With the devastation of the 2015 earthquake easing in Nepal, visiting the country now is as good as ever. Whilst you will still be able to see some destruction from the earthquake such as destroyed stupas and monuments, the stunning scenery, beautiful people and infectioius culture is very much still there.
If you do not already know much about Nepal check out these top 7 reasons why you must visit Nepal and I bet you will be itching to check out flights to Kathmandu on skyscanner 🙂
Nepal is perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors and is active by nature. Prior to this trip the majority of my trips have been centered around skiing or surfing, which is why I decided to do something entirely different. Not only do you have hundreds of different treks and routes to discover and hike, Nepal is great for mountain biking, paragliding and river rafting.
Tip: If you have the time to fit in river rafting in your itinerary, I could not recommend higher using the highly professional company Paddle Nepal. They made my three-day rafting and camping trip on the Kangalaki river so much fun.
Get you mind blown with postcard-worthy scenery
When thinking of Nepal you automatically think of Mount Everest – the tallest mountain on the entire planet. The majority of travellers, like me do not decide to take on this monster of a mountain, as with all the other treks and routes to hand you still have the chance to be blown away by absolute stunning scenery.
Whether you are hiking around the Gokyo lakes, the Annapurna region or even river rafting down the Kangalaki river, the sights that will lie before you will be just as breathtaking. Those towering snow-capped Himalayan mountains will be etched into your mind for the rest of your life.
Tip: Invest in a high quality camera to bring with you on your trip. An iPhone camera just does not give the scenery justice.
Interact with the friendliest people you will ever meet
Despite the magnitude of the 2015 earthquake, which crushed many homes and lives, it has for sure not dented their spirit. The Nepalese and the many Tibetans that I met whilst being in the country always welcomed me with the largest smile and an enthusiastic ‘Namaste’, having so much pride in showing me around their historic monuments and cultural sites.
You will find that the younger generation and people that live nearer the cities speak very good English, which can lend itself to some very interesting and entertaining conversations.
Tip: Try and learn a few simple phrases of Nepalese before beginning your treks. By just asking a few easy questions, such as ‘what is your name?’, you will be able to converse with the children that you meet plus the adults will be extremely grateful.
Spoil your taste buds with the local cuisine
Nepal is of course better known for its abundance of spectacular mountains than its cuisine but with influnce from both India and China the Neplaese have some delicious dishes. I fell in love with the traditional Nepalese dumplings ‘Momos’, Dahl Baat – a rice, dahl and potato dish that all the locals eat twice a day and apple pies! Yes apple pies! If you go on the Annapurna circuit you will hear that it is also nicknamed as the apple pie circuit. With the locals growing apples within the region they all make amazing apple pies in the tea houses. They look a bit like an apple pasty more than an apple pie; but what does the shape matter when they are so yummy!
Tip: If you are a meat lover, you will struggle to get protein of this kind whilst on the treks. And if you do it will be a yak steak which will cost you quite a bit more than the other dishes. Within Kathmandu and Pokhara however you will find much more to offer. If you are a vegetarian, then you are in veggie heaven 🙂
Get healthy and lose weight whilst travelling
If you want to feel healthy and even lose weight whilst travelling without even having to think about it, then there is no better place to go than Nepal. The spectacular sights and interesting people that you meet, really do distract you from the fact that you are walking 6-7 hours a day, burning on average 2000-3000 calories, oh and also at ridiculously high altitude.
Tip: Don’t try to purposefully reduce the amount of calories that you intake whilst trekking. You really do need the fuel and it is actually recommended to have a higher calorie intake than normal, whilst staying clear of fizzy drinks, caffeine and alcohol. I honestly was snaking on a Mars bar or Snickers a day with two helpings of Dahl Baht for dinner and still lost weight.
See the money you spend make a real difference
The April 2015 earthquake has affected Nepal in more ways than you can imagine, with the majority of the country still suffering from the consequences. More than 9000 people lost their lives and many more are still homeless.
By just visiting the country and spending money on food and souvenirs, the local people will express their extreme gratefullness. Your charity goes a long way, helping the Nepalese to rebuild their homes, restaurants, shops and also have the ability to send their children to school.
Tip: When trekking try to share the love and money. With the majority of trekkers stopping at the villages recommended within the lonely planet book there are many villages and tea houses that miss out. In fact if you want to get a more authentic Nepalese experience when trekking, I recommend staying in the villages just before or after the ones recommended in lonely planet.
Witness wild elephants, tigers & rhinos all in the same day
Bordering India is the Terai plains of Nepal where grasslands, scrub savannahs, and forests can be found, whilst also being home to some of the world’s rarest and biggest animals. There are multiple national parks that can be found in the Terai region, all which you will have the opportunity to spot the likes of elephants, tigers, rhinos and crocodiles.
The most popular national park is Chitwan due to its easy access via tourist bus from Kathmandu. For those on a shorter time scale, Chitwan is most likely the best choice. Although do expect crowds and for it to feel particularly touristy compared to the others. If you have an extended amount of time, I highly recommend taking the 14 hour bus ride (yes 14 hours!) from Pokhara to Bardia National park that is right by the western border to India.
With just me and three other tourists it felt like we had the entire park to ourselves. A local guide took us into the park by foot with only a bamboo stick as protection, which I admit, made me extremely nervous. However that feeling did not matter as soon as I saw elephants and rhinos from across the river. Do note that at Bardia national park, you cannot ride elephants into the park as they are protected. If you do not feel comfortable walking into the park the only alternative is via a 4×4. This will cost you a little more however does let you access more of the park.
Tip: The Terai region of Nepal can get extremely hot at certain times of the year making it so uncomfortable that you don’t want to leave the fan in your room. Make sure that you research the best times of year to go before booking your trip.