Machu Picchu, Peru & South America: Trek the Lares Trail:

For those of you who like to get off the beaten track, the Lares Trail trek is the most scenic and cultural of all the Inca trails. The journey begins in the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco, and travels through small highland communities that have experienced little change over the centuries. We’ll witness firsthand the traditional lifestyles of the locals as we pass by artisans, weavers, and shepherds with their flocks of llamas and alpacas. With any luck, we’ll also see the impressive Andean condor soaring above. The grand finale is a visit to the legendary Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Incas.” This Peru trekking tour showcases the heart of Peruvian mountain culture. [Read more…]

Mountain Biking Kathmandu, Nepal: A Fit Fathers Nomadic Adventure

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Mountain biking across the region of Kathmandu, Nepal for a full day was absolutely breathtaking. The journey challenged my morale, willpower, endurance, and strength as I conquered steep, mile-long hills, rough single tracks, frenzied Nepali traffic, rocky roads, distant farmlands, and muddy waters.

“Like a nomad, I travel the globe with one bag while choosing kicks and bikes over cabs.” -Kimatni Rawlins

My annual pilgrimage to rediscover life where nature dwells most prominently led me to Kathmandu to trek the cultural heritage by mountain bike and inherit the spiritual inspiration of Siddhartha the Buddha since this area marks his birthplace. Indeed nirvana was waiting patiently for my arrival. I went with www.Viator.com and chose the Countryside Bike Tour for $89 per day. They offer both day tours and week-long rides, depending on your level of skill and adventure. Another reputable company can be found by visiting www.NepalBiking.com. Toting just a backpack, I carried only enough for basic human needs, including nuts and seeds, Zen books, gear, and the desire for a peaceful world devoid of prejudices, war, and cruelty to our fellow brothers and sisters. My goal is the continuation of ultimate enlightenment, which is why I travel alone on these particular trips.

Kimatni Mountain Biking the Kathmandu Valley...35Arriving on a Thursday, after an overnight pit-stop in New Delhi, India, Hotel Tibet sent a driver to escort me to their temple property themed with Tibetan art and boutique rooms inspired by traditional decor. Located behind Narayanhiti Palace Museum and not far from Thamel, the hotel’s Himalayan restaurant provides a complimentary, Nepalese breakfast and serves both Asian and Western cuisine. The aroma of dinner still resonates as if it were yesterday. Full of spices, veggies, and creative sauces, the nourishment was fitting for my lifestyle. There is also a meditation room where guests can relax after long hours of hiking or biking, and of course, Wi-Fi is provided if you find it challenging to disconnect from society. Quaint, time-honored, and peaceful, Tibetan incantations and Buddhist chants infuse the lobby while you take in a good book.

Friday was reserved for exploring the temples, town squares, crafts, and various religions of Kathmandu. The city is hectic, and traffic is tense as cars, buses, trucks, motorbikes, crossing pedestrians, and sometimes animals continuously fight for pole position. Smog is substantial and many locals wear protective masks when roaming the streets. The next day would find me pedaling through the mix since you have to first cycle your way out of the city before entering the purity of the country. Bhaktapur Durbar Square(World Heritage Site) was the first stop to witness firsthand the artistic expressions of the people, which the majority are farmers showcasing their creative skills such as Thanka painting, pottery and artwork when agriculture slows down. For lunch I crept into this little shack hidden behind the allure of the Bhaktapur alleys and ordered noodles alongside three young students. In recollection, the panoramas in my mind are unblemished and defined: a man clutches his three young daughters laughing in amusement; teen monks enter a noodle shop and speak with grace and respect; another festive wedding takes place in a family home within the rural hills. Ah, an elderly woman sits in a meditative state by appearance — still — she is actually cooking a traditional meal. These are just a few constellations of life activities I witnessed during my nomadic journey through Kathmandu.

“Ignorance, malice, and greed are three staples the purveyors of most cultures share jointly. Rightfully, balance can be restored through the delivery of love, compassion, and purity as often as humanly possible.” – Kimatni D. Rawlins

Kimatni & The Kids at Swayambhunath aka The Monkey TempleNext up was an appointment at Swayambhu, also dubbed “The Monkey Temple.” The ancient stupa sits atop a hill overlooking Kathmandu Valley and is the best place to observe religious harmony between Nepalese Buddhists and Hindus. The nickname was ordained by the diversity of visitors amazed by the multitude of monkeys running around. They seem to own the monasteries. A group of classmates on tour approached me with a cadre of questions and photo requests. The energy of the youth, no matter what part of the world you venture to, is quite fascinating. My new friends and I discussed everything from politics to soccer during our brief encounter. They had no clue how much inspiration was instilled inside me from our impromptu engagement. Respect to Nepal for blessing my pilgrimage with guidance!

A few more stops included the Great Boudha Stupa, where monks chanted, visitors prayed, and tourists shopped. I ate hummus and veggie noodle soup and drank freshly squeezed orange juice on the rooftop of the Stupa View Restaurant & Café, a vegetarian and vegan eatery specializing in plant-based Eastern and Western foods. The lunch café provides an impeccable view of the Great Boudha Stupa. Afterward, I headed over to Kathmandu Durbar Square to catch a festival celebrating the life of children and then ended my sightseeing at the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple, where the smoke from burning corpses could be seen near and far.

“Vacations are to relax the mind, not the body.” – Kimatni D Rawlins

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A full night’s rest, early Saturday morning stretching, and a stealthy, complex carb-based breakfast would provide the required energy for the biking venture. Always plan ahead since traffic is heavy all hours of the day in Kathmandu and leave early for any appointments. I met my tour guide Kumar at the Kathmandu Guest House next to the bike shops. We set sail through streams, single tracks, villages, farms, new countryside developments, and more. A few stops for hot lemon water (a Nepalese staple) kept me warm throughout the chilly morning. Into the afternoon I began sweating profusely and was ready to come out of my skin. Kumar bikes four to five times a week and never quits. He was the perfect companion since we each kept showing our bravado. In Tokha Chandeshwari, we made a pit stop for more noodles and channa. The peculiar village cafe would mimic an abandoned building back in America. Afterward, Kumar and I caught a local futbol game with a group of teens displaying fancy footwork. And since their field of play had no out of bounds, we found ourselves riding through the game. Wow, I’ve never been more at peace after witnessing the level of happiness manifested from daily simplicity. Kids playing with sticks, women hand washing clothes, and babies taking makeshift bucket showers outside. And still, everyone smiled as we exchanged “Namaste” at least one hundred times. One of the most memorable moments recalled is the set of Nepalese boys running alongside Kumar and me as we slowly churned out the torque for an uphill battle at Shivapuri National Park. It was a beautiful day and a memory I will never forget.

Travel puts me at peace and children make me smile. My joy and open arms for all kids around the globe are omnipresent. Keep exploring the intimacy and obscurity of nature while living the life you love, and try doing so during an energetic activity such as running, hiking, or biking. Namaste!

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