Adventure in Nepal 2023

Nepal is a country located in the Himalayas, known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and adventurous activities. In 2024, you can embark on a thrilling adventure in Nepal that includes trekking in the Himalayas, exploring ancient temples and palaces, experiencing the local cuisine, and connecting with the friendly Nepali people. From the bustling city of Kathmandu to the remote mountain villages, Nepal offers a unique and unforgettable experience for any adventurer.

Nepal is home to nearly one-third of the 1500-mile-long Himalayan range, the world’s tallest mountains, and the deepest gorge. The 1700-kilometre Great Himalaya Trail, or GHT, is the longest and highest alpine trekking trail, and it connects the two ends of the country via a breathtaking route. There’s plenty for those who want to see majestic views in plush comfort, unwind while gazing at snow-capped peaks, or watch the indescribable beauty of the sun rising over misty mountains.

Types of Adventure in Nepal

Mountain Experiences

There are few places where you can travel for days in the farthest mountain and yet feel secure about having access to relative comfort and connectivity should you want it. Nepal is a country of incredible natural beauty, these experiences, and more.

Wildlife

You can go on a wildlife-focused adventure in this ecologically diverse country, which is home to rare species including mammals such as the red panda, musk deer, and snow leopard, and birds such as the red-headed Trogopan and the Himalayan Monal.

Himalayan thar
The endangered animal Thar is spotted in the Everest Region of Nepal.

Waterway

Some of the biggest Himalayan rivers flow through the heart of Nepal. The Karnali, Nepal’s longest and largest river, originates in the Tibetan plateau of Manasarovar, and rafting enthusiasts can experience both fast, wild rapids and serene waters along the course of the same river.

Rafting
Rafting

The sky is the limit

For adventure seekers, the sky is truly the limit in Nepal. Tandem paragliding is the perfect way to be initiated into sky sports. The daring can take a plunge, quite literally, and bungee jump from Asia’s second-highest jump. Enjoy the beauty of Pokhara’s Lake Phewa by boarding an ultralight plane and flying with a pilot.

Nature

From watching the sunrise over the Annapurna mountains to a gentle boat ride down the Rapti, and from waking up to birdsong in the middle of nowhere to soaking in luxury in locales you would never expect it in, get a taste of the best experiences in the unofficial adventure capital of southeast Asia. In Nepal, your next big thrill is just a mountain peak, river, or valley away.

When To Go

October & November

This is the best season for adventure in Nepal because the skies are clear, allowing for great mountain views, and the waters aren’t too cold. Good weather in high-altitude areas is a bonus for hikers and those wanting to see views from an airplane. This period sees a steep rise in the prices of accommodation and other things.

December-May

The winter months are the best time to go ice climbing. When it begins to warm up (Feb-Mar), you can go hiking in the valleys where the rhododendrons are in full bloom. In April and May, trekking starts again, and this is also the best time to go wildlife watching in the Terai.

June-September

This is the monsoon period and some operators conduct tours for travelers. Visits to rain-shadow areas like Upper Dolpo and Upper Mustang are recommended during this season. In other areas, accommodation is cheap and discounts are common during these months.

Related: Best time to Travel to Nepal.

What to Pack

  • Depending on the time of your visit, pack more or fewer warm layers. Should the weather turn, you will need a light fleece even in the summer.
  • Carry good walking shoes and pack light running shoes if you want to go trail running. Sturdy hiking boots, thermals, and other high-altitude gear are important on serious treks. You can pick up equipment in Kathmandu if you forget anything; most travel companies also provide gear as part of their arrangements.
  • Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm, a flashlight, insect repellent, water purification tablets, a reusable water bottle or flask, and all other outdoor paraphernalia. You can easily pick up anything you don’t have from any of the mini supermarkets in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
  • Carry a bathing suit or shorts for rafting and other water sports, and ponchos and other rain gear for the unpredictable weather.

Read more about the Packing List for Nepal Travel.

Quick Facts

LANGUAGE
The people in Nepal speak a mix of Nepali and Hindi, and basic English is spoken and understood by most on the tourist circuits and even in teahouses on trekking trails.

CURRENCY
The Nepali rupee (NPR) is the local currency. The US dollar is widely accepted just like the Indian rupee. Most money exchange shops display the exchange rates for the day, but you can check on www.xe.com too. The closer you are to a touristy area, the larger the number of ATMs you will find. Credit cards are widely accepted at mid-range and high-end hotels and other service providers, but carry enough cash on hiking trails.

CONNECTIVITY
Local SIM cards are available at the airport, and there are many recharge shops in towns. If you are traveling with a partner or a group, try buying from the same service provider as inter-service telephony is expensive.

Wi-fi services are widely available in cities and towns and even in trekking teahouses now (additional charges apply). For more details, go to www.welcomenepal.com

Getting There

By Air:

The Tribhuvan International Airport outside Kathmandu is the country’s only international airport.

