Nepal

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Nepal is synonymous with trekking the Himalayas, including Mt. Everest, often with the help of Gurkhas and Sherpas. It also brings to mind temples and monasteries and languid backpackers relaxing in the old traveller quarters of Kathmandu or Pokhara.

Here you can literally climb to one of the nine highest points on earth, or, for a less strenuous alternative, the 15-20 day Annapurna Circuit. Equally exciting, you can try your hand at spotting Bengal tigers and single-horned Asiatic Rhinos in Chitwan National Park. Or you can take a step back in time and explore the many hidden squares and alleyways of Kathmandu, Patan or Bhaktapur, where temples or stupas adorn nearly every corner and the Gods of yore keep watchful eye over their earthly abodes. Listen to the clinking of hammer on steel as a blacksmith tempers his white-hot iron in a trade hardly changed in a thousand years. Get seduced by touristy trinkets or holy men offering you a blessing or photo opportunity in exchange for some coin. You can end of the day with a yak burger or the ubiquitous dal bhat.

Hinduism meets Buddhism here, making Nepal a hodgepodge of Hindu deities and Tibetan Buddhist saints. Monks and sadhus alike walk the streets, and the devout now offer up a prayer to Vishnu now to Shakyamuni also known as Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha.

The backpacker trail is well-worn in Nepal, with Kathmandu being a favourite as far back as the sixties. So if you don’t stray too far from it you will find everything you need, from trekking agencies to restaurants serving banana pancake, and of course no traveller hotspot is complete without a few German bakeries.

If you are an adventurous soul away from the usual, just strike west or east -- you will lose the crowds in less than the blink of an eye!


Highlights from Nepal
Hints and Tips for Nepal
  • Beware of touts and scams, they can be quite subtle about it. It’s a fine balance between being paranoid about it or being taken for a fool.

  • Acclimatize! Nepal is all about trekking – high altitude trekking -- for the most part. Mountain sickness is a real danger, so take it easy on the first few days!

  • Waste is becoming a serious problem on many of the more popular trails. Clean up your rubbish. Whatever you bring along for the trek, take it back and don’t toss it down a slope or in some bush along the way.

  • Respect the culture, don’t walk into a temple in inappropriate attire like a tank-top, shorts, etc.

  • For the best experience, don’t limit yourself to the backpacker trail and try to venture off it at least once.

  • Nepal is easy enough to get around, it has a mature tourist industry which can arrange everything for you, if you so wish. With the amount of tourists around, most people will speak and understand some English.

  • On the whole, the Nepalese are a friendly bunch with a smile ready for every occasion, so go out and enjoy!

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