Himalayas, the walk above (2017) (Himalaya, la marche au dessus)

Over four and a half months I traversed the Himalayan mountains, travelling west to east for 2000km. By horseback, raft and foot through the highest mountain tops in the world, to the vast jungle, I searched for the last nomadic and hunter-gatherer tribes of Asia.

This expedition was different from my previous ones. Until then I had managed to survive in extreme places, such as the Gobi Desert, but through using equipment (although carried on my back) that was both modern and included non-essentials. In Alaska I managed to get rid of the useful and only keep the bare essential.  

Finally, in the Himalayas, I went even further and replaced these “modern” essentials with natural substitutes. Throughout the expedition, little by little, I learnt to replace equipment from my bag with things found in nature with the aim to achieve total autonomy.

Previously I had never been capable to do without certain necessities from the modern world. For instance: my tent, my sleeping bag, my jumper, my knife, my lighter, my GPS, my stove, my water filter and many others.

I replaced my lighter with making fire by friction. I parted with my tent and learnt to build shelters with the local flora. I recognised whether water was safe to drink or not and removed the need for a purifier. I abandoned my coat and created a new one made of goat hides. Lastly, I left my modern backpack behind and exchanged it for one that I weaved from bamboo.

I had arrived with the city in my backpack and finished my journey having evolved, readapting myself to nature.

To help me to achieve this ambition, I relied upon the tribe people who live in the mountains and the Himalayan jungle.  

The Changpas are a nomadic people living in the north-western Himalayas, the most desertic and remote part of the region. They live under tents made of yak hides and fuel their fires with yak dung. This animal is also used for meat, milk, wool and leather which is fundamental to their existence.

Later, I met the last Himalayan hunter-gatherer tribe, the Rautes. They are a nomadic tribe who migrate monthly to the western forest of Nepal, where they find everything they need to live. Each day they gather fruits, vegetables and hunt monkeys for meat.

© ELIOTT SCHONFELD 2015. TOUS DROITS RESERVES. 

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