• World Youth Adventures has over two decades of experience in organising school expeditions to Nepal

    Our parent company, World Expeditions, offered their first trek in Nepal in 1975. We own our operation in Nepal and thanks to the operational expertise of our local operation you can be sure of a safe, rewarding, and excellent value experience in Nepal.

    Our commitment to provide a proper duty of care guides everything we do.

    World Youth Adventures has an unblemished record in the operation of school & youth adventures.

    We will only operate tours in accordance with strict operational standards that have built our reputation as leaders in the student travel industry.

    Every tour is underpinned by an industry leading risk assessment plan that exceeds the benchmark standard in Australia, New Zealand, the UK as well as the USA and Canada.

    Three decades of tailoring successful student expeditions adds another dimension to the overall student experience.

    Our Price & Value Guarantee

    Our trek itineraries are paced to allow for best possible acclimatisation

    Our trek leaders are trained in Wilderness First Aid

    Our trained staff and team of cooks provide a hygienic camp as well as fresh, nutritious meals

    Our camps have watchmen each night

    Thanks to careful management and thorough consultation with local partners our track record is exemplary.

    Our industry leading risk management procedures have become a skill that we continue to refine.

    All of our school group experts are highly trained and experienced consultants who have safety as their number one priority

    Expert leaders, risk assessments, quality inclusions and your financial security all come standard when travelling with World Youth Adventures

    Happy group of trekkers atop of the Renjo La, Nepal&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Scott Cardwell</i>

    World Youth Adventures is committed to responsible travel and true sustainability.

    We immerse our travellers in the local culture in a way that is inclusive and positive, through the sharing of stories, songs, poems and the expression of appreciation for the villages, children, dress, and culture and mountain scenery. In turn, this inspires the local people to be proud of their culture and to protect their surrounding environment, providing an incentive to resist resource exploitation and the Westernisation of their culture.

    Our porters on trek are provided; a good working wage; all food; accommodation; work related clothing and equipment; income protection insurance and we also provide emergency helicopter evacuation if required.

    Our porters always carry efficient kerosene or other liquid fuel stoves. This adds significantly to our costs but maintains our minimal impact policy and commitment to responsible travel, ensuring that our trips do not contribute to deforestation and associated erosion or loss of biodiversity in regions that are struggling with these serious threats.

    Use of permanent exclusive eco-campsites that we have built throughout the Everest & Annapurna regions in Nepal. These camps aim to contribute in a positive way to the social, cultural and economic aspects of life for the local people by providing employment and training as well as maximise water usage, control waste management, contribute to the economy and help minimise deforestation by not using firewood for heating or cooking.

    Well-defined environmental plans exist on every trip within this country.

    Learn more about our commitment, and view our free Responsible Travel Guidebook, on our Responsible Travel Page

  • Everest as seen from Kala Pattar

    Everest Region: The most famous trek is the 20-day Everest Base camp, but shorter treks are also possible. The region, which is home to the Sherpa culture, is higher in altitude, more dramatic, home to the Sherpa culture and will utilise our private permanent campsites. Treks can vary from 10 to 20 days.

    Annapurna Range: Leafier, lower in altitude and provides a more cultural experience as we trek along remote trails used by the local Hindu villagers and not tourists. Our treks can provide opportunities to see 8000m giants, such as Annapurna and Dhaulagiri or visit the home of the Gurkhas. Treks can vary from 10 to 20 days.

    Langtang Region: Langtang is a relatively isolated region and predominantly inhabited by the Tamangs and Helambu Sherpas who originated in Tibet just to the north. It is a days drive away from Kathmandu and provides a great alternative to schools short on time. A trek in this region offers the opportunity to view traditional village life amid a picturesque alpine wilderness and affords brilliant views of the mighty peaks of Langtang (7234m) and Ganesh (7446m) as well as a sprawl of endless 6000m+ summits.

    Manaslu: The Manaslu region is primarily Buddhist and is one of the most beautiful areas of Nepal, with huge valleys, extensive forests and lovely villages dotted along the trekking trails. There are a limited number of trekkers in this region due to restricted access, allowing you to get an authentic insight into the local culture.

