Very few places in the world nowadays are untouched by human hands. Whether it be roadways or towns and cities. Unspoiled natural landscapes are a rare sight in this modern world. But in the Nepal Himalayas mountain range, this is not a rarity. The ceiling of the world offers largely natural expanses of colossal mountains, and deep valleys.
This area of the world is unlike no other. It’s in a world of its own, above the clouds. But the landscape is not the only impressive thing about the area. The curious mix of people living here, plus the imposed isolation the Himalayas offers, means the culture here is completely unique. Let’s explore this bubble of beauty and adventure.
Everest Base Camp
Of course Nepal, and the Himalayas, are synonymous with hiking. Hikers flock from near and far to tackle the areas challenging routes. Perhaps the most famous trek here is the one to Everest Base Camp. As the home base of hikers trying to summit Everest, this camp is often busy, with many making their way to the camp along the same route. Beginning in a small town of Lukla, is it advised this route is taken with a guide or a porter. It goes from 2800m to 5340m above sea level. The scenery along this route is truly spectacular. Sky-scraping snowy peaks, luscious green forests and crystal clear rivers follow you all along the route.
The welcoming nature of the locals only adds another dimension to the trip. Hospitality is the byword for the people here. Staying in teahouses, eating local handmade food, and talking to the locals only enriches this experience along the route.
Arriving at the base camp, a surreal and almost unbelievable view awaits. Arriving here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Poon Hill Mountain Trek
Not everyone visiting Nepal will have enough time to spend weeks on end on treks and expeditions. If this is the case, the Poon Hill trek may be just the ticket. It is an essential experience for anyone in the area.
After a two hour drive from the city of Pokhara, you will arrive at the trail head. The easy-to-follow trail slaloms through quaint little mountain villages, perfect for a rest stop or two. After this, the route begins to climb higher.
Poon hill is a fairly tough route to take on, but it is doable with plenty of food and rest. Taking three days to complete, this trek is for those wanting a Himalayan hiking holiday, without too much time or planning. There are lodges all along the hiking route, so no need to lug huge backpacks with you along the way!
It is said that the trip climaxes on the morning of day 2. Watching a sunrise through any lingering cloud, over a panoramic view of the Himalayas, with the orange light bouncing from their snowy peaks. An almost ethereal experience to witness.
Himalayas from the Skies
After seeing the iconic mountain range from the ground, you may think views don’t get any better in the world. But the one way you may beat this view, is the one from the sky.
Yes, a super early rise is necessary. And yes, it isn’t the most affordable activity. But, it is absolutely worth it. The tiny planes depart from Kathmandu airport, and fly all the way to Mount Everest, following the majestic mountain range up and down.
While on the flight, you are provided with a mountain map. The flight attendants on each flight will point out all the mountains you find on the map, like a tour on a massive scale. You’ll even get the chance of a fantastic view from the cockpit window! Seeing the range spread out in front of you, and the massive Mount Everest can be quite humbling. But, it is valuable in grounding us, and reminds us of how tiny we really are.
Though, this excursion is weather reliant. If cloud coverage is significant, the flight will be rearranged for the following morning.
So far, we have been focusing on the natural side of the Himalayas and Nepal. Which of course is never to be shrugged at. Yet, the area has hidden man-made gems. But they are often in the shadow (figuratively and literally) of the mountain range. So, why not take a trip to learn about the villages and towns here. Said to be the prettiest of these is Bandipur.
Atop the summit of a foothill of the Himalayas, an 8km detour on the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway sits Bandipur. It becomes clear that as soon as you arrive at this gorgeous location, you’re in for a treat.
Most hotels in the town are situated in the market square, which is the best place to stay to throw yourself into the culture here. There is plenty to keep you busy. Walking to the top of the hill around sunset, with good food and drink on hand should be first on the list. Enjoy these breath-taking views with the mountains on the horizon. And take in the tranquil atmosphere which permeates all around the area.
The buildings and monastery here are completely unique to the rest of the Nepali region. Mainly due to the native ethnic Newari influence. Vibrantly colourful townhouses, with walls laden with vines and flowers dot the lush green area. Busy market days give the town a bustling feel in the cobblestone streets. Lingering scents from food and flowers fill the air, a true feast for the senses.
If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t fret, Bandipur also has something to offer the more restless visitors. Climb down to the largest cave in Nepal, Siddha Gufa. This natural underworld amphitheatre can hold over 2,000 people! The rugged limestone rock and towering stalactites cast eerie shadows on the cave walls, often resembling animals and monsters. We’ve been on top of the Himalayas, flown over them, and now we’re underneath them!
Here in Bandipur, a different side to the Himalayas can be explored. One of an interesting blend of natural beauty, adventure and culture.
On Top of the World in Nepal
When you think of Nepal, of course most of us think of the Himalayas. And rightly so! The vast expanses that the mountain range boasts are incredibly impressive. They can be explored in depth, and its quite impossible to run out of treks and hikes in the area. The mountains can become quite consuming.
But, we can also see how important is it to focus on other aspects here. The people, the culture, and the social fabric of the area itself holds many secrets. These are hidden in the depths of the snow capped expanses, just begging to be found and explored. Almost like a treasure hunt, the harder you work to explore here, the more you will find. And what’s the best Nepali treasure of them all? That feeling as if you’re on top of the world!