Sandwiched between India and Tibet in South Asia, Nepal possesses no less than 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. With some of the most unequalled, exciting trekking trails on the planet, Nepal is an iconic destination for mountaineering, hiking and adventure travel. As well as the physical challenges on offer, there is also an intriguing culture and uplifting spirituality to help strengthen the soul.
Some of the most important religious sites to visit include the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, the world’s largest temple of Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims gather daily at the the ancient Buddhist Stupa, Boudhanath and Lumbini, considered to be the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, the historic Buddha, attracts large numbers of pilgrims and tourists.
The capital, Kathmandu, has a unique atmosphere all its own, lively yet at peace, focused yet thoughtful, where yoga and meditation are an integral part of life. One of three “Royal Cities” along with Bhaktapur (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Patan, spilling into each other in the Kathmandu Valley. Most visitors will spend time here before heading out to other parts of the country.
For those not wanting to take on high altitude mountain activities, Nagarkot is a popular village not far from Kathmandu, with lower level hikes and fantastic panoramic views of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal. Chitwan National Park offers a different experience altogether. A tropical monsoon climate has created a jungle environment where tourists can take safari-type tours from comfortable lodges and enjoy the rich and exotic wildlife, including Bengal tigers!
Now to the mountains! There are three main trekking regions in Nepal: Langtang, Annapurna and Everest.
Langtang offers happy hiking with stunning mountain scenery and beautiful rhododendron blooms during the spring season, easily reached by jeep from Kathmandu in 7 to 8 hours.
200 km west of Kathmandu, the second largest city of Pokhara is considered by many trekkers, to be the gateway to the Himalayas and starting point for treks to Jomsom and the Annapurna region. This is one of the most popular trekking regions in Nepal and a favoured route is the Annapurna Circuit, also fondly called the Apple Pie Circuit because of the fried apple pie served in the teahouses en route. The village of Sarangkot, overlooking Pokhara, is also popular with tourists as a viewing point to the Annapurna Conservation Area.
The enigmatic Everest region, although not regarded as the most scenic part of the country continues to coax climbers, not necessarily to summit the highest mountain on earth, but to trek the various routes to Everest Base Camp just to be in the presence of greatness and the world’s highest peak!
The spirit of the people, the magic of the mountains, whatever the reason that lures you here, there is a fascination with Nepal that goes way beyond the realms of travel, this is a place to be in awe of!