    Kanchenjunga: Eastern Nepal is characterised by great diversity of ethnic groups, flora and fauna and some of the most outstanding vistas anywhere in the Himalaya. Huge peaks dominate the landscape in this region from Pyramid Peak, Jannu, the Twins and of course Kanchenjunga (8586m). This is truly a remote and beautiful destination for those seeking a challenging adventure

    Bhaktapur, the well preserved ancient capital&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Brad Atwal</i>

    Sandwiched between India and China (Tibet) and dominated by the rugged peaks of the Himalaya, Nepal is an unforgettable travel destination. Winding mountain passes, vibrant rhododendron forests, gigantic glaciers, fertile valleys and the snowcapped peaks of the world’s highest mountains set the backdrop for an ancient culture steeped in religion and mythology. The fragrant waft of incense; the glow of butter lamps and candles; the bell-jangling of cattle herds and gentle drone of chanting monks; the fluttering of colourful prayer flags and lines of drying washing—these elements frame Nepal’s dramatic landscapes and cement themselves in visitors’ memories. The combination of awe-inspiring wild beauty, vibrant culture and gentle pace tends to capture the hearts of those who visit, luring people back time after time and confirming Nepal’s official tourism slogan: Once is Not Enough.

    In a process that began around 70 million years ago, tectonic shifts slowly drove the Indian subcontinent up and into the Eurasian plate, causing the formation of the highest mountain system on earth. Separating the fertile alluvial plains of northern India from the high tundra of the Tibetan plateau, the Himalaya is one of Earth’s most prominent geographic features. Pioneering mountaineers from India gave the towering mountain range its name Himalaya—meaning “abode of the snow” in Sanskrit. Snowcapped, glacier-clad, imposing and sacred—the Himalaya is incredibly influential, greatly affecting the region’s weather systems, human settlement patterns and transport access. This region is the ultimate goal for trekkers, climbers and mountaineers from around the world; supports communities whose existence depends on income from mountain tourism; and is considered by both Hindus and Buddhists to be a deeply divine place, touching the realm of the Gods.

    Nepal is a complex mosaic of cultures, ethnic groups and languages. It is remarkable that in a country of this relatively small size there are 125 different reported ethnic groups, with as many languages. Nepal is predominantly a Hindu nation, but Buddhism has a long history here and the beliefs and rituals of both faiths are integrated into Nepal’s unique and passionate culture. Buddhist and Hindu shrines, temples and monasteries dot the country, with followers of each faith generally being concentrated in areas where Tibetan or Indian cultural influences, respectively, have been strongest. Mainstream “Nepali culture” is largely the legacy of the traditions and achievements of the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley, who are credited with developing Nepal’s social structure and contributing greatly to architecture, arts and culture.

    Nepal’s human history can be thought of in three major time periods: prehistory and early history, the middle period (10th–18th centuries) and modern period (18th century onwards). Up until the middle period, Nepal’s history is vaguely known and full of gaps. Legends of the people of the Nepal Valley (now known as the Kathmandu Valley) appear in the records of both the Buddhists and the Hindu Brahmins. References in Indian classical texts to the land and people of the Nepal Valley and the lower foothill regions suggest that this region had strong Indian cultural affinities at least as far back as 2,500 years ago. Lumbini in southern Nepal is said to be the 623 BC birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama—the Buddha—and both Lumbini and the Nepal Valley region feature heavily in Buddhist historical accounts. The Himalayan kingdom of the Kirata tribe features in early Indian records, but it was the Licchavi who rose in the mid-5th century AD that would set the long-held standard of Indian-origin, Hindu dynastic rule over a people who were at that time neither Indian-origin or Hindu. During the Licchavi era (450–740 AD), the kingdom maintained close ties with India, introduced Indian-style coins, used Sanskrit as a court language and developed economic and political relations with Tibet, opening up the region as a major commercial corridor between the Indian subcontinent and central Asia. Most of the Licchavi kings were devout Hindus, but did not enforce the values and social structures of the Indian Brahmins upon the kingdom’s non-Hindu subjects.