You can take a prepaid cab from inside the terminal. You can also download the Sarathi app (www.sarathi.cab) and hire taxis or bicycles to get around Kathmandu. The domestic flight network in Nepal is excellent as it connects most remote trailheads to the capital and saves you arduous road journeys. These are small-sector flights, so be prepared for delays and cancellations because of weather conditions, etc. Also, you read more about ride-sharing in Nepal. Which allows you to share rides while traveling in Nepal.

By Road:

Buses are the main (and cheapest) form of public transport and connect most of the country. The tourist buses are more comfortable than local ones, and they are better at keeping time too. Car hires for multi-day trips can be arranged through tour operators. They can be a bit expensive but are worth the comfort and flexibility.

Getting Around

You can hire taxis in cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara to go sightseeing. Settle on a fare beforehand to avoid haggling later. Alternatively, you can download the increasingly popular Tootle app and hop on a bike if you aren’t fussy about getting on one.

Health and Safety

Kathmandu has excellent clinics including the Nepal International Clinic (www.nepalinternationalclinic.com). While trekking, your only option may be small, local health posts. Carry an appropriate medical kit to high-altitude areas. Medex offers a free download of the useful booklet Travel at High Altitude with good advice for staying healthy in the mountains.

Tours and Guides

If you want to go on an organized trek, it is better to use reputed agencies and certified, approved guides for both quality and safety reasons. Check the credibility of your tour operator and their emergency response procedures for high-risk sports. Read the indemnity bonds carefully when you sign up for a trek.

Note: Now, the Nepal government bans trekking in Nepal without a guide, effective by April 1, 2030.

Dos and Don’ts

Do

  • Depending on the physical demands of the sports adventure in Nepal you plan to indulge in, begin a fitness regimen before you travel.
  • Plan to get good deals on stay and travel.
  • Be respectful in temples and high-altitude monasteries that you might halt at on your trekking trails. Take off your shoes and hat before entering and check if photography is allowed.
  • Move clockwise around Chortens and Stupas and if you wish, you may leave a small donation at gompas and temples.
  • Wear garments appropriate for the weather and altitude.
  • Minimize your needs and carbon footprint, especially since most treks take you to environmentally sensitive zones.

Don’t

  • Rush through acclimatization in high-altitude areas; shortcuts can be fatal.
  • Indulge in a sport without the right gear or instructor.
  • Go canyoning if you are claustrophobic or participate in aero sports if you have vertigo.
  • Waste natural resources in the mountains.
  • Take photos of people without seeking permission first.
  • Drink tap water or mountain spring water if your body is not accustomed to it.

Adventure Highlights in 2024

Visit Nepal Decade 2023-2033 promises to showcase the best of adventure in Nepal sports options. From high-altitude marathons to ice skating on the world’s highest lakes to biking down the deepest gorge, you can make your trip memorable in many ways. Pick from a range of options that appeal to your idea of adventure in Nepal. You will have to choose what you can manage to fit into the duration of your visit, for true to Nepal 2023-2033’s tagline, Naturally Nepal Once is not Enough.

