I have just been to Nepal for 3 months; I had so much fun, so I felt like sharing all this fun with this travel community!
I will recommend you in this post what places you should definitely not miss in Nepal.
I will also help you organize your trip!.
So where is Nepal?
|Nepal is a beautiful country located between India and China, with smiling polite people. You get all kinds of food from different nations. It's not too expensive to move around and it is very safe. Nepal is known for its stunning mountains, its rich variety of wildlife and its diverse culture.
The Nepalese people are very friendly, everyone greets you with Namasta (pronounced as "Namastay" ) and are always curious of your origins. A popular phrase I learnt by Nepalese - "Guest Equals God" (in Nepali : PahunaHaru BhagwanKo Rup Hun), so they treat Guests with honor as they would to God. Visiting Nepal might be the best travel experience of your life. Here, your money goes far, so you can do more with less. And you will always leave this beautiful country saying "I will be back for more!"
Nepal is a deeply religious country, well rooted in Buddhist and Hindu customs. As a result, most of the country's festivals have their foundations in religious traditions. Two of the most popular festivals, Dashain in October and Tihar in November, are celebrated with colorful processions, dances, and music. Near Kathmandu, at the temple of Dakshinkali, Nepalese faithful bring animal sacrifices to honor the goddess Kali. Twice each week, the gifts are sacrificed to satisfy the bloodlust of the goddess.
Nepal is conservative with clothes, and your reception by locals can vary greatly on the way you dress. Men should always wear a shirt (don't go around bare chested) and long pants. In view of local customs, men should try not to wear shorts, and women should avoid them altogether.
Eating out in Nepal is generally very reasonable. For about $3, you can buy a good dinner (excluding drinks) in a restaurant of the main tourist centers. A 750ml bottle of beer costs you about $1.75 in a restaurant, and $1.50 if you just buy it off a store.
Other Nepalese made hard liquors are quite cheap. If you want an imported alcohol, however, expect to pay an exorbitant price. Sodas such as Coca-Cola, 7UP, and Pepsi cost about $0.20 in shops. All these prices are for most of the road-accessible areas of the country. But as you move further into remote areas, the prices rise. For example if you are in Naamche Bazaar in the Everest region, the price can be as much as seven or eight times higher. If you are an average budget traveler, $10 will be enough for all your daily expenses on drinking and dining. Be sure to sample an authentic Nepali meal consisting of dal (lentil soup), tarkari (curried vegetables), bhat (boiled rice) and usually an achar (pickle). Unfortunately since Nepal is a Hindu Kingdom, beef is strictly prohibited, this was really hard for me, since I am from South America and as you know we are used to eating those massive & delicious steaks!
|Good to know before you go ?
Official Language: Nepali (an Indo-Aryan language)
Currency: Nepalese Rupee
Exchange rate: 1NPR = ?0.0085, ?0.010, $0.016
Time: GMT + 5.45
Electricity: 220 Volts AC (by the way less than 10% of Nepal has access to electricity)
Visa: Costs around $30 and can be obtained at the airport or the originating country.
Area: 147,181 km2
Calling code: 977
Religion: 80.6% Hinduism, 10.7% Buddhism, 4.2% Islam, 3.6% Mundhum, 0.5% Christianity, other 0.4%
|What about health?
Injections against meningitis, tetanus, hepatitis B, typhoid, Polio, Japanese encephalitis, MMR(Measles, mumps, rubella) are recommended. Vaccination against rabies (which is quite rampant in Nepal) can be good but it is too bothersome and expensive to be worth the trouble. Just keep yourself safe from dogs & crazy monkeys.
Malaria is present in areas below 1,500 meters, especially Terai districts. No risk in Kathmandu. I suggest you carry with you mosquito netting especially during the summer and monsoon seasons. Wear long sleeves, long pants, hats and shoes (rather than sandals). For rural and forested areas, boots are preferable, with pants tucked in, to prevent tick bites. Apply insect repellents containing 25-50% DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) or 20% picaridin (Bayrepel) to exposed skin (but not to the eyes, mouth, or open wounds). Also, as a preventive measure, take Chloroquine plus Proguanil pills starting two weeks before and six weeks after your visit. Warning: Malarone is not effective in Nepal.
|Do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. Do not drink unbottled beverages or drinks with ice. Do not eat fruits or vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked. Avoid cooked foods that are no longer piping hot. Cooked foods that have been left at room temperature are particularly hazardous. Avoid unpasteurized milk and any products that might have been made from unpasteurized milk, such as ice cream. Avoid food and beverages obtained from street vendors. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish. Some types of fish may contain poisonous biotoxins even when cooked. Barracuda in particular should never be eaten. Other fish that may contain toxins include red snapper, grouper, amberjack, and sea bass.|
OK after scaring you a bit about health, let's figure out where should you start from?
|I suggest you climb Everest before You Die! As you probably know the collision of India into Asia created the world's highest mountain on earth (8848m). Climbing Everest costs around US$ 50,000. Don't have the money? No worries, you can also visit Nepal to enjoy the great views of the Himalayas. Don't worry the view of Everest and other Himalayas is free.|
Ok so I reckon you just landed in !
If you don't have enough time, don't get messed up in Kathmandu too much. It is just the capital city, not Nepal itself.
