Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trekking the Manaslu Circuit

Manaslu and gompa at Lho village

Just back from a couple of months in Nepal, updating the Lonely Planet guide to Nepal. The highlight of this trip was a two week trek around Manaslu, the world's eighth highest mountain and Nepal's latest teahouse trek. Also did a quick blast around the little-trekked Tamang Heritage Trail trek near Langtang and had a wonderful overnight at Nuwakot at the lovely Famous Farm, possibly central Nepal's best-kept secret. Highly recommended!

As with the Annapurna Circuit trek, the best spots on the Manaslu trek are actually side trips from the main trail. If you are contemplating doing the trek, I'd strongly suggest adding three or so extra days to include the following detours.

Kal Tal, a tough day hike (3 1/2 hours climb) from the charming village of Prok, just off the main Manaslu Circuit near Ghap.

Views of Manaslu and Ngadi Chuli from Pungyen valley and glacier, the best day trip from Sama

Manslu reflected in pool, Pungyen valley

Looking down the Pungyen Glacier from the ridge above Pungyen Monastery

Views of Manaslu and Birendra Tal from near Milarepa's Cave, a ridge west of Sama village

Views east down valley from deserted village of Mimi, a short hike from Sama village

Heading to Tibet via the Gya-La, a great day hike from Samdo in upper Nupri

Upper valley below the Gya-La, near Fukang Glacier

Porter resting on the approaches to Dharamsala, the last stop before the pass

Crossing the Larkye La

Pongkar Tal & Phingi Himal, a great half day hike from Bimthang

Looking twards Pongkar Tal & the Cheo Himal, near Bimthang

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Here are a few photos from the Afghanistan leg of the Marco Polo trip. Click on them for bigger images. Brad.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marco Polo Trip Photos

Following is a slideshow of photos taken from the Marco Polo voyage, stretching along the Silk Road from Venice to Beijing. Click on the photos for a larger image.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marco Polo documentary on German TV

Less than a week now before the German public TV station SWR broadcasts the first of the Marco Polo films. The films follow me as I retrace the route of Marco Polo from Venice to China via Syria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Western China, trying to reinterpret the places and things Marco saw on his trip 700 years ago.

The five films are broadcast every Sunday at 5.15pm. See the schedule, description and some photos on the SWR website and also here. You can even watch the films online (in German) at the SWR website.

If you can't watch the films live, or don't speak German (!), check out www.marcopolo-reloaded.com, our Web-based documentary of the entire trip, including pictures, video clips and commentary not included in the documentaries. It's online in stages from 2 October 2011.

Until then, you can get a taste of the trip on a couple of Youtube videos. Click below or on the videos to the right of the screen:
Marco Polo Reloaded page

Please do let us know what you think of the clips or the films, either here or on the Marco Polo Reloaded Facebook page, where we'll continue to post links and video clips.

Thanks to Along Mekong Productions for putting together the clips and the web-doc.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Backpacking in the Beartooths

Just back from my last Montanan hiking trip of the summer. I'm headed off to Nepal soon for a couple of months so this was one final futile attempt to get into shape. Headed up onto the 10,000ft Beartooth Plateau, a couple of hours' drive from my house. One of my favourite places in Montana.

Hiked along the plateau, above the treeline and past Becker Lake.

Made camp at Albino Lake.

And then persuaded my wife to climb up this peak - Lonesome Mountain

For some awesome views

Heading back home for a pint of Bent Nail Ale in Red Lodge. Very Nice.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beni to Dolpo Trek

One of the best treks I've ever done was a couple of years back for the Western Nepal chapter of Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya. A superb 24-day walk from the Annapurna region, over seven high passes (highest 5318m) across west-central Nepal into lower Dolpo and across the Transhimalaya to Do Tarap and Phoksumdo Lake. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in getting off the beaten trek in Nepal. The pictures below are in order and show the dramatic changes from subtropical rice-growing valleys to high-altitude Tibetan desert. Click on the photos for larger images and a day by day progression. For a trek description see the Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya guide.

