A Nepal travel guide for those who don't fancy Everest

Some of you must have thought of Nepal as a small country whose only priced possession is the Mount Everest. Yes, the Everest is one of the best things to see in Nepal, but have you ever wondered what makes travel in Nepal a top destination other than Everest? That's not to say we don't love trekking the Himalayan mountain range, whether it's up to Everest base camp or round the Annapurna circuit. Besides the devastating earthquake in 2015, Nepal still maintains the beauty it once had. Not only the glaciers but its traditional cities outshine in front of the travelers who are obscure from its authenticity. It is a perfect place to breathe the natural air and avoid the hustle-bustle of the city lives. And to eliminate the contradiction, here are some eye-opening points which will make you reconsider your decision to visit Nepal.

  • 31-Oct-2019
  • Written By: Naila Arif
Nepal

Where’s Nepal?

A mountaineer's dream, Nepal is a landlocked country in Southern Asia, bordering both India and China. It's a country known for its diverse culture, natural beauty, and the majestic Himalayas. We know the citizens of Nepal as Nepalese, and most of them speak the country's official language- Nepali. Known for its diversity, you'll also hear people speaking other languages such as- Bhojpuri, Tharu, Urdu, Nepal Bhasa, Maithili, Bajjika, Magar, Doteli, Sunwar, and Tamag. Most of the Nepalese predominantly follow the Hindu religion, and their national cuisine is Dhindo and Gundruk.

Weather

Best time to visit

Nepal's geography and climate have a complex nature, which doesn't bind its visitors to spring and autumn, but also let them enjoy the charms of winter and summer. Winter gives you crystal clear skies, and it's perfect for treks in the lower Himalayan foothills. Summer in Nepal is the monsoon season, which is hot and humid and gives cloudy skies and rain while trekking. In June, you can celebrate the Yarthung Horse festival in Manang. Being the peak season to visit Nepal, spring, and autumn offer perfectly stable weather where you can enjoy a lot of outdoor activities along with festivities. You can enjoy your trip to Nepal with Holi celebration in March, Nepalese New Year in April, Dashain festival in October, and Tihar in November.

Lumbini

Lumbini

Traveling to Nepal alone? Visit Lumbini as it is one of the world's most significant spiritual sites which attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the places. Why? Because it is the birthplace of Buddha. And it is a stretched out complex of monasteries, temples, and gardens. The heart of it lies in the Mayadevi Temple, which is the most sacred place in the Lumbini Garden. It is the site where archaeologists identified the exact spot where Buddha was born. 

Also, visit the astonishing monasteries built by the countries around the world like- Germany, France, China, Japan, and etcetera. And to gain your inner peace, visit the Panditarama Vipassana Center for some yoga and meditation. You can also interact with the monks living near the monasteries, devoting their lives to maintain peace and harmony through their religious beliefs. 

Temples

Temples of Kathmandu

The capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu is where you can experience the pupil-dilating charm, beautiful sights, and a strange smell. Kathmandu is a place where you can stroll through Nepal's timeless culture and artistic heritage as much as you want, but cannot get enough of it. And the most significant part of this capital city is its temples. If you are visiting Kathmandu, then you should not miss these temples.

Bodhnath Stupa -This stupa is one of the largest stupas in the world and also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most impressive sights of the city as you can see the worshippers come all the way to circumambulate the stupa. 

Pashupathinath Temple -The temple is famous for its magnificent architecture and dedication towards the Hindu Lord Shiva. This two-story pagoda structure houses a sacred linga or phallic symbol of Shiva, which makes it the most important Hindu temple in Nepal. You can also witness the performance of cremation on the banks of the Bagmati River. 

Swayambhunath Temple -The temple is instantly recognizable by its golden spires and baleful-looking eyes painted on them. This Buddhist temple gives the most spectacular views of the city lying in the valley below. Also nicknamed as the 'Monkey Temple' for it is a residence of monkeys in a large quantity.

Culinary delights

Nepalese Culinary Delights

Nepal is a land surrounded by four major countries- India, China, Tibet, and Bhutan. A country hugely influenced by its neighbors' gourmet; Nepal is successfully eliminating all the misconceptions of being a place limited to only Thupkas and Momos. The Nepalese gastronomy menu has the most 'A-listed' flavors of all the culinary delights. And their 'Dal-Bhat-Tarkari' considered as one of the National dishes of Nepal.

To get the best of Nepal, try Gundruk- another national dish of Nepal. Also, Yomari-a fish-shaped winter delicacy which is one the most popular dishes of the Newar community. Don't forget to try the typical Newari pancakes known as WO or Baara. It is a delicious pancake made during the Newari festival of 'Siti Nakha.' It has a non-vegetarian version of it, which includes minced chicken and battered eggs. Other delicacies that you should try are Choila and Sel Roti.

