Our passion for travel
At Mountain Kingdoms we have a real passion for travel. We're constantly seeking out new destinations and experiences in the far flung corners of the world, as well finding exciting adventures closer to home. But each member of the team has somewhere that they're totally smitten with - a special place they return to time and again which soothes the soul and lifts the spirits. Here are just a few of our travel love affairs.
Wild Nepal - Niki, Operations
Niki on her latest adventure in Wild Nepal
I have travelled to Nepal at least 10 times - trekking, cycling and climbing giant peaks. But the two places that remain my favourites are Dolpo, near the Tibetan border, and Kangchenjunga North & South Base Camps. They are both really wild and remote, have the most incredible Himalayan scenery and are long, strenuous, satisfying treks. Just my thing! Approaching the Ghami La, 5,700m, in snow, following tracks of a snow leopard was a particularly fond memory.
Bhutan – Seraphina, Reservations
Seraphina enjoying the high mountains of Bhutan
I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and been to so many amazing places but the country that I have the greatest passion for is Bhutan which I’ve visited over 7 times now. There are many unique things about Bhutan – the national dress, dzongs, Gross National Happiness, the architecture and the food (chili cheese anyone!) but for me it’s the completely unspoilt nature of the high mountains that make it so very special. It’s one of the few places that you can find real wilderness and enjoy a ‘proper’ camping trek, immersed in the spectacular scenery and completely removed from the modern world. The Lingshi Laya trek is probably the nearest I’ve come to finding my trekking Nirvana.
The Alps - Cath, Finance
Cath and her husband in a giant chair in the Alps!
I just love the Alps. I first went there when I was only 8 or 9 years old for my first trip abroad and I remember waking up, after travelling through the dark, in a hotel in the Swiss Alps with hot chocolate and croissants for breakfast. Even though I was very young I can recall being completely mesmerised by the views of the Matterhorn. I couldn’t believe anyone could climb to the top! Since then, I have returned with my family over 10 times, drawn by the clean crisp air, the sunshine (we tend to go in March), the fabulous mountain views, the gluhwein and the many family-fun times we’ve had. I’m already counting down to the hot chocolate and croissants on next month’s trip to Morzine in the French Alps.
Kerala - Linda, Operations
Linda's favourite view in Kerala
It’s a close run thing, but Kerala in Southern India just beats Nepal to be my top travel destination. I first went to Kerala in 2008 and have now been three times in total. I love the warm winter sun, the amazing food, the vibrant colours, the gorgeous tea estate landscapes, the unusual and stylish accommodation and the smiling friendly locals. What more can you ask for? My favourite memory though is watching the sun set over the backwaters with the local fishermen paddling out in their small boats for the night. Kerala is just idyllic and the ideal choice for a romantic holiday.
Southwest USA - Kirsty, Marketing
Kirsty on a rock toadstool in Goblin Valley State Park
My travel heart belongs to the national parks of Arizona and Utah in the States. I’ve returned many times since first visiting back in 1997 and can never get enough of those incredible, sculpted desert landscapes, vast blue skies and iconic sights that somehow make you feel you’re starring in your very own Western. The popular parks of the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion and Monument Valley were where I first fell in love but on subsequent trips I’ve taken to the open road to seek out lesser-known places such as surreal Goblin Valley, vertigo inducing Horseshoe Bend and spectacular Valley of the Gods. I will no doubt be rekindling my affair in the not too distant future!
Gangkar Punsum, Bhutan - Steve, Managing Director
Steve with Gangkar Punsum behind
My greatest love (apart from my family) is the mountain of Gangkar Punsum. Highest unclimbed mountain in the world, highest mountain in Bhutan. I first went there in 1986 when by a series of extraordinary coincidences I managed to secure a permit to attempt the first ascent. My friends and I reached very high on the south west ridge before she became angry at our audacity and summoned a storm to blow us off the mountain. I have been back six times since them exploring the valleys and the satellite peaks. Just to be in her presence is to be dumbstruck by her beauty. She allows my admiration from afar but will remain forever inviolate to my touch.
The Alpes Maritimes - Liz, Operations
Liz soaking up some alpine sunshine
If I dream of somewhere which ticks most travel boxes for me it’s probably the Alpes Martitime - a region of the Alps in the far southeast of France close to the Italian border. It spans Provence, the French Riviera and some fabulously big mountains and is only a short flight from home.
Within an hour’s drive of the Mediterranean the high, mountain peaks emerge; the Alpes Maritime giving way to the Alpes de Haute Provence. Here the GR5 which runs the length of the Alps ends having started the Alpine stage on the shores of Lake Geneva. As both a keen walker and long distance runner, I love nothing more than to take to the trail through aromatic pine trees, olive groves and herb bushes accompanied by the constant singing of the cicadas. Our new 5-day trek in the Mercantour region of the Maritime Alps is the perfect introduction to this beguiling region.
Burma - Jim, Operations
One of Jim's images of Burmese life
As both an ardent photographer and cyclist, my travels in Burma have allowed me to indulge two of my great passions. I first visited Burma 16 years ago, when I was working as the resident photographer on a cruise ship. I remember spending hours at Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon (Yangon), just trying to capture the amazing golden light at sunrise and sunset. I then returned with Mountain Kingdoms on our cycling tour and was lucky enough to spend a couple of nights with a local family in a homestay and to enjoy a very different perspective travelling by bike. Not only is Burma an incredibly photogenic country but the people are so friendly and welcoming that you just can’t help but fall in love with the place.
Norway - Emily, Marketing
The fjords of Norway from Emily's holiday
Norway has to take the top spot on my travel list. I recently visited this beautiful part of the world during the summer on a cruise through the fjords which was a truly magical experience. I found Norway to be a very enchanting and picturesque place with plenty of interesting places to explore. I would love to return to Norway and explore its snowy north for a winter adventure preferably involving husky sledding!
Cambodia - April, Flights
April in Cambodia
I visited in October 2016 and was totally captivated. I found Cambodia such a fascinating country and particularly loved the bustling markets, floating villages and the lovely countryside. The Cambodian people were so friendly and welcoming - we even visited a village school where we got to talk to the children and find out more about each other, it's a really special memory of the country. Oh, and not forgetting the tempting Khmer curries and sweet coffee - another very good reason to return!
Sweden - Meg, Operations
Meg catching her dinner in Sweden
I've been fortunate to visit many different destinations over the years but my favourite has to be Sweden. Exploring the wilderness is a huge passion of mine and I have been on a number of expeditions in Sweden's Lapland; trekking through woodland, canoeing the tranquil lakes, fishing for dinner and wild camping in very remote locations. A memory which will always stay with me is camping on a remote island with our fire crackling, and just as the sun was setting, hearing the sound of the most magical birdsong on the other side of the lake. I just sat listening completely mesmerised.