Kathmandu covers 218 square miles of land with a population of approximately 1 million. The city is situated 1350 meters above sea level with three historic, artistic and cultural towns namely Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur (my favorite site in the world), together form what is known as the `Kathmandu Valley'. Kathmandu is the hub of Nepal's traditional culture and arts. This is the place for rest, relaxation and easy-day sightseeing of historic and artistic temples, impressive monuments, and mountain views. You can enjoy here night life, shopping and of course the mountain views.
As you land in Kathmandu's airport you will probably be badgered by a crowd of agents from various hotels all trying to win you over to stay at their place. You can bargain. If you find bargaining with dozens of agents outside the airport a little unappealing (which you probably will), just take a cab and ask him to take you to Thamel , (the ride is about 8 km and should cost you about $1.50 Practically every house in these areas is a hotel or a lodge. These lodges provide a double room for $5 to $10 per night (depending upon your bargaining skills) with basic facilities like running hot shower facilities, flush toilets, foam mattresses and clean sheets.
You can also find accommodation in "teahouses" and "trekking inns" which is relatively easy, especially along popular trekking routes. They may or may not have hot water or electricity. Expect the cost per night in most of these trekking inns to be between $1 - $4 per night. The teahouses cost even less: at most $0.50 per night.
Don't be surprised, Kathmandu is Nepal's most polluted city caused mainly by emissions from the industries & vehicle fuel combustion. So what about water? In spite of Nepal having abundant water resources, Kathmandu has never-ending water shortage problem. Do not drink water straight from the tap as underground water pipes have high deadly metal and arsenic contents. Boil water; filter it using standard water-filter before use.
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|So what Mountains you can see from Kathmandu ?
Himal Chuli 7893m, Manaslu 8156m, Pabil GIV 7102m, Ganesh II 7150m, Ganesh V 6950 m, Lang tang 7246m, Gang Chhenpo 6297m, Sisa Pangma 8013m, Gur Karpori 6874m Dorje Lhakpa 6790m, Gyaltzen PK 6705m, Phurbi Chyachu 6722m, Kharane Tippa 5674m, Choba Bhamare 5970m, Choo-yu 8153m, Gauri Shankar 7145m, Melungtse 7181m, Lindartsubugo 6690m, Mt. Everest 8848m, Chobutse 6660m, Takargo 6782m
Still Confused where to start from?
If you are 50,000$ short, and still wanna experience the breath-taking Everest view, you can still do it !!!
If the weather is ok you can fly to see it . I did it on my first day in Nepal. The views are absolutely stunning, it is an AMAZING experience!!! Not cheap but so worth it. Buddha Air does "The Everest Experience". Flying from Kathmandu Airport costs around $150. Everyone has a window seat. Flights are not guaranteed, due to weather conditions.
Still expensive? What else can you do?
Kathmandu (Kathmandu Valley)
If I were you, I would start with The Durbar Square; First it is a world heritage site, and if this reason is not enough, it's also quite a unique place. It contains a royal palace (a "durbar") and many temples built in a traditional pagoda style. You can see in the square artistic monuments, find the house of the living goddess, learn about the Kal Bhairam temple, red monkey god, and hundreds of EROTIC wood carvings. The Kastamandap rest house located within the durbar square is said to have been built from a single tree, it is because of this house, Kathmandu valley got its name. There is also a museum located at the Durbar Square which presents a complete history of Nepal's King and Rulers.
If you still have time try exploring Taleju Temple , the God of destruction, Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chowk, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Bell, Drum and the Jagannath Temple.
Swayambhu: Yes Dear! It is also a world heritage site!! The word Swayambhu means "the self-existent" .
The history of Kathmandu valley begins from the Swayambhu temple. This valley was a lake, but later when Bodhisattva Manjusri cut a gorge in a southern hill and drained the water to worship a lotus that he admired during his travel to the region, it lead men to settle on the bed of the lake and named this land Kathmandu Valley. Today this complex offers an opportunity to study the religious harmony in new Nepal. Tibetan monks, Brahimn priests and Newar nuns are the major worshipers here. Most of the monasteries have huge prayer wheels, fine Buddhist paintings and special butter lamps all add a great touch to the Swayambhu.
|Pashupati: (World heritage site ) If you're not radically religious and have a slightest idea that there are other religions out there too, visit Pashupati Temple. If you are not a Hindu, you won't be able to enter the main temple, but from the outside you will also manage to see almost all the stuff that the insiders see.|
Take some photos, and if you miss your girlfriend or boyfriend back home, you'll see quite a lot of monkeys coming to approach you there. Give them a smile and walk away, don't fall in love with them(Your girl is gonna kill you). Anyway, you don't need to run because they are coming to kiss you, not to kill you! When Lord Shiva came to Pashupati to escape from his boredom, he became famous as the lord of Animals (Pashupati). Nowadays millions of Hindu pilgrimage pour into this temple. Many Hindus from Indian sub contents, Nepal, Pakistan, Asia come to Pahsupati to pay their respects to the lord Shiva. From other parts of the world, many Hindus come to Pashupati to fulfill their dream of visiting the holiest Hindu pilgrimage in the world. You can see the pagoda house which has gold-plated roof, silver doors and find woodcarvings. The linga (phallic symbol) of Lord Shiva, his images, statues, and Bagmati river that flows beside it add to the holiness of Pashupati which lies just 1.5km from the international airport. Apart from kissing monkeys the region is also surrounded by birds, they are often seen in large groups playing on the pavements of the temples in Pashupati. Sadhus who follow the life style of Shiva are found in Pashupati region. They paint their bodies with ashes, wear loin-cloths, Tika, and Rudraksha Malas.
