Nepal is truly a unique and special place. Spread across the southern slopes of the Himalayan mountain range, it is a trekkers’ paradise and home to many rare and endemic species of plants and animals. It is the birthplace of the Buddha, the land of Gods and a melting pot of great religions, and has its own distinct architectural heritage which dates back over two thousand years. Whether you are a trekking enthusiast, a history aficionado, a nature lover or on a spiritual journey, you will definitely be enchanted by the magic of Nepal.
Explore the sacred sites
A spiritual stroll around the squares of the sacred cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan offers an unrivalled experience. Sublimely beautiful temple art, sacred, centuries-old pagodas and monasteries, and above all the faith of the pilgrims that gives life to these ancient sites, are bewitching. In Kathmandu, there are several unmissable temples, including Boudhnath Stupa, one of Nepal’s largest spherical pagodas with amassive mandala, Budhanilkantha Temple, one of the country’s architectural marvels and renowned for its enigmatic stone statue of Lord Vishnu in a resting position, and Swayambhunath Temple, which boasts a spectacular view of the Kathmandu valley.
In Patan, one of the oldest Buddhist cities in the world, the Patan Durbar Square is home to spectacular scenes of Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples, while Bhaktapur is perhaps the best preserved sacred city, full of towering temples and some of Nepal’s finest religious architecture.
Follow the Buddhist trail
One of the most serene places on earth, Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, is a Buddhist pilgrimage site which is the location where Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born. At the heart of the site stands the modest-looking, but very important, Maya Devi Temple, built on the exact spot where Queen Maha Devi gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama. Inside the Maya Devi complex are a sacred pond believed to be where the Queen bathed before giving birth to Prince Siddhartha and a sacred garden where the pillar of Ashoka, ancient ruins of stupas and the sacred Bodhi tree, bedecked with prayer flags, can be found.
There is also a complex of pagodas and beautiful monasteries and temples built by Buddhist countries, surrounding the main temple. It is a good idea to soak up the peaceful atmosphere and take time to contemplate, or visit the Panditarama Vipassana Centre, if you are interested in practising meditation.
Watch wildlife in Chitwan
Located 170 km southwest of Kathmandu, Chitwan is a rich natural area which is home to 68 species of mammals, 544 species of birds, 56 species of herpetofauna and 126 species of fish. The world heritage property is especially famous for its protection of one-horned rhinoceros, royal Bengal tiger and gharial (crocodile.)
Spare a couple of nights in the jungle and get closer to nature by canoeing down the Rapti River or joining an elephant safari. You may spot some exotic birds, deer, rhinos, and maybe a tiger if you are lucky.
Soak up the wonderful panorama of the Himalayas
What could be more magical than having breakfast while enjoying the views of the snow-capped mountains bathed in warm golden sunlight? The easiest and shortest hiking hill in Pokhara, Sarangkot boasts a panoramic sweep of Himalayan peaks—Dhaulagiri (8,167m), the perfect pyramid of Machhapuchhare (6,997m), the tent-like peak of Annapurna II (7,937m), and Lamjung (6,983m).
You can walk to the top to enjoy the views in only about half an hour. Another popular viewpoint is Dhampus, which is a small, Gurung village. There is a one-day Sarangkot Trek and a three-day Dhampus Trek from Pokhara, both perfect for trekking enthusiasts with limited time.
Trek, hike and climb
Nepal offers amazing landscapes, charming villages and valleys, rivers and forests, deep gorges and high passes to discover. There are dozens of treks starting from different points, but some of the world’s most popular, and challenging, include the 16-day Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek, which offers views of the world’s tallest mountain, and the 18-day Annapurna Circuit, which circles the Annapurna Massif and crosses the stunning Thorung La.
Ambitious trekkers may head to eastern Nepal, where there are less popular trekking routes, meaning fewer trekkers, fewer facilities, and untamed terrain with rustic teahouses. Independent trekkers will be rewarded with breath-taking vistas of Kanchenjunga (8,586m), the world’s third highest peak, and Makalu (8,463m), the world’s fifth highest. For those with limited time, the 7-day Lang Tang Valley Trek is a classic short trek and a great option.
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