    The middle period mainly encompasses the era of the Malla Dynasty, which ruled the Nepal Valley and surrounds from the 12th–18th centuries. In contrast to the Licchavi kings, the Malla ruler Jayasthiti (1382–1395) imposed a new social structure and legal code that was heavily influenced by Hindu principles. It was during the Malla era that the people of the Kathmandu Valley and surrounds came to be called “Newars”, meaning “citizens of Nepal” in the Nepal Bhasa language. The independent kingdom states of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur were created when Jayasthiti’s successor Yak?a Malla (1429–1482) divided his kingdom to share among his three sons. In addition to these three states were various small independent territories in the eastern and western hill regions, but by the early 16th century these had come under the rule of different high-caste Indian families. By the early 18th century one such regional dynasty had begun to assert itself and pose a challenge to the Malla rulers of the Nepal Valley—the Gorkha (aka Gurkha), members of the dynastic Shah family. The Malla themselves were already significantly weakened by family infighting and growing social and economic problems within the kingdom, and in 1769 the valley was conquered by the Gorkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who moved the capital to Kathmandu and became the first ruler of the newly unified kingdom of Nepal, ending the Malla era and laying the foundation for the modern state of Nepal. Prithvi Narayan Shah began an ambitious expansion campaign that sought to bring vast territories stretching from Kashmir to Bhutan into the power of the Nepal Valley, but the Shah’s progress would be halted by ongoing wars with Tibet and China (1788–1792), the Sikh Empire (1809) and British India (1814–1816). The rulers of the Shah dynasty attempted to overcome the difficulties of the kingdom’s extreme ethnic diversity and scattered regional powers by absorbing local and regional elites into a new centralised political administration in Kathmandu. This enabled the Shah kings to disarm potential political challenges by involving them in a national political system, but weakened the administration’s authority in the kingdom’s furthest regions due to the necessary compromises made with regional elites. From this point right up until the early 1950s, Nepal was marked by an ongoing series of political conspiracies and confrontations as various noble families challenged the power of the Shah royal family.

    Nepal conceded its many frustrating setbacks and abandoned its expansion plan, with the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16 culminating in a treaty that established Nepal’s current country borders. During the rule of the Thapa family (1806–1837), and even more so during the oppressive rule of the Rana family (1946–1951), the Shah ruler was demoted to a powerless nominal position, with real political power sitting with the Mukhtiyar (Prime Minister), as appointed by the dominant noble family. The British conquest of India had presented a genuine threat for Nepal, and made a compromise with Britain crucial to preserving Nepal’s independence. By the 1860s the ruling Rana family dynasty had negotiated an alliance with the British Indian Army, something that aided both parties until the 1947 withdrawal of the British from India. The collapse of the British agreement exposed the Rana regime to dangers it had previously been shielded from, creating a power vacuum that empowered the anti-Rana movement that had been gaining traction. By November 1950, King Tribhuvan (ruled 1911–1955) led anti-Rana rebels from the Nepali Congress party in an Indian-supported revolution against the regime. A settlement was accepted by which the Rana regime was stripped of power, sovereignty was restored to the Nepali royal family, and a democratic government was to be formed.

    Nepal’s slow transition to democracy has been a difficult process. The Nepali Congress had won by a landslide to become Nepal’s first popularly elected government, and Nepal’s constitution was finally enacted in 1959, but by 1960 King Mahendra had dissolved the government and imprisoned many of the party leaders amid ongoing controversy between the King and his cabinet. A new constitution bestowing real authority upon the crown was enacted and political parties were banned, ushering in a period of absolute monarchy that lasted until Mahendra’s successor, King Birendra, announced in 1980 that direct elections would be held for a new National Assembly, while keeping the existing royal-centric constitution. Political factions were not satisfied with this partial concession to democracy and in early 1990 ramped up their campaign for democratic reform. After a few months of major protests an interim government was appointed, and by the end of the year an amended constitution had been enacted by the King, allowing for a constitutional monarchy and a multiparty democratic parliament.

    Political life in Nepal post-1990 was plagued by drama and instability, and protests continued as political parties and a growing number of citizens were dissatisfied with the monarchy. The horrific gunning down of 9 members of the Nepali royal family in June 2001 by Crown Prince Dipendra (who then took his own life) not only rocked Nepali society but also reignited anti-monarchy sentiment. During the 1990s, Maoist rebels had begun gathering support and had established a new breakaway political party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The party posed a legitimate threat to the government, mass protests and violent attacks erupted regularly, and an estimated 12,000 people were killed between 1996–2006 as a result of Maoist insurgent attacks. A state of emergency was declared. Due to the escalation of Nepal’s 2006 democracy movement an Interim Constitution was adopted in 2007, stripping the monarchy of its governing powers and calling for the creation of a democratic parliament. A unicameral parliament—the Nepalese Constituent Assembly—was elected via democratic elections in 2008, and the Assembly’s first order of business was to decide whether to continue as a monarchy or declare a new republic. The Assembly voted on 28 May 2008 in favour of abolishing the monarchy, with Ram Baran Yadav replacing King Gyanendra as the head of state, being sworn in as the first President of the new Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

    Nepal continues now to establish itself as a young and hopeful democratic republic, but the country’s relatively low literacy rate and its many isolated rural communities are two base factors affecting the involvement of Nepal’s population in its hard-won democracy. Regardless of the past political turbulence, this is a wonderful travel destination that feels safe and welcoming to visitors. Nepal’s unforgettable landscapes, ancient culture and gentle, vibrant people will have you thinking back to your time in Nepal long after you’re back home.

  • A holy man at Bodnath in Kathmandu&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Peter Walton</i>

    Religion has and still does play a central role in daily life in Nepal, as evident in the country’s art, architecture and daily customs. The latest official stats on Nepal’s religions are: Hinduism 81.3%; Buddhism 9.0%; Islam 4.4%; Kirat 3.1%; Christianity 1.4%; other 0.8% (including Prakriti, Bon, Jainism, Baha’I and Sikhism) (2011 national census).

    Although the population is predominantly Hindu, Nepal has a long history with Buddhism and is known for its peaceful coexistence of different religions. Beliefs, customs and observances from both Hindu and Buddhist faiths are respected and celebrated. Buddhist and Hindu shrines, temples and monasteries dot the country, with followers of each faith generally being concentrated in areas where Tibetan or Indian cultural influences, respectively, have been strongest.

    Nepali society is separated into a social stratification system that is broadly based on the classic Indian caste system, with families being segmented into a hierarchy of hereditary social/occupational groups. Indigenous tribes were not traditionally part of the caste system but have been incorporated into the social system since the unification of Nepal in the 18th century. The Newar people—indigenous inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley region—have the country’s most complex social caste system, encompassing both Hindu and Buddhist groups

    Family is absolutely central to daily life. Large extended families often share homes or villages, children are an essential and adored asset to the family, and the elderly are the respected heads of the family. Marriages are usually arranged by families—although ‘love marriages’ are increasingly common—and almost always within the same caste or social/ethnic group

    Kathmandu is Nepal’s only major city, and the country has a low urban population of just 17%, with the majority of the population living in rural villages or small market towns. Nepal is a largely rural society, with an agriculture-dominant economy. Despite the small amount of arable land, the majority of Nepal’s workforce is engaged in agricultural work.

    More than 85% of people live in their own home, many of which are built from mudbrick, stone, bamboo or other timbers. Firewood is the predominant fuel source used for cooking and heating; ownership of cars, motorcycles, home telephones and refrigerators is very low. Computer and internet use is very low by Western standards, but 65% of homes have at least one mobile phone, 51% have a radio, 36% have a television, 20% have cable television (2011 national census)

    People are generally very polite and should always be treated with respect and patience.

    Ask permission if you wish to photograph people.

    Ask permission before entering a temple.

    Remove shoes before entering someone’s home. Remove shoes and hats before entering a temple.

    Always walk around temples, stupas, shrines, chortens or any other religious monuments in a clockwise direction. Likewise, always spin prayer wheels in a clockwise direction.

    The usual Asian rules of courtesy apply in Nepal: dressing modestly, refraining from public displays of affection and showing respect—especially towards elders, royals, religious clergy and the government.

    Avoid raising your voice, losing your temper or embarrassing someone—to do so would bring shame and not help your situation. A calm and forgiving attitude will be much more effective!

    Nepalis behave and dress modestly, and so should visitors—skin-tight or revealing clothing is inappropriate for women, and shorts are inappropriate for men unless on trek. Nudity is unacceptable at all times.

    Never touch anyone one the top of the head (including small children) as this is considered the highest and most important part of one’s body. Conversely, never touch someone or point at someone (or at a picture or sculpture of a deity) using your feet.

    Nepalis are not a ‘touchy-feely’ people, and it’s generally best to greet someone by saying “Namaste”, with the hands pressed together as in prayer, rather than trying to shake hands.

    It is extremely offensive to throw rubbish into any fire, as fire is considered sacred.

