Nepal is a landlocked nation in Southern Asia that is situated close to Tibet in the Himalayas and between India and Bhutan. Eight of the top ten mountains in the world are found in Nepal, including Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, which shares a border with Tibet. Nepal just dissolved its monarchy and was proclaimed a republic.
Nepal has three distinct areas.
Shah Dynasty's emergence from Gorkha:
The Chaubisi kingdoms of the Gandaki basin included Gorkha, a small valley east of Pokhara, which was controlled by the Khas family, today known by the honorific title Shah. Any former name appears to have been forgotten. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father Nara Bhupal Shah as king of Gorkha in 1743 A.D. Prithvi Narayan was already known as a brash upstart. He was carrying sophisticated weapons from India to Gorkha's army in an effort to modernize it when customs officials sought examination and payment of fees. When the officers objected, Prithvi Narayan attacked them and killed a number of them before fleeing with his troops and weapons.In order to research the predicament of the local rulers and the expanding British influence, he also traveled to Benares. Prithvi came to the conclusion that while the hills of northern India were more fortified and gave greater opportunity to establish a long empire, invasion was a constant threat to rulers there.
Valley of Kathmandu (Bagmati):
From the time of his ascent until his death in 1775, Prithvi Narayan must have been a charismatic leader since he persuaded his subjects to finance the recruitment, equipping, and training of a formidable army. He united numerous Chaubisi kingdoms by conquest and treaties. Khaskura, or the language of the Gorkha kingdom, acquired the name Gorkhali as his reign grew. Then he made his way east into the Bagmati River valley, which drains the Kathmandu Valley and contained three modest but thriving urban kingdoms. The Bagmati rises somewhat south of the Himalaya, similar to the Rapti. This valley, unlike the Rapti basin, had once been home to a sizable lake, and the alluvial soil that remained was incredibly rich. The cities were thriving thanks to the plentiful agriculture, regional crafts, and considerable trade with Tibet. When Prithvi Narayan ringed the valley, he prohibited trade and everyday activities like farming and water access. In 1769, he triumphed and overthrew the local rulers by using a combination of violence, intimidation, and stealth, establishing Kathmandu as his new capital. Although this was the pinnacle of his career, Prithvi Narayan continued to unite the Chaubisi and Baisi federations to the west until his passing in 1775. As "Nepal" grew to refer to all the countries governed by the Shahs, not only the urbanized Kathmandu Valley, Gorkhali was renamed Nepali.
Pratap Singh, Rana Bahadur, and Girvan Yuddha, Prithvi Narayan's descendants, carried on the process of extending their dominion into the Koshi river basin to the east of the Bagmati system. Similar to the Gandaki, the Koshi has seven major tributaries that join forces to pass through the Mahabharat and Siwalik peaks after descending from the Himalaya. Mount Everest and its nearby summits, as well as the western half of the Kangchenjunga massif, are among the ranges that the Koshi's tributaries drain. The watershed connecting the Koshi and Tista basins, as well as the border between Nepal and the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim, which India acquired in 1975, are marked by Kangchenjunga and a high ridge to the south.
Control by the British:
Up until the British started war in 1814 and finally destroyed Nepalese forces in 1816, the Shah dynasty's development extended eastward through Sikkim, westward through Kumaon, and beyond Dehra Dun to the Sutlej River. The British reduced Nepal roughly to its current size and allowed it to maintain its independence because they intended it to act as a buffer between British India and the Chinese empire, which ultimately held Tibet.
Unofficial Settlement in Bhutan and Sikkim:
However, informal colonization by the Nepalese eastward persisted beyond the Kosi, still fueled by high birthrates. By the 1800s, land-hungry Nepalis had relocated to Sikkim, which was located in the Tista basin. They began settling in Bhutan's kingdom, which is beyond Sikkim, in the early 1900s. Seeing the demographic writing on the wall, this kingdom—where late marriage and low population densities predominated among the native, culturally Tibetan population—expelled as many as 100,000 Nepalis in 1990.
Languages, religion, ethnicity, and caste:
The 2001 census of Nepal divided the country's castes and ethnic groups into five broad categories: Castes descended from Hindu organizations (a), Newars (b), ethnic groups or janajati (c), Muslims (d), and others (e).
Groups of Hindus:
Due to the Muslim invasion of northern India after the 11th century, Hindu castes migrated from India to Nepal. The four Varna Vyawastha, or "the class system," of Brahman (Bahun) priests, scholars, and counselors; Kshatriya (Chhetri) kings and warriors; Vaishya (merchants); and Shudra (the lowest caste), is the foundation of the ancient Hindu caste system (farmers and menial occupations not considered polluting). The Shudra Dalit do "polluting" tasks below them like tanning and toilet cleaning. The middle Vaishya and Shudra, however, are disproportionately underrepresented in the hills, perhaps because they had no compelling motive to flee the plains when Muslim invaders sought to wipe out the former elites. Due to their obligations under long-standing patronage contracts, it appears that the lower castes followed the upper castes into the hills.
