Five festivals to experience in Nepal

With its bright colors and fun energy, the festival of Holi has gained a good deal of attention in the U.S. and now brings travelers to Nepal and India regularly each spring. Participating in any of Nepal’s festivals is an engaging way to learn about the culture and religions, as well as to meet local people. They often bring people out to public spaces for celebrations and include feasts and special foods, as well as important traditional ceremonies. Many of Nepal’s festivals occur in the fall and spring, and we often suggest timing a trip to coincide with one. Here are a few to consider:

Bijaya Dashami

Held over fifteen days in September or October, Dashain or Bijaya Dashami is the longest Hindu festival in Nepal and one of the most important. It celebrates the victory of good over evil and honors the Hindu goddess Durga. Many people return home to celebrate with their families and receive tika (a dab of red vermillion on the forehead) from their elders. Kites are commonly flown; large swings are set up for children; new clothes are purchased and worn; and various rituals, including sacrifices, are held on specific days. The Taleju Temple in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, typically closed to all, opens to the Hindu people one day a year during the festival.

Dashain Festival. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Buddha Jayanti
Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death fell on the same day and are celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus throughout Nepal on the full moon of Vaisakha, a month on the Hindu calendar (usually April or May). The grandest ceremony occurs at Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini in the western Terai plains. In Kathmandu, Buddha’s devotees pay respects at the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest sites in Nepal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And in Kathmandu Valley, Swyambhunath Stupa and the city of Patan also draw Buddha’s disciples and admirers. Continue reading

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Preparing for the Everest Base Camp Trek

One of the most popular trails in Nepal, the trek to Everest Base Camp, is rarely without visitors. But in a few months, the trail will begin to buzz with excitement as sherpas, trekkers and climbers head through the Khumbu Valley and high into the Himalayas for the start of a new climbing season. It’s a time of much anticipation and preparation. And yet many trekkers arrive not knowing exactly what to expect. We put together this guide to help you prepare your clients.

To borrow from the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: Everest is a journey, not a destination.

Photo credit: Shubham

Trekkers should understand that it takes eight days to hike to Everest and three days to descend. They’ll spend only a few hours of this time at Everest Base Camp. This trek is about so much more than making it to 5,380 meters. It’s about spending days getting lost in nature (not literally) and being immersed in a foreign way of life and a fascinating culture. The physical challenge is just a bonus! Continue reading

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Women in Leadership

Ujita Nakarmi and Poonam Gupta Shrestha are two inspiring female leaders in their respective companies in the hospitality sector. Their commitment, hard work and leadership make them role models for women in Nepal aspiring to be in leadership positions.

Ujita Nakarmi is the manager of Traditional Comfort hotel, one of the leading sustainable hotels in Nepal. She oversees different aspects of the hotel from operations to sales and marketing to HR.

Ujita Nakarmi

How did you start your career?

Growing up, I always saw my mother and my aunts turn to their husbands for money. I did not like how dependent this made them on their husbands for little things. I was determined at a young age to never have to turn to my husband for money and to always become self-sufficient. My determination for financial independence led me to start working at a young age. I started tutoring younger kids when I was in grade 9. Throughout the rest of my high school, I also took other jobs through which I could earn money. This way I never had to turn to my parents for pocket money.

After completing 12th grade, an opportunity came for me to go to the UK. Meanwhile, my family was putting pressure on me to get married. I was determined to advance my career so I took the opportunity to go to the UK. In the UK, I worked at Burger King and Travelers Hotel. That is where I officially started my career in the hospitality sector. Continue reading

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Off-the-beaten-path experiences in Nepal

For years, Kathmandu, Everest, and Annapurna have enticed travelers with dreams of exotic cultural experiences and epic trekking routes. While Nepal’s main attractions might be exactly what your clients are looking for, some of our favorite travel moments here have come from stepping off the beaten path. And Nepal offers a multitude of ways for travelers to do just that while making a deep connection with locals and discovering some of our country’s beautiful landscapes. 

Here are just a few of our favorites places:

Chepang Hills

These hills lie in the shadows of the Annapurna Range and offer some of the least-trafficked trails and magnificent views. Home to the Chepang people, this area is dotted with villages and terraced fields. Stay with a local family in Upardang Gadi, a historic village, and climb up the massive fort from the Shah dynasty era for vistas of both the Annapurna and Manaslu ranges, a well as Chitwan Valley. A homestay gives travelers the opportunity to learn about the hunter-gatherer culture of this small ethnic group, who often share traditional songs and dances with visitors. Read more about traveling the region here

Panauti

One of the oldest towns in Nepal, Panauti offers a chance for travelers to step back in time to see a preserved medieval town, as well as the more modern one that has grown up around it. A tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site, Panauti is known for its many temples and stupas, and for its cultural and religious festivals. Travelers who want to immerse themselves in the culture will want to stay in the community homestay, run by a group of local women. As hosts, these women offer cultural programs, cooking classes and community hikes into the surrounding countryside. We often recommend combining a trek through Chepang Hills, a visit to Chitwan National Park and a stay in Panauti on this itinerary.

