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Nepal: General Information

Nepal is a Himalayan country, wedged between India and China. Its northern boundary is dominated by a continuous stretch of the Himalayas from east to west. The Nepal Himalaya consists of eight of the fourteen highest mountains in the world, including Everest, the world’s highest mountain. On every side, a skyline of fluted snow and ice peaks soar beyond the imagination rise above the trails, the campsites and valleys. It is a land of great diversity- a home of incredible variety of ecosystems, the greatest mountain ranges, dense tropical jungles teeming with a wealth of wildlife, thundering rivers, forested hills and frozen valleys. The country is a potpourri of ethnic groups, customs and traditions. From the humid and tropical southern Terai lowlands to the frozen alpine regions of the Himalayas in the north, we find different colorful cultures & people co-existing in harmony for centuries.

The country also offers an astonishing diversity of sightseeing attractions and adventure opportunities found nowhere else on earth! A visitor can join in the numerous annual festivals that are celebrated throughout the year in traditional style highlighting enduring customs and beliefs.

Nepal is a land where the arts, culture are as well-preserved as the valleys and forests, temples enriched with wood carving and bronzes, millennium- old statues standing along the way side, songs and dances unchanged for centuries and entire cities preserved in their medieval splendor.

In addition to enjoying numerous activities of choice in Nepal, it is also a significant transit point for traveling to Tibet (China) Bhutan, Darjeeling and Sikkim (India).

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At a Glance:
Location: It borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China in the North and India in the East, South and West respectively.
Area: 147,181 sq. kilometers
Altitude: Varies from 70 meters to 8848 meters
Capital: Kathmandu
Population: 26,494,504
Language: Nepali is the national language of Nepal. Educated people understand and speak English as well.
Religion: Hinduism and Buddhism
Time: Nepal Time is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT and 15 minutes ahead of Indian standard time


Geography:
Nepal, as said above, is a landlocked country between India in the south, east and west and Tibetan Autonomous Region of China on the north, 550 miles/880 km long and 150 miles/240 km wide. The country is rectangular in shape stretching from east to west. Her 56,826 sq. miles/148,000 sq. km. is divided lengthwise into three strips. The northernmost strip is the Himalaya, meaning "abode of snow". It includes eight of the ten highest mountains in the world. The southernmost region, which is the narrowest of the three strips, is called the Terai. It is an extension of the Gangetic plain of northern India,  jungles  with elephants, rhinoceroses and tigers. Between the two outer strips lies an interface region of mountains, hills and valleys.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board



Climate:
Nepal’s Climate: Friendly weather patterns of immense proportions…

Nepal’s climate is an off-spring of its diverse seasons. Autumn and spring is a wonderful delight; not only for visitors heading to Nepal but also for the local people. Autumn commences from early September to early December and the skies are a sparkling blue with sunny days and colder full moon nights. Spring really begins from early February to May end with occasional rainfall. The monsoon starts from early June to September with scattered showers in October. Trekking is pretty difficult and uncomfortable this time around due to the humidity and everyday showers. The trails get slushy and are often leech-infested. And the mountains are generally hidden by clouds. But Nepal always has something in the bag for visitors and this is when expeditions gear up for summer climbing and trekking in the trans-Himalayan regions of Mustang, Narphu La, Dolpo and Tibet begin. These regions lie in the rain-shadow zones of the country and wonderfully receive significantly less precipitation than the more southerly areas.

VITAL CLIMATE CONSIDERATION FOR TREKKING EXPEDITIONS:
The best seasons to trek on Nepal’s Himalayas are autumn, from mid September until end November and spring, from the beginning of March until mid May. However, with Global Warming creating erratic climatic conditions, NATURE CAN BE A BEAST WHEN LEAST EXPECTED. Some brief seasonal explanations follow below:

Autumn (mid-September to end-November)
Trekking during this period is bliss. Generally, during autumn, the weather is clear with mild to warm days and chilly nights. However, on the higher altitudes, the nights can drop to freezing temperatures. At this time, the mountain views are amazingly clear.

Approach to winter and the mid winter (end-November through March)
Trekking during the winter period is feasible, from December until the end of February. Daytime temperatures are cooler; however, the nights will often be bitterly cold. The days are generally clear but frequent winter storms can bring snow as low as 2000m. Early October through late November is also a hectic period for trekking. But in mid winter (January through March), trekking can be arduous on the higher altitudes with semi-regular snowfall followed by more winter storms, which break the long finer periods of early autumn. From mid-December to mid-February it’s the coldest time.

Despite harder snowing, wind conditions remains stabilized in early winter, and climbing some trekking peaks are possible. Expeditions to Mera peak, Island peak, Chulu, and trekking in Annapurna, Everest and Langtang regions in early winter have been pretty popular over the past few years. But it’s always good to be prepared for the unpredictable.

Spring and early summer (mid-March through May)
Spring is always welcome after the biting cold, the mornings are usually clear but the afternoon cloud build-up brings occasional thunder showers. The days are a rumble tumble with humidity and rain, and the colorful show of wildflowers like rhododendrons lighten up the environment. The whole country is a verdant flush and an abundance of greenery is seen every where during this time. This period invokes the second most popular and pleasant trekking season as this is rice-cultivation time. Late-march into April is especially gorgeous. We also get to see clear skies in April. Up to May, the weather gets misty and disturbed with puffy cloudy patterns.

