I had always wanted to go to Kathmandu. Not just because it is great for street photography (which it is). Not just because of its mysterious and mystical reputation (which it has). And not just because Kathmandu is recognized as one of the world’s most celebrated crossroads: a place where adventurous travelers gather to soak in the gritty atmosphere; dreadlocked, first world, college kids hide away from their future in cubicles back home; and intrepid mountaineers clad in (fake and real) North Face gear begin their quests to climb the world’s largest mountains. Yes, any of those things, and about a hundred others, are reason enough to get me itching to visit Kathmandu, but I wanted to go largely because of that ear-worm of a song – you know the one – “Kathmandu,” by Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band. Honestly, it isn’t one of my favorite songs but, once you hear it, it certainly sticks with you.
I arrived in Kathmandu at the end of my sixteen day Highway to the Himalayas adventure as a guest of On the Go Tours. Our group of travelers, which had once been over twenty people, had attritted down to three. Because On the Go Tours offers an almost bespoke travel experience, most of the people we began with in Delhi, India had returned home after touring either the Taj Mahal or later in Varanasi. In some ways I missed the larger group because I had made some good friends among them, but it was also enjoyable, and more flexible, being in smaller transport.
Kathmandu is dirty, dusty, raw and stricken with some of the world’s most heartbreaking poverty. It is also, in its own way, a beautiful and strangely compelling place. I can see why many people return again and again. I too hope one day to revisit and hike the famous trails around Mount Everest that I could only glimpse when Yeti Airlines took me on one of the famous mountain flights.
These are just a few of my favorite photos, and you can find many more of my images of Kathmandu here. As you can tell the earthquake damage is still evident in places, but, although tragic, it hasn’t killed the spirit of the city. I even felt a small tremor during my stay. Earthquakes are a part of Nepalese life that they accept in stride in much the same way other people accept the weather.