Asking other backpackers on the route, which part of the Everest Base Camp trek they think is the hardest, most of them will point out the stretch between Monju and Namche Bazaar. As we did stay overnight in Phakding, it took us about 90 Minutes to get to Monju first, where we had a small rest before the steep ascent.
After a long overnight flight, we arrived at the town of Lukla, which marks the starting point of the Everest Base Camp trek. The journey to this small village involves a change of planes, as well as a short walk from the International to the Domestic terminal in the capital city of Kathmandu. We achieved this transit within one hour, which was perfect.
Starting and ending in Ushuaia (Argentina), ships bound for the Antarctic Peninsula have to cross the dreaded Drake Passage, a trip which is roughly 900 km long. “Rough” would actually be an understatement on a ship rolling about 20° to 30° for two consecutive days. This passage is considered one of the roughest seas in the world. Many people on board were seasick and stayed in their cabins. Not many passengers would show up for the scheduled meals.
The tour guides on board consisted of biologists, geologists and other scientific staff who held lectures between the trips. Despite my low expectations, we encountered a surprisingly big variety of wildlife during this journey, of which the biologist kept a public record on the ships whiteboard.
It is a well known fact, that most of the iceberg’s volume lies beneath the water. Expressions, such as “I can only see the tip of the iceberg” underline the fact, that most of the iceberg body is hidden under water. And there’s the “Titanic”, which was hit by an iceberg and sank. Reason why in 1914, governments have established an Ice Patrol to monitor iceberg movements.
The various Antarctic scientific stations and historic sites added a good variety to our trip. For some fellow travelers these landings provided rare shopping opportunities. Notable side-note: The store in the American Palmer Station only accepts credit cards for payment. No cash accepted. When we visited the British Port Lockroy Station later on the journey, they would only accept cash. No credit cards were accepted.
The sandstone cliffs of Bandiagara are a mountain chain near Mopti. They are also home to one of the Dogon people, who inhabit the area. The parts of the mountain chain near the town of Bandiagara, commonly known as the Bandiagara Escarpment, features mud villages on the slopes of the cliff. Seeing this site makes obvious why this is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The iconic mud buildings of Djenné are on the shortlist of most visitors to Mali. And for good reason. The Great Mosque of Djenné is considered to be one of the most significant buildings in the region. There are a few other mosques from the 13th century in the area, but the Great Mosque – built in 1907 – is definitely mind blowing.
Bamako felt considerably different than Guinea, from where we just arrived by road. Everything felt bigger and more touristic. We chose the Hotel Jamana – a small hotel downtown Bamako – to settle for the night. Within walking distance was a local food store and – of utmost importance for my travel pal, Evgeny – a Chinese restaurant.