Landlocked between India and Tibet lies Nepal, a trekker’s paradise capsulated by the Himalayan mountain ranges and home to the tallest mountain in the world, which needs very little introduction – Mount Everest.
Journey into a country brightly coloured with fluttering prayer flags and experience the colourful sights and timeless culture of local villagers and craftspeople. Be swept up in the whirlwind that is Kathmandu, fondly known as the gateway to the Himalaya, go deep into the UNESCO-listed Kathmandu Valley and see its many ancient temples, sacred Buddhist sites and shrines.
As part of your Himalayan adventure you’ll also explore, the largely untouched by the modern world and Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, tucked away between China and India it is known for its monasteries, red-dressed monks, fortresses and dramatic landscapes.
Nepal’s climate is heavily influenced by its elevation, mountain ranges and altitude. In the northern Himalayas you can expect to find low temperatures and for it to be snow covered all year round. The south enjoys a hot climate, and the middle valley a more temperate climate.
Similar to Nepal, Bhutan’s climate varies depending on the different regions, however due to its location, feels the effect of north India’s monsoons, bringing the south a high humidity of 15-40°C in summer and cool winters. Bhutan’s central area is generally cool but enjoys warm summers, whilst the north is very cold with mountains covered in perpetual snow.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Heralded as one of Nepal’s number one tourist attraction, it is the largest historical site in Kathmandu housing the richest collection of art. Once the place where the city-state king was crowned, the square preserves classical buildings from the 16th to 19th centuries with more than 50 temples and palaces. However, sadly after the recent earthquake, many buildings were destroyed and are now being repaired.
The Pashupatinath Temple
Regarded as the most sacred Hindu place in Nepal, located on the banks of the Bagmati River, where many cremations take place. The people here are honouring the life of the recently departed, observe from a distance and be respectful.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is Nepal’s most admired jungle national park. Here you will find an abundance of life, from birds to Gharial crocodiles, deer and elephants, but the main attraction is the one-horned rhinoceros, of which there are over 600.
Tiger's Nest Monastery
Featuring in every brochure, book and website about the country. Not to be missed in Bhutan is the Tigers nest, clinging to a sheer cliff face, 900 metres above the Paro Valley, Taktsang Lhakhang is a view and a cliff face that will stay with you forever.
Trek into the clouds
Bhutan has some of the very best, unspoilt trekking in the Himalayas, away from the crowds and tourists. From gentle treks through ancient rhododendron forests to more challenging hikes that cross the breadth of the country, Bhutan offers something for trekkers of all levels.
Both Nepal and Bhutan are incredibly diverse countries and home to multiple religions, race, tribes, and cultures. Nepalese and Bhutanese people are generally very warm and friendly. As a tourist, you’ll be very intriguing to them, so it's likely that you will be greeted quite frequently, don’t let this unnerve you, they are just being curious and want the opportunity to talk to you.
Many Nepalese and Bhutanese people will only eat with their right hand, this is because they use there left to go to the toilet with, so be sure to only eat and pass food with your right hand. It's also seen as unhygienic to drink from the same bottle or glass.
While visiting a Buddhist shrine, temple or cultural site, make sure you dress respectfully, covering your shoulders and knees. You can wear shorts and skirts, as long as they are to the knee.
GREETING & LANGUAGE
For a formal greeting in Nepal, fold your hands as if in prayer together and say ‘Namaste,’ which translates to - I salute the god within you.
Here are a few handy phrases to help you on your travels: