Reasons to Visit
Nepal is often portrayed as an adventure destination, and although this does very much depend on the traveller, the country does seem to have the feeling of adventure in the air! Whether it be river rafting, trekking or elephant-back safaris, Nepal has so much to offer for the more adventurous visitor.
64 per cent of Nepal is covered by mountains and it has the world's second greatest range of altitude, from the top of Mount Everest (8,850m) to the plains of the Terai at just 100m above sea level. However it is the Himalaya which dominates the country and is the primary attraction.
The Nepali people are amongst the friendliest in the world. Several diverse ethnic groups make up the population including Limbu, Rai, Newar, Sherpa Tamang and Gurung. Generally Nepalis are laid back and have a relaxed attitude to life; Kathmandu is great to see this diverse population and if you are trekking you are bound to strike up a fantastic relationship with your porters.
Nepal has numerous and diverse temples. Some of the highlights include the Buddhist Swayambhunath Temple and Bodnath Stupa as well as Pashupatinath, Nepal's most important Hindu Temple, which are all in the Kathmandu Valley. There are also hundreds of smaller temples and stupa in the high Himalaya on trails and passes.
Nepal really is the world's best trekking destination. From short day walks to staying in basic tea houses, luxury lodges or tents, Nepal has it all and offers some of the greatest mountain scenery on earth. The most popular trekking destinations are around the Annapurna (central Nepal) and Everest (eastern Nepal) regions.
Tiger and rhino are Nepal's most famous mammals and can be found in Chitwan National Park although there are also elephant, leopard, several species of deer, black bear, Himalayan Thar and blue sheep! Nepal also has over 850 bird species so there really is abundant wildlife and Nepal is great for real enthusiasts and those who want to spend just a few days on safari.
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Our Nepal specialists are experienced and passionate about the country - between them they have spent many weeks a year researching new experiences and ensuring everything is of the highest standard. They know Nepal inside out.
TomNepal Specialist01993 838 324
AndyNepal Specialist01993 838 306
For many, Nepal is characterised by the presence of the Himalaya and the amazing opportunity they present to walkers and trekkers. Our knowledge extends beyond the mountains and into the lowland Terai, the terraced foothills of the Kathmandu Valley and the jungles of Chitwan National Park, home to an array of wildlife.
A stay of two weeks is perfect for sightseeing though trekkers may prefer extra time to undertake longer routes. Alternatively, we can arrange four or five-day trips from India, the overland route from Tibet or include Nepal en route to Bhutan.
In Kathmandu you will find an extensive range of accommodation, from international five-star hotels offering a wide range of facilities to small and intimately run local guest houses.
The traditional tea houses in the Annapurna and Everest regions provide simple yet very hospitable accommodation for trekkers, offering fresh and revitalising Nepalese food for a day on the trail, while more luxurious options are on hand for those seeking a more pampered stay.
In the national parks there are lodges of varying standards where you can enjoy jungle living with the local naturalists.
The official language is Nepali. There are many other languages, including Maithili and Bhojpuri. English is spoken for business and by people involved in tourism.
Nepal has not developed a distinctive style of cooking. Food usually consists of lentils and rice, Dal Bhat which may also be eaten with goat, buffalo or chicken. An exception is Newar cuisine, which can be very elaborate and spicy. Dishes include spiced vegetables, chapatis and tsampa (eaten by the hill people), which is a raw grain, ground and mixed with milk, tea or water. Sweets and spicy snacks include jelabi, laddus and mukdals. Regional dishes include gurr, a Sherpa dish of raw potatoes, pounded with spices, then grilled like pancakes on a hot, flat stone.
There is a wide selection of restaurants only in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Government tax is added to bills.
All tap water, including when brushing teeth, should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Pork, salad, uncooked vegetables, fruit without peel and mayonnaise may carry increased risk.
Tipping is expected for good service in Nepal and should preferably be paid in local currency. As a general rule we recommend the following tipping guidelines: Guides NRs300 per person per day, drivers NRs200 per person per day, bellboys - NRs50 total.
