A cultural road trip to discover the many faces of Nepal
Nepal is a country well known for its world class trekking and awe-inspiring mountain views. However, because trekking is in the minds-eye of most visitors to Nepal, it feels like an undiscovered country in many ways. I had an opportunity to road trip around the central part of the country and saw first hand the many faces of Nepal. When I refer to the many faces of Nepal, I don’t just mean human faces. The diversity of Nepal runs from its lush and harsh landscapes, to the wonderful wildlife and beyond.
Nepal is certainly a developing country, and in many ways, has a long way to go. In some respects, the country seems stuck in the past, deteriorated by time. Political instability, earthquakes and poverty have certainly contributed to the country’s inability to elevate its status in the world. That said, I do believe the current leadership understands the economic impact of tourism and is trying to move the country forward to attract more western tourists. For those looking for some less discovered experiences, Nepal might just be what you’re looking for.
Few visitors road trip around the country on a cultural quest like I did. And, when I say “road trip,” I will admit that I left the driving to the experts. I would not classify Nepal as a road trip friendly country—you really need to know what you’re doing to navigate this part of the world. Whether it’s the semi-organized chaos of the cities, or nail-biting narrow dirt roads that curve past a cliff’s edge, Nepal’s infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. Not to mention that they drive on the wrong side of the road (that would be the left side). The nice thing is that a taxi or other private mode of transportation is very affordable.
I was in Nepal for a travel conference along with a number of other bloggers. Several of us got together to go on a cultural road trip around central Nepal. After a few days in Kathmandu, our first stop was to the Himalayan village of Panauti. We then went to Chitwan for a Safari, then to Lumbini to see all the Buddhist temples, including the birthplace of Buddha himself. We then stopped in Palpa for an afternoon, until finally reaching Pokhara, the gateway to Mt. Everest and other outdoor adventures. I have written Road Diary blog posts on each of the destinations mentioned above, so click any of the hypertext links to read more.
During my time in Nepal I discovered the most friendly people, with faces that that often match that of the varying landscape. If you’ve ever visited this part of the world, please leave a comment below and share your experience.
Places I stayed and would recommend:
- Maya Manor in Kathmandu is a great boutique property offering a good value with rooms staring around $60/night (includes breakfast).
- Panauti Community Homestay is just $25/night and comes with 3 locally prepared meals.
- The Landmark Forest Park near Chitwan National Park is about $75/night and includes breakfast.