Who can dine with whom, especially when cooked rice is provided, and who can accept water from whom are determined by traditional caste customs. These guidelines were legally enforced up to the 1950s.
Dalits experience 'untouchability' and caste-based discrimination in the social, economic, educational, political, and religious spheres. 28 cultural groups were classified as Dalits by the National Dalit Commission in 2002. Some claim that referring to people as Dalits will never, ever assist to end untouchability based on caste. (In Nepali, the word "Dalit" literally means "suppressed"). There are arguments against the term's use because it not only fosters inferiority but also is derogatory.
The native Newar:
Newars of the Kathmandu valley practice both Buddhism and Hinduism. They can be divided into 40 different cultural groupings based on the 2001 census, although they all speak Nepal bhasa as their common tongue (Newa bhaaya). In order to connect with people outside of their community, Newars speak Nepali in the hills and Maithili, Bhojpuri, and Awadhi in the Terai.
The term "Janajati" refers to the ethnic tribes that inhabit the Terai, the mountains, and the hills. Ethnic communities are those that "have their own mother tongue and traditional practices, a separate cultural identity, a different social structure, and recorded or oral history all of their own," according to the National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN) (NFDIN, 2003). The Nepali government has recognized 61 Adibasi Janajatis, of whom 5 are from mountainous areas, 20 are from the hills, 7 are from the inner Terai, and 11 are from the Terai region. A community that has its own mother tongue and distinctive culture but does not fit into the traditional Hindu caste system or the four-varna hierarchy is known as a janajati. Although Hindu traditions complement rather than replace more traditional beliefs and behaviors, many of these ethnic groups have some degree of Hinduization. Contrary to Hindus, several of Nepal's indigenous nationalities, including the Sherpa people and adherents of the Muslim and Christian faiths, have a tradition of consuming beef.
Sikhs, Christians, Bengalis, and Marawadis are some of the various castes and ethnicities that fall under the heading "other."
Indigenous peoples of various nationalities are at various levels of development. Some indigenous nationalities, like the Raute, are nomads, while others, like the Chepang and Bankaria, live in forests. Few indigenous nationalities, like the Newar, are cosmopolitan and depend heavily on agriculture and pastoralism.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Kiranti, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, and Baha'ism were the eight religions listed in the 2001 census. Additionally, Bon or animism is still practiced. Hinduism makes up 80%, while other religions make up 19.4%.
Although traditionally a year was divided into six different climate periods, Nepal has a monsoonal climate with four primary seasons: Basanta (spring), Grishma (early summer), Barkha (summer monsoon), Sharad (early autumn), Hemanta (late autumn), and Shishir (winter).
A broad overview of conditions during several seasons is provided below:
Travelers may find the conceptual classification below (based on the country's elevation) more comfortable than Nepal's official separation into 14 administrative zones and five development areas. In order of north to south.
The top of the globe, home to Mount Everest, Annapurna, and Langtang National Park, all of which offer a wealth of chances for sightseeing, hiking, and other adventure sports.
Valley of Kathmandu:
This region, which includes Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, is the cultural hub of Nepal and home to countless holy sites and landmarks.
Most of the time, the Hill Region (Pahar in Nepali) is between 700 and 4,000 meters above sea level. This area creates a geographic transition zone between the Terai and the Himalayas by being divided from the Terai Range by the Mahabharat Lekh (Lesser Himalaya). It features the lovely Pokhara valley, a well-liked hub for local activities.
The Royal Chitwan and Royal Bardia National Parks are located on the western side of the Terai mountain range.
With Biratnagar, Nepal's second-largest municipality, the area is fairly populous.
Nepal has long been a haven for tantric yogis and traveling ascetics because of its location wedged between the boiling Ganges plain and the snow-capped Himalayas. As a result, the nation is rich in holy places and natural wonders:
See also: Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continent.
For US$25 for 15 days, US$40 for 30 days, and US$100 for a 90-day multiple-entry visa, visas are available upon arrival at the land borders and at the airport in Kathmandu for nationals of the majority of nations. In a visa year, a tourist visa may be issued for a maximum of 150 days. This can be paid for with Indian rupees, US dollars, or Nepali rupees. The exchange rate between the Nepali and Indian rupees is 1.6. Note that you cannot use 500 Indian Rupee notes. You'll need to provide one passport photo in order to get a visa.
There are several points of entry for foreigners, including Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Kakarvitta, Jhapa in the east, Birganj, Parsa in the center, Kodari, Sindhupalchowk on the northern border, Belahia, Bhairahawa in the west, Jamunaha, Nepalgunj in the middle, Banke in the far west, Mohana, Dhangadhi in the far west, Ga (Kanchanpur, Far Western Nepal).
Routes with new airlines in the nation have opened as a result of the Maoists' signing of a cease-fire. Dragon Air/Cathay Pacific offers direct flights from Kathmandu to Bangkok , Singapore , and Hong Kong . Fly directly to Europe with ArkeFly . (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Bahrain are all accessible from Doha via Qatar Airways [8, Ethihad , Emirates , and Gulf Air , respectively. Jet Airways and Air Arabia both offer flights via the UAE, as well.
The Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal is situated immediately outside the Kathmandu Ring Road. The terminal is a one-room masonry structure with a sizable wooden table that serves as both immigration and customs.  Arrival-only tourist visas valid for at least 15 days are available. Additionally, money can be converted into local currency, however these services are only offered immediately following scheduled arrivals.
All "representatives" of the travel industry are expected to stand 10 meters (approximately 30 feet) away from the entrance when they are outside the airport. They still shout and wave big signs in an effort to convince you to use them as your guide, cab, hotel, or luggage carrier. Make your decision before going across the line, or even better, book your first night's lodging in advance and request a meet-and-greet from the hotel. Many hotels and guest houses provide free airport pickup and delivery. Fixed cost Before leaving the building, taxis are also available, but if you are ready to barter, you might be able to find one for less money. Always agree on a price in advance with the driver. Thamel or Boudha should cost about 300 NRS by cab. If not, you can purchase a cab at the airport's pre-paid counter for more than 400 NRs (and rising). Although this is more expensive than the average taxi fare, lengthy haggling is avoided.
With a car or a motorcycle:
It is nearly unheard of to rent a car in Nepal or to do it in India and drive it across the border.
From India, many travelers go by Royal Enfield motorcycle. Although technically required to do so, most foreigners choose not to pay customs fees at the border. Selling the bike in Nepal is simple because many tourists want to ride bikes back to India.
It will be much less chaotic to drive in Nepal if you are coming from India! The roads are excellent, and the new east-west highway being built with Japanese assistance will enable individuals who are interested in touring Nepal by motorcycle to travel to new locations.
Please verify the gasoline level before renting a motorcycle. There were significant fuel supply issues at the time of writing (13DEC 09), which could leave riders stranded. Unless you are leasing an Indian Enfield, the cost of renting a bike at the time of writing should not exceed 500Rs per day (Pulsar, Hero Honda, scooter).
Another well-known practice of bike renters is to attempt to collect hefty fees from visitors after they return the bike for "damage payment" that may not have come from them. Thus, make sure that the hirer and you do a full damage assessment before leaving, and contact the local authorities if the hirer tries to con you upon return.
There are 5 tourist-friendly border crossings. The closest border crossings to Varanasi, Patna, and Kolkata are Sunauli-Bhairawa, Raxaul-Birganj, and Siliguri-Kakarbhitta, respectively. The closest border crossing to Delhi is at Banbassa-Mahendrenagar in the far western part of Nepal. The border between Bahraich and Nepalganj is the one that is most conveniently located for travel from Delhi by air or train to Lucknow.
Independent tourists can enter Nepal through the Kodari border crossing, but only organized groups can reach Tibet.
In 2003, a freight train started running between the Indian town of Raxaul and Sirsiya in southern Nepal. In Janakpur, the internal railroad network is only a few kilometers long.
Micro Bus has recently gained a lot of popularity. They have a 10–12 seat capacity and offer quick service. Given its quick service, it has all but replaced the local bus service. Nevertheless, aside from the few previous lines, Micro Bus has developed a number of other alternative routes and now offers strong coverage. The cost is more than the local bus fare.
Super Express Bus, or "Supper Express" as it is referred to on the ticket, is a hybrid between a microbus and a local bus. These typically leave between 5 and 7AM and do not make any stops along the way to pick up residents. On the roof, people are not permitted to sit. A local bus costs more, but the "supper express" is less expensive (and faster) than a mini.
Local bus service is inexpensive, despite the convoluted system. They occasionally get crowded with both people and domesticated animals like goats, ducks, etc. Some buses won't leave unless they reach a particular quota of passengers.
Tourist bus: Reserve a few days in advance at a travel agency in Pokhara or Kathmandu (or your hotel will book for you). A couple steps up from local buses (no goats, seats are all yours), but not significantly safer. The most dependable firm, "Greenline," offers travels between Kathmandu, Chitwan, Lumbini, and Pokhara.
A rickshaw If you don't have much luggage and don't mind getting jostled around a bit, this is a good option for short trips. Before entering, haggle, and don't be scared to leave and try another.
There are two different kinds of tempo. One is a three-wheeled microbus with 10–13 seats that is powered by electricity or propane. They cost between 5 and 12 NRs and run along various routes around the city. The other type is a newer Toyota van running the same routes at a higher price and a bit faster and safer. Be prepared for a crowd.
Taxis - There are two different kinds of taxis: "private" taxis, which often travel from the airport to your premium hotel, and "10 Rupee" taxis, which wait until they are completely full. When haggling for a fare, keep in mind that taxi drivers have been heavily struck by the gas crisis and have often waited overnight to get 5 liters of gas at a price twice as high as the going rate. Be understanding, but watch out for scams! 10% is more than enough when you offer to pay "meter plus tip."
Tram - Currently closed due to "non-existing maintenance" and the fact that none of the drivers paid for the power, the vintage street cable-car that ran from Kathmandu (near the stadium) to Bhaktapur is no longer in service.
