It was mountaineering that first opened up Nepal to the outside world. Of the world’s 14 highest peaks above 8,000 m, eight of them crown Nepal’s north, including the highest Mt. Everest. Not surprisingly, the fascination of scaling these physically demanding peaks draws crowds of visitors from abroad year after year without let up.
The mountains are open for climbing in all the four climbing seasons:
1. Spring (March-May),
2. Summer (June-August),
3. Autumn (September-November) and
4. Winter (December-February).
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation issues permits for the bigger mountains while the Nepal Mountaineering Association issues permits for the smaller trekking peaks between 5,587 m and 6,654 m.
Please click for Mountaineering Royalty.
Rafting / Kayaking / Canoeing
Nepal boasts some of the best whitewaters in the world, thanks to its mountainous steep terrain. What really makes a rafting trip worthwhile is the magnificent vistas of traditional houses on hillsides, terraced paddy fields, deep gorges, valleys and flat plains that you encounter on the way. While exploring the rivers, you can either go paddle rafting as a team or go kayaking and canoeing alone.
The rapids are graded on a scale of one to six depending on their ferocity. Trips range from one or two days to two-week expeditions, and often combine some trekking to get to the remote rivers in the first place. Rafting trips are usually planned in the dry seasons from October through mid-December and March through early May.
The Trishuli River (grade 3+) is the most popular among raftable rivers. Close to Kathmandu, the trip takes you down all the way to the Chitwan National Park. Other popular rivers include the Kali Gandaki (4-4+) near Pokhara, Bhote Koshi (4-5), Marshyangdi (4-5+), Karnali (4-5) and the Sun Koshi (4-5), which runs 270 km and requires 8-10 days.
That one in four visitors to Nepal go trekking should say something about the popularity of this activity in the Himalayan country. Most treks go through altitudes between 1,000 and 4,000 meters, while some popular parts reach over 5,000 meters. It’s not only the stunning landscapes on the trail that captivate the trekkers but also the people from different ethnic groups with whom they meet on the way – a rare opportunity to experience Nepal’s rich cultural diversity. And what better way than walking to see and experience it.
The most popular trekking routes have traditionally been the Everest, Annapurna and Langtang regions. But now the Kanchenjungha in the extreme east and Dolpo in northwest Nepal are gaining ground as new popular destinations. More recently, the government has developed a number of heritage trails in different parts of the country where you can combine a trek with a peek into the cultures of the local communities. And for those with the time and the stamina, there is The Great Himalayan Trail that stretches 1,700 km from Kanchenjungha in the east to Humla in the west – a trek that will take months to accomplish.
All trekkers are required to obtain the TIMS card before embarking on their trip. To trek in protected areas region one must acquire the entry permit by paying Entry Fees to enter the particular National Park or Protected Area. To get access to the areas restricted by the Government of Nepal, one must acquire the Trekking Permit to the area.
Please click for information on: TIMS card, ENTRANCE FEES TO NATIONAL PARKS and Trekking Permit to Restricted Areas.
The tropical jungles of Nepal’s Terai preserve some of the best wildlife habitats of South Asia. Some of the wildlife attractions of Nepal’s jungles include the rare one-horned rhinoceros, the elusive Royal Bengal tiger, snow leopard, red panda and musk deer. Jungle safaris can be enjoyed on elephant back or in jeeps at Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, Parsa Wildlife Reserve and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, all located in the Terai. The national parks provide a wide range of tourist facilities in and around the areas.
Paragliding / Ultralight / Cable Car
Paragliding is a relatively new adventure sport in Nepal, and is the simplest, safest and least expensive way of discovering the joys of flying alone to experience the aerial views of the magnificent Himalayas. Sarangkot, at 1,592 m above Lakeside in Pokhara Valley, is the jumping off point for paragliders. From here, one can take in stunning views of three of the world’s Eight Thousanders, namely, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu.
Ultralight aircraft takes off from Pokhara and offers spectacular views of the lakes, mountains and villages. This is an ideal way to see life from a new perspective. Flights are operated almost throughout the year except during the monsoon (June through August). Flights take place from sunrise to 11 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to sunset every day, provided there are no rains. During the half- hour flight, one flies over Pokhara city, Phewa Lake, Sarangkot Hill and gets close to the Machhapuchhre mountain. Another option is to explore the Annapurna range from 12,000 feet or higher in an hour.
The only cable car in Nepal takes you on a pilgrimage tour, up to the abode of the wish-fulfilling Goddess Manakamana, from Kurintar in Mugling.
Bungee Jumping / Canyoning
The ultimate thrill of a bungee jump can now be experienced in Nepal – 12 km from the Nepal-Tibet border, a three-hour bus ride from Kathmandu. The bungee jump was designed by one of New Zealand’s leading bungee consultants, and is operated by some of the most experienced jump masters in the business. The jump takes place from a 166 m wide steel suspension bridge that joins two sides of a deep valley over the raging Bhoti Kosi River. The place has spectacular scenery with dense forests covering the top of the cliff. One can overnight here and go rafting and rock climbing, too.
Canyoning is basically a sport where you travel down canyons and waterfalls using a variety of techniques such as walking, scrambling, climbing, abseiling and swimming. It is one sport that will get you completely off the beaten track, but it does require quite a good level of fitness.
