A Kathmandu Valley monastery with the Himalayas mountain range visible in the distance.
Earthquake April 2015
This was a colossal tragedy in the beautiful and fascinating country of Nepal but tourism is back in action and tourist dollars will help the country rebuild.
In Kathmandu most of the great ancient buildings and strange street artefacts survived and life goes on while outside the Valley trekkers are back and the mountains are still towering peaks of magnificence.
Furthermore there are less visitors than previously so this is a good time to visit this incredible country!
Best time to visit Nepal is September – May
Why Travel Nepal?
The tiny republic of Nepal is relaxed and tourist-friendly, with an eccentric culture, a lot of weird locals and visitors, amazing ancient buildings, stunning monuments and wonderfully colourful handicrafts. And all this at prices that make backpackers squeal with delight and plan to stay longer.
Outside the Katmandu Valley, there are well-supported trekking destinations with sensational Himalayan mountain views, plenty of interesting tracks and villages, excellent guides and no shortage of little tea-houses/crash pads en route maintained by charming hosts.
Nepal is a sort of exotic India-China cross-breed but 50 times smaller than its monstrous neighbours, so tourism is possible in a week if you must, though ideally any traveller with fully functioning legs should save a few days and get out of the Kathmandu Valley for a stupendous Himalayan trek, short or long. You won’t have a real feel for Nepal until you see a massive, snow-dusted peak looming over you, with Pokhara as the main staging point.
Trekking: Mainly from Pokkara, including the serious hikes out to Fishtail mountain and Annapurna base camp. From a few hours to a few weeks Nepal supplies the routes, the vast scenery, the little colourful villages en route and the porters or guides, all at knock-down prices. Classic routes are sometimes known as teahouse-treks and supply all the necessities at the right times.
The Annapurna trek, for example, is best February-June and September-early December. This circular trek is suitable for any hiker looking for a challenge but does not require a huge level of fitness or any previous mountain trekking experience. 6 hours of trekking a day is the norm. Guides always include rest days and ramp the toughness up gradually, in order to acclimatize to the altitude.
Wildlife: Mostly at Chitwan. Kind of interesting and cheapish, but not remotely comparable to Africa’s sights. Not a prime use of limited time we feel. And don’t expect to see any tigers, tho’ paw prints are not uncommon. But created by what?! Or whom?!
White water rafting: One to four days on spectacular rivers, sometimes very remote, with camping. Beginners OK. Best Oct, Feb, March.
And if you like being in fast water kayaking, hydrospeeding and canyoning are also on offer.
Mountain Biking: this is a terrific country for biking, with clear air, little traffic and amazing views, though it can get hilly!
Biking the Tibet-Nepal Friendship Highway: it’s 700 kms (440 miles) long with hazards such as children throwing stones, dogs attacking legs, avalanches and unrideably rocky sections; it will take around 3 weeks.
Motor Biking: there’s plenty of trail bike hire available in Kathmandu and not too much traffic outside the city so this is a superb country for two wheeling.
Beware that road rules are a convenience and may be ignored by others and road maintenance is erratic, as is the behaviour of bicycles, dogs, chickens and cows. Kill a cow and you may spend 12 years in Nepal – and not in a Pokhara guest house.
Best from September to November (Autumn) and March to May (spring).
OK but cold December-February. Backpacker hostels tend to have poor heating systems and high altitude trekking becomes highly unpleasant.
At other times of the year expect either extreme heat or regular rainfall and cloud that will block views of the Himalayas, hiking trails become slippery, rivers become dangerous and transport becomes irregular.