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
5/14/13 8:19 AM
If you’re a bit overwhelmed by rows after rows of restaurants in Thamel, the hangout spot for both locals and foreigners, don’t fret! Read Parakhi’s description of 5 diverse restaurants and pick a place to satisfy that grumbling tummy of yours.
Going on a trek soon? Work out your legs and lungs by taking the stairs up to the 7th floor rooftop. While the restaurant has seating on the floors below, being momentarily out of breath after the climb is worth the panoramic view of the mountains peeking out behind the sprawling city. Go ahead, order Helena’s mouth watering chocolate cake. You deserve it after that climb.
This Israeli run restaurant is a must for lovers of vegetarian food or those who want to give their tongue a break from spice-laden Nepali cuisine. Tucked away in an alley and up the stairs on the side of a main street, OR2K offers large heaps of colorful vegetables that will leave you feeling healthier, rejuvenated, and relaxed. Being able to stretch out your legs, thanks to the abundance of floor seating, doesn’t hurt either. Try the vegetarian sizzler or combination platter.
Fire and Ice
While many restaurants in Nepal sell pizza, very few make the real deal like Fire and Ice does. The smell of pizza cooking in the pippin’ hot oven will have your nose buds on high alert and your mouth watering. Thankfully, the torture lasts only a few minutes; with exceptionally fast service, expect to find a perfect balance of cheese, dough, and sauce on your table in no time.
Not located anywhere near Thamel’s main entrance, Anatolia is a bit hard to find. But it’s worth the search. The halal restaurant serves Indian and Turkish cuisine, as well as Chinese and Nepali—food not ordinarily associated with being halal. Stick to the Indian and Turkish fares if you want what the restaurant does best. To find out what which items to get, take advantage of the repeat customers’ knowledge by seeing what these locals are eating. Most likely they’ll be munching away on succulent kebabs and on finger lickin’ good chicken tikka masala or butter gravy.
Those who are too busy shopping for trinkets, clothes and outdoor gears to sit down for lunch, check out Sandwich Point. Its one narrow, tiny room has a counter on one side and a bench (no tables) that can accommodate less than 10 people on the other. The hole-in-the-wall is popular due to its long list of choices of delicious sandwiches. Pick a small, medium, or large sandwich and pack it with one or several of the fillings: ham, vegetables, egg, cheese, bacon, chicken, and tuna.
Image source: nepalitimes.com
4/5/13 3:24 AM
Those who trek along the imposing mountains of Nepal are challenge seekers—that’s clear. But how about those who run the 26.2 mile marathon from Mount Everest Base Camp in the world’s highest altitude marathon—what do we call them?
Maybe as fast as a cheetah. Maybe astonishingly brave. Maybe extremely determined. Or maybe downright crazy. However, the important question isn’t what to call them. It is: Are you one of them? Find out on the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of the world’s tallest mountain on May 29, 2013.
On your downhill run from the height of 5,365 meters (17,602 feet), find motivation to make it to the finish line (and forget about the lack of air) in the astonishing view. You will pass high altitude moraines, enormous yaks, multi-colored prayer flags fluttering in the Himalayan wind, mellow meadows, and Sherpas going about their daily lives.
A 19 day travel package that starts on May 16th is available to help you prepare for the exhilarating chance to run the highest altitude marathon in the world. If friends and family want to join you on your journey without running the marathon, they can. To find out more about the Tenzing Hillary Mount Everest Marathon, which had over 150 participants last year, visit www.everestmarathon.com.
Source: nomadicadventures.co.za; everestmarathon.com
Image source: Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon's Facebook Page
4/3/13 10:34 PM
The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT), one of the longest and highest walking trails in the world, winds 1,700 kilometers through northern Nepal. It encompasses 5 other countries: Bhutan, China (Tibet), India, Myanmar, and Pakistan. In Nepal, GHT includes the legendary Mount Everest and Annapurna regions.
The country’s GHT is broken into 10 different sections that can each be walked in two to three weekson average. Trekkers on the upper trail reach a height of up to 6,200 meters as they pass towering mountains and remote villages. Those who want to connect with various cultural groups and enjoy lush hills can take the lower trail, which has an average altitude of 2,000 meters.
To expand and improve trekkers’ access to the remarkable terrains of Nepal, the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has been exploring the regions through which GHT runs. Its latest exploration team took off for the Humla district, wedged in the northwestern corner of the country, on April 2, 2013. TAAN is conducting a 23 day trek to determine the possibility of GHT side trails in this region.
News source: TAAN.org .np; www.thegreathimalayatrail.org
Image source: The Great Himalaya Trail-Facebook page
4/3/13 9:46 PM
By incorporating yoga and related practices into trekking, yoga trekking takes traveling through Nepal's breathtaking mountains and enchanting hills to new heights. Thanks to companies like Purna Yoga& Treks, trekkers and yogis of all levels can participate in massages, meditation, stretching, and yoga during their trekking expeditions around Pokhara and Mount Everest.
A yoga trek may include yoga and meditation in the morning, hiking during the day, stretches along the way, and relaxation sessions at night, with a massage and yoga retreat to conclude the trip. Participants will find their bodies being challenged yet rejuvenated, and their minds soaking up the serenity of the environment in which they practice the holistic activities. Yogi trekkers can choose excursions ranging from less than a week up to two weeks in traditional trekking areas such as Annapurna Base Camp, Everest Base Camp, and Poon Hill.
News source: myrepublica.com; Nepalyogatrek.com;Nepalsocialtreks.com
Image source: Nepalyogatrek.com