The Everest region is located in the northeast of Nepal. The 10-day walk through the middle hills of Solu to the higher altitudes of Khumbu to the base of Sagarmatha, or Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak, is an opportunity to observe and participate in the daily life of the legendary Sherpa people. The prime attraction – the 8,848 m peak of Mt. Everest – lies in Sagarmatha National Park, which is also home to two other eight thousanders – Lhotse and Cho Oyu – besides several other prominent peaks above 6,000 m.
Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1979, much of the 1,148 sq. km park lies above 3,000 m. The park is composed of rugged terrain with deep gorges, glaciers and huge rocks. The vegetation in the park changes from pine, hemlock, fir, juniper, birch, rhododendron and shrubs to alpine plants and then to bare rock and snow. It is home to the ghoral, tahr, serow and musk deer as well as the impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, red-billed chough and the yellow-billed chough.
The trail to Everest also begins at Lukla, the airport at 2,850 m. The trail climbs up the Dudhkoshi River Valley, and the following day brings you to the legendary Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu (3,500 m), which is the staging point for expeditions to Everest and other peaks in the area. Above Namche lie the traditional villages of Khunde and Khumjung. Khumjung which is the largest village in the Khumbu lies at the foot of the sacred peak Khumbila. The Khunde Hospital, maintained by Himalayan Trust, and Khumjung School, the original Hillary School set up in 1960, lie here.
Across the canyon from Khunde, perched on a high ridge, is the Tengboche Monastery, the leading Buddhist center in the Khumbu. The monastery rests amid stunning views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Pines, azaleas and colorful mountain rhododendrons ring the attractive monastery. There are rest houses, lodges and camping sites here.
From Tengboche you can continue on to Pheriche, Kala Pattar and the hamlet of Gorakshep. From here, the site of Everest Base Camp is easily accessible, as is the summit of Kala Pattar (5,545 m), from which much of Mt. Everest is clearly visible. However, you must take time to properly acclimatize as the altitude gains are rapid.
OTHER TREKKING PEAKS:
There are 12 trekking peaks ranging from 5,806 m to 6,476 m in the Sagarmatha National Park. Permits to climb these peaks are processed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) in Kathmandu.
The Annapurna Region in north western Nepal has been touted as having the world’s best trekking routes. From the lake city of Pokhara, popular treks lead to Jomsom, Annapurna Base Camp, Mustang, Manang and around the Annapurna mountain. Short treks to Sikles and Ghandruk are just as popular. The Annapurna region is an area of contrasts comprising the wettest, driest and windiest places in Nepal.
The Annapurna Circuit:
It is by far the most popular and requires a minimum of about three weeks to go around the Annapurna massif. What makes this trek so special is that you can look up to something new in scenery everyday. The Annapurna Conservation Area begins at 790 m and reaches a high of 8,091 m, the summit of Mount Annapurna I, the world’s 10th tallest peak. The area encompasses forested middle mountain, high Himalaya and trans-Himalayan desert plateau similar to the landscape in Tibet as you move north. The lower elevations are dotted by Gurung, Magar, Thakali and Brahmin villages while Tibetan cultural influence becomes apparent as you go north.
The trek goes counter-clockwise from Besi Sahar, off the Pokhara-Kathmandu Highway, to Naya Pool, and reaches its high point at Thorong La, a pass at 5,416 m. On the way, you pass through stunning mountain scenery – Manaslu, Langtang Himal, Annapurna II and IV, Annapurna III, and, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri. In between these two 8,000 m peaks lies the dramatic Kali Gandaki gorge – the deepest in the world.
Mustang offers an experience of trans-Himalayan landscape and exotic Himalayan cultural experience. Muktinath (3,749 m) is a popular destination for pilgrims and trekkers to the region. It is a site holy for both Buddhists and Hindus before. There is now a motorable road from Muktinath to Beni, from where you can catch a bus to Pokhara. Also, you can catch a bus from Besi Sahar to Sanghe at the start of the trek.
Lo-Manthang in Upper Mustang is an extremely exotic destination too. The last king of Mustang still has his home at this ancient capital township. Many tourists visit Lo-Manthang during Teeji festival that is usually scheduled in the month of May.
Being in the rain shadow area, Upper Mustang can be visited even during the rainy season. Upper Mustang falls in protected areas and one need special permit to visit the region.
The trek in the eastern part follows the Marsyangdi River upstream till Manang, which is a string of seven villages that form the upper arc of the Annapurna Circuit Trekking Trail. The area is composed of stark, rocky terrain, very similar to the Tibetan plateau, and is dotted with turquoise lakes, including Lake Tilicho (4919 m), the world’s highest lake
Dolpa is one of the most mesmerizing places to visit in Nepal. The landscape is beautiful and characterized by high steep valleys. The region was opened to foreigners in 1989, which receives number of the visitors thronging other parts of Nepal. The trekking from Dolpa and beyond Phoksundo Lake – deepest lake of Nepal and an epitome of beauty – to the 800-year-old Shey Gompa gives truly remarkable natural and cultural experience to everyone. The scenery of mighty Dhaulagiri (8167m), once thought to be the highest mountain in the world and Shey – Phoksundo national parks can spellbind people of all walks of life. Dolpa hosts highest inhabited villages on Earth, nestling amongst mountains of stark, ascetic beauty.