Changu Narayan: (World heritage site) This was very interesting to me. New Nepal is the youngest republic in the world so go and see what sort of things the Nepalese royals did when they were in power for more than 235 years! This is a must see place for a view of the ancient arts. The temple, situated at Chingu village is fully dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu (the god of creation). The temple is believed to be the most ancient temple in the Kathmandu valley. The temple covers over sixteen hundred years of Nepalese art history presenting some of the best samples of stone, wood and metal craft in new Nepal. There is also everyone's favorite statue of Vishnu sitting astride his steed.
|Bouddhanath Stupa: (World heritage site) The 36 meter tall, among the largest stupas in South Asia, is a home to Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. It is situated on the ancient trade route to Tibet (6km to the east of the city). For shopping, the area is a bazaar of Tibetan jewelry, hand made carpets, masks, kukuri knives (the knives used by Gorkhas) and Tibetan paintings known as thangkas. There are many stupas in the nearby surroundings I would recommend you to explore.|
Just visited all the places above and still have time?
I would also go visit Hanumandhoka museum (official Name The Tribhuvan Museum) and the National Museum in Chhauni.
When you return from Hanumandhoka museum, try to have a bird-eye view of the Kathmandu valley from Dharahara tower. You will enjoy it and don't forget to eat momo((Nepalese Meat Dumplings) at the premises. Or go to the Kathmandu Mall which is just near to do some shopping!
I'd recommend as well going to Nagarjuna forest. There is a forest resort called Osho Tapoban, so if you are interested in yoga, meditation and all the other complex life philosophies that eastern guys have developed in the course of centuries, go there and have a glimpse of the place and chat with people there. I used to go there when the central Kathmandu would take my head away with noise, pollution and all that crazy stuff people do in a city with one million people. It's called a resort, but it isn't expensive at all. You can have nice vegetarian lunch at a reasonable price.
The road from Kathmandu to Manokamna temple is amazing with the high mountains on one side and the deep gorge on the other. After a while the river Trishuli runs along the road and the views are beautiful. you can take a car or a bus. The cable car ride to the temple is an experience by itself which one mustn't miss.
Patan (Kathmandu Valley)
The city lies about 5 km from the Kathmandu. It is a city of Buddhist monuments, Hindu temples and fine wood carvings. Lalitpur is another name of this city which 'means the city of beauty'. The city is known as the paradise of fine arts.
Here are some places you can see in Patan...
|Patan Durbar Square - This durbar square located in Patan is a World heritage site. It has many famous sites and unique architectures. Krishna Mandi, Bhimsen temple, Hiranya Varna Mahabhihar are just a few among the temples offering you an ecstasy of paintings, wood and metal carvings. The Sundari Chowk contains exquisite samples of woodcarvings, stone and metal sculpture. Patan Dubar Square and the Himalaya that can be seen at a distance make an enchanting scene. I would recommend you to take A half-day sightseeing tour of the Patan city which I really enjoyed.|
Patan Museum - Offers an opportunity to view remaining of the ancient palace of Malla Kings, and some of the most beautiful wood and stone carving works in the world. This museum covers a long history and living traditions of Nepal and is a must see for you to learn more about Nepali craftsmanship and their traditions.
Krishna Mandir-A king dreams of God Krishna and Goddess Radhan standing in front of a temple. Next day, turning dreams into a reality, a finest stone wrought monument is born! The Krishna temple located on the west side of the Patan Durbar Square, was built in 1637 by the King Siddhi Narsingha Malla. The temple holds a great position in the Patan palace, it is also the only temple in new Nepal which has 21 shrines and is completely made of stone, and fine carvings. The temple has three floors, Krishna, Shiva, Lokeshwor are enshrined in first, second and third floor respectively. During the Krishnastami, the lord Krishna's birthday, this temple is the destination of thousands of worshippers from around the country. This temple is also beautifully lighted by thousands of oil lamps during the festival.
Mahabouddha-This temple is dedicated to Gautam Buddha. It was built by Pandit Abhaya Raj, a Buddhist architect, and more interesting thing about this temple is that every single brick has Buddha engraved in it. There are nearly one thousand bricks of Buddha in this temple!
Hiranya Varna Mahavihar-This three storey gloden pagoda is located about 650 feet from the Patan Durbar Suare. It has the images of Lord Buddha and large prayer wheels. The pagoda is also knwon as Kwa Bahal or Suwarna Mahavihar or Golden temple.
Kumbheshowr-A good five storeyed temple in the valley portraying fine arts. An annual festival is held here once a year.
Jagat Narayan Temple -A temple of Lord Vishnu, made of red bricks. It has fine images of stone and an artistic metal statue of Garuda on a stone pillar.
Rudra Varna Mahavihar -A Buddhist monastery containing a collection of images and statues in stone, wood and metal and also the treasures offered by king's devotees. In ancient times, Nepal's kings were crowned in this monastery.
Ashoka Stupas - Stupas known to have been built in 250 BC by the Ashoka Emeror are located in Pulchowk, Lagankehl, Ebahil and in Teat all of which act as an evidence to this city's ancient religious importance.
|Machhendra Nath -Also known as Avalokiteshowr and Adinath Lokeshwor, is a pagoda that is housed here in Patan for every six months each year and plays an important role in keeping the ancient traditions alive.
