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Velo Fest and the Tour de France

Posted on: March 19th, 2014 by Richard No Comments

Cycling Reaches New Heights

 
As the greatest bike race in the world is coming to Yorkshire there are all sorts of celebrations and activities happening across our fantastic countryside. One of the largest and most prolific of these events is Velo Fest, a 3 day cycling, camping and music festival right on the course of the Tour de France. It looks superb! The music line up is looking to keep the place lively with Toploader headlining the event. Any cycling fanatic should be there and not missing out on the live shows, trade stalls and activities. Read more about it on the festival’s website.

To help promote this event we ran a photo shoot for Cycling Weekly, helping the event organiser Tom and his bike scale the mighty Kilnsey Crag in the Yorkshire Dales. This was no easy feat as it meant our instructor Will had to climb F7a (hard as nails) in the rain to get the ropes in place. This all happened on a finger freezing day in February. We got some cracking shots though and had quite the laugh in the process, check out the photos below. If the idea of cycling off road excites you, why not join us for a ride when the Tour de France takes place? We have some guided mountain bike rides in the Peak District during weekend of the York to Sheffield stage, check out our guided mountain bike rides.

Publicity Stunt

Mountain Biking

Velo Fest
 

Mad Adventuring on the Kang La and the Village of Naar

Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 by Richard No Comments

Trekking to Naar, Phu, Manaslu and Beyond

Naar-Phu-Trek
 
We just received these stunning pictures from Matthew and Jessica Szelag who joined us in Nepal for an incredible trek last November. They are an extremely athletic and motivated couple who when I first spoke to them about their trek I thought they were completely mad!

Manaslu TrekCondensing 7 weeks of trekking into less than 3!
Not content with just one trek they wanted to do 4, back to back in 18 days! Their plan was to trek around the Manaslu Circuit, the Annapurna Circuit, detour to the villages of Naar and Phu and then continue onto Upper Mustang, crossing 4 passes over 5000m and walking close to 200 miles. We are always up for a challenge and never like to say something is impossible but even running for 12 hours a day for 18 days straight, completing this itinerary looked pretty unlikely.
 
 
Kang La PassI suggested that if they cut out Mustang and did the rest of the itinerary it might just be do-able. We arranged the permits and called our strongest guys. I wasn’t very confident that they’d make it and told them not to be to disheartened if they didn’t when I joined them for dinner and wished them luck the day before they set off in Kathmandu. I asked them to keep me updated on their progress. They looked pretty strong and if anybody was going to do it these were the guys for the job.

Bhairas and Kumar, both tough guys that grew up in the mountains were as unsure as me about the plan and these guys had the added pressure of a very big job ahead of them. Both would be running over the mountains for the next couple of weeks with Kumar carrying the luggage of two people on his head.

Kang La PassThe next day they were off and starting around Manaslu at full speed eating up a standard two days trek each day. When crossing the Larkya La, a 5200m pass on the Manaslu Circuit, due to bad weather and large amounts of snow they had no choice but to start the day at 2am and include an extra 500m of ascent to an already demanding day. The normal lodge which houses trekkers had closed due to the savage weather. While other teams took 18 hours to cross the pass and descend to Bimtang our team took 10! Next was a jaunty downhill trek to the welcoming up-market huts of the Annapurna Circuit to get refreshed and a hearty meal before leaving the tourist trekkers behind and heading to the wilderness of the Phu Valley. This is real adventure trekking. There is very limited information on this region and we were not a hundred percent sure if they’d get a proper place to stay in or whether they were going to have to rely on Bhairas’ negotiation skills to get the locals to put them up. A tent would normally be advised for this type of trek but this would only slow things down and these guys are not ones to be held back by silly things like warmth and comfort. If lodging wasn’t available they’d keep walking until they found some that was.
 
Trekking from Naar to Phu
 
They were also not sure if the pass was going to be feasible due to snow and if they could cross back to the Annapurna Circuit. The only way to see if it was possible was to take the lengthy climb to the pass and have a look. The risk was a 3 day walk round trip back the way they came! Luck paid out however and our guys crossed the pass, I will let the pictures do the talking now as you can see this is a trek with pure WOOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRHHHHH factor!

To join a trek with us visit our Nepal trekking page.

Here’s some inspiration:
 

 



 
 

Exploring Deeper into the Gills and Canyons of England

Posted on: January 31st, 2014 by Richard No Comments

Scrambling, Climbing and Walking through the Rivers, Gills and Gorges of Yorkshire and the Peak District

 
At Lost Earth Adventures we like to start the New Year right. This usually means an adventure – something different, exciting and new! Whether it’s a new spot for gorge scrambling or crag to climb at, we’re always on the hunt for new locations so we can expand on the experiences we can give you.

Climbing a water fall in the Yorkshire Dales   gorge walking peak district

As outdoor professionals we also get asked from time to time to test various outdoor products for retailers as lots of our working week is spent out in the elements. Retailer, Silver Fox recently asked us to test the Lowe Alpine TFX Kibo rucksack. Never one to just merely “test” a product in a run of the mill way, we took this request as a challenge! We were determined to put this rucksack through its paces; putting it through the harshest test we could while having a banging good time.

Gorge Scrambling Walking in Yorkshire Gorge Scrambling

No good review (or adventure) would be complete if we hadn’t swam down rivers, climbed steep rock faces, abseiled down water falls into canyons, scrambled through gorges in fast flowing water and waded through swamps. All of these adventures happened while carrying very heavy kit over a bitterly cold couple of days in January.