Custom or vintage motorcycle - Hearts and Tears in Pokhara, run by a European couple, offers instruction, trips, and the rental of 350cc and 500cc Royal Enfield motorcycles. Behind the Israeli Embassy on Lazimpat in Kathmandu, Himalayan Enfields sells, rents, and fixes high-quality bicycles. Off the Ring Road in Balaju Industrial Estate is where you can find the authorized Enfield dealer in Nepal.
Local motorcycle - Renting a tiny motorcycle is an additional option. And the Thamel region is where you can rent it. Once more, due to the oil crisis, renting a motorcycle is now an expensive option; in addition to the rental charge, 1 litre of gasoline might cost anywhere from 120 to 250 rupees (300-800NRs).
On foot - many destinations can only be accessed on foot, despite the fact that vehicle roads are extending further into the countryside (or helicopter). See the section below about hiking.
Language variety in Nepal nowadays is on par with the country's enormous ecological and cultural diversity. With such a small land mass, Nepal has an incredibly large number of living languages, many of which are survivors of the old Asiatic cultural fusion in the area. More distinct and unique languages are spoken in Nepal than there are in the entire European Union.
Nepali is the official language of the country. It is typically written using the Devanagari script and is connected to Hindi, Punjabi, and other Indo-Aryan languages (as is Hindi). While the majority of people in Nepal are able to communicate in some Nepali, many also speak other languages as their first language, including Tharu in the Chitwan region, Newari in the Kathmandu Valley, and Sherpa in the Everest region.
Nepal was never a British colony, but because of its closeness to India, educated Nepalis tend to speak English more frequently. However, learning even a few basic phrases in Nepali is enjoyable and helpful, particularly outside of the tourist area and while hiking. Nepali has to be among the simplest Asian languages to learn, and a visitor who makes the effort is unlikely to make more mistakes than many natives who speak a different first language.
Within a generation, a startlingly high percentage of Nepal's mother tongues will likely be reduced to symbolic identification markers. So why not try learning a few words?
In 2007, 101,320 trekkers traveled to Nepal. Out of the total number of visitors, 60,237 (59.4%) went to the Annapurna region, while 26,511 (26.5%) and 8,165 (8.1%) went to the Everest and Langtang regions, respectively.
The simplest form of trekking is "Tea-House Trekking," as it doesn't call for assistance. Today's tea houses are large tourist lodges with hot showers, pizza, pasta, and beer. There is no need for tents, food, water, or alcohol because the day's hikes are between settlements or villages with lodges; all of these items, as well as indulgences like apple pie, may be purchased along the way. Physical demands range from extremely easy to difficult.
Less amenities are offered in remote locations than in highly populated ones. It could be best to travel to these areas in organized groups with a guide, porters, and full support. Remote regions are home to Manaslu, Kanchenjunga, Dolpo, Mustang, and Humla. Many of them also need unique permits.
Annapurna Region Treks:
Annapurna Circuit: This two- to three-week trip round the Annapurna Mountains, ascending the Maryangdi River to Manang and crossing the Thorung La (5400m) to reach Muktinath's Hindu shrines. The final week of the Annapurna Circuit, completed in the other direction, was down the Kali Gandaki on the Jomsom path. One of the simpler treks, the "Apple-Pie Trek" is so named because it passes through the apple-growing region of Nepal and takes advantage of Gurung and Thakali hospitality. For a sunrise view of the Himalayas, climb up Poon Hill through the spring rhododendron blooms. The Nayapul-Ghandruk-Ghorepani-PoonHill-Nayapul mini-circuit is another less lengthy but equally impressive route.
Annapurna Sanctuary: A trek up into the very heart of the range provides an awesome 360 degree high mountain skyline.
Everest Region Treks:
Everest is located in the Khumbu region; to reach there, take a bus to Jiri or a flight to Lukla, then climb up to Namche Bazzar, the Sherpa nation's capital, at the base of Everest. There are many other path alternatives in each of the main "teahouse trek" zones, so if you have the time and the wanderlust, there is plenty of room for short treks lasting less than a week to much longer.
Everest Base Camp Trek: Stunning scenery and friendly Sherpa people from Lukla to EBC. The hike to Everest Base Camp and the ascent of Kalar Patar are the two most popular routes. Attend the Mani Rimdu celebration at the Buddhist Tengboche monastery in November.
Jiri to Everest Base Camp: The "Classic Everest Base Camp Trek".
Gokyo: Lukla to Gokyo's holy lakes. Discover the sacred lakes and breathtaking vistas of four 8000-meter peaks in the Gokyo valley. Or a circumnavigation of the area over Cho La and Renjo La, two high passes.
Numbur Cheese Circuit Trek to Numburchuili base camp via the largest cheese-producing region and the holy lakes of Jata Pokhari and Panch Pokhari.
The Everest region's Island Peak Trek offers some of the Himalayas' most breathtaking views. Examine "Regions" - Khumbu.
