Summer is coming, and there’s no better time of year to visit Himalayan destinations such as Tibet, Ladakh, Kashmir, and the Spiti Valley. Not only is it a beautiful season in the mountains, but it’s also a time of many cultural festivals that bring the region’s traditions to vibrant life.
Travelers interested in Buddhist traditions often think first of Tibet when choosing a destination. The region is currently open to travelers, although the many summer festivals are somewhat dependent on the ever-changing political situation. But whether or not they occur as scheduled, the region is still a wonderful place for visiting monasteries, exploring the local culture, and trekking through the incomparable alpine landscapes.
Beyond the region most travelers think of as Tibet – Lhasa west to Mount Kailash and south to Nepal – is a much broader area of Tibetan culture. “We refer to the area as Tibetan Lands because there are whole areas to the east of the Tibet Autonomous Region that are now in Yunan and other parts of China but used to be part of Tibet,” says Myths and Mountains President Toni Neubauer. “These areas are a very different world and a very different ecosystem.”
Our Myths and Mountains family is made up of intrepid travelers who inspire with the way they embrace new cultures and experiences with open arms. We take great pleasure in crafting unforgettable, personalized adventures and sharing the joy of discovery, every step of the way. Here are 25 of the most amazing experiences our travelers have enjoyed during Myths and Mountains’ first 25 years.
1. Circumambulating the sacred peak of Mount Kailash in Tibet
2. Trekking to Everest Base Camp
3. Getting married in special destinations like Bhutan, the Galapagos Islands, and Cambodia
The trip wasn’t advertised specifically as textile-focused, but with a bit of special Myths and Mountains tweaking, Joan Clark and Susan O’Dell from Chicago discovered ample opportunities to indulge their love of weaving and other textile traditions during their journey to Peru last July.
With Myths and Mountains’ Artisans of Peru itinerary as a foundation, Vice President Allie Almario worked closely with Joan and Susan to customize the program, adding and adapting elements to make the trip a one-of-a-kind experience that was everything the travelers had dreamed of, and more.
Both Susan and Joan have a long-standing interest in textiles. Susan is a weaver and a spinner, while Joan has been sewing since childhood and considers herself a tailor. She still cherishes the Singer sewing machine she bought with Green Stamps she collected in high school.
Together, Joan and Susan have traveled to many parts of the world, collecting a variety of indigenous weavings and other textiles along the way. When they saw the “Artisans of Peru” trip listed, things clicked. “We both had been looking for a textile trip, and there weren’t very many out there,” Susan recalls. “When we talked about our interests with Allie one of the things that really sold us was that we were able to plan with her what our travel experience would be, for example by seeing different collections that weren’t necessarily on the original itinerary. I’ve traveled with other travel organizations in different ways, but Myths and Mountains is the only one that has been interested in letting us shape the trip.”
When people ask us about a great option for single travelers, we always recommend Easter Island. We can easily match you up with small groups where you can meet other international travelers as you head off on daily explorations of the island's moai (stone figures). For many people, traveling to one of the world's most remote islands is one-in-a-lifetime experience, and one they will never forget.
We always love to hear back from our travelers with trips about our destinations. Here, Myths and Mountains traveler Donovan Wong from Las Vegas shares his thoughts on Easter Island.
How easy is it to walk around the main town, Hanga Roa?
DW: Really simple with the hotel Myths and Mountains booked for us as a base. You could easily do laps around town in less than an hour.
What can you share about money matters?
DW: Check your bank cards for ATM access such as PLUS or Cirrus before you leave home. We had to try a few banks before we found one that would take our particular cards, but it wasn’t an issue. Also don’t be surprised by the cost overall – it’s very isolated, and they need to bring all of their food from the continent. I think we paid upwards of $20 for a plate of spaghetti, as an example, and the rental car was easily over $125 per day.
Are there any foods that are a must-try on the island?
DW: While beef and pasta were okay, seafood was probably the best choice all the way through.
As Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck relates in her book, A Portrait of Bhutan, legend has it that the people of Tshona in Tibet were struggling to cut down a huge mountain in front of the palace of the tyrant Yarsang, in order to bring more light into his palace. No matter how hard they worked, the people were not able to make any progress at all, were desperate to tend their own fields and feed their own children, and were at a loss as to what to do. "Rather than cut down the mountain," suggested a beautiful young woman, Aum Jomo, "Let us cut off the head of the tyrant Yarsang."
Faced with this brilliant suggestion, the people arranged a great feast to honor Yarsang, saw to it that he got drunk, and then decapitated him. Staring down at the headless body of their former tyrant, the people realized the seriousness of their deed, and knew they had to flee their homes. Aum Jomo and their much-loved Lama Jarepa offered to lead them over the mountains to a new home.
Taking their yaks and sheep with them, the people of Tshona traveled for many months through the inhospitable land of Tibet, finally arriving at a very high pass. The majority, too tired to attempt to cross the high pass, turned back, wandering until they came to a wide valley on the top of a hill, that was covered with bamboo and rhododendrons. They named it Sakteng or "land on the top."