Nepal’s acronym of Never Ending Peace And Love, does well to characterise this nation of good natured and accommodating people; a land of majestic Himalayan scenery comprising eight of the world’s ten highest mountains, including Mt Everest: the uppermost place on earth at 29,029 feet (8,848m).
Situated between India and Tibet, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is filled with many different ethnic groups, customs and traditions reflected in a wonderfully diverse geography. From the hot Indian plains and steamy southern Tarai lowlands, the terrain crosses the Kathmandu Valley and rises to the frozen heights of the Himalayan peaks towards the Tibetan plateau known as the ‘roof of the world’.
Spread across these varied altitudes are communities of colourful cultures and people (many untouched by modern development), animated cities and towns, and far-flung mountain villages. Life here revolves around an intricate intermingling of ancient Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals. Numerous festivals are celebrated throughout the year coloured by a diversity of religious and tribal traditions. The capital of Kathmandu brings an assortment of these different societies together into a vibrant collection of brilliant sights and exotic smells, with modern shops co-existing with street sellers, while pyramidal Buddhist temples, holy Sadhus of the Hindu faith and medieval palace squares fill the urban landscape.
Nepal is well endowed with glorious scenery – verdant terraced valleys, rushing rivers and ice-blue lakes that originate in the ‘abode of snows’, or Himalayas. The uplifting sight of soaring mountains is a magnet for mountaineers and trekkers, offering some of the greatest challenges and most scenic walking opportunities on earth. Its diverse terrain offers tremendous opportunities for adventurous activities, and although mountain climbing and trekking are the most popular, there is also superb white-water rafting on steep mountain rivers, as well as elephant-back safaris or tiger tracking in the Royal Chitwan and Royal Bardia National Parks situated within the jungles of the southern Tarai belt.
Nepal has many attractions, but the essence of the country is its smiling, friendly people with their heartfelt palm-pressed greetings, and together with its inspiring scenery, this beguiling kingdom is a place where one visit is usually not enough to satisfy the captivated traveller.