Travel Guide Nepal
Golden temples, charming villages, lush green jungle and the vastness of the breathtaking Himalaya – due to its incomparable landscapes and colourful culture Nepal is one of the most spectacular travel destinations in the world. In the following you can receive further background information about the small landlocked country in South Asia.
Highlights in Nepal
Geography of Nepal
The landlocked country Nepal is situated along the southern ridges of the Himalayan mountain range and is located in between China and Tibet in the north and India in the south. The country was formed as a kingdom in year 1768 after the conquest by the founder of the Shah-Dynasty. Nepal was never part of a colony and is less than half the size of Germany with its area of 147,181 km². Besides the capital city Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lalitpur that are situated in the mountain region are the next bigger cities in the country. Nepal is divided in 7 provinces, 77 districts and 753 communities. From west to east the country extends to up to 885 km and from north to south to 241 km at maximum. Nepal’s geography is mainly influenced by the high mountains of the Himalaya in the north and east. Further south the landscape changes to a moderate lower Himalayan range and develops to an inner valley called Terai.
Mainly the Himalayan mountain range that extends over 3,000m from Pakistan to Myanmar with a maximum width of up to 350 km influences Nepal´s geomorphology majorly. The Himalaya is part of the central Asian alpine mountain range and is between 30 and 50 million years old so that the weathering has only slightly influenced the landscape. The mountain range was folded in the collision between the Indian and the Eurasian continents. This collision drift still continues today so that the Himalayan mountain range is still pushed up a few millimeters every year. In Nepal the highest mountains are situated in the north and the east with the Mount Everest (8.848 m high) as the world’s highest mountain on the northern border to Tibet. South of the mountain range alluvial cones, so called Siwaliks, were formed by erosion as a consequence of heavy monsoon rainfall in a high relief.
In contrast to that, northern mountain regions are situated in the rainshadow so that there is only very little precipitation. Due to the rough living conditions, the mountain areas are only scarcely populated but on the other hand very popular for trekking tours. In the high mountain area villages are mostly located in valley regions and summer pasture grounds reach up to a maximum height of about 5,000 m. Rivers that enter the Ganges formed several gouges in the mountain range. Besides Tibet, Nepal is one of the highest regions worldwide with over 40% of the land surface above 3,000m. To the south the altitude descends in the lower mountain range and the fertile inner Terai valley. While the lower mountain range in the central area of Nepal takes up 30% of the land surface and is home to less than half of the population, the Terai region represents only 14% of the land surface. Nevertheless nearly half of the population is living in this region as the living conditions are better here, the ground is fertile and less endangered by erosion or frost, irrigation is easier and agriculture is mainly done in this area.
Travel Tipps and Trivia for Nepal
Climate in Nepal
The climate in Nepal depends majorly on the geography and the season that are quite similar to German seasons regarding the time periods. In higher altitudes especially along the northern border and in the eastern part of the country, temperatures are generally lower and there is also a relatively low amount of precipitation that is coming down as snow most of the time. Above 4,000m, the region is mainly influenced by an alpine climate with temperatures generally being below 0°C so that the mountain area is covered by perpetual ice and snow. In the foothill area climate is more moderate and average temperatures lie between 10 and 24°C, depending on the season. During winter the night can be quite cold, nevertheless temperatures only rarely drop below 0°C. The lower Terai valley is mainly influenced by the subtropical monsoon climate. In the time between April and September the south-west monsoon dominates the country and about 80 to 90% of the annual rain falls during these months. In general the other months are relatively dry. During this time it is quite hot and humid in the subtropical Terai with temperatures between 25 and 32°C. Winters are relatively mild and dry in this lower region. With the beginning of the dry season in October/November the view is clearing up, nature appears in a lush green and especially at the end of the dry season (February-April) wild flowers are in full bloom. Travelling to Nepal midsummer or midwinter cannot be recommended as heavy precipitation as well as sultry climate complicate journeys during the rainy season. Moreover the sky is often covered by clouds during this time so that the view over the stunning landscape can be troubled. In winter temperatures can drop below 0°C in higher altitudes which can also be troublesome during a journey.
Flora and Fauna in Nepal
Especially in the subtropical inner Terai valley the biodiversity is quite manifold. Besides the Indian rhino that is listed as an endangered species, various deer species belong to the bigger mammals in the southern region of Nepal. Moreover several Asian antelopes populate Nepal´s nature and also wild bovid like water buffaloes, yaks and gaurs are living in the lower regions and on occasion also in the dryer foothill areas. Bovid are often domesticated and used as working and pack animals. In the thick mountain forests also the endangered musk deer is living that is chased due to the high demand for the male deer’s secretion. Moreover different relatives of the goat can be seen in higher mountain ranges. Quite often these animals end up as pray of the strongly endangered snow leopard that is living in the central Asian high mountain region. In remote areas in the lower valleys of Nepal also other big cats like black panthers, the endangered Bengal tigers as well as smaller cats like the leopard cat and the fishing cat are common animals.
Other endangered mammals that belong to the family of bears and live in the foothill forests of the Himalayan region are the red panda as well as the Himalayan brown bear. Sloth bears are more common in the subtropical forests as well as grasslands in the valleys. In tropical areas in Nepal also crocodiles, numerous insect species as well as several snakes (some of them venomous) are at home. Moreover the biodiversity of birds is manifold especially in the inner Terai valley with animals like the prominent peacocks as well as several predatory birds like eagles, falcons, vultures and owls living in this region. In the lower areas also cormorants, herons and cranes are quite common. During a trip to Nepal many visitors run into monkeys like rhesus macaques that can get quite intrusive in touristic places, as well as gray langurs that are more reserved in comparison.
Also the biodiversity of flora depends on the altitude and becomes more barren in higher mountain regions. In the lower evergreen and lush Terai valley region several fruit trees and banana plants are common as well as trees that find use in construction and crop plants like rice or lentils. Besides the monsoon forests with bamboos and palms also numerous grasses, bushes and flowers grow in this subtropical valley region. These include elephant grass that can grow up to 3m, jasmine, hibiscus as well as various orchids. In higher altitudes crop plants and tropical vegetation are getting rarer and take turns with mountain- and clouds forests before flora changes to lichens, grasses and mosses above the tree line in an altitude of over 4,000m.