Wedged between the high wall of the Himalaya and the steamy jungles of the Indian plains, Nepal is a land of snow peaks and Sherpas, yaks and yetis, monasteries and mantras.Nepal, home to Mount Everest, is dominated by the world's most imposing mountains. Although the country is relatively small (147,181 square kilometers), 80 percent of its territory is occupied by the dramatic peaks of the Himalayas. Nepal was closed to foreign visitors until1951, a situation which contributed greatly to its mystique in the west. This small, hospitable country has since become an exceptionally popular destination for travelers, whether they are in search of climbing challenges or spiritual enlightenment.

Temples & Tigers

Other travelers prefer to see Nepal at a more gentle pace, admiring the peaks over a gin and tonic from a Himalayan viewpoint, strolling through the temple-lined medieval city squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur and joining Buddhist pilgrims on a spiritual stroll around the centuries-old stupas and temples that lie scattered across the Kathmandu Valley.

Further south lie Nepal’s wild and woolly national parks, where nature buffs scan the treetops for exotic bird species and comb the jungles for rhinos and tigers from the backs of lumbering Indian ele-phants. Whether you cross the country by mountain bike, motorbike, raft or tourist bus, Nepal offers an astonishingly diverse array of attractions and landscapes.

Mountain Adventures

Ever since Nepal first opened its borders to outsiders in the 1950s, this tiny mountain nation has had an irresistible mystical allure for travellers. Today, legions of trekkers are drawn to the Himalaya’s most iconic and accessible hiking, some of the world’s best, with rugged trails to Everest, the Annapurnas and beyond. Nowhere else can you trek for days or even weeks in incredible mountain scenery, secure in the knowledge that a hot meal, cosy lodge and warm slice of apple pie await you at the end of the day. Nepal is nirvana for mountain lovers.

Other travellers are drawn here by the adrenaline rush of rafting down a roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into a bottomless Himalayan gorge. Canyoning, climbing, kayaking, paragliding and mountain biking all offer a rush against the backdrop of some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes.

Nepal, home to Mount Everest, is dominated by the world's most imposing mountains. Although the country is relatively small (147,181 square kilometers), 80 percent of its territory is occupied by the dramatic peaks of the Himalayas. Nepal was closed to foreign visitors until1951, a situation which contributed greatly to its mystique in the west. This small, hospitable country has since become an exceptionally popular destination for travelers, whether they are in search of climbing challenges or spiritual enlightenment.

Nepal can be divided into three geographical regions, each stretching from east to west across the country. The southernmost strip of land, the Terai, is bordered to the north by Himalayan foothills and to the south by the Ganges River. The area was originally covered with tropical vegetation, but has been almost completely converted to agricultural production. The Terai region is now the breadbasket of Nepal and is covered with farms.

The central section of Nepal is formed by the Mahabharat Chain, a range of mountains that reach modest altitudes of 2,000-3,000 meters. Farming has become an important activity in the area; terraced farms produce rice, corn and wheat. The Kathmandu Valley, a stretch of green in the middle of the Mahabbarat, is home to Nepal's capital and other historic cities.

The Himalayas stretch across the northern section of Nepal. Eight of the ten highest peaks in the world are located here, and most are covered with permanent snowfields. The area is sparsely populated, with little vegetation above the tree-line (4,200 meters).

The climate varies considerably with elevation. May to October is monsoon season, when rain soaks the Terai and snow falls on the Himalayan peaks. Mid-October to mid-December is prime mountaineering weather: the skies are clear and sunny, temperatures range from warm in the lowlands to crisp in the mountains. March and April are also good months for mountain treks, although temperatures in Kathmandu and the Terai tend to be steamy.

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General Information:

Time Zone: 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT

Dialling Code: +977

Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz

 

Entry Procedure and Visa Rules:

All foreigners (except Indian nationals) require visas, which can be obtained in advance or on arrival. Passport should be valid at least for six months to enter Nepal and if you are planning to visit Tibet and Bhuatn, good to have one year validity.

Note: Visitors from the following countries should obtain a visa before arrival at the immigration entry points of Nepal: Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Switziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine & Afghanistan. For more information on visas you can visit www.nepal-consulate.net.au and also email at adelaide@nepal-consulate.net.au or contact immigration of Nepal. Please do not rely (100%) on the website information for visa rules as the website may not have been updated recently. 

