Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-religious landlocked country situated north of India. It’s in the Himalayas which is a region formed 40-50 million years ago by the collision of the Indian subcontinent and Asia. Because of this natural plate tectonic movement, Nepal has some of the world’s highest mountains including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest). Besides being known for its breathtaking vistas, Nepal also holds some impressive world records. Like, for instance, the tallest mountain in the world (Mt Everest 8.848m), the deepest gorge (Kali Gandaki, 1200m) and the highest lake on earth (Tilicho Lake, 4,919m).
Nepal boasts the densest concentration of World Heritage sites and regions (like the Kathmandu Valley, which alone has 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites within a radius of 15km). Nepal doesn’t have an independence day as (perhaps thanks to the protection of the brave and fierce Gorkha warriors) former superpowers never colonised it.
Nepal is home to some of the rarest species in the animal kingdom. Examples include the one-horned rhino, the Bengal tiger, the snow leopard and, um, let’s not forget the mysterious Yeti. Legend says that the mythical creature roams the remote mountain ranges of the Himalayas. While several expeditions have been dispatched to find evidence of the Yeti, there is to this day very little proof of its existence in physical reality.
Nepal has four distinct seasons throughout the year. Its weather is affected by maritime and continental forces.
March to May is spring, with temperatures averaging at about 72° F.
From June to August is the monsoon season. This time has heavy rains and temperatures that can reach 90°F on scorching days.
From September to November, the weather is cold, and the skies are cloudless most of the time. Because of the heavy rainfall during the monsoon season, this time is usually in bloom and quite a sight to see. Temperatures can go as high as 80° F, although it cools at night.
From December to February, temperatures can drop below 30° F at night and mountaintops are covered with snow.
Nepalis are known for being very friendly and helpful towards travellers: ATITHI DEVO BHAWA ‘Respect guests like representatives of Gods’. The crime rate is low.
It is generally fine to walk around at night. Exercise caution when doing so, especially in urban areas, refrain from hiking by yourself. It is highly recommended to get a licenced guide for trekking and also for visits to a specific part of Nepal.
Do stay away from large public gatherings of political protest.
Typical Nepalese Food and Nepali Dishes
A delightful blend of Indian, Chinese, Tibetan and Shamanistic local cultures, Nepal is a fascinating place with a cuisine full of complex and satisfying flavours that, due to the presence of Buddhist and Hindu traditions, appeal to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The condiments in Nepal are exciting and diverse. The simple and pleasurable act of eating becomes an opportunity for both cultural and historical exploration. Here is a look at specific Nepalese dishes and the cultures that helped form them.
1. Momo – Steamed or fried, with chilli sauce, curry or plain, in restaurants or at a street stall, buffalo, veg, sometimes cheese. Momos are the best! Nepali dumplings, momos, are usually filled with steamed vegetables or meat and encased in a flour-based dough that is then steamed or fried. Commonly eaten as snacks, momo is served with a delicious dip that can be strong and spicy.
2. Pulao – Rice is the foundation of many a Nepalese meal, and the fried version, known as pulao, is delicious. Seasoned with turmeric and cumin, this typical dish is accompanied by everything from yoghurt to papadams.
3. Dal Bhat – Consists of lentil soup, rice and one vegetable dish and often comes with further accompaniments. This dish will keep you going all day! If there were such a thing as a national dish of Nepal, Dal that would be it. Delicious accompaniments include pickles, curries, meat, yoghurt (curd), chutney and fish.
4. Sel Roti – Consumed most regularly during festivals Tihar and Dashain, Sel roti is a unique dish that resembles something like a cross between a doughnut and a bagel. However, it’s actually made of rice flour. Crunchy, sweet, puffy, and soft, this delicious bread is deep-fried and makes a beautiful breakfast or snack. Locals dip it in yoghurt or serve it with vegetables, but it’s also great on its own. Sel roti is a favoured treat served during Nepal’s most significant public celebrations, during the rites of passage celebrations, etc.
