Nepal conjures up images of snowcapped mountains and rolling green hills. Indeed, the image is far from incorrect. Nepal is home to 8 of the world's 14 highest peaks (more than
8,000m), making it a mountaineer's dream. These include Mt Everest (Sagarmatha) at 8,848m, Kanchenjunga at 8,586m, Lhotse at 8,516m, Makalu at 8,463m, Cho Oyo at 8,201m, Dhaulagiri at 8,167m, Manaslu at 8,163m, and Annapurna at 8,091m. But Nepal has more to offer than just the icy, sky-embracing Himalayas.
Apart from the sheer natural beauty, Nepal has a rich culture, vibrant tradition, exquisite temples and monuments, fast flowing rivers (ideal for rafting) and tropical jungles that teem with wildlife. Put together, these elements make for an unforgettable trip. The country has been a tourist's paradise for many
years. It all began in the 1960s when many of the world's flower children (hippies high on hash) wound their way to the Nepali capital, Kathmandu. For years a secret, unknown country, it was in the 1950s that Nepal made the leap from the 11th century to modern times. In 1989 restrictions barring several areas to tourists were lifted.
Nepal has a typical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons: the dry season (October to May) and the wet season (June to September). The monsoon affects the whole country, often flooding the southern plains before moving away to the north and west. Temperatures vary but it is usually hottest in the summer months of May and June and coldest during December and January. However, enchantment is
everywhere, for Nepal has something for everybody: tourist, trekker, river rafter, wildlife enthusiast, poet, artist, writer and scholar.
For its size, Nepal
surprisingly contains the greatest altitudinal variation on this
planet. The rises from the Terai, the southern plains at almost
sea level, and within short distance to the north, culminates at
Sagarmatha, the highest point on earth. Eight of the 10 highest
mountains in the world lie in Nepal.
Nepal contains a
variety of climatic conditions ranging from the tropical heat of the
Terai plains to the freezing cold of the high Himalays. The
mid-hills, particularly the Kathmandu Valley, are pleasant with warm
summers and cool winters. Temperatures range between a maximum of
37 and a minimum of 8 degrees Celsius in the Kathmandu Valley, and
between -6 and 16 degrees Celsius in the mountains. The rainy
season lasts from June to August.
east-to-wash cottons can be a good choice year-round in Kathmandu
Valley. From October to February woolen sweaters, jackets or
similar other warm outfits are necessary. Short or long-sleeved
shirts are good for March through May. From June to September,
light and looses garments are advisable. Click
here to buy some great garments specially designed for Nepalese
Nepal provides shelter
to over 30 species of large wild animals and approximately 180 species
of mammals. The rhinoceros, tiger, crocodile, snow leopard, red
panda, Himalayan black bear, and many other beasts are found in Nepal
jungles. Nepal is also a heaven for birds and over 800 species, representing
approximately 8% of the world's population, are found here. Nepal
has nearly as many bird species as whole of North America.
Nepal's many ethnic
groups are as varied as its land with their own languages and cultures.
In the Kathmandu Valley are the Newars, whose culture and artistry have
earned them an international reputation. The Sherpas of the
Himalaya are known as tough mountain climbers. Brahmins and
Chhetris are scattered over the hills and valleys, and Tamangs are found
in the districts around the Kathmandu Valley. The Rais, Limbus,
Magars and Gurungs of the mid-hills have earned fame as Gurkha
soldiers. Lowland ethnic groups such as the Maithili, Bhojpuri and
Tharu enhance the colorful mosaic. The total population of Nepal
is about 19 million.
Nepali, writen in the
Devanagari script, is the national language as well as the lingua franca
for Nepal's diverse communities. Numerous languages and dialects
are spoken in the Kingdom, however, only six (Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri,
Tharu, Tamang and Nepal Bhasa) are spoken by more than half a million
people. English and Hindi are widely understood in the urban
centers and areas frequented by tourist.
Kathmandu is connected
by direct flights to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Doha, Dubai,
Karachi, Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Calutta, Dhaka, Paro, Lhasa, Bankgkok,
Singapore, Hong Kong and Osaka.