Top Adventure Destination
Indeed, it is as true today as it has always been that Nepal is one of the world’s best destinations for adventure tourism. The recent feat of Sunuwar and Sherpa only serves to further substantiate this claim. However, adventure tourism is not the only thing that this small but vibrant country is renowned for. Need one remind that Nepal has eight of the world’s highest peaks (the eight-thousanders) including the biggest one of them all, Mount Everest? Need one also remind that Nepal has rich flora and fauna and some of the world’s friendliest people? And, how can one forget that Nepal is the homeland of the world’s bravest soldiers, the valiant Gurkhas? It must also be said that any visitor to Nepal is sure to be entranced by the artistry of the Newars, the original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley, many fine examples of which can be seen not only at the country’s seven World Heritage Sites but at almost every nook and corner of the Valley.
In addition, Nepal has such a rich diversity in ethnicity, culture and language that even a six-month trek on the Great Himalaya Trail will perhaps only succeed in giving a glimpse of the full complexity of this small country. At last count, Nepal had 103 caste and ethnic groups and 92 languages! As far as biodiversity is concerned, the country has a unique geography due toextreme variations in altitude and climate within a span of just 200 km— from the heat and humidity of the sub-tropical Terai in the south to the cool dry temperate and alpine conditions of the Himalayan range to the north. Summer temperatures in the Terai can rise above 45° C while in the middle hills, summer climate is pleasant with temperatures around 25° C – 27° C. However, it is Kathmandu Valley that is most blessed, with average summer and winter temperatures of 19° C – 27° C and 2° C – 12° C respectively.
Nepal appreciates the blessings of nature and takes conservation seriously. Its protected areas add up to 28,585.67 sq. km. (19.42% of total land cover). There are nine national parks, three wildlife reserves, three conservation areas, one hunting reserve and nine buffer zones. They are home to a lot of animals, including the snow leopard, the yak, the rhino, the Royal Bengal tiger and the gharial. As for birdlife, Nepal is often referred to as a birdwatcher’s paradise, with some 800 species present in many of its ramsars (wetlands) and wildlife parks around which you will find some of the loveliest resorts on earth. Similarly, Nepal also has many beautiful resorts located on the hills and mountains catering to mountain lovers. The best among these are in Nagarkot and Dhulikhel, both quite close to the capital. Pokhara, some seven hours by road from Katmandu, is one city that is sure to invigorate the most jaded of travelers. The Fishtail Mountain and the Fewa Lake are its main attractions. This lake city has numerous world class as well as budget class hotels, each with their own unique charm.
Friendliness and Hospitality
Of course, more than anything else, it is the nature of the local populace that truly adds to a fantastic tourist experience. And in this, many a visitor, if asked to give his opinion on their visit to Nepal, will invariably opine that their trip was all the more fulfilling because of the friendliness and hospitality of the Nepali people. In addition, the people of this small country are generally honest to a fault, and quick to have a laugh. Nepalis, in fact, make the most of every opportunity to enjoy themselves. Perhaps that is why a festival every other day is not considered to be unusual here—any excuse will do for having a good time!
Although Nepal is home to about 27 million people of various castes and ethnicities, the more well-known are undoubtedly the Gurkhas and the Sherpas. The former have a well earned reputation as the world’s best soldiers while the latter are regarded as the world’s best mountaineers. In the same vein, the Newars are recognized as skilled architects and artisans. Their works of art in wood, metal and stone are on perpetual display, especially in the ancient cities of Katmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, where every temple, town square, durbar as well as many homes stand testimony to their immense talent.
A Distinct Identity
Most definitely, Nepal has a distinct identity of its own, and if further validation was needed, then consider this: the Nepali calendar is called Bikram Sambat (B.S.). A lunar calendar, it is about 57 years ahead of the English calendar. It begins in mid-April and is divided into 12 months, a month generally falling between two months of an English calendar (for example, Baisakh month starts on April 14 and ends on May14). The 12 months are: Baisakh, Jestha, Asadh, Shrawan, Bhadra, Ashoj, Kartik, Mangshir, Poush, Magh, Falgun and Chaitra (March-April). Interesting, you will agree, however the Nepali calendar is but only a small part of what goes towards making Nepal a unique country, one that is unlike any other around the globe. There are other far bigger facts that give this small country its unique identity. Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha, the Apostle of Peace. Nepal is home to not only the highest peak but also to eight of the highest ten mountains on earth. Nepal’s location too is quite Special, sandwiched as it is between China and India, two of the most populated countries as well as the fastest growing economies in the world. All these makes Nepal one place you must visit at least once during your lifetime although Nepal’s national tourism slogan is, “Naturally Nepal—Once is not enough”! Welcome, then, to Nepal, a country as unique as its mountains.
Welcome, then, to Nepal, a nation abundantly blessed by nature. Welcome, then, to Nepal, where discovery and adventure await you.