Uncharted Backpacker

Category - Asia

Traveling the Karakoram Highway, Kashgar to Pakistan

Karakoram Highway

The scenery is indescribable. As we slowly bump down this 1300km road in a colorful semi-truck with Urdu music blasting it’s hard not to get wrapped up in this amazing journey. It’s a difficult, uncomfortable, dusty and at time’s dangerous route, but it’s one that will stick with you forever.

The Karakorum Highway is a classic traveler’s trail that is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, The Karakoram Highway. This ancient trade route whispers hints of its former glory with its grand crumbly forts, magical traditional villages and legends of Marco Polo. Travellers who undertake this journey will not be disappointed.  The Karakoram Highway will change those who dare to undertake its path, venture here and join the elite travelers who have done so! Read More

Exploring the Yarlung Valley, Tibet

Yarlung Valley, Tibet

High in the Himalayas I clamber through a dark cavern deep into the mountains heart in search of the Guru Rinpoche’s path to enlightenment in the Yarlung Valley the cradle of Tibetan civilization. The cave opening is barely wide enough for me to squeeze through. A weathered old leather rope was placed here hundreds of years ago by pilgrims to help assist in pulling yourself to the other side, this is not for those who are claustrophobic. Finally, I reach the heart of the mountain. Wafts of juniper incense and the heat from the butter lamps make the air heavy. In the distance you can see Tibetans gathered around a large gold statue murmuring mantras.

For Tibetans a pilgrimage should be a difficult and dangerous event, this way when you finally complete the journey the sense of reward is there. In Tibet’s Yarlung Valley there are many of these karma boosting journeys taking place. Those who make it to the Yarlung Valley will find one of Tibet’s oldest and culturally rewarding experiences. Read More

Wonderful Pyongyang – A Rare Look into North Korea’s Capital

Pyongyang, North Korea

When the sunrises in Pyongyang you are awoken to the eerie morning wake up call. The bleak and empty streets then quickly fill with an ensemble of people wearing 1950’s style clothing and military outfits. No where on this planet will you bare witness to a scene so frozen in time. Looking beyond the streets from your hotel window the colourful skyline emerges from the dense morning fog only to be replaced by a fiery burning orange sun brilliantly situated right over Juche Tower. When the morning call comes to an end the streets are full of life. This is Pyongyang, North Korea. Read More

How to Travel Tibet Guide

Tibet Travel

High in the Himalayas inside an ancient temple, it begins. The Trumpets commence surging through mountain valley; the chanting of monks mixed in with the scent of juniper incense billows from the wrathful deity’s altar. Then, slowly, drums begin to pound from the tantric shrine only to be masked by the thick, butter lamp filled air. I lose myself in it all. This is a regular scene for those travelers who make it to Tibet. The land of snow is the kind of journey that travelers for centuries have been dreaming of.

A journey to the roof of the world is one of the most iconic journeys for a traveler to undertake. Here you will face the dangers of high altitude, confusing permits, and constant travel bans, but past all the bureaucracy is an ancient land of mystical deities, stark natural beauty and a culture that is so addictive and fascinating. All these reasons make it well worth the difficulties of getting to and traveling through Tibet. Read More

Learning to Surf in North Korea

Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korea the next big surfing destination! No, these are not headlines you are likely to hear anytime soon. But the fact is, there is Surfing in North Korea. Not just for those privileged to make their way into the hermit nation of Asia. North Korean’s themselves are beginning to take notice of this sport. Something unheard of in the past. Not only surfing but stand up paddleboards as well! There is so much more to this mysterious country than meets the eye. After two weeks gallivanting around the country, I can finally say tell you that the Uncharted Backpacker surfed for the very first time… In North Korea! Read More

The Mount Kailash Kora – Tibet

Ngari, Mount Kailash, Tibet

A place so tranquil yet powerful, Mount Kailash contradicts itself. As you labour one foot after another, oxygen deprived and lost in a sea of emotions, just as pilgrims for thousands of years have done, in the exact same fashion. This journey will change you, after traversing the entire Kora around the worlds most holy mountain you become a part of it. A chapter of this mountains story. Finally, when the air becomes so thin that I fear I’m at my breaking point, I look up, I have arrived. A scene of what heaven must look like, Mount Kailash’s highest point the Drolma-la pass. Here time stands still, pausing for a sigh of relief, its hard not to connect with it all, never has a moment like this brought me so far into the depths of my mind. This is the Mount Kailash Kora. Read More

Hiking Ganden to Samye Monastery – Tibet

Ganden and Samye Monastery, Tibet

The high altitude mountain trails bend and twist their way above the clouds. From one vast starkly beautiful valley to another, the trail takes you by frigid glacial lakes and impossibly high mountain peaks. Sometimes the valleys are dotted with yaks and their owners who live in primitive black tents made of yak wool, but for the most part its just you and raw nature. With its deeply spiritual, and intensely alluring culture; this is Tibet at its most authentic. Hiking between these two monasteries is one of Tibet’s greatest passages, a journey that has been preformed for centuries. Prepare to connect deeply with Tibet and its history as you follow in the footsteps of countless Tibetan pilgrims and explorers before you! Read More

A Photographers Journey into North Korea – Remote Coasts, Buddhist Temples and the DMZ

North Korea

One week into my North Korean journey I have explored Pyongyang’s vibrant districts and small mountain villages in the nation’s interior. Next on our schedule is to drive to Hamhung, Majon, and Wonsan to photograph the remote coastal regions of North Korea. These regions are famed for their deserted white sand beaches, and small fishing communities. From the Coast, my journey took me into the controversial DMZ, and finally back into the mountains to hike to Buddhist temples at Mt Myohyangsan. North Korea is quite the epic adventure!
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North Korea Photos You’ve Probably Never Seen – Pyongyang and the Country Side

North Korea

Landing into Pyongyang airport after all of the hype and nervous tension you abruptly realise where you are, the nation that is constantly flashed in the media, talked about in political debates, and known as the most secretive nation on earth. It’s quite overwhelming finally being in North Korea, but I can quite honestly say, it was one of the most exciting moments in my entire travel career. My goal for the next twelve days was to photograph as much of the people, history, architecture, and culture of North Korea as possible. This post is dedicated to the more unseen sides of North Korea, no not missile testing and dubious media jaunts, this post is for those who seek to see the real and authentic side of North Korea. Read More

The Road to Everest – Everest Base Camp, Tibet

Tsang Region, Tibet

Left breathless from the altitude you open your eyes to a surreal scene of rolling sand dunes, pristine blue lakes, and seemingly impossible mountains. As your heart struggles and labours after each beat, and the sky turns black you believe you’ve made it to Shangri La itself. When you come to, and everything becomes clear again its apparent that your still on the road, the long, bumpy, high altitude, and incredibly beautiful road to Everest. A journey to Tibet’s Everest Region is not to be taken lightly however, it’s a rugged exhibition, but those who endure it are rewarded with the riches that Tibet has to offer! Read More