Nepalese consulates issue visa in Australia (approx: AU$ 65 for 15 days, 85.00 for 30 days or $ 175 for 90 days) or at entry point's immigration offices provide various duration’s visa on request upon the presentation of a one year valid passport, one passport size photo.

 

Entry points:

By Air: Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.

By Land: • Kakarvitta, Jhapa • Birganj • Parsa • Kodari , Sindhupalchowk • Belahia, Bhairahawa • Jamunaha, Nepalgunj • Mohana, Dhangadhi  • Gaddachauki, Mahendranagar. Further details can be obtained on request.

 

Duty Free:

Import: 

Apart from your used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, distilled liquor (one 1.15 litre bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring binoculars, movie or video camera, still cameras, laptop computer and portable music devices.

Export:

The export of antiques requires a special certification from the Department of Archaeology. It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old such as sacred paintings and manuscripts that are valued for culture and

religious reasons.

 

Bank & Currency:

Nepali currency is Nepalese Rupees (NRS). Approximately $ 1 is equivalent to Rs 85 to 90.00 (as AUD is a fluctuating currency) Nepalese Rupees (Currency conversion subject to change). Credit cards are accepted in banks, big hotels and many bigger shops. Please retain your cash receipts and for changing local currency into foreign currency on departure at exit points or at the Tribhuvan International Airport departure lounge. Banks in Kathmandu Valley are open between 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday except government holidays. Out of Kathmandu valley banks are open from 10 am to 2:30 pm from Sundays through Fridays.

While traveling in Nepal, Australian $ or US$ both currency are accepted by banks or hotels in Kathmandu. When you travel out of Kathmandu or Pokhara, please take local currency.

ATM:

ATM machines are located in a few banks in the capital and Pokhara. We do not recommend you to rely on ATM as they are not widely available, lots of time black out and it does not operate without electricity. If in case you forget password and have one card or anything wrong and taken away by the machine, you could be sort of money. So alternative backup plans are recommended.

Note: Travellers cheques are not accepted in Nepal.

 

Insurance:

A comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers theft, loss and medical treatment and evacuation and $ 200,000 personal liability is recommended. Insurance is must to participate in the tour.

 

Tipping:

Tipping is becoming fairly common in Nepal. Hotels and restaurants already added 10% service charge as tips. If you are going on a trek,  good to save your tipping money to guide and porters.

 

Can I bargain?

Bargaining is commonplace in markets and tourist shops, but recommended to treat it as a form of polite social discourse rather than a matter of life and death.

 

Health Guide:

The golden rule is not to drink tap water or other water from open sources. Bottled water or soft drinks are available widely. Salads and fruit should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Food, drinks and snacks from reputable sources are usually safe. Iodine tablets or Iodine drops are alternative means to treat water during the trek. Bottle of water is available to purchase widely.

 

Medical Services:

Medical facilities in Kathmandu Valley are good. The Kathmandu Valley also offers the services of major general hospitals and private clinics. Health posts have been set up by the government in different parts of rural Nepal. However, facilities are not on a western standard.

 

Immunization:

Vaccinations for cholera, meningitis, tetanus and diphtheria, typhoid and Hepatitis A should be considered, however it may be a good idea to get a complete check-up with a travel doctor or your GP before departure. A useful article to read at: http://www.ciwec-clinic.com/CIWEChandouts/Immunizations_Recommended_for_Travel_in_Nepal.pdf 

 

Climate:

Climatic conditions of Nepal vary from one place to another in accordance with the geographical features. In the north summers are cool and winters severe, while in south summers are tropical and winters are mild. Nepal has namely five major seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter.An average temperature drop of 6°C occurs for every 1,000 m gain in altitude. In the Terai, summer temperatures exceed 37° C and higher in some areas, winter temperatures range from 7°C to 23°C in the Terai. In mountainous regions, hills and valleys, summers are temperate while winter temperatures can plummet under sub zero. The valley of Kathmandu has a pleasant climate with average summer and winter temperatures of 19°C – 35°C and 2°C – 12°C respectively.

