TRAVEL FEATURE NEPAL – A MOST UNIQUE PART OF ASIA
NEPAL: When you think of Nepal, you probably first think of it as the gateway to Everest, but it’s a country that has an amazing array of natural beauty, amazing people and an ancient history. Most adventurers have Nepal on their bucket list for the sole purpose of climbing Mt. Everest; however there are many reasons you should visit Nepal, and Everest doesn’t even make this list. Here’s 5 very in depth reasons you should be visiting Nepal.
1: JUNGLE SAFARI
Ride an elephant through the silent jungle catching wildlife by surprise; it will be one of the most enduring experiences in Nepal. The jungles in the southern and south-western parts of Nepal are only a half hour to an hour’s flight away.
The Chitwan National Park and the Bardiya National Park are home to an incredible variety of mammals, reptiles and birds. The former is recognized as the best preserved conservation area in all Asia with a fascinating range of wildlife roaming free. With their natural habitat well preserved the animals are thriving.
See wildlife up-close on an elephant safari or a jeep drive, a boat ride or nature walk under the guidance of expert naturalists with years of experience. Each trip is unique as one never knows what will show up: a bear, a herd of deer, a flock of peacocks, Langur monkeys on treetops, a pair of rhinos and some lucky guests get to see the elusive tiger prowling among the tall grass.
Away from the noise and distractions of city life, there is unbelievable peace in the middle of a jungle listening to bird calls and animal sounds. Surrounded by greenery and filled with natural sounds, the mind relaxes and one finds peace in the wilderness. It’s an experience of a lifetime.
2: VILLAGE TOURS
Whether you are in the southern jungles of Nepal, the cultural valleys or high in the mountains, taking a village tour will show you what traditional life in Nepal today is like. It is a fascinating opportunity to discover Nepal through local people and enjoy an authentic Nepal experience. Inspiring as well as educating, village tours are an opportunity to understand roots of the culture, customs, practices, and lifestyle of Nepali people.
More than 75 percent of Nepal’s population is dependent upon agriculture, farming, animal husbandry, and fishing, which makes sense that the majority of the Nepal’s population live in villages.
Community homestays are available in certain trekking regions to facilitate visitors to enjoy village life. In addition to giving the visitor a peek into the rural Nepal life, some of these also include cultural programs, indigenous songs and dances performed by local youth, something visitors always look forward to.
3: RAFTING & KAYAKING
Set in the surrounds of the mighty Himalayas, Nepal has the most scenic and diverse white-water experiences on the planet. From short trips for beginners to long trips and kayaking certification through jungles and mountain rivers: the choices are limitless.
If you are a water enthusiast, then Nepal offers you endless white rivers that descend from the highest mountains of the world, along stretches of silver sandy beaches, where adventure seekers can enjoy numerous water sports and adventures.
Among which white-water rafting and kayaking, are most popular. Try the widely popular world classic categories like the Karnali River, Sunkoshi and Tamur, which are a mix of rapids, grades and sceneries. Most people enjoy rafting for the thrill of it, while many people (mostly women) want to try it as first timers. Very few are left disappointed.
Enjoy deep river gorges, to wide river basins through some of the world famous rivers like, the Sun Koshi, Bhote Koshi, Trishuli , where rapid grades range from 1 to 6 and diverse terrain meet exotic flora and aquatic life. Rivers like the Marshyangdi and Arun, provide some of the most scenic views for rafters. Diverse wildlife and flora, along the routes, add to the essence of these trips.
Plan your rafting trips with local agents, who have well trained team of river guides , who can not only tackle the wild rapids, but help adventure seekers take thrills to the next level. Plan a short rafting trip which lasts from a day to three days, or longer trips which offer relaxing camp stops combined with short treks along the river lines into thick evergreen forests and beautiful waterfalls.
Here are the rivers that are open for rafting – and the length of experience you will have.
1. Upper Seti River – 1/2 days trip
2. Trishuli River – 1 day trip to 2 days
3. Marshyangdi River – 2 days
4. Kali Gandhi River – 3 days
5. Karnali River – 8 to 10 days
6. Sunkoshi River – 8 to 10 days
7.Tamur River – 10 days
4: FAITH HEALING
In Nepal Shamanism is based on the animistic belief that honours the earth and respects the spirits that resides in all living beings. Given the immense beauty of Nepal discovering this way of life can be a positive fulfilling experience.
Nepal is a land full of legends, myths, magic and mystery. The confrontation between its millions of gods and goddesses on the one hand and the most powerful demons on the other, at various points gives a meaningful perspective to this magic and mystery. The former represents positive spirits, and the latter, negative ones. Between the two stands the faith-healer, who almost like a catalyst with his invocation and possession of positive spirits manages to drive away the negative spirits that are inflicting harm on his clients.
Faith healing in Nepal dates back to pre-historic times and is still widely practiced even in the capital city, Kathmandu. What’s even more surprising is the fact that they have taught many foreign students their craft especially, Americans. These students have gone back to their countries to start faith healing practice in the cities of well developed nations and seem to be gaining popularity.
The Jhankris or shamans wear garlands of tiny bells around their necks and tremble and chant at the beat of the drum or metal plate, which they play during the invocation and spirit possession. These performances can sometimes last the whole night. Sacrificing a rooster is common among these shamans. Some sacrifice a black goat depending upon the nature of the complication. Others are incredibly simple people, using a broomstick, some grains of husked rice, a pinch of ash, incense sticks and a couple of spoons full of water, charged with Tantric spirits to come up with a miraculous cure.
Tantrism is also practiced in Nepal and especially within temples and monasteries. However, their secret nature leaves the general public in the dark about their practices although they are aware of something going on behind closed doors. There are many shrines within the Kathmandu Valley that forbid anyone but the temple priests from entering the inner sanctum. These practices are considered dangerous and ordinary people do well to stay away.
5: MOUNTAIN BIKING
Hurtling down dirt roads on a mountain bike and getting a big thrill out of it is for the hardy and the fittest adventure seekers. And Nepal is just the place for such high spirited people. Beginning right here in the Kathmandu valley, there are endless possibilities for bikers.
The dirt trails up and down the valley lead to far flung settlements with great views along the way as the fields are covered in lush green and mountains appear in the distance as you climb to higher elevations. Out of the valley, there are terraced hillsides, waterfalls and better views of mountains that loom large in the background.
Or if you choose to ride in the mountains; there are serene valleys, pristine glacial lakes and you’re ever so close to the Himalaya. And the ever-smiling people who greet you along the way will warm your hearts enough to make you want to stay. It’s a great way to discover the heart and soul of Nepal.
Hard core bikers can ride all through the Himalayas all the way to northern border. There are many agencies that lead organized trips to most destinations in Nepal. Popular destinations around the valley are Bhaktapur, Sankhu, Budanilkantha, Nagarkot and the Kathmandu Valley rim. Pokhara is fascinating for bike rides with its incredible natural beauty. Each year there are mountain biking championships held in Kathmandu and Pokhara in which many tourists participate.
Ride through lush green rice fields, delightful little hamlets, up and down the hills, along river banks, around temples, past the stray cattle, over suspension bridges and along the highway. Mountain bikes can be easily rented for the day or even longer from any of the numerous bicycle rental shops in and around the city. For a better understanding of the local culture, rhythm of village life and to visit the cool spots, take a guided trip.
Nepal has suffered greatly in the last couple of years from the hands of Mother Nature, and the best way to rebuild the lives of the people of Nepal, is to visit, and help their economy to rebuild.
To get a complete insight into Nepal, and all that this amazing country has to offer, check the link below, for Nepal Tourism.