Godavari - Situated at the foothils of Phulchoki, this place is surrounded by gardens and flowers. It is an ideal place for picnic and hangouts for people of Kathmandu Valley.
Phulchowki -10 KM away from Patan, this 2759 mters high spot is good for hiking. The Guranse flower (Ghododendrons) of white to dark red can be seen here.
Bhaktapur City (Kathmandu Valley)
|Bhaktapur is the third largest city in Kathmandu valley. The city was once the capital of Nepal during the great Malla Kingdom from the 12th to the 15th century.
Four square miles of land situated at an altitude of 1,401 meter from sea-level is home to Traditional art and architecture, pottery and weaving industries, rich local customs and culture, and the every-day life of Bhaktapur people. All that and more will have you visit this untouched ancient city more than once! Nepal's Malla dynasty's achievements in arts and crafts are reflected throughout the Bhaktapur city. Bhaktapur is also known by woodcarving artists, for it's cap known as Bhadgaon Topi, and for it's curd known by Nepalese as the `Bhaktapur ko Dahe' (meaning Curd made in Bhaktapur).
When you visit the city you can also take the time to relax and observe other interesting events in the city such as children's playing outside their home and in temple yards, busy and color-full open markets, woman's making clay-pots, weaving, and sun-drying crops and vegetable products. Bhaktapur is located at 14 km east of Kathmandu and can be reached by public transport. You can also take a day-trip to Bhaktapur which is a popular tourist itinerary.
Places to visit in Bhaktapur ...
Bhaktapur Durbar Square : One of the world heritage sites in the country which reflects the city's rich culture, art and architectural design, it is also the central setting of the city for architectural monuments and arts. The golden gate is the entrance to the main courtyard of the Palace of 55 windows, the gate is regarded as the world's most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind.
Bhaktapur Nyatapol Temple This temple is 30 meter tall, and is the tallest temple in the Kathmandu valley. It was built by King Bhupatindra Malla in 1708 AD. Each of its five terraces holds a pair of figures, starting from bottom wrestlers, elephant, lion, griffins and goddesses.
The Bhaktapur National Art Gallery Located in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Rare paintings and manuscripts with painted covers and illustrations can be found in this museum. Gallery contains brass, bronze, stone and wooden images; If you like medieval art tradition this gallery is the place for you. Note: Gallery is closed on Thursday and public holidays.
Bhairavnath Temple of Bhaktapur Built as a one-story pagoda during the reign of King Jagat Jyoti Malla, later changed into a three-storey temple in 1718 A.D. by King Bhupatindra Malla, this temple now stands for its artistic grandeur. Bhairavnath temple is dedicated to Lord Bhairav - the god of Terror.
Dattatraya Temple: Built in 1427 AD, the temple is said to have been built from a single tree. A Monastery having exquisitely carved peacock windows is located near the temple.
Getting to Bhaktapur :
From Kathmandu, take a taxi, a bus or ride a bike. Ride should not cost more than Rs 300 for a taxi or Rs 10 for a public bus that leaves from Bagbazaar Bus Station. By taxi you will arrive in Bhaktapur in about 30 minutes, about 45 minutes by public bus and around 50 minutes by riding a bike. The choice is up to you ...
NEXT destination (6.5 hours drive from Kathmandu) for many adventurers is ...
|The name Pokhara is derived from the word Pokhari, which in Nepali means pond or a lake. There are about eight lakes in Pokhara. Don't rush! Pokhara has lots to offer. Rise early in the morning to view coolest mountains and sunrise just in front of your nose! Warning: The Himalayan views are so exclusive so you will change your original plan and stay here for ages!|
If you just landed in Pokhara's airport you can take a taxi to Lake-side (the ride is very short and should cost you less than $0.75), there you can find loads of hotels and lodges.
The best thing about this area is the beauty of the Himalayas. It's about taking some time out and testing your endurance with a trek, or visiting the temples, Stupas or monasteries. Volunteering on a conservation project or even just enjoying being alive and thinking I could be in 'London' now rushing to work on the underground, instead of staring at the face of God.
So what else can I say about Pokhara?
The city is situated at about 827 meter from sea level, and is located 124 miles (about 200 km) west of Kathmandu and can be reached by plane in 35 minutes or in 5 hours by bus.
|Pokhara is often called the enchanting Himalayan valley with a heart of major actions and adventures. In my opinion it is the most popular tourist spot in the country, a place to view snow-capped mountains and to start off your major trekking expeditions to the Himalayas.|
What made Pokhara so special for me was the fact that it is surrounded by beautiful snow-caped mountains, with a magnificent lake of crystal-clear pure Himalayan water, all-year round pleasing weather, and friendly Pokhralis greeting you with a big smile and leaving you with the most unforgettable moments in your life.
The most spectacular sight in Pokhara is the sight of Annapurna range. This range stretching from west to east includes Dhaulagiri, South Annapurna, Annapurna 1, Hiunchuli, Fish-tail (Machapuchare), Annapurna 3, Annapurna 4, and Annapurna 2. In Pokhara, the holy unclimbed mountain Macchapucchre (or also known as Fishtail Mountain), located in the middle of the Annapurna range, can be seen standing right in front of Our nose.
|Everyone in Pokhara wakes up early to greet the mountains during sunrise. The reflection of sunlight from a mountain is always a breathtaking site. You will never forget the sight of the fishtail mountain standing right before your eyes saying "Good Morning!"|
So what can you see here...