Scrambling up a gorge in Yorkshire   Peak Disrtict Ghyll Scrambling

First we headed to one of our favourite places in the whole world, the Peak District National Park. We’d had a tip off that there was a great river flowing down the side of Kinder Scout. Now any Boy Scout, Girl Guide or D of E participant knows the vast, boggy landscape is one hell of a laugh and possesses enough issues to cross at the best of times. Kinder Scout in all its glory is a giant, swampy, huge muddy mess… perfect!

We got our wetsuits on and headed for the hills. The adventure began scrambling up a clean, peaty gill. We swam under fallen trees and climbed up steep waterfalls and jumped from the cliffs. Superbly refreshing, this was a true delight. The gill is located in a stunning area of upland meadows, a peaceful, natural place. In the summer it’ll be the perfect spot to enjoy a BBQ, while spending the day exploring and scrambling. We’re looking forward to bringing people here in the warmer, sunnier months.

Gorge Walking near Leeds   Gorge Walking near Sheffield

Next up on our quest was Strans Gill, a limestone canyon in the Yorkshire Dales that is not for the faint hearted. In the winter the gill is full to the brim with water, making us very grateful for our 5mm thick wetsuits! The gill involves hard rock climbing up a fast flowing, full waterfall, after a few hundred metres of exposed (but fun) scrambling. To make this adventure even more interesting we took a swim up the River Wharfe towards the start of the gill, much to the amusement and bewilderment of onlookers watching from the bank. The first dip in always takes your breath away, but as we started swimming and moving, we stayed quite warm in our wetsuits. The gill is where the scrambling starts and the real fun begins.

Canyoning YorkshireWe hurried up the grassy moorland to the mouth of the steep sided gorge and began climbing up the many steps and slippery problems that make this gorge scramble so much fun. We managed to move quite swiftly through the gorge heading higher and higher without any problem until we were faced with the crux – a steep wall known as the waterfall pitch. In summer conditions it is climbed without much problem, as it’s normally dry, but we were faced with a powerful torrent of bitterly cold water.

Knowing how easy it is to get cold, fast in these conditions I quickly un-coiled the rope and headed into the flow. As soon I started climbing the water hit me and I realised I had to climb fast. I was quickly beginning to lose feeling in my fingers and it wasn’t getting any warmer!

The climbing was actually quite pleasant, big juggy holds which were pleasing to numb fingers and the final move was a fun flop onto a slippery platform into the middle of the river, just steep enough to get the blood pumping. After we’d finished exploring the top reaches of the gorge we decided it would be fun to abseil back into the waterfall and also attempt to retrieve a piece of protection that Sarah found hard to extract on the way up. It was a large climbing hex that was slotted into a crack that had the rope clipped through in order to limit the distance I would fall if I lost my grip.
 
Gorge Walking near HarrogateThe hex had got twisted in a crack and would not budge. There was only so long I could stand in the flow before I’d had too much, the speed of the water really intensified the coldness and it was starting to get dark. It seemed prudent to leave a relatively inexpensive piece of kit to be found another day. This is certainly an adventure for those that want some excitement whilst doing something a little different. To keep updated of future trips like this check out our canyoning, gorge walking and gill scrambles page. There will be more additions throughout the year as we delve deeper and deeper into the surrounding hillsides.
 
 
Gorge Walking Yorkshire rucksackSo how did the rucksack cope? In a word, great! We couldn’t fault it. It has everything you’d need in a rucksack and is comfortable to carry. If you are into lightweight gear and saving grams is quite important to you then this should be your first port of call if you need a decent expedition pack.

It has clean, expanding side pockets so it is good for climbing, has a big top pocket for all your bits and pieces and a little pocket on the front for safe storage of phones and keys. There are some pockets in the hip strap for keeping a GPS or snacks handy and Sarah especially thought the colour was quite cool.

The only downside is that, as you’d imagine in a lightweight bag that it seems as though the material is not that robust. Saying that we beat the hell out of it over a couple of days, dragging it down rivers and up gorges and there isn’t the slightest bit of damage or wear. We ran this test for our friends at Silver Fox, a superb Yorkshire company based in Leeds. They have a fantastic selection of outdoor kit at great prices.

You can buy the Lowe Alpine Kibo and plenty of other outdoor equipment on the Silver Fox website here.
 

 
 

Truly Life Changing Adventures

Posted on: January 12th, 2014 by Richard No Comments

Congratulations to Dom and Angelika!

Larkya Pass - Trekking around Manaslu
 
 
Trekking in Nepal can be a life changing experience from the warm hospitality of the locals and the spiritual peace of the Himalaya to your boyfriend getting down on one knee and popping the question at 5000 meters.

Congratulations to Dom who choose the 5,200m Larkya Pass high on the Manaslu Circuit to ask for Angelika’s hand in marriage. The Larkya La is deep in the middle of the Himalaya surrounded by several of the world’s highest mountains and glaciers. The proposal almost didn’t go to plan, as due to a big storm that ripped through the Indian Sub-Continent there was unusually high snow and temperatures plummeted. This caused many parties to turn back from the pass and the staff from the lodges to retreat to lower ground. Luckily the lodge owner from Dharamsala was persuaded to put our group up for the night and the weather turned for the better. As you can see in the picture the weather was as stunning as the new ring on Angelika’s finger! After a safe crossing of the pass they were able to descend to the alpine meadows and warmth of Bimtang for a few beers and a celebration.

