Vistas of snow-capped peaks, mist-shrouded valleys and charming, isolated village communities.
Nestled in between China and India and sitting in the shadow of the world’s highest mountain Everest, is the delightful country of Nepal – where you’ll find a people that are as enchanting as the scenery. With vistas of snow-capped peaks, mist-shrouded valleys and charming, isolated village communities, Nepal is a beautiful country to visit if you are after adventure, unique cultural experiences, ancient history, spectacular natural landscapes, wildlife and beautiful religious architecture.
Kathmandu is Nepal’s largest municipality and is equal parts dusty, crowded and captivating. The tourist area of Thamel offers travellers bargain shopping, especially for faux adventure clothing, CD’s, carpets and handicrafts. A short distance from Thamel is one of the largest stupas in the world, the stupa of Bodhnath. Speculation abounds as to how old it is, though it’s thought to have been built around 600 AD.
Most of the highlights can be found in Kathmandu Valley, the historical centre of Nepal. Stroll around the medieval-like old town, soaking up its atmosphere or while away the hours exploring the city’s ancient heart in Durbar Square; a collection of magnificent temples, statues, water fountains, open courts and plazas located opposite the old royal palaces. Durbar Square is the generic name used to describe the areas opposite royal palaces in Nepal. Both Patan and Bhaktapur also have magnificent Durbar Square’s, particularly Patan’s which has a greater concentration of architecture per square metre than both Kathmandu and Bhaktapur.
One of the best known and most recognisable symbols of Nepal is the Buddhist Temple of Swayambhunath. Dodge the monkeys as you climb the steep staircase to the top of the hill where the stupa majestically sits, watching protectively over its city. Visit the burning Ghats at Pashupatinath and its temple, one of the most important Shiva temples on the subcontinent that draws devotees from all over India, including the colourful wandering sadhus.
Outside of Nepal’s cities, the real drawcard for holidaymakers travelling to Nepal is to get out in to its countryside and explore the magnificent mountains. Trekking, mountain biking and white-water rafting are popular activities in Nepal, and those that are fit, active and determined enough, will be rewarded with some of the most incredible scenery they will ever see.
The Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp climbs are the iconic tourist trails, on tracks that have been walked on by the Nepali people for centuries. As you hike, you’ll pass through scenery ranging from tropical rainforest to rocky moonscapes to snow covered peaks and quaint little villages. The lovely lakeside town of Pokhara is gateway to some of Nepal’s best long-distance treks and is a charming place to relax and unwind for a few days after a trek.
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