trip goes from October 15th to 28th, and coincides with the Hindu festival Dashain. Could you tell us a bit about what that festival means? 

I was lucky enough to actually be in Nepal at that time last year as well, so I learnt a little bit about it then. It's just beautiful to be there at that time because there is an abundance of colour and family gatherings and beautiful offerings everywhere, which there are in Nepal generally, but at that time, it's heightened.  

It's a Hindu festival all about good prevailing over evil, which is also a beautiful thing to weave into this particular trip, but it’s a time for Hindus to worship the goddess Durga - victory over a demon. 

The goddess Durga symbolises fertility, so it's also about celebrating the fertility of the land and receiving blessings for a good harvest ahead, so I was in the Himalayas last year and you would see families congregating wearing red, they also had this holy grass called Jamarra, which the women put in their hair and then they put it on the offering tables along with any incense. It's the biggest and most auspicious festival in Nepal, so it's an amazing time to be there. Then at the very end of Dashain, I was in Kathmandu and saw all of the processions that happened there.  

On this trip, we're going to be spending a few days in Kathmandu, so we’ll probably see that too. There are these ancient, beautiful temples where the festivities are taking place - so you see people creating music and coming out with their offerings; it's a really special time to be there, and everybody's just in that celebratory mood which is very special. 


The actual trekking part of the trip will be for eight days; how challenging would you say it is?

Well, it’s classed as introductory to moderate, so it's perfect for first-time visitors to Nepal and first-time Trekkers. We do reach out of about 3900 M, which is relatively high, so you need to have a good level of Fitness. Having said that, altitude: we can't predict the way that it will affect people. You could be the fittest, strongest person, and it might still affect you, or you could be completely unfit and wouldn't affect you at all.

Luckily, there are medications and things you can take. There’s an amazing group of people on the trek to take care of everybody and make sure that everything is incredibly safe in that respect. In terms of fitness, it's recommended that you do regular exercise three to four days a week. 

If you miss it here or there, that's totally fine - you do not have to be crazy fit for this. We're not going to be running up Everest - we are going to be working very slowly and mindfully and really taking it all in. It's more about that than anything else - being in this beautiful place and walking (note: walking, not running). 

It will be deliberately like that in order to allow for the slow gain in altitude because that way, it's much less likely to affect you.  


You have published some great books over the last few years, including Go Lightly and Make a Living, Living, but your newest project will release just prior to this trip – what can readers expect? 

I'm very excited about this one - and nervous - because it's a memoir, so it's a lot more personal than my books in the past. It's going to be called 'the Mindful Traveller'. There you go,  in perfect alignment with this trip. 

It comes out on August 29th, and it's a memoir about my travels. But more than that, it's about the gifts of stillness, reflection, and coming into a deeper connection with the natural world. That's what we’re focusing on this trip, and I wanted to create something that would help anybody out there who is wondering: how do I become a better steward for the planet - a better force for good? It's really to give people an example of what that might look like. People who love travel and nature and who are searching for ways to come into a deep relationship with the natural world, which is what we'll be doing in Nepal.

What is 'Regenerative Travel'?

Regenerative Travel is a relatively new term in travel circles that aims to go beyond sustainable travel practices. While sustainable travel focuses on minimising negative impacts and returning a net neutrality on the environment and local communities, Regenerative Travel aims to have a positive and transformative effect on those environments and communities. 

Put simply, the core principle of Regenerative Travel urges travellers to have a positive impact by giving back more than they take from the destinations they visit. 

The term was born during the Covid pandemic, when locations typically overtouristed began to see improvements in key indicators like air quality, and less pollution. 

The question was soon posed - how can these improvements continue when travellers return? How can a destination benefit yet still incentivise the protection of natural and cultural assets AND still provide an enriching experience for the traveller? 

Enter, Regenerative Travel. 

Beach clean-up is an important part of coastal restoration and regeneration

A Regenerative Travel program involves travellers committing to activities such as actively restoring and regenerating ecosystems, supporting local economies, engaging in community lead initiatives, fostering cultural exchange and reducing their carbon footprint. 

The benefits of Regenerative Travel are seen on many levels. This type of 'slow travel' seeks to create a net positive cycle, where travellers and destinations mutually benefit from the experience, leaving a lasting positive impact on the environment, building capacities for local communities, and increasing respect for cultures encountered during the journey. 

When travellers support locally driven initiatives and businesses, the communities receive the resources they require to care for and protect their environment. 

The demand for this style of travel also drives the local communities to engage in activities supporting this regenerative approach, and the traveller, sharing more meaningful experiences during their journey, is more driven to respect and protect the land and local communities while travelling. 


Vermicomposting workshops educating Nepali farmers to build environmentally sustainable livelihoods |  <i>Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program</i> Vermicomposting kits supplied to farmers by Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program |  <i>Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program</i> Vermicomposting workshops educating Nepali farmers about sustainable farming |  <i>Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program</i>

We have teamed up with a local NGO, T-HELP, to implement a service program and help train local female farmers in the techniques of vermicomposting. This is combined with a group trek through the Annapurna Range through small farming communities and villages, into the location of the service program, gaining an understanding of the local environment and terrain, as well as gaining incomparable views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. 

Overall, Regenerative Travel offers travellers a unique opportunity to combine personal growth, cultural understanding, environmental stewardship, and community engagement. It empowers people to become responsible global citizens who actively contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive world.

Defending Cultural Diversity through Adventure Travel

With the increase of well dressed and nourished Western travellers to so many remote and delicate destinations it’s no surprise that many that live in these places feel some pressure to conform. We want to change the narrative.

World Expeditions has been operating BIG adventures with a small footprint in over 120 countries since 1975, and over this time we’ve been highly conscious of the need to respectfully engage with international communities around the globe, encourage cultural preservation and cooperate on programs that will provide long lasting benefits for the host communities.



A big word, with bigger consequences. Monoculturalism is a policy or process of supporting or advocating a single social or ethnic group, in most cases, this stems from a strong belief of superiority by one group.

In some of the world’s most traditional communities such as Peru, Kenya and Nepal, the younger generation and in particular, males, are embracing Western values as the ideal. If they continue to lean in to this, over many future generations we run the real risk of becoming a monoculture.

At a recent trade event, our CEO, Sue Badyari, spoke as a panellist in a crowded room of travel industry professionals.

“It’s a really important issue today in tourism that we must lean into these cultures and tell them that they should be the pinup for Western culture, not the other way around. We do not want the world to become a monoculture”.

But why? Well, traditionally, monoculture has lead to the suppression and subsequent loss of ethnic cultures across the globe. It has also contributed to many of the genocides practiced throughout history.



We (travel companies and our travellers collectively) need to all be part of the solution to encourage cultural pride and its preservation as the poster for global diversity. 

Traditional cultures should be the pin up for where Western values can learn from. Changing the narrative that traditional cultures should not aspire to Western values in order to progress is not only important but an imperative.

In many countries, like Australia, we are experiencing a period of Indigenous awareness like never before. 

Travellers are eager to understand and learn from the Indigenous communities who have been the custodians of their country for a very long time. 

