Those familiar with Asia will tell you that it is a place full of amazing cultures and wondrous sites. It is also a destination full of exciting adventures. The countries are many and the activities endless… Travel Without Limits!
Nepal is the ultimate destination for those craving the solitude of high mountains, the beauty of windswept plains and the experience of far-off culture. While Nepal is home to eight of the world’s tallest mountains and some of the most remote places on the planet, it is also a rich fusion of cultures, religions and ways of life. Here ancient Hindu rituals survive harmoniously with tranquil Buddhist monasteries and bucolic yak herder bands. Away from the towns and villages, the quietude of the 11,000 foot high Tibetan Plateau is contrasted with the subtropical jungle lowlands at only 2500 feet, and above them all tower the mighty peaks of the Himalaya at over 29,000 feet. Nepal truly is an island of adventure and wonder.
To behold Mt. Everest is to stand within the circumference of a great gravity, and join in a tradition of adventure that has drawn explorers and dreamers for centuries. A mountain possessed of an unsurpassed majesty, it’s Nature’s signature piece. This special trekking trip features ten days in the Everest region, an in-depth survey of Sherpa culture, the entrancing Mani Rimdu festival, and cultural highlights of Kathmandu. We employ state-of-the-art, ecologically-sound trekking and camping practices, and our friendly Sherpa guides are experts in mountain safety, camp hygiene and high-altitude feasts.
Sable-eyed women gaze at you from beneath curving folds of crimson and gold–embroidered silk. They stand framed within the window of a palace they inhabit with 800 million fellow residents. It is an immense edifice with annexes built over the millenia by a lustrous succession of proprietors. The fragrances of sandalwood, incense, curry and blossoms perfume its halls; hallowed waters cascade from the uphill side to merge in the ocean waves lapping the foundation. Celebration and worship take place every day within its precinct. Young and old, rich and poor co-exist in its latticework of activity and dreams. Mandala Adventures opens the gateway to India and helps you feel at home in this teeming domain where sensation and encounter are not confined by the imaginable.
Peace settled some 30 years ago on the Indochinese peninsula, and now no trace of the enemy remains upon the countenance of its people. Memorials commemorate decades of struggle, memories no doubt continue to surface, yet the Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians today welcome the American visitor with genuine grace and friendliness. We in turn are grateful for the hospitality that greets Mandala Adventures guests into these lands where natural beauty, vibrant daily life and the magnificent monuments of a more distant past beckon to be experienced. Alongside the earthiness of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, Thailand entices with refined style and sensuality. Enter contemporary Southeast Asia and experience the soothing grace of its renewed serenity.
Thanks to 21st-century media and air travel, the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism guide the spiritual practice of millions worldwide. One can attend talks and rites by the Dalai Lama, and a host of other revered Tibetan monks on every inhabited continent. Conversely, awareness of Tibetan Buddhism inspires many to explore its homeland. Since Mandala Adventures founding in 2002, “The Roof of the World” has consistently proven one of our most popular destinations. Guests return home in awe of the land’s natural beauty and the hospitality of a people perpetually tested by the rugged politics and elements that surround them. Whether you travel to understand better its inhabitants and their beliefs or to walk the pilgrimage routes around its sacred peaks, there are endless pathways toward the divine in Tibet.
Vietnam is famous to most Americans as the theater of a war long past. Now savvy travelers come to savor the many alluring qualities it possesses, such as superb natural scenery (some say the most gorgeous in all of Southeast Asia), friendly local people, ancient Buddhist culture, French-fusion architecture and food so good it’s worth a trip just to try the banh khoai. Emerging from its years of isolation, Vietnam is changing dramatically as it races to catch up with the outside world. If you want to enjoy its intact traditional culture we suggest that you travel soon.
As mysterious and inscrutable to the visitor as the characters of its complex language, China tantalizes us with splendid relics of its long history; with a natural beauty ranging from alpine to florid rainforest to eerily eroded desert; with dozens of ethnic peoples whose distinct identities have evolved through invasion and revolution. Where does one even start to comprehend the immensity of China? Mandala Adventures begins in the present, landing you midstream in a country whose enterprising people seek personal expression and the daily comforts of the 21st century, where ancient gifts of artistry, innovation and commercial savvy have re-surfaced to propel a new era of Chinese prominence. And from here we journey back toward its many sources, both man-made and nature-sprung, which augment the powerful current of China.
Atop any traveler’s wish list are the World Heritage ruins at Angkor. This Indiana Jonesesque city of temples is one of the most remarkable destinations on Earth. Journey further afield to gaze upon an endless sea of emerald rice fields, or discover virtually unexplored areas just newly opened to travelers. Enjoy the fascinating capital once known as the “Paris of the East,” and get to know the gracious and hospitable people.
