Nepal travel guide, including map of Nepal, top Nepal travel experiences, tips for travel in Nepal, plus the best hiking routes and tiger-spotting areas
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 amongst the best in Asia and the city is always thronged 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. Set by a lake 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.
The adventurous sort 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.
Nepal has an excellent infrastructure for trekkers. Independent trekkers can hire porters, guides and pack animals in Kathmandu and Pokhara, as well as purchasing used trekking gear. You should ensure that your porters enjoy the same protection as other trekkers; the International Porter Protection Group provides useful guidelines for responsible trekking.Take water purification tablets with you instead of buying – and leaving behind – non-biodegradable water bottles. Bear in mind trekking permits are essential, and have to be paid for and booked in Pokhara or Kathmandu before you set off.
Rains lash Nepal from June to September, washing away roads and obscuring mountain views. The best months for trekking are October and November. Two major festivals, Dasain and Tihaar, also fall during this period. The downside is that because so many people chose to visit Nepal at this time, it can be hard to find a decent room if you don’t book in advance, and prices rise. Temperatures drop dramatically between December and February and many lodges in trekking areas close but this is a good time to visit the low-lying jungle regions on the border with India, including Chitwan National Park. April to early June sees warmer weather and rhododendrons coming into bloom. This is the best time to view wildlife. A haze can obscure views of the mountain areas but you can normally trek above it. This is the second most popular period to visit Nepal.
Kathmandu Airport (KTM) is 6.5km from the city.
Nepal has an extensive domestic air network served by several airlines. Routes often used by travellers include those between Kathmandu and Pokhara, Meghauli (for Chitwan) and Lukla. Flights are reasonably priced. Hour-long ‘Mountain Flights’ – a scenic loop out of Kathmandu, with fantastic views of Everest – are extremely popular and not much more expensive than a normal flight. Nepal has one of the least-developed road networks in the world; each year the monsoon season takes its toll. Public buses serve every paved road; these are cheap but slow and often very uncomfortable. Regularly scheduled, ‘luxury’ tourist buses can be booked through travel agents. Bicycle rental shops can be found in Kathmandu: elsewhere they're rare.
Outside the October to December high season prices can drop by 50%. In Kathmandu and Pokhara accommodation ranges from rock-bottom budget guesthouses to 5* hotels costing £150 per night. In other major tourist destinations you will find a good range of well-run, friendly guesthouses; teahouses and other accommodation options dot most of the major trekking trails. On the quieter trails accommodation can be spartan, but popular regions such as Annapurna and Everest have hotels with hot water, electricity and sometimes Western menus. Village homestays are also becoming increasing popular.
Nepali food is generally less spicy than across the rest of the subcontinent. Nepal’s national dish is daal bhaat – rice, lentils and lightly curried vegetables. Vegetarians are well served here as most Hindu Nepalis don’t eat meat. In contrast, the Newars indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley are big meat- eaters, with water buffalo, goat and wild boar all on the menu. In Kathmandu you’ll also find many restaurants serving Tibetan and Indian cuisine.
Local liquors include chang (a barley beer), arak (a spirit brewed from potatoes) and, for the brave, rakshi (a knock-out distilled rice wine). If you’re after something non-alcoholic, coconut water and lassi (a sweet yoghurt drink) are great refreshers. Don’t leave Nepal without trying a cup of chiya – sugary, milky, black tea infused with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
Consult your GP or travel health clinic well before departure to check on recommended vaccinations, which may include typhoid and hepatitis A, plus meningitis if trekking to outlying areas. Malaria is present below 1,200m; consider taking antimalarials. In town, stick to bottled water. Take water-purifying tablets with you if you’re trekking or heading off the beaten track.
If trekking at high altitude take precautions to avoid AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Make sure you are physically fit, acclimatise to the altitude slowly, eat high-carb meals and drink plenty of water. Wear sunscreen in the mountains, even when it’s cloudy. Robbery can be a problem in some areas; trek in a group to reduce the risk and keep an eye on the local press to find out about disturbances and impending demonstrations.
