Welcome to the Holiday Season! Perhaps the hustle of the holiday season has inspired you to think about doing something different. Thinking of travel? Maybe it’s time to consider another Ibex journey. I’ve established fixed dates for a few Ibex treks that will be operating in the coming months, formulated several new adventures and am planning others. Let me share with you what I have assembled for the coming year.
In keeping with Ibex philosophy, Ibex journeys are intended to be “explorations,” trips that will take you to the uncommon and beautiful places of the world that are not on the crowded popular tourist routes. For 2016 I have a selection of journeys for many tastes and abilities. I have personally guided in each region and I have been doing this for well over 40-years. I personally know the territory and the culture. That’s a claim no other company can make. I have the best of the few remaining routes that can be done in the original style. My colleagues are the finest in their field. I’ll be leading some Ibex journeys in the coming months, but my trusted colleagues will be leading the others. You can find the common routes or usual destinations elsewhere on the Internet.2016 Established date trips
Beyond the Blanca Peru features a new route that crosses the spine of the Cordillera Blanca south of the mountain town of Huaras into lush green valleys on the Amazon side and then crosses back again farther south onto the altiplano. The Cordillera Blanca is perhaps the best known trekking and climbing region of Peru, but most of the trekking activity is in the northern portion. Parts of the eastern slopes and southern portion remain free of trekkers yet the mountains are impressive, glaciated and untrammeled. My outfitter knows of no other company doing our particular route yet. We want to do this before it is “discovered” by the masses. This moderately demanding high altitude 17-day trek will operate Friday 20 May through Sunday 05 June. While in Huaras we’ll stay at a charming alpine lodge. Prior to the main trek there will be a couple acclimatization excursions into the impressive Kayesh Valley bounded by glaciers and ragged peaks as well as into the Cordillera Negra from which there are sweeping vistas across the Rio Santa Valley of the entire Cordillera Blanca. The trip includes the amazing underground ruins at Chavin de Huantar, Puya Raimondi (a giant lobelia) forests, verdant cultivated fields, mountain lakes, wildflower-strewn meadows, tundra and snow covered summits.July
I had planned to operate a trip in Kyrgyzstan in 2002, but 9/11 altered the trekking landscape. This fabulous country of friendly people is back on Ibex radar again. Wilds of Kyrgyzstan is a two-part 16-day trek scheduled for Saturday 09 July thru Sunday 24 July. I have located a very good local operator who knows the mountain terrain, the culture and understands Western needs. Kyrgyzstan is a country with several stunning granitic ranges that are largely unknown to Westerners. While a few mountaineers have discovered this land, most of them head to one or two popular ranges. In the other ranges unfrequented routes in lush, flower-filled meadows still beckon and a multiplicity of lakes dot the landscape. Coniferous forests abut high grasslands. We’ve selected a moderately demanding route in the Kirghiz Range followed by a diversion to the immense, glaciated Pamirs on the western edge of the country. As of this date, our route has not been trekked commercially. Interest in this trip is running exceptionally high.September-October
Himalayan foothills of India is a two-week overland journey by private minibus across the heavily forested southern slopes of India’s Western Himalaya from the charming hill station of Shimla, to the fortress at Nalagarh (built by a Raja in 1420), to Manali (staging point for many treks), to Dharamsala (home of the Dalai Lama) and on to Amritsar and the Golden Temple, heart of the Sikh world. Stays are in lodges and hotels throughout but there will be opportunity for hikes along the way. Final details will be available by mid-February.October-November
My colleague and I have assembled a new trek in Ethiopia that will travel from the fabulous monolithic churches of Lalibela into the province of Tigray in the northeast of the country. Hiking is relatively easy and we will be at the end of the green season. Unique Ethiopian churches abound along the way. At the end we may have opportunity to visit the Danakil Depression to see the camel trains bringing salt as in ancient times, an active volcano and boiling lakes. Final details will be available by mid-February.January-February 2017
Munnar Hills South India journey has easy day hikes in India’s Western Ghats as well as a substantial amount of variation including house boats in the tranquil, tropical backwaters of Kerala; ornate temples of Tamil Nadu; hidden game reserves; a short trek in the Ghats; spice and tea plantations; delightful guest houses and a homestay. Please note that there are a couple spaces still available for this coming January tour (2016). I’ll be leading this tour from Mon 25 January through Monday 08 February. Unfortunately you’ll have to have your payment in before Christmas because I will be leaving shortly thereafter. If you can’t make it this year, it will be available next year.2016 Anytime dates
Over the years Ibex has had the opportunity to visit many unique and beautiful places and interact with the locals. Many of those extraordinary places are being transformed. There are several trips that retain the magic of unspoiled trekking. Ibex can arrange for private groups on request. Following is a short list of some of my favorites that remain. I recommend these because the infrastructure to provide excellent service is in place.
