This is a ten-episode series consisting of short videos that will explore topics related to sustainable tourism in Nepal. The series will cover the dos and don’ts of sustainable travel and other topics such as community-based tourism and discussions with experts on pertinent sustainability issues.
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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
“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
Do you know what makes Nepal one of the most biodiverse countries in the world? Hint: it has something to do with a giant called the Himalayas. The climate range is so broad – from the highest point in the world (Everest) to the tropical lowlands that are engulfed in humidity and home to rainforests – the tremendous geographic diversity plays a part in the range of flora and fauna that exist within the country. Continue reading
You don’t have to travel deep into Chitwan National Park in the Terai Lowlands of Nepal to come face-to-face with the once elusive one-horned rhino. Thanks to major conservation efforts, the population has grown from a mere 40 to over 600 living in the park today, making it an easier feat to spot one of these incredible creatures. In fact, you’re almost guaranteed to see one on safari – a major contributor to that possibility? Tourism. Continue reading