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Nepal through a lensball

Cathy Cooper, 09 January, 2018
In the second of her photo blogs, Cathy Cooper offers a different view of Nepal...

Sailung Peak is one of Nepal’s best-kept secrets and one of the reasons why I wanted to come on this Village Ways trek.

I remember visiting Tiger Mountain in West Bengal a couple of years ago. It was chaos. Hundreds of people jostled for a place in the observation tower and on the deck to watch the sun rise. As, it was about to happen, they all started to count down the seconds. The crowd cheered as the golden disc appeared and out came the iPads and phones and selfie sticks. It was like a big big party.

In stark comparison, Sailung Peak in the early morning, last November, was practically deserted.

Fully insulated against the cold with thermals and padded jacket, I left the tented camp with my companions and our two guides and started up the steep steps to the top.

The guides, Karna and Ram, carried lanterns to light the way and thermos flasks full of hot ginger tea.

I found the going tough. I was carrying two big camera bodies fitted with lenses, one a standard zoom and the other a long zoom plus a gadget which I had been experimenting with. At over 3,000 metres, the air was a little thin too. I got to the top long after the others and with about ten minutes to spare before the action happened.

The summit, which is really a grassy hill, was covered in frost and the mountains outlined in different shades of purple.

I got the gadget out of my bag, a clear spherical ball made of crystal. I asked Karna to hold it for me in his hand just in front of where the sun would appear.

I played around with it while Karna kept his hand still. You have to be careful with these balls as the rays from the sun can make the glass quite hot.

Once the spectacle was over, we had a warming cup of tea and admired the view.

We were so lucky to see the mountains like this. We had intended to come up for sunset hours earlier but there was thick cloud cover.

Sailung translates as One Hundred Hills in Nepali. On this holy site a huge festival is held once of year after the monsoon. For the rest of the year it is a place of peace and tranquillity.

An observation tower was in the middle of construction so there was a lot of building material lying around. I wondered if this would bring more spectators when it is finished.

Near a stupa I found a broken butter lamp, which was a perfect base for my Lensball.

Suddenly Karna and Ram alerted me to something. In the distant hills below there was a pair of jackals. I grabbed my long zoom and started snapping. One of the jackals stopped and turned around before loping off to join the other.

My lens wasn’t long enough to get close, but you can just make out the two of them in the snow.

I think to see a jackal must be as rare as seeing a wolf in the wild.

Time was racing on. There was breakfast to eat and bags to pack. We left the summit and wandered down the slope towards the monastery and the steps back to the camp.

The mountains were now in full view and the frost was sparkling. It was going to be a gorgeous day for our walk back down to Pasiban.
Cathy's Adventures in Nepal
Freelance travel photographer Cathy Cooper has been kind enough to share her wonderful images and fascinating tales from Nepal with us. If you've enjoyed reading about her experience of watching the sun rise over the Sailung Valley, then why not take a look at some of her other stories?
A photographer's impression of Nepal
The original 'Downward Dog'
A new vision for Nepal
The ladies of Pasiban

Himalayan Panoramas

One of the least visited areas of Nepal, the remote Sailung Valley offers accessible walking and simply awe-inspiring scenery, which only gets better the higher you climb! Share in the deeply traditional way of life of Sailung's peaceful mountain communities as you stay in a series of welcoming village guesthouses.
More about our guided walking holiday in Nepal >
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