Insider's guide to Nepal
September is heading towards peak trekking season in Nepal. Flights into Kathmandu are notoriously busy especially during the autumn months. Helene Cooper from Imaginative Traveller’s Marketing Department has experienced the highs of trekking in Nepal with her most recent trips to the mountains seeing her combine a visit to Everest Base Camp and climbing Island Peak. She gives us the lowdown on Kathmandu and the rest of Nepal.
What’s Kathmandu’s Best Kept Secret?
Dwarika’s. An utterly stunning hotel which has been created from discarded artefacts and pieces of ancient craftsmanship (some from the 13th century) and is now a living museum of Nepalese heritage. Once you step inside it feels like an oasis of calm from the chaos of the streets outside. Even if you can’t afford to stay there, I urge you to drop by for an exotic fruit cocktail or maybe treat yourself to the 22 course taster menu in their fabulous Krishnarpan restaurant – it will be worth it!
Best Place In Nepal For Adventure?
That’s a tough one as the entire country is packed full of incredible adventures – and it’s not all about trekking either! Where else can you combine a white water rafting expedition beneath snow-capped mountains with an elephant-back safari in search of rhino and tigers? However, it would be criminal to visit this beautiful country without experiencing some of the breathtaking mountain scenery up close and personal on a trek. For most people this boils down to a choice between the popular high altitude Everest region or the arguably more stunning Annapurna area with its lower foothill options and wider mountain panoramas. An easy decision? Not at all – which is why I have decided to keep going back again and again….
What’s Kathmandu’s Best Restaurant?
Rum Doodle! Named after a hilarious book about a spoof ascent of a mountain called Rum Doodle (alt, 40000 1/2ft!), this restaurant/bar in the popular Thamel area is steeped in mountain history with many of the Everest summiteers’ signatures lining the inner walls and a glorious rooftop terrace from which to enjoy a cold beer and stunning views of the city’s skyline. There is also a wonderfully relaxed open-air café called Mike’s Breakfast where you can get fantastic American breakfasts if you tire of Asian delights.
Best Piece Of Advice For Someone Travelling To Nepal?
If you are flying to Lukla to tackle the trek to Everest Base Camp then try to sit on the left side of the plane on the way out so you can get the best views of the Himalayas during the flight.
What’s Your Favourite Thing About Nepal?
The fact that absolute chaos and total peace sit side by side each other. You can be dodging crazy drivers through noisy markets or dozy cows meandering between street stalls then the next minute entering a peaceful temple courtyard with monks praying and locals making silent offerings. Equally in the mountains you can be following a group of noisy trekkers in the latest outdoor equipment, chatting on their mobiles, completely missing the stunning views of Mount Everest and then after a lung-busting ascent of a mountain pass, you come across an area of stone cairns, memorials to fallen climbers – both western and sherpa – and an amazing sense of calm and tranquillity descends, possibly the most picturesque ‘garden’ of remembrance in the world.
Any Other Interesting Facts?
When trekking to Everest Base Camp you actually start by descending from Lukla.
Always walk clockwise round chortens (stupas of religious significance to Buddhists)
The colours of the prayer flags decking most high points or temples actually represent the elements – blue=space, white=air, red=fire, green=water, yellow=earth – in that order.
It is better to see Mount Everest from the classic viewing point of Kala Patar at sunset with the sun behind you rather than at sunrise. See our notes on Trekking in Nepal for more reasons to book our trip to Everest.
Finally, Yak Butter tea is an acquired taste!