Travelling Nepal & Tibet
Travels in Nepal and Tibet – a trip with a difference
When I was invited by a friend from Austria last year to go on a trip to Nepal and Tibet, I didn’t know what to expect but thought it sounded like something different from other travel I have done.
I have travelled a lot in my life, first with my parents when I was ten years old when we did a 6 month tour of Europe in a beat up old Comby van and later I lived in France for 6 months and did some travel in Eastern and Western Europe. However, I had never travelled in Asia and the idea excited me. The major reason for going was that my Austrian friend, who had already been to Nepal, wanted to go into Tibet to make the trek around the base of Mt Kailas. So I tried to get as fit as possible, not sure how someone from Australia (which hardly has any mountains, and none as high as the impressive peaks to be found in Nepal and Tibet) would cope in the high altitude. However I would discover that there were just as many highlights from our travels around Nepal as there was in our trip to Tibet.
Kathmandu and surrounds
Flying into Kathmandu is an amazing experience. Before you, a valley opens up while all around are the hulking presence of the Himalayan mountains. We stayed in Kathmandu for a week before heading off for our trek and found plenty to see in Kathmandu and surrounding areas. The monkey temple was a highlight of our first couple of days in Kathmandu and well worth the walk up some of the steepest stairs I have ever seen. We were lucky to have visited the temple just after the baby monkey’s had been born so there were plenty of little ones clinging to their mothers.
After finding our feet in Kathmandu we decided to try our luck with the public transport and take the short trip out to the historic town of Baktapur. This was quite an adventure, as we watched a young boy jump off the moving bus to yell out at towns along the way our destination and then deftly jump back on. Baktapur has been kept as it has was and is a fascinating view of an ancient Nepali town. On the bus trip back, I had my first experience of how friendly Nepalis are, spending a lovely 30 minute trip talking to a girl who was a teacher at a school in Kathmandu.
Trekking in Tibet
After our week of discovering Kathmandu, we ventured forth for our trek in Tibet with a local tour company. We found the company took care of everything for us and it is almost the only way to get into Tibet with independent travel being almost impossible to get permission for or to organise. The trek around Mt Kailas was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. While it was physically challenging, the sense of achievement at completing the trek and the stunning beauty of the landscape, so unlike anything I have ever seen, made it the most adventurous and different travel experience I have ever had. The landscape at first seemed so barren, sand and rock plains extending into the distance, but then we got our first view of the mountains and it was spectacular, to see these huge mountains rising out of what seemed like a lunar landscape. Once into our trek around Kailas, the landscape changed again. Suddenly we were walking through snow, past herd of Yaks.
Chitwan National Park
So imagine going from this sub zero environment, back to Nepal. And next on our list was to go see the Chitwan National park. We couldn’t have chosen a more different climate. When we arrived, it was around 35 degrees celcius and extremely humid. Not unlike the weather I was used to in Australia. The Chitwan was beautiful. We took the recommended nature reserve tour on elephant back and got to see rhino and many birds, but not the elusive tigers.
Our final couple of weeks in Nepal we decided to spend in Pokhara. This is famous for having the best views of the Himalayan Mountain range and sits on a lake, making it very picturesque. This was our relax after trekking and the heat of the Chitwan and we couldn’t have chosen a better place. Like Kathmandu, everyone was so friendly and helpful and Pokhara have a very relaxed vibe. It was a great way to end out trip and my travels in Nepal and Tibet remain one of the best experiences of my life. I was amazed at the difference of landscape within Nepal, from green valleys, to tropical jungle zones and then the impressive form of the Himalayas. I would love to go back and encourage anyone thinking of travelling to Nepal and Tibet to do it.