Where you should go and what you should do in Nepal on your next vacation.
Once you visit Nepal, it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the top tourist destination in the world. Home to the formidable Himalayas, the legendary mountain range that attracts thousands of tourists, trekkers and nature lovers alike every year. However, it would be a mistake to think that Nepal only has mountains to offer, the society that has developed across this harsh terrain is truly unique – Nepal even earning the nickname, the ‘ethnic turntable of Asia.’ The variation in languages, religions, cultures and peoples are what makes Nepal utterly compelling to visit. With so much to do, see, eat, learn and experience it’s difficult to know where to begin when creating an itinerary for Nepal. The following is a list of must-do activities for those who want to experience the best of what this small Himalayan country has to offer.
It’s impossible to talk about Nepal without talking about trekking. The Great Himalaya Trails are lined by snow-topped peaks and traverse through alpine forests, glaciers, high altitude settlements and sacred religious pilgrimage sites. The popularity of trekking in Nepal has soared in recent years due to the availability of treks that are suitable for all abilities. The opportunity to be up close to peaks soaring above 8000m makes trekking in the Himalayas a truly unforgettable experience. There are many routes to choose from:- from famous treks such as Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Circuit and Ghorepani Poonhill to lesser-known destinations such as Langtang Valley or Upper Mustang.
If long arduous treks aren’t your thing or you’re short on time or cash – you can still experience the majesty of the Himalayas by opting for a shorter hiking route. Well-paved trails take you through terraced rice fields and villages, giving you the opportunity to see life in the foothills of the Himalayas. Hike to Namo Buddha monastery via Dhulikhel, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal. You don’t have to go far from Kathmandu to enjoy a 360 panorama of the Himalayas – explore vantage points such as Nagarkot, Chisapani, Kakani, Sarangkot and Daman.
There is so much to explore aside from the Himalayas. Nepal is home to a myriad of cultures, customs and traditions which can be attributed to the many ethnic, tribal and social groups that make up the demographics of Nepal. Religion deeply permeates all aspects of life in Nepal, the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism can be seen in the art, architecture, literature. The Kathmandu valley is home to many UNESCO heritage sites, such as the ancient temples of Changu Narayan, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath and Boudhanath. Tour around the old kingdoms of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur and glimpse back into history whilst admiring Newari architecture and craftsmanship. Out of the valley, head to the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini and see unique monasteries, the Mayadevi Temple and the sacred Bodhi tree – where Buddha attained enlightenment.
If trekking close to the mountains isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite for adventure, then climbing some of the highest peaks in the world is the ultimate challenge for thrill seekers. Of course, deciding to mountaineer in Nepal should not be taken lightly, climbing mountains of this magnitude requires a high fitness capacity and some technical knowledge. The weather on this formidable mountain range can change rapidly and drastically – climbers should be prepared for all potential situations. Aside from the gargantuan peaks that are over 8000m, there are 326 other mountains open for mountaineering expeditions. If you are an amateur climber, you should opt for less challenging peaks that are less technical and physically demanding.
White water rafting
Nepal has an abundance of water – and is the perfect arena for white water rafting. The wild rivers which descend from the Himalayas are fast flowing and potentially dangerous – the ideal activity for any adrenaline junkie. There are various expeditions to choose from 1-8 days long with variations in difficulty. Rafting adventures are available on the Sun Koshi, Set, Kali Gandaki, Bhote Koshi and Trishuli rivers – each offering an exhilarating unforgettable experience.
Take a jungle safari and get acquainted with the wildlife that populates the national parks of Chitwan and Bardia. Expect to see one-horned rhinos, Asiatic elephants, crocodiles and a variety of birds. The parks are also home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger – although elusive in nature, sightings are not unheard of. Discover the flora and fauna of Nepal in a jeep or on an elephant. Stay in a tent, relax around the campfire and enjoy delicious barbeque to the sounds of the jungle.
Nepal really is a haven for adrenaline junkies. Bungee over lakes, zip line as you admire white towering mountain peaks or feel like a bird and paraglide over insanely beautiful valleys. Other activities include tandem flights, rock climbing, mountain flights and ultra-light flights. If you are feeling brave enough – feel assured that you will be in the hands of professionals. All you need is the willingness to step out of your comfort zone.
Nepal is unparalleled in its diversity of nature and culture. From the lowlands of the Terai to colossal mountain peaks, the landscapes are vivid kaleidoscopes of pristine natural beauty, exotic wildlife, unique culture and ancient heritage. There is something for everyone in this Himalayan paradise and for travel enthusiasts it is not to be missed.
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