Chitwan National Park

Chitwan National Park- A Jungle Safari

Most of the people who haven't been to Nepal might think it is all about the Himalayas, but in reality, it is the absolute opposite. The country's topography varies in so many ways, and Chitwan National Park is one of them. It is a sprawling area of lush jungles and grassy plains situated only 415 meters above the sea level. And while on the safari in Chitwan, you'll get to spot hundreds of bird species, rhinos, and elephants. And if you're lucky- you may also get to spot the elusive Bengal Tiger. 

To get the most spectacular experience of the luxurious safari in Chitwan, try the Meghauli Serai. This incredible lodge is standing on the banks of the River Rapti, overlooking a vast expanse of rippling waters and core of Chitwan National Park. It is a stunning lodge chained from the famous Taj Safaris who knows what they are doing as they provide the best jungle safari with trained naturalists.

Patan

Patan

The city historically known as Patan, now recognized as Lalitpur, meaning 'City of beauty.' It is the third-largest city in Nepal-coming after Kathmandu and Pokhara. It is a perfect destination for all the connoisseurs of fine art, as they know it for its world-class handicrafts and its rich tradition of art. 

It is a city filled with stone and wood carvings, ornate architecture, and metal statues along with dozens of Buddhist and Hindu temples. On your visit to this lovely city, do not miss the Durbar Square, it has the best collection of Nepal's temples and palaces. 

Even after the 2015 earthquake, this place hasn't lost its touch. It still has excellent opportunities for shopping. For that, visit the fair-trade craft stores to buy some handicrafts and lend a helping hand towards the neediest people in Nepal. 

WWOOF Farmstay

A WWOOF Farmstay

Do you want to get the most authentic experience in Nepal? If your answer is yes, then you must consider a farm stay. In the land of refined beauty and ancient traditions, WWOOF is a part of the organization Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It offers a plethora of unique cultural treasures, courteous, and heartfelt hospitality like none other. 

This volunteering program will hook you up with a local farm who will provide you a full day's food and accommodation in exchange of 4-6 hours of help-fair. When you take part in the activities, you get to know how real people in rural Nepal live their lives.  And the best part of this activity is that you support the local efforts towards sustainable agriculture.

Mountain Yoga

Himalayan Mountain Yoga

Yoga is about health benefits, along with connecting with the world around you, and what's a better way to do it than practicing it outside with the natural surroundings. In recent years, Nepal has gained popularity amongst yoga enthusiasts from all over the world. It is famous among the people who are looking for some quick fix R&R or the people who would like to have an intense month-long escape. 

With all the various yoga retreat in Nepal, you can learn and practice yoga, meditation, and spirituality around the majesty of the Himalayas. But to get the best yoga retreat, most people recommend joining the classes of Sadhana Yoga Retreat. It is the oldest yoga retreat in Pokhara, operating for about 20 years. They also provide a combined package of yoga and Chitwan National Park. 

Paragliding

Paragliding in Pokhara

Nepal is so much more than the basic camp trekking of the Everest. It is the best place for all the adrenaline devotees as they can have various adventurous activities here. And one of them is flying up in the sky- Paragliding. 

Pokhara is one of the best places in the world to do tandem paragliding. The best part is that it has decent year-round weather and relatively stable thermals which makes this city a perfect place for paragliding. They also have a safety net on Pokhara's huge blue lake. 

Nineteen different companies are operating commercial tandem flights in Pokhara, and all the companies have fixed rates. So no matter which company you choose for the paragliding, they all are same. The prices vary between the rides, and it costs from $17-$110. If this is something you do, it may be worth getting some travel insurance.

Skydiving in Pokhara

For all the thrill-seekers, skydiving is another adventurous activity that you can pursue. Although the Everest skydiving is very expensive, like $25,000 steep, it will drop you from a helicopter at 23,000 feet. And then drop you at the world's highest drop zones- Amadablam Basecamp at 15000 feet. But keeping the expensiveness in mind, there is some reasonable alternative in Pokhara. Here it will cost $1100 for a tandem jump and $750 for a solo jump, still pricey but worth every penny. Skydiving in Pokhara will allow jumping above the clouds and witnessing the serene lakes and other beauties of the city. 

Canyoning and Bungee Jumping-

In canyoning, you throw yourself into the fast-flowing mountain river and let it carry you to the downstream. It is a unique way to experience the beauty of Himalayas as you slide through gorges, waterfalls, and untouched jungles. 

If you get the adrenaline rush for extreme sports, take a Nepal travel advice and do the bungee jumping, it will never disappoint you. Close to Kathmandu, there is an adventure sport complex named- The Last Resort. It is a place where you'll find the world's ninth-largest bungee jumping track with a 160-meter high jump into the tropical gorge above a raging river.