“Mountains are only half the Nepal story. On a single trip to Nepal, you can climb a mountain, meditate in a monastery, ride on a bus roof, sip Chyang (rice beer) with a Sherpa, get chased by a Rhino and have your bananas nicked by a monkey. How many countries can compete with that?”---Lonely Planet described Nepal’s multi-activity. And, as Nepalis, we know exactly what the writer is talking about. But do we really appreciate all that our country has to offer? With the commencement of ‘Nepal Ghumfir Barsa 2073’ that aims to promote local tourism by getting Nepalis to travel within the country, maybe it’s time to explore the country a little bit and experience just what the Lonely Planet travel writer was talking about.
A mere 24 km drive away from Kathmandu, Chitlang is the closest hideaway you can head to that will relax you with its serene natural beauty and green blanketed hills. Just a short ride away (1.5 hours ride) is a village of lush green forests comprising of 160 species of birds, peach gardens and ethnic cultural lifestyle. It’s specially a haven for those who cannot manage more time to travel to far off places within the country, but would nonetheless like a mini vacation. Home of the traditional Newars,
Chitlang boasts rich Newari traditions. Hiking is not tough, but rather fun with scenic beauty along the way and fresh air that you can soak up. You can cycle as well. This is the perfect place to spend a day or two at home stay accommodations or hotels.
For the adventurous ones, a trip to Lo Manthang on bikes can be the ultimate travel plan. A VDC situated in Upper Mustang, Dhaulagiri zone, Lo Manthang is also known as the city of walls with its unique charms, inaccessible sky caves, and vast terrain of empty deserts. However, the trek to upper Mustang can be a tedious journey, one that requires permits for trekking in the restricted areas of Nepal.
Even after you manage to get your hands on it, the 10-14 days trek can be a hard task whilst climbing up the 3500m elevation point. Regardless of the hardships, once you reach your destination seeing the beautiful Mani walls that stretches across the vast sands, and magnificent Thupchen Gompa with its timeless paintings and meditative silence will make you forget everything else.
Nestled at the altitude of 4,919m on the laps of the Annapurna range of the Himalayas, Tilicho Lake is a pristine lake; the highest in the world, with a charm that reflects in the calm glacial waters. It was also the site of one of the highest ever altitude scuba dives that a Russian diving team consisting of Andrei Andryushin, Denis Bakin and Maxim Gresko had conducted in 2000.
The Tilicho Lake trekking starts right from Besisahar as Annapurna Circuit Trekking, which goes along the Marshyangdi River, with great views of Manaslu and Himal Chuli to the east. It leads you to a diverse village guarded by mighty mountains with purest hues of white. Tilicho demands perseverance and 18-20 days of dedication from arrival to departure but the journey makes the end result even sweeter.
One of the newly discovered trekking destinations, Ghale Gaun has already secured a position in the list of some of the best places to trek in Nepal.
Nestled under the shade of the majestic Machhapuchhre, Lamjung Himal, Himalchuli, Annapurna II, Annapurna IV, Annapurna I and other small peaks of the Annapurna region, Ghale Gaun is approximately 205 km west of Kathmandu and at an altitude of 2016m from sea level.
Since a decade ago the concept of village tourism , eco-tourism and cultural tourism are being promoted in this region. Comprised largely of the Gurung population, Ghale Gaun offers a homely environment, maintained and preserved by traditional ethnic standards. This trekking area is full of cultural and ethnic variations. Here, locals grow their own produce and are involved in poultry farming devoid of any chemical influences.
Namje came into light after being listed in the top 12 best undiscovered places in the world by CNN. With no roads that take you directly to the village, you need to walk along a series of footpaths with the view of the Mount Makalu for company. The native Magar population still practice animism and worship their ancestors and the village itself, giving off a mystic vibe. Detached from the rest of the world, Namje is a glory to behold, of long forgotten beliefs and spirituality. Stephanie Odegard came upon it while she was searching for local women to harvest fiber for her rug company. “After my trip to Namje,” she says, “I felt like I’d never been farther away from home”. Namje’s isolation has been its saving grace. While in Namje, be sure to check out the rapidly developing Dharan Bazaar as well.