The Fewa (or Phewa) Lake
1.5 kilometer long, second largest lake in Nepal, Here you will get an excellent view of the mountains and their reflections on the lake. Many tours and trekking operators and hotels are located on the lakeside. It is a place to sit back, relax and enjoy great meal while enjoying scenery here. You will also enjoy boating on the lake. Most hotels and guest houses have traditional designs and layouts which match with the surrounding views.
Begnas and Rupa Lake
Besides the the fewa lake, the other two lakes known as Begnas Lake and Rupa lake located about 15 km from Pokhara are ideal places for relaxation, boating and fishing. Get to Begnas by bus, or by a taxi, or cycle from Pokhara. Visit Begnas Bazaar for a unique hillside market experience.
A day trek can be made to Sarangkot, a small village about 3 hours walk into the mountains. The climb is steep but worth it at the end. The mountain panorama of the Annapurna Range you get from Sarangkot is far superior to what you can see in town and in the other direction there's a fine view of the Lake Phewa.
Popular for spectacular sunrise watching! People come up in the morning and head back to Pokhara after breakfast. But in my opinion if you have a spare night - stay the night in Sarangkot. There are plenty of places to stay for a few dollars. Sunsets are even better than sunrise most days, the food is better than average for most villages and it is a great place to rest and have a few beers for an afternoon.
Another main attraction to Sarangkot is to spend an hour in the sky paragliding with fantastic views of the mountains and the city below. To experience true Nepali culture, take a 3 hour walk around and meet the locals and see how they live.
On the way back from Sarangkot you can visit the Bindhyabasini Temple dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati. Other than the religious side, you can get a beautiful view of the majestic Annapurna range clearly from here.
Seti Gandaki / Gorge
Seti Gandaki and Seti Gorge are other two important places to visit in Pokhara. The Seti gandaki flows right through the city, it runs completely underground at many places. There is a local myth that the entire land of Pokhara floats on the Seti river. Rivers in Nepal are known for their strength and the purity as entire source is from the Himalayan range.
Mahendra Cave (Gufa or Gupha in Nepali)
Mahindra cave is located about 10km north from central Pokhara. It is a natural site located across the Seti river pass the Batulechours village.
Witness a unique waterfall that lies 2 Km from central Pokhara City. The water fall directly goes into a deep and narrow canal with no ends. It is believed that this deadly waterfall took the life of a tourist named David, who fell down into the canal and was never found, and hence the name David waterfall, named in his memory by the people of Pokhara. This place has many nick names like Davy's Fall, David's Fall or Davis's Fall, all mean the same thing `The Davis Water Fall'
I think you had enough relaxation ...
What about some trekking? A good trek I would recommend is?
|Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna is a Sanskrit name that can be translated as Goddess of the Harvests. This is a most popular route that takes you through some of the most stunning views on earth. You will be walking through rhododendron forests at the foothills of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges and through the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the deepest in the world.
Of all the trekking regions that new Nepal offers, the Annapurna region is arguably the best, ticking all of the boxes regarding variety of routes, stunning scenery from 8000m white alpine peaks to lush green rural farmland and the flexibility to change route should it be necessary. The region is 200km to the west of Kathmandu and accessed through Nepal's second largest town, Pokhara.
Treks to this region start from Pokhara or from Besisahar. There are many possibilities trekking in this region, depends on your desire. Agencies operate trekking from 2 days up to 35 days. I did a 21 days trek there and enjoyed a whole lot! I did it without a guide. While travel agents will say it is necessary to hire a guide and a porter, this tea-house trek is so easy it is not required at all and the majority does it without assistance. The path is easy to follow and every three hours (max) you will arrive upon a small village with lodges and restaurants. There are many trekkers around so you always end up meeting people and making friends and trekking partners along the path.
Please note that many hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara will try to tell you that you NEED a guide and they're just the person to help. Naturally, they'll tell you that none of the money goes to them and that they are just trying to help. In reality, most of the money does end up in their pockets and little goes to the guides. Please be very wary, stories of trekkers being scammed are all too frequent on the trail, but please note that the guides themselves are innocent to it all. If you do decide to go with a guide through a hotel do not under any circumstances agree to a premium upgrade of about US$200. All of the hotels and food are of the same price, this is a straight scam.
The altitude you reach on the trek is really high - most of the trek you'll walk above 3000 meters. 5416 meters is the highest point you reach on this trek. In these heights you should ascend gradually in heights, drink a lot, and rest as much as you can.
Mountain sickness is something you really don't want to have.
If you choose to make the trek independently, go out with adequate clothing for low temperatures and rain. Temperatures vary from oppressive heat in the lowlands, to freezing cold, even snowstorms, closer to the pass. For the cold a pair of hiking pants, thermals, gloves, beanie, worn-in hiking shoes (it can be done in runners but is dangerous), a warm inner jacket and a windproof outer jacket is essential. A neck warmer is also great to keep out the cold!
Maps are easy to get -- and very inexpensive -- in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. While the path is easy to follow be aware that these maps should not be used for critical navigation as they are not very accurate. However they are useful for pointing out the various mountains.
