What Travelers Are Missing in Nepal

Phewa Lake Nepal
Canoeing at sunset in Nepal. Flickr/Mike Behnken 

Nepal is suffering from a two-fold image problem.

After the 2015 earthquake, travelers – and the money that they bring to the country – were slow to return to the region, despite governmental and infrastructure stability. Though Nepal suffered a disaster, much has been repaired and today business goes on as usual. Still, some travelers seem standoffish.

Some 8,000 people were killed in the earthquake and its aftermath. Kathmandu moved 10 meters to the south in a matter 30 seconds. Some villages were leveled and hundreds of historically significant structures were damaged, but most of the country was unaffected entirely. Nepal is ready to welcome travelers.

Nepal tourism after earthquake
Rebuilding after the 2015 earthquake. Flickr/United Nations Development Programme

The second facet of foreigners’ misconceptions of Nepal is more enduring. We all have the image of Nepal as a top-of-the-world trekking paradise, cut through with snowy daggers of mountains and dotted with Buddhist stupas. Those images of climbers and high-altitude peaks give many the impression that Nepal is only for those seeking extreme adventure.

But Nepal has much more to offer.

Few visitors are aware of Nepal’s subtropical lowlands. Chitwan National Park is home to elephants, tigers, crocodile, rhinoceros, and sloth bear. Tours are available by jeep, but also by elephant.

An elephant tour may end in what’s called an “elephant bath”, where the partially submerged “vehicle” showers you by flinging water back at you with its trunk. The presence of jungle animals like elephants and tigers may come as a surprise, but Royal Bengal tigers, along with leopards, roam the southern lowlands of Nepal along the border of India.

Tiger Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Tiger siting in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Flickr/Bernhard Huber

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