We saw this as an intrinsic opportunity for our travellers to learn from a long time ago and subsequently wove into our programs the inclusion of wonderful people who are the traditional custodians and who provide travellers with valuable insights into their cultural beliefs and learnings. Our travellers rank this element very highly in the score of their overall travel experience.

The cultural conversation at Standley Chasm will teach you more about Arrente country |  <i>Luke Tscharke</i> Our guides will help you learn more about Kakadu's most significant sites |  <i>Shaana McNaught</i> The cultural conversation at Standley Chasm will teach you more about Arrente country |  <i>Luke Tscharke</i>

When you travel, we have some practical suggestions for travellers aimed at fostering not only a harmonious and positive travel experience for them, but ensuring the local community are encouraged and engaged also by their presence. Part of our job is to draw on our long experience and educate and set the right expectations. Here are some examples of how we achieve that:

  • Providing travellers with an overview of the history, traditions and customs of the destinations they are visiting, helping them to understand what is and what isn’t appropriate.
  • Relying on the resourceful suggestions from our local tour guides in how to respect local customs and traditions while abroad which may include dress codes, taking photos of local people and any other significant cultural nuances.
  • Recommending wearing modest clothing to encourage respectful interactions. In Muslim countries that is additionally important, and in countries such as Iran, some clothing items such as a head scarf for women are essential.
  • Advocating for an open and positive mindset whilst travelling. People from across the globe have so many different perspectives and travellers can learn a lot if they listen and learn from other cultures.
  • Buy locally made products, support local artisans which in turn helps the local economies.
  • Be particularly mindful when in spiritual places, temples or places of worship.
  • Learning a few key words and phrases of the local language before you visit, it’s shows you’ve made an effort to immerse interactively with the people of the destination and they always appreciate that.
4 reasons why the Kokoda Trail should be on your bucket list

Have you ever considered tackling the 96-kilometre Kokoda Trail? The Kokoda Track has become a pilgrimage for many Australians and taking on the trail could be one of your most memorable trekking experiences.

The trail takes you through dense jungle following the path in which Australian and Japanese armies engaged in bitter warfare during the early days of World War II. It also offers an incredible physical and mental challenge that will teach you to take “one step at a time” as World Expeditions staff member Hilary Delbridge recounts:

On completion of Kokoda I was on such a high, even though I was so physically exhausted. It felt like a real accomplishment in my life. Even now when life gets tough, I know I can get through “one step at a time” – that is what the Kokoda challenge is all about.


If you are looking for a personal challenge; want to follow the footsteps of our ANZAC soldiers; and experience the unique jungle environment and welcoming nature of the Papua New Guinea people, these are our top four reasons why the Kokoda Trail should be on your bucket list!

1. The history

Kokoda was described as the harshest and worst conditions any soldier could ever be ordered to fight in. This fight against the Japanese invasion force was the most significant battle fought by Australians in World War II. With both sides sick and casualty rates soaring, if Gallipoli was Australia’s baptism of fire in WWI, Kokoda could be described as the WWII equivalent. The Australians stopped the Japanese wave on Kokoda and finally defeated the Japanese on the northern beaches at Sanananda in 1943.

Each year a significant number of Australians embark on this pilgrimage to learn about and reflect upon this battle, with much of the track region appearing as it did in 1942 where the Australian soldiers fought. You can also travel to the North Coast battlegrounds of Buna and Sanananda, where the final stages of the campaign played out.

“You begin to get a real insight into what the ANZAC diggers went through, except they trekked with the inadequate gear of the time, heavy packs and ammunition, and little food or medical care – not to mention being shot at by the enemy,” says Hilary. “You will see plane wrecks, ammunition and bomb shells, and the sites where the diggers had to dig deep to hide.”

Our highly experienced Australian guides assist your journey over the Kokoda trail as you discover not only Australia’s history but also that of the Japanese and most importantly the local Papuan’s.

Local porters provide some rest stop entertainment |  <i>Ryan Stuart</i> Walking the historic Kokoda Track, a once in a life time challenge. |  <i>Ryan Stuart</i> Opportunities to interact with local people and experience the culture are another attraction of walking the Kokoda Track |  <i>Ryan Stuart</i> Templeton's crossing |  <i>S Goodwin</i>

2. Physical and mental challenge

There is no doubt the Kokoda Trail is a challenging trek, however if you are well prepared and have done the required amount of training you will be ready to take on this challenge. Kokoda is not the demon it is portrayed and everyday people complete Kokoda – young and old. With Mt Everest Base Camp being a 10/10 difficulty level and walking around the block a 1/10, Kokoda rates as a 7/10, with moderate cardio fitness required.

Hilary recounts that the Kokoda Trail was challenging yet life-changing:

The Kokoda Track was the hardest walk I have ever done, but also the most life-changing. It taught me to live in the moment.

Hilary continues to explain what made her choose to take on the challenge of Kokoda, “I wanted to know what The Kokoda Track was all about, how hard it was, and what the diggers went through. I was also going through a period in my life where I was searching for deeper meaning, something I found in the amazing vistas and the mountains that seemed to go on and on, and up and up."

"Did I train to climb those mountain passes? Most certainly, bush bashing up a hill with a heavy pack three times a week! I would not describe myself as a particularly sporty or fit person, but with the training I was able to cope with the Kokoda challenge.”

3. Friendly culture

Whilst Papua New Guinea (PNG) is relatively poor by world standards with a large reliance on subsistence farming, it is one of the most culturally rich with 800+ indigenous languages and Papuans being some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. They may appear intimidating initially but as you cross paths their genuine smile beams to light.

On our Kokoda treks you will share experiences with our interactive porter team made up of village locals and stay in secluded jungle camps in some of the most remote regions of PNG.

The local traditional villagers here will also share some of their culture, which is an ideal accompaniment to an incredible journey across this extraordinary island. Hilary explains:

The smells and sounds of the thick jungle really need to be experienced first-hand as well as the beautiful nature of the Papua New Guinean people: the guides, the villagers and the children.

Our itineraries have been crafted to allow opportunities to embrace the local culture and history, as well as meeting the track’s physical demands. We also promote Leave No Trace camping, ethical treatment of porters and reinvest in the village’s education system.

4. Spectacular scenery

The Kokoda Trail is an amazing thrill-seekers challenge in the midst of beautiful jungles, spectacular butterflies and pristine rivers and creeks with a never-ending supply of crisp clean water. Adventurers revel in the amazing wildlife and still discover each year new relics from the wars in 1942.

The track wanders along narrow crests offering awe-inspiring views, and falls into deep dark gorges where the thick green vegetation blocks out the daylight. The scenery is spectacular and the views change from day to day, and even hour by hour. 

At the higher elevations up around 2000 metres, you step into a Lord of the Rings type environment, and much of the foliage mimics New Zealand’s high Alps.

The scenery, challenge, culture and history make this a 10/10 journey and why we think the Kokoda Trail should be on your adventure bucket list.

Celebrating our female adventure guides

There’s a magic to guiding adventure travel tours that lures many an outdoor lover to the mountains, coasts and deserts to lead like-minded travellers in search of the solace that only nature provides.