From towering Himalayan mountains to the unspoiled islands of Indonesia, anticipate breath-taking views and spectacular sunrises on these top-rated hiking trails More
Condors, cranes, pelicans, vultures, flamingos… Wildlife photographer Graeme Green’s evocative pictures of birds, from Japan to Tanzania, will help your imagination take flight… More
While Kenya and Ecuador's Galapagos get the kudos, these lesser known wildlife hotspots, chosen by bloggers including Claudia Tavani and Nomadic Boys, also deserve attention for whales, tigers and more... More
Search south of the Himalayas and discover the magnificent wildlife home to Nepal. Watch as one-horned rhinos roam free, or walk alongside elephants in the conservation haven of Chitwan National Park. More
A great guide has the ability to bring a place to life and form a deep connection between traveller and country. Here are 8 spectacular trips with the top guides of the World Guide Awards 2017. More
Beauty is everywhere, regardless of money, age, race or social status, says photographer Mihaela Noroc, with her incredible portraits of women from Iceland, North Korea, Ethiopia and beyond… More
We catch up with 5 of our shortlisted World Guide Awards tour leaders to find out the most ridiculous question they've ever been asked, from pancake-poo to polar pontoons. More
We all want authentic interactions and a local’s grasp of the cultures we encounter when travelling. Wendy Wu Tours’ new collection of trips do just that, helping you experience the real Asia… More
National Parks house and protect many of the world’s natural wonders, from the peaks of Torres del Paine to the dragons of Komodo. Travel bloggers The Planet D, Swedish Nomad and more pick the best... More
At 24, India’s mountaineering pair had already bagged the Explorers ‘Grand Slam’, reaching the highest peaks on seven continents and both Poles. Here, they talk about legacies, challenges and why no twin gets left behind… More
Spectacular mountains, remote villages and challenging peaks – these high altitude adventures around the world will, quite literally, take your breath away. More
Survival expert and Nat Geo adventurer Hazen Audel highlights some the most extreme places on the planet, from extreme cold and hot destinations to the home of the world's toughest hunters More
From Bhutan to Pakistan and all points in-between, these Himalayan trips reveal the best these might mountains have to offer and unique insight into the lives of people who call them home More
From horseback-swimming in Argentina to heli-cycling in Nepal, these heart-pumping thrillers are guaranteed to get your adrenaline racing. Plus: holidays in New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway... More
Canadian traveller Savannah Grace, aged 26, is on a mission to see every country in the world as soon as possible. Here, she shares some of the most memorable experiences from her journey so far More
Winners of Stanfords' Travel Writing Awards 2016 have been announced. Stanfords' Jude Brosnan gives the lowdown on the 7 best books of the year, including Wanderlust's choice for Adventure Travel Book of the Year More
How well do you know the Himalayas? Author Robert Twigger delivers 5 fun and intriguing facts about the mighty white mountains you've probably never heard, from George Everest's real name to impotence drugs More
Go on an African safari, visit Machu Picchu or trek to Everest Base Camp – without breaking the bank. Here’s how to get a surprisingly big adventure for less than you'd expect More
To celebrate World Rhino Day, Lyn Hughes reveals the best places to see these magnificent horned beasts and help save them from extinction More
Festivals are a truly eye-opening experience that immerse us in a different culture. Here are 13 of the world's best festival trips. More
Looking for somewhere truly spectacular to pitch your tent? Camp at any of these ‘pitches’ and you’ll never want to stay in a hotel again. More
Whether you want peaks, wildlife, adrenaline or culture, you'll find it in Nepal. Which of these 5 independent routes would you choose? More
Shaken but still stirring: Nepal was hit hard by last year's earthquake but remains astonishing. Make 2016 the year you explore its peaks, parks and heritage sites. Here’s how... More
Well, that’s Christmas done for another year. Now to more important matters: where to go in 2016. More
Nepal is one of the best trekking destinations in the world – and it's fully open for business after the 2015 earthquakes. So what do you need to know before you go? More
Medieval cities, treks that take you amongst snow-capped Himalayan mountains, and jungle wildlife adventures – there truly is something for everyone in Nepal More
Want to take a trips with an award-winning guide? These adventures are led by this year's World Guide Awards winners and highly commended entrants – so you'll be in excellent hands! More
Whether you're a first-time climber or searching for your next high-altitude challenge, don't overlook these 'classic' peaks... More
Get close to the world's highest mountain and soak up Sherpa culture. We tell you how... More
This incredible country needs your assistance now. From charitable donations to voluntary rebuilding trips, here's how to help Nepal after the earthquake More
From bluebell woods to neo-pagan festivals, these are the world's best places to celebrate springtime More
These are the exotic locales that top your travel wishlist – and our advice on what to do when you get there More
Fancy a more exotic celebration to welcome the New Year? We reveal eight ways to bring in 2015 in an alternative fashion More
Mountaineer Andy Cave has climbed the highest mountains in the world. He explains why he couldn't have done it without the help of the unsung heroes of the peaks – porters More
Our featured bloggers were meant to be on a sugar-white beach. Instead they found themselves visiting the Indian Consulate in Male. More
