Nepal Overview

The Himalayas offer some of the best hiking in the world and this Nepal travel guide merely scratches the surface of the picturesque, soaring peaks that have challenged adventurers for decades. The Himalayas are a special place, a trekking nirvana, but a cultural beauty too. You’ll stumble across little villages where you can hang out drinking tea with the locals, welcomed with stories of myth, migration and deep religious belief. An enchanting blend of Hindu and Buddhist mysticism, whether you hike, bike, or raft your way around, you will come back a changed person. Find out more in our Nepal travel guide.

Our top Nepal vacations

Nepal family vacation, walking in the Annapurnas

From US $1850
12 days ex flights
Low altitude trek in the Annapurna foothills
Small group2020: 1 Nov, 17 Dec, 2021: 3 Jan, 13 Feb, 20 Mar, 11 Apr, 26 Sep, 31 Oct, 21 Nov

Nepal trekking vacation, Annapurna and Everest

From US $2990
15 days ex flights
Trek Nepal's famous Everest and Annapurna Trails in 2 weeks
Small group2020: 3 Oct, 29 Nov, 2021: 2 Jan, 27 Feb, 10 Apr, 18 Sep, 16 Oct, 28 Nov

Best time to go to Nepal

When is the best time to go to Nepal? Tricky question. There are four clear seasons revolving around the summer monsoon (June - Sept), not the best time to visit Nepal if you're trekking, but an incredible time to see the country simply alive with growth and freshness. If you're trekking, autumn (Sept - Nov) and spring (Feb - mid-April) are your best bet: autumn brings exceptional clarity, the dust washed away by the monsoon, and spring days are warmer and longer. Winter is very chilly - wrap up warm and you'll be one of only a few in the mountains.
Nepal temperature and rainfall chart

Map & highlights

Though still recovering from the devastating 2015 earthquake, Kathmandu is as lovably chaotic and charismatic as ever. From the capital, the ancient city of Bhaktapur is just southeast, its tangled maze of backstreets a joy to wander. To the west lies Chitwan National Park, and jungle adventures in search of a thriving rhino population. The beautiful lakeside city of Pokhara is often a launch-pad for Chitwan, as well as the 125km Annapurna Circuit, which is one of the best treks in Nepal. Another is of course the trek to Everest Base Camp, and staggering views of the world’s tallest peak.
Annapurna Circuit

1. Annapurna Circuit

The Government of Nepal's 2017 tourism statistics stated that 70 percent of visitors to the country come to trek and mountaineer. A huge number of them trek the Annapurna Circuit. It’s known for its diverse landscape, leading from jungle to alpine forest, and entails a 125km circumnavigation of the breathtaking Annapurna range. Despite controversy over road construction, the circuit’s popularity is proof of its position as one of Nepal’s greats.
Bhaktapur and Namo Buddha

2. Bhaktapur and Namo Buddha

Only 12km east of teeming Kathmandu, Bhaktapur is an atmospheric nod to the past, an old city with few signs of modernity within its tangled maze of backstreets. The architecture is a proud Newari blend of monuments and temples and thought the Gorkha earthquake of 2015 damaged a great many ancient buildings, reconstruction work is piecing the city back together.
Chitwan National Park

3. Chitwan National Park

Chitwan’s past is haunted by some horrific hunts, but thanks to its 1962 emergence as a rhino sanctuary and subsequent promotion to National Park, the park has bred the rhino back from extinction and estimates suggest there could be as many as 645 living there. Don’t expect an African safari, the varied wildlife is concentrated, but the vegetation is dense; instead look forward to a proper jungle adventure.
Everest Base Camp

4. Everest Base Camp

Everest, and the camp at its base that hosts intrepid climbers as they begin and end their ultimate mountain adventure, needs little introduction, but deserves a lot of credit. Nearby town, Lukla, is the actual gateway to Everest, but a moment's reflection at Base Camp, standing breathlessly close to the mountain itself, is awe-inspiring, and the trek to reach it is outstanding.

5. Kathmandu

As charismatic as it is utter chaos, Kathmandu has taken the hand that tourism dealt it and raised it with disconcerting speed. Though Thamel is a headache of hotels, knock-off sportswear and tourist tat, the Old City is a more authentic blend of temples and Buddhist architecture. Sadly, more than 400 monuments were damaged by the 2015 earthquake in Kathmandu and the Kathmandu valley, and while reconstruction is underway, it's moving slowly.

6. Pokhara

Pokhara’s staggering beauty is the stuff of art itself: bright greenery, the Annapurna range its jagged, snowy backdrop, framing the Phewa, a lake so still that the landscape reflected in it looks like oil on canvas. The city itself is a victim of useful tourist trappings – food, beer – and far less in your face than Thamel, and the valley is a balmy paradise for mountain bikers and paragliders.

Best treks in Nepal

Many of the best treks in Nepal require little introduction. The 12-day route to Everest Base Camp, for instance, drenched in mountaineering history, involves a white-knuckle small plane flight through the Himalayas, and a visit to bustling Namche Bazaar, cradle of Sherpa culture. The Annapurna Circuit is another great, with over half of all Nepal trekkers heading to this spectacular range. Shorter and more accessible than many routes, the alpine scenery of the Langtang Valley is also popular, as are the sacred valleys of Helambu, also just outside of Kathmandu. Both are at (relatively) low altitude, requiring no acclimatisation.

