BACKPACKING IN NEPAL
Backpacking Nepal is nothing new. Thrill-seeking adventurers have been making ways through the Himalayan beauty for many many years now. The difference is these days Nepal's infrastructure (road network aside) is built to cope with large-scale tourism, and it copes well. Nepal will grab with its charm and charisma, draw you in and not let you go. So, assuming you're not planning to scale Everest, what else can you do? This is backpacking Nepal in a nutshell.
The capital city is were you will most likely begin your adventures backpacking Nepal. It's true what they say about Kathmandu - it's dirty, dusty and polluted. But it is here, in Nepal's bustling capital, that the true spirit of the Nepali people shines through and draws you in. Their smiling faces offering you warm greetings round every corner will make your time exploring Kathmandu truly memorable. So, what is there to do in Kathmandu...
Lets start with the obvious. Everyone who visits Kathmandu will visit Durbar square, and for good reason. Built between the 12th and 18th centuries it was the where the king resided until the the 1900's. Now, it is the religious and cultural capital of Kathmandu. The site consists of many beautiful temples and towers, many of which were badly damaged in the 2015 earthquake. The 1,000 NPR (£7) entry fee goes towards its reconstruction and preservation.
Thamel is the infamous backpacking hotspot in Kathmandu. Lots of hostels, tour agencies, bars and shopping opportunities. Thamel is also where you'll find some of the best food in the city, some of our favourites are - M.C.Donald's for curry, MoMo Star for momos and B.K's for cheap eats. For a proper local experience head to Nepali Chulo for an authentic Nepali thali along with music, singing and dancing.
Temples temples temples-
Like most places in Asia, there are a lot of temples here.
Swayambhunath is the notorious monkey temple set at the top of about 400 steps. From the top you have amazing views of the city and a few hundred monkeys clambering all over the place. Entry is 200 NPR (£1.40).
Pashupatinath is located on the river near the airport and this is where they hold ceremonies prior to performing open cremations on the lake itself. Entry to the complex will cost 1,000 NPR (£7).
Boudhanath - Set in a cool circular courtyard lined with cafes and shops this is one of the largest stupas in the whole country. There is an admission fee but we weren't charged for some reason so have no idea what it is, sorry about that.
What do you want to do? Go on a hike, climb a mountain, take a scenic flight around a mountain, whitewater rafting or visit a national park? Nepal is an absolute adventure lovers dream. For any of these amazing experiences get in touch with Rajandra at Friends Adventure Team for the best service at the best price.
Where to stay-
We recommend Giramondo B&B located on the quiet and peaceful outskirts of Thamel. Its cheap, clean, has good WiFi and is only a stones throw away from all the action.
CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK
The two most popular national parks in Nepal are Chitwan and Bardia. When backpacking Nepal it would be a shame not to visit one of these beautiful places. Most travellers (including us) opt to visit Chitwan as this is significantly closer to the likes of Kathmandu and Pokhara. Bardia, on the other hand, is nestled deep in the country's west, a good 12-15 hour drive away, and if you're familiar with Nepali roads and traffic, you'll know that's no easy feat.
For our stay in Chitwan, we were invited to stay at the beautiful, river-side Hermitage Hotel. Hermitage is a peaceful and scenic retreat and is the perfect place to experience all Chitwan has to share.
There are a number of programs available for you to get the best out of your time in Chitwan. The most popular of which being the 3 day, 2 night stay which lets you experience local village life with a village tour and cultural show from the local community. You will also get to enjoy a canoe ride on the river, a jungle walk and a visit to an elephant breeding centre. The highlight of your time here will be the jeep safari which takes you deep into the park where you'll see wild elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, deers and, if you're really lucky, bengal tigers.
If you're hunting for chilled-out, yoga-loving hippie vibes then Pokhara is the place for you. Set against the beautiful Phewa lake, Pokhara is the classic "I only went for 2 days and stayed for 2 weeks" kinda place. Whittle away your days chilling out at the many yoga schools and cafes along the notorious lake side or, if you're up for a challenge, this is the starting place for expeditions to the Annapurna mountain range.
Obviously Nepal is synonymous with hiking and mountain climbing, but for most people backpacking Nepal this can take up a lot of time and money. Some hikes can take the best part of 3 weeks or even more and the cost of permits will easily run into the hundreds of pounds. With that in mind we've put together a little 3 day, 2 night hike which you can do permit-free with incredible mountains views for all your social media updates and will have you back sipping on almond milk iced-lattes at the lake side in no time. Read about it here.
If you find yourself hungry for a little hiking but don't really fancy leaving Pokhara, then we've got just the itinerary for you. This one starts nice and easy with a boat ride (750 NPR/£5.15) across the lake to Lychee Resort followed by a brisk 45 minute walk uphill to the world peace pagoda. A one hour walk through the hills will bring you out by Gupteswar cave (100 NPR/£0.70 entry) and then cross over the road to check out Devi's falls (30 NPR/£0.20). It's a 2.5 hour walk back to lakeside from here. There you have it, Pokhara's highlights in a day.
Let us just end by saying that our highlight of Nepal is, without doubt, the warmth and beauty of the Nepali people. Never change, Nepal, we love you.