Top 5 places you must visit in Nepal before you hit the bucketPosted By Nepal Hiking Team | 19 Jun
Nepal is a beautiful country that has many diverse features in many different aspects. Albeit being relatively small, the country is home to a vast array of mountain ranges, various animal and plant life, copious amounts of river and water systems and the persistence of religious harmony among its people. Bordering China in the north and India in the south, east, and west, it is the largest sovereign Himalayan state in Asia. The country also hosts a diverse geography that includes fertile plain lands in the south, subalpine forested hills with isolated valleys lying topographically between the southern and the northern regions and beautiful mountain peaks and Himalayas towards the north. Nepal is a host to eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest- the highest point on Earth. A multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation, Nepal’s history is brimming with legends and tales of monarchial kings and battles, religious deities and fascinating stories. Kathmandu itself, the capital of Nepal, is the largest metropolis in the Himalayan hill region of the country and is located in the bowl-shaped geographical feature surrounded by chartreuse hills. Kathmandu was also termed as “Nepal Proper” because of the city’s many hosting of temples, chaityas and religious places that boast rich and opulent Nepali and Newa architecture and refined art. A center of Nepal’s history, art, culture and economy, Kathmandu’s lore claims that the valley was formed when the demi-God Manjushree cut open the hill of Chovar with his flaming sword and drained away the water that covered the valley in ancient times, making it habitable for people. Dissected by eight main rivers and many smaller tributaries, Kathmandu’s skyline is a mixture of artistic and architectural traditions from other cultures amalgamated with local art and architecture. With many monuments of the city influenced over the centuries by Hindu and Buddhist religious practices, Kathmandu’s architectural treasures have been categorized under the well-known seven groups of heritage monuments and buildings.
The land where Lord Buddha was born, Nepal has the fifth largest military in South Asia and is notable for its Gurkha history, particularly during the world wars. Situated in the Great Himalayan Range in the north of the country, mountain rising above eight thousand meters include Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu as well as Mount Everest. Popular for mountaineering, Nepal has some of the highest and most challenging mountains in the world for trekking. The dramatic differences in elevation found in Nepal also results in a variety of biomes in the country, from tropical savannas along the Indian border, subtropical broadleaf and coniferous forests in the Hill Region, temperate coniferous forests on the slopes of the Himalaya, to montane grasslands rock and ice at the highest elevations. As such, wildlife diversity is also a notable feature of Nepal. Because of the variance in climate, from tropical to arctic, Nepal also has a large variety of plants and animals. The country has established numerous national parks and reserves in order to protect its diverse fauna ever since 1973, with the passing of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. With nine national parks, three wildlife reserves, three conservation areas, one hunting reserve and three additional Ramsar sites, Nepal’s flora and fauna plays an important role in the beauty of the country. The national flower and a national symbol, the red rhododendron is a huge part of the cultural and religious ethos of the country as well. With numerous destinations and places of interest and fascination, Nepal certainly does not lack in sites and settings that demand a visit. Here are the top 5 places you must visit in Nepal before you hit the bucket!
One of the most famous trekking journeys on the entire planet, the Everest Base Camp is a destination that should be on every traveler’s list. Situated on the beautiful Khumbu region of Nepal, the Everest Base Camp is a trekking journey that spans various locations in the Solukhumbhu district. With villages and Himalayan towns, the trekking journey is made even more enchanting by the views and sights of majestic cerulean Himalayan peaks like the Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Lhotse and many more. Typically, there are two base camps on opposite sides of Everest- the south Nepal side and the North Tibet side. The Everest Base Camp trek on the south side is one of the most popular trekking routes in the Himalayas and is visited by thousands of trekkers each year. Usually flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, trekkers move upward to the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar following the valley of the Dudh Kosi River. Namche Bazaar is a famous destination of the Everest Base Camp Trek journey and is also known as “the gateway to Everest”. Other popular sites of the trekking journey also include the Tengboche monastery and many villages lying at the Himalayan acreages like Dingboche, Pheriche and Gorekshep. Kalapatthar is a very famous vantage point where trekkers visit to have magnificent views of Mount Everest and its massif. The views of Everest, Nuptse and Changtse are spectacular from Kalapatthar and there are glimpses of the northern flank and summit of Lhotse as well. Natural wonders like the Khumbu Glacier and the Khumbu Icefall also add more excitement.
