Introduction

 Introduction

Traditionally the preserve of hippies seeking spiritual enlightenment and climbers tackling the world’s highest peak, Nepal has long held an air of mystery and fascination for travellers. A far more diverse group of visitors has descended on the country in recent years though, albeit principally backpackers in search of adventure and a taste of traditional culture.

Nepal has woken up to this fact and has begun to court the interest of travellers looking for a hint of adventure, but not necessarily the “roughing it” that is traditionally associated with this kind of trip. It’s now possible to stay in a luxury hotel with swimming pool overlooking the Himalayas by night – and still pretend you’re an intrepid traveller by day.

You don’t need to climb to the top of Everest to enjoy Nepal’s natural splendour. There are numerous possibilities for treks that can be as lazy or as arduous as you wish. Many people take to the hills around Pokhara at the foot of the Annapurna range where they can enjoy the wonders of the snow capped mountains or relax at the edge of the shimmering Phewa Lake.

Nepal’s natural wonders are not confined to mountain scenery, either. Many visitors are surprised to find that the country is also home to subtropical climes in the Terai region, where the national parks are some of the last refuges for rhinos, tigers and wild elephants – not quite what you’d usually associate with Nepal.

For culture lovers and those looking for spiritual (or intellectual) enlightenment there is no shortage of ancient architecture, mainly in the form of Buddhist and Hindu temples, not only in the capital Kathmandu but also hidden away in the smaller, more remote towns of Patan with its 50 temples and 100 monasteries, or Buddha’s birthplace of Lumbini.

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