Nepal, India’s nearest neighbour, is a fantastic and often overlooked destination. Did you know you can get a return flight from around ₹10,000, and Indian citizens don’t need a visa? Nepal is not just about Mount Everest – it has so much more to offer!
1. LANGTANG TREKKING
Langtang National Park, less than a day’s drive from Kathmandu, offers some of the most spectacular treks in Nepal without the transport access issues of other trekking areas. In the spring, the enormous rhododendrons are a delight of red, pink, yellow, white and mauve. Any time of year is great to visit the Langtang area – enjoy a trek to holy Gosainkund Lake, have the chance to see wild red pandas and soak in the hot springs on the Tamang Heritage trail, trek right from Kathmandu itself on the Helambu Trail.
2. POKHARA AND PHEWA TAL
Pokhara, Nepal’s second city, is situated on the shores of Phewa Tal. With spectacular views of the Annapurna range, particularly Mt Machhapuchhare (Fish Tail), and a pleasant tropical climate, Pokhara is a favourite for honeymooners and adventure lovers alike. It is the starting point for many treks in the Annapurna, Naar Phu and Mustang area, as well as Lumbini, Chitwan National Park and the west. In Pokhara you can relax by the lake, go boating, paragliding, soar with the eagles in a micro-lite, or play some holes on one of the world’s most scenic golf courses.
3. FESTIVALS AND UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN KATHMANDU VALLEY
UNESCO World Heritage sites are dotted all over Kathmandu valley’s three ancient cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. The sacred Hindu temple and ghats of Pashupatinath, Buddhist stupas of Boudhanath and Swayumbanath, and hundreds of tiny, often overlooked, temples in the narrow alleyways make every excursion a step back in time. Stunning stone and wood carvings were first created by the original inhabitants of the valley, the Newari people, who still live in the valley today.
Because of the many different cultural ethnicities - estimated at just over 100 distinct castes - Nepal, and particularly the Kathmandu Valley, has elaborate and frequent festivals (some claim there is one almost every day!) with Hindu and Buddhist influences.
4. NEPAL'S FAR WEST
Nepal’s Far West – a day’s drive from Delhi – has wonderful untouristed jungle parks such as Bardia and Royal Suklaphanta, where tigers, elephants, leopards, rhino and otters roam. These jungles, cut off from most tourism during internal troubles in the 1990s and early 2000s, had suffered from poaching but are now guarded by the army and as a result the jungles themselves are much more pristine and lush than Chitwan. You can even fish for mighty mahseer in the Babai and Karnali rivers. The Far West also offers treks to unspoiled areas like Khaptad National Park, Rara Lake, and Simikot en route to Mt Kailash. You can also trek Dolpo, the high altitude home of Tibetan nomads which possesses arguably the most stunning lake in the Himalaya, Lake Phoksumdo.
5. ADVENTURE GALORE!
Adventure is what Nepal is all about. You can trek, climb, bungy, raft, mountain bike and paraglide your way around some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. There’s absolutely no reason to wait any longer. As one of their recent tourism promotions stated “Nepal – Once is Never Enough”.
Director of Pole To Pole Expeditions and Nepal advisor to MHE. Judy spent almost 20 years trekking in Nepal.
This post is a part of MHE's ongoing Inspiration Series. The topic this fortnight is Solo Travel
SOLO TRAVEL MYTH:
Solo Travel is lonely and boring.
Far from it. It rarely happens that Solo Travellers end up actually travelling solo. Friends are made easily when you're on the road and before you know it you've got a whole new group of buddies. Even if you're not the most social person, as a solo traveller on the road you will notice that you'll reach out to others for a chat a lot more often than you usually do.
There is also a lot of fun in travelling solo: you can do what you want to, when you want to and where you want to. Want to spend the whole day lounging in a hammock and reading? No problem. There's one to nag you to accompany them to places you don't want to go to.
Sure there are moments when you'll miss a loved one but then when you're travelling with loved ones aren't there moments where you wish you were solo? The more you travel solo chances are the more you'll start to enjoy all that it offers.
