Welcome to the trekkers’ paradise of Nepal. Follow the Annapurna Circuit, marvel at the heights of the highest mountain above sea level, Mount Everest, look out for Royal Bengal Tigers in Chitwan National Park and learn about the lifestyle of the Newari community in Bhaktapur.
We start in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. Kathmandu is a chaotic mix of tourist shops, trekking agencies, hotels, restaurants, religious sites and artisan workshops. The highlight of Kathmandu has long been Durbar Square, the largest of the palace squares in the three royal cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Temples and monuments of varying shapes, sizes, styles and faiths can be found here.
Then we go to its neighbouring city of Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is known variously as the City of Culture, Nepal’s Cultural Gem, an open museum and the City of Devotees. Among the three major cities of the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur is living representation of how the entire Kathmandu Valley would have looked during the medieval period. The city is celebrated for its glorious architecture; sky-high temples built in a pagoda style, fine clay pottery, and massive royal courtyards which date back to the 12th century. It is also renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture, colourful festivals, traditional dances and the indigenous lifestyle of the Newari community.
From Bhaktapur we go to Chitwan National Park. Chitwan National Park is the first national park in Nepal and is home to Nepal’s ‘Big 5’. The ‘Big 5’ include the One-Horned Rhino, Royal Bengal Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Elephant and Gaur, or Indian Bison, which is the world’s largest wild cattle species. Chitwan is one of the best wildlife-viewing destinations in Asia. Visitors can experience the park through jeep rides, jungle treks and canoe rides.
Next stop is Pokhara. Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu. With its tranquil lakes, verdant shorelines and mountain views, Pokhara is a popular resort destination for travellers from around the world. Known as the Gateway to the Himalayas, the lakeside city offers respite to weary hikers. You don’t have to hike up mountains to get a bird’s eye view of the area, you can also paraglide over Pokhara – a must do, if you’re brave enough!
Travel a short distance from Pokhara to Besisahar and begin the Annapurna Circuit. The Annapurna Circuit is a popular name for a trek within the Annapurna Mountain range of central Nepal. The classic trek leads travellers high into the Himalayas, across plunging gorges, over desert plateaus and through lush subtropical valleys dotted by terraced farms. The trek also passes by many religious sites and quaint villages. The trek concludes in the Kali Gandaki Gorge.
Now it’s time to see Mount Everest. At 8,848 metres above sea level, Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himilayas. Interestingly, the international border between Nepal and China runs across its summit point.
The first recorded efforts to reach Everest’s summit were made by British mountaineers in 1921 but the first official ascent of Everest was in 1953, conquered by Tenzing Norgay (a Nepali-Indian Sherpa Mountaineer) and Edmund Hillary (a New Zealand Mountaineer).
One of the more adventurous treks in the Everest Himalayas follows the high route pass of Cho La into the Base Camp of Mount Everest. This ascent follows the Dudh Koshi and Khumbu Valleys from the homeland of the Sherpa people to the Gokyo Valley, which provides breathtaking views of some 8,000 metre peaks. Before following the high route pass of Cho La, visit the turquoise Gokyo Lakes. These lakes are the highest freshwater lake system in the world, comprising of six lakes located at an altitude of 4,700m – 5,000m (15,400ft – 16,400ft) above sea level. These lakes are considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists with around 500 Hindus taking a holy bath in them during the Janai Purnima Festival.
Finish your trekking adventure in Namche Bazaar. This market town has a great atmosphere and is the perfect place to put your feet up, relax and soak up the magnificent mountain scenery around you before heading home!