Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal would be our last stop in Nepal before India. Chitwan is famous for its rhinos, tigers and elephant riding safaris. We decided to check it out and have a safari of our own, to compare to our African safari. We rode an elephant, dodged alligators and searched for rhinos and tigers.
Kathmandu, the sprawling capital of Nepal situated in the muggy Kathmandu Valley, was our first and one of our last stops in Nepal. A city of contrasts, with ancient temples butting up against modern coffee shops, crowded streets and pollution nestled up against the rugged Himalayas.
After Bandipur we took a bus back to Kathmandu to work out our entry visa for India. Since the process involves waiting a week, we decided to visit the old capital city of Bhaktapur nearby in the Kathmandu valley. The city is filled with ornately constructed Newari traditional buildings, temples, shrines and palaces. The Newars are a hill people with much influence in the Kathmandu Valley.
Our next stop in Nepal after our overnight rafting trip was the traditional old city of Bandipur. Situated along the ridge top of a high hill, the city is centered around a single street which runs the ridge line, with nineteenth century mansions still in use and views of deep valleys along either side.
Rafting cold Himalayan rivers might not be on the top of many visitors wish lists and we were no exception. I hadn't even thought about the possibility until we found a lot of rafting companies in Pokhara offering trips. Krista had read a little bit about it in the guide books and after speaking with some of the rafting companies we decided we would give rafting in the Himalayas a shot.
The touristy town of Pokhara on the shores of Lake Phewa, was both our starting point and ending point for our Annapurna Base Camp trek. Situated in the middle of the country in the foothills of the Himalayas it is a convenient centralized starting point for many tourists on their way to and from trekking, climbing, rafting and many other popular activities.
Our first stop in Asia would be Nepal for a month of exploration in the Himalayas. The worlds tallest mountains have always been a dream to see, and now we were actually going to hiking amongst some of the peaks. We would be doing what is known as Tea House Trekking. Popular hiking routes are dotted with small Tea Houses were one can stop to relax and refresh and even stay the night, making trekking on these long high elevation trails safer and easier, and accessible to hikers of nearly any skill level.