The biggest and deepest fresh water lake in the Nepal’s Himalayas, Rara Lake is the main feature of the Rara National Park located in the Jumla and Mugu districts of the country. Lying at an altitude of 2,990 meters, the lake drains into the Mugu Karnali River. Being surrounded by Rara National Park, Rara Lake has many unique floral and faunal importance with the hosting of rare and vulnerable species. Consisting of 1074 species of both flora and fauna life, the lake is a popular destination with a very rough route in Western Nepal for trekkers. The glimpses of culture and scenery found on the Rara Lake and its vicinity are quite different from the rest of Nepal. Situated at a high altitude, the lake is beautifully surrounded by Rara National Park’s pine, spruce and juniper forest. The sight of the snow-clad mountains from the lake is also very mesmerizing. GORP founder Bill Greer also described Rara Lake as “a shimmering blue jewel set in a ring of snowy peaks”.
A vastly different place that differs significantly from all of the other region of Nepal, Upper Mustang holds one of the most well-preserved Tibetan Buddhist religions in the world. The last vestiges of authentic Tibetan Buddhist cultures in its finest form, Upper Mustang was once a flourishing hidden kingdom that was relatively isolated and alienated from the rest of the country. Surrounded by over 35 mountain ranges, Upper Mustang’s terrain are like the badlands, with dry, arid and corroded hillsides. The former Kingdom of Lo- Mustang is mostly occupied by Thakalis, Gurung and Tibetan Buddhist people and holds many well-preserved fine art and cultural artifacts of Tibetan Buddhism in the form of wall-paintings, Tibetan Thanka, idols and statues. Upper Mustang also has many mysterious caves dug and hollowed out on rock surfaces and cliff-sides. This different landscape of Upper Mustang and its strategic location in the rain shadow zone of the Annapurna and the Dhaulagiri ranges makes it one of the best exotic locations for trekking journeys in the country.
The Annapurna Base Camp is the second most famous trekking journey in the country after the Everest Base Camp Trek. Bounded by the Kali Gandaki Gorge on the west, the Marshyangdi River on the north and east, and by the Pokhara Valley on the south- the Annapurna Mountain massif is one of the most beautiful and prepossessing views to look at. The journey to the Annapurna Base Camp takes place in the Annapurna region of the country and contains destinations and locations like the lake-side city of Pokhara, Ghorepani and Poon Hill among many other dainty villages and towns. Poon Hill is a famous vantage point where trekkers go to look at utterly magnificent panoramic sight of the Annapurna Mountains, especially early in the morning when the rising rays of the sun change the tincture of the snowy mountains from white to a cascade of molten gold and burning ember. During spring, the trekking trails to the base camp of Annapurna are also reverently decorated with the blossoms of rhododendron flowers.
Located in the Manang district of Nepal 55 km from Pokhara, the Tilicho Lake is known as the highest located lake for its size in the world, lying at an altitude of 4,919 meters. The surrounding mountains of Tilicho, Nilgiri, Khangsar and the Muktinath Peak make the lake into a pleasurable destination to visit. The glacial lake has a distinct sapphire color and has no aquatic life in its waters. Tilicho Lake is also a popular destination of one of the most popular side hikes of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is also the site of one of the highest ever altitude scuba dives.
There are many more destinations in the country, both culturally and historically significant, that demands a visit and are shrouded in natural and religious beauty. With many sites and destinations that incorporate themselves coherently into the natural surroundings and landscapes of the country, Nepal is a destination that must be visited at least once in your lifetime!