Nepal Travel Guide
Nepal lies between China and India with the Himalayan mountains in the higher reaches and the tropical Terai lowlands at the lower elevation, it is by far the richest country in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and latitudinal variation.
The country is home to the world’s highest mountains, medieval cities, 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient Hindu and Buddhist shrines and lush tropical jungles(home to endangered species like the Royal Bengal tigers and the one-horned rhinoceros).
Kathmandu, the capital city is a wonderful mix of the old and the new. Studded with ancient monuments and modern high rises the capital city is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is made up of three medieval cities Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu.
The palace squares built by the Malla Kings at these three ancient kingdoms are still in existence, and so are scores of ancient temples and Buddhist shrines. Lying in a deep valley surrounded by green hills of Shivapuri, Nagarjuna, Jamacho, Pulchowki, Champa Devi and Chandragiri, the city offers myriad opportunities for outdoor sports and adventures like hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, nature tour etc.
Pokhara, the ‘City of Lakes’ and Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha are other popular destinations frequented by tourists.
Worlds High Peaks
For adventure buffs Nepal is adventure haven. The country is home to eight of the world’s fourteen eight thousanders (8000m peaks) and more than a hundred peaks of varying elevations. From difficult 8000 and 7000 metre peaks to easy 6000 to 5000+ plus peaks there is a mountain for all levels of climbers. Moreover the trails skirting these snow-capped giants are some of the best trekking trails in the world.
A trek through these high mountain trails offer some of the most amazing views and a unique cultural experience. The Himalayan rivers fed by the mountain glaciers are ideal for white water rafting, kayaking, canyoning etc. One can also indulge in other adventures like bungy jumping, mountain biking, para gliding, mountain flights, wildlife safari etc.
Nepal is a sovereign mountainous tiny country, located in Southern Asia. It is landlocked country, situated between China to the North and India to the South East and West.
The area of Nepal is 1, 47,181 sq. km. In total it covers 0.03 percent land area of planet Earth. It lies between latitude of 26’ 22’ and 30’ 27’ North and the longitude of 80’ 4’ and 88’ 12’ East.
The country is small, only about 880 km. long from East to West and breadth varies from 145 to 241 km from north to South. So the average breadth is 193 km, which covers approximately the same land area.
Geographically, Nepal can be divide into three regions:
1. Himalayan Region
The Himalayan region covers 15 percent of total land area which lies in the northern side of country lying horizontally at an altitude of 4700m and above. The region is an endless chain of high Himalayan peaks, icy glaciers and mountain lakes.
Several national parks and wild life reserves protect the diverse mountain ecology of this region. The people living in this region also have a culture different from that of the Nepalese living in the lowlands.
2. Hilly (Mountain) Region
The Hilly region covers 68 percent of total land area. It is formed by the Mahabharat range that soars to touch mountain regions at an altitude of 600 m to 4700 m height.In winter, there’s snowfall in high hills.
This region is formed by beautiful valleys like Kathmandu and Pokhara which is now famous for its fascinating lakes in Pokhara Fewa, Begnas and Rupa.
3. Terai (plain) Region
The Terai region covers 17 percent of total land area. This region lies at an altitude of 70m to 600m above sea level. Pilgrimage destinations of Lumbini, Janakpur and Barahashettra lie in this region. Nepal’s four national parks and wild life reserves, including Chitwan National Park, Koshi-Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Bardia National Park, are located in this region.
The topographical extremities of Nepal govern the climate conditions of Nepal. It ranges from tropical to arctic. Low-land Terai region with its maximum altitude at 305m, which lies in the tropical southern part of the country, has a hot and humid climate that can rise above 45 Degree Celsius during the summer.
Mid-land regions are pleasant almost all the year round, although winter nights are cool. The northern mountain region, at an altitude above 3,300m has an alpine climate with considerably lower temperatures in winter.
People say migrating birds do not have to leave Nepal. Nepal’s weather is generally predictable and pleasant.
The year is divided into 4 seasons of Nepal
Winter (December – February)
Spring (March – May)
Summer (June – August)
Autumn (September – November)
The best season to visit for plant lovers is during spring when the flowers are in full bloom and mountain slopes covered with colorful flowers. Autumn is the most popular tourist season to visit with temperatures in the low to mid 20’s with clear blue skies and extraordinary mountain views.
It tends to get colder during winter but a short trek can be easily accomplished at this time of year. Summer is the Monsoon season of Nepal.
There is heavy rainfall in mid summer but this is the best time of the year to watch the cascading water falls in the high mountain regions. Winter and summer are considered the less tourist seasons of Nepal.
Nepal Culture & Customs
Nepal is the meeting place of two different religions – Hinduism and Buddhism, two races, Caucasoid and Mongoloid and two civilization Indic and Sinic.
The population has a variety of ethnic groups each with its distinct identity. Polygamy is still practiced in some areas of the Nepal although legislation banned it in the sixties.
When entering rooms in Nepalese homes it is polite to remove your shoes. While some westernized Nepalese might not be dong it, the best thing is to watch what others are doing. Many Hindu temples do not permit westerners to enter but they are quite free to watch from outside.
Always walk clockwise around Buddhist stupas, chortens or mani walls. Everybody must remove their shoes and any items made from leather such as belts and bags before entering a Buddhist or Hindu temple.
Public displays of affection are not accepted nor should one swim naked in rivers or lakes. In the northern hill area, polyandry, the custom of a wife having more than one husband, was also practiced till recently.
On the other hand, the Gurung group has an institution called Rodihgar intended to bring people together before they contemplate marriage. Widow re-marriage was not socially acceptable in some groups. An ethnic group such as Brahmins was prohibited for drinking alcohol and sometimes follows vegetarian restrains and amongst Brahmin families a man first met his wife on that day he got married.
Roads in Nepal are of varieties. Some are good; some may be under construction, some narrow and some zigzag and steep. While traveling on a vehicle or on foot on the roads, precautions are to be taken.
Traffic jams on office times are common. If the vehicles are driven carefully, road travel is free of risk. Again, it is highly recommended that you have travel insurance covered.
It is possible to drink water directly from rivers and taps – but not recommend. Water is now bottled in Nepal making it cheap and affordable.
The problem with relying on bottled water is the environmental impact as empty bottles add to the waste problem in Nepal.
Another option is to use a LifeStraw Go incorporates award-winning technology into a refillable water bottle so you can carry safe drinking water with you on the go.
230 V, 50 Hz; European plugs with circular metal pins, India style plugs with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin. You can find any of the transformers, plug adopter and converters to buy in Kathmandu and other major cities easily.