By Carissa Hickok
Nepal is often stereotyped as a place of mountains, Sherpas, and wealthy Westerners with an affinity for danger. However, Nepal is a satisfying destination even if one has no desire for mountain climbing. Those looking to connect with nature will find Nepal to be one of the most naturally beautiful places they could ever visit. If you’re looking for a more spiritual experience, the high density of Buddhist monks and temples alike will surely captivate you. If you simply want to experience a lively South Asian city, Nepal has that as well. It won’t take long for travelers to Nepal to realize it has something for everyone – families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
The country’s capital and largest city is likely where you will begin your Himalayan journey. Like all places in Nepal, it is quite high in elevation – about 4600 feet above sea level. Kathmandu is the cultural center of the country, as well as the main hub of Nepal’s economy. It has a variety of both Buddhist and Hindu religious sites. One of the most famous Hindu temples, Pashupatinath, is considered one of the world’s most sacred, and draws tourists from around the world. Another famous religious site in the city is Boudhanath, a famous place of meditation for Buddhists.
For those who desire a more traditional tourist experience, the neighborhood of Thamel is a great one to check out. Packed with guesthouses, shops, and restaurants, Thamel is one of the most important tourist areas in the country. Another notable neighborhood is Asan, one of the most well known historical locations in the country and a great place to see a bazaar in action.
For those itching to get out of the city and experience nature, Chitwan in south-central Nepal is a great place to do so. The national park is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, and is home to more than 700 species of wildlife. Notable animals include king cobras, crocodiles, Bengal tigers, rhinoceroses, and over 500 species of birds. There is also the opportunity to ride an elephant through the park – a once in a lifetime opportunity you won’t want to miss!
Although some travelers to Nepal have little interest in mountains or hiking, it is a known fact that most will want to explore the Himalayas a bit. The most famous district for mountain climbing is Solukhumbu, located in the Northeast. Although Mount Everest is located in this district, most of the area is at a much more doable elevation. About 30% of this area is at an elevation less than 10,000 feet, leaving many hiking possibilities for less experienced climbers. The Solukhumbu Trail is definitely worth checking out.
Nepal has much more to offer than most people realize, and is truly a country that has something for everyone. Whether you want to befriend the locals, become one with nature, or simply get away and do some hiking, Nepal is definitely a destination you will not regret visiting.
Carissa enjoys traveling so much that she left the corporate world to work as a freelancer, which allows her to up and go on a regular basis. She lives with her dachshund, Daphne in central Florida.