6/7/13 3:51 AM
One of the benefits of traveling is the chance to explore the local culture in a way you wouldn’t be able to if you stayed home. Through Ropain: The Rice Planting Festival, travelers can experience a rural festival as the locals do. On June 29, head out to the fields for a traditional rice planting festival with socialtours, a five time Responsible Award nominated company.
You’ll work alongside residents of Lalitpur, home to the indigenous community of Newars, as they stand knee-deep in mud to plant the bright green rice stalks. Rice plantation is no easy feat; people do not work alone, but rather with other community members to take on the daunting task of growing one of the most important commodities in Nepal. Come prepared to work like a farmer. Socialtours will provide traditional Newari snacks and a meal to bring strength back to your body.
The price for Ropain, meaning plantation in Nepali, is Rs. 1750 for adults, Rs 1000 for children below 10 years old, and free for those below 4 years old. In addition to the local food, the price covers your pick up and drop off as well as chance to try local rice beer and play in the mud.
The package also includes the priceless benefits of challenging your body, connecting with the locals, toiling in the fields with fresh air, and understanding what it takes to feed a country that has reserved for rice a central culinary role.
Only 50 spots are reserved for this experience. To make a reservation, visit http://ropain-efbevent.eventbrite.com/#.
Source: Facebook - Socialtours; eventbrite.com
Image source: eventbrite.com
6/6/13 11:37 PM
In Buddhism and Hinduism, a kora is the circumambulation of a religious structure such as a temple or stupa. The Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge will pay homage to Nepal’s kora tradition with a 50 kilometer cycling challenge around the Kathmandu valley on July 20.
The challenge will take cyclists on dirt trails in the outskirts of the capital, where mud homes, lime green paddies, and brightly clothed locals are as much a part of the landscape as the well-known mountains are. Because there is no requirement to complete the 50 kilometers and the trails are relatively easy to traverse, the challenge accommodates both novice and expert cyclists.
While registration is free, riders are highly encouraged to raise Rs. 100 (less than US $2) for each kilometer they cycle. Funds raised from the event will go toward building an eco-designed birthing facility in far western Nepal, one of the remotest parts of the country. In 2012, close to 300 Nepalese and foreigners participated in the challenge, securing nearly Rs. 1 million for a birthing facility in another area of Nepal.
Register, sponsor a rider, or donate at http://kathmandukora.eventbrite.com.
Source: eventbrite.com; Facebook - Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge
Image source: Facebook - Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge
5/28/13 4:05 AM
“Let’s leave, let’s leave,” begged my mother to the mahout.
A few minutes beforehand, one of the rhinos we were following on our elephant ride through Chitwan’s jungle had charged at us. Thankfully, the elephant’s massive size and the mahout raising his stick in the air stopped the rhino in its tracks. But because we had spotted the rhinos again and were heading in their direction, my mother was about ready to jump off the elephant and run out the jungle if the rest of us were going to stay.
If you aren’t as faint-hearted as my mother, make your way to south central Nepal’s Chitwan National Park to get up close and personal with rhinos, tigers, monkeys, crocodiles, and other wild animals. You can see them either through an elephant safari or a jungle walk—or both.
Those who do the elephant safari first get to bathe the large animal in Chitwan’s Narayani river before heading off into the jungle. Come prepared with full-sleeved clothes if you want to avoid being scratched by the knifelike branches on the narrow trail.
The jungle walk is a mix of a stroll through the dense vegetation and a canoe ride in Chitwan’s green, tranquil waters. The walk can be a bit nerve-wrecking because you aren’t safely perched high above the ground on an elephant like you are during the safari. In the unlikely case of a tiger, rhino, or bear attack, you have only the guide to protect you with the wooden sticks they carry. Even if you don’t come face-to-face with a tiger, you’ll be able to observe other animals. The highlight of my jungle walk was the monkeys teasing us as they flew from branch to branch. They wove their arms at us in response to the monkey-like noises our guide made. Another memorable part was spotting rhinos again, this time all of us saying “let’s leave, let’s leave” lest they sense us and start charging at us.
Although famous for its wildlife, Chitwan has more to offer than its 932 km sq park. Discovering the area and learning about its people are quite easy for those staying in hotels that set up all the activities for their guests. Accommodation such as the Island Jungle Resort host traditional Tharu dance performances several times a week.
On our last day in Chitwan, the resort woke us up before sunrise so we could watch the sun cast orange and shy pink light on the Narayani river. Thick mist enveloped us as we walked along the riverbank into a Tharu village, where the day had already started for its residents. A girl in elementary school read out loud on her porch in preparation for a test in a few weeks. Villagers passed by lugging metal jugs that were about to get even heavier with fresh milk. An elderly man wearing a topi, a multicolored patterned hat, already had his first customer of the day: a little boy who waited patiently to buy some sweets.
Perhaps it was the early morning village walk or the uncrowded flat roads with as many cyclists as vehicles, but as we drove out of Chitwan I felt a sense of calmness I hadn’t felt recently. Southern Nepal has heat, a terrain you can encompass without hiking boots and other heavy outdoor gear, and a culture not usually viewed as typically Nepali by neither foreigners nor Nepalese. For those seeking a different taste of Nepal than the mountains or just some warmth after trekking in the Himalayas, Chitwan and its surrounding areas are definitely worth a few days visit.
View more photos of Chitwan on Parakhi’s Chitwan photo album on Facebook.
