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Nepal, situated in South Asia, is a landlocked country that shares its borders with China to the north and India to the south, east and west. Nepal’s capital city is Kathmandu, and with a population of 1.4 million, it is by far the most populous city in Nepal. Nepal’s total population is just shy 30 million, ranking it 41st by population size, compared to the UK’s 22nd in the world.
In the North of the country you'll find a mind-boggling eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains, including, of course, ‘Sagarmatha’ or as it’s more commonly known outside of Nepal ‘Mount Everest’. Nepal is understandably very popular for mountaineering; it is also very popular for other adventure sports, such as river rafting and bungee jumping, climbing, kayaking, paragliding, mountain biking and many more!
As well as the vast range of adventurous activities available, there is also huge appeal for those culture and history buffs, with an almost never-ending array of temples and palaces to explore. This is particularly true in Patan and Bhaktapur, which is home to some of Nepal’s finest must-see attractions.
If the adventure, culture or history isn’t enough, then you will surely be spell-bound by Nepal’s natural beauty. Nepal has some fabulous jaw-droppingly beautiful habitat’s that can count rhinos, tigers and Asian elephants amongst their residents.
|PLACES TO VISIT IN NEPAL|
|One thing’s for certain – you won’t be short of things to do in Nepal! The country is full of culture, beautiful landscape, historic sites and adventure – so whatever interests you, you’re bound to find something exciting. Please see below for an overview of the places to visit:|
Kathmandu is the bustling and frenetic capital city of Nepal. The city
is home to approximately one-and-a-half million inhabitants, and rather
unsurprisingly, the city is the most densely populated region in Nepal.
The city stands at an elevation of 1400m which together with the
surrounding topography gives the city a comparatively warm and mild
Kathmandu is the world’s gateway to Nepal and tourism plays a major role in the city’s economy, with tourism a major source of income for the people of Kathmandu. Kathmandu has become a hub for independent travellers and Thamel is well-known for being one of the main tourist hubs (at around a 20 minute walk from Durbar Square). It’s a great place to top up on any items such as clothes, food provisions etc, and is another great destination to start a trek. Kathmandu is also the place to go for a taste from home, or abroad, with a wide variety of western-style restaurants available.
The ‘Old Town’ of Kathmandu is well worth a visit. The center of the old down is situated around the Durbar Square and Basantapur Square. The buildings in Durbar Square date from around the 17th and 18th century – with the square designated a World Heritage Site in 1979.
From Kathmandu you can easily access Swayambhunath – another of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Swayambhunath is a large Buddhist temple situated on the top of a hill – and is one of the most instantly recognisable symbols of Nepal. It has the most striking architecture that can leave you gazing at it for hours! Be warned, as when you reach the temple, you will find the ‘royal monkeys’ that guard its boundaries!
|PATAN, BHAKTAPUR AND POKHARA|
Patan lies just 5 km outside Kathmandu and is easily reachable by taxi.
Patan is one of 3 royal cities in the valley; the others being Kathmandu
and Bhaktapur. The official name for the city is ‘Lalitpur’ which
translates to ‘City of Beauty’. The city lives up to its name and is
awash with religious art, temples, and monasteries. Many religious
festivals take place in Patan each year so it’s worth checking to see
what festivals will be taking place during your stay. The Durbar Square
in Patan (not to be confused with the Durbar Square in Bhaktapur!) has
been given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO and is one of the seven
such sites in the Kathmandu Valley! Make sure you check out the Royal
Palace of Patan located in the square.
Bhaktapur lies just 15km east of Kathmandu, making it a popular day-trip destination for tourists. Bhaktapur is considered as being Nepal's ancient ‘City of Culture’ and on visiting you’ll find yourself instantly transported back in time. The cobbled streets are filled with endless temples, shrines and wells and religious art. Unfortunately, as much as one-third of the city’s ancient temples and monasteries were destroyed in an earthquake of 1934 – but there are still many that remain. The central area of Durbar Square is traffic free allowing you wander around aimlessly soaking up the city’s ancient majesty. A particular highlight is the Golden Gate & Palace of the 55 Windows – with the Golden Gate of the palace considered to be one of the most important pieces of art in the Kathmandu Valley.
Pokhara, with its 200,000 inhabitants, is the third largest city in Nepal. The city is set in a stunning lakeside location within a valley. It’s no wonder that Pokhara is the second most popular city in Nepal for tourists, which is in no small part due to its close proximity to the Annapurna Mountain Range - making it the perfect setting-off point for anyone planning a trek in the Annapurna Region.
