Tibet Experience Still Possible Via Innovative Tour Operator

Tibet

The borders of Tibet are now completely closed to foreign tourists, after being severely limited for much of the summer. With no indication of when they will reopen, plans to visit have been put on hold for many. The good news is that travelers can experience much of what Tibet has to offer without crossing borders.

As a decent substitute, tour operator JOURNEYS International continues to offer travel to areas where cultures deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism still thrive unrestricted by government oppression or control.

Culturally Tibetan areas of Yunnan province in China; Ladakh, India; and the high Himalayan valleys of Nepal and Bhutan are being visited and offer some distinct advantages, especially over not going at all.

Within Tibet, pictures and literature about the Dalai Lama are strictly forbidden. Outside of China, the Dalai Lama is revered and celebrated as a living God. Monasteries and temples within Chinese Tibet are essentially maintained as museums, not as religious institutions.

In Chinese Tibet it is dangerous for locals to talk openly with tourists. In the Ladakh region of India and in Nepal and Bhutan, Tibetan Buddhism is practiced much the same now as it has been for hundreds of years. Visitors are free to discuss spirituality and religion with local people, and often meet Tibetans in exile who will talk openly.

The season is also much longer, and fewer permits and restrictions apply.

For more details on specific trips incorporating Tibetan culture and themes into travel programs see the JOURNEYS webpages for Nepal, Ladakh, Yunnan and Bhutan.

Human Rights in China



[Flickr photo by ~FreeBirD®~]

India Tiger Population Increasing Says Ecotourism Guide

bengal tiger populationIndia’s threatened tiger population, once on the verge of extinction, has increased by 20 percent in the last four years. As the Albany Times Union reports, wildlife officials and naturalists report most tigresses in the central India reserves either have or will have their cubs soon. This information makes 2012 a good year for eco-travel to India.

“These days in the course of a 10-day tiger safari people may see five, 10 or more tigers, and often with close-up views,” says Dr. Will Weber of Journey’s International. “This is partially due to increasing skill and knowledge of the guides, but there are more tigers.”

In the past, viewing a tiger was rare. In 2010, India’s Bengal tiger was classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Now, the total population of Bengal tigers is probably still under 2,000. A nationwide census carried out in 2011 estimated a total of 1,706 up from 1,411 from the previous count in 2007.

“If you know where, how and when to look, you will certainly find pleasant surprises,” says Avi Sakhrel, noted Indian birder, naturalist and wildlife guide who leads India wildlife tours. Sakhrel notes, “The Indian conservation community is very pleased to see positive results of efforts to save our wildlife. Even some of the lesser known parks now offer regular big cat sightings.”Thinking of travel to India for tiger viewing?

Journeys International
of Ann Arbor, Michigan offers some unique travel options for small groups that travelers can join or they can “request a private journey or custom plan for yourself, your family, your student travel group or your organization. Journeys promises immediate, enthusiastic and meticulous attention to your international adventure travel needs,” says Journeys on their website.

We like Journeys International because the company was born out of the experiences of its founders in the Peace Corps as teachers, conservation workers and travelers in Nepal in the early 1970’s. They learned how inspirational and satisfying that environmentally-sensitive travel can be. Today, Journeys International is the longest standing family-owned global ecotourism company in the United States offering full-service exotic, guided cross-cultural explorations, nature safaris, treks and eco-tours in remote corners of Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific.




Looking for more information on travel to India? Check Gadling’s three-time India visitor Sean McLachlan’s recent posts on the topic

Flickr photo by Graybeard763