I have always enjoyed creating opportunities for myself and others where unusual things can happen; where the normal, hectic and hypnotic run of daily life makes way, however briefly, for an altered set of circumstance and the opportunity arises to revisit myself with new, uncluttered eyes and see what I might see.
This word “journey” is a word that helps to describe what I organise in the Himalaya because it carries the sense of a longer and more profound activity than an ordinary holiday. Although the dictionary gives its meaning as “the act of travelling from one place to another”, a journey for me implies a purposeful and unhurried depth and length suggesting not only physical distance but the possibility of psychological and spiritual change and even transformation. A pilgrimage. A pilgrim is “a wanderer with purpose” who “embarks on a quest for something conceived of as sacred” and “one who leaves his or her homeland to travel in foreign lands”. If you add the delicious word “vagabond” to this pot and discover that she or he is one “who leads an unsettled and carefree life”, you come closer to my own interests and the possibilities I have tried to create for others with these journeys.
Each of the journeys that I organise has similar elements. All of them try to balance our comfort and our costs. They have been designed to allow us to travel in relative comfort to some of the most remote but beautiful regions on our planet. At the same time they will give us the opportunity to come much closer to the beauty of the landscape with the hiking, trekking and camping parts of each trip.
They have been planned to allow ample time to see and experience the depth of each place, just in case you never have the chance to pay a second visit in your lifetime. Each journey will bring us into close contact with Tibetan Buddhism and its origins, philosophy and unique art. We will visit monasteries and shrines and pilgrimage places in the Himalaya that were created long ago to honour a variety of Mystics whose life experience and teachings formed the basis and refined the beliefs and rituals of this compassionate religion. The Mount Kailash kora in Tibet and the Bhutanese monasteries that sprang up where Guru Rinpoche meditated are special places of pilgrimage, a word described as “a long journey or search of great moral significance to a sacred place or shrine”. It implies travelling to a physical place that holds the possibility of connecting the earth to the divine. It suggests an inner desire to reconnect with a deeper place within each of us.
These journeys will also take us far away from our normal, daily lives and just that unusual distance will give each of us the simple but all-too-rare gift of a new and effortless perspective on where we find ourselves now. We will be surrounded by cultures that, for hundreds of years, have valued and dedicated tremendous energy to inner exploration. We will have the immense luxury of time and space to sit quietly in monasteries that still provide the physical environment for this inner search. We will reinvigorate not only our bodies but also our minds and hearts, as we explore one of the most beautiful and interesting areas of our world. If you have ever had an interest in Tibet or Bhutan and felt an affinity with Tibetan Buddhism, if your heart was ever touched by the idea of pilgrimage, if you like to wander off the beaten track, if you enjoy the stillness and silence of high places, if you love to hike and trek, if you have ever felt the pull of the greatest mountain range on earth, if you have ever felt that nomads and vagabonds seem to have something right, ….. ….. it might be that one of these journeys is for you.
I hope so.