While you're in Kathmandu or Pokhara, don't forget to get your trekking permit as well as TIMS Card which is required and available in either city. It'll cost you 2,000 NPR for Permit & Rs.200 for TIMS Cards (you only have to pay for the TIMS card if you're taking a guide, otherwise it is free). Also grab an Around Annapurna Trekking Profile which is a great free pocket guide that lists elevation and hiking time between every major . Officials do check your permit at several places along the way, and the checkpoints are virtually impossible to avoid. You'll have to pay double or 4,000 NPR, if you're caught without the permit.
Bring along a sufficient amount of money for the entire trek, though you can either cash traveler's checks or hit an ATM in Jomsom or Chame. A day on the lower villages of the trek can cost as little as 700NRs (food and accommodation only). A day in the higher points of the trail can cost 1200NRs. You can do the trek for about $13 USD a day if you go independently.
How to start this trek?
There are two possible starting points for the Around Annapurna trek.
First is Besi Sahar and the other is Begnas Bazar, (marked Sisuwa in some maps).
Buses will get you from Kathmandu or Pokhara to Besishar in a drive that is quite spectacular for itself for the Middle Hills scenery you pass through and the narrow, windy road. From Besisahar to BhuleBhule you will have to take a jeep or an even older local bus. Tourist and local buses are available. But don't let the "tourist" label fool you. Chances are good you'd be the only Westerner on the tourist bus, since they are also popular with the locals who can afford them. They tend to be more comfortable (though it's still a jolting ride), and faster. Local buses take much longer, are much less comfortable, carry very few tourists, but are cheaper, if you're pinching pennies. The ride on a tourist bus takes five or six hours. This starting point isn't recommended, due to the bad condition of the road to Besi-Sahar, and the always very very crowded bus taking you there.
The second starting point, and the recommended one, is to start near Pokhara, at Begnas Bazar (or Sisuwa). It is a 20 minutes ride form Pokhara by a local taxi, and the village is located just south to a lake called Begnas lake.
Starting the trek there will add two more walking days to the trek, but it's worth it!
You'll reach some really beautiful calm places.
After two walking days you'll join the "main trek route".
You can try and walk the lower stages at a faster pace maybe combining two of them into one so that more time can be spent on acclimatization on the higher stages. For example a couple of extra days can be spent at Manang and utilized by climbing to one of the many peaks around it and coming back down so as to increase the production of red blood cells. You can also see the origin of the Marsyandi river in Manang. The best part about this trek is the varied scenery it has to offer. You start from tropical forest in Besisahar, see terminal moraine near Manang and then move past the snow line across the Thorung La and then to the barren landscape of lower Mustang and Muktinath.
To read my detailed day by day trek advice please click on --> Annapurna Post
How to get to Pokhara?
Mountain flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara is the best option. View Himalayas including the Annapurna range which lies right next to flight path. So sit back, turn your head to the right, and enjoy the flight. Be careful though, this will blow your mind away, don't hurt your neck, do not push the passenger on the right out through the window!!
Riding a public bus or a taxi to Pokhara is also a good option. Public buses run daily from Kathmandu. It takes about 5 to 6 hours by bus. Buses are crowded, but thats' how Nepalese travel all life long, so what the heck, go ahead experience it, for you, it's only for a day! Remember, public buses do not have A/C, Heaters and have frequent stops on the way. Bus will at Mugling for Lunch or Dinner. Have some Nepail food there, if you can digest spicy foods, or you can pick restaurants which specifically cater to foreigners. Taxis are expensive, probably will cost you as much as the Air-fare. When you ride by land, you get to see more places, you get to enjoy the scenery that you would not be able to see from the air. Nepal has excellent highways offering terrific views of rural landscapes and the high Himalaya. If you are too spoiled! There are specialized tourists buses having A/C. Catch the buses at New Bus Terminal located in Gangabu, near Balazu, Kathmandu
Here is another interesting place?
|Located 32 kilometers east of Katmandu, Nagarkot another great place I've visited! I recommend going there if you want to see how beautiful and majestic the Himalayan Mountain range can be. A lookout tower in Nagarkot enables you to have a 360-degree scenic view of the Katmandu valley and Himalayan Mountain peaks! This is a place to wake up early, and experience a different kind of sunrise with cool winds blowing every word away|
Another Amazing place you should definitely explore is?
|If you are an animal lover this is definitely your place! Chitwan national park offers an opportunity of a life time to see Royal Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinos, various species of birds and butterflies. Your choice of Resorts and lodges are located in the region. Most include elephant safaris, jungle walks, canoeing and cultural activities.
If your plan is only visiting Chitwan for a day or two, Stay Home! You are missing a lot !!! For best, I would recommend you to spend here at least 5 days . There are so many things you can do here from Trekking, Bird Watching, Rafting, Watching Elephant Polo to Paragliding from up above the Chitwan land.
Give Chitwan enough time and I assure it will amaze you.
The Park, People and Animals ? Those are the things you should visit !
|Chitwan is also a place to learn about the Tharu people. The traditional dance and songs are performed in resorts and lodge entertainment.
Chitwan's National Park is the main attraction in the region. This park is regarded as the best national park of new Nepal, and is also the most developed one. Elephant Breeding Center, Crocodile Farm are must see locations in the park!
