Before arriving in Nepal I’d already spent a week in Bhutan, so I was excited to see what Nepal would have to offer – it’s easy to visit both countries in the same trip.
Upon arrival into Kathmandu airport we were met by our private guide Raju and our private driver who took us to the Hotel Himalaya, a nice 3 star hotel, close to the sights. We were glad to have booked a hotel with a pool as the temperature and climate in October was far warmer than we’d anticipated!
Our first full day in Kathmandu was spent visiting the city centre. It felt quite incredible suddenly being exposed to the sights and noise of the city; a complete contrast to the peacefulness of Bhutan where we’d just been.
I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the chaos of Durbar Square knowing that at our private guide knew where we were going; it meant I could just relax and enjoy looking around.
Our main stop was Boudhanath Stupa, a gigantic temple complex on the top of a hill, one of Nepal’s holiest sites. We loved walking around the shrines to different gods and seeing monkeys flinging themselves from rooftop to treetop and back again. The whole area was covered in prayer flags which made everything so colourful and vibrant.
From here we continued on to Bhaktapur, a town just outside Kathmandu founded in the medieval period, which enjoys traffic-free streets. There are some impressive buildings here, but I enjoyed wandering the markets and seeing all the fresh fruit, as well as hiding from the sun in local bars, and trying the local beer - something that we couldn’t really do in Bhutan.
The drive from Kathmandu to Chitwan is an experience in itself. Our expert driver negotiated the horrendous traffic of outer Kathmandu and swiftly got us onto the cliff road out of the city.
The cliff road is a gravel road clinging to the cliff face, with every type of vehicle working their way along slowly, somehow not falling off the side. Once you’ve calm down from that experience, the rest of the journey is relaxing, passing lots of farms and villages and becoming progressively more rural before reaching Chitwan National Park - a fantastic part of Nepal and well worth a visit.
Our full day here involved an early morning safari, but with a huge difference - it was on the back of a huge elephant! This was an unforgettable experience, not least because you get as close as you can to an elephant, but also because other park animals (like the black rhino) are not disturbed by humans as they cannot see you from your vantage point. We spotted several rhinos which was very exciting, but we missed the elusive leopards and tigers.
We also spent time exploring the park on foot with a jungle guide, which gave us an opportunity to spot the smaller animals, before taking to the water and paddling our own canoes. From the water, we could see fish, storks and rhinos. On our way back, were treated to a view of the mountains turned bright pink against the sunset - a magical vision over the quiet lake.
We left Chitwan for our final stop in Pokhara, but not before seeing the elephants one more time and to feed them and take some more photos.
Arriving in Pokhara, we’d planned to stay for 3 nights. Having done a fair amount of sightseeing already, we decided to try some outdoor activities as Pokhara is the adventure centre of Nepal – somewhere I definitely recommend including in your round the world trip.
A few hours later and I was running off the top of a hill on a paragliding trip! This is so exciting; you have the best views of the mountains and lakes from your viewpoint flying high above under a parachute canopy. Perhaps the best experience is to be literally soaring with the eagles who join you, doing exactly the same thing with their wings. I would highly recommend a paragliding trip here as you’ll find some of the best ‘thermals’ in the world (the warm upward drafts of air that keep you up) – in fact adrenaline junkies from all over the world just to paraglide.
Although none of us were experienced hikers, we felt we should go for at least one mountain walk while in Nepal, so we opted for a low level, reasonably flat hike trail.
It’s great to explore the local mountain ranges by foot and we were blessed with beautiful sunshine and blue skies the whole time which definitely added to our enjoyment. We were joined by a guide who was studying English and was keen to tell us as much as possible about local Nepali life and his town. We were pleased to learn from him and also not have to worry about getting lost! At the end he kindly returned us to a great bar he knew and we had a local beer or two overlooking Lake Phewa to celebrate our achievement. A perfect day!
Leaving Pokhara, we started the long drive back to Kathmandu, where we’d spend two more days before our flight home, but our guide had planned a surprise for us; he’d secured a discounted group rate for a Mount Everest scenic flight!
The next morning we headed to the airport early in the morning and boarded a 12-seater plane (all with window seats) heading straight towards Everest. It’s a one hour and is well worth it, as you’ll get a guided tour of all the peaks in the Himalayan ranges and a map so you can spot them yourselves. It’s an experience I will never forget – and worth treating yourself if you’re in Nepal as it’s one of the best places in the world to take a scenic flight.
I travelled to Nepal in a group of six friends, and this meant we were able to split the cost of having a private van and driver in both Nepal and Bhutan. This was convenient as it meant we were able to go and see what we wanted when we wanted, and could be flexible if our guide made suggestions.
There are no direct flights to Kathmandu but you can fly via the Middle East or India. I’d recommend Qatar Airways, Jet Airways, Oman Air (who I flew with) and Etihad. It’s all easy to include Nepal in a wider multi-stop itinerary like these suggested routes.
I would recommend putting together a private tour if possible for this very reason. Here are some examples of private bespoke touring we can offer in Nepal.
If you’re travelling alone or in a couple, consider a group tour in Nepal - we can book these for you and arrange flights and accommodation to fit round the tour.
If you’d like to visit Nepal as a single destination, I can arrange direct flights, accommodation and private our group touring. I can also show you how to visit neighbouring Bhutan or India in the same trip – contact Graham.