Nestled amongst the tropical low-land pastures and the greatest mountain range on earth, Nepal is our favourite country on the planet. Rich in culture and full to the brim of jaw-dropping scenery at all points of the compass, it has a special place in our heart, but surprisingly here are our Top ten quirks that we think make Nepal even greater:
1. THE GREATEST, TALLEST AND DEEPEST
If you aren’t already aware, Nepal is home to the highest mountain range on the planet – the mighty Himalayas. The country shares the record for having the tallest mountain in Mount Everest (8,848m), as well as being home to eight of the fourteen biggest mountains in the world too.
Even more impressive is that Nepal has the deepest gorge – the Kali Gandaki at 1,200m – as well as the world's highest lake – Tilicho Lake at 4,919m.
2. OUR MOUNTAINS MIGHT REALLY BE HILLS
Here in the UK we are used to mountain climbing or walking in our treasured national parks. Take a jaunt to the Lake District and you can scale England’s highest mountain – Scafell Pike (978m) – which is no mean feat.
More sobering is when you catch your first glimpses of the Himalayas, towering higher than the clouds and bigger than anything else you can imagine.
You soon realise there is a massive difference in what our definition of a mountain might mean.
3. MO MO’s ARE A RITE OF PASSAGE
Wander around the streets of Kathmandu and look at the menus of every café and restaurant. You will notice ‘Mo Mo' is listed on every single one.
Mo Mo’s are a Tibetan style of dumpling, filled with minced meat or vegetables, steamed or deep fried. This is one of the most popular dishes in Nepal.
You either love them or hate them, they always come served with a tasty chilli sauce and there is no end of different ways you can have them. A personal favourite is the Tikka fried version. Definitely, one to check out next time you are in Nepal’s, capital.
4. DHAL BHAT POWER
If Mo Mo is a rite of passage, then Dhal Bhat is a lifeblood. There is no escaping this wonderful meal, served every day – if you wish – when you are trekking or climbing in the Himalayas.
Dhal Bhat is the national dish of Nepal, a traditional meal of dhal and rice, served with pickled vegetables and poppadum. Endless top-ups will be offered to you if your plate is looking a little low, which is perfect in the mountains to sort out hungry tummies.
The saying goes 'Dhal Bhat power, 24 hour!'.
5. UNESCO SITES GALORE
Nepal has the densest collection of UNESCO world heritage sites than anywhere else on earth.
The capital of Kathmandu and the surrounding valley has seven alone, add to that the Sagarmatha National Park, Lumbini – the birthplace of Lord Buddha – and the Chitwan National Park in the south of the country and you have plenty to keep you occupied.
6. THE YETI
Nepal is home to some of the rarest species on the planet; populations of snow leopard can be found, as well of the one-horned rhino. Chat to any local and stories of the mythical Yeti will soon have the hairs on the back of your neck twitching.
Legend has it that the Yeti roams the remote valleys of the Himalaya.
Expeditions have been sent to search for evidence that the creature exists, while little has been found, curiously the apparent scalp of a Yeti can be seen in a monastery at Khumjung village.
7. HOT SHOWERS ARE A LUXURY
The range of charming tea houses in Nepal make trekking and climbing in the mountains an absolute bliss. Where else on the planet can you travel to remote regions and find lodging with beds, electricity and hot meals?
One downside to this is a lack of hot water which is considered a luxury in many parts of the mountains of Nepal.
You may have to get used to the fact of not being able to shower for a week or more, while the alternative of taking an ice-cold wash is reserved only for the stupid or brave.
8. TOILET FUN
Leaving Kathmandu behind and heading out into the hills (ahem – sorry, we meant mountains), the wind behind your back and many days of wonder to look forward to.
The downside of teahouse living is that the bathroom facilities are very rudimentary, and you will have to train yourself to use the squat design of the toilet.
Our top tip is to carry toilet roll with you, as this is hard to get hold of, and definitely take a torch – we would hate for you to slip in the night.
Don’t let this put you off though, as the mountain views and people you meet along the way more than make up for this minor detail.
9. PEOPLE DON'T COMPLAIN
The nature of living in Nepal, especially in the mountains is tough. The locals battle daily with a range of extreme weather conditions, high altitudes, cold temperatures, no roads and long distances to walk in order to get anywhere.
Despite all these hardships, the local people are the happiest you will find and you will never hear them complain about their daily life.
It is a humbling experience.
10. NEPALI'S ARE THE MASTERS OF HOSPITALITY
If the outstanding scenery, food and ancient culture haven’t made you fall in love with Nepal, then the local people certainly will.
By nature, Nepali’s are the most generous people we have ever come across, always smiling and always happy to help. Even when they have so little, they are always happy to share a meal or a cup of masala tea.
By nature, Nepali’s are deeply respectful, genuine and loving. Lifetime friendships are made every time we journey to the country.