The Park is home to at least 43 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and 45 species of amphibians and reptiles. Elephants and Indian rhinos are the largest species found in the park, but a lot of other large herbivores are found in the park, gaur, sambar deer, Indian muntjac, chital, hog deer, mainland serow, chousingha and wild boar. Three large predator species: tigers, leopards, dholes prey on them and carrion eaters like striped hyenas are also found. Sloth bears are among the main attractions of the Park. Smaller carnivore species are golden jackal, yellow-throated marten, ratel, smooth coated otter, small Indian civet, large Indian civet, spotted linsang, common palm civet, binturong, small Indian mongoose, Indian grey mongoose, crab-eating mongoose, leopard cat, marbled cat and fishing cat.
Still not enough? You can also find rhesus monkeys, hanuman langurs, Indian pangolin, northern palm squirrel, red giant flying squirrel, parti-colored flying squirrel, Indian porcupine, hispid hare, Indian hare and ganges dolphin.
Among the reptile marsh crocoiles, gharials and Indian python are the largest.
Main activities in Chitwan include Jungle Safari, Bird Watching and Boat Tour. Jungle Safari is the most popular one. You will journey into the deep forest riding on elephant. You will witness the preserved natural assets of Nepal, birds, flora and fauna. World's one of the most endangered species, Bengal Tigers are found abundant in Nepal, many in Chitwan national park. I was lucky enough to spot one with my group, just before he disappeared! When you spot one of those you really learn to appreciate nature but to fear from it at the same time.
The other major animal I've seen and really appreciated is the one-horned rhinos whose famous place to live on earth is none other than Nepal. The park is also famous for bird watching, and boat tours. A walk to nearby villages is also a recommended thing to do.
Quick Facts of Chitwan National Park
-Chitwan National Park is included in the list of world heritage sites, this protected area has a forest with area of 360 square miles (about 932 square kilometers)
-Over a 50 different mammals and 450 species of birds are located in the park
-7 world class resorts run by park concessionaire are located inside the park alone! Other numerous resorts and hotels are located outside the park.
-One Horned Rhinos and Bengal Tigers are the main two animals that are famous in the park. Spotting them while on a safari will be the joy of a life-time. To spot bengal tiger, you might have to extend your stay in Chitwan a little longer!!
-Altitude of the park ranges from 492 feet (150m) to 2673 feet (815m)
If you like trekking or visiting other nearby regions, these are some places to go in or around the area.
A newly developed tourism area providing a unique opportunity for travelers isn't so far away than you think. Witness some local culture, traditions and embrace Cheeping culture. On clear days, view mountain range from Dhaulagiri to Kanchenjunga. Depending on how far you wish to go, there are trekking programs from 3 days to 5 days to all the way up to 8 days. In comparison to other trekking areas, this trekking is easy, fun, relaxing and memorable. A typical package would include arrival to Kathmandu, sightseeing, departure to Chitwan, trekking and then back to Kathmandu for your onward journey - all in 3 days or more.
-Cost : a 5 days trekking shouldn't cost you more than $500 alone but traveling in a group of 7 or more is advised for bargain.
-Best Time for Trekking ? :February to May
-Elevation : The highest hill is Siraichuli - 6384 ft (1946m)
-What to look for in a travel package ? : Combine food, guide, porter and accommodation, and be sure to find Hattibang, Siraichuli, Jyandala, Chisapanitar, Gadi and Shaktikhor regions in the route of your trekking program.
|How much does Chitwan National Park cost?
This greatly depends on your choice of accommodation and activities. A Maximum Budget around US$500 for a week stay should be good enough for Chitwan for Jungle tour, food and accommodation. Add a few more for trekking.
|Best Time to Visit Chitwan
Chitwan National Park - October to May, Bird Watching - December to March. Maximum temperature can reach up to 95 Fahrenheit (35 C) in April through September. November through February are cooler months with average temperature around 67 Fahrenheit.
Chitwan and Rural Tourism
Most of Nepal lies in what could be described as the Nature's own land - untouched by modern civilization. Although Chitwan is a modern city, many parts of it are still in rural areas. Through tourism, Nepal tries to alleviate poverty and bring development to these rural areas. When you visit Chitwan, you are in Rural Tourism arena, for you have a direct affect on the lives of many villagers and rural folks. Rural tourism is thriving in new Nepal, It is a true way to explore and discover Nepal.
How to get there?
Chitwan is easy to reach by road or by air. There are daily flights from Kathmandu to a nearby city Bharatpur. Your travel or hotel agent will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to your lodge / resort. Reservation for sightseeing and accommodation can be done from Kathmandu or Pokhara. Please note, most travel packages for Chitwan are designed for your hassle free travel. It may already include transportation, accommodation and cost of sight seeing and the National Park Fee. But be sure to check the details of your package. If you are in Kathmandu or Pokhara, you can easily get a travel deal for Chitwan. Just contact your hotel's travel desk or nearest travel company for a package to Chitwan.
Want some more national parks?
Wildlife Reserve of Koshi Tappu
|Sprawling some 175 km2 near the River of Sapta-Koshi in Eastern Nepal, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the best place to watch native and migratory birds in action. At least 439 species of birds have been recorded here! Especially during the months of January, February and March. You may also spot deer, wild boars, pythons and crocodiles. There are thought to be a handful of Gangetic dolphins in the Sapt Kosi but they are very rarely seen.|
One of the most rewarding and greatest assets of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Park is that it offers ample scope for nature walks. You can walk within the reserve on foot , In my opinion it is the most profitable way of exploring the grassland, river lagoons and woodlands and vicinity of the barrage, just a short drive away.
|The best birds in Koshi are: Swamp Francolin, Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Comb Duck, Falcated Duck, Spot-billed Duck, Cotton Pigmy Goose, Baer's Pochard, Bailon's Crake, Ruddy Crake, Greater Painted Snipe, Pheasant-tailed jacana, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Indian Courser, Black-bellied Tern, Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Bristle Grassbird, Striated Grassbird etc.|
I also did here a Soft Wildlife Rafting !!!