Beni To Dolpo Trek
(click on the photos for a larger slideshow)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yellowstone National Park

Hi all,
Just back from several weeks in Yellowstone National Park. A great trip and so nice to research in my own backyard instead of flying halfway across the world. Tried out some great new hikes and found some great new places to eat outside the park. Click on the photos to see them in proper size.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Uzbekistan Web Links

For the last couple of weeks I've been busy putting the finishing touches to the new Odyssey Uzbekistan guide (edition 7). I still love printed books but it's hard to keep them up to date, particularly with changable visa and security information. So for one section, the recommended websites, I've decided to keep an updated list here online. You can access the list anytime from the link on the right of the home page (underneath 'About Me') and I'll try to make sure they are updated and current. If you have any favourites or suggestions please leave a comment. Hope this makes researching your Uzbekistan trip a little bit easier!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Back in Uzbekistan

(Registan, Samarkand)

I owe Uzbekistan a debt, I guess. My first ever guidebook was the Odyssey Guide to Uzbekistan, written with a college friend way back in the 1990s. For almost 20 years we've been watching Uzbekistan growing from an orphan of the Soviet Union to a grown-up independent nation. I've been back updating the guidebook for a new edition. It's a very different kind of project from the normal Lonely Planet work - much more nuance and freedom to write exactly the kind of guidebook I would want to read.

(Kalon Minaret, Bukhara)

It was a hard trip (Uzbekistan generally is!). I got flu for a week in Samarkand, was temporarily detained by militsia (police) in the Uzbek metro for swearing at an officer (three passport checks in four minutes pushed me over the edge...). It was also off season so there were no tourists and a lot of the hotels and restaurants were closed. Wandering around Bukhara and Khiva in the dark trying to find anything at all to eat reminded me of me my hard months of research in 1996. Most worrying, a large part of central Bukhara was a construction site as teams of diggers re-landscaped the historic area of the Lyab-i-Hauz.

(Painting of Uzbek man drinking tea)

Still, Uzbekistan really does have some the most amazing architecture in the Islamic world. If you love the Silk Road, Marco Polo and old imperial history, it's a must. For me it was a trip down memory lane, rewalking streets I'd researched as a much younger man, digging up ghosts of the past, good and bad. For better or worse, those early visits to Uzbekistan have determined the direction of my life. And for that, I'm grateful.

(Khiva old town)

Holiday in Vietnam

I've been on holiday in Vietnam for the last couple of weeks, in Hanoi for the Tet new year festival and then travelling down to Saigon via Ha Long Bay and various other spots. It's weird for a travel writer to go on holiday. If I get time off I really would rather spend a week ordering in pizza and watching DVDs than pack my bag and go travelling again. It's actually really useful to simply travel for a while again, using a guidebook as a traveller not a writer and remembering all the little bits of information that you need when you travel.

Vietnam was a tad disapointing for me. I loved riding motorbikes for $5 a day and enjoyed all the war-related sites. Visiting Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum rounded off the holy trinity of communist corpses (I've seen Mao and Lenin). My personal highlight was kayaking around the karst cliffs of Halong Bay. But I was dissapointed by the food and the sense that I was little more than a walking wallet for most locals. It's probably just a sign that I'm getting old - without the focus of research the frustrations of travel seem harder to endure. Still, it was nice to be travelling with my wife. Mostly I'm by myself when I'm travelling so it was a real novelty to be able to share thoughts, and have an excuse to upgrade to a nicer hotel room and order a cocktail. And god it's nice to be missing winter in Montana...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hi, I'm currently in Laos and Vietnam on holiday so my apologies if I'm slow in replying to emails. Laos is a lovely laid-back place and Luang Prabang is really one of Asia's most beautiful cities, though I was pretty shocked at the sheer number of tourists in the country, since my last visit a decade ago. I'm currently in Hanoi, right in the middle of the Tet new year festival, so things are pretty slow with most businesses and restaurants shut. It's lovely to see everyone visiting their relatives and temples dressed in their Sunday best. More later from the trip. Bradley

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Marco Polo links on Arte

***Please note that the Arte broadcasts are now over. For details of the SWR broadcast in October 2011 please click here. ***

Arte now have a dedicated web page for the Marco Polo series - see www.arte.tv/marcopolo and http://marcopolo.arte.tv.

The programme also made it to the cover of the Arte magazine.

For hard-core fanatics there's also a dedicated Marco Polo Reloaded Facebook page, where you can post comments.

Short clips from the films are available by clicking on the country names on the map on this page.

Click on the links above to see the content.


Classic Pamiri Scenery of Gorno Badakhshan

Current Favourite Track