In this extract from our Nepal Travel Guide, we look at some experiences that you must not miss while in this magical Himalayan nation.
Kathmandu’s sister city Patan doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It is home to the central Durbar Square and the Patan Museum, easily the best in the country. Throw in four ancient stupas and the valley’s best collection of international restaurants and it’s clear you need a couple of trips to take it all in. Even better, spend the night here and you’ll likely have the backstreets all to yourself.
Elephant Safari, Chitwan National Park
In the humid plains of Nepal lies Chitwan National Park, one of Asia’s best wildlife parks and the place to clamber atop a lumbering elephant and head into the dawn mist in search of the elusive one-horned rhino. There’s plenty to do here, from joining the elephants at bath time to canoeing, and the brave can even take a guided walk through the jungle surrounded by the hoots and roars of the forest.
Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple, Pashupatinath is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River. Only Hindus are allowed to enter this temple, where Shiva is worshipped as Pashupati, Lord of Beasts. Sadhus and devotees of Shiva flock to Pashupatinath and many Nepalis choose to be cremated on the banks of the holy river. There is a thriving market around the temple selling marigolds, incense, conch shells, rudraksha beads, photos of deities and other religious paraphernalia.
Views from Pokhara
Pokhara may lack the historical depth of Kathmandu, but it more than makes up for this with a seductively laid-back vibe and one of the country’s most spectacular locations. The dawn views of Machhapuchhare and Annapurna, mirrored in the calm waters of Phewa Lake or from the town’s hilltop viewpoints, particularly Sarangkot, are simply unforgettable.
Everest Base Camp Trek
For many people, the two-week Everest Base Camp Trek is the adventure of a lifetime. The trek to the base of the world’s highest mountain does not offer particularly spectacular views of Everest as the mountain is often hidden behind ridges, but the surrounding peaks like Pumori, Ama Dablam, Kangtega and Thamserku piercing the clouds are truly awe-inspiring. The half-hour you spend atop Kala Pattar watching the sunset on a 180-degree arc of peaks is worth the uphill struggle. At the end of the day, you can retire at one of the many comfortable lodges along the way and unwind with a cup of tea and a hot dal-bhaat meal.