Malika Browne treks through the Buddhist kingdom of Mustang and decides this remotest region of the Nepalese Himalaya is almost as good as it gets More
Our featured blogger, Allan Wilson, loves a good cuppa. He goes right to the source and nominates his favourite tea plantations in Asia More
The winning tour operators in the 2014 Wanderlust Travel Awards nominate their signature trips More
Travel with the world's best guides, as recommended by you! We've highlighted the best adventures to have with some of this year's Wanderlust World Guide Award shortlisted guides More
Moments after she was crowned, Peter Moore got the chance to ask Deana how she felt about her achievement... and what it takes to be an award-winning guide More
Our featured bloggers, Allan and Fanfan, find the meals worth stopping for while trekking the Himalaya More
You don't need to be a hardened mountaineer to experience a little bit of Everest's magic, says Phoebe Smith More
In his latest book, 'Scary Monsters and Super Creeps', comedian and author Dom Joly goes in search of the world's most legendary monsters... and finds one More
Navigate the timeless temples and labyrinthine streets of Nepal’s alluring capital – then hit the rivers and trails of the Kathmandu Valley, advises Phoebe Smith More
In some parts of the world, tiger tourism is big business – here’s how to see them in the wild without doing them harm More
Don't read on an empty stomach, warns Susie Maggie Thorne, as she highlights the very best of the world's traditional cuisines (with no golden arches in sight!) More
These top trips offer incredible experiences for excellent prices More
Neil Laughton has conquered Everest and helped others do the same – now he's worried about the great mountain's future More
Phoebe Smith proves you don't need to be a mountaineer to make it to Everest Base Camp in the new issue of Wanderlust. Here she offers a few tips you need to make it... comfortably More
May 2013 marks 60 years since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited Mount Everest. If you're looking to make it to Base Camp this year follow these five simple tips, says Steve Wroe More
Wander Woman Marie Javins discovers there's a trick to conquering India's chaotic train system More
Lace up your boots for these hot global hikes, from tough tramps to easy strolls More
Marie Javins re-visits Chitwan National Park and wonders where all the rhinos have gone More
Wander Woman Marie Javins chills in Kathmandu and has a surprising encounter at the local kebab stall More
With the road to Kathmandu washed out, Wander Woman Marie Javins accepts an unusual offer to get to the other side More
Wander Woman Marie Javins continues her worldwide solo trip and crosses into Nepal. And unfettered internet access. More
Katherine Price looks at the ten most endangered species in the world, and where to see them in their natural habitat – while you still can More
Not all long-haul destinations need pesky paperwork and fees says Christine Fleitz, hop on the next flight to one of these countries and pick one up on arrival More
From bed-ins to campervan trips, take inspiration from the tales of these notable newly-weds More
Fancy escaping a conventional Christmas this year? Lauren Williams showcases the top 6 places in the world to take flight from the festivities More
Jill Frazier asked the regulars at myWanderlust for advice on an up-coming trek to Everest Base Camp. Here are their best tips More
Himalayan expert Gary Weare lists three little-visited corners of the Himalaya you should not avoid More
Trekking expert Robin Boustead picks the best walks, drives and cultural highs in the peaks of India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Tibet More
Thinking of hiking the Himalaya? Here are our top tips for getting it right More
With the historian Bettany Hughes exploring the 'Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World' on BBC Two tonight, we took a look at the proposed list... More
Mark Sowden recounts the joys - and muscle aches - that come from joining an ActionAid project in Nepal More
Introducing the Turkmenbashi Disneyland and an insider's guide to Lebanon More
The best day walks in the world – grab your boots and day pack for an on-foot adventure... More
Classic treks are prone to crowding in peak season. So if you’re looking for solitude, here are some less well-trodden but equally satisfying options More
Nepal's Annapurna Circuit is a trekking classic, but a dirt road now threatens its tranquillity. However, a thrilling new back-route offers a quieter alternative More
Wanderlust's top tips for trekking to Everest Base Camp More
To help you get higher in life we take a look at some classic and some not-so-well-known mountain hotspots More
Wanderlust subscribers now receive a free £50 voucher valid on trips from a great selection of top tour operators
And the best bit is, this isn't a one-off offer, you get one every time you renew as well!
The £50 discount can be redeemed against one trip booking with one of our tour operator partners, by the expiry date printed on the voucher. The £50 can even be redeemed on top of any discounts our partners are already offering, ensuring Wanderlust subscribers get the best deal possible.
Simply quote your unique voucher code when booking to claim the discount. This offer is only available to Wanderlust subscribers.
UK subscribers automatically receive the voucher each year. Overseas subscribers receive it upon request.
Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience an...
KE Adventure Travel
A superb trek and climb combination in Nepal, including 6000 metre Chulu Far East
Travel overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu across the Tibetan Plateau and through the Himalayas along the Friendship Highway.
KE Adventure Travel
A trekking and climbing reconnaissance in Nepal, from Mustang to Naar-Phu