So next time a friend backs out of a trip last minute, don't cancel it, just go solo and make new friends on the road! Try it out, if you don't enjoy it put it down to experience and move on. No matter whether you love solo travel or hate it, after a solo trip you'll definitely know yourself better.
All we're saying is don't knock it down till you've tried it. What do you love or dislike about Solo Travel? Share your thoughts with us!
As part of the MHE Inspiration Series our topic of the fortnight is Solo Travel.
HERE'S PRESENTING OUR INTERVIEW WITH SOLO TRAVELLER & ADVENTURE LOVER: JUDY SMITH.
Judy is an inspiration for any one looking to travel solo and is full of stories. She's been caught in a riot in Pakistan, attended festivals across the globe & even found love whilst on the road. Stay tuned for lots more coming up as part of our Inspiration Series.
Q1. What do you love about Solo Travel?
A. I love the freedom to go where I want, when I want. I can wake up in the morning in a place and stay longer, or just pack up and go somewhere else. I can spend all day staring at the scenery without hearing “I wanna go somewhere else.” The downside is when you see something amazing, and wish there was someone there with you so you could turn to them and say ‘Wow!’
Q2. What were your fears before you started Traveling Solo and how did you overcome them?
A. I was never worried about my safety, only about being bored with my own company, or being able to find people to chat to or spend time with. When I started it was before the internet and cell phones, and back then everybody talked to each other in hotels and restaurants. I was never short of company if I needed it. I believe that if you come across as open and friendly, and stay away from well known ‘danger spots’ you are as safe travelling as you are in your hometown.
Q3. What's your best tip for first time Solo Travelers?
A. Don’t bury your head in guidebooks, your laptop or phone. Go into a restaurant, bar, hotel and say hi to someone else on their own, ask them about the place, where they have been, or if you hear a few people from your country chatting introduce yourself. Don’t be afraid to say hi and start a conversation.
Q4. What is your favourite Solo Travel Destination? Why?
A. Kathmandu. Because it’s so small, it’s easy to find interesting people every day who are on their own and ready to strike up conversation and perhaps a friendship. I’ve gone trekking with people I only met a few days before, and had a blast.
Q5. What's your advice for Female Solo Travelers in particular?
A. Don’t advertise that you are on travelling on your own when you check in to a place. I used to have an imaginary husband who was just off on a trip somewhere in the country I was in and I even carried a photo of a friend and I which I put on the table in the room I stayed in. I even wore a cheap wedding band, especially in some countries where it was deemed unseemly for ladies to travel alone. I never had a problem.Don’t be afraid to make friends with local people – they may invite you to their home, or out for a meal. Use your judgement wisely. Research your destination’s culture then put the guidebook down and go experience it.
Q6. How do you deal with boredom when you're by yourself?
A. I don’t often get the chance to be bored – but if I did I would always read a book I've been dying to read, or just go sightseeing. And there is always laundry to do! Writing a diary or blog is a great way to save those travel memories and center your mind.
Q7. How do you stay connected with friends and family when on the road Solo?
A. In the old days it was aerogrammes, postcards and poste restante. Now with the net it is easy to stay in touch by email, Facebook and Twitter. It’s certainly easier than booking a trunk call through the old telephone exchange in Lahore!
Q8. Your favourite Solo Travel Memory?
A. I was in Darjeeling and was told to travel to Sikkim, so off I went in a crappy jeep which kept breaking down. When I got to Pemayangtse I walked into a hotel and there was a British guy whose leg was bleeding. I made a smart comment, we sat together and had dinner and some beer and then went sightseeing the next day. We spent the next 19 years together travelling. We finally split a few years ago but it is still a great memory of a wonderful chance encounter!
Thank you so much for the interview Judy. Travellers and members of the MHE community like you make MHE what all that it is today. We love you!
We love travel and we love to share our experiences.
If you have a travel story that you'd like to share, please drop in a message to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to publish it here!