As Lonely Planet aptly puts it “Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, Nepal is where the ice-cold of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Indian plains. It’s a land of yaks and yetis, stupas and Sherpas and some of the best trekking on earth. The Himalaya’s most sophisticated urban cultures took shape here, in the three great mini kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley – Kathmandu,Patan and Bhaktapur – home to a world-class artistic and architectural heritage.” A unique experience is awaits all those who plan to visit this Himalayan Kingdom.
Nepal opened it’s doors to visitors in the 1950’s after which there has been a steady increase in the numbers of people curious enough to make the long and arduous journey to this country with the highest mountains. In the 70’s it was the hippies who were drawn to Nepal due to the abundance of hashish and the possibility of leading an idyllic lifestyle. Later, led by pioneers like Reinhold Messner, Joe Tasker and others, the focus shifted to trekking and the mountains which were virtually unexplored and untouched at the time.
Modern Nepal is a far cry from the idyllic Himalayan Shangri-la that it was reputed to be in the 60’s and 70’s. The past few decades have been extremely eventful and have borne witness to the birth of democracy, the Royal massacre and a decade-long insurgency along with never-ending political rallies.
But, fortunately for Nepal, little pockets of paradise still exist and no one has been able to take this way. Nepal is also now home to a new wave of Himalayan exploration and the advent of a variety of adventure sports. Along with the ‘traditional’ mountain climbing and trekking, mountain-biking, rafting, canyoning, para-gliding and trail running in many different regions of the country are quickly catching on. Lewis Pugh, battled freezing waters wearing only a pair of speedos, a cap and goggle to cross the 1km glacial lake next to Khumbu glacier in the Everest region, you can run the Everest Marathon which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest marathon in the world, you can free fall in front of Everest and land on the highest drop zone on the planet jumping from an altitude of over 29,00 feet just to name a few things.
Of course a lot of this is attributed to the almost ideal terrain and beautiful locations available right across the length and breath of the country. With 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world and with altitude ranging from 8,850 m to almost sea level in a scant 200 Km length of Nepal, a great potential lies ahead for Nepal to become the premier adventure play-ground in the world.