Saturday, December 9, 2006



Nepal is home to ten World Heritage Sites, both natural, as well as cultural. Of the eight cultural sites, seven of them glorify the Kathmandu Valley. Visit all the cultural sites; Kathmandu Durbar Square, Syambunath, Pashupatinath, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Boudhanath, Changu Narayan Temple and Patan Durbar Square. Outside the valley, visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, followed by the first of the natural heritage site, Chitwan National Park and if you have more time, Sagarmatha National Park, home to Mount Everest.


Bring your sketchbooks, paintbrushes and cameras, whereas just about any place in Nepal will inspire artistic expression. A visit to any one of the temples or monasteries provides insight into religious life. Century old traditions are abound, as prayer wheel spin endlessly, the air is filled with sounds of chanting and the smell of burning incense and sidewalks are dotted with red powder from a daily ritual. Pokhara's Phewa Lake offers timeless reflections of the magnificent Machhapuchhre, while Chitwan National Park provides a dramatic change of scenery. A rhino emerging from the early morning mist, the Royal Bengal Tiger peeking through the thick jungle and the unique culture of the lowland people provide an array of wildlife, cultural and mountainscapes.


There are a multitude of healing activities you can do all within a close proximity to Kathmandu. In the hills surrounding Kathmandu, pass the days meditating in a Buddhist monastery, while resting your mind and body. Afterwards, immersed yourself in a yoga program, while participating in several treatments for the soul; reiki, massage, or Buddhist teachings.


A new concept in travel has finally come to Nepal. For years, travelers have come to the Himalayas to experience this unique culture firsthand, though it has always been difficult to really get to know locals and understand how they live. Now, in the western region near Pokhara, stay in an unspoiled village, living with a family, as a family member.


The lowlands of Nepal's Terai region are full of rare wildlife. Head towards the eastern region and visit the Koshi Kappu Wildlife Reserve for some of the best birding and waterfowl in the country. It is also home to the rare Gangetic dolphin and wild water buffalo. For an even wider look at wildlife, travel to the far-west to the Royal Bardia National Park, visited less frequently the Chitwan, though created to protect tigers and wild elephants.


Wedged between two massive countries, Nepal is a melting pot of ethnic diversity. Travel to the east, where you can visit the small hillside town of Dhankuta, home to Rais and Limbus. Trekking in the Annapurna region is a delightful experience while staying in Gurung villages. Further west in Jomsom, Thakalis and Tibetans share this area. Then head south to the terai, where Tharus live in the surrounding areas of most national parks. Kathmandu Valley brings together Newars, Brahmins and Chhetris, and many other ethnic groups. If you have more time, a trip to the famed Solu Khumbu region is the land of Sherpas. Together, they share a common bond, but separately, each have a very distinct architecture, dress, culture and lifestyle.


Nepal, the world's largest outdoor playground offers heart-stopping action on land, in water and air. A short drive from Kathmandu, just south of the Tibetan border, lies an oasis of canyoning in the most ruggedly beautiful terrain. Wedged strategically amidst a deep, narrow gorge over the Bhote Kosi river, is Nepal's only bungy jumping. Head west to Pokhara, a land of lakes and the eternal Annapurna range, where you can paraglide amongst the mountains, over small villages, with breathtaking views. Continuing the adventure further west brings us to the Karnali, Nepal's mightiest river. Experience powerful whitewater while traveling through pristine forests, view stunning waterfalls and rest upon deserted beaches.



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