Nepal is one of the most diverse countries and the one that has more different landscapes in such a little territory. Its singular position, halfway between India’s flatlands and the Himalaya, gives Nepal all types of landscapes and climates. The country has the highest mountain on Earth, the Everest, with its impressive and challenging 8,848m. But Tibet also has subtropical woods just 60m above sea level, all this in just 150km on straight line. 3But not everything is nature and mountains in Nepal, because it’s home of two of the richest cultures and religions in entire Asia: Hinduism and Buddism. Here this two religions merge and where hundreds of years ago their followers lived, today all across the country we can find numerous temples and monasteries, that nowadays have become one of the most important tourist destinations in the whole country. Nepalese people are charming and hospitable and will leave lasting memories to all those that are willing to learn the culture of the people that live in the foothills of the Himalaya.
Trekking in Nepal
Alpinism and expeditions to the bigger mountains are the main business for tourism. Hundreds of thousands of people each year go to Nepal to do some of the trekking circuits and to enjoy the beautifull scenery of the Himalaya and its peaks. For some years, the trekking expeditions have been divided into two groups: the “tea house” trekkings and the tent trekkings. The first ones use native guesthouses to spend the night, some even have electricity so you can charge your mobile devices. Even if you don’t want to sleep you just can grab some drinks and rest for a couple of hours, read and even some guesthouses offer hot meals. This kind of trekkings makes for easier logistics to the traveler or small groups and helps minimize the size and weight of their backpacks. The second kind of trekking, known as tent trekking, is practiced (as its name suggests) with tents and it’s used where no teahouses are found, or because the trekking takes place in valleys away from civilization or uninhabited highlands. This kind of trekking is mostly used by large group that often have a kitchen tent and need liberty to camp where they need to.
There are dozens of trekking circuits, but without any doubt, the most popular ones are the Everest Base Camp one, the Annapumas circuit, Gokyo Valley circuit, Lantang circuit and Mansalu one. In the last decades many new Nepal zones are being opened to tourists, and new circuits are being born, like the Dolpo or Mustang ones.
In Nepal the mountain ascents are well diferentiated into two types: First ones are the denominated “trekking peak” ones, peaks between 5,500 and 6,400 meters above sea level, that have moderate difficulty, and any trained person used to move in snowy terrains can do them without any problem. Usually these trekking peaks are combined with trekking circuits and the ascent to the summit takes from 1 to 3 days out of a trekking route. Otherwise above 7,000m mountain treks, are considered expeditions and require adequate logistics, porter, the establishment of a base camp, altitude camps and technical climbing equipment. Inside this kind of expeditions we find the 8 summits above 8,000 meters on the nepalí territory: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna y Kanchengjunga.
Procedures and guidelines
To be granted admission to the country it is needed to transact a tourist visa that will allow you to stay in Nepal for 30 days. They can be requested upon arriving to the international airport in Kathmandú, or in the Napeli embassies and consulates in your country. To be able to realize any kind of trekking or mountain climbing activities you will need the required permits. This permits are transacted by the local agencies in with we have bought these services. From 2012 Nepalese government requests to hire, at least, the services of an authorized guide to escort the trekking or expedition members. Free access to trekking circuits and mountain climbing is therefore no longer allowed.
Nepal climate has four seasons. The winter (from December to February) is cold and snow appears even below 4,000m, complicating the trekking activities. Summer arrives on June and lasts until mid-September. This is the monsoon season: warm temperatures but frequent rainfalls, clouds and fogs on the mountains are to be expected. The ideal time for nature related activities is divided in two seasons: Spring (from March to May) and autumn (from mid-September to November). On Spring we can observe the flowers in the rhododendron forests, while on Autumn we can find clearer skies after monsoon season. Temperatures vary because of the altitude. In the southern tropical forests, and even in the nation’s capital, temperatures can rise up to 30ºC. But as we ascend, temperatures start to drop, and above 4000 meters during the night the minimum temperature can drop below 0ºC. In the peaks, temperatures are extreme, reaching -20ºc and even -40ºC above 8,000 meters.
There are plenty of ethnical groups in Nepal that have their own language, like Newars, Tamangs, Gurugs or the worldwide famous Sherpas, but all of they have a common language, the Nepalese. The most important ethnicity in Kathmandú and its valley are the newars, hinduism followers. The sherpas live in the highlands and mountainous regions and the valleys of the Soto Khumbu, main allies of any expedition and one of the strongest and better adapted ethnicities to high altitude than any other in the world.
Places to visit
Kathmandú – The capital well deserves a couple of days visit to walk through its streets and visit the main tourist destinations that it can offer. The most famous ones are the Durbar Plaza, Thamel neighbourhood, Pashupatinath temple, Bothanath stupa and the Donkey’s Temple (Swayambunath).
Kathmandú valley – Two cities worth visiting are on this valley: Patan and Bakhtapur
Pokhara – On Phewa lake shore, Pokhara city was set between a flatland just below Annapumas massif. Its well worth a tour around the lake on a boat, the World’s Peace stupa and the local product market.
Chitwán National Park – Situated in Nepal’s lowlands, this park offers interesting sights of local wildlife, rhinos, crocodiles, primates and various bird species. Rides on the backs of elephants through the forests and wetlands of the park are also an incredible activity worth doing.
Other trekking circuits
X-plore can offer another circuits on top of the listed below, for exapmple the one that runs through Mustang Kingdom, Dolpo valleys, Annapuma CB trekking, Makalu CB trekking, Ganesh Himal trekking, the espectacular Kachengjunga circuit and other shorter cultural trekkings where you will find subtropical forests and mountain settlements near Kathmandú. Ask for itineraries and prices.
Other mountain ascents
There are many trekking and climbing allowed by Nepali Government. Peaks like: Chulu West, Parchamo, Lobuche East, Hiunchuli, Yala, Larkya, Cholatse, Machermo, Mardi Himal, Kwangde Ri, Rambdung, Thapa, Dhampus, Tharpu Chuli, Paldor, etc. X-plore can even organize ascents to mountains between 6500 and 8000 meters like the Ama Dablam, Pumori, Baruntse, Cho Oyu or even the Everest. Ask for itineraries and prices.