White-water rafting, canyoning, paragliding, bungee, canyon swing, wildlife walks, rice liquour, ANURAG MALLICK & PRIYA GANAPATHY try it all and pick their Top 10 things to do in Nepal
Bungee jump & canyon swing from a 160m high bridge
There’s nothing apocalyptic about The Last Resort, though it is located near the Nepal-Tibet border and is really the final word for adrenaline junkies. The excitement of a bungee jump from a metal bridge over the raging Bhote Kosi 160 m below can be matched only by the world’s highest canyon swing. After 8 seconds of free-fall, you go screaming like a banshee through the gorge in a 240 m arc, before slowly coming to a stop. The Last Resort will pick you up from Kathmandu, shoot a video of your jump and give a T-shirt as well. Ph +977 1 4700525, 4700730 http://www.thelastresort.com.np
Raft the Bhote Koshi, Nepal’s steepest river at Borderlands
Around 100km from Kathmandu and a 3 hr drive away is Barabise, where 240 Nepalese soldiers died in an ancient battle with the Tibetans (the name comes from barah bis or twelve times twenty); a perfect base for gutsy adventurers. Borderlands Eco Adventure Resort organizes 2-day canyoning and white water rafting in the wild rapids of Bhote Koshi plummeting from Tibet. Take a plunge from Jumping Rock or tackle grade IV rapids like Gerbil in the Plumber, Frog in the Blender and Carnal Knowledge of a Deviant Nature, named after the compromising position you end up in! Ph +977 1 4701295, 4700894 www.borderlandresorts.com
Jump off a mountain – Go paragliding at Pokhra
For a birds eye view of the beautiful lake town of Pokhra and spectacular Annapurna range, head to Sarangkot or sunrise point. If admiring the Machapuchare (Fishtail) peak isn’t enough, try jumping off the mountainside; strapped of course, to your paragliding instructor for a tandem flight overlooking Phewa Lake. As the ground heats up and air currents get warm, bright coloured chutes light up the sky and waft in the thermals for the most exciting ride of your life. Blue Sky Paragliding, Lake Side 6, Khahare, Pokhara Ph +977 61 464737, 463015 http://www.paragliding-nepal.com
See a rhino on foot – wildlife walks at Chitwan
Located in the terai lowlands of South Central Nepal, Chitwan is Nepal’s oldest national park. Accessible from Bharatpur Airport nearby, the nodal town of Sauraha offers a choice of wildlife lodges like Baghmara and Maruni, restaurants and tour operators who organize a range of experiences. Elephant safari, boat rides, cultural dance of the local Tharu community or walks into the forest to see rhinos on foot. A word of advice, rhinos don’t like the colour white so dress appropriately!
Take a thrilling cable car ride to Manakamana Devi
For centuries pilgrims undertook an arduous 5-hr trek to the hilltop shrine of Manakamana Devi, appeasing the wish-fulfilling goddess by sacrificing chickens, pigeons and goats. But Nepal’s only cable car ride, introduced in 1998 changed all that. About 105 km west of Kathmandu on the Pokhara highway near Mugling is Kurintar, the starting point. The magical 3km cable car ride climbs from 258m to 1302m in 10 minutes, presenting views of Trisuli and Marshyangdi river valleys. On wintry mornings the ridge juts like an island through the sea of mist. Thirty cable cars ferry 6 people each time, besides a special carriage dedicated for sacrificial goats!
Visit Lumbini, Lord Buddha’s birthplace
Walk the Middle Path on a Buddhist Circuit Tour through Nepal’s terai region while staying at Buddha Maya Garden in Lumbini. See the sal tree under which Maya Devi rested, the marker stone in a brick enclosure indicating Siddhartha’s place of birth in 623 BC and the Pushkarni (sacred tank) where Maya Devi gave the newborn his first bath. Don’t miss the Eternal Peace Flame and World Peace Bell in the Sacred Garden, and monasteries of Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan and Mongolia in the International Monastic Zone. Germany’s Great Drigung Kagyud Lotus Stupa, Vietnamese Phat Quoc Tu temple and Chinese Zhong Hua temple are stunning, as is the Japanese World Peace Pagoda. Kapilavastu, the ancient capital of Lord Buddha’s father Shakya king Shuddhodhana, is a short drive away.
Get a singing bowl treatment
In the narrow bylanes of Lalitpur behind Patan’s Golden Temple lies the quaint Tibetan Singing Bowl Centre, a tiny shop crammed with masks and artefacts. Owner Sudeep Lamsal loves to demonstrate the power of the singing bowls through sound therapy. And if you don’t believe it, watch him create fountains in a bowl of water through mere vibration. To quote an ancient Lama saying on the wall ‘I am a master of sound. Through sound I can kill what lives and bring back to life what is dead.’
Try Nepali street food
From baph mah mah (buffalo momo) to street food like sekuwa (barbecued goat meat), kachila (spiced mincemeat) and choila (char grilled buffalo meat), Nepal’s cuisine is quite varied. Eat the staple dal-bhat-tarkari (lentil, rice, vegetables) or chyura (beaten rice) in the numerous bhancha ghars (local eateries). Feast on Newari cuisine popular in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, try a Thakali thali, a mix of Himalayan and lowland cuisines in Pokhara or Bandipur and relish the fish fry at Dolalghat. Wash it all down with raksi, the fiery rice liquor or Oranjeboom.
Take a Mountain Flight
If the drive to Lukla and a climb to Everest Base Camp seem daunting, take a shortcut. The 1hr mountain flight from Kathmandu is the quickest way to see the magnificent peaks of the Himalayas. Marvel at Mount Everest (8848m), Shisha Pangma (8027m) and Cho Oyu (8201m) at dawn. Local flight operators like Agni, Buddha, Guna and Yeti offer the Everest Experience for just over Rs.5,000 for Indians and US$ 176 for other nationalities. Feb-April and Oct-Nov is the best time for visibility with clear blue skies.
Visit the hill retreats of Nagarkot, Bandipur, Dhulikhel & Changu Narayan
If Pokhra is passé or too long a drive, try the mountainous charms of Nepal’s other destinations. Stay at Peaceful Cottage in Nagarkot while enjoying great sunrise views. Visit the Changu Museum at the historic shrine of Changu Narayan. Get a taste of the old at Gaun Ghar and The Old Inn in the quaint village of Bandipur or luxuriate at Dwarika’s Himalayan Shangri-La Village Resort in Dhulikhel, overlooking 20 peaks like Annapurna (8091 m), Ganesh Himal (7429 m), Langtang (7234 m), Lhotse (8516 m) and Gauri Shankar (7134 m).
Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This article appeared on 7 September 2012 in Conde Nast Traveller online.