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Peru with Mountain Madness

Trekking with a Buddhist Monk?

Won­der what it might be like to trav­el with a Bud­dhist monk into the heart of the Himalayas? On our 20-day trek to the sacred Hid­den Val­ley of Hap­pi­ness in Novem­ber, a Bud­dhist monk will trek with our group, all the way to the Tibetan bor­der, and then we will fly out by heli­copter! Here’s what 2012 trekkers said about the expe­ri­ence of trav­el­ing with a Bud­dhist monk…

Trekker Calvin Kwan talks with Lama Thubten Dor­je on a 
sus­pen­sion bridge as we near Tsum Val­ley. Steve Poulsen photo

When friends and fam­i­ly ask me why I chose this par­tic­u­lar trip to Nepal, I reply that the com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and spir­i­tu­al appealed to me. As I think back on my expe­ri­ence in the Tsum Val­ley — trav­el­ing with our 2 lamas was what made this trip a more authen­tic expe­ri­ence and one that will con­tin­ue to stay with me. Hav­ing the time to dai­ly sit and dis­cuss top­ics such as hap­pi­ness, com­pas­sion, and liv­ing our lives with a pure heart” made this trip much more than a vaca­tion or adven­ture. It helped me to under­stand the cul­ture and the peo­ple of the area I was walk­ing through on a much deep­er lev­el. I can’t say enough about this aspect of my jour­ney. Thank you for mak­ing it happen!”

~ MM Trekker Jan Hanley

Trav­el­ing with a lama was a first for me. It was an added bonus on a spir­i­tu­al jour­ney to the Tsum Val­ley and pro­vid­ed a deep­er look into the cul­ture of this iso­lat­ed val­ley and its peo­ple as well as the will to pre­serve its cul­ture. I was impressed how Lama Choedar paid his respect to the chort­ens and mani stones we passed (and there were so many). He would take a moment to stop and care­ful­ly straight­en any mani stones that had fall­en over. It was a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence to see how hap­py and con­tent Lama Thubten and Lama Choedar were at all times. After trekking long dis­tances on a trail that went up and down, mus­cles aching, Lama Thubten would smile, give the thumbs up and say every­thing ok” and then tell fas­ci­nat­ing Yeti sto­ries in the din­ing tent.”

~ MM Trekker Gabriele Mathers

Lama Choedar replaces fall­en prayer stones at every sacred
mani wall we hike past. Gabriele Math­ers photo

The trek into Tsum Val­ley was sat­is­fy­ing and demand­ing in a great many ways. I had expect­ed that trav­el­ling with a monk would give me a rich­er view of the Bud­dhist his­to­ry of the val­ley and insights into its peo­ple, as indeed it did. I had per­haps under­es­ti­mat­ed how much I would be touched by the dai­ly prac­tices that evolved as we trav­eled togeth­er with not one, but two lamas. Gen­choedar Lama’s tea-time teach­ings were sim­ple and ground­ed in his own expe­ri­ence; the dis­cus­sions stayed with me and I reflect­ed on them as I made my way up and down the next day’s hills. Open-air med­i­ta­tions with Lama Dor­je slowed body and mind at the end of each effort­ful day; I saw the moun­tains around us with greater clar­i­ty and with grat­i­tude for sim­ply being there.”

~ MM Trekker Stephanie Merrin

Trekkers with the Bud­dhist Nuns of Rachen Monastery after a morn­ing
bless­ing cer­e­mo­ny for our group. Deana Zabal­do photo