We weren’t sure if the altitude had aided Dom in a successful response but we asked Angelika and she says she couldn’t be happier.

Well done guys!

See for yourself why there is magic in the air on our Manaslu Circuit Trek.
 
 

Escaping the Ordinary

Posted on: January 7th, 2014 by Richard No Comments

New Year, New Adventures: 14 Extraordinary Experiences in 2014

This new year make a resolution that you’ll actually stick to. See more than the 4 walls of your office. Make time for friends and family. Get outside and breathe more fresh air. Do something you’ve never done before. Take that trip – that adventure you’ve always wanted and do it! 2014 is all about making things happen. 2014 is all about you!

Here are 14 inspiring experiences that you can do to make 2014 extraordinary!

Get to know the gentle giants of SE Asia in a world renowned Elephant Sanctuary

Elephant Nature ReserveGetting up close with these quintessential icons of SE Asia has long been an essential “must-do”. For good reason, these lovable, lumbering pachyderms will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Interact closely with these endangered gentle giants in their natural habitat, spending time feeding, bathing and walking with them at the Elephant Nature Reserve in Chiang Mai.

Founded by passionate conservationist Lek, this is a renowned sanctuary and reserve dedicated to the safe well being of these animals – no painting, no riding, no tricks! This is a truly wondrous and rewarding encounter.

Want to Experience This? Take a look at our Southeast Asian Odyssey and South East Asian Explorer tours.

Abseil off a bridge on a free hanging rappel into Yorkshire’s most dramatic gorge

Free-hanging-AbseilGet your heart racing peering over the edge of bridge 100 feet above the surface floor. Abseil down into the gorge in the stunning hills of Yorkshire, then clamber, scramble and slide your way through the canyon. No experience necessary for this, what are you waiting for?

Want to Experience This? Visit our Gorge Walking page.
 
 
 
 

Circumnavigate the 8th highest mountain in the world in a stunning Himalayan trek

Trekking-Manaslu-300x196Walk amongst the Himalaya and face to face with Manaslu, at a towering 8,156m, this is nature on a beautiful, grand scale. Get off the beaten track on this one of a kind teahouse trek – simply out of this world!

Want to Experience This? Visit our Manaslu Circuit Teahouse Trek.
 
 
 
 

Reach the summits of the UK’s 3 highest peaks in one weekend

Snowden Hiking3000m of ascent over 3 peaks in 3 countries – challenges in the UK don’t get any better than this.

On this expedition you’ll have the full support of qualified mountain guides and transport, leaving you to enjoy the views and claim some serious bragging points.

Want to Experience This? Visit our Hiking in the UK page.
 
 
 

Watch the sunrise on the Mekong

SONY DSCOne of life’s greatest moments can be had, with a cold Beer Laos in hand, watching serenely as the sun sets gently on the great river Mekong. Meandering and winding its way through 7 countries, this is the lifeline of SE Asia. Fisherman get their catch of the day, goods are transported up and down, women tend to the ariable soil on its banks, kids splash and play – the Mekong, with its continuing flow, is where life is lived.

Want to Experience This? Visit our tours to SE Asia.
 
 

Celebrate the exuberant celebrations of the Holi festival in Nepal!

Holi Nepal HimalayaSplashes of colour and happy revellers fill the streets of this fun and boisterous celebration. People throw a brightly coloured mixture of powder and water, where everything and everyone is fair game. The Festival of Colour, occurring in the March, is best experienced in Nepal. Whether you are in the busy streets of Kathmandu or tiny villages in the Himalayan foothills, you are guaranteed to have a memorable time.

Want to Experience This? Visit our Nepal Treks & Tours page.
 
 

Learn to climb at the home of the UK’s rock legends in the Peak District

Rock climbing derbyshireLeo Houlding, Don Whillans and Jonny Dawes all got their start in the UK’s most prolific climbing area – The Peak District and its plethora of crags.

Stanage Edge in particular has hundreds of routes well suited for a beginner’s ramble up your first route to overhangs where you can hear cries for mercy on the ascent. Either way you’ll feel on top of the world when you reach the finish.

Want to Experience This? See climbing and abseiling in the UK.

 

Chat with monks in Chiang Mai or Luang Prabang

chatting with monksTravelling to SE Asia isn’t all about embracing the lush natural surroundings, active adventures and night markets (those are great too!). Get engaged in the region’s fascinating cultural heritage too. Learn of a monk’s life, Buddhist culture and wonder about life’s great mysteries with informal monk chats at a few select temples in Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang.

Want to Experience This? Visit our tours of Thailand and Laos.
 
 
 

Take on a classic Himalayan trek with a twist in an Annapurna adventure

Annapurna Hike and BikeThere’s a reason our trip was recommended by the Sunday Times Travel Magazine – this tour is awesome!

Trek up the eastern flank of the classic Annapurna Circuit, until you pass the high and mighty Thorung La (5416m high). Then, bike downhill for 4 days onto the western side into the deepest gorge on earth. See this region in a whole new light. There’s nothing like it!

Want to Experience This? See our Annapurna Hike & Bike page.
 
 

Kayak the free flowing rapids on the Sun Kosi

Kayaking-Holiday-in-NepalSpend the day kayaking with internationally certified guides in the warmest white water in Nepal. Kayak the grade 1/1+ rapids of the Sun Kosi – rightfully described as one of the top 10 river journeys anywhere. When you’re not paddling there’s heaps of time to enjoy the abundant wildlife and world class scenery.

