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Nepal is a country nestled in South Asia, laying between India and China its southern and northern neighbors. Although usually perceived as a mountainous country, Nepal is full of contrasts – both natural and cultural. Its 30 million citizens and favorable geographical position on the Asian continent allow for this diversity.
Its northern strip, which borders with Tibet, is characterized by the Himalayan mountainous terrain. The Nepali Himalayas spread from the eastern to western end of the country and have various geography that comprises of high peaks, dry high-altitude plateaus and pastures, dense forests and high river valleys and gorges. Those areas are inhabited by peoples of different ethnic backgrounds that live on the Himalayas. The small mountain villages that dot the Himalayan foothills have distinct languages, beliefs and architecture. Travelers who are interested in trekking can pick one or more of the over 150 marked trekking routes and enjoy the mesmerizing landscapes and the warm hospitality of the people living along the routes. Some of the trekking trails are well known and included in the top world trekking destinations, such as the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp treks. Mt. Everest’s southern side is the preferred climbing route for the serious mountaineers who want to climb the peak. Others, who prefer trekking, can reach up to Everest Base Camp and meet the world’s best mountaineers and enjoy their stories, as well as meet many fellow trekkers from all around the world. Other trekking trails are still unexplored and are perfect for the ones who want to be the pioneers in exploring barren areas of exquisite natural beauty. Such are the areas of Upper Mustang, Upper Dolpo and an array of routes located in the far-western region of Nepal.
The southern side of Nepal, on the border with India, is characterized by flatlands. The Terai strip is filled with fields where people cultivate different types of fruits, vegetables and rice. As expected, the people who inhabit this portion of Nepal are very different from the mountainous peoples. They are predominantly Hindu and have their own cultures, languages, architecture traditions and cuisines. In this region there are several national parks famous for its wildlife and rich flora and herbs, out of which the most famous ones are Chitwan and Bardia national parks. Visitors of these parks can walk around in the jungle accompanied by a ranger or take an elephant or a jeep ride. All three ways are perfect for the ones interested in exploring the deep, green jungles.
The middle geographical strip of Nepal, with its heart in the Kathmandu valley, is a hilly region comprised mainly of the lower Mahabharat mountain range. The Kathmandu Valley – once home to three independent kingdoms (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan), is many times referred to as being an open air museum and for all the right reasons – these three cities have an array of open courtyards, royal palaces, temples and shrines built in a traditional Newari architecture, typical for the Kathmandu Valley. Other notable places in this region are Pokhara and Lumbini (among many others). Pokhara is situated in western Nepal, on the foothills of the Annapurna mountain range and it is considered to be a true jewel because of the fact that it has both lakes and mountains that create a very idyllic atmosphere. Pokhara also has a very lively tourist hub that has many restaurants and pubs that are visited both by trekkers before and after their treks and visitors who come to specially to Pokhara to enjoy the beautiful combination of natural beauty. Lumbini – is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Buddha and a wonderful location for a spiritual journey, especially because of Buddhist temples and shrines that Lumbini has in abundance as well as because off the concentration of stories connected to Buddha and Buddhism in general.
From the above, one can only conclude that Nepal is a country where everybody can find something of their preference and interest. We do not know of anybody who has visited Nepal and hasn’t left a piece of their heart in it. As many have already said and will continue saying: “Once is not enough!”