Pikey Cultural Trail.
Dudh Kunda Cultural Trail.
Trekking Peaks require a qualified "climbing guide", permits and deposits to cover camp waste disposal
Island Peak Trek - The Island Peak trek in the Khumbu region takes in some of the most spectacular scenery in the Himalayas.
Mera Peak Climbing - Enjoy panoramic views of Mt. Everest (8,848 m; 29,030 ft), Cho-Oyu (8,201 m; 26,910 ft), Lhotse (8,516 m; 27,940 ft), Makalu (8463 m; 27,770 ft), Kangchenjunga (8,586 m; 28,170 ft), Nuptse (7,855 m; 25,770 ft), and Chamlang (7,319 m; 24,010 ft).
Langtang Region Treks:
Helambu Langtang Trek: a short taxi ride from Thamel to the roadhead at Shivapuri leads to a trail through the middle-hills countryside of Helambu, either circuit around and return to Kathmandu or cross the pass to the sacred lake at Gosainkhund, descend and then hike up the Langtang valley beneath mountains that form the border with Tibet. Descend back to catch a bus on a rough road through Trisuli to Kathmandu.
Tamang Heritage Trail
Pro-Poor Rural Treks
Tourism is a dynamic sector of economy and accepting it as a vehicle of poverty reduction is a relatively new concept in Nepal. Nepal is a predominantly rural society, with 85% of the population living in the countryside. Naturally, Nepal’s rich culture and ethnic diversity are best experienced in its village communities. You can engage in local activities, learn how to cook local cuisine or take part in agricultural activities like kitchen gardening, etc.
According to the NTB rural tourism in Nepal focuses on "Village Trek" visits to indigenous people that “… will make tourists, experience rural life and Nepalese hospitality off the beaten path with all the beautiful scenery and cultural diversity of Nepal.”
In the rural Nepal context, pro-poor tourism means expanding employment and small enterprise opportunities especially pro-Indigenous Peoples, youth and pro-women. Recent pro-poor initiatives in Nepal include the UNDP-TRPAP and ILO-EMPLED projects.
* Tamang Heritage Trail
* Chepang Heritage Trail
* Pathibhara Trail
* Limbu Cultural Trail
* Dudhkunda Cultural Trail
* Pikey Cultural Trail
* Numbur Cheese Circuit
* Indigenous Peoples Trail
Trekking on the Indigenous Peoples Trail and the Numbur Cheese Circuit is a means for Nepali as well as foreign visitors to experience the rural and traditional Nepali way of life, and for the local Community to participate in and benefit directly from tourism. You'll feel better knowing that your visit is genuinely helping your hosts. And if you want to simply lie on a beach.... well, The Majhi Fishing Experience on the Sun Kosi in Ramechhap features one of the best beaches in Nepal!
'Ethno-Tourism' or Cultural Treks
Ethno-tourism is increasingly popular in Nepal and is designed to maximize social and economic benefits to the local communities and minimize negative impacts to cultural heritage and the environment. Ethno-tourism is a specialized type of cultural tourism and can be defined as any excursion which focuses on the works of humans rather than nature, and attempts to give the tourist an understanding of the lifestyles of local people.
* Numbur Cheese Circuit in the Everest Region
* Indigenous Peoples Trail in Ramechhap
* Majhi Fishing Experience on the Sun Koshi
* Helambu Trek in Langtang
* Tamang Heritage Trail in Langtang
* Chepang Heritage Trail in Chitwan
Other more remote regions will require a bit more planning and probably local assistance, not least as the required permits are only issued via Nepali guides/agents. Camping is required on one or more nights.
* Kanchenjunga - far eastern Nepal, accessible via Taplejung (from Kathmandu 40min by plane, 40hrs by bus), a strenuous trek through sparsely populated country to the third highest mountain.
* Dolpa - Upper Dolpa in northwestern Nepal beyond the highest Himalaya is the remote Land of the Bon, almost as Tibetan as Nepali. Lower Dolpa is more accessible and can me reached by plane
* Manaslu - Unspoiled trails through remote villages and over a wild pass to circuit an 8000m mountain. The Manaslu massif rises above the old kingdom of Gorkha about halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Social Responsibility and Responsible Travel
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and hiring a local company will benefit the local economy, however the involvement of travel agents in Kathmandu must be approached with caution. The numbers of travel, trekking and Rafting agencies registered in 2007 were 1,078, 872 and 94 respectively. The rapid growth in tourism in Nepal coupled with the absence of a self-regulating code of conduct has helped to grow unhealthy competition among travel agents with regular undercutting in tariffs. Such undesirable actions take away benefits not only from trekking guides and porters but also from others engaged in supplying goods and providing services to the tourists. By paying lower tariffs tourists may save money but directly at the expense of local Communities. Try to use 'socially responsible' tour operators that promote proper porter treatment and cultural and environmental sensitivity among their clients in line with the UN-WTO Sustainable Tourism Criteria
* Organised Group Trekking or Independent Trekking?