Want to Experience This? Visit our Journey to the Top of the World trip page and other Nepal tours.
 
 
 

Take a light aircraft into the Himalaya and spend 4-days descending on your bike

Fly to the HimalayaTake a light aircraft flying into the heart of the Himalayas. Land at 3800m above sea level and take a jeep to the holy town of Muktinath. Then, from here it’s 4 days of the best downhill one can find, anywhere. Period. Single track, broad sweeping trails, suspension bridges, natural berms, rock gardens and rarely used jeep tracks lead the way back down into the foothills. This is what dreams are made of!

Want to Experience This? Visit our Mountain Madness Nepal or Nepal Xtreme page.
 

Stay in a Newari mansion perched in the foothills of Nepal

The mountains of NepalHigh along a ridge is the cobble stoned village, Bandipur. It’s hard to believe that this stunning Newari village with views to to rival, has escaped the throngs of mass tourism – it’s merely a short drive off the main Nepali highway. Bandipur presents itself as living museum with its restored square and ancient temples, traffic free streets, and quiet demeanour, but part of the beauty lies in the fact that it is still a market town with farmers and traders going about their daily business. Stay in a beautifully restored mansion when you visit this gem.
 

Want to Experience This? Visit our Day Trips to Nepal page or come with us on a Journey to the Top of the World.

Drink yak butter tea, try the raksi or raise your glass to Lao Lao (Laos rice whisky).

Snake Stirfry LaosEver tried fried grasshoppers or snake soup? One of the most fun you can have on any holiday is trying all sorts of weird and wonderful things. We never thought that bamboo grubs would taste so good – until we tried them! We won’t mention how the local rice whisky tasted, but that’s all part the experience!

Often you’ll get invited into a local home and the first thing they’ll offer you is drink. The best thing you can do is say yes. So cheers, to local delicacies – whatever they may be!

Want to Experience This? All of our Asian Adventure Tours get you immersed in the local culture and encourage you to taste new things!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Natural hot springs, blue lagoons, hidden waterfalls – this is wild swimming!

waterfalls in laosWhether you’re in the Yorkshire Dales down a gorge, going for a dip in a Welsh mountain stream, soaking tired muscles in natural hot springs surrounded by the Annapurna’s, feeling the cooling mist of a secret waterfall in Laos or find yourself jumping from a tree swing into crystal clear, turquoise pools, nothing is as refreshing as going for a swim.

Want to Experience This? Thailand, Laos, Nepal, Yorkshire, the Peak District and mountains of the UK – we can take you there.
 
 

Eating Scorpion in Bangkok

Posted on: December 20th, 2013 by Richard No Comments

Street Food in Bangkok

When you think of Thailand, often one of the first things that comes to mind is the country’s insanely good food offerings. Pad thai, green curry, papaya salad, fresh fruit shakes, and the street food – oh the street food! Offerings of spicy grilled pork, fresh noodle soups, BBQ fish, mango sticky rice… crickets, grubs, scorpions???

Never one to say no to a challenge, Lost Earth Adventures’ co-founder Sarah Allard took to the streets of Bangkok to try the tastiest (worst thing she’s ever tasted) snack on the arachnid/insect menu. Here’s a short video of Sarah eating possibly the largest scorpion in Southeast Asia.

Bon Appétit!

Allez Allez

Posted on: December 16th, 2013 by Richard No Comments

The Tour de France comes to Yorkshire

The greatest cycling race on earth Le Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire on 5th and 6th July 2014. Here is a short video of some of the route and the great Yorkshire countryside. This is a great moment in history and it shouldn’t be missed. Accommodation will be hard to get for this spectacular event so it’s a good idea to get in quick. Why not make a holiday of it? Stay in the idyllic villages of the Yorkshire Dales or the historic city of York. To read more about the route and the race visit The official site for the Tour de France Grand Départ.

If you’d like to explore the lesser used tracks and trails of Yorkshire on a mountain bike then join us for a guided ride or mountain bike skills course any time of the year. We’d love to show you the hidden gems of this great county and show you why we’re so proud to call it home.

A Journey into the Heart of Southeast Asia

Posted on: November 7th, 2013 by Richard No Comments

A Tale of Pure Adventure in Southeast Asia

Guard Grand Palace BangkokSnake soup and bamboo grubs… iconic river journeys… discovering muscles we never knew we had, mountain biking and climbing… trekking to remote hill villages… experiencing the warm hospitality of locals, everywhere we went…

As I sit here in Bangkok reflecting on the last 23 days on our Southeast Asian Odyssey tour, I’m wondering how I’ll fully be able to share and encapsulate the journey we’ve been on and the unforgettable experiences we’ve had.

I’ll certainly try.

Our adventure began in Bangkok.

A city that never sleeps is a contrast of old and new. Skyscrapers rising up to the sky stand next to spirit houses and ancient temples in equal measure. Bangkok is a fast city, but there are moments of calm to be found.

Our first night and day we stayed in Banglamphu, the “old town” and in my opinion the heart of the city. Early to rise, avoiding the sweltering midday heat, we take a tuk tuk (a 3-wheeled taxi of sorts) to Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. This is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the holiest site in Thailand. One of our local city guides is trigger happy with camera lens and insisted on photographing every square inch of the place – at least it’s well documented!

