Shangri-La instantly conjures up images of a mythical, Utopian society where no one ever dies. For Josh Gates, he believes that there is a little more to this ancient story. The Expedition Unknown crew headed to Nepal to see if there is a real-life counterpart to the story, which may be located high in the Mustang region of the Himalayan mountains.Josh works hard to draw Expedition Unknown viewers in and make them a part of his explorations, and he posted recently to his Twitter page, "Get ready for a BIG adventure at the ends of the earth!"
The search is broken up into two episodes, and fans of the show watched during the first part, titled "Search for Shangri-La," as the Expedition Unknown host and his crew began the grueling journey to reach the village of Chuusang in the Mustang valley.
The Expedition Unknown crew joins a team of archaeologists and explorers to discover the truth behind the mythical kingdom of Shangri-La. The risk is high, but the reward could be far greater.
What they are attempting is dangerous, the high altitude and poor climbing conditions combine for an extremely treacherous trek up into an area dotted with what are called the Sky Caves.
Warning: If you haven't watched Part 1 of Expedition Unknown yet but plan to, there are spoilers ahead!
When the Expedition Unknown team reaches their destination, Gates jokingly compares the small village to a set straight out of Game of Thrones. He then meets up with two fellow archaeologists, Mark Aldenderfer and Mohan Singh Lama. After crossing a suspension bridge that Josh says reminds him of The Temple of Doom, they reach the caves.
Out of 10,000 man-made caves, approximately 300 have been explored so far, but they have already given up some of their treasures, including artifacts and ancient manuscripts that may guide the Expedition Unknown group to a real paradise. Gates asks why drones haven't been used to aid in the search, but unfortunately, the government won't allow them to be flown in such close proximity to Tibet, where political tensions run high.
The archaeologists take the Expedition Unknown host to a nearby Buddhist monastery that was carved out of the cliffs and is thought to be over 500 years old. The structure is falling apart, but as they carefully scale a ladder that leads into an upper chamber, they are met by the mummified skeletons of snow leopards that were placed there to guard the monastery, and Josh remarks that it is something he has never seen before. Where Traveler shared that, according to Gates, Shangri-La could be based on places just like the caves.
Past the leopards is a shrine that they hope will provide clues as to why the caves were carved and how they could be linked to Shangri-La. The inner sanctum of the chamber is a shrine to Buddha and is surrounded by what Gates describes as fierce looking deities, intricately painted walls, and hand carved ornamentation.
After returning to the village, the Expedition Unknown crew pack up and continue their search, heading further north. The drive up is harrowing, the road is actually a single rutted track and at one point a vehicle gets stuck in an icy patch as melting water flows over and down the side of a cliff.
Once the Expedition Unknown crew is moving again, they press on to Chhosur, which is the last place for them to gear up for the final leg of their journey. They will drive as far as they can, then they must travel by foot. The altitude of over 13,000 feet starts to have an effect on the Expedition Unknown crew, making a tough hike even more difficult.The Expedition Unknown team heads for more caves, and after using two ladders lashed together, Gates and one of his cameramen find themselves standing in a chamber where painted art covers the walls. Josh states that it is something he was not expecting, and he's clearly impressed and amazed by the intricate paintings. They believe the cave was a place of meditation and also a place to create art, a place of culture.
The Expedition Unknown crew leaves and begins to look for rock structures that have never been investigated. After hiking across a sheer ridge, they top a rise and find a small chamber. This is where Aldenderfer states that the tiny chamber made of small rocks will house one of two things, either they will find something that was stored or that they will find a body. As they look inside, the episode ends and viewers will have to wait for the next episode to see what was found.
The second part, titled "Shangri-La Found," finds the Expedition Unknown crew hiking into even more perilous areas as they continue to explore more caves. Next week's preview teases that the Expedition Unknown group will make some fascinating discoveries on their journey to find proof that Shangri-La actually existed.
Are you a fan of Josh Gates and Expedition Unknown? Do you think they will find the elusive Shangri-La? Leave your comments, thoughts, and opinions below. If you missed "The Search for Shangri-La," check your local listings for additional air times. The first episode will also be broadcast again right before the second part, "Shangri-La Found," airs. Expedition Unknown airs on Wednesday's at 9 p.m. ET on the Travel Channel.
[Image via Josh Gates/Twitter]