While organized groups from "western" tour operators drain the big chunck of the profit out of the country, still organized groups hire a larger amount of local workforce from porters to guides. While with local agents most of the profit remains in the country. Groups are more likely to go remote areas, and rely as much as possible on local resources to minimize transport cost and hire maximum local porters. Cost of full organized tours might be also very high, depending on services.
In comparison, independent trekkers while concentrated on the main trails with Lodges, stay often longer also in one place with less budget. They usually use simpler lodges with less costs. They venture seldom in remote areas, as that would mean more expense or very basic local services which most try to avoid. While individual travellers may consume more locally easy producable services, they generally spend less than organized travellers on same trails simply because they often have longer travel periods with less budgets.
Safety and comfort are higher with organized tours, freedom of changing itinerary is the domain of the individual traveller. There is a full range of choice for any demand, just be sure to think about well what trekking means. For the hard core trekkers, no porter will ever carry, while for many to carry a 15-18 kg backpack might be just simple too much.
* Keep working conditions and wages in mind when selecting a trekking company. For visitors from the west, hiring guides and porters is affordable and an extra few dollars can make a big impact in the life of a guide or porter. In order to feed themselves and their families, porters take on the job of carrying heavy loads to high elevations. Some of the problems porters face are underpayment by companies, not receiving the full amount of tip intended for them, inadequate clothing and gear, being forced to carry excess weight, insufficient food provision and poor sleeping facilities. Sometimes these issues leave porters open to illness and neglect on the mountain. As porters have no job security, they have little room for complaint.
* There are a number of websites that facilitate direct contact with recommended trekking guides and porters. The standard wage for a porter is 500 NRs per day and you pay for food and accommodation (approx 200 NRs) or 700 NRs per day without food - Most porters prefer this arrangement as they may save a few rupees by staying with relatives along the trail!
* The International Porter Protect Group’s (IPPG)  was set up in response to these issues, to improve health and safety for the trekking porter at work in the mountains and reduce the incidence of avoidable illness, injury and death. This is achieved by raising awareness of the issues among the trekking community and travel companies, leaders and sirdars. IPPG recommends the following guidelines that:
o Adequate clothing is made available for protection in bad weather and at altitude. This should include adequate footwear, hat, gloves, windproof jacket and trousers, sunglasses, and access to a blanket and pad above the snowline.
o Leaders and trekkers provide the same standard of medical care for porters they would expect themselves.
o Porters must not be paid off because of illness without the leader or trekkers being informed.
o Sick porters are never sent down alone, but rather with someone who speaks their language.
o Sufficient funds are provided to sick porters to cover the cost of their land rescue and treatment. Also, we select strong and experienced porters!
o All trekking porters should have provision for security, personal protective equipment including shoes and clothes, depending on the weather.
Rafting trips for various durations and all levels of experience leave from Kathmandu and Pokhara. For detailed itineraries visit the Nepal Association of Rafting Agents . The main rivers are:
* Bhote Koshi
* Kali Gandaki
* Sun Koshi
It is also possible depending on the river to practice Kayaking and canyoning.
Mountain biking in Nepal is fun and at times challenging event. There are many popular biking routes in Nepal that are in operation at the moment. They are:
* The Scar Road from Kathmandu starts from Balaju towards Kakani to Shivapuri ending in Budhanilkantha in northern Kathmandu.
* Kathmandu to Dhulikhel starts from Koteshwor in Kathmandu to Bhaktapur to Banepa to Dhulikhel. You can also continue from Dhulikhel to Namobuddha to Panauti to Banepa.
* The Back Door to Kathmandu starts from Panauti and heads to Lakuri Bhanjyang and then to Lubhu in Lalitpur ending near Patan.
* Dhulikhel to the Tibetan Border starts in Dhulikhel and follows the Araniko Highway with a night stay on the way.
* The Rajpath from Kathmandu starts from Kalanki in Kathmandu and follows the Prithvi Highway up to Naubise. Then Tribhuwan Highway route is taken with overnight stay in Daman. From there, ride downhill to Hetauda, with the option of heading towards Narayangarh or the Indian border.
* Hetauda to Narayangarh and Mugling starts from Hetauda and heads along the Mahendra Highway to Narayangarh. You could take a detour to Sauraha near from Taandi.
* Kathmandu to Pokhara starts from Kathmandu and traverses through Naubise, Mugling to Pokhara.
* Pokhara to Sarangkot and Naudanda starts from Lakeside Pokhara and heads towards Sarangkot and from there towards Naudanda. From there, ride downhill towards the highway.
The best time to go for biking is between mid October and late March, when the atmosphere is clear the the climate is temperate - warm during the days and cool during the night. Biking in other times of the year is also okay but great care should be taken while biking during the monsoon season (June to September) as the roads are slippery. Biking can be done independently or can be organized through biking companies of Nepal.
You can rent mountain bikes from simple indian made to real good ones locally, but remember that if your'e going on a longer or harder ride, at least your own saddle would be a good option to bring. Rent goes from anywhere (november 2009) 3 (simple bike) to 30 US Dollars (western bikes with suspention).