I took a raft down the Koshi River. I could see the water birds. We also spot Kingfishers diving down the river looking for food and also watched the ghariyal crocodiles sun bathing. You might be lucky enough to spot the rare wild buffaloes (not my case).
Down the end, at the barrage Gangetic river we saw dolphins which were the best view of the day!
You can do Koshi Tappu on an organized tour from Kathmandu or Pokhara, which include bird-watching walks, elephant rides, boat trips, accommodation and meals at the tented camps inside the park and transfers from Biratnagar airport. There are few facilities for independent travelers.
|How to get here:
1. There is a regular flight from Kathmandu to Biratnagar by twin otter or Avero aircraft every day. From Biratnagar a comfortable one and half an hours drive to the Camp.
2. The scenic drive of 9-10 hrs. through Nepali country side by surface.
|Royal Bardia National Park
The park is the largest (968 km2) and most undisturbed wilderness area in the Terai. It is located in Western Terai and serves as a sanctuary for tigers, small and large mammals, deer, reptiles, birds, and a herd of the last known elephants in captivity.
|A good way to enjoy wildlife here is along with short rafting in Karnali and Bheri as well as trekking to Dolpo and Rara lake. What makes a visit to Nepal's Bardia National Park particularly special is not just its large and intact habitat area and its isolated location, but also the presence here of one of the last known herds of wild Elephants in South Asia. The herd, numbering less than two dozen, roams these remote jungles in western Nepal.|
|Bardia also boasts the greatest number of deer species in Nepal. The six deer species found in the park are: Chital or spotted Deer with its ubiquitous white spots on a brown coat; Hog Deer; similar to but smaller than Chital; Sambhar, the largest Deer on Indian subcontinent with a shaggy coat and thick antlers; Swamp Deer; Barasingha; and reddish-colored Barking Deer, the park's smallest Deer.|
|Other large mammals are: Gaur, the largest wild oxen in world; wild Boar, an omnivorous black-coated creature with large tusks; the agile sloth Bear, a shaggy black bear with a distinctive white "V" on its chest; Blue Bull or Nilgai, the largest Antelope on the Indian subcontinent; and Himalayan Tahr. Serow and Goral, two goat-Antelope members, are also found. Small mammals include: Langur Monkey, Rhesus Macaque, Jackal, three species of cats (jungle, leopard, and fishing); yellow-throated Marten; Mongoose; and Indian Otter.|
|Two species of crocodiles swim in the Karnali, Girwa, and Babai Rivers - the blunt-snouted Marsh Mugger and the fish-eating gharial with its long thin snout. These creatures share the water with the fresh-water Gangetic Dolphin. The Karnali also supports the great Mahseer, which weighs up to 90 lbs, an angler's prize catch.|
Birds are the park's most conspicuous fauna with over 300 resident and migratory species. If you are into bird-watching I suggest you to visit the park in November or from February to April when migrants arrive, depart or pass through.
|How to Get there
Air & Road: To reach Bardia, take the daily air flight or public bus from Kathmandu to Napalgunj, from where it is a five hour drive to the park office at Thakurdwara. This nature sanctuary is best visit from October to April.
|Sagarmatha National Park
This is the highest national park in the world !!! You will not be disappointed by the surroundings of the national Park as it is situated in the eastern part of Nepal near to the Himalayas and the southern half of Mount Everest.
Located above 3,000 m. This park includes three peaks higher than 8,000 m, including Mt Everest. Therefore, most of the park area is very rugged and steep, with its terrain cut by deep rivers and glaciers. Unlike other parks in the plain areas, this park can be divided into four climate zones because of the rising altitude. The climatic zones include a forested lower zone, a zone of alpine scrub, the upper alpine zone which includes upper limit of vegetation growth, and the Arctic zone where no plants can grow. The types of plants and animals that are found in the park depend on the altitude.
|In the lower forested zone, birch, juniper, blue pines, firs, bamboo and rhododendron grow. Above this zone all vegetation are found to be dwarf or shrubs. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosses. Plants cease to grow at about 5,750 m (18,690 ft), because this is the permanent snow line in the Himalayas.|
The Sagarmatha National Park is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, especially in summer. After the first monsoon rains in June, different kinds of plant grow rapidly. The hillsides become green and different varieties of flowers start blooming, and butterflies of myriad species appear in different colors.
Due to the presence of insects in the environment, many kinds of birds are also seen in the park. 118 species of birds and 26 species of butterflies have made this park their home.
Some of the endangered animals that are found in this park are musk deer, wild yak, red panda, snow leopard and Himalayan black bear. Besides, many other animals such as Himalayan thars, deer, langur monkeys, hares, mountain foxes, martens, and Himalayan wolves are found in the park. However, their numbers are not very large and many visitors may not be able to see them.
|The oxygen gets thinner with the altitude. Therefore, the animals that are found here are adapted to living on less oxygen as well as a cold temperature. They have thick coats to retain body heat. Some of them have shortened limbs to prevent loss of body heat. The Himalayan bears go into hibernation in caves during the winter when there is no food available.|
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