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Journey of a Lifetime
The collaborative travel documentary project
run in conjunction with the RGS
The high snows of Ladakh
Programme Details
Friday 16 Sept 2005
Listen to this programme in full
Chris Brown
This year the joint BBC and RGS prize for the most adventurous and unusual dream travel idea - a Journey of a Lifetime - went to a young photographer, Chris Brown.
A couple of years ago Chris had spent some time with a tribe of nomads from the Himalayan territory of Ladakh in northern India called the Kharnak. Now his dream journey would take him back to the tribe, and to his great friend Tashi, to travel across hundreds of miles of high-altitude valleys and mountain passes with their herds of yak and pashmina goats as they followed the available grazing. These nomadic tribes move across the landscape effortlessly and 'without leaving a trace' as Chris puts it, in complete harmony with their natural environment.

Bearing gifts of blankets and other essentials - and luxuries - to help them on their hard trek, Chris would record on film - and, for Radio 4 - the centuries-old rituals of the Kharnak ...before it's too late. For already the capital of Ladakh, Leh, has been encroached upon by the 21st century and its allure: internet cafes jostle with traditional traders alongside the Buddhist temple or gompa and the younger members of the Kharnak no longer want to carry on the hard-bitten herding life of their forefathers…

So Chris set off, armed with a battery of cameras and recording equipment - including for use in the freezing (minus 30 celsius) high-altitude regions state-of-the art flash-card recorders with no moving parts - and powered by solar cells. What he hadn't bargained for was the coldest and hardest winter in 30 years. Confined in deep snow for days at an end, Chris begs a lift from an enterprising driver (and non-cricketer, he assured Chris) called Nasser Hussain and together they throw themselves into the snowdrifts…. and get stuck…

Undaunted, Chris travels with another tribe of nomads, the Rupshu and is adopted by them. But death stalks the tribe and an elder dies of a heart attack… Determined to find Tashi and the Kharnak, but unable to get a companion to join him on his journey, he buys a horse and sets out alone…. But, as usual, nothing works out as planned… Now join Chris Brown on his epic Journey of a Lifetime amid the high snows of Ladakh….

Fancy going on your own JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME?

The RGS and the BBC are now inviting applicants for this year's prize: it consists of a bursary to cover the costs of your expedition and a guaranteed radio documentary to be broadcast next autumn on Radio 4.

Visit the Royal Geographical Society's website for full details of how to apply.

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