I am one of those people who fell in love with Nepal, despite only having visited Kathmandu. I wish I could have found the time to visit other parts of the country, such as Mount Everest and the Annapurna Circuit, as well as the famous Chitwan National Park. It leaves me wondering: just where is the most beautiful part of Nepal?
Although Nepal is regularly hit by natural disasters, such as earthquakes and the odd famine, it remains a huge tourist draw for those of use who are intrigued by the country’s culture and traditions. The usual point of entry is at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, which receives flights from all over the Middle-East and Asia (and the odd one or two from Europe). However, most visitors to Nepal would do well to make sure they visit other places in the country, rather than just Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and by far its largest and busiest metropolis, but the place stinks. It is very dirty and very polluted (perhaps worse than Delhi). I found the Nepali people to be extremely friendly (even taxi drivers!) and they are the main reason why I wanted to visit their country in the first place. However, I found that in Kathmandu, it was necessary to wear a face mask to avoid inhaling the poisonous gases, especially in Bhaktapur and Thamel. It really was that bad! The locals are very appreciative of the time you are spending in their city and will be naturally curious about you, yet they are used to tourists enough not to hassle you unduly. There are some nice tourist attractions in the city, too, such as the Boudhanath Stupa and the Swayambhunath Temple. Yet, the farther out of Kathmandu that you go, the more beautiful scenery you will find – and less pollution!
Known as “The Roof of the World”, the Himalaya Mountain Range is in the north of Nepal and it borders Tibet. Within this world famous mountain range lies the equally famous Mount Everest, which is accessible from the town of Lukla. Tourists come from all over the world to see the beauty of this region and take photos of the prayer flags – and some brave people even have the audacity to climb Everest! For those who enjoy hiking, yet are not anywhere close to being competent enough to climb, there are many trails for people of different abilities. Yet, due to the altitude and weather of the region, only very fit people should even consider hiking around here.
Southwest of Kathmandu is the Royal Chitwan National Park. Unless the hiking and climbing available in the northern parts of the country, the activities on offer in Chitwan are more geared towards people of all walks of life and fitness levels. Apart from admiring the beautiful countryside, there are opportunities to experience jungle safaris and spot some endangered wildlife such as rhino and possible even tigers. This area of Nepal really is a beautiful place and seeing as it is in fairly close proximity to Kathmandu (a 5 hour bus ride), it should be a place all travellers to the country try to get to.
Pokhara is possibly the second most well-known city in Nepal, after Kathmandu. It is located in the centre of the country and is a base for many outdoor activities and adventure tourism, including snow-capped mountain hiking and subterranean escapades. Pokhara Lake is one of the most beautiful areas of this region of the country, and sometimes you can really feel as though you are in a different country altogether. Pokhara is a 5 hour drive from Kathmandu by tourist bus or private taxi, but the journey is known to be somewhat notorious!
As far as countries on the Sub-Continent are concerned, a lot of people tend to ignore Nepal. It can sometimes have a rather negative reputation in the western media (even though it is a peaceful country), and tourists can be persuaded to visit India or even Sri Lanka instead. Yet if you are looking for untouched beauty, then you will find plenty of opportunities in Nepal – just make sure you get out of Kathmandu first!