“Growing up in a town outside the city, my childhood recreational activities consisted of walking and running in the mountains, these activities filled me with life” says specialist trek guide, Yaritza Frinchanso who regularly guides our Inca Trail treks

“When I was a child people asked me - what will you study when you are an adult? I answered – “if there would be a job to hike and show my mountains, I would be the best.” 

Decades later Yaritza achieved her dream and is one of a handful of female guides paving the way for young women after them.

“I believe that women are more persuasive when leading a group, thanks to the fact that we are more empathetic and sensitive, which allows us to better understand the needs that visitors have and that often makes it difficult for them to express. This also helps us appreciate and show small details that mostly go unnoticed.“

Guiding has long been a predominantly male career that has in more recent times seen more females take the path less travelled. Female outdoor adventure guides now make up 37% of the outdoor guide community in Australia and changes are slowly being made globally. 

Happyness Kipingu

“When I started as a mountain guide it was a 95/5 male to female ratio and now it is 75/25” says Happyness Kipingu, one of our guides on Mt Kilimanjaro treks in Tanzania.

Dawa Yangin (known as Karki to her friends) regularly guides treks in the Annapurna and Everest regions and has trekking in her blood. Her grandfather was the first trekking guide in the Khumbu region and she is constantly inspired by the connections and interactions with people from different countries that guiding brings. Despite her trekking heritage she has also experienced some challenges due to gender.

“I was the only female guide when there were 35 male guides when I started working with the company. Now, we are three female guides, “says Yangin proudly of the changes slowly being made in the region.

“Obviously, there are some challenges to become a female guide in the context of conservative Nepalese society. Females are supposed to be involved in motherhood and family and compelled to stay home taking care for their children.”

Karki Sherpa

Pham Thi Huong leads guests on our adventures in Vietnam and sees female guides as a unique option for guests looking for an authentic travel connection. 

“In Vietnam, female guides bring a different level of human interaction. We are perceived differently by the clients and by the local communities. There is often more trust, and a deeper relationship,” says Pham Thi.

“Exchanging stories, talking not only about the country but about daily life in general seems more natural for women. However, balancing professional and family lives is the hardest. Vietnam is a society where women are still very much in charge of childcare and housework.

“I am lucky to receive help from my mother but it is a permanent challenge to be able to focus on my job with travellers and to dedicate time for my family as well.“

In Peru, Yaritza recognizes the equality in capability but not in opportunity and the changes that have been implemented along the way. 

“Thanks to the inclusion policies of travel agencies, many female guides can work doing what they like, without putting stereotypes to the work, this makes the guests who visit my city happy,” says Yaritza. 

“Most colleagues are happy to be able to work competitively with female guides, considering that we both have many qualities and abilities to effectively carry out the activity of Tour Guides, although often we do not have the same opportunities.”

American born New Zealand resident, Ange Sexton, is now a guide in New Zealand with World Expeditions. She discovered her love of guiding and outdoor life in Colorado, then Australia, before making her way to the land of the long white cloud where she is now based.

“I always take the approach of not making it a “thing” when it’s two female guides, I just carry on with quiet confidence, steadiness, and the skills I know I have to deliver a product I always hope inspires them (guests) to keep adventuring.” Says Ange  who was the only female guide on the Larapinta Trail the season she started her Australasian guiding career.

Angela Sexton, Adventure South NZ guide


“We have this unique ability to enable people to accomplish and experience adventure with support that can be subtle as well as hands on, I love that balance. You do sometimes get a sense from clients at the start wondering if these two chicks will be able to lift an e-bike or reverse a trailer, it doesn’t take long before they realise we are not only capable of these things but do it well.  

“I like to think we bring a shift in thinking for anyone that feels women are not capable of doing the “strong man” side of the job. I never want this to be communicated bluntly but simply by doing my job and demonstrating we are more than capable of delivering an amazing product despite (or because of) our gender.”

The opportunities for women seeking an outdoor life guiding within nature are increasing. Universities now offer courses in Outdoor Education and Outdoor Leadership and bachelors in Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Studies. All agree that becoming a guide takes more than just a piece of paper, it takes a passion and determination in the face of adversity. 

“You should have strong determination and dedication for the job, good language skills, medical training certificates, physical fitness and knowledge and information about trekking routes, flora fauna, and the ability to adapt with the guests, local people,” advises Yangpin.

“Having personal experience and a love for the outdoors is great but it really is only one part of the role,” agrees Ange.

Happyness Kipingu Pham Thi Huong Karki Sherpa Ange Sexton

“Recognising if you have that passion to share the outdoors with people from all different walks of life and varying capabilities is a big part of it too. If those two things are things you can bring together as a passion, that’s an amazing start.

“Next would be to research the style of guiding you want to pursue and the activity that suits you most. From there you can contact a few operators in the areas you’d be interested working in to see what qualifications and experience they like you to have as an entry level guide.”

Whatever your path to guiding, the rewards are always tenfold. 

“I learn every day from different people and different cultures. I share incredible moments with them and make lots of friends. Being a tour guide makes my life more colourful and adds some meaning to it,” says Pham Thi.

“I love my job because I love the life it allows me to live.” 

Our view on road development in the Annapurna region

Ten years ago when we first learned about the proposed developments for roads into some of Nepal’s most popular trekking regions, we admit, while we understood the economic benefits of these roads for the local people we were still quite concerned about the implications for trekkers seeking out a true wilderness walking experience.

We needn’t have worried.

After a reconnaissance in February 2023 to the Annapurna region, where much of those developments are now complete or close to completion, what we saw was very positive. 

It’s been a win-win for both the local people as well as trekkers in regions such as Annapurna, Mustang or Manaslu, where these developments have occurred.  

For trekkers, you are still able to thoroughly enjoy the small villages, towering mountains and the vast tracts of forest that thrive with flora and fauna, with extremely little visual or noise impact caused by the road development. The trekking trails in the higher altitudes of the region remain untouched, nor are there any roads to the famous vantage points, so only trekkers are afforded those views for their efforts!

For the many mountain communities in these regions, they are enjoying the inordinate benefits of transportation to villages or roadheads nearby, movement of goods and access to medical services, amongst other advantages these roads bring to their daily lives.

While there may be roads to some villages, there is very low vehicular use of them. For the most part, visual sightings of roads is minimal. They’re not tarmac and crossing or walking along one is only ever for short distances in the lower regions. 

Mountain communities across Nepal rely on tourism. It is up to travellers and trekking companies to engage in responsible tourism practices and to work toward sustainable development that benefits both locals and travellers. 


It is our genuine belief that this very philosophy has been achieved in Nepal through this road building process. 

Specifically, road developments in the Annapurna region have been carefully planned and implemented to ensure minimal impact on the pleasure of trekking in the area. While some roads have been constructed in the lower valleys for transportation and commercial purposes, as we mentioned the higher altitudes trekking trails in the of the region remain untouched. 

These trails, which may include Annapurna Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Base Camp and Nar and Tilicho Lake, offer some of the most stunning and remote landscapes for trekkers, with minimal to no vehicular traffic disruption. 

Even on the low altitude trails such as the Annapurna Trek, while you may cross a road here or there, the visual impacts are extremely limited and it is unusual to see vehicular traffic, leaving you to wander as always, amid the traditional Gurung and Magar village communities. 

