Nepal

Nepal may appear to be little more than a small landlocked country, but the lay of the land makes this destination quite unlike any other, rising from sea level plains to the soaring heights of the Himalayas.

The recent turmoil firmly behind it, Nepal is once again open for business, offering an experience quite unlike anything else; from extreme mountaineering to gentle treks, tigers to yetis and steamy jungles to snow capped peaks, Nepal has it all, in one very exciting package.

A country of beauty and tranquillity co-exists alongside the high octane adventures, the temple trail giving time for contemplation and gentle relaxation, as you breathe in the pure air and become one with the glorious nature that surrounds you – spiritual wellbeing may not be your reason for visiting Nepal but it is unavoidable in this land seeped in the mysteries of ancient culture and tradition.

The capital Kathmandu has some excellent hotels, quiet yet luxurious, find somewhere traditional for that genuine Nepali feel that will nourish body and soul; Dwarika’s Hotel is probably the best example of a top class hotel in the city, seen as being the centre of the cities influential community this hotel is a piece of art, conserving the traditional woodcarvings that adorn its ornate doors and walls – this is most certainly the place to be seen in Nepal.

Budget travellers are no less well catered for with an abundance of backpacker hostels (although for a few pounds more a night you can upgrade to a midrange hotel) Hotel Ganesh Himal is a great example of a budget hotel that really delivers, costing only a few pounds a night the rooms are spotlessly clean, and most boast a balcony and en-suite facilities making the value unbelievable.

Nepal is a multicultural country and the variety of food varies radically from area to area, but all mainly rely on seasonal produce with large amounts of vegetables (much of the population eats a mainly vegetarian diet), meat is generally expensive and is not seen as a dietary staple; when mountain trekking expect potatoes to feature heavily on the menu as they are a Sherpa favourite.

If staying in Kathmandu there is quite a wide range of restaurants to choose from, these range from Korean to Middle Eastern and traditional Himalayan, ask around for the best places to go – the locals will happily share their insider information.

Nepal is famed for its mountaineering and trekking opportunities but there is far more to this diverse country, those that seek adventure are not the only ones that will delight in this wondrous land; health and wellbeing centres are spread throughout Nepal offering treatments and yoga whilst Monasteries offer meditation as well as Buddhism courses and retreats, making Nepal perfect for those looking to recharge their batteries.

Jungle safari’s are also popular in Nepal, often including elephant rides through the still untamed land; the diverse nature is pleasing to the eye, and for those looking for that extra thrill there are ample opportunities to spot tigers and rhino, making this a top activity away from the rugged mountains of the Himalayas.

It is said that October and November, with its dry weather without the humidity that plagues much of the year, is the best time to visit the country, however those that wish to participate in mountain expeditions may be better visiting from April to June when the blooms on the mountains are at their most beautiful.

The monsoon season of late June to September is probably best avoided, although the prices are lower and the air feels cooler and fresher, making this a good time to visit for those on a budget.

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