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Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event

For decades, the people of Kabala have celebrated New Years in a very unique way. To them, the New Year is a way of bringing together the different chiefdoms and tribes in the region to showcase their traditions and culture. This is often accompanied with magical displays of the arts, the wearing of traditional dresses (which are no longer used daily but are known to have some significance in the region), other stunning symbolic performances, and finally an outing to the top of the tallest mountain in the region.

Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event XplorMor Inc

Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event

The five day event takes place annually from December 28th to January 1st. Originally the festival only included inhabitants of Kabala and its surrounding territory, but today it has grown to a national event, and has been hosted by almost every ruling president in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leoneans from the Diaspora and tourists from around the world come to Sierra Leone to grace the occasion. From December 28th to the 31st, local tribesmen, paramount chiefs, magicians will all gather in an open field (mostly used as a football field) to showcase some of Sierra Leone’s oldest traditions and way of life. This often includes showcasing some of the cloths and garments worn by earlier and current paramount chiefs and local chiefs which have lasted for over 500 years. Some of these garments are believed to have magical powers which protect the wearer from evil spirits and enables them to disappear during an encounter with any evil force.

Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event XplorMor Inc Copyright © XplorMor Inc [XplorMor;africa;african cultural heritage;african cultural photographs;african culture;african heritage;african tribal costume;african tribal gathering;african tribal photos;african world heritage;cultural photography;cultural photos;culture;culture photographs;explore sierra leone;explore the world;sierra leone;sierra leone culture;sierra leone tribal gathering;travel sierra leone;tribal costume;tribal gathering;tribal photos;world culture;world heritage;world photography;xplorer journal;xplormor team member] Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event

Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event

Each year on the 1st of January, both local and visiting participants will make the long journey to the top of the mountain for a whole day outing. The mountain top is a flat land about the size of a football field. From the mountain, there is a magnificent view of Kabala city and a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Numerous other activities take place throughout the event, including dance, fashion, and magic performances.

     Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event XplorMor Inc Copyright © XplorMor Inc [XplorMor;africa;african cultural heritage;african cultural photographs;african culture;african heritage;african tribal costume;african tribal gathering;african tribal photos;african world heritage;cultural photography;cultural photos;culture;culture photographs;explore sierra leone;explore the world;sierra leone;sierra leone culture;sierra leone tribal gathering;travel sierra leone;tribal costume;tribal gathering;tribal photos;world culture;world heritage;world photography;xplorer journal;xplormor team member] Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event   Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event XplorMor Inc

If you would like to join in celebrating the next Kabala mountain event visit: www.visitsierraleone.org or www.vsltravel.com.

Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event XplorMor Inc

Sierra Leone Kabala Mountain Event XplorMor Inc

We are thrilled to have Jaime Yaya Barry as a contributing author for XplorMor. He is currently based in Sierra Leone, reporting on the country’s cultural identity and happenings.

Sunrise Over Mount Everest

Sunrise over Mount Everest continued from Kathmandu to Mount Everest Base Camp

Over the following days our expedition team trekked to the villages of Khunde and Khumjung, or to the locals Khurnyung, that lie adjacent in a valley of Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This part of the expedition held more memorable moments of Nepalese cultural sights. While hiking in this valley we looked up at the amazing Khumjung Gompa (“gompa” translates in English to monastery). It was destroyed by different reasons time and again since its first construction about 350 years ago. The ambiance of the gompa was the most interesting thing of all. Although lamas, Buddhist monks, carried out their daily chores in and out of the monastery, it was as silent as it could be. Another surprising artifact we came across the same day was a chance to see what the locals call “the skull of the mystical mountain animal”, known also as the Yeti.

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Tengboche Gompa in Nepal by Uzol at XplorMor

Leaving these significant villages behind, I along with our expedition team headed up higher elevations towards Everest Base Camp, which still was a long distance away. As we went further up, the mountains got closer and closer, so close that for a moment I felt like I could touch them with the tips of my fingers. Days went by on the trails and we reached a very small village, home to a world-famous monastery named Tengboche Gompa, it is also known as Dawa Challing Gompa. The gompa rests at an elevation of 3,870 meters or 13,700 feet. The Tengboche Gompa is also the biggest monastery of entire Khumbu region. Tengboche is not only famous for the architecture and artwork of this monastery, but also as a viewpoint from where to see an amazingly close view of Mount Everest; closer even than that from Namche Bazaar. The breathtaking color combination of white mountains kissing the deep blue sky is spectacular, and imprinted in my mind a never-fading memory of incredible Everest.

