Mustang - Punto Senza Tempo

PRESENTATION OF THE TRAVEL PROJECT

September 22th – October 14th 2019

strada per Kagbeni

MUSTANG

Mustang, the ancient Kingdom of Lo, considered a small Tibet due to its culture and religion, is enclosed as in a treasure chest between the borders of Nepal. It is a remote region, only in recently open to foreigners, which has always been a land of border and passage. Saints and explorers, merchants and pilgrims, have travelled the long valley whose high walls have been gouged out by the rushing Kali Gandaki river. The salt caravans that descended towards the south carrying wool and rock salt from Tibet, returned north from India and Nepal loaded with rice, and still further north they crossed the Silk Road coming from the Far East.

Although Mustang is still a little known region of Nepal, in recent years several factors are causing it to experience radical changes. Its territory, rich in history and a millenarian culture, risks disappearing, threatened by advancing desertification and mass tourism. The constantly changing geopolitical situation undermines its stability, while the construction of the road from China and ongoing climate changes are putting a strain on the environmental integrity and resilience of the inhabitants of this incredible valley.

Why A Timeless Point

The GPS tracks that are used to display plotted paths on digital maps are files composed of a long list of logically formatted lines, each of which contains, in addition to geographic point coordinates, other technical data such as the altitude and the time of the point survey.

When, for some reason, the GPS track does not contain the time indication, the geographical points appear on the screen with the marker  “Punto Senza tempo” (Timeless Point).

For us, caught up in the study of the expedition’s route, suddenly this definition evoked a perfect description for our journeys’ goal.

Punto Senza Tempo” seemed the right title for our journey, as this definition recalls the scenic Kali Gandaki valley: 

…a place where the ancient Tibetan gompas, the isolated medieval villages and the high windy passes make you lose every spatial and temporal reference while walking through them… It feels like walking in a small ancient Tibet, with its customs and traditions, surviving in this  Nepalese territory.

Purposes Of The Expedition

  • Motivation

    The motivation of this expedition, stemming from our professional background, is primarily of a human nature rather than a scientific one: our aim is to witness the changes taking place in areas still far from mass tourism, where survival is not only a biological issue but also a historical and cultural one.

  • Bibliografy

    Our research is based on previous works written by acclaimed travellers and explorers, who have trodden the paths of this region and described it with wonder and admiration. The work of the French anthropologist Michel Peisell, “Mustang, the lost kingdom” (1967) and the famous Italian explorer and scholar Giuseppe TucciJourney to Mustang” (1952).

  • Ispiration

    The first sources of inspiration for this project, however are to be found in recent works by the journalist Stefano Ardito. His book “Mustang, changing Himalayas” (2013) recounts his expeditions in Mustang to collect the material that would shortly afterwards create two documentaries on climate change in the region: “Dhe must not die” and “The apples of Marpha”.

  • Itinerary

    Our travel plan includes walking through Mustang following the ancient mountain path already used by merchants’ caravans and pilgrims, deliberately avoiding the road at the bottom of the valley.
    Like the ancient wayfarers and pilgrims we will travel from the Ghar Gompa pass at 4200m to the fortified town of Lo Manthang.

  • Reportage

    Along the way, articulated by the ancient, slow sustainable rhythm of walking, we will collect evidence and information about the environmental and anthropic changes in the valley.
    Using interviews and direct observations we will document how the local inhabitants are forced to make choices because to these changes: for example, abandoning ancient terraces once fertile, moving the villages to the bottom of the valley in search of water, or importing the herbs used for traditional medicine, that do not grow spontaneously in the valley anymore from the neighbouring regions.

  • Contacts

    In Lo Manthang we will meet the head of the Amchi school “Lo Kunphen”, responsible for the schooling of the children in the valley, and in training physicians who will take care of the small local communities. This is a school of traditional Tibetan medicine, based on the use of medical herbs to cure different diseases.
    We will also meet the Italian restorer and photographer Luigi Fieni who, for more than 20 years, is overseeing the restoration of frescoes in some important monasteries, including the temple of Thugchen in Lo Mantang, the monastery of Jampa Lha Khang and the ancient gompas in nearby villages. Thanks to his experience we will try to understand how much Mustang region has been changing in recent years and what still remains of the ancient local Buddhist traditions.