5/27/13 3:40 AM
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal, Pokhara is known for its amazing view of the snowy mountains and glistening lakes, paragliding, zip-lining, and much more. International tourists and many Kathmandu residents flock to Pokhara for weekends and holidays, and on New Year's Eve. Some of the sites we recommend visiting in Pokhara are Fewa Lake, World Peace Pagoda, Sarangkot, Davis Falls, and Gupteswor Mahadev cave.
Because many of the attractions are not too far from each other, a few can be visited in the same day. Crawl through Gupteswore Mahadev cave in the morning and make your way up a hill on the southern shore of Fewa Lake to the World Peace Pagoda afterwards. In the evening, stroll through Lakeside, the area along Fewa Lake, to take in the variety of restaurants, shops and plenty of scenic spots to view the lake.
In northwest Pokhara and at an altitude of 1600m, Sarangkot offers panoramic views of the Himalayas. Traditionally known for its breathtaking sunrise vista, Sarangkot has recently become recognized as the place to paraglide and zip-line in Nepal. Sit back as the wind takes you where it may over the terraced hills, which have the Annapurna mountain range on one side and Lake Fewa on the other. There are many companies, such as Everest Paragliding, to paraglide with. For those who would like to be closer to the ground, zip-lining offers just as much of a thrill. Traveling at 120 kph maximum speed for the 2 minute, 1800 meter long ride that also features a 200 foot vertical drop, zip-lining is a true adrenaline rush. HighGround Adventures has special offers available for students, groups and other discounts available also. To book your ride, visit their website.
Don't miss Pokhara on your trip to Nepal. Most upscale and higher starred hotels are on the southern and south-eastern fringes of Pokhara where there are more open lands and therefore unhindered view of the mountains. Lakeside hotels are right where the busy nightlife of Pokhara takes place. Some accommodations in one of the most happening valleys in Nepal are Hotel Barahi and Hotel The Kantipur.
Source: Wikipedia.com; highgroundnepal.com
Image source: Hikinginmountain.com
5/23/13 2:22 AM
Known as Kathmandu's tourist hub, Thamel is just as popular with the locals for its unique blend of restaurants, bars, shops, music venues, tour and travel offices, and activity centers. While you can spend quite a few days exploring every nook and cranny of this densely packed neighborhood, don't forget to step outside and experience Kathmandu's other attractions. Here is Parakhi's recommendation of places to go near Thamel:
Garden of Dreams
Listed in Time Magazine's 24 of the World's Best-Kept Secrets, The Garden of Dreams, a neo classical historical garden, is located in the midst of Kathmandu, Nepal. You will notice the tall white structure walls that surround the Garden of Dreams when you enter Thamel from Darbarmarg. Within the Garden walls, late Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher created an exquisite ensemble of pavillions, fountains, decorative garden furnitures and European inspired features such as varandas, pergolas, blustrades, urns and birdhouses. Garden of Dreams is a place of peaceful oasis full of unique architecture and varieties of flowers and fauna brought from different countries. It also hosts Kaiser Cafe, a restaurant and coffee shop known for its quality dishes and Austrian cuisine. For more information on the Garden of Dreams, visit their website here.
Darbarmarg, or commonly known as King’s Way, is a hot attraction for tourists and locals alike. Darbarmarg boasts luxury hotels, Sherpa Mall, restaurants, designer stores, travel agencies and airline offices. Hotel Annapurna and Hotel Yak & Yeti are situated in the middle of Darbarmarg, giving their guests a close access to Kathmandu’s shopping center. If you're in the mood to gamble, Yak & Yeti's Casino Royale is the place to be. One of the cleanest and most well-maintained areas in the city, Darbarmarg is just a 5-10 minute walk from Thamel.
Lazimpat has designer shops, hotels, embassies and plenty of restaurants. Some of the hotels that are located in Lazimpat are Hotel Radisson, Hotel Shangri-La, The Shanker Hotel, and Hotel Ambassador. In Lazimpat, you can go from shopping for luxury ayurvedic products at Laavanya to grabbing Newari food at Votoo. Lazimpat Gallery Cafe, a popular spot for local volunteers, hosts film screenings. A stroll to Lazimpat from Thamel takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Source: Wikipedia: Lonely Planet
Image source: Garden of Dreams
5/21/13 3:16 AM
Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA) will be celebrating its 25th Silver Jubilee Rafting Festival 2013 on May 25th, 2013. NARA is expecting over 700 people to participate in the festival when they go down the Trishuli River. The white water rafting adventure will start from Belkhu and end in Malekhu covering a distance of 20 km approximately.
Nepal boasts some of the world's most thrilling whitewater with its many rivers from Trishuli River, Seti River, Bhote Koshi River, Kali Gandaki River, Marsyandi River, Sun Koshi River, Arun River, Karnali River and Tamur River. The whitewater consists of a wide range of difficulties, breathtaking scenery and an amazing adventure.
Take part in NARA's 25th Silver Jubilee Rafting Festival 2013. For more information, please visit Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA)'s website.
Image Source: NARA
5/18/13 9:33 PM
Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi woman to scale the world’s highest peak on May18, 2013. Raha, a resident of Dubai, climbed all night from the highest camp on South Col with 35 foreigners and was accompanied by 29 Nepalese Sherpa guides. They reached the 29,035-foot peak on Saturday morning.
Raha was part of a four-person expedition that included the first Qatari man and the first Palestinian man attempting to reach the summit, a BBC report said. The team is trying to raise $1 million for education projects in Nepal.
Source: The New York Times Asia Pacific
Image source: Getty Images