“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”
Nepal is nothing like home, and this is part of its charm. As soon as we step off that aeroplane, our senses went into overdrive and rather than being afraid, embrace it. We felt like real-life adventurers absorbing all the sights, sounds and smells!
At home, we are regular people with regular jobs – we balance the daily grind with work, study, fitness, food, friends and planning our next trip. On the road, we want to be a part of something ‘different’. We want to explore, to understand, to learn and to experience a country and all it has to offer.
Things that are different straight away:
- Nepal is a landlocked country surrounded by India and Tibet (or China). So, no sunsets over water here but instead the opportunity to view the magnificent and monstrous Himalayas. Nepal has 8 of the 10 tallest mountains including Mt Everest (the highest point on earth!)
- Kathmandu is the capital city and the largest metropolis, standing at 1400m (or 4593ft) above sea level – in comparison, Perth (Australia) is 34m (111ft) above sea level; Washington DC (USA) is 2m (7ft) above sea level; and Amsterdam (Netherlands) is 1m (3ft) BELOW sea level! So, you might notice that you’ll breathe different due to less oxygen in the air
- Kathmandu has the second most insane traffic situation. Only to follow New Delhi, India.
Whether you’re there for trekking or yoga, or anything in between, there is an abundance of things to do in Nepal. From the spiritual to the strenuous; markets, cooking classes and animal safaris.You name it, you can do it in Nepal.
During our visit, we did the 10-day Langtang Valley trek in the Himalayas and an animal safari at Chitwan National Park, which borders on India. We’ll write dedicated posts on both of these activities soon!
We loved the food so much, our hotel organised for a private cooking class in the hotel restaurant’s kitchen. Dhal Bhat, anyone? Mmm delicious! Similar to Indian cuisine; there’s endless variations from restaurant to restaurant; region to region. Dhal Bhat is a staple in every Nepali family home.
We’ve made three Nepali dishes since returning home, we didn’t burn down the house or kill anyone, so I’d say, that’s pretty successful in my book.
Nepal is home to many cultural and ethnic diversities, beliefs and celebrations. Seriously, Google ‘Nepal Celebrations and Festivals’ and there are so many, you’re guaranteed to partake in one regardless of the time of year you visit.
During our time, the largest Hindu festival of Shiva Ratri was celebrated,
10 000+ holy people and devotees whom will be doing yoga, meditating and proving their mental stamina. Sadly, we were not fortunate enough to witness this festival, as we were trekking in the Langtang Valley but I definitely see it as possibility to return to Nepal solely for this.
Before we arrived, I was getting myself ready to learn as much Nepali as possible, but most people spoken varying degrees of English, and with tourism being one of their largest areas of work, travellers can get around with ease.
Genuine, friendly people whom are keen to interact with locals and travellers alike. Every person we met was polite and willing to go out of their way to guide a wandering soul.
Budget and accessibility.
You can spend a little, or a lot; since we’re from Australia, your money can go far. We had a comfortable private room with 3-course breakfast right in the heart of Kathmandu for AUD$15 per room per night, and local cuisine going for AUD$2-4 a serving; you can definitely have a memorable time on a student/backpacker budget.
We also went on a four-day safari with all accommodation, transport, meals and activities include for a fraction of an African safari – the only difference is Asian elephants ❤
Nepal balances the exhilarating with the peaceful. It is the perfect destination for families, couples and solo travellers whether your budget is minimal, or you have the ability to ‘make it rain’. We highly recommend visiting Nepal; if anything for a good dose of culture shock, trekking in the Himalayas, or interactions with animals.
In the coming months, we’ll post detailed posts about the specific activities we did there.
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