On a recent trip to Nepal with G Adventures/National Geographic journeys, I had the opportunity to see for myself the natural beauty of Nepal and learn about it’s vibrant culture.
These tours are a hands on way of blending meaningful and enlightening experiences with a fun tour that provides the safety and security of travelling in a small group.
Don’t worry, there is plenty of time built into these tours for you to explore on your own and create lasting and personal memories.
- When to go
The best time to travel to Nepal depends on what you plan to do when you’re there. If the focus of your trip is hiking then you want to make sure you travel during the months of October to April when the rainfall is low and the cloud cover is high, giving you the best glimpses of the mountain vistas and peaks Nepal is known for. Days are comfortable but be sure to pack layers of clothing, as it can get cold at night. Remember the golden rule - the higher the altitude of your hike, the lower the temperature will be at night. During the months of June – August, trekking becomes uncomfortable because of the higher temperatures, rainfall and humidity. If the purpose of your trip revolves around seeing wildlife, then travel to Chitwan National park is a must. The best time to travel to Chitwan is between October to March when the skies are relatively clear and the temperature and humidity remain comfortable.
- How to get there
There are many ways to fly to Nepal but one of the best ways is to fly through Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. From Vancouver, it’s a thirteen hour flight to Hong Kong, an eight hour layover and then a five and a half hour flight from Hong Kong to Kathmandu. The great thing about this option is you get to spend time in Hong Kong which you can fill with a city tour or book a day room and rest a little between flights at the connected Regal airport hotel. Onboard Cathay Pacific the seats are comfortable, service is excellent and the amenities are varied. Their inflight movie selection is one of the best and their dining options blend Asian influenced meals with delicious International cuisine.
- Where to stay
From a comfortable family run 3 star hotel to the Luxury and World class standards of a 5 star hotel, Nepal offers a range of hotel options for every budget. In the high end category is the luxurious Dwarikas Hotel in Kathmandu, the Bahari Jungle Lodge in Chitwan National Park and the Jewel in the crown, Tiger Mountain Lodge in Pokhara. The three star boutique category offers one of my favorite hotels, the Traditional Comfort Hotel in Kathmandu which offers a warm home away from home feel while showcasing exceptional service, modern comfort and unbeatable value.
- What to do
One of the greatest things you can do while you are in Nepal is to visit the Seeing Hands clinic, where you can support this social enterprise and experience an incredible massage from a visually impaired person.
Nepal offers the adventure traveller so many options. Spend the night in a guesthouse at a Buddhist Monastery and wake up early in the morning to experience a chanting and prayer service by the resident Monks.
Stay in a luxury chalet at Chitwan National Park and participate in game drives through the park as you search for Rhino, Crocodile and the elusive Bengal Tiger. Get some exercise as you White water raft down the crystal clear river of the Sun Kosi River or Trisuli River. Visit the Tashiling Tibetan Refugee camp just outside Kathmandu for lunch and learn about this group of enterprising people as you visit their Handicraft centre. Or perhaps participate in a morning yoga session on the rooftop deck of your hotel as you watch the city awake.
Of course hiking is what Nepal is known for and being home to 10 of the 14 highest mountains, there are plenty of options to suit every-one in this category.
- Cultural and Volunteer experiences
To date one of the most rewarding experiences of my life was participating in a traditional Momo making class in Kathmandu as part of the Sisterhood of Survivors project and SASANE supported by G Adventures. Nepal is a major hub for human trafficking and SASANE empowers women previously involved in human trafficking, to retrain as paralegals. The sisterhood of survivors was developed so that some of the women can work, teaching tourists who visit the organization how to make Momo’s, the traditional Nepalese dumpling.
As part of a G Adventures/National Geographic Journey tour, you have the chance to become involved in projects like this one. It’s a very special opportunity to learn about this foundation, support their work and give back to the local community.
- What to pack
In deciding what to pack, you have to remember that Nepal is a deeply religious and very conservative country, so your choice of clothing should reflect this. Bare shoulders, knees or legs are not recommended around the UNESCO site and religious temples and cities. You need to pack for the climate so choose clothing that can dry easily, wicks moisture away from the body, can be layered and is neutral in color. Neutral colors are particularly important if you travel to Chitwan National Park. Also important for Chitwan is bug spray which you should apply readily on the morning and late afternoon game drives. If you bring hiking boots, be sure to wear them in before embarking on your hike to avoid blisters and the chance of infection. Sunscreen and a hat are important additions as the UV intensity increases the higher in altitude you go. A great idea to include with your packing is your own personal first aid kit as well as a few protein bars, you just never know when these items will come in handy!
My time in Nepal was filled with new and interesting experiences. I learned that Nepal is more than just snow capped mountains and trekking. It’s a land of beautiful and peaceful people, of wonderful life enriching experiences and more lessons that you can learn in a lifetime. Travel is about truly experiencing a place through a connection to it’s people and culture. I hope you are lucky enough to travel to Nepal…