A stunning mountainous Kingdom bordered by Tibet to its north and India to its south, east and west, Nepal is the fabled land of prayer flags, ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples, emerging wildlife encounters and possibly the finest mountain scenery the world has to offer. Beyond the snow-capped peaks, topped by Mt Everest, Nepal’s low hills offer incredibly comfortable trekking opportunities and enlightening rural encounters, while its cities cradle cultural heritage and luxurious relaxation in abundance.
For simply epic proportions, holidays to Nepal have it all. Awe-inspiring mountain scenery, culturally rich cities, authentic villages and pastoral communities, superbly opulent hotels and some of the best outdoor pursuits the world has to offer.
For a nation of so many geographical contrasts, its cultural landscape is as diverse as its physical one. The capital, Kathmandu is a modern-day melting pot of diversity as history, communities and religions intertwine to create one of the most addictive cities in Asia. No fewer than three ancient town, or Durbar, Squares each a UNESCO World Heritage Site are filed with palaces, temples, fountains and idols. The huge Swayambhunath and Boudhanath Stupas offer pilgrimage sites to Buddhists from around the globe, while the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple has been compared to India’s Varanasi. Outside of the city, the choice of scenic day treks, cycling and rural relaxation in the Kathamndu Valley are a great escape from the hustle and bustle.
By contrast, the beautiful lakeside city of Pokhara is the scenic Jewel of the Himalayas with its picture postcard setting in the shadow of Machhapuchare, or Fishtail Mountain making for one of the most iconic views of the nation. Traditionally an adventure paradise with paragliding, white water rafting and boat trips in abundance, Pokhara has emerged as the gateway to some of the finest comfort trekking possibilities on earth. Home to stunning lodges offering rural ambles through farms and villages and boutique multi-day trekking circuits up in the shadow of the mountains which make for a stunning introduction to the Himalayas.
For a wildlife-watching encounter, Chitwan National Park completes Nepal’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of Kathmandu and Pokhara. Nepal’s oldest reserve boast some of southern Asia’s best protected grassland habitats and by jeep, boat or foot offers almost unparalleled sightings of the Asian one-horned rhino, with Asian elephant, critically endangered gharial crocodiles and improving sightings of Bengal tigers also highlights. The less visited but equally thrilling Bardia National Park has emerged as one of Asia’s largest stretches of tiger habitats and shares many of Chitwan’s highlights for the little more intrepid traveller.