When you’re planning your next trek in Nepal, don’t be put off by what you may have read or rumours of roads. 

We know first-hand, from our guides, staff and travellers, that the trekking experience is still as great as ever and, the mountain communities are better off for them. If you don’t believe us, we would recommend a visit.

Learn to respect it as part of Nepal’s upward progress in a challenging world. We all want to do better, and this is part of Nepal’s effort to make improvements for its people and economic situation.

As for walking in an exotic land with your head thrumming with peace, don’t fret. No one will ever take the magic out of Nepal. A few roads sure won’t.

Browse Annapurna trekking tours

Have you trekked in the Annapurna region recently? What was your experience?
On the couch: Karki Sherpa, female trekking guide in Nepal

Guiding has long been a predominantly male career that has in more recent times seen more females take the path less travelled. 

Female outdoor adventure guides now make up 37% of the outdoor guide community in Australia, however the change is much slower in countries like Nepal, where culturally it is not encouraged.

Meet Dawa Yangjin Sherpa, or Karki to her friends, who is breaking the mould and pioneering a path for female trekking guides in Nepal.

What or who inspired you to become a trekking guide?

I am Sherpa. Sherpa and tourism are inter-related. 

My grandfather was the first trekking guide in Khumbu region. Connections and interactions to the people of different countries glorifies our nation. This is my inspiration.

What was the ratio of female/male guides when you started guiding and what is it now?

I was only one female guide when there were 35 male guides as I started working in this company. Now, we are three female guides. 

What changes in attitude of guests and guides have you experienced as a result?

In the beginning, I felt a bit uncomfortable being a female myself. Now, I am fully confident. My clients have always accepted me as a leader. So far, I do not have a bad experience. 

Clients are rather happy to get me instead. Female trekkers love seeking for female guide.

Karki Sherpa

What do females bring to a guiding role that are unique?

In my opinion, becoming a female guide is itself a unique role. However, male and female guides have the same duties. Naturally, females are more caring and dutiful.

What is the most challenging part of guiding for you personally?

Obviously, there are some challenges to become a female guide in context of conservative Nepalese society. Females are supposed to be involved in motherhood towards family and compelled to stay home for taking care for their children.

What is the most rewarding element of guiding for you?

After completion of the trek, as our clients are fully satisfied, they appreciate our job and promise to come back again. This is the most rewarding element for me.

What steps do you need to take to become a trekking guide - for those women wanting to follow in your footsteps?

For me and other upcoming female leaders, these are the following elements to bear:

  • First of all, they should have strong determination and dedication for the job they are willing to do.
  • Must have a legal “Guide License ” provided by Nepal Government.
  • Must have good language skills.
  • Must acquire medical training certificate provided by the respective company.
  • They must have physical fitness.
  • They must have knowledge and information about trekking routes, flora fauna, and the ability to adapt with the guests, local people and trekking staffs as well.
  • Co-operation, direction and friendly behavior are much more valued.

Browse all treks in Nepal
Great Himalaya Trail 2023 - Meet the trekkers

These boots were made for walkin'!

Fifty-five-year-old Ute Baird, from Staffordshire, aims to join a handful of people from the United Kingdom to complete the 1,700-kilometre-long Great Himalaya Trail in Feburary 2023. The trail is often referred to as “trekking’s holy grail”. It was launched in 2011.

The Full Nepal Traverse of the Great Himalaya Trail goes up to 6,190 metres above sea level and offers stunning views, including eight peaks of more than 8,000 metres. An undertaking not for the faint-hearted, it can be broken into seven smaller stages, from 18 to 34 days—however, Ute and Tabea Wagner (more on Tabea here) have committed to the full trek, which takes five months.

An ultra-distance runner, Ute discovered the Great Himalaya Trail recently, when GB Ultra offered it as a virtual challenge. The experience prompted her to look into the route online and she noticed that World Expeditions was the only company offering the Full Traverse in Nepal.

Commenting on her decision to join the Great Himalaya Trail, she says:

“It will be such an adventure to get off the beaten track into remote areas of Nepal. What is the point to work-work-work and then say ‘it is too late, I should have done this or that’. Do it while you can.”

“Trekking every day, experiencing nature and living a relatively simple life will be rewarding and humbling at the same time. Admittedly, trekking the Great Himalaya Trail from east to west in one trip and being among the relatively few having done this has some attraction too… especially if you think that about five times as many people have been in space!”

In her adventure of a lifetime, she will be joined by 30-year old Tabea Wagner from Germany. Tabea describes herself as “addicted to long distance hiking trails” and in the last few years she has completed a number of trekking tours, including the GR20 in Corsica, Rando-Lofoten in Norway and crossing the Alps, as well as spending three months on the Te Araroa in New Zealand.

Commenting on signing up for this year’s Great Himalaya Trail, she said:

“I am excited to be part of this great adventure. Loving the mountains, the Great Himalaya Trail had always been in my mind. After having worked a lot in the last few years and having limited options because of the pandemic, I felt it is time to make my dream come true and registered at World Expeditions for the Full Traverse.”

“As I have never been to the Himalaya before it was important for me to join a professional expedition. I am looking forward to seeing the world’s highest mountains, remote landscapes, sleep in a tent and walk on and on every day and I simply can’t wait to meet great people, make new friends and spend an amazing time in Nepal.”

The Full Nepal Traverse of the Great Himalaya Trail 2023 starts on 26 February and finishes five months later, on 25 July. There is still time to join one of the smaller sections.

The Nepal Traverse of the Great Himalaya Trail – the longest and highest alpine walking track in the world once complete – became first available through World Expeditions in 2011, which remains the only specialist operator to offer the trip commercially.

Winding between the largest mountains and remotest communities on the planet, the Great Himalaya Trail will ultimately connect five Asian countries (Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan) but at the moment only the Nepal section (1,700km) is available to traverse, as it is the only part that has been walked and mapped thoroughly.

Inspired? View all the Great Himalaya Trail sections.

Polar Kayaking: what's involved?

Toby Story has over 20 years experience kayaking in the Arctic and Antarctic. We asked him to share some insights into this unique way to explore the Polar regions.

What’s been your greatest kayaking experience?

After 20 years of paddling this is a really hard question to answer as there have been so many! There is something incredible about paddling through ice, and while it never gets old, the first time is always memorable.

I remember paddling past icebergs in the low orange light of the midnight sun with just a hint of mist. It was perfectly still and there was silence except for the sound of the paddles in the water and the crackling of air escaping from the small pieces of ice. It was like being in another world and I have never forgotten it!

What’s been your most surprising kayaking experience?

For me it has been the first time (yes it has happened more than once!) that I was with a group and we were encircled by a playful Minke whale in Antarctica. It is common to see whales from the kayaks but this one really seemed curious. It kept swimming around and underneath us and intermittently lifting its head out of the water and looking directly at us. It seemed just really curious!

How much skill does someone need on one of your kayaking adventures?

While it is great if you have some paddling background, the most important element is an adventurous spirit and a willingness to prepare. You do not need to know how to roll or to be an expert kayaker but you should have practiced a “wet exit” [exiting the kayak by going into the water]. 

