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The Himalayas is an Asian mountain range that separates the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. Many famous mountains are located here, including the K2, Mount Everest and Mount Kailash. The Annapurna Circuit is equally impressive and popular. If you are not a mountaineer but want to watch the Himalayas from a birds view, you might catch one of the planes who leave Kathmandu airport in the early morning for sightseeing flights. The flight usually takes one hour and is offered by several airlines.
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The highest mountain of all, the Mount Everest or Chomolungma in the local language, is on every climber's list to do. But this mountain is not without risks and many people die when climbing or descending (!) the mountain. About 2500 people have reached the top and over 200 deaths have been recorded. The mountain is part of the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas.
It is internationally recognized that the mountain was first climbed and successfully descended by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, although controversy still exists about the question whether George Mallory and/or Andrew Irvine had climbed the mountain 29 years earlier! Unfortunately, neither of them survived their early expedition. More recently, questions about the commercialization have come up as more and more climbers make the climb. Even a double-amputee (Mark Inglis) and a helicopter have made it to the top during the last year, although both did so with risk.
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Mount Kailash is one of the holiest mountains in the world! Since it is a holy mountain for Buddhist, Hindu, Jainist and Bon traditions, thousands of pilgrims make the journey every year to this remote mountain on the edge of the world. The Hindus consider Mount Kailash to be the home of Lord Shiva, a principle Hindu deity. These pilgrims come to do a kora, spiritual walk, around the mountain. It is believe that one kora around the mountain will wash away a lifetime of sins. It can take several days to complete the kora around Mount Kailash, and some pilgrims complete it multiple times.
The other amazing fact about this mountain is the number of rivers that start from it. The Indus, Sutlej and Brahmaputra rivers find their sources from the different sides of this mountain. Many of the other rivers coming from this mountain feed into the Mekong, Ganges and Yellow rivers. Getting to Mount Kailash is very difficult and expensive, as it requires arranging a tour from Lhasa with a Land Rover. The standard tour, including transportation time and a kora around the mountain, takes 10 days. Some tours include visiting ancient cities beyond Mount Kailash, but this adds about 5 more days.
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This hike is one of the most impressive ones anywhere in the world but come prepared with a very good physical conditions as this hike is not for the faint of heart, taking 17 to 21 days! It is definately one of the best treks in Nepal, though road construction is threatening its reputation and its future as a classic trek. The scenery still is outstanding though the trek takes you through distinct sceneries of rivers, mountains, and flora and fauna. The trek goes counter-clockwise and reaches its summit in Thorung La (pass) at an elevation of 5416 metres above sea level. Altitude sickness is one of the biggest risks but because of the slow ascent it shouldn't be that much of a problem for most travellers.
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