Nepal's geography and climate makes for some of the best motorcycling roads in the world. The traffic is a little chaotic, but not aggressive, and the speeds are low. Be aware that you need an international driving licence in Nepal, even though you might never be stopped by the police as a tourist on a bike.
Perhaps the best and most original way to explore the country is by motorcycle. Kathmandu should be avoided by beginners, but the rest of Nepal is simply amazing. Hearts and Tears Motorcycle Club in Pokhara is run by a European couple with experience on the race track and around the world. They specialise in teaching and touring, and have a great collection of custom bikes. It's a professional set-up with imported safety equipment, structured training, and well organised group tours.
Royal Chitwan National Park offers elephant rides, jungle canoeing, nature walks, and birding, as well as more adventurous tiger and rhino-viewing. There are also many other less visited parks like Bardiya and Sagarmatha.
"The Last Resort", near the Tibetan border, has frequent Full Moon Trance Parties, lasting 2-3 days. Watch for posters and check music shops. Pokhara has started featuring its own brand of Full Moon raves and interesting Western takes on Nepali festivals.
Mountain Madness Trance Festival is located on the top of Lubu hill overseeing the Himalayas & Kathmandu valley which is 1 ½ hour drive from Thamel.
[add listing] Buy
There are banks in Kathmandu, Pokhara and in several other major cities that will allow you to retrieve cash from ATM or credit cards. You may be charged a service fee, depending on your bank. There are quite a number of ATMs now in those cities that are open round the clock. Although Indian currency is valid in Nepal (at an official exchange rate of 1.60 Nepalese rupees to 1 Indian rupee), the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes are not acceptable. Carrying 500- and 1000-Indian rupee notes is a punishable offence in Nepal. Be sure to keep all currency exchange and ATM receipts as they are required at the airport bank to convert back to your original currency. If you don't have them, they will refuse to convert your currency but they will suggest going to the Duty Free shop upstairs, even though it isn't a licensed money changer. Traveller's checks may be useful outside of the major cities.
[add listing] Eat
The Nepali national meal is daal bhaat tarkaari. It is essentially spiced lentils poured over boiled rice, and served with tarkari: vegetables such as mustard greens, daikon radish, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, squash etc, cooked with spices. This is served in most Nepalese homes and teahouses, two meals a day at about 10 AM and 7 or 8 PM. If rice is scarce the grain part may be cornmeal mush called Ato, barley, or chapatis (whole wheat 'tortillas'). The meal may be accompanied by dahi (yogurt) and a small helping of ultra-spicy fresh chutney or achar (pickle). Traditionally this meal is eaten with the right hand. Curried meat -- goat or chicken -- is an occasional luxury, and freshwater fish is often available near near lakes and rivers. Because Hindus hold cattle to be sacred, beef is forbidden. Buffalo and yak are eaten by some but considered too cow-like by others. Pork is eaten by some tribes, but not by upper-caste Hindus. And like in India, some communities and tribes are vegetarians and do not eat meat of any sort.
Outside the main morning and evening meals, a variety of snacks may be available. Tea, made with milk and sugar is certainly a pick-me-up. Corn may be heated and partially popped, although it really isn't popcorn. This is called "kha-ja", meaning "eat and run!" Rice may be heated and crushed into "chiura" resembling uncooked oatmeal that can be eaten with yogurt, hot milk and sugar, or other flavorings. Fritters called 'pakora' and turnovers called "samosa" can sometimes be found, as can sweets made from sugar, milk, fried batter, sugar cane juice, etc. Be sure such delicacies are either freshly cooked or have been protected from flies. Otherwise flies land in the human waste that is everywhere in the streets, then on your food, and so you become a walking medical textbook of gastrological conditions.
Because of the multi-ethnic nature of Nepali society, differing degrees of adherence to Hindu dietary norms, and the extreme range of climates and microclimates throughout the country, different ethnic communities often have their own specialties.
Newars, an ethnic group originally living in the Kathmandu Valley, are connoisseurs of great foods who lament that feasting is their downfall (whereas sexual indulgence is said to be the downfall of Paharis). In the fertile Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys this cuisine often includes a greater variety of foodstuffs -- particularly vegetables -- than what are available in most of the hills. As such, Newari cuisine is quite distinct and diverse relatively compared to the other indigenous regional cuisines of Nepal, so watch out for Newari restaurants. Some of them even come with cultural shows...a great way to enjoy good food while having a crash-course in Nepalese culture.
The cuisine of the Terai lowlands is almost the same as in adjacent parts of India. Locally-grown tropical fruits are sold alongside subtropical and temperate temperate crops from the hills. In addition to bananas ('kera') and papayas ('mewa') familiar to travelers, jackfruit ('katar') is a local delicacy.
