6 mins

The Wanderlust Guide to the best of Nepal

Medieval cities, treks that take you amongst snow-capped Himalayan mountains, and jungle wildlife adventures – there truly is something for everyone in Nepal

Bodnath Stupa sunshine (Shutterstock.com. See credit below)

The FCO has finally lifted its advice against non-essential travel to Nepal – so if you're thinking of heading to this incredible country, now's the time to make it happen.

For decades, Nepal stood proud as the world’s top trekking and mountaineering destination. Then came the Maoist rebellion – and tourists deserted in droves. Since the 2006 peace settlement ended ten years of violence, Nepal is now firmly back on the travel agenda.

Kathmandu, the capital, is a very liveable city, with pagodas dominating open squares and narrow alleys hemmed in by wooden buildings and fretwork screens. The restaurants are among the best in Asia and the city is always busy with travellers. Treks from here tend to reach up the Kathmandu Valley, integrating dramatic views with constant interaction with the local inhabitants who share the same trails.

Pokhara, Nepal's second city, six hours by bus (or a short flight) to the west of Kathmandu, is an alternative base for planning your trek. It is at the heart of hundreds of trekking routes, some great day-treks and overnight hikes.

Sagamartha (the Nepalese name for Everest) is the major draw, but there are countless trails to choose from, threading through green foothills and past creaking glaciers, snow-cloaked peaks and high-altitude deserts.

Adventurous sorts don’t just have to stick to trekking. Nepal is also one of the world’s premier rafting destinations, with a broad sweep of rapids from Grade I to Grade VI, as well as being the home of parahawking – paragliding guided by trained hawks and eagles.

Spiritually-inclined travellers can rub shoulders with Buddhist monks and Hindu ascetics in Nepal’s medieval towns, each with their own temples, always busy with locals making their devotions. Nature fans should also head south to the Royal Chitwan National Park, to comb the grasslands and forests in search of rhino and tiger.

Cow in Durbar Square (Shutterstock.com)Cow in Durbar Square. From Shutterstock.com.

Looking for inspiration?

Is there a name any more evocative than Kathmandu? Malika Browne lived in this enchanted city for over three years and reveals its hidden, magical corners. But be warned, she says. Sensory overload is almost guaranteed.

Trekkers will be interested to read Robin Bousted’s piece about the Great Himalayan Trail, an epic 157-day trek that will take you across the whole length of the great mountain range. 

For something a little more achievable with your annual break, you might want to check out Martin Symington’s piece about the magnificent Annapurna Circuit. Or Phoebe Smith’s account of her visit to Everest Base Camp.

More information

Kathmandu uncloaked – Malika Browne

Robin Boustead on the Great Himalayan Trail

Everest: Base camp and beyond – Phoebe Smith

The secret Annapurna Circuit – Martin Symington

Monk with candles (Shutterstock.com)
Boy lighting candles
. From Shutterstock.com.

Nepal's secrets revealed

The chaotic jumble of Kathmandu can be a bit of a culture shock, but fear not. Our guide to your first 24 hours in the Nepalese capital will help you find food and shelter as well as get you from the airport to the centre of town in one piece.

Wanderlust World Guide of the Year finalist, Deana Zabaldo, is also on hand with five essential tips for trekking in Nepal. Don’t put on your hiking boots before reading them.

And finally, Phoebe Smith reveals the five things she wishes she’d known before visiting Everest Base Camp. Bring your own loo roll is but one them.

More information

First 24 hours: Kathmandu, Nepal – Phoebe Smith

5 tips for trekking in Nepal – Deana Zabaldo

5 things I wish I'd know … Everest Base Camp – Phoebe Smith

Prayer flags and a temple (Shutterstock.com)Eyes in the mountains. From Shutterstock.com.

Capturing it all on film

You’d think photographing mountains would be easy, wouldn’t you? They don’t move and, almost without exception, radiate an awe-inspiring majesty. But capturing that majesty on film is one of the most difficult things to achieve, a battle of composition and wildly oscillating lighting conditions.

Thankfully, our resident photography guru Steve Davey is on hand with a selection of tips and techniques to help your photos of the Himalayas look, well, more Himalayan.

Of course, there’s more to Nepal than mountains, as the colourful markets and ancient temples of Durbar square attest. So if it’s inspiration you’re after, look no further than the images captured by our readers on their travels in Nepal.

More information

Photography tips: mastering mountains – Steve Davey

Readers' photos of Nepal

Trekking (Shutterstock.com)Trekking in the Himalaya. From Shutterstock.com.

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Nepal Travel Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by our Nepal Essential Info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information.

Chances are, you’re going to Nepal to trek. With that in mind we’ve gathered together useful practical tips on the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp, as well as advice on trekking in Nepal in general.

If you have a particular question about Nepal, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Our check out the questions that have already been asked about Nepal. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

Nepal Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team

Nepal Essential Info – Wanderlust Team

Everest Base Camp: Practical tips – Piers Pickard

Annapurna Circuit travel tips – Wanderlust Team

Tips for hiking the Himalaya – Wanderlust Team

Content from our readers about Nepal

Forum posts about Nepal

Happy Nepalese (Shutterstock.com)Colourful characters in Kathmadu. From Shutterstock.com.

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From Tea House Treks to tours that take in the medieval cities and lowland jungles as well, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

More information

Our Trip Finder can help you find adventures in Nepal

Main Image: Bodnath Stupa in the sun. From Shutterstock.com.

Related Articles