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Photo: Photographer Samantha Appleton
Photographer Samantha Appleton
Nepal on the Brink
Photographer Samantha Appleton treks through the adventure travel classic to experience the austere natural beauty coexisting with the harsh political reality. By Rachel Scheer

With views of 8,000-plus-meter-giants like Annapurna and classic trekking routes throughout the Himalaya, Nepal has long been an adventure-travel staple. However, as the increasingly deadly war between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and the government forces enters its tenth year, Nepal has experienced a steep decline in foreign tourists, though the insurgents have generally made good on their promise not to harm travelers. For "Trekking Through the Apocalypse" in the June/July 2005 issue of Adventure, photographer Samantha Appleton and writer Phil Zabriskie set out to trek the classic Annapurna Circuit and venture into the dangerous Maoist-controlled territories along the Mun River. During their travels, Appleton and Zabriskie witnessed a royal coup and the resulting disbandment of Nepal's government.

Yet despite the extreme poverty and a menacing political state, Appleton thought Nepal's striking mountain ranges and iconic landscapes could help secure its future: "What sets Nepal apart from other countries going through a period of upheaval is that the country is loved around the globe, and travelers will always be drawn to its landscape," says Appleton, who also shoots for the New Yorker and Time. "The tourist industry is Nepal's bread and butter. There is definitely hope."

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June/July 2005

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