           

Our next stop was the UNESCO World Heritage listed city, Ayutthaya.

It was once the ancient capital of Siam (Thailand) and the city is dotted with dozens of ruins amongst a functioning modern city. With its UNESCO status, the ruins are well preserved giving you an idea of how grand it once was in its illustrious past.

Ruins of AyutthayaIn the evening we hit the Bang-Ain food market, more of a local affair this is a great place to experience traditional Thai food in its greatest form – Street Food!!! It’s also home to one of the greatest fresh fruit juice ladies this side of the Mekong!

On the Night Train to Chiang Mai

Taking an overnight train we slumbered our way 400 miles north to Chiang Mai. With a free day, we headed into the hills and rice paddies, spending the day in sunshine lazily tubing our way down the Nam Ping. That evening we chilled out on Chiang Mai’s only white sandy beach, playing badminton (badly) and attempting to conquer a slack line. The next few days were spent rock climbing and abseiling at the huge cliffs of Crazy Horse Buttress, going to a Muay Thai match, perfecting culinary skills in a cooking class and getting the adrenaline pumping on single track and muddy trails in the cool mountains of Doi Suthep National Park. Rain or shine, this is a city not to be missed!

After a fun filled week in Thailand we were set to embark on the next part of our adventure – to the Land of a Million Elephants!

              

The Land of a Million Elephants – Laos!

We crossed into Laos by small ferry with ease and much to our surprise there was a festival! It was the end of Buddhist Lent and the entire town (and its many surrounding villages) were out to celebrate. We met up with another of our local guides, Somdy and spent the evening dancing with army generals and high up officials (we found out later) and hopping from one house to another. Everyone seemed ready to welcome us with big grins and Beer Laos at the ready! The culmination of the evening was offering our Ka Thongs – a floating offering made of marigold flowers, incense sticks, and banana leafs down the Mekong – and setting alight our lanterns in the sky, wishing for good luck and good fortune.

              

A Journey Up the Nam Tha

The next morning we met our local boatman for a 2 day, awe-inspiring journey down the Mekong, and veering left up the Nam Tha. It is hard to put into words what it’s like to sit back and watch as river life passes you by. Here there are no roads, the river is your highway. Families bathe on the banks, water buffalo laze in the water, Kingfisher dart from branch to branch, children and their fathers fish on their long tail boats and it’s as if time is at a standstill. It’s a different way of life that I think must be experienced to appreciate in its fullest. The evening was spent at our boatman’s house and we ate communally with his family, with heaps of sticky rice and locally prepared food.

              

The road to Luang Nam Tha from Nale, the end of our river journey is rough and not sealed throughout, but still it’s a great opportunity to share the journey with locals on a songthaew (a converted passenger carrying truck).

Frog Legs, Escargot and Bamboo Grubs

That night we visited the local market which has EVERYTHING on offer, whole pigs on the spit, fresh fish from the Nam Tha and even the things you may never have thought of are on the menu… fresh squirrel anyone? Giving in to the culinary delights on offer we tucked into frogs, snails, bamboo grubs, river weed and pigs cheeks – despite what it sounds like, this stuff was seriously delicious. The evening ended up dancing to fat beats in a karaoke bar surrounded by our new found fans…

              

Exploring Caves in Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw is a sleepy town nestled on the banks of the Nam Ou. The setting is stunning and dramatic, with thick jungle encroaching on the cliffs of massive limestone peaks. We took to bicycles and explored a cave a few miles from the town.

409Here, during the Second Indochine War (Vietnam War) the entire village of about 700 people hid and lived in it. They cooked during the night to avoid detection and even had areas sectioned off for school, government and administration. Sadly this was the case for many Laotians during the “Secret War.” What many people may not know is that during this period Laos was the most heavily bombed place in the world per capita, as Americans dropped their bombs during flying missions. Remnants of this can still be seen today, and often you’ll see creative uses for bomb casings (like flower beds, fence posts and art pieces).

Trekking Village to Village

The next 3 days were spent trekking in the region.We took a boat an hour and a half upstream to the picturesque village, Mueang Ngoi before hitting the road to a tiny Hmong village – but not before we tucked into some tasty snake soup!!! The Hmong practise Animism, believing in spirits of the forest, river, nature, the home and ancestors. We stayed with the village chief and his house is built in the Hmong tradition.

As we carried on, we were led by a Hmong hunter, who carried a machete and prepared for us a salt and water concoction in a hollow bamboo reed to ward off the leeches – it works! The trail led us through forest over log bridges and eventually to the Nam Ou, where our hunter friend bid us adieu. We sat here, eating our lunch of chicken and herbs with sticky rice while waiting for our chariot across the river. We had prepared the chicken in the morning, stuffing the chicken and herbs into a section of hollow bamboo tree and cooking it over an open fire.

              

On the other side of the river, we made our way to a Khmu village, dropped our bags and carried on for about an hour to a beautiful, secluded waterfall. After 2 days walking in the heat it was a great place to refresh ourselves (and bathe in privacy). On the way back to the village, Somdy spent most of the time hacking a piece of this and chopping a bit of that and before we knew it, he’d collected all of things we would need for our dinner… Banana flower, check. Young bamboo shoots, check. Tarot root, check. Assortment of fresh herbs, check. We played an endless amount of football and other schoolyard games with the village kids before tucking into a fine feed.