The Himalayas act as a barrier to the cold winds blowing from Central Asia in winter, and forms the northern boundary of the monsoon wind patterns. Eighty percent of the precipitation is received during the monsoon (June-September). Winter rains are more pronounced in the western hills. The average annual rainfall is 1,600 mm, but it varies by eco-climatic zones, such as 3,345 mm in Pokhara and below 300 mm in Mustang.An interesting fact is that there is no seasonal constraint on traveling in and through Nepal. Even in December and January, when winter is at its severest, there are compensating bright sun and brilliant views. As with most of the trekking areas in Nepal, the best time to visit are during spring and autumn. Spring is the time for rhododendrons while the clearest skies are found after the monsoon in October and November. However, Nepal can be visited the whole year round.

 

Here’s a brief view of the average temperatures and rainfall during peak summer and winter in three most popular tourist areas:

Place

Summer (May, June, July)

Winter (Dec, Jan, Feb)

Max (°C)

Min (°C)

Rain (mm)

Max (°C)

Min (°C)

Rain (mm)

Kathmandu

28.1

19.5

312

19.3

3.0

15.4

Pokhara

29.7

21.3

829.7

20.3

7.7

26.3

Chitwan

33.0

25.3

404.0

24.1

8.3

13.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culture:

Customs and traditions differ from one part of Nepal to another. A conglomeration lies in capital city Kathmandu where cultures are blending to form a national identity. Kathmandu Valley has served as the country’s cultural metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th Century.A prominent factor in a Nepali’s everyday life is religion. Adding color to the lives of Nepalis are festivals the year round which they celebrate with much pomp and joy. Food plays an important role in the celebration of these festivals.

 

Religion:

Nepal was declared a secular country by the Parliament on May 18, 2006. Religions practiced in Nepal are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship and animism. The majority of Nepalis are either Hindus or Buddhism. The two have co-existed in harmony through centuries.

Buddha is widely worshipped by both Buddhists and Hindus of Nepal. The five Dhyani Buddhas; Vairochana, Akshobhaya, Rathasambhava, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi, represent the five basic elements: earth, fire, water, air and ether. Buddhist philosophy conceives these deities to be the manifestations of Sunya or absolute void. Mahakaala and Bajrayogini are Vajrayana Buddhist deities worshipped by Hindus as well.

Hindu Nepalis worship the ancient Vedic gods. Bramha the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer, are worshipped as the Supreme Hindu Trinity. People pray to the Shiva Linga or the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva in most Shiva temples. Shakti, the dynamic element in the female counterpart of Shiva, is highly revered and feared. Mahadevi, Mahakali, Bhagabati, Ishwari are some of the names given. Kumari, the Virgin Goddess, also represents Shakti.Other popular deities are Ganesh for luck, Saraswati for knowledge, Lakshmi for wealth and Hanuman for protection. Krishna, believed to be the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu is also worshipped widely. Hindu holy scripts Bhagawat Gita, Ramayan and Mahabharat are widely read in Nepal. Vedas, Upanishads and other holy scriptures are read by well learned Brahmin Pundits during special occasions.

 

Customs:

The diversity in Nepal in terms of ethnicity again makes room for various sets of customs. Most of these customs go back to the Hindu, Buddhist or other religious traditions. Among them, the rules of marriage are particularly interesting. Traditional marriages call for deals arranged by parents after the boy or girl come of age.

Nepalis do not eat beef. There are several reasons for this, one being that the Hindus worship cow. Cow is also the national animal of Nepal. Another interesting concept among Nepalis is division of pure and impure. “Jutho” referring to food or material touched by another’s mouth directly or indirectly, is considered impure by Nepalis. Nepalis consider cow dung to be pure for cleansing purposes. During menstruation women are considered impure and hence, are kept in seclusion until their fourth day purification bath.Nepal is a patriarchal society. Men usually go out to work while women are homemakers. However, in cities, roles can differ. Most Nepalis abide by the caste system in living habits and marriage. Rural Nepal is mostly agrarian, while some aspects of urban life carry glitz and glamour of the ultra-modern world.

 

Food:

Nepal does not have a distinct cooking style. However, food habits differ depending on the region. Nepali food has been influenced by Indian and Tibetan styles of cooking. Authentic Nepali taste is found in Newari and Thakai cuisines. Most Nepalis do not use cutlery but eat with their right hand.The regular Nepali meal is dal (lentil soup), bhat (boiled rice) and tarkari (curried vegetables), often accompanied by achar (pickle). Curried meat is very popular, but is saved for special occasions, as it is relatively more expensive. Momos (steamed or fried dumplings) deserve a mention as one of the most popular snack among Nepalis. Rotis (flat bread) and dhedo (boiled flour) also make meals in some homes.

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