If you have never paddled in a sea kayak before but enjoy being active, there is always time to prepare for your trip. Learning the basics on paddling such as the different strokes to take you forwards, to stop, and to turn is really important and it is great to have some practice with a rudder.

These skills can be acquired at a local club or with an outfitter or skilled friend. The double kayaks are very stable so if you are not as experienced, with some basic preparation and fitness, you can always team up with a buddy in a double kayak.

A polar bear checks surroundings in Svalbard |  <i>Toby Story</i>

What does a typical day of kayaking look like in the Arctic or Antarctic?

We always offer kayaking as often as possible, subject to weather conditions of course. This is typically two times per day. We plan to paddle for between 1.5 and 4 hours on each outing, including breaks, and will paddle between 4 and 12 kms on most outings, depending on the highlights in the area.

We often mix up the paddling with shore stops to see any specific points of interest. Most days we return to the ship for our lunch, move to another location, and then we will go back out and paddle again. Occasionally, we will have the ship drop us in one location and collect us in another for a longer paddle, and we may even carry our lunch with us.

Do you kayak all day or are there breaks?

We always take breaks during the paddling. Because there is so much to see, we will naturally stop to enjoy the surrounds or to take photos but we will also stop onshore after an hour or so to stretch our legs on the longer paddles and take stops on the water to hydrate and snack.

How should I prepare for my Polar kayaking adventure with you?

I once asked my kayaking coach “what is the best way to prepare for a big kayaking trip?” and his answer was “go kayaking”.

This is very good advice and going out is one of the best ways to prepare for your journey. But if you don’t have a kayak that is easily accessible or you are a little short on time, swimming, hiking and even light gardening and or gym work is a great way to get ready for the trip.

For those who are completely new to paddling a sea kayak and using a spray skirt, it is important to practice a “wet exit”. This is an essential safety skill and is best practiced in warmer waters. It is incredibly unlikely to capsize but it is important to be fully prepared! If you need help getting ready reach out to us and we can suggest a coach or outfitter in your area.

Are the kayaks all single person?

No, we have a mix of double and single kayaks to suit a range of experience levels. We find that most people really enjoy the stability and flexibility of the double kayaks and it is a great way to “share the load” while the single kayaks can make for more of an adventure for the more experienced.

Breathtaking views in Svalbard |  <i>Tessa Chan</i>

How cold is that water?

Often the water temperature is very close to 0° Celcius. Sea water has a slightly lower freezing temperature than fresh water (approximately -1.8° C) and with all the ice melting nearby there is plenty of water near the surface that is close to 0.

If I fall out, will I freeze to death?

Definitely not! While the water is cold, we are always in dry suits and we wear warm layers under neath, which means that we can stay quite warm and comfortable in the water for at least 30 minutes. With all the extra layers you can get quite warm sometimes and it can be nice stop for a short “swim” in the dry suits to cool down!

What’s something I won’t be expecting on a kayaking adventure with you?

It is easier than you think.

For many people new to polar kayaking, there can be a worry that it is out of reach. While we are paddling in some of the world’s most extreme environments, with excellent equipment, good preparation and highly experienced guides, people are often surprised at how much they get to do as part of the kayaking program.

It truly is an opportunity to do something more and while you do have the option to not paddle on any day, most people end up joining the trip every time!

What’s unique about kayaking in Svalbard?

While Svalbard is very remote, it is surprisingly easy to get to. It is only a three-hour flight from Oslo to get to the starting point for the trip in Longyearbyen. Once you are there it really is another world. The word Svalbard translates to “the cold edge”, and this is a really great description as the archipelago sits right at the edge of the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean.

We are travelling in the early part of the year, just as the ice has broken up and the “summer” migration has begun. This means more chances of seeing polar bears on the sea ice and to get a real feel for the Arctic Ocean. What makes this place so special for me is the vastness of the pack ice combined with the backdrop of jagged peaks, stark glaciers and ice-filled fjords.

Svalbard is one of the world’s best destinations to reliably see polar bears in the wild and this is such a big highlight for me. It is also a great place to see arctic fox, walrus and the Svalbard reindeer as well as beluga whales. While there has never been an indigenous population, it has a very interesting  and varied human history. From the early whalers and fur trappers to the polar explorers, there are the remnants of these stories in the landscape if you know where and how to look.

What kind of animals will I see kayaking Svalbard with you?

We will commonly see ringed seals on the sea ice or in the water and I have spotted beluga regularly as well as the elusive narwhale on occasion. We see a wide range of bird species, including my favorite, the Arctic tern, that has one of the longest migration journeys with annual movement from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

As we are quiet and close to land a lot of the time in the kayaks we will also spot Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox. It is also entirely possible to spot Walrus and Polar Bears although both of these animals are best viewed with a bit of distance.

It is always varied what we see but the interactions are always enjoyable from the kayaks. It is important to remember that there are up to 19 different species of marine mammal found in the waters surrounding Svalbard, and it is possible to see any of them.

Click here for additional details.


Preparing for the Great Tasmanian Traverse

The Great Tasmanian Traverse is Tasmania's most challenging multi-day adventure.

This epic 39-day odyssey will see those tough enough to sign up for it traverse the length of the Island State from the quiet, rural communities of the North to the wild and isolated South. 

So, how does one prepare for such an experience? We spoke to two people about to embark on this Tasmanian adventure of a lifetime, Sue Farley from Australia and Canadian Don Schell.

What inspired you to want to be part of the Great Tasmanian Traverse?

Sue: I remember watching a CD about the Tasmanian wilderness that came with Australian Geographic magazine, and I was mesmerised by the landscape. It whet my appetite to walk in Tasmania, and I signed up to do my first multi-day walk there with Tasmanian Expeditions in 2009. It was the South Coast Track and I absolutely loved everything about it—the landscape, the history and just being immersed in wild nature.

Don: Long distance travel can be onerous and expensive, so I often link together a couple of expedition-style treks. Tasmania had risen to the top of my bucket list, and it offered so many trekking options, but the logistics such as transportation and accommodations would have been a handful. The Great Tasmanian Traverse was an elegant solution that maximised the adventure and transferred the logistical arrangements to local specialists.

How will you be training for the 39-day trip?

Sue: I'm an active person and a regular gym goer, so I have good baseline fitness. My main preparation for the trip will be just getting used to carrying the extra weight of a backpack over different terrain. I want to get used to the routine of putting my backpack on first thing in the morning and doing a couple of kilometres walking. Gradually, I’ll introduce longer walks of 6 or 7 kms on the weekends and will then start including some hills and go from there.

Don: During the Covid-19 lockdown, my local fitness centre closed and I expanded my home gym to include a treadmill, stationary cycle, rower and free weights. Having fitness equipment close at hand allows me to spend a couple of hours a day on cardio, strength, and stretching. Two or three times a week, I hike on the treadmill at high incline with a 15kg weight vest.   

With mountains at my doorstep, I hike at least once a week with a 15kg pack in a variety of terrain to give the ankles and balance a good workout by walking off camber, which a treadmill can’t do. As a Search and Rescue volunteer, I occasionally get a second daily workout in, carrying 25kg of medical and rope rescue gear up a mountain side to aid an injured or lost hiker.

