It's never easy picking what photography gear to bring with you on a trip abroad when size and weight plays such a deciding factor. This time Victoria and I were headed to Nepal for two weeks. I'd have have brought my whole arsenal of equipment if I was guaranteed a sherpa to do the lugging every day, but sadly that wasn't to be the case. So with portability in mind I opted for a Canon 6D for it's full frame sensor and relatively lightweight construction. I also took along a 35mm 1.4 L II USM for it's excellent low light performance and friendly travel focal range, a 24-70mm 2.8 L II USM for it's versatility and sharpness as a go-to walk around lens and lastly for pure indulgence, and because I knew those snow-capped Himalayan mountain peaks weren't going to come to me, Canon's brilliant 70-200mm 2.8 L IS II USM. I'd decided that since I was taking what is an admittedly heavy lens in the 70-200mm, I'd forgo any lighting and make do with the natural light available to me.
Our first stop was Kathmandu where the honking of car horns, barking of dogs and the non-stop hassling for our tourist dollar at the marketplaces along the chaotic, dusty laneways made it clear we weren't in Sydney any more.
After four days we hopped on a bus and headed westward to Bandipur, a small village considered to be somewhat of a living museum of Newari culture beautifully preserved on a lofty ridge above the highway stop of Dumre roughly four hours from Kathmandu.
After a day and a night in Bandipur we headed back down to Dumre and caught the next bus to Pokhara, a lakeside town a further two hours west and far from the epicentre of 2014's earthquake. Victoria described this relaxed lakeside town as the 'Byron Bay of Nepal'.
From Pokhara we got on some motorcycles and hit the road. Destination: Ghandruk. Elevation: 2020m.
After one more night in Pokhara, we loaded our packs once again and jumped on a tourist bus to Chitwan National Park, a popular tourist drawcard about seven hours south-east of Pokhara. The World Heritage-listed reserve protects about 1000 sq km of forest and marshland containing rhinos, tigers, elephants, monkeys, wild boars, crocodiles and many other animals.
I wasn't sure what Nepal would deliver beyond the religious monuments, snow-capped mountains and colourful prayer flags on display in travel guides. What we found was all of the above, but underlying the chaos, colour and clutter was a genuine feeling of peacefulness, a strong sense of community and a real appreciation for the little things in life that matter most- A positive outlook, compassion for all and a good hot shower. Farewell, Nepal!
Photography note -
I'm pretty happy with how the Canon 6d performed on this trip. At no point did I miss my 5D Mark III. It was light enough to carry around all day, the 11 AF zones never failed me and it's low light performance was excellent. In fact sometimes I question whether the 6D performs a tad better in low light compared to the 5DMk III. I found myself using the 70-200mm f2.8 L IS II USM and the 24-70mm f2.8 L II USM ninety nine percent of the time. Between the two I had most of my desired focal ranges covered. The 35mm 1.4 II USM remained in my bag most of the time because I just didn't need f1.4 all that often. Focal range flexibility was a higher priority. So I could've saved some space there. In hind sight I'd have swapped out the 35mm for a 2 x extender to get some closer shots of those snow capped peaks, but all in all I'm happy with the gear I brought a long. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my next entry!
(Hint... It involves a big red rock)