The monsoon (June to mid-September)
June to September is what we call the slushy monsoon season. Generally, the morning is cloudy and wispy cloudy chains randomly form on ridges and peaks. Trekking during this period is generally cumbersome and uncomfortable as the weather is hot and there are showers almost every day. The trails get muddy and are often leech-infested and the mountains are usually hidden by clouds. During April and May, the expectation of thunderstorms, hail showers and strong winds intermittently tend to occur during the fine periods. However, every dark cloud has a silver lining and there are wonderful possibilities for summer trekking in some of the most remote but beautiful trans-Himalayan regions of Mustang, Narphu La, Dolpa and Tibet. These regions fall in the rain-shadow areas of Nepal and therefore receive significantly less precipitation than the more southerly areas.

Consequently, since Nepal’s climatic conditions follow a friendlier pattern than imagined, there’s always space for a lifetime vacation in the sunshine of Nepal’s Himalayas and Incentive Holidays has numerous holiday options for a trip that only dreams are made off. Just let us know you plans and we’ll turn your dreams into realities.

PLEASE NOTE, ITS IMPORTANT TO TAKE SOME TIME AND READ ABOUT NEPAL’S CLIMATIC SITUATION BEFORE HEADING TO NEPAL AS THIS COULD GIVE YOU A GOOD HOLIDAY WITHOUT HASSLES AND PERHAPS EVEN MORE VITAL, SAVE YOUR LIFE…

For more information about Nepal’s climatic conditions, please visit: www.dhm.gov.np (official web site of the Department of Hydrology & Meteorology, Ministry of Environment).

Source: Nepal Tourism Board



Weather Info:
Nepal basically has four seasons: Spring (March-May), Summer (June-August), Autumn (September-November) and Winter (December-February).

However, owing to its varied geography, weather conditions of Nepal vary from one place to another. The higher you give up north, it tends to be cooler whereas the deeper the south you go the hotter it is comparatively.

In the hilly and Himalayan regions, summers are cool and balmy and winters are severe, while in tropical plains of the Terai in the south, summers are tropical and winters are mild. The temperatures in the valleys  of Kathmandu and Pokhara tend to be pleasant with average summer and winter temperatures.

The temperature ranges from below zero to 25 degrees in the Hills and Himalayas where as it can reach up to 35 degrees in flat lands of Terai.

The monsoon rain fall occurs during the summer. The average annual rainfall is 1,600 mm, but it varies by eco-climatic zones. Travelling in Nepal is possible throughout the year.

There are multitudes of trekking areas you can visit in Nepal throughout the year. Nevertheless, the best time to do trekking are during spring and autumn. These are also the seasons when many of the biggest festivals of Nepal are observed.



People of Nepal:
Perched on the Southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains, the Kingdom of Nepal is ethnically diverse. The Nepalese are descendants of three major migrations. These migrations have taken place from India, Tibet, and Central Asia. Among the earliest inhabitants were the Newar of the Kathmandu Valley and aboriginal Tharu in the southern Tarai region. The ancestors of the Brahman and Chetri caste groups came from India, while other ethnic groups trace their origins to Central Asia and Tibet, including the Gurung and Magar in the west, Rai and Limbu in the east, and Sherpa and Bhotia in the north.

In the Tarai, which is a part of the Ganges basin, much of the population is physically and culturally similar to the Indo-Aryan people of northern India. People of Indo-Aryan and Mongoloid stock live in the hill region. The mountainous highlands are sparsely populated. Kathmandu Valley, in the middle hill region, constitutes a small fraction of the nation's area but is the most densely populated, with almost 5% of the population.

Nepal's 2001 census enumerated 103 distinct caste/ethnic groups including an "unidentified group". The caste system of Nepal is rooted in the Hindu religion while the ethnic system is rooted in mutually exclusive origin myths, historical mutual seclusion and the occasional state intervention.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board



Language:
Nepali is the official language; written in the Devanagaric script. English is understood widely and spoken by majority of people in the urban center and areas frequented by tourists. Most Nepali people speak more than one language.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board


Culture and Religion:
Nepal is blessed with one of the richest cultures in the world. The culture has been called 'the way of life for an entire society'. This statement holds particularly true in the case of Nepal where every aspect of life, food, clothing and even occupations are culturally guided. Religion and Culture occupies an integral position in Nepalese life and society as it includes the codes of manners, dress, language, rituals, norms of behavior and systems of belief.

Nepal was declared a secular country by the Parliament on May 18, 2006. (recognized and constitutionally declared the only Hindu state in the world since early 1990s to 2006.) Religions practiced in Nepal are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship and animism. The majority of Nepalese are either Hindus or Buddhism. The two have co-existed in harmony through centuries.

Hindus can be seen worshiping at Buddhist temples and Buddhists can be seen worshiping at Hindu temples, the two dominant groups in Nepal have never engaged in any overt religious conflicts. Due to the dual faith practices and mutual respect, the differences between Hindus and Buddhists have been in general very subtle in nature. You will also find Christians, Muslims and Jains in Nepal. All Religions co-exist peacefully and respectfully.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board


Clothing:
Warm clothing are required from November to February and tropical wear from March till October.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board



Water:
In Kathmandu, boiled and filtered water as well as mineral water is available in most of the hotels and restaurants. Elsewhere, it is advisable to use water sterilization tablets or stick to tea & soft drinks.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board



Electricity:
In Nepal we use 220 volts AC, 50 cycles throughout the country. Power cuts are faced on a daily basis as per the pre-determined schedule.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board



Official Weekly Holiday:
Saturday is the official weekly holiday in Nepal. Most of the shops dealing in Handicraft are closed on this day, while Museums throughout the valley remain close on Tuesday & other Government Holidays.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board



Working hours and Holidays:
Official working hour is 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Nepal has lot of festivals and religious holidays. Once happen to be in Nepal on any such day, it is advisable to participate in the festivities, possibly with the help of a guide.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board


Health:
International certificate of vaccination regarding current inoculation against cholera, typhoid and yellow fever are not required.

Source: Nepal Tourism Board