Don Schell

What is it about the Great Tasmania Traverse that most appeals to you?

Sue: Hmmm – lots! I’m really looking forward to being in Tasmania for an extended stretch of time. I love the idea of getting into a rhythm of being active in nature and taking a complete break from my normal routine. I’m really looking forward to walking the South Coast and the Overland Tracks again. I’m probably most excited to raft the Franklin River.

Don: Tasmania is known for some of the best scenery, unique wildlife, and friendly people, so this makes Tasmania a must-visit. Solo hiking was an option, but hiking with like-minded people always make the experience much richer. The Great Tasmanian Traverse Tasmania neatly combines some of Tasmania’s best hikes, and when rafting is thrown in it makes for an awesome adventure.             

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

Sue: I’m not looking forward to walking in driving rain, but I know it will happen. I know there’ll be times I’ll be cold, uncomfortable, footsore and tired, but it's like anything: you just start and keep going. It’s about breaking it down—about taking one step at a time. I know we’ll have everything we need in our packs. One of the guides will be cooking dinner and I’ll have a lovely sleeping bag to crawl into at night.

Don: Dealing with jet lag will be the initial challenge, but I know from experience that it will quickly pass.

I have spent several years preparing for physical challenges such as this, but one never knows when the body can’t adjust to the rigors of the adventure, or a poorly placed footstep. In that case, I trust my mental fortitude, analgesics, and the support of the group members and leaders will surmount any of those challenges.

Have you always been an active adventurer?

Sue: I’ve always been an active person and have enjoyed being outdoors and bushwalking, but I’ve never done anything as long as the Great Tasmanian Traverse before. 

Don: I grew up playing in the woods, and during 33 years in the Canadian military, I continued to “play” in the woods, although it wasn’t as enjoyable when you do it for work. The military experience instilled a curiosity of the world’s places and people, and a desire for adventure and a wanderlust which has carried over into my later years and retirement. 

I have had the benefit of doing some fairly extreme treks with inspirational people who remain active and adventurous into their late 70s. I hope to follow their lead and to spend many more years chiseling away at my travel bucket list, which seems to grow longer after every trip.

Sue on the South Coast Track

What other multi-day walks have you done?

Sue: I got the chance to do the South Coast Track with Tasmanian Expeditions a second time a couple of years after the first time and I jumped at it. In the following years, I also walked the Overland Track with TasEx. I love having all the logistical planning taken care of and I really love going with professional guides because the experience is so much richer because you learn so much from them.

Don: Expedition-style treks have comprised the majority of my travels over the past dozen years. Often, the best scenery is well off the beaten path and the effort getting there makes the experience sweeter.

Over the past 12 years, I have completed 17 expedition-style treks over five continents, ranging from 8 to 27 days in length. Some examples are: Kilimanjaro, Patagonia, Huayhuash Circuit, Annapurna Circuit, K2 Base Camp, Everest Basecamp, Tour de Mont Blanc/Haute Route/Alta Via 1 in the Alps and the Snowman Trek in Bhutan. I liked the Snowman so much I am going back to do it again in a couple of weeks.

Many treks have been long distance, high altitude; some with a full pack, some with a day pack. The pandemic slowed my adventures a little, but Vancouver Island has some awesome coastal treks such as the West Coast Trail, so I wasn’t just sitting around.

What's the reaction of your friends and family to you taking on this adventure?

Sue: They know how much I love this kind of thing, so they’ve all been very supportive. In fact, my husband and daughter thought it sounded like so much fun that they’ll be joining me to raft the Franklin midway through the journey. I’m absolutely thrilled because 39 days is a long time away from family and I know we’ll get to reconnect and share an amazing adventure.

Don: Some are envious, some think I should be committed. Some just don’t understand why I would fly halfway around the world to hike all day and sleep in a tent when I could take a cruise in comfort.

Regardless of their reactions, my travels enrich my life and hopefully they serve as an example of how an active retirement can be lived. Adventures such as the Great Tasmanian Traverse will yield photos and stories I can relate to my friends, but my memories will be much more vibrant. To get the full picture, they will have to experience it for themselves!

Think you have what it takes to traverse Tasmania? Check out the full Great Tasmanian Traverse trip details.

The Great Tasmanian Traverse by the numbers

It’s the biggest adventure you can do in the smallest state of Australia. 

The Great Tasmanian Traverse is one epic adventure, but don't take out word for it, check out these numbers to give you an idea of the challenge that awaits.

The Great Tasmanian Traverse in numbers



The height of Tasmania's tallest mountain, Mt Ossa, which features on the Overland Track section


The height of Frenchmans Cap, a side-trip that features on the Franklin River rafting section


If you were to drive from the starting point of the trip to the end point, this is how many kilometres it would be


The length of the Franklin River in kilometres


The length of the Overland Track in kilometres (without side-trips)


The number of days that it will take to complete the Great Tasmanian Traverse


The amount of trekking days, and nights spent in a tent


Approximate average weight of the pack, in kilograms, you would need to carry on the trekking section


Days it will take to raft the Franklin River


Trip grading level out of 10 (challenging, the toughest level before entering mountaineering grading levels)


Hours a day of activity


The number of classic Tasmanian adventures that link together that make up the Great Tasmanian Traverse


Number of our experienced guides that will join you on each section


Tour operator that operates this amazing Tasmanian wilderness experience

On the couch with mountaineer legend Andrew Lock

As the first and only Australian to climb all 14 of the world’s 8000 metre peaks, Andrew Lock has lived more adventure, hardship and near death experiences than most people can imagine.

But why does he do it? Why does anyone take on such a challenge, knowing that they will likely die? We sat down with the mountaineering legend to ask him about his death-defying ascents and what motivates him to keep climbing.

Your CV of ‘firsts’ is pretty impressive, is there one that you are particularly proud of?

Gosh, there were so many really difficult ascents and I’m proud of every climb I undertook, however my first Australian ascent of Annapurna (Annapurna 1) is right up there as one of the best. It is the most dangerous mountain in the world and has a fearsome reputation of one death for every two summits.

On my first attempt, we were avalanched with one dead and three seriously injured.  My second attempt was a mind game, where the mountain threw every hazard at us and most of the team gave up but several of us overcame the dangers and our fear to reach the top. We had to risk assess every single step of the climb, had our hearts in our mouths for two months, and came psychologically shattered.  I was as proud of myself for surviving as I was for actually climbing the mountain.  That was in 2007 and it still hasn’t seen another Australian ascent.  Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it.

George Mallory climbs mountains "because it’s there" – what or who is your motivation to climb big mountains?  

I suspect we had the same motivation but express it slightly differently. The peaks provide physical and psychological challenges. I want to know if I have the ability and motivation to overcome those challenges.

Of all your ascents, there are sure to be some hairy moments. What was the ‘close call’ that remains most ingrained in your memory?

Unfortunately there were many, but somehow I survived them where many others did not. On one occasion, I fell through a cornice at 8000 metres. I managed to stop myself but was left hanging four vertical kilometres above the glacier below.  Now that makes you hang on!