In Pokhara you will find Phewa Tal (also known as Phewa Lake), which is actually the second largest lake in the whole of Nepal. There are plenty of boats available to rent at the lakeside, with the area around the lake also provides endless walking and cycling opportunities. What could be better than hiring a bike from the lakeside and spending the rest of the day exploring! For yet more stunning scenery, you should consider a visit to Devil’s Falls.
Venture up to Sarangkot, which at an elevation of 1592m, provides a beautiful location from which to can take in the full beauty of the Annapurna Mountain Range. Dawn and dusk can be especially memorable. For the fearless, Sarangkot also offers the opportunity of paragliding!
|NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVES|
Nepal is a land of extreme contrasts; it has an almost unique topography
that ranges from lowlands with their sub-tropical jungles to the
arctic-like conditions of the Himalayan highlands. The vast array of
national parks in Nepal offer endless opportunities, whether it’s taking
part in jungle safaris, bouncing along on an elephant ride, going with
the flow on a canoe ride on the jungle rivers, nature walks or simply
taking time out for a spot of bird watching. Listed below is a list of
the must-see National Parks and Reserves.
Park First established in 1973, Chitwan National Park is Nepal’s oldest national park, and today the park is one of Nepal’s most popular tourist destinations. In 1984 the park was granted world heritage site status. The park covers an area of approximately 930km and is home to a huge variety of mammals including the Bengal tiger, leopards, Indian wild dogs, sloth bears and not forgetting the single-horned Asian rhinoceros!
At the park you’ll have the opportunity of taking a jeep safari, going down river on a rafting tour or trekking the trails on a guided jungle walk. Elephant rides are also a very popular way of viewing the park.
Bardia National Park
For a less touristic experience, consider a visit to Bardia National Park. Bardia National Park is located in the Far-Western Region of Nepal and is the largest national park in the Terai region. Around 70% of the park is covered with forest, whilst other habitats include grassland, savannah and riverine forest. The park is also home to two main rivers. Rafting trips are available along the Geruwa River, and are a brilliant way of seeing the park and identifying animals along the river bank. If you don’t fancy a rafting trip then why not pay a visit to the park to take an elephant safari.
The park is home to rhinoceros, wild elephant, tigers, crocodiles and many more. 54 mammals, 24 reptiles, over 60 fish and over 400 bird species have all been recorded in the park.
Wildlife Reserve The Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve is located in the South-West of Nepal situated close to the border with India. The reserve first became famous as a hunting area and was declared a Royal Hunting Reserve in 1969. In 1973 its status was then changed to the Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.
Only a small proportion of the park is open for tourism which has allowed much of land to remain undisturbed, which has allowed the wildlife to flourish. The reserve is home to swamp deer, elephants, tigers, leopards, chital, hog deer, and wild boar. There are also marsh mugger crocodiles, Indian pythons, monitor lizards and snakes; such as the cobra, krait, and rat snake. As many as 268 species of birds have been spotted in the reserve.
If you are thinking of staying overnight then be warned as the only accommodation available in the reserve is for campers!
Nagarjun Forest Reserve
This reserve, located just outside of Kathmandu, is one of the last untouched forest areas in the Kathmandu Valley. The summit, at 2095m, is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site. Within the reserve there’s
White Water Rafting: Nepal also offers excellent opportunities
for river rafting – offering both shorter trips (up to 3 days) and
longer trips (3 days plus). Some of the popular rivers to raft down
include the Trishuli River, Seti River, and the Bhote Koshi River.
Paragliding: Paragliding is a relatively new adventure sport in Nepal – however, it’s increased in popularity in recent years. The best time for paragliding in Nepal is between November and February. One of the most common locations to take part in Paragliding is the Annapurna Region – particularly the Pokhara valley, which is becoming increasingly known for its adventure activities. Sarangkot is an ideal location to start your paragliding – which is approximately 1500 metres above sea level.
Hiking and Trekking: One of the main reasons that people visit this fascinating country is due to the vast range of trekking opportunities. Trekking is an excellent way to explore the country, people, their traditions and beliefs. Of course, hiking Everest is one of the main reasons for visiting Nepal – but it’s not for the faint hearted! The Annapurna Region is well known for trekking and provides slightly easier alternatives – offering a range of different options: the Jomson Trek, the Annapurna Sanctuary Route and the Annapurna Circuit.