Most of you are aware that there is really no such thing as a singular “Inca Trail.” The “Inca Trail” was a system of trails built by the Inca rulers that criss-crossed the Andes. The most famous of these trails goes to Machu Picchu in southern Peru but there are many others. My Peruvian friends are doing an exploratory this May into an area closer to Lima with “Another Inca Trail” and multiple lakes with high peaks that promises to be a winner for 2016. We expect this to be about a two-week trek. No, I won’t be there, but there are great Peruvian guides available.
For those of you who favor a more comfortable approach to trekking I can offer through my Peruvian colleagues an easy alternative to the standard Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Hiking days are short. Overnights are in comfortable lodges with good beds, good food and wine. The lodges are very heavily booked so plan ahead.
Much to our surprise, the planned roads into Mustang Nepal have not been able to reach the heartland yet, but roads certainly are soon to enter the untouched interior. Ibex is offering departures of this classic trek in conjunction with my colleague in Nepal. Contact me for dates and prices.
Kuari Pass in India, sometimes known as Curzon’s Trail, on the western flanks of Nanda Devi will be available on request in October or November. I have personally done this several times and consider it one of the world’s great treks. This journey features exceptional mountain scenery into an area that was once part of old Nepal.
Ladakh and Zanskar in northwest India have become popular summer trek destinations but most of the routes are becoming crowded. Nevertheless, there are a few good alternatives that are not crowded. One is the Rongdo Valley in the Karakorum Range; another good is Ibex Zhung Zanskar. Both operate from the Buddhist town of Leh in Ladakh and both have surprisingly little trekker traffic considering their proximity to Leh. Zhung has all the color and culture of the more remote regions and Rongdo is more alpine.
Still further south are to be found a multitude of towns and short hikes in the state of Rajasthan. Mogul architecture, markets overflowing with goods, unique dress and camels in the Thar Desert are a few of the features of this landscape.
In Northeast India, Ibex operates trips to Darjeeling and Gangtok and one of the finest Himalaya treks of all, the Sikkim Ridge with stunning views of the world’s third highest summit, Kanchenjunga. These trips will be led by our local guides.
Mongolia’s Altai Mountains, the Gobi Desert and the National Naadam Festival has been offered annually because of demand since its inception with Ibex in the 1990s. The vast expanse of rolling hills and the rare nomad against a backdrop of lakes makes this trip another gem. My colleague in Mongolia has led trips in his country for three decades and will lead this trip at a time of your choosing in 2016.
This past year was a great success. I was able to share journeys with you to the Cordilleras Raura, Huayhuash and Blanca in Peru; east of the Rift Valley in Ethiopia including the Danakil Depression, coffee plantations around Harar and the exotic Bale Mountains; the Royal Cities, Anti-Atlas Mountains and Saharan deserts of Morocco; western Canada; and a return to the Nanda Devi region of India and more.
I’ve sent others of you to the Western Aimags of Mongolia, to the Rajasthan of India, to Darjeeling and Bhutan, to Mustang in Nepal, and many more places. Ibex is still very active. Don’t miss your opportunity!
Each itinerary for 2016 that I am not leading can be modified to fit your particular needs. I can suggest a trip that might be best for your situation. There are many more available through Ibex. Please inquire at 541 345 1289 or email me at email@example.com. As the original routes are being transformed and many are loosing their unique character, the list of authentic treks grows shorter each year. Ibex suggests those treks that retain their authenticity and originality. Details are available.
Please note that I will not be in the Ibex office from 29 Dec 2015 thru 10 February 2016. It’s best to call or email before I leave or you can send an email and I will reply upon my return.