Some dishes, particularly in the Himalayan region, are Tibetan in origin and not at all spicy. Some dishes to look for include momos, a meat or vegetable filled dumpling (similar to Chinese pot-stickers) often served with beer, and Tibetan Bread and Honey a puffy fried bread with heavy raw honey that's great for breakfast. One delicacy that you do not want to miss while in Nepal is the dried meat (it especially complements with beer/alcoholic beverages. Up in the Himalayan mountains, potatoes are the staple of the Sherpa people. Try the local dish of potato pancakes (rikikul). They are delicious eaten straight off the griddle and covered with dzo (female yak) butter or cheese.
Pizza, Mexican, Thai and Chinese food, and Middle-Eastern food can all be found in the tourist districts of Kathmandu and Pokhara. If you are on a budget, sticking with local dishes will save a lot of money.
Note that many small restaurants are not prepared to cook several different dishes; try to stick with one or two dishes or you will find yourself waiting as the cook tries to make one after another on a one-burner stove.
As far as possible, eat only Nepali village products. Do not eat junk foods like biscuits, noodles etc. If you take only village product foods, it will help to rise their economic life.
[add listing] Drink
* Raksi is a clear liquid, similar to tequila in alcohol content. It is usually brewed "in house", resulting in a variation in its taste and strength. This is by far the least expensive drink in the country. It is often served on special occasions in small, unbaked clay cups that hold less than a shot. It works great as a mixer in juice or soda. Note that it may appear on menus as "Nepali wine".
* Jaand (Nepali) or chyaang (Tibetan) is a cloudy, moderately alcoholic drink sometimes called Nepali beer". While weaker than raksi, it will still have quite an effect. This is often offered to guests in Nepali homes, and is diluted with water. For your safety, be sure to ask your guests if the water has been sanitized before drinking this beverage.
* Beer production in Nepal is a growing industry. Some local beers are now also exported, and the quality of beer has reached to quite international standards International brands are popular in the urban areas.
* Cocktails can pretty much only be found in Kathmandu and Pokhara's tourist areas. There you can get watered-down "two for one drinks" at a variety of pubs, restaurants, and sports bars.
Tea: Although not as internationally famous as Indian brands, Nepal does in fact have a large tea growing industry. Most plantations are located in the east of the country and the type of tea grown is very similar to that produced in neighboring Darjeeling. Well known varieties are Dhankuta, Illam, Jhapa, Terathhum and Panchthar (all named after their growing regions). Unfortunately over 70% of Nepal's tea is exported and the tea's you see for sale in Thamel, while they serve as token mementos, are merely the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel.
* Chay is a tea drink with added milk and also sometimes containing ginger and spices such as cardamom.
* Suja. Salty tea made with milk and butter - only available in areas inhabited by Tibetans, Sherpas and a few other Himalayan people.
* Herbal teas. Most herbal teas are made from wild flowers from the Solu Khumbu region. In Kathmandu, these teas are generally only served in high class establishments or those run by Sherpas from the Solu Khumbu.
Water: Problematic due to lack of sanitary facilities and sewage treatment. It is safest to assume water is unsafe for drinking without being chemically treated or boiled, which is one reason to stick to tea or bottled water.
[add listing] Sleep
Budget accommodation in Nepal ranges from around 250 NPR to around 750 NPR for a double. Cheaper rooms usually do not have sheets, blankets, towels, or anything else besides a bed and a door. Most budget hotels and guesthouses have a wide range of rooms, so be sure to see what you are getting, even if you have stayed there before. Accommodations will often be the cheapest part of your budget in Nepal.
* Yoga & Meditation
- The Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Center (HBMC) for Tibetan Buddhist studies is an urban center in Thamel for meditation, study, and spiritual practice. The Center hosts daily yoga classes (9AM-10AM 300NRs) and evening meditation classes. -Nepal Vipassana Centers. Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka. - Osho Tapoban International Commune and Forest Retreat Center located in the dense forest of the Nagarjun Hills in the Outskirts of Kathmandu holds regular Osho meditations with weekend, monthy 1 to 7 days meditation events.
- Foot Fetish (9851032715) Proprietor Liza and friendly staff in Thamel offers reflexology (600NRs) Thai Massage (700NRs) and Ayurvedic Massage (1200NRs). - The Healing Hands Center . Classes in Ancient Massage / Thai Massage. Five-day course, ten-day course and one-month professional course every month.
* Motorcycling Professional training with Hearts and Tears Motorcycle Club in Pokhara
- Kopan Monastery  offers an extensive library with books in several languages as well as an audio and video library. Full board and accommodation is available to visitors throughout the year at a very reasonable cost. The income generated through this form an important part of the income of the monastery, and help in providing free facilities to all the monks and nuns. - Rangjung Yeshe Institute . An international institute for Buddhist higher studies in Boudhanath, Nepal, modeled on a traditional Tibetan Shedra.
* Thangka Painting
Art School offers a professional Thangka Painting Course. A minimum study period of 3 months a year for 3 years is recommended.Due to the sacred nature of this art form, those who wish to study here must have taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and consider themselves to be Buddhist. There are no boarding facilities offered at the Art School for foreign students. The school fees are 1,600 Nrs per month. Basic drawing and painting implements are required and can be purchased in Nepal.