5. Thukpa – A thick soup containing noodles isn’t spicy at all. It can also contain meat or eggs. A thick noodle soup that can include chicken, egg or just vegetables, thukpa is a winter delicacy from the mountains of Nepal that is often served with an accompanying dish of momo.
6. Gorkhali Lamb – Another popular winter dish, Gorkhali lamb is a curry dish that features a variety of intense and filling flavours and ingredients. Nepal and Tibet have both used lamb as a source of meat throughout their long histories due to its flavourful, tender taste and texture. Served with rice and roti, this dish is Nepali comfort food at its finest, and whether or not you and your family are visiting during winter’s chill, it’s a pleasing and filling experience.
7. Dido or Dhindo/ Polenta – A Dido or Dhindo is a cooked paste of buckwheat/millet/corn flour, which is rather like a thick porridge or polenta. Traditionally you eat with butter or ghee which you mix into the Dhido with your hands but it is eaten with vegetables, lentils or soup as well.
Other Dishes You Will Find in Nepal
Indian dishes widespread in Nepal include a bowl of dal/lentils fry, channa, aloo mutter, palak paneer, naan and roti. Some Western food items like Pizza or Chinese style chow mein, mid-Eastern foods like falafel, fries and now the burgers, salads, pancakes, cakes, ice cream and desserts are also available.
What Food to Expect on Your Nepal Trek
You will always find Dal baht. Even in tiny places without a menu ask for Dal baht and it will appear. Similarly, momos are ubiquitous. The more altitude you gain, the more limited and more expensive food becomes. Expect to eat a lot of potatoes ( the only crop they grow higher up) fried with veg, cheese or an egg. Likewise, noodles (chow mein) comes with veg or egg.
A typical trekker’s breakfast in Nepal is fried rice, chapati-roti with butter and jam, pancakes or porridge, sometimes muesli with hot milk and eggs
Meat is a rare luxury in the remote villages and is probably best avoided. While you are trekking you will probably be hungry as you’re burning a lot of energy just coping with the altitude. Nothing hits the spot like a very good dal baht or dish of fried and boiled potatoes and soups.
Clothing and shoes :
- Light Clothing – Do bring breathable clothing that you would be comfortable trekking in with. Now many trekking clothing and items are readily available to buy or hire in Kathmandu. Please remember that the maximum temperature in Kathmandu will be between 25- 29°C and a minimum of 18-21°C during September and October. Light items of clothing, sandals, snicker shoes, ponchos, umbrella are essentials for remaining at the lower altitudes.
(if you decide trekking itineraries, please send an email asking for a list of items needed).
- Comfortable Boots, backpacks, walking sticks, torchlights, ponchos, energy bars, water purifier tabs, etc. are essential for trekking in the mountain terrain.
- Winter Clothing – If you are planning on travelling to Nepal during the winter and exploring the higher altitudes you need warmer clothes.
- Pack light and only necessities to reduce weight. You can get most of the trekking essentials in Nepal, including down jackets, down sleeping bags, walking sticks, etc.
Dress code during Summit :
Most of the traditional shamanic representatives and shamans (both men and women) will come from the villages and mountain valleys which are not exposed to the outside world. As respect to them, for self-respect and to the international shamanic tradition representatives, elders and respected members of the communities; all the participants and representatives are requested to come in decent dresses like long-sleeved trousers or gowns, long or elbow covering sleeved shirts, etc. As you will be participating in the group ceremonies during the Summit, you may bring your traditional ceremonial dress too.
For shamans, elders and representatives of different delegations, ‘it is a must’ to bring your sacred dresses, objects, gowns, complete paraphernalia, and all that is part of your tradition. What you use back home, you may not find in Nepal!
(please check-list of prohibited items to carry inter-continentally or inter-country: animal parts, bird parts, sacred plants, etc.)