              

The villages here are remote, and though there is evidence of progress – there is now electricity in the villages – things don’t seem to have changed that much from when I first visited these villages many years ago. People still go to the rice fields and tend to the land, dry meat on their roofs, weave cotton by hand and have an overwhelming sense of community. One thing though, is a few now have televisions and it’s amusing to see people transfixed to it, much as our parents did in the 50’s and 60’s. Alas, our trek was coming to an end, making our way back to Meaung Ngoi.

The great thing about travel is the unplanned surprises that happen on the road. When we got back to Meaung Ngoi we ended up in a raucous, competitive game of pretanque (a form of French boules) with the village men – bets of Beer Laos were put on the table and pride was on the line – we were divided into teams with the more experienced and though we threw a few good balls, I don’t think I’ll be giving up my day job. Afterwards we connected with local fishermen and at sunset set off to catch our supper. We ran along little island beaches getting into small pools chasing after our fisherman as we caught the sun’s last dying rays… and what a catch! Back to the village and a feast was upon us, the rest of the men from earlier came and joined us and it was an absolutely superb end to a surprising day.

              

Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves and a 7-tiered Waterfall

Another iconic river journey was to follow as we made our way to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stunning town. We stopped by the holy Pak Ou Caves, which has over 2000 statues of Buddha and that evening hit the night market, treating ourselves to a traditional Khmu massage at less than £4 for an hour, it’s an absolute bargain.

              

Just outside of Luang Prabang is Kuang Si Waterfalls – an impressive 7 tiered waterfall, turquoise in colour and flanked by lush green forested jungle. There is a rope swing to jump from and it’s a great way to relax in nature. In the evening we were invited into the home of Somdy, where he lives with his wife, parents and children. We were humbled when they performed a Baci ceremony with a Shaman in our honour. This is an important ceremony offered to guests on long journeys, weddings and for special occasions. While offering food, water and prayers of good will, good fortune, long life and success the hosts tied strings and strings of cotton around our wrists to keep our spirits in place.

              

Exploring the Adventure Eden, Vang Vieng

Last, but definitely not least we headed to the adventure capital of Laos, Vang Vieng. We spent an amazing 2 days, biking to blue lagoons, visiting some enormous caves, kayaking the rapids of the Nam Lik and just enjoying the scenery and reflecting on the last 3 weeks of adventures through South East Asia.

              

We took one last overnight train into Bangkok, shopped ‘til we dropped at the famous – for good reason – Chatchuchak Weekend Market and finally bid farewell to an unforgettable journey.

- Sarah Allard – Co-Founder

Lost Earth Adventures goes to Thailand and Laos in our 23-day South East Asian Odyssey, our 16-day South East Asian Explorer and 10-day Northern Laos Adventure tours.

Beyond the Beaten Path – Langtang and Gosainkunda Himal

Posted on: October 18th, 2013 by Richard No Comments

A Trekking and Climbing Adventure in Nepal

Here we go the first instalment of the autumn 2013 Lost Earth Adventures’ blog, and where to start… an amazing Langtang journey for some great trekking and our attempt to climb something over 5000m.

Motorbike Nepal

Our trusty Enfield Bullet

The beginning. Richard and I both landed in Kathmandu on the 20th of September with itchy feet. There were a few days of work to be done to get ready for our fall trips but as soon as we could we were off to the hills. We rented a great bike to get us there, a Royal Enfield Bullet. Everything had to fit on this bike so we packed our bags with minimal gear, one change of clothing, lightweight sleeping bags, waterproofs, and an extra pair of underwear that would need to be washed nightly. For the climb we also bought a set of nuts, 4 small cams and a 30M rope.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
riding motorcyclefixing the enfield
 
 
Heading out of Kathmandu we took to the open road, well in Nepal’s case the narrow winding road, for a six-hour spectacular drive to our first stop, Dunche. We stayed at the Langtang View Hotel, a great lodge with an amazing dinning room to boot. We like it so much we stay here on all of our trips that begin or end in Dunche. The staff welcomed us with open arms providing us with cold drinks, a great meal and some terrific suggestions for future trips that are seldom seen by western trekkers. The owner of the hotel was also kind enough to store our bike and secure us seats in a jeep to take us the last couple of miles to the trailhead. So after a good nights sleep we were off to Syrabru Besi.
 
 
Way to GosainkundaHimalayan Bees Nest
 
 
After completing some work we set off at 1.00pm, on our own without a guide or porters, which I do not advise unless you know the area extremely well as there are trails everywhere and none of them marked. However, we had plenty of time to reach our goal of Lower Rimchee. The trail was in great shape with only one obstacle to pass, a bees nest the size of a beer keg but we were able to make it past with very little trouble. It was about 6:30pm when Richard and I came into view of the teahouse. The sun was down and we were ready for a nice big plat of Dal Bhat and a jug of chhaang to wash it down. This is the local equivalent of beer and a steak.
 
 
Gosainkunda Trekking Trail Langtang Trek
 
 
The subsequent 2 days were spent exploring the breathtaking Langtang Valley and looking for great new places to take our guests (many were found but we are not going to give away all of our secrets). After a night of fun with the locals at Lama Hotel we were back on the trek and completed a long hike up to Thulo Shyapfru. The hill normally takes an hour to walk but we ran up it in 25 minutes for some sort of sadistic entertainment. In the forest we met ‘Sita’, a girl from the village of Thulo Syrafu. Her parents asked us to escort her on the hour and a half journey to the next village in order to keep her safe. Maybe they wanted us handsome men to marry her, but who knows? Sita told us she was living with her mom and dad in a small teahouse with no power and, like most girls her age, needed her phone and was prepared to walk an hour and a half in order to charge it.
 