Everest Base Camp

Not everyone has the fortitude, or the financial means, to scale the world’s highest peak. For others, just admiring it from Everest Base Camp South is an achievement in itself. Trekking here is a 12-day odyssey through ever-changing landscapes, past plunging river canyons, forests of blue pine, vast glaciers and ancient Buddhist monasteries, and tiny mountain villages where colourful prayer flags flutter in the breeze. Local guides bring this scenery to life by sharing their knowledge of Buddhism, Sherpa culture, and tales of derring-do. You are, after all, following in the footsteps of mountaineering history here.

Annapurna region

Apt to leave even experienced walkers lost for words, the Annapurna region is the most popular trekking destination in Nepal, and the full 125km circuit is considered one of the best routes in the world. One reason is the variety of terrain, from rhododendron woods to rice paddies, alpine forests to wide, arid plateaus, with the mountains as a constant backdrop, shimmering pink in the sunset. You need 18 days to complete the circuit, but there are plenty of shorter routes of a week or less. Even these are strenuous though, and you’ll be glad of the readily available porters.

More vacation ideas

Everest Base Camp trek, Nepal

From US $1585 to US $1810
15 days ex flights
For anyone who has dreamed of seeing Mt Everest
Small group2020: 2 Dec, 5 Dec, 9 Dec, 12 Dec, 16 Dec, 18 Dec, 2021: 27 Jan, 20 Feb, 6 Mar, 19 Mar, 27 Mar, 3 Apr, 5 Apr, 9 Apr, 14 Apr, 16 Apr, 17 Apr, 24 Apr, 28 Apr, 1 May, 5 May, 7 May, 12 May, 15 May, 19 May, 21 Aug, 28 Aug, 1 Sep, 4 Sep, 8 Sep, 10 Sep, 11 Sep, 15 Sep, 17 Sep, 18 Sep, 22 Sep, 24 Sep, 25 Sep, 29 Sep, 1 Oct, 6 Oct, 8 Oct, 9 Oct, 13 Oct, 15 Oct, 16 Oct, 20 Oct, 22 Oct, 24 Oct, 27 Oct, 29 Oct, 3 Nov, 6 Nov, 10 Nov ...

Sailung Valley trekking vacation, Nepal

From £1255 to £1367
11 days ex flights
Walking adventure in beautiful, undiscovered region of Nepal

Annapurna trekking vacations, Nepal

From US $1640
11 days ex flights
Trekking in the Himalaya
Small group2020: 11 Oct, 18 Oct, 1 Nov, 8 Nov, 22 Nov, 6 Dec, 23 Dec, 2021: 10 Jan, 31 Jan, 14 Feb, 27 Feb, 14 Mar, 4 Apr, 11 Apr, 26 Sep, 10 Oct, 31 Oct, 21 Nov, 5 Dec, 22 Dec

Everest Base Camp trekking vacation, 15 days

From US $1560 to US $2020
15 days ex flights
The base of the world's tallest peak.

Khopra Danda trekking vacation in Nepal

From US $1135 to US $1750
9 days ex flights
This is a moderate,off-the-beaten-track adventure.
Tailor made

Ghorepani Poon Hill trek in Nepal

From US $860 to US $1125
5 days ex flights
Moderate trek in the Annapurna Region.

More about Nepal

Family vacations

Contending with the challenges and privations of traveling in a third world country with young children doesn’t appeal to everyone, but for those with intrepid, active kids over the age of six, Nepal is an adventure playground. Full of tall pointy bits you will only be admiring from the bottom, but also lots of smaller bumps that kids can comfortably scale on foot or two wheels. There are rivers to raft, wildlife to spot in Chitwan National Park, and colourful bazaars to wander in search of souvenirs to make friends back home ‘well-jel’. And naturally, family vacations in Nepal are imbued throughout with warm, welcoming Buddhist hospitality.

Wildlife vacations

There’s a line in Nepal’s national anthem that describes ‘a shawl of nature’s wealth unending’, and while most people visit this tiny Nepalese kingdom to trek, there are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife vacations. Bengal tigers can be tracked on foot or by dugout canoe as they roam lowland riverbanks; one-horned Indian rhinos thrive in the dense jungle of Chitwan National Park, and in the remote Royal Bardia National Park some 80 migratory elephants are joined by crocodiles, swamp deer and river dolphins. With the help of specialist guides you can even see endangered red pandas in the Himalayan foothills.

Types of vacations

Nepal is made for bucket-list adventure vacations. You can spend a fortnight trekking through the world’s highest mountains alongside Sherpa guides, or mix things up with river rafting, wildlife watching and mountain biking. Naturally, walking vacations in Nepal fall into the ‘stuff dreams are made of’ category. There are many lesser-known treks available as well as iconic routes such as Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit. And whatever the focus of your trip, joining small group vacations means like-minded companions and expert organisers taking care of all the knotty logistics while you relax and suck in that crisp Himalayan air.
[Best treks in Nepal: Vojtech Holoubek] [Everest Base Camp: Ben & Gab] [Annapurna region: Matt Zimmerman] [Family vacations: Steven Gerner] [Wildlife vacations: Vadim Tolbatov] [Types of vacations: Jigme Bodh]
Photo credits: [Page banner: Olga Danylenko] [Best treks in Nepal: Vojtech Holoubek] [Everest Base Camp: Ben & Gab] [Annapurna region: Matt Zimmerman] [Family vacations: Steven Gerner] [Wildlife vacations: Vadim Tolbatov] [Types of vacations: Jigme Bodh]
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