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In the spring of 2003, photographer Basil Pao joined Michael Palin and his crew on what was to become the most challenging journey of their careers - to take on the entire length of the Himalaya.

Beginning at the legendary Khyber Pass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the team travelled into the hidden valleys and remote tribal lands of the Hindu Kush. Turning eastwards, they moved along the foothills of the Himalaya in northern India and Kashmir, before heading up into the heart of the range in Nepal and Tibet. From Lhasa they journeyed north into the Qinghai plateau, before cutting back westwards over the mountains through Nagaland, Assam and Bhutan, finally ending their journey in the vast Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh, on a barge in the Bay of Bengal.

From ancient cities like Peshawar, Taxila and Kathmandu, to the mighty peaks of Everest, K2 and Annapurna, the filming of the Himalaya series took six months and over 3000 miles of hard travel. Whether it was crossing the bleak and barren plateau of Tibet in shaky Land-cruisers or sliding through mud tracks along the Indo-Burmese border in WWII jeeps, the adventure was extraordinary and relentless.

Palin and his team survived not only the physical hardships of facing altitudes as high as 17,500 feet at Everest base camp, and treks through some of the world's deepest gorges, but also political flashpoints, like Pakistan's North-West Frontier, terrorist-torn Kashmir, and the Maoist insurgency in Nepal. But through all the difficulties, their encounters with the people who inhabit this severe land, from the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala to the headhunters in Nagaland, heighten their experience into something truly exceptional.

Despite the extreme and often hostile conditions, Basil Pao succeeded in capturing, in his inimitable style, the awe-inspiring beauty of these spectacular mountains, along with the richness and diversity of its people and their traditions. And though at times the journey was more pain than pleasure, he managed to bring back images that celebrate the indomitable spirit of survival which thrives within the harsh shadows of the Himalaya.

The result is this magnificent book, which brings together more than three hundred of his best images of the journey. Basil has also included some 'behind-the-scenes' pictures of Michael Palin and the crew at work, making this a unique scrapbook as well as a stunning photographic collection.

View photo gallery
The introduction
Michael's introduction
Basil's postscript
About Basil Pao
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