 
Inside a tea houseByron Trekking
 
 
After a short day of walking and more exploring we arrived in Shin Gompa, an amazing village set at 3330m. It comes complete with many amenities such as a Nak cheese factory, a raksi shack (drinking den) and, when the sun is out, hot showers! Richard and I found a great new teahouse here, called the Yak and Nak, it will be our top choice next time we are in the area.
 
 
Peaks at GosainkundaGosainkunda Trek
 
 
Following this Richard and I headed up to the Gosainkunda Lakes to find something to get to the top of and start the real fun! The weather was not the greatest but clouds sometimes make the best pictures in the Himalaya. When we arrived we started the reconnaissance, the weather was bad and judging by the forecast it was not going to improve, so our original idea of ascending unclimbed peaks over 5000m was shot down. However, after much surveying and running around in order to find some virgin terrain, our chosen objective became a ridgeline across the North. It looked good, had a few steep pitches for us to have some fun, and route finding would still be easy if the weather went bad.
 
 
DSCN9433DSCN9436
 
 
Waking at 5am the next morning we were ready to go out and have some high altitude excitement. Unfortunately Mother Nature did not want us to partake. The cloud was as thick as chocolate milk and showers were off and on. So what to do… wait, and wait, and wait some more and if some friendly Israelis with amazing coffee show up, drink it! As time was passing, the visibility was not getting better and our chosen objective was slowly fading away. So like any good Himalayan expedition we had a back up plan; find a rock to scramble about on and practice some rope work. Armed with our meagre rack built for spicy scrambling, 1 set of nuts and 4 small cams we found a great fin like feature to scramble about on. Just getting out there and placing a bit of gear was great. We climbed a bit and weaved our way up with some fun easy moves. Over the top and with a high five and a feeling of accomplishment we hiked back to the teahouse. It was mostly just easy scrambling but worth it to practice at high altitude and train for bigger things.
 
 
climbing-langtang climbing-gosainkunda
 
 
We would have liked to spend a few more days at Gosainkunda to get the right weather but we had to return to Kathmandu to meet the first guests of the season. We felt quite lucky to get a couple of weeks to ourselves to have a play and explore new ground. So we left in high spirits and enjoyed a great sunset as we descended down to Cholong Pati.
 
 
rock climbing ridge scramble
 
 
The next morning the trip back to Kathmandu began, a quick walk back to Dunche to spend another night, pick up the bike and start the ride home. The fun did not stop here. There are two spots that see a lot of landslides during the monsoon season so there is no paved road in these areas. Every year after the monsoon they rebuild the road until the next years monsoon. Steep roads like this are best avoided during the monsoon season or during heavy rains. Our journey back to Kathmandu was via one such road and because of the rain the road was a bit muddier than on the way there. For us this meant a lot of fun and slipping around on the bike, but not for others. On route we found a truck full of bottled Himalayan spring water that did not have enough power to make it up one of the hills. So what is the Nepal way? Bring in another truck, unload the boxes and take another run at it. As you can see by the photo below on a narrow road this is easier said. However, we made it back ready to start our next adventure!
 
 
DSCN9492DSCN9475
 
 
Does this story interest you? We have still have limited availability on some of our trips leaving this season. Why not come and join us? Have some fun and come back with some great stories that will make your mates more than jealous.
 
 

Bushwhacking Fording and Climbing to Banffs Highest Peak

Posted on: September 9th, 2013 by Richard No Comments

ByronA true wilderness adventurer

Byron is one of our guides to Nepal and is at home in any mountain range. When he sent Lost Earth Adventures this picture of him, we just had to know the story behind it and asked Byron to tell us all about it.

Here’s his account of climbing Mt. Forbes, at 3612m high, it is Banff National Park’s highest mountain and one of Canada’s most remote peaks.

FYI: Now before I begin, I would just like to mention that I’ve never written a blog before and until I was asked to write about this, it had never occurred to me to do one. After reading several examples on the web, I realised some were great, some were just ok, and some… were just not worth the time to read! I’d like to think, hopefully that my account falls into the first category!

An idea starts to take shape!

Mt Forbes

Mt. Forbes, 3612m high

Last July, after weeks of working too hard, saving money for a trip to Europe and an impending move to New Zealand I finally got 2 days off in a row. So the question begs, what to do when you have 2 consecutive days off in the Canadian Rockies? Run to the hills and try to get to the top of something!

A buddy of mine, Keil and his girlfriend, Nicky had the same time off and asked me to join them, along with their mate Trevor on a mission to Mt. Forbes, the 8th highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and remote – very remote!

I was hesitant at first as I was working a lot over the summer and hadn’t got the chance to hit the high peaks as much as I wanted to, nor was I in the best shape. To just get to the bivi (wild campsite) was a 24km (15 mile) slog through unmaintained, wild terrain – but hey, you don’t get fit by just sitting on the couch and you can’t pass up the opportunity to climb the highest peak in Banff National Park, now can you!

A fairly ambitious plan…

We were to drive out early in the morning, hike the 24km to the bivi site, sleep for a few short hours, wake up for an alpine start (3am), summit and get back to the car so we could get back to work the next day.

