Tap into this post to read about some of our sightseeing, fun facts, travel tips and many pictures of our time in Nepal. We encourage you to get out and see the world if you are able, and if not, we will bring it to you through our posts. We hope you enjoy!
The unique flag of Nepal is the only non-quadrilateral national flag in the world. It is a double-pennant design with a blue border that represents peace. The crimson red background signifies bravery of its people and is also the colour of Nepal’s national flower, the rhododendron. The two internal symbols represent the crescent moon and the sun.
Who has ever been intrigued or enchanted by the grandeur and mystique of Mount Everest? Who has ever dreamed of standing on the top of the world, or at least viewing the mighty mountain in person with boots on the ground as a bucket list destination? Likely all of us at some point. Well my son and I decided to trek on over to Nepal from Dubai and tick that bucket list item.
Don’t get too excited though, we did not do any mountain hiking to the summit or even up to Everest Base Camp, rather we hired a helicopter tour and enjoyed a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experience. More on that in a bit…
Firstly, we flew into Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, arriving just after sunset. After some initial frustration and about an hour’s worth of aggro using the immigration kiosks, we finally secured our visas on arrival (cost 25 USD each). We had pre-booked a taxi to our hotel and found our driver with relative ease. It was a tiny little tin can on wheels, which was a bit of a challenge for my son and me who are both over 6’2″ (188 cm), but from what we could see around us it was a standard sized car.
We set off for the hotel, which was located only 5 km from the airport. By now it was quite dark out and we quickly entered into traffic that could only be described as beyond chaotic. There were about 5 lanes of vehicles in a space probably designed for 3 lanes. At times there were 3 lanes headed in our direction and two lanes going opposite, then seemingly without warning or design there were only 2 lanes going in our direction and 3 lanes coming at us. It was insane! No traffic lights anywhere so whenever we needed to turn against oncoming traffic it just sort of happened without any structure or rules…like traffic osmosis.
On our first full day we hired a taxi to Chandragiri in the mountains about an hours drive from Kathmandu. Traffic along the way was just mad but we finally arrived with no problems (other than the a/c in the taxi stopped working). The cable car ride was brilliant! The ride lasted about 10 minutes up to an elevation of 2400 meters (approx. 7,800 feet above sea level). On a clear day you can see Mt. Everest from atop Chandragiri, however on this day there was too much fog and smog. We did have great views of Kathmandu in the valley below.
After spending a couple of hours atop Chandragiri, we took the cable car back down to the entrance where our driver collected us and then headed back down into the heart of Kathmandu to Durbar Square, the historical hub of the city. Again, I cannot over-emphasize how mad the traffic was with vehicles squeezed into ‘lanes’ less than 1 meter apart on sometimes paved lanes and sometimes on dirt/mud lanes. At one point I literally reached out of my window and touched a large truck in the ‘lane’ next to our taxi. Another noteworthy observation was the amount of smog and exhaust pollution in the air from the vehicles around us–at times it was a bit overbearing when stalled in congested traffic.
Durbar Square was a very picturesque area with traditional buildings and temples, however there was still much evidence of the destruction caused by the April 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people.
Desperate to see Mount Everest, my son and I chartered a half-day tour by helicopter from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp. Although pricey, it was absolutely the tour of a lifetime!! It was absolutely one of the best days of my life! Once out of Kathmandu over the first range of lower mountains, the snow-capped Himalayas came into view against crystal clear blue skies and ever closer as we approached. The vistas were absolutely breathtaking! Words nor pictures can adequately describe the beauty and majesty of the Himalayas.
On our final day in Kathmandu we walked from our hotel to the Boudha (Boudhanath) Stupa, one of the largest domed Buddhist temples in the world. It is a massive white domed temple with golden spire adorned with many colourful flags. We observed hundreds of patrons walking in a clockwise circle around the base of the temple.
Facts & Figures
— Kathmandu was formerly known as Kantipur, which means City of Glory.
— Mt. Everest is also known as Sagarmatha and serves as the border between Nepal and the Tibet province of China, therefore in some references you will see China claim to have the highest peak in the world. Most ascents to the summit of Everest are from the Nepal side.
— The 2015 earthquake was so severe that some areas of Kathmandu were actually raised in elevation by one full meter (around 3 feet)!!
— The local greeting is Namaste, which means ‘I salute the God in you’.
— As described above, traffic in Kathmandu is madness! Out hotel was only 8 km (around 5 miles) from the airport but was a 35 minute drive. Make sure you factor in long travel times for short distances in and around Kathmandu.
— The unit of currency for Nepal is the rupee (NPR)
Psalms 78:4 – New Living Translation (NLT)
4 You are glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains.
If you are a worldwide trekker like us and want to become more ‘worldly’, then you will want to try our books below. Thanks to the former British Empire and current Commonwealth, the English language is widely spoken across the world; however, it is spoken quite differently depending on where you are traveling. We believe the books below are essential to worldly trekkers and think you will find them both fun and informative. The books include a dictionary of everyday words and phrases, traditional cuisine, some history and culture, and other handy information.
Simply click on the book covers below to find out more:
Thanks for stopping by! Happy travels.