Top 10 Adventure Experiences

  1. Raft Down the Karnali
    Nepal offers some of the best white-water adventures in the world, and rafting down the country’s longest river, the Karnali is an unforgettable experience. The river originates near Kailash Manasarovar and flows into western Nepal’s Bardiya National Park, taking you from the Wild West into a pristine wilderness. The roller coaster ride on its thrilling waters starts with a bang and slowly dissolves into moderate and gentle rapids. The beautiful canyons along this route make rafting on the Karnali an unforgettable experience.
  2. MAIDEN CLIMB
    If climbing a peak has always been your dream, go to Nepal to ensure that your first experience is a special one. There are several peaks in the 6,000-metre range for beginners to choose from. The Lobuche East, Island, or Mera peaks are popular with amateur climbers. The routes on some of these have fixed ropes and are open through all seasons. Celebrate your climb in style with champagne and strawberries – and supplemental oxygen!
  3. BIKING TO NEPAL’S LARGEST LAKE
    While there are several options for mountain biking including right outside the Kathmandu Valley and around Pokhara, there is nothing like cranking up the adventure quotient and going off the beaten path. Hit the dirt tracks of Rara Lake, and the tough terrain will take you through the beautiful Rara National Park with the Himalayas looming majestically in the distance. Those with a greater thirst for adventure in Nepal can also ride down the deepest gorge in the world formed by the Kali Gandaki River.
  4. SKYDIVE ABOVE EVEREST
    Skydiving in the Sagarmatha National Park is a rare privilege, a bucket list quest for many, and the ultimate in aerial adventures. This is the highest diving zone in the world, and free-falling towards the world’s tallest mountains is an unparalleled experience. The central diving zone is Syangboche, and the other one is the gorgeous Ama Dablam base camp zone, though diving over the latter depends on the weather.
  5. ASIA’S SECOND-HIGHEST BUNGEE JUMP
    Take off from a 166-meter suspension bridge over the Bhote Kosi River in Asia’s second-highest bungee jump after Macau for an instant adrenalin rush. It’s guaranteed to give you the thrill of a lifetime as it doubles the length of an average bungee jump. Located three hours from Kathmandu, the serene countryside is the perfect foil to the raging Bhote Kosi River.
  6. A ROOM ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD
    Adventure means different things to different people, and lovers of luxury and comfort can also have an adventure sipping some bubbly and looking at the sun sinking over Mount Everest. Spend a night or two at Hotel Everest View, one of the world’s highest hotels, nestled in the Solukhumbu region, which looks directly at Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and the other highest peaks in the world. There are fabulous views of Everest from every room, and they also make arrangements for any special celebrations.
  7. A HIGH-ALTITUDE RACE
    Whether mountain biking challenges or triathlons, Nepal brings together the best sports adventure in Nepal. If you are a marathoner, try something new with a high-altitude race. Sign up for trail running events that take you to high altitudes and beautiful landscapes. Pick a category suited to your physical and mental capacities. But even if the experience is too strenuous, it will be an indelible memory.
  8. FLY OVER PHEWA
    Getting a bird’s-eye view of Pokhara’s Lake Phewa deserves a place on any list of must-dos in Nepal. The more adventurous can choose to paraglide and fly alongside stunning mountains. Those who would rather choose the comfort of an engine-powered flight can take an ultralight and have a professional pilot take you on a panoramic ride above the serene lake, parallel to the Annapurna massif.
  9. EVEREST FLIGHT
    Seeing the world’s highest mountain up close is not reserved for hikers alone. Sign up for an Everest mountain flight, and take an aerial adventure in Nepal to see the peak from your window. The 50-minute flight allows you to get close to Mount Everest without actually climbing it, fulfilling a dream for many people unable to climb to the beautiful Solukhumbu region.
  10. WILD ENCOUNTERS
    Several areas have been designated as protected for conservation, and if you get lucky, you could see wildlife while hiking. For an animal-focused adventure in Nepal, pick from national parks including Chitwan, Bardia, and Rara. The tiger population in Nepal has almost doubled since 2010, making it a great place to see this majestic animal in the wild. Wetlands like the Koshi Tappu Reserve showcase Nepal’s rich birdlife, and higher Himalayan parks put the spotlight on the country’s rich mountain flora and fauna.

Best Of Adventure in Nepal Itineraries

If a thrill is what you love most, explore Nepal with this 15-day itinerary tailor-made to showcase the best of adventure in Nepal options.

DAY 1: Arrive in Kathmandu and visit the Astrek Climbing Wall to polish your climbing skills. Finish the day with dinner at a restaurant of your choice.

DAY 2: Go on a day trip to the Last Resort for an unforgettable bungee jumping experience in the Bhote Kosi Valley.

DAY 3: Begin your seven-day trip to the Langtang National Park with a six-hour drive to Syabrubesi. This trek is a relatively easy trail, lined with cozy teahouses at comfortable distances and spectacular Himalayan views.

DAY 4: This hike takes you across the Bhote Kosi or Tiber River, walking upstream past a bamboo village and forest to the Lama Hotel.

DAY 5: The scenic trail now takes you to Mundu and to the site of the erstwhile Langtang village that was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.

DAY 6: Trek to Kyangjin village (3800mt), the highest point of your trek, and explore the Kyangjin Gompa. The Kyangjin Ridge offers stunning views of the Langtang range.

DAY 7: Ascend Kyangjin Ri if you want some more climbing experience.

DAY 8: Trek back to the Lama Hotel in a single day as descents are quicker.

DAY 9: Trek to Syabrubesi through forest routes or from Rimche via Sherpa Gaon for scenic mountain vistas.

DAY 10: Drive from Syabrubesi to the Trisuli Learning Centre near Bandare village. Unwind at the beach on the river and spend the night at Big Fig Camp.

DAY 11: Enjoy half a day of hitting the rapids on the Trisuli River, and then start the three-hour drive to Pokhara. Spend the night here.

DAY 12: Choose your adventure in Nepal for the day from paragliding, ultralight flying, canyoning, or zip lining.

DAY 13: Drive to Chitwan National Park, visit Tharu settlements in the vicinity, and go on an evening safari.

DAY 14: Go on a morning safari; return to play with and bathe elephants. Follow it up with a relaxing evening boat safari and a sundowner by the Rapti River.

DAY 15: Fly back to Kathmandu after a leisurely breakfast.

This guide is researched and written by Shikha Tripathi. Shikha Tripathi is a widely published journalist specializing in writing about the outdoors and Himalayan ecology, with an added interest in culture and sustainable travel. Born and brought up in the Himalayas, she is a hiker and climber who enjoys napping in the mountain sun as much as writing about her highland explorations. Shikha has a special affinity for Nepal and shares her photo stories on her Instagram handle @shikhatripathi.travel
This edition includes extracts from Lonely Planet Nepal (11th edition, 2018)

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Sailendra Bhatta

An adventurer, writer, and Founder of Nepal Travel Vibes.

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