Then there were the avalanches, crevasse falls, and various other incidents along the way. There’s no doubt I was lucky, time and time again. But I do think that I had a helping hand along the way, perhaps because I was always very respectful of the customs and belief systems in those countries.

Your book, Summit 8000, allows readers to go behind the scenes on your 14 summits of the world’s 8000 metre peaks. Can you give us a teaser as to some of the stories people can read about?

I came onto the 8000 metre climbing scene a few years after Tim McCartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer and I wasn’t a part of a core group of climbing friends like they had. So, for me to climb all those mountains, which took 23 expeditions over 16 years, I had to find partners from around the world or climb solo. Sometimes there was tension and underhandedness by my so called teammates; other times, there was incredible camaraderie with like-minded individuals in the face of exceptional adversity. Always there was great adventure.

For most of my expeditions I climbed without oxygen or Sherpa support and in very small teams of two or three, but I also led commercial teams to the summit of Everest, filmed documentaries for Discovery Channel, climbed in large Army teams, and made solo first Australian ascents.

My climbing partners were generally international as I simply couldn’t find Australians who wanted to climb as regularly as me – in my light-weight style or on the tougher peaks. So, I climbed with some of the very best in the world, including Doug Scott, Voytek Kurtyka and Anatoli Boukreev. My experiences therefore were really diverse.

Overall, the book is a journey of discovery. Firstly, as I found my own inner strength and motivation to keep returning to these mountains where my friends and occasionally teammates perished, and where the mountains themselves sometimes seemed hell bent on stopping me from reaching their summits. Secondly, it is a discovery of the spirituality of the Himalaya and the magnetism that keeps drawing people back, and the wonderful alternative opportunities that life offers if we have the will to both recognise and seize them.

Do you find it hard to adjust back into the “real world” after months of life in harsh and inhospitable environments?

Certainly I used to, but not anymore. After more than 70 expeditions climbing, trekking, touring and adventuring to every continent on earth, I find it quite easy these days. That’s probably because I’m less ‘shocked’ by the cultural changes at each end of the spectrum and also because I love all those cultural experiences.

What food do you most miss while out on big expeditions?

Life can be pretty comfortable on expeditions these days. I confess to taking a coffee plunger to base camp and I always stock up on the local brew. Vegemite is a staple inclusion in my gear list, so with those two things I really don’t miss much.  When I come home I usually gross out on fresh fruit and vegies. And, if the company is right, a glass of Cab Sav... Mmm...

Three most important items in your pack on any expedition?

That’s easy and it hasn’t changed in 20 years:

  1.  My ice axe is my best friend on any climb – with it I can climb up, climb down, self arrest, dig a bivouac, belay other climbers and, most importantly, self rescue!
  2. My Goretex jacket is the first piece of clothing to go into my backpack and I never put it away – it lives in the backpack so that I can’t forget it.
  3. My Swiss Army knife. I never leave home without one (or two).
  4. Coffee plunger. Oh wait, you said three items.

Best place in the world to pitch a tent above 5000 metres?

Anywhere above 5000 metres is spectacular, but Camp 4 on K2’s Abruzzi Ridge at about 7900 metres is unbelievable. Extraordinary views over Broad Peak, the Gasherbrums, Golden Throne and much of the Karakoram range. Exquisite, but savage beauty makes humans pale into insignificance. Of course, it’s also quite chilly so one night is enough.

What is your advice to keen trekkers looking to take the next step into mountaineering?

You must decide if you want to be a climber or a guided client. They are completely different. If you really want to learn to climb, then do it the traditional way. Learn to rock climb (outdoors), do an alpine skills course and build your skills and experience. It takes years. Don’t rush it, enjoy it. If you just want to be guided up a mountain somewhere, that’s fine, but don’t make the mistake afterwards of thinking you are a climber. Keep employing guides unless you want to go through the process of learning to climb self-sufficiently. This is the only way to stay alive.

View current expeditions with Andrew Lock.

On the Couch with Lydia Bradey

What attracted you to the Zanskar rangeand Kun in particular?

I’ve wanted to explore the Zanskar region for some time, for its combination of exceptional natural beauty and its thriving Buddhist culture. I was struck by the views of Nun and Kun since the first time I skied in Kashmir. 

Nun and Kun are significantly higher than all the mountains surrounding them, thus, they appear a lot higher than their 7000m—and we should get truly spectacular views in every direction. I really love their shape, too. They are classically beautiful—like a children’s drawing of a mountain. 

How would you describe what the climbing will be like?

There will be some slightly technical climbing lower down. We’ll be using fixed ropes lower on the mountain which makes it hugely easier, but may be climbing on quite hard ice with crampons, which can, in turn, be challenging. As we ascend, the route will become less technical (and maybe more beautiful!). Throughout, it will be interesting and varied climbing with great scenery.

Lydia Bradey on her fourth Everest summit, 2016, from Nepal. |  <i>Mike Roberts</i>

What should a first timer expect at 7,000m?

I love that the summit of Kun is in the 7,000 m range, because it’s an altitude that doesn't require the money, time and resources that an 8,000 m peak does, but it’s well high enough to allow climbers to learn a lot about climbing at high altitude.   

What advice do you have for overcoming altitude issues?

I know many of my clients have been surprised to learn that I can experience altitude headaches between 3,500 to 5,000 metres. 

Decades of past expeditions have shown, though, that once I’ve acclimatised to that altitude, I’m okay above 6000 metres (and even better above 7000m!). I’ve worked with doctors and physiologists enough to know some of the reasons for this and I love supporting clients who haven’t been to the higher altitudes before to feel comfortable to try, and to be OK about not necessarily feeling 100 percent, all the time. Combining a slow steady ascent with working high and sleeping low, and appropriate rest periods, reduces or eliminates problems higher up. 

Acclimatization, Hydration, resting, pacing, and keeping protected from the harshness of sun, wind and cold, are the simple keys to success. We have crafted our itinerary to begin with a five-day acclimatization trek through the Markha Valley due south of Leh and the Indus Valley. Importantly, this fine introduction to the rugged Trans-Himalaya landscape is also critical preparation for preparing for altitude.

How does your background as a physiotherapist influence your guiding style?

Physiotherapy is all about helping people potentiate and rehabilitate, improving their physical capabilities and performance, and this is exactly what I do as an high altitude mountain guide. My focus is on maximising a climber’s performance (both physical and mental) on an expedition to enhance their enjoyment and increase their chances of success. 

I find people enjoy can be curious about my own journey of overcoming insecurity, fear and discomfort. And of course, I aim to inject some humour and ensure there’s a healthy, supportive vibe within the group as we take on this experience together. 

How has your lifestyle changed over your decades of mountaineering?

As I’ve become older, I’ve refined my life, so that I put more conscious thought in things I do and have. I try to avoid noise and clutter and choose aspire to do simple things well. At home, I love having beautiful things around me in my house, so I choose art rather than clutter.

And, when I’m on an expedition, I try to encourage a focus on the craft of mountaineering and on “owning” the consequences. An example of a simple practice with consequences would be something basic like taking the inner boots out of your climbing boots and drying them in the tent in the afternoon. 

In this situation, all you've got is a pair of boots and warm temperatures in the tent—and a this simple discipline can make a huge difference to your comfort and safety level on the following day’s climb—wet boots can equal frostbite, so and potentially your overall success on the expedition.