Goals Of The Expedition

Post-expedition Goals

Our multidisciplinary reportage will follow already existing research enriching the knowledge on the current situation of Mustang. We will be in touch with reporters and scholars who have already worked in this territory and have produced scientific research and publications, to combine our team’s competences with their experience, to create a continuity of research.

Following our experience and the documents we will produce, in a second phase of the project we will be assess how changes in progress could be considered positively or negatively for the region.

These assessments will represent the basis of a new research which will focus on modalities of  development of tourism in the region. The research will try to promote, following our competences and skills, an ethical approach based on the respect of the location and the recognition of the potentialities of responsible tourism.

We also hope that our project can help identifying objectives in the territory for future projects in support of the people of Mustang.

Expedition Itinerary

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Expedition team

The expedition will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team, composed of professionals with different skills and competences.All the participants are passionate about mountain, trekking, open-air life and travels.

The team’s choice is to allow each person the possibility to contribute, individually but within a common framework, to achieve the goals of the journey.

Mauro Cappelletti

AIGAE Professional Nature and interpretative Guide and guide from the Monti Navegna and Cervia nature reserve.

He has worked for various associations and agencies specializing in hiking. He now collaborates as a freelance guide with the tour operator “Four Seasons Natura e Cultura”, Specializing in trekking, hiking and sustainable tourism in Italy and abroad.

The passion for the Himalayas dates from 1997 during a trek that led him to the source of the Ganges.

Stefania Gentili

AIGAE Professional Nature and interpretative Guide and freelance naturalist.

She is co-creator of the Studio Naturalistico ForEst based in Friuli Venezia Giulia, where she has lived 12 years. She plans and realizes excursions, trekking and environmental studies.

For several years she has collaborated with the tour operator “Four Season Natura e Cultura” leading soustainable trekking trips worldwide.

Passionate nature, reportage and travel photographer.

Dario Gentili

Cultural anthropologist.

He works within social projects aimed at empowering small communities and their resources, in particular in the musical field, in Italy and in international cooperation projects.

He’s passionate about trekking and mountain anthropology.

Federico Agostinelli

AIGAE Professional Nature and interpretative Guide and guide of the Nature Reserve of Monti Navegna and Cervia.

Member of the National Alpine and Speleological Rescue (CNSAS).
Creator of MarcheTrek, with whom he promotes and spread the culture of the territory and environmental education, as well as organising recreational didactic excursions.

He’s passionate about mountain and outdoor activities.

Laura Amori

Passionate about trekking and walking.

She has been studying ethnic Indian music for about twenty years. She is specialised in the therapeutic potential of music applied to “walking”.

She is part of the expedition because she is passionate about local colture.

Giovanni Negro

Walker and paraglider pilot.

He lives on the slopes of the pre-alpine arch where, with his girlfriend Stefania, he is always looking for adventures in the nature. He works as IT.

He is part of the technical team of the expedition bacause he is interested in climatology and meteorolgy, that comes from his passion for paragliding and mountaineering.

Contributors' Team

Other contributors will help to elaborate the documents upon our return from the expedition.

Chiara Elisabetta Chiri

Filmmaker specialised in documentaries productions.

She is specialised in photography and works as a cameraman. She realized naturalistic documentaries and travel reportages also as a director and producer, following her passions.
She collaborates since more than 10 years with the channel 235 of Sky, for which she produced, filmed and devised more than 150 documentaries.

She has realized other video products for companies and organizations, as well as commercials, fillers and TV formats for TV channels including Sky, Mediaset and La7.

Paolo Rossi

AIGAE Professional Nature and interpretative Guide and guide of the Nature Reserve of Monti Navegna and Cervia.

His great passion for geology led him to organize numerous research trips in Italy and abroad in Africa and China, individually developing little known itineraries.

He firmly believes that the best way to know the world and its people is by walking: the knowledge of the places, of their natural and human history, enriches the knowledge of oneself and one's neighbor.

Valentina Miozzo

Long time traveller, blogger and AIGAE Professional Nature and interpretative Guide.

Has a vast experience of travelling throughout the world. She had worked for many years in responsible and sustainable tourism and directs the travel blog viaggiarelibera.it.

She is journey consultant. She collaborates with tour operators and tourist organisations as social media manager.

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