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.
Lower Mustang Valley
This rocky, arid valley protected from the monsoons is a visual shock to travelers who expect Nepal’s regular lush green landscapes. Come for the rich Tibetan Busshist culture, fascinating meditation caves, Jurassic-era fossils and of course the Muktinah Temple, a holy pilgrimage site for both Hindu and Buddhist followers. While travelers might feel like they’re in a different world, this area is quite accessible and this 11-day tour pairs the area with sightseeing in Pokhara and Kathmandu.
While it is not Everest, Manaslu is the eighth highest mountain peak in the world. The surrounding Manaslu Conservation Area has only been open to trekkers since the 1990s, meaning it’s still lesser known, but it delivers a magical experience for those seeking a physical challenge and jaw-dropping panoramas. Travelers can visit Buddhist monasteries and stay in tea houses in the local villages along the 14-day trek, offering many opportunities to connect with local people and the culture.
When it comes to finding off-the-beaten-path Nepal, these few spots are just the beginning. We welcome the chance to work with all travel agents to offer meaningful travel experiences that support the local community and protect our environment.