Traveling to Nepal was one of the coolest things I have done. I expected to see amazing mountains, trekking trails, and prayer flags but I did not really know what else to expect. Some surprising things to see in Nepal, I learned, included amazing sunsets, colorful vivid street art, and clever transportation and technology.
The ITBMC travel conference occurred one day during the Himalayan Travel Mart. The Nepal Tourism Board and PATA paid for 107 travel bloggers and media, from 53 countries, to experience Nepal. Half of us went on multi-day treks while the other half went on multi-day cultural experiences.
My trekking group (one travel agent and seven travel journalists) came from all over the world—Argentina, Philippines, Greece, and USA. Links to some of their coverage appear below but first are some of my impressions from our Nepal experience.
8 Great Surprising Things to See in Nepal
1. Dal Baht
The country of Nepal borders India and I expected some Indian influence on the Nepali cuisine. Indeed, we found curry (vegetarian and chicken) on every menu. What I did not expect was the elegant presentation of the Dal Baht ingredients. Lentil soup/sauce is a main feature of Dal Baht.
2. Nepal Mountain Transportation
During my short five day trek on the Annapurna Circuit, I learned that the mountains are full of tea houses and villages. There are no roads, yet the tea houses are always fully stocked with food, beverages, and supplies. At the end of the first day of hiking—I mean trekking—I learned the secret. Supplies are delivered by donkeys, mules, burros, whatever. I saw donkeys carrying big rolls of electrical wire, building supplies, and baskets with live chickens. It is actually quite amazing to see.
3. Nepal Technology
I actually had pretty good wi-fi service in my Kathmandu hotel and even some internet service in the trekking tea houses (although there was a small charge to connect to it). Walking around the city of Kathmandu is a feast for the senses. This is one of my favorite scenes. Is it any wonder there was any wi-fi service at all?
4. Nepal Street Art
Another favorite Kathmandu Nepal sight was this street art mural. I walked a few miles in each direction from my hotel but the only street art I saw was the wall mural across the street. Although I would say that street art in Nepal is not a popular thing, I found this quite vivid and colorful.
5. Tropical Nepal
My impression of Nepal was of perpetually snow covered Himalaya mountains. Indeed, Nepal has 8 of the 10 tallest mountains on Earth, all over 8,090 meters (26,500 feet). While the Himalaya mountains dominate the country’s travel coverage, there are many other things to see in Nepal. For instance, 36% of Nepal’s land is tropical and 22% is subtropical. Much of the time we drove and trekked in Nepal, I saw more banana trees than alpine features.
6. Poon Hill Sunrise
You might wonder why the next photo is one of my surprising things to see in Nepal since I knew I was going on a trekking trip. Well, two reasons. No, three reasons. The first reason is that my itinerary listed a different trek. When I arrived at Kathmandu airport, I was checked into a different hotel and later went on an entirely different multi-day trek than I expected. The second reason is that our guides told us that the mountain view from Poon Hill is only visible about 25% of the time. When we arrived at the top of Poon Hill, sure enough, the fog was thick. After 20 minutes or so, the sky cleared and we were treated to this gorgeous view. The third reason is, heck, me trekking in Nepal? That surprised even me!
7. Nepal Sunset
Of course I knew sunsets occur daily in Nepal but I loved this scene in Pokhara, Nepal. Not only did dozens of people occupy the platform but I love how the blue boats and red outfit (especially) complement the gorgeous sky. The resolution of this photo is reduced (for page optimization) so please see my better quality Nepal picture on Instagram.
8. Himalaya Mountain Range View
Speaking of views, I was astonished how gorgeous of a view I had on my return flight from Kathmandu airport. Is one of these peaks Mt. Everest? Let me know. McCool Travel tip: on flights between Kathmandu and points west (Europe, Africa, India, etc.), reserve a seat on the right side of the plane.
Thank you to Nepal Tourism and PATA for hosting me at Himalaya Travel Mart and ITBMC, and for Turkish Airlines as an official airline partner.
Can you suggest other surprising things to see in Nepal? Leave a comment below.
Please see also these articles written by my Nepal trekking friends:
- What to Expect When Hiking Poon Hill, Nepal by My Adventures Across the World (Claudia Tavani)
- Experiencing Traveler’s High in Nepal by Solitary Wanderer (Aleah Taboclaon)
- 10 Random Things I Learned From My Trip to Nepal by Dave’s Travel Pages (Dave Briggs)
- Kathmandu City Photos by Adventure in You (Anna Faustino)
- Travel Prices in Nepal by Cheapest Destinations Blog (Tim Leffel)
- How to Go Trekking in Nepal by Where in the World is Nina (Nina Ragusa)