Our fabulous journey to the magical land of Nepal
Nepal Travel Blog› entry 2 of 18 › view all entries
My friend Kerry and I recently returned from a 6 month vacation around Asia. We hadn't planned on spending very long in Nepal so we didn't really do much research. Once there we soon realised we simply had to stay as long as possible.
After visiting some tourist information centres and speaking to a few people we decided to go paragliding in Pokhara, visit The Royal Chitwan National Park and trek the Annapurna Circuit.
I've visited a few countries now but without a doubt Nepal is the highlight. The people are aesthetically beautiful and amazingly friendly, the cuisine was delicious, it's very cheap but above all the scenery is absolutely breath taking and any photographers dream.
The first few days we spent in Kathmandu we stayed in the tourist hub of Thamel. This is the base for most people before they attempt any of the available trekking options and also a good location for visiting some of the local sites - Durbar Square and Pashupatinath are absolute musts.
Durbar Square is best visited by bicycle and only a short ride from Thamel. It's steeped in history and tradition with palaces, courtyards and temples dating back to the tenth century. The place has a great vibe and gives you an insight into times gone by.
Next we visited Pashupatinath Temple which is a Hindu temple dedicated to The Lord Shiva. It's a popular site for the annual pilgrimage on the day of Maha Shivaratri. Pashupatinath Temple is a UN World Heritage Site and is situated approximately 5 km east of Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati River. The river itself is considered very holy and is the site of daily cremations. The highlight for me was the ash covered Saddhus who are said to be priests from India sent to protect the temples.
After a few days taking in the sights of Kathmandu we visited Pokhara which is pretty much the last stop for supplies before undertaking the sensory blowing beauty of The Annapurna Circuit.
Pokhara has more to offer than just supplies. The town is situated around the beautiful backdrop of Phewa Lake and has a few caves and some impressive falls. We went paragliding which at US$60 for around an hour (depending on weather conditions) is great value. Paragliding allows you the opportunity to view the stunning surrounding countryside unimpeded.
On our trek we were fortunate enough to have clear blue, cloudless skies for all bar 2 days of the 23 day trek. The 2 days when it wasn't clear it snowed which couldn't have worked out any better as it allowed a great contrast for our snapping.
The trek itself is fairly easy most of the way but as you get higher the combination of the altitude and the gradient take their toll. The beauty of the Annapurna Circuit is the diversity of the landscape. We encountered stunning sunrises, sunsets, raging torrents, pristine lakes, gorgeous lush fields, precipitous drops and all within view of the awe inspiring backdrop of the snow capped Himalayans.
Most days we woke anywhere between 6-9 a.m, if you're lucky enough there's a bucket of hot water to shower with before breakfast then it's off trekking for the day. A bit of planning is required as you can't afford to still be on the track come dusk. There are towns every 2-3 hours so we always ensured we were within a safe distance of the next town before venturing on the last trek of the day.
Most towns are fairly basic but all have accommodation, food and the omnipresent friendly locals. The children never failed to amaze me with their unfaltering smiles - their angelic smiles alone were a lesson in humility. They made me realise just how much faith people such as myself put into the material possessions of this world. They have so little yet are so grateful for what they do have. Life is precious we should enjoy it.
After completing the circuit we went to The Royal Chitwan National Park which is lush with flora and fauna and still relatively untouched by man.
Amongst other animals the park is home to the Asiatic rhinoceros, wild elephant, chital, hog deer, sloth deer, barking deer, leopard, ratel, palm civet, rhesus monkey, four horned antelope, gaur, numerous butterfly, langur, striped hyena, pangolin, sambar, Gangetic dolphin, monitor lizard, gharial crocodile, python and also one of the last refuges in the world of the Bengal tiger. Unfortunately a lot of the park was inaccessible due to weather conditions when we visited but we still had the opportunity to ride elephants and see a number of rhinos, deer, butterfly and a gharial.
I thoroughly recommend visiting Nepal and hope others appreciate it's beauty as those before have, it's a magical land and I hope I'm afforded the opportunity to visit again one day.
I hope my pictures can give an insight into the beauty of this country - but be under no illusions nothing compares to visiting first hand!