The Kathmandu Valley
The cities of Patan and Bhaktapur used to have the same importance as Kathmandu. Each of these cities has its own Durbar Square and Kumari (see above). The Royal Palace in Patan is a must-see for any visitor to the country. Bhaktapur is a beautiful, quiet city whose back streets have an even stronger 20th-century feel than Kathmandu. In the potters’ square, whole families are busy skillfully shaping pottery of all sizes and, after drying in the sun, varnishing it. The village of Nagarkotcan be reached by bus or hiking through forests and past terraced fields through a landscape that enchants everyone. On fog-free days you have an excellent view of Mount Everest. Basic overnight accommodation is available, but there is no electricity – at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, food is prepared on the floor over the fireplace in one corner, while the majestic calm of the mountains spreads out on all sides outside the window. West of Kathmandu is Swayambhunath the oldest and most important Buddha temple in the country with its famous large staring pair of eyes. All around the valley you will find shrines to the gods for all purposes, where locals regularly consecrate colored powder and small offerings. Tradition dictates that shrines and temples should always be walked to the left.
The remote city of Pokhara is located 200 km west of Kathmandu in central Nepal (on the Phewa Lake). Nowhere else in the world do you have such a good view of the Himalayas. From Pokhara numerous groups start trekking with guides.
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The Nepalese capital is a magical place and, unlike many state capitals, absolutely distinctive. The city center is Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with numerous beautiful Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines, which serve as stables for animals at night and have niches for stalls in the outer walls. The Old Royal Palace and the statue of the Monkey God are also located in Durbar Square. You can also find the house of the living goddess Kumari here, in which a girl chosen through various rituals lives from around the age of six until puberty. She leaves home only to accept the daily requests of her followers, who she receives on a throne in the temple, and to attend numerous festivals. During the great earthquake in April 2015, numerous temples and palaces were destroyed in Durbar Square.
Behind Durbar Square begins a market that spreads over large parts of the old town. Some streets sell food and household items as well as souvenirs for tourists or colorful bracelets and cosmetics or candles and incense sticks. In the narrow streets of the old town you will find numerous small restaurants, book and clothing stores. Motor vehicles can only move at walking pace here because they share the road with pedestrians, cyclists and cows.
The mountain outside of town is home to the famous Monkey Temple, which draws pilgrims and tourists alike. Cheeky baboons live here in droves, so when you’re having a picnic you have to be careful that they don’t steal the delicacies from your hand.
The former Buddhist kingdom of Mustang is located in the Himalayas in the north of the Mustang district of the same name, which borders on Tibet. In the midst of the Annapurna mountains is Jomsom, the administrative center and most popular tourist resort of this inhospitable and until recently relatively unknown region on the edge of the habitable world. There is a road here that connects the village to Pokhara via Beni. There is also a flight connection to Jomsom from Pokhara.
The former Kingdom of Mustang covers an area of 2563 km2, is 2500 to 3900 m above sea level and has an arid climate. This region of mountainous deserts is divided by the Kali Gandaki River, which runs through Thak Khola – the deepest gorge in the world.
The barren and raw beauty of Mustang’s mountains has become a popular travel destination for trekkers and mountaineers. The entire Mustang district is under the state protection of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). Trekkers therefore have to pay an entrance fee for the national park. All travelers planning a trekking tour to Nepal also need a TIMS card before they leave. Trekking tours in the former Kingdom of Mustang are only possible as organized tours with a guide and for two or more people.
The months of April to October are best suited for mountain hikes. In winter it can get very cold. Peak travel times in Mustang are August and October. The monsoon season runs from June to September, but because Mustang lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, the district is mostly dry in August. However, it is advisable to arrive before the monsoon, as the road to Jomsom is likely to be flooded due to the rainy season. October is also a popular travel month because the weather is usually quite stable before winter.
Anyone who travels to Nepal can hardly escape the fascination of the seemingly endless mountain world, but you don’t have to climb Mount Everest straight away to get an impression of mountaineering life. Some local travel agencies organize guided day trips into the mountains and also offer multi-day group treks. The landscape is often rough and rugged, but always excitingly beautiful, and the paths are unpaved. The short, most popular routes can also be mastered without a guide, i. A. However, an experienced guide is recommended, which should best be mediated by a good travel agency (further information on trekking see Country & People). Some travel agencies offer flights over Mount Everest in a light aircraft.