When trekking, we suggest NRs300 per person per day for guides and NRs250 per person per day for porters. In trekking lodges there will often be a tip box in one of the communal areas, feel free to contribute a couple of hundred rupees per night or more, depending on the service you've received.
Restaurant staff - tipping is only usual in tourist hotels and restaurants where a service charge isn't already included - add 10%.
1 Nepalese Rupee (NRs) = 100 paisa. Notes are in denominations of NRs1000, 500, 250, 100, 50, 25, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of NRs5, 2 and 1, and of 50, 25, 10 and 5 paisa.
It is illegal to exchange currency other than with authorised dealers. Obtain and keep Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipts when changing currency. Hotel bills must be paid in foreign currency.
American Express is widely accepted; MasterCard and Visa in tourist shops, hotels, restaurants and agencies; travellers' cheques at banks and major hotels (choose USD or GBP); cash only when trekking.
The following are some local conventions it is advisable to adhere to: never step over the feet of a person - always walk round. Never offer or accept anything with the left hand, use the right or both hands.
It is rude to point at a person or statue with a finger (or even with a foot). Shoes and footwear should be removed when entering houses or shrines. Do not stand in front of a person who is eating as this means your feet will be next to his food: squat or sit by his side. Local Chorten & temples should be passed by in a clockwise direction. Small flat stones with inscriptions and supplications next to the Chorten should not be removed as souvenirs. Shaking hands is not a common form of greeting; the normal greeting is to press the palms together in a prayer-like gesture, give a slight bow and say 'Namaste' which means 'respect the God within you'.
A gift given to a host or hostess will probably be laid aside unopened; to open a parcel in the presence of a guest is considered uncivil. Overt public displays of affection, especially near religious places, are inappropriate.
'Vignettes of Nepal' by Harka Gurung (Sajha Prakashan, Nepal)- probably the best travelogue written by a Nepali in English about his country. 'Into Thin Air' by Jon Krakauer - an account of the disatrous attempt to scale Everest in 1996. The author conjures up the harsh landscape and feeling of isolation very well.
Nepal is not known for its music but we would recommend 'Himalaya Roots: Traditional Music of Nepal' by Bharat Nepali Party which is traditional Nepali music.
Michael Palin's 'Himalaya' is a fantastic documentary charting his journey from Pakistan to Bhutan. His stint in Nepal sees him do the trek to Annapurna base camp and suffer from altitude sickness (unfortunately his own fault as he was helicoptered in half way through the usual walk and therefore did not give himself enough time to acclimatise!).
Dhal Bhat (lentils and rice), Gurr (a Sherpa dish of raw potatoes, pounded with spices, then grilled like pancakes on a hot, flat stone) or try the elaborate and spicy Newar cuisine, which includes spiced vegetables, chapatis and Tsampa (eaten by the hill people), which is a raw grain, ground and mixed with milk, tea or water. Many Tibetan dishes are also popular due to the large numbers of Tibetan refugees now living in Nepal - one of the simplest but tastiest are Momos - dumpling parcels stuffed with spicy vegetables or meat with a hot tomato chutney.
Rakshi - a strong liquor distilled from millet, a must have if eating at a traditional Newari Restaurant. Everest Beer - local lager.
Namaste - used all the time (with hands in a prayer gesture) to mean hello, goodbye. It literally means "I salute the god within you".
Friendly people, mountainous scenery, wonderful temples, trekking, adventure, snowcapped Himalayan peaks, culture.
Thangka - a colourful Buddhist banner which depicts significant belifefs in Buddhism, such as the wheel of life, or episodes in the Buddha's life. They are often very detailed and colourful and make an exotic wall hanging. Also parts of Nepal are famous for its wood and brass work. Singing bowls or 'Himalayan bowls' - a type of bell that stands rather than sits, they come in all sizes. The sides and rim of singing bowls vibrate to produce sound.
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Further reading:Tours in NepalWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationCountry Guides
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