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Ken Alderfer′s Wishlist
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Abu Tesht, Qena Governorate, Egypt
Walking in deepening twilight past a towering obelisk, and then through the Hypostyle Hall and colonnade of 134 massive pillars—10-12 meters tall—capped with stylized papyrus and calyx, into a broad solar court, I was able to envision only the...
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Xigaze, Tibet, China
At the Tashilumpo Monastery complex, where golden pagoda rooftops blaze against the burnt umber hillside, a pall of defeat still hung in the crisp air. In April, Gedhun Choeki Nyima, the boy chosen by the Geluk-pa, and acknowledged by the 14th...
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Lhasa, Tibet, China
Just before dawn, I’d set out to explore Chakpori—the “Iron Hill”—highest promontory in Lhasa. On its summit, Sangye Gyatsho, seventeenth century regent of Tibet, built the Mentsikhang, a medical college that turned out doctors until it was...
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Mt Shasta, CA 96067, USA
30 feet below the cornice of a narrow crevasse, I’m dangling like a marionette on a 9-mil rope, staring in awe at a rippling splinter of luminescent blue ice—the size of a 10-story building—jutting from a rift in the Hotlum glacier. And what’s...
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Bhaktapur, Nepal
The ancient capital of the Kathmandu Valley is an earthy composition of ornate brickwork and wood filigreed temples built by the Newar tribe. In Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square; the relief carvings on the golden Suun Dhoka Gate, and stone images of the...
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Middle East
At Nasser’s stables, I hoist myself up into the saddle of a mottled Arabian mare. She’s small, but spirited, and we canter for a while into the dark gray void that appears abruptly at the edge of Giza and doesn’t end until it spills into the...
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In November 1951, Eric Shipton, Michael Ward, and Sen Tensing Sherpa crossed Dinjung La, a high pass between the Kingdom of Nepal and Chinese-occupied Tibet. While surveying the vast Menlung glacial basin along the central spine of the Rolwaling...
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Stairways, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Late that afternoon, we reach the confluence of the Rongshar and Menlung rivers, where a promontory of ancient glacial shelf rises several hundred feet above the two swollen rivers. On its summit, the blackened tin roof and broken adobe walls of...
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Delphi 330 54, Greece
The belly button of the world lies eighty miles northwest of Athens, where the southern slope of Mount Parnassus, cut deeply by cascades feeding the River Pleistos, drops precipitously into the Gulf of Corinth. High above the ravine in a cleft...
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Ormos Vatopediou , Mt. Athos, Mount Athos 603 86, Greece
Sipping ouzo, I ask Gerhard what brings him back to Mount Athos year after year? The question seems to catch him off guard. “Some places are special,” he says. “Some places you feel more at home than…at home.” He chuckles, surprised at his...
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Balkans
As if summoned by the approach of a lost soul, Patra Symeon, hieromonk of Timiou Stavrou, appears in the dappled shade of his patio, draped in a lightweight black tunic, open at the neck, and leather-belted around the waist. His long brown hair is...
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Mount Olympus, Litochoro 402 00, Greece
Above the tree line, a wiry twelve-year-old named Pericles and his taciturn papous—grandfather—accompany me along the trail that crosses beneath the steep needles of Mytikas, a five-hundred-foot crag that soars to the summit of Olympus. “You come...
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Muchu, Nepal
In the village of Muchu, I scramble up a steeply pitched slope, and then climb a network of rough-hewn timber ladders through a maze of ochre adobe buildings reminiscent of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly. There are more...
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Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Tourists call it the “Monkey Temple,” owing to the clans of rhesus macaque wandering through the grottos and recesses of this ancient shrine. The monkeys climb where they please, siblings squabble, parents scold and protect—a parallel simian...
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Kangrinboqe Peak, Burang, Ngari, China
Michael and I take the lead up a scree-choked stream draining from the Gangjam glacier. Two hours of climbing through talus brings us to ice-blue seracs rising like frozen waveforms from the mottled glacier. An hour further, in the cirque beneath...
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Tibet, China
In a snowstorm at Pethang Ringmo I was invited into a felt tent for yak butter tea with a drögpa, a nomadic herder. His blackened hands carved off a chunk of butter with a long knife, which he melted into a battered teapot over a dung fire. As he...