Most of us associate winter months with a cozily lit room, warm blankets, and a hot cup of tea. As the temperature plummets, the gravitational forces of our beds seem to increase profusely. Normally, we plan our holidays during the summer, spring or autumn; but what if I tell you that there are places in Nepal that are worth forsaking the warmth of your homes for? It is great to visit new places on a cloudless day when the sun is shining on everything and everyone, but it is also equally amazing to visit places dramatically blanketed by snow. Plus, since it is the “off-season” period, you are more likely to secure a good bargain on travel packages and less likely to encounter troops of tourists wherever you go. Here is our list of five best winter destinations in Nepal.
Heading north towards the Himalayans in winter seems like a crazy idea, but if you are interested in magnificent mountain views and want to capture them on camera, winter is the ideal time for you. We aren’t recommending treks that will take you to the elevation of 5,000 meters. Poon Hill, one of the most popular treks in Nepal, has the highest elevation point of 3,210 meters. So, if you layer carefully, completing this trek in winter is significantly easy. It rarely rains in winter and the humidity is at lowest, thus offering trekkers with spectacular views of more than 20 peaks of Annapurna region.
Much to everyone’s surprise, a good number of Nepalese people have never experienced snow first-hand. Foreigners like to think that the Everest is located right in our backyard, but the Himalayans really, really are very far and inaccessible to many. However, there are few special places like Kalinchowk in Dolakha district that has contributed in ticking off of “snow experience” from many a Nepalese people’s bucket list. A five-hour bus ride from Kathmandu will take you to Charikot. From there, a 2-hour jeep ride on graveled road and a short hike will take you to Kalinchowk. From here, you can have the most amazing views of the mountains, and the clouds floating below you add even more to the backdrop.
Located on a hill top in Tanahu district, Bandipur is a quaint, beautiful Newari town in western Nepal. Once dubbed as a “ghost town”, its culture and architecture have remained unaffected by modernity for centuries, giving it a new name of “living cultural museum”. With its intricately built and carved houses that now operate as hotels, Bandipur is the epitome of the height of Newari architecture. Aside from spending your evenings in this lively town, you can go explore Nepal’s largest cave – Siddha Gufa, hike down to the dwindling river below, and pay a visit to the local Hindu temples.
Mustang, located in the rain shadow of the Dhaulagiri massif, is a perfect destination for winter trek. Since the elevation won’t go higher that 3,500m, it is fully accessible in winter and easy to complete too. This region sees a lot of tourists during the peak season, making winter months suitable for seekers of peace and solitude. The only thing you should be careful about is layering carefully. However, you should know that Upper Mustang might not be a wise trip to undertake during winter. Still, places like Kagbeni, Marpha, and Muktinath Lower Mustang will make trip worth every bit.
Bardia National Park
Even during the cold months, the visibility and climate in Bardia is exceptionally good, making it the most suitable national park to visit in winter. Perhaps, it is the only remaining place in Nepal where the wildlife actually affects people’s livelihood. Here, you can embark on an adventurous jungle safari on an elephant’s back, go on exclusive tiger-finding hunts, and raft in the country’s longest river populated by crocodiles and dolphins. It is also a great place for birdwatching and butterfly-watching. Home to 30 mammal species, 250 bird species, and several other endangered reptile species, Bardia national park is the epitome of Nepal’s wild west.