Before They - Photography Project by Jimmy Nelson

VII. Nepal

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From Kathmandu we travelled to North West Nepal, over 3000 meters above sea level, visiting several villages in the Mustang district, the former ‘Land of Lo’.

The airport of Jomsom – the town where we would start our trek - is situated at 2,682m above sea level. For a crew coming from a country that is largely below sea level, that kind of height takes some getting used to. Travellers are advised to take their time to adjust to the thinner air before launching into any strenuous activities. 

"Up until twenty years ago, Mustang was impossible to get to. A kingdom, lost to the world – remote, untouched, forbidden even"
Unfortunately when we got there, we had a six-hour hike ahead of us, so we didn’t have time to adjust to the altitude. Half an hour after we touched down, we were already on our way. Fifteen kilometres and a three hundred metre vertical ascent later, the three of us were all showing signs of altitude sickness. Right before we left, we got a grim warning that altitude sickness is not to be taken lightly. On the other side of the mountain from where our journey began, world famous Dutch mountaineer Ronald Naar had just died as a result of altitude sickness.



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The former kingdom of Lo is linked by religion, culture and history to Tibet, but is politically part of Nepal. Now Tibetan culture is in danger of disappearing, it stands alone as one of the last truly Tibetan cultures existing today. Until 1991 no outsiders were allowed to enter Mustang.
“The one who is guilty has the higher voice”
The traditions of the people of Lo are closely related to early Buddhism. Most still believe that the world is flat. They are highly religious, prayers and festivals are an integral part of their lives. The grandeur of the monasteries illustrates the prominent position of religion.