My name is Hellen and I work for AbenteuerWege Reisen, Macs Adventure's sister company here in Germany. I recently took some time off work to visit a country I have been wanting to visit for a long time - Nepal. It is definitely one of the most beautiful and interesting countries I have visited and I fell in love with it immediately. Being my first trip to an Asian country there were a few things that surprised me so I thought it would be useful if I share with you my top tips for visiting Nepal.
So here it is - 7 things you should know before visiting Nepal and the Annapurna region for the first time.
Hellen in Annapurna Basecamp
1. How to cross a road
It might sound obvious, but be prepared: the traffic around Kathmandu is nothing like you are used to. UK readers will be pleased to hear that they drive on the left in Nepal however there is a huge range of vehicles on the road: Scooters, motorbikes, small pick up trucks and loads of 4x4s. Passing other vehicles is not really restricted, it could be described as a 'free for all' with scooters and motorbikes following unpredictable lines. This can be quite intimidating.
Advice: Cross when a local crosses, pretty much follow them - I found this to be the safest strategy!
The Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
2. Timing a visit to Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
The Monkey Temple (or Swayambhunath as the locals call it) in Kathmandu is a sight which is definitely worth seeing. However, most people know about it and a trip therefore requires a bit of planning. It was amazing to see the sun rising over the Kathmandu Valley and whats great about going early is that there are lots of locals and fewer tourists. Alternatively sunset looks amazing from there as well!
Advice: Get to the Monkey Temple early to avoid the crowds.
Sunrise at the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
3. 24 hour walking power
Don't worry about the food! I found the food delicious! If you are doing a walking holiday, it is important to eat right so you will have strength throughout the day. Dal bhat is a traditional meal in many areas of Nepal. It consists of steamed rice, lentil soup with vegetables and occasionally some meat. It varies from place to place but I never had a bad tasting Dal bhat! It's tasty and gives you the energy you need for a long day of walking out in the Himalaya. There is even a saying amongst the Nepalese: 'Dal bhat power 24 hour!'
Advice: Try Dal bhat
4. Visiting the Annapurna Base Camp
The Annapurna Basecamp trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. It is tradition to bring something to leave at the basecamp, if only to prove you were here. I did not know that before and left my scarf there.
Advice: You should bring something small and lightweight to leave at the base camp.
Leaving an item at Annapurna Basecamp to prove you have been there.
5. Go for a swing on top of the world
Who can say they have been on a swing with such a good view?
Advice: Go for a swing!
A swing along the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek with a view to Machapuchare
6. Nepalese sunrises are incredible
Sunrise in the mountains is always worth waking up early for. As long as the sky is clear, the views are simply stunning.
Advice: Wake up early to catch the sunrise every day.
View from Annapurna Basecamp: Sunrise over Machapuchare (=fish's tail)
7. Visit Pokhara
Pokhara is a wonderful city at the Phewa Lake, not only with a breath taking view on the Annapurna mountain range and the lake, but many interesting cultural sights. The city is not as hectic as the capital Kathmandu and is therefore a lovely place to relax a few days after a tough trek. The city is also home to a few cultural treasures including the World Peace Pagoda which offers a unique view over the whole valley. Other sights in Pokharaa include the Guptheswor Mahadev cave and Devis Falls.
Advice: Spend a few extra nights in Pokhara.
Phewa Lake, with Pokhara in the background
If you are interested in visiting Nepal have a look at our range of Nepal treks or get in touch with a member of the team on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to receive content from Macs Adventure, including the best of our blog sign up for our adventure news & inspiration newsletter.