The forecast was not great, but it said that it would clear overnight, stay clear the next morning for us to summit and the weather would not turn until the afternoon when we would hope to be off the mountain and on the trail home. All in all we thought we had a good chance at the summit. But, like a lot of remote alpine adventures in the Rockies we knew there was a fair chance that this adventure could end up being little more than a “hike in, hike out” operation, carrying a lot of unnecessary gear – but we were fine with this proposition.

The plan sounded great in theory, but in practice, it turned out to be a bit painful!

And so, the adventure begins…

The first section of the approach was fantastic, we powered through the first 9km to Glacier Lake on a great trail with 210m of elevation gain. The unfortunate part is you descend 220m to get to the lake with a net loss of 10m.

Glacier Lake Banff Canada

Glacier Lake, Banff, Canada

Instead of bringing a pair of trainers and my alpine boots I decided to bring my Keen sandals to save some weight. My reasoning was walking the full 24km (almost 50km round trip) in my alpine boots would kill my feet. It seemed like a waste of space and weight to bring a pair of trainers. So I did the 9km to Glacier Lake in my Keen sandals and switched to my boots there. In hindsight it would have been better to bring a pair of trainers because I could of worn them all the way to the end of the flat bit of the hike, which would have made the bush whacking a bit more enjoyable (but still quite painful)!

From there the bush whacking begins (about 10km) to where we had to ford the Glacier River. Over the first 4.5 kilometres to the end of Glacier Lake the trail got progressively worse, (along with the weather – though it looks good in the picture, the nasty weather started to roll in shortly after the it was taken) on an old unmaintained trail. On the last 5km there is not much of a trail at all.

Crossing streams, climbing over fallen trees along with all the wonderful things that help you build good character. The weather started to turn on us in this section with a few showers, and overcast skies. We decided to push on because the forecast said it was to clear up overnight and the sun still managed to poke its head out from time to time. In this section we had a run in with a hornet’s nest! You need to be careful because those crafty b****ers build their nests anywhere and are easy to step on. Keil and Nicky both got stung, but it would take a bit more than a hornet’s sting to stop them. They’re tough as nails! The funniest part is Keil screamed like a girl and his girlfriend, not a peep.

Now is where the real fun begins!

                    

Next we had to cross the glacier river. Strapped to my back was a trusty Explorer 200 (a lightweight inflatable expedition raft). The ford across the Glacier river generally can be done easily by just simply walking across knee to waste deep water, but this summer Banff got heaps of rain and water levels were a lot higher the normal. So we thought we might need a little help from a friend, and help us it did! The river would have been up to our chests and it was moving fast at the time we were there. Keil used his master paddling skills (hand paddling as we had no real paddles) to bring the raft across the first time. From there we set up a line and just hulled it back and forth with gear and people. I was a bit sceptical of the plan when we were making it but it worked out great and got us all across safely and somewhat dry.

After the river crossing the journey continued 4 kilometres left with over 1000m of elevation… yeah the easy part was definitely over! We continued up the Mons Glacier drainage through some interesting terrain and yes, even more bushwhacking. We pushed up to an old over gown moraine, the only remnants of the Mons Glacier, that hundreds of years ago touched all the way to the valley floor. Once we climbed to the top of the moraine we followed it to the end where we met a section of fun, but steep class 4 climbing (Grade 3 scrambling – Moderate climbing in UK terms).

                    

It was at this point near the top of the steep head wall that Trevor and I thought it was time to throw in the towel. Rain was coming down on us and the rock was getting slippery, steep and it was getting quite late. Unfortunately the ambitious nature of our ascent was our downfall in the end – too far and not enough time. Nicky and Keil decided to continue a bit further while we descended down the steep section to set up camp near the moraine.

After a great meal of boil-in-a-bag pasta, a hot drink and some talk of how we can do it better next time we were off to bed for a great sleep.

The next morning when we awoke I think Mr. Forbes thought it would be a bit funny to rub it in our face with some short-lived clear skies. We were lucky to have enough time to smash back some breakfast, pack up and start making our way back down. It was not until we were half way down the moraine that the rain started again.

                    

Once we got back to the bottom of the drainage we had to cross the river once more this time it was my turn to make the first paddle and set up the line. The water was still cold but we made it across and then it was a nice, short 20km back to the car.

So back to the photo!

Byron Some time on the way home is when it was taken, I can’t quite remember when but it was at some point when I was feeling the pain. It shows how the trip was. It was tough, long, wet, and miserable at some times but all in all, it was a great time. Like I said at the start of this post, a lot of alpine missions in the hills end up being a hike with a lot of unnecessary gear because the weather goes bad or in our case we were a bit too ambitious with our plan.

The important thing is to get out there, find your limits, push them, and get home safe. You don’t need to get to the top of a mountain every time just as long as you get out, have fun and stay safe. There is nothing wrong with having to try again and the pain you get from pushing yourself gives a great sense of accomplishment.

Next time I think the plan will be to walk in to Glacier Lake the night before. Wake up, hike to the bivi, sleep, and summit. Then get back down to the lake, camp and walk out the next day. Or maybe try the same plan and see if we can make it a bit further either way I’ll be back to give it another go!

Photos were all taken by Keil he is a wicked photographer (I always forget to take out my camera).

-Byron Urquhart-

Byron’s next adventure will be guiding one of our multi-activity tours, Journey to the Top of the World
and our Trek to the Last Shangri La, in the Langtang Valley, Nepal.
 
 

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