Lydia (R) with client on the summit of Everest, fr Tibet, China, 2019 |  <i>Lydia Bradey collection</i>

Do you have any tips for trekkers wanting to take their adventures to new levels (pardon the pun)?

I like to give people this insight: If the thought of climbing a mountain intimidates you, then look closely at what we are doing on the climb. Often we are taking tasks or activities that you have done before quite comfortablty, and simply put them in a different environment. For example, camping.

You may have seen images you’ll see of rock climbers on big cliffs hanging, sleeping. It seems impossible to most people, but what they’re doing when they’re hanging from a cliff or lying on a rock ledge is camping. If you can camp, you can bivouac, you can camp in snow, you can camp at 6000m.

You’re just moving your camping to a different place. It’s a lot easier to do new things if they are simple things that you have done many times before.  You’re just doing them in a different place. Taking your trekking to the next level is about doing what you’ve always done in the outdoors—it’s about having fun, exploring, learning and creating bonds through shared experiences. 

It’s all so much easier when you realise that’s what you’ve been doing with your family and friends for years. Mountaineering can be doing the same thing (hiking) in a different environment.

Which of your many achievements are you most proud?

It was always a dream to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen and, of course, I’m stoked to have achieved multiple ascents over 8000m, but, overall, I’d have to say that I am most proud of my safety record. 

As my book title Going Up is Easy suggests, the challenge is in the safe return. I describe myself as elite at being safe and, to me, that’s the most important thing always.

My second most “proud-of” achievement is that of taking opportunities in my life, remaining curious, treasuring and respecting Big Nature and relishing varied experiences. Through this philosophy I have been able to lead a life less travelled.

View trips with Lydia Bradey
The brilliant fagus awaits you in Tasmania's autumn

If there’s one Tasmanian plant that could be called the life of the party, it’s the fagus.

The beautiful fagus has become such a popular part of Tasmanian folklore that there are now fagus crafts and jewellery, fagus helicopter tours, fagus-infused products like gin, and even a fagus festival (at Cradle Mountain, 24 April—8 May).

You might call it the little tree that could.

Also known by its scientific name Nothofagus gunnii, fagus is a compact deciduous alpine beech tree with small oval-shaped leaves. It has grown in Tasmania for 40 million years.

According to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania, fagus is a paleoendemic species of a Gondwanan group, and there are similar species of beech tree in New Zealand and South America. It goes by the name fagus, but it’s also called deciduous beech and “tanglefoot”—because it grows close to the ground and gets tangled up the feet of bushwalkers.

Watch the landscape change colours when you trek the Overland Track in autumn |  <i>Jason Charles Hill</i>

Fagus has been called a "winter-deciduous" plant—in fact, it's one of only a handful of deciduous plants in Australia—so it comes alive with colour in late April and early May. It’s a period that Tasmanians have come to call the “Turning of the Fagus”. Its small crinkly leaves, which look a lot like potato chips, turn bright yellow then orange then red (some even become a rich claret colour), and the plant covers huge swaths of the wilderness making for quite a show. Bushwalkers have been known to come around a corner in Tasmania and be overwhelmed by the beauty the fagus cover.

The best places to see fagus are on the flanks of Cradle Mountain, around Lake St Clair, in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, in Mount Field National Park, and in Southwest National Park. It’s worth a visit to any of these places for one of the great colour displays in Australia.

To be sure Tasmania is home to some stupendous vegetation. The state is also home to some of the most ancient plant species on earth, including King's Holly (estimated to be at least 43,000 years old), the world's tallest flowering tree, the giant ash, and many beautiful small plants such as terrestrial orchids.

And while fagus isn’t as famous as its Tasmanian cousins like the Huon pine or the King Billy pine, it’s far more colorful and will brighten up any journey in the Tasmanian bush, especially one that’s required an all-day, thigh-busting tramp.

Ladakh: 7 reasons why you should trek this Himalayan region

You might know all the popular treks of Nepal—Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Sanctuary, and others—but Nepal isn’t the only game in town when it comes to truly spectacular treks in the high Himalaya.

Ladakh is a wild and mountainous region in northernmost Indian that bumps up against Pakistan’s Karakoram and Tibet’s Changthang Mountains. It’s the highest plateau in India—most of it is over 3,000m—and the ancient Indus River slices through the middle of it. It's an area of exotic beauty, and if you're thinking of trekking someplace, this area might tick a few boxes in your must-visit list.

A Different Season

Ladakh is unusual because although it’s still part of the Himalaya, the season for trekking is quite different. The best time to trek in Ladakh is during the northern summer months when most of Nepal is under the influence of the monsoon. It means you can plan trekking when most people would be thinking of other activities.


Tibetan Buddhist heritage

This part of the Himalaya is often referred to as Little Tibet because of its long-seated Tibetan Buddhist heritage. There are its ancient forts and Buddhist monasteries and cultural traditions run deep. Exchanges between Ladakhi people and Westerners have been far fewer and less frequent than in other areas, so it’s one place in the Himalaya to get a true Tibetan culture fix. 

Fewer Tourists

Trekking in Ladakh also mean skipping the tourists. Compared to the crowded teahouse trail scene in Nepal, in Ladakh you would be hard pressed to meet more than a handful of foreign trekkers. 

A Geological Wonderland

The geology in Ladakh tells the story of the land. While the Indian tectonic slides under the Eurasian plate the resulting force is pushing the land up creating vertical folded layers. Geologists estimate the Himalaya here is rising as much as 1cm/year. It’s possible to imagine the changes taking place just by studying the tilted and folded rocks in Ladakh. If you watch carefully, you can see ancient sea-floor shells in the rocks around villages. Many Ladakhi use these fossilized shells in their traditional costumes and jewelry.

Geography and Views

Because of the extreme geology, Ladakh is literally a land of high passes that afford unrivalled views across the rugged mountain ranges and deep gorges that extend to the soaring peaks of the East Karakoram.

Exotic Wildlife

Ladakh has populations of secretive creatures like the Tibetan wolf, the Tibetan argali and the black-necked crane (all three are endangered). It also has the highest concentration of snow leopards in the world. While the chances of seeing a snow leopard in the summer are extremely low, there is a greater chance in the winter when the cats descend to the settlements.

Thankfully, Ladakh is a haven for a great number of bird species (many of which are migratory) and wild animals that roam freely in their natural habitat, including the bharal (blue sheep) and the Himalayan golden eagle. You might see any number of wild creatures as you pass through the region.

A Stonewalled Land

Interestingly, a traveller once wrote that she encountered a local who said there wasn't much in Ladakh except rocks. The visitor laughed and said rocks tell the story of both the landscape and the people. She noted that rocks are used for everything in Ladakh: building houses, making leopard traps, creating stupas (with lime), for rock art and as cairns for communication, and to create pools at hot springs for washing and relaxation. Look around and you'll see rocks used in dozens of creative and sensible ways.

Meals, camping and climbing equipment, experienced trekking and mountaineering leaders, as well as sleeping kit are all provided.

So, there you have it. A few reasons why this fascinating area should be on your radar as a trekking destination.

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