Panauti

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Reasons to Visit Nepal in the Low Season

Sometimes there isn’t a clear answer to the most commonly asked questions, like “When is the best time to go?”

Nepal’s monsoon and winter seasons (i.e. the low tourism seasons) fall between June and August and December and February respectively. Both are premium travel times for those on summer breaks or Christmas/New Year’s vacations. And both offer surprisingly valid reasons for booking a vacation to Nepal during these months, nevermind that travel costs are cheaper. 

As “overtourism” becomes a more commonly used word, travelers are seeking more sustainable ways to visit popular destinations and taking vacations during the off-season is one way to do that. Timing travel to when the crowds have dissipated means there’s less impact on the destination. 

Here are a few places we love to visit during Nepal’s low seasons:

  • The Terai region, the southernmost part of the country, is a wet lowland area and it is home to Chitwan National Park, Nepal’s first national park. Chitwan’s jungle is a sanctuary for one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tigers, crocodiles and rare birds. Wildlife safaris in the park can be far more enjoyable, and less steamy, in the winter. Our “Magical Nepal” itinerary combines three days in Chitwan with cultural attractions in Pokhara and Kathmandu and more.

Photo by Pradeep Chamaria

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Holi: The Most Fun Day of the Year

Nepal’s celebration of Holi is a colorful festival that is open to all, locals and visitors alike. The revered Hindu holiday, which dates back to the fourth century and signifies the arrival of spring, has gained attention in the U.S. in recent years and a number of travelers feel called to participate in the joyful revelry. A care-free celebration with people of all ages smearing each other with colored powders and drenching each other with water in the streets seems like the perfect excuse for a vacation, right?

Photo source: Inside Himalayas

While Holi truly begins with the installation of a ceremonial pole in Kathmandu Durbar Square almost a week earlier and religious ritual and prayer around a bonfire the night before, the free-for-all of color is found all around the square, the city streets, temples, parks and into the hill region on the day immediately following the full moon in March. The second day of festivities continues in the Terai with celebrations and feasts in area homes. Continue reading

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Sustainability, and the living is easy: Our commitments

At Royal Mountain Travel, we don’t just practice sustainable tourism, but sustainable living. As one of our core values, sustainability is woven through every element of our business and we’re proud of the work we’ve done to put our environment and our people first. 

As a Travelife Certified company, we know every small step we take to protect our environment has a powerful ripple effect. Eliminating single-use plastics is one of the most important steps we can take and we’re committed to it. Earlier this year, we gave each of our team members reusable water bottles, 500 in all. Each reusable bottle replaces roughly 217 plastic ones in a year, which means roughly 108,500 plastic bottles will be saved from landfills this year. We know this step starts with us, but will inspire similar actions among our guests and colleagues because we didn’t stop there.  Continue reading

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Spiritual Travel in Nepal

The face of tourism is changing. Once seen solely as a reprieve from the mundane day-to-day life, individuals are now taking vacation opportunities to explore destinations aligned with their spiritual journeys. Whether that be a pilgrimage to holy sites or simply to connect with the spiritual side of nature, there’s one destination that should be at the top of every spiritual traveler’s list: Nepal.

Home to multiple religions, the country is ripe to intake those looking intrinsically for deeper connections. The topic was even discussed during the last Himalayan Travel Mart, an international B2B conference for business leaders promoting travel in the Himalayas. While there is an abundance of holy sites in the country, we’ve round up a must-visit list below:

Lumbini, the birth of Buddhism

Situated in the Terai lowlands and bordered by India, Lumbini is where Buddha was born in 623 BCE. Today, it is home to numerous monasteries represented by a plethora of countries to showcase how widespread Buddhism is around the world, it has also become a pilgrimage site for devout Buddhists. Continue reading

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How to Take Travel Experiences to the Next Level

Most travel professionals know the ins and outs of travel, but can they identify what truly makes for an unforgettable experience? While it’s most likely a combination of things, we’ve discovered a core component: a connection to locals.

The natural beauty of our planet can be found all over the world, but the unique culture and traditions of each destination are what makes a place unique. Take the town of Tansen in the Palpa district as an example, the hidden gem is a remarkable stop for travelers. Most who visit stop by to enjoy the sweeping views for a day, but those who end up spending the night with Community Homestay experience something different – a connection to the destination itself. Continue reading

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Two Happy Generations Working with Royal Mountain Travel

“We are happy here” was the first thing they both said when asked why Royal Mountain Travel?  Chandraman Tamang and Choisyang Tamang, the father son duo from Bhinkhure, Kavrepalanchowk district have been working with Royal Mountain travel since its establishment in 2005. The smiles on their faces were just enough to prove that they were happy.

In order to know the reason behind those happy faces we had a conversation for about an hour. The story of happiness was well worth listening to. Continue reading

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