With its beauty and mystery, Bhutan presents travelers with experiences found nowhere else on Earth. Their celebrations awaken travelers to the vibrant culture found in the treasure named Bhutan. Bhutan’s fragile and delicate eco-system has been preserved for visitors to appreciate and stand in awe.
In the local dialect, the name Bhutan means “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” You will find the dragon more peaceful than thunderous, however. This sparsely populated kingdom offers much to enchant the foreign visitor: charming, hospitable residents; the devout practice of Tibetan Buddhism; magnificent mountains; and a unique architectural style found nowhere else in the Himalaya. Strict laws enacted to protect indigenous cultural traditions and mitigate the influence of foreign visitors have made Bhutan one of the preeminent destinations in Asia. When you travel overland or trek with Mandala Adventures in Bhutan, you will understand the pride and determination of its citizens in maintaining the sanctity of their Shangri-la.
Less than a decade ago, Laos was largely unknown to Western travelers. Since the Lao People’s Democratic Republic reluctantly reopened its doors in the 1990s, a steady flow of visitors has trickled into this old-fashioned country. Visitors to this least populated Southeast Asian country will be rewarded with sights of a rugged natural landscape and ethnically diverse people where not much changed since French explorers set foot here more than a century ago. Laos’s life-line is the Mekong River, which runs the length of the landlocked country and in places serves as a boundary with Thailand and Burma. Set on a broad curve of the Mekong, Vientiane is perhaps Indochina’s most modest capital city. To the north, Louang Prabang was once the heart and soul of the ancient kingdom of Lane Xang and today it is Laos’s most enticing destination, with a spellbinding panoply of gilded temples and weathered shops. In between, Vang Viang is set in a spectacular landscape of rice paddies and karsts. Further south, near the former royal seat of Champasak, lie the ruins of Wat Phou, one of the most important Khmer temples outside Cambodia. South again, the countless river islands of Si Phan Don lie scattered across the Mekong, boasting scores of traditional fishing communities and the chance to spot the rare Irawaddy dolphin.
Mighty powers have ruled the vast expanses of Mongolia, from the homegrown empire of Genghis Khan, to the Chinese and in the 20th century, the Soviets. Yet none have subjugated its wilderness or the nomadic spirit of the earthbound people who still roam the steppes, deserts, forests and mountain ranges in concert with the seasons. Mandala Adventures will transport you out to camel encampments on the Gobi, the alpine meadow settlements of the Kazakh, the secluded woodland enclaves of the Tsaatan. Your outlook adjusts to the extremity of distance, your pulse to the steady motion of undisturbed nature. Travel in Mongolia is an encounter with a land resistant to the passing whim of human forces, and with a people who cherish the freedom of life in the open.
Paradise is otherwise known as Bali, a brilliant island of colorful traditions, sculpted rice terraces, balmy breezes and sandy beaches lapped by translucent waves. Although its idyllic reputation was temporarily rattled by a bombing incident in 2002, such a rare and uncharacteristic event does not stir the depths of this devout and peaceful Hindu culture. For the ultimate relaxing vacation of luxury and invigorating outdoor activity, Bali is not to be outdone.
Mandala Adventures will gladly extend your sojourn in the south seas with extensions to the neighboring islands of Lombok and Java, the former a less developed version of Bali and the latter, location of Borobudur, a massive 1200-year-old Buddhist holy site that ranks alongside Cambodia’s Angkor Wat in grandeur.
It has been said that the word Ladakh, means “Land of Light” because its clear and rarified air electrifies sunlight. Once an independent Buddhist kingdom, Ladakh has been part of both Tibet and Kashmir; the latter finally ended its independence and, in the long run, made it part of British India. The kingdom’s former empire is now divided between India, Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless, Ladakh is one of the least populated districts in India. Renowned for it’s remote and rugged mountain beauty and Tibetan Buddhist culture which has been allowed to flourish under British and Indian rule. Sometimes called “Little Tibet,” Leh Palace, a miniature version of the Potala in Lhasa, towers above the capital city of Leh. Ladakh is the highest inhabited plateau in the world, much of it being above 10,000 feet. It straddles the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges and the upper Indus River, which flows into Ladakh from nearby Mount Kailas in western Tibet. Ladakh consists of a number of distinct areas: the fairly populous main Indus River Valley, the more remote Zanskar to the south, and the Nubra Valley to the north of the Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world at 18, 380 feet. On a clear day, K2 is visible from Ladakh’s high passes.
Over half of our business comes from guests who request a private, custom-designed adventure. These have ranged from a three-month trans-Himalayan trek to a three-day getaway in Hanoi following a business meeting in Hong Kong, to a corporate study tour to Dharamsala.