Google launched a virtual tour of Nepal's Everest region on Thursday, allowing armchair tourists a rare glimpse of life in one of the toughest and most inaccessible places on earth, home to the world's highest mountain.
The Street View project takes viewers into the heart of the stunning Sagarmatha national park, where icy blue rivers run below snow-capped peaks, monks play music and yak-herders navigate precipitous stone-strewn trails.
Armed with two single-lens tripod cameras and a 15-lens custom-built "Trekker" unit designed for backpacks, teams travelled on foot to capture more than 45 000 panoramic images of the remote eastern Himalayan villages inhabited by the ethnic Sherpa community.
Google worked on the project with Kathmandu-based start-up Story Cycle and Nepalese climber Apa Sherpa, who scaled Mount Everest a record 21 times before he retired from climbing and set up an educational charity.
"Everyone in the world knows Mount Everest but very few people know how hard life is in these villages," said Apa Sherpa, who was forced to drop out of school at 12 and work as a porter after his father died.