West’s Bucket List looks at the places across the globe I want to visit. I look at why I want to go and why you maybe should too! Let me know what you guys think of Nepal down in the comments! This post is number 11 on West’s Bucket List. Enjoy!
“When we reached the prayer flags and a pile of rocks that marked the highest point on the pass, the view was brilliant. There was hardly a cloud in the sky. To the south we could see rolling foothills: the gentle ups and downs that we’d walked through. Some of the hillsides were red or purple with rhododendron blossoms. To the west and east there was a muddle of ridges and spurs. To the north, there were several mighty snow-capped himals. The real Himalayan giants were mostly east of where we stood.”Jane Wilson-HOWARTH, CHASING THE TIGER
This quote, from my fellow compatriot, broadly captures those elements of Nepal’s natural landscape that I wish to experience. I thought it was a good place to start off but let’s now dive in on why I want to visit the country:
- Everest Base Camp
The trek up to Everest Base Camp is popular with adventurers from around the world!
The trek itself doesn’t require you to actually summit the tallest mountain on earth; however, it does require you to hike 11 days through the beautiful Himalayas. Sound good?
Of course, altitude sickness, and fatigue-related illnesses, are amongst the risks associated with the trek; however, if you’re fit and healthy then I’d consider the potential risks well worth the reward! My friend is a young doctor with some health complications, and she powered through the entire route. She said it was tough but very manageable if anybody doubts they might be capable!
The trip certainly isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Instead, it requires a healthy dose of blood, sweat, and tears en route up amongst jagged snow topped mountains! Everything will be expensive on your hike too. If you want to charge your devices, or buy food and water, the locals will charge you a pretty penny because they can. Just bear that in mind and pack efficiently so you don’t have to splash out if you’re on a budget.
Overall, if hiking up to 5550 meters doesn’t appeal to you then maybe give base camp a miss but, otherwise, what’s your excuse?
- Annapurna Circuit
If you thought Everest Base Camp sounded tough, maybe you should stop reading. The Annapurna Circuit is reputed to be that much harder!
The trek can take up to 20 days and is around 200km long at some serious altitude! As with Everest Base Camp, you need to be fit and healthy, but not necessarily superman to make the trip. The trek has been voted the best long-distance hike in the world a number of times, and by a variety of sources. It concludes at the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world! To be honest, the gorge sounds like a bucket list item in itself to me!
You can trek the Annapurna Circuit, and also up to Everest Base Camp, on your own if you so wish. Of course, going alone is cheaper but also more arduous, and requires more sophisticated planning, than travelling with a tour company so make your choice wisely!
It is also important to note that both Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit require hiking permits so, if you’re hiking either on your own, make sure you’ve purchased the appropriate documents to set up your trip. If you’re going with a group, also ensure that they will provide the permits, so you have nothing to worry about!
All in all, there are few better ways to see the Himalayas up close and personal than the Annapurna Circuit. It’s certainly on my bucket list!
- The Wildlife
Nepal is perhaps known best as the home of Mount Everest but, in other circles, it is heralded as a haven for some of the most spectacular wildlife on the planet!
There are three particular animals residing in Nepal which, in my opinion, would be worth the cost of a plane ticket in themselves.
The first is the elusive bengal tiger! It is one of the world’s charismatic megafauna and right up there with the most majestic apex predators earth has to offer!
With a muscular orange body, striking black markings, and a white underbelly, the bengal tiger is one of the most iconic animals you’ll likely ever see. Only 2,500 are left across the globe and they are as beautiful as they are rare. Nepal is second-to-none as a location if you want to see one!
Equally enigmatic, but even greater in stature than the bengal tiger, the greater one-horned rhinocerous is the armoured tank of the Indian subcontinent. They’re so comfortable in the water that, if you didn’t know any better, you could mistake one for a hippo at a glance!
The animal, just like the tiger, is vulnerable to poachers and both need your help. Look into sponsorship options if you really want to lend a hand in conservation efforts so that they are still out there when you make the trip!
Last, but by no means least, is the animal I want to see most of the three. The red panda more closely resembles a lemur than a giant panda! In fact, they aren’t closely related to the giant panda at all, with their size and form betraying their true lineage amongst the mustelids.
With their weasel-like bodies, but sporting painted faces, black limbs, and striated orange and white tails, red pandas are highly unusual and well worth seeing in the wild. Endemic to the Himalayas, Nepal is one of the few natural strongholds for the species and, thus, you have a great reason to visit!
- Paragliding in Pokhara
I know a few adventurists, even one or two fans of extreme sports, read this blog. So, when I read about paragliding, I knew I couldn’t leave it out!
I have never been tandem paragliding, or paragliding at all for that matter, and so I can’t speak to the particulars of the sport; however Pokhara is renowned across the world as one of the best places to do it. Going up at sunrise will provide you with an unmatched view of snowcapped mountains whilst you glide on Nepal’s natural rising thermals. Maybe you’ll even be joined by hawks on wing as they hunt in the skies!
Of course, people might be a little worried about paragliding in Nepal. The experience is, however, about as safe as paragliding can be, and, from all the reviews I have read, undoubtedly worth the trip!
Kathmandu is the capital city, as well as the cultural, religious, and economic hub of, Nepal.
It is home to an intricate labyrinth of alleyways which weave past colourful temples and cramped housing alike. Lonely Planet describes entering the city as a ‘pupil-dilating experience, a riot of sights, sounds, and smells that can quickly lead to sensory overload’.
Durbar Square, at Kathmandu’s center, is used for Buddhist rituals and Hindu rituals alike, amongst holding myriad other religious functions, and also has secular importance as a site where royal events take place. The square has spiritual significance and is seen by some as a place of meditation contemplation. You should visit it to see an important part of Nepalese culture!
If you want to find a little respite from the chaos of Kathmandu’s bustling streets, perhaps the Garden of Dreams is the place for you!
A neoclassical oasis at the heart of the Nepalese city, the Garden of Dreams was designed to mimic an Edwardian-era English garden. With flawless lawns, tranquil lily-laden ponds, and six pavilions, each architecturally designed to represent one of Nepal’s six seasons, the Garden of Dreams can be contrasted starkly with the rest of Kathmandu and is thus worth a visit in my opinion!
The last architectural marvel I wish to see in Kathmandu is Boudhanath Stupa.
A stupa is traditionally a domed structure used to stores Buddhist relics and Boudhanath is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular of all. It is identifiable by its great white dome topped with a spire, from which are draped long ropes adorned with colourful rags.
It is an absolutely critical part of the Buddhist faith and is wonderfully different from any religious building we have in the UK. That is why I so long to see it!
Finally, I would love to try Nepalese cuisine. I’m not incredibly gifted at eating spicy food, but I’d risk singed taste buds for what Nepal has to offer!
I have never tried a Dal, a lentil soup, served over Bhat, a type of rice, cooked in a country where it is a delicacy! That really appeals to me. I also wish to try thukpa, a Tibetan influenced Nepalese noodle dish! Made with chili and masala I believe it would assault my senses about as much as I could take! Hopefully, I get to try it one day!
Nepal has a wonderful blend of natural beauty and urban splendour!
From the tip of Mount Everest to the bottom of the Kali Gandaki Gorge, Nepal is a country of extremes! If you are an adventurer, or have adventurous tastes, then you have a duty to visit and make the most of all that it has to offer!