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Uzol looking up at Mount Everest

As we got closer to our destination I felt uncomfortable and realized that our entire teams’ pace was ridiculously slowed down, and we were breathing heavy. The elevation had affected us, and come into play in a serious way, and it became a dominant reason for making the trek difficult. Finally we made it to Everest Base Camp at an elevation of 5,364 meters or 17,598 feet. This is not the highest point in Nepal, but I felt like I was at the top of the world. Upon reaching the camp I was excited and depressed. I was excited that I successfully reached my destination after days of tedious hiking, and was depressed for the fact that I could no longer see Mount Everest from any direction. I realized several other tall mountains rising ahead of Everest completely blocked our view. So here at Everest Base Camp all we could see were tents, tents and more tents, and people either getting ready to summit the peak or resting from the climb, and a lot of snow.

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The next morning around 4:00 AM almost everyone in the base camp flocked up to Kalapathar, or Kala Patthar, which in straight translation means “black rock”, is at an elevation of 5,550 meters or 18,209 feet. Some call Kalapathar a mountain, and others a view-point to watch sunrise over the summit of Mount Everest. No matter what people consider Kalapathar, the view of the sunrise over the Everest was pure breathtaking. I forgot who I was… where I came from… what my name was… for a split second I thought I could spend my whole life watching the sun rise and set over Everest. I have no words to truly describe what I felt while watching the early morning light on Everest. All I am able to come up with is our Everest Base Camp Expedition was one hell of a trip of my life time!

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To trek an expedition to watch sunrise over Mount Everest and to explore other locations in and around Nepal, contact Uzol at Wonderful Everest View Treks and Expeditions.

Los Padres National Park: Pictographs Found at Piedra Blanca

Success! Pictographs found at Piedra Blanca! Team XplorMor has hiked the Piedra Blanca Trail in Los Padres National Forest, located near the Ojai Valley in Southern California, many times to study its unusual rock formations, and to seek out the well hidden petroglyphs. On this last expedition we located them, and discovered three important points: first, there’s more than one site, second, it’s good they are hidden as one of the locations has serious vandalism, and third, they are not petroglyphs but pictographs. I’ll explain the difference…

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Piedra Blanca Trail by Julia at XplorMor

There are four major types of rock art: petroglyphs, cupules, geoglyphs, also known as intaglios, and pictographs. Petroglyphs are rock engravings produced by carving or striking the rock surface using various techniques (See photo: Darien Gap). Cupules are small cup-shaped indentations made in rock that may seem in a pattern or at random. They are a type of petroglyph in that stone is ground or carved out to create them. Geoglyphs are giant drawings made on the ground presumably depicting geometric designs, human forms and animals.

Pictographs are a fragile cousin to petroglyphs. They are designs drawn on rock surfaces with paints made from natural mineral pigments applied with fibrous brushes or with hands and fingers. These pigments were mixed with binders such as oil, blood or urine. Hematite (iron oxide), the most common color in Southern California, was used for creating red paints, and presumably those of Piedra Blanca. Pictographs were typically drawn in caves, overhangs and alcoves where they would be better protected from harsh weather elements.

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Piedra Blanca by Julia at XplorMor

Thank goodness the drawings are not easily found as sadly the ones that are not far from the trail have been vandalized: scratched off, chipped at and even large sections seemingly removed.  I presumed taken as the rock looks neatly chiseled and large flat disc-shaped pieces are missing. Sadly, it also appears that a recent visitor threw rocks at the drawings, chipping them, and used rocks to scratch over their surfaces. The photo below shows some of this damage. I was very disappointed to see that someone had made the drive, made the hike, found the petroglyphs, only to deface them. Why?! Piedra Blanca’s sacred, historic site is unfortunately left to echo the question.   

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Piedra Blanca Pictographs by Julia at XplorMor

Information resource: Calisphere, connected to the University of California System and the California Digital Library.

Read more and watch XplorMor Expedition slide show from Piedra Blanca. Please note: we have not included locations of other pictograph sites for their protection, please do not email requesting this information.