Italian travel photographer Daniele Cagnazzo has toted his camera across the globe, capturing everything from the bright skyline of Dubai (the city he currently calls home), to sunsets on the beaches of Thailand. He has peered through his lens at wild horses in Iceland, monkeys in Sri Lanka, and surfers in the Canary Islands.
But Cagnazzo says there is one trip that stands out above the rest: his trek to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. Why? He sums it up in two words: "Simplicity and authenticity."
Like any good photographer, Cagnazzo made sure his two-week trip was well-documented. This trek requires at least two months of training, he warns, but you can cut to the chase and experience it in a five-minute video, above.
Cagnazzo's trip included a few days in Kathmandu and Pokhara before starting the trek to Annapurna, a 13,550-foot-high glacier basin past forests, rice paddies, and mountain peaks. Along the way, he passed through small villages, chatted with locals, and learned to stop and appreciate his surroundings, he says. But not every moment was pleasant.
"Above 3,700 meters (12,139 feet), the air was so thin and every step was so heavy," he said. "But we continued to walk because we knew that we were closed to our goal."
Cagnazzo described the feeling of reaching the camp and taking in the striking views of the Himalayas as not only immense pleasure, but a strengthening of the mind. "Challenging yourself, out of your comfort zone, helps to develop new skills and increase your self-confidence," he said.
If this does inspire you to plan a trek of your own, Cagnazzo recommends going between September and November, when "the sky is so clear and you have the full view of the Himalayas." He also says packing the right clothing and gear is extremely important (in a backpack that weighs no more than 22 pounds).
"During the day the temperature is around 22-24 degrees Celsius (71-75 degrees Fahrenheit), so you can wear t-shirts and shorts," he told Travel + Leisure. "But when the sun goes down, the temperatures drop off drastically."
He recommends bringing plenty of sunscreen and sunglasses, and trekking sticks to help you "equilibrate the weight of your backpack around your body."
This all sounds much more strenuous than the typical vacation, but Cagnazzo says this is the "added value" that makes it all worth it. "It's completely another world, " he said. "It's a way to find yourself during the long trek to reach the top, to discover the simplicity of life."