    The hustle and bustle in the streets of Kathmandu&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Amanda Fletcher</i>

    Nepal’s calendar is packed with festivals and celebrations. As a deeply religious country, its many colourful Hindu and Buddhist festivals are the heart of its social and cultural calendar. The stories of Nepal’s history, the Buddha, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, and nature’s seasons and harvests are performed via song and dance, prayers are cast, processions of chariots are drawn through town, and feasts are shared with friends and family. With multiple days of dances, markets and celebrations, each festival is a major social event for locals, as well as a fascinating attraction for visitors

    Nepal’s most important and extravagant celebration is Dashain, the 15-day Hindu festival that is celebrated throughout the country. Dashain begins in September or October each year, and people from all over Nepal and abroad return home to reconnect with loved ones. The festival worships Shakti (the divine cosmic energy of the Hindu universe) and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The 15 days are filled with different religious ceremonies, colourful parties and traditions, and many offices and businesses close down over the period.

    Bisket Jatra Nepali is the Nepali New Year, celebrated in mid-April each year with great fanfare. The festival features colourful processions of huge chariots, ritual bathing and other important religious ceremonies.

    Losar, the Tibetan New Year, falls between late January and early March and is one of the most important holiday for Nepal’s Tibetan communities. Celebrations begin on the first day of the first lunar month of the new year (as per the Tibetan lunisolar calendar) and last for 15 days, with festivities concentrated in the first three days.

    The rest of the year is packed out with different Hindu and Buddhist festivals and celebrations—too many to mention here. Dates change each year based on either the lunar calendar or auspicious dates set by religious astrologers, so check online before planning your visit.

    The many national public holidays include Shahid Diwas (Martyr’s Day, 30 Jan); Prajatantra Diwas (Democracy Day, 19 Feb); Navabarsha (Nepali New Year’s Day, 14 April); Ganatantra Diwas (Republic Day, 29 May) and Yomari Punhi (Newari Rice Harvest Festival, 6 Dec).

    A Nepalese Sherpa woman&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Richard I'Anson</i>

    Nepal is an ethnically and culturally diverse nation, with 125 different ethnic/caste groups being reported in the 2011 national census poll.

    Total population is 26,494,504 (2011 Census), growing at a rate of 1.32%.

    The median age is 22.9 years; with 31.6% aged 0-14 and 4.5% aged 65+

    Sex ratio is 0.96 males to 1 female.

    The urban population is 17% (2011), with average annual rate of urbanisation at 3.62%.

    The natural barriers formed by the rugged Himalayan mountain system to the north, and the historically jungle-clad Terai to the south, have played a huge role in the distribution of Nepal’s human settlements, and have given space for a unique Nepali culture to develop over the centuries. Nepali culture has been most visibly influenced by Tibetan and Indian religious, cultural and linguistic influences.

    Although only the sixth-largest ethnic group in Nepal today, the cultural legacies of the Newar people—indigenous inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley—have formed the basis of the dominant ‘Nepali culture’ as it exists today, being heavily influenced by Indian culture, religion and social institutions.

    Some of the alpine valleys between the Himalayan subranges have historically been more accessible from Tibet than from Nepal, and as such, these northern Himalayan regions have been inhabited by people with Tibetan cultural and linguistic affinities, including the Bhutia and the famous Sherpas of the Khumbu (Everest) region.

    Sadhu's from southern India walking to Muktinath&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Ian Cooper</i>

    Chhettri 16.6%; Brahman-Hill 12.2%; Magar 7.1%; Tharu 6.6%; Tamang 5.8%; Newar 5%; Kami 4.8%; Muslim 4.4%; Yadav 4%; Rai 2.3%; Gurung 2%; Damai/Dholii 1.8%; Thakuri 1.6%; Limbu 1.5%; Sarki 1.4%; Teli 1.4%; Chamar/Harijan/Ram 1.3%; Koiri/Kushwaha 1.2%; other 19%.

  • Remote trekking in far western Nepal&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Tim Macartney-Snape</i>

    Our trekking season in Nepal extends from mid-September to May. However within this period there are clear seasons in the weather.

    Trekking in Nepal during winter, from December to February, offers cool to mild and clear days with often very cold nights. Occasionally winter storms can bring snow as low as 2500m.

    In March the cold, dry winter season begins to give way to warmer, spring conditions. Mornings are usually clear with cloud build-up occasionally bringing afternoon rain.

    Late spring conditions, in May, are generally hot at low elevations and as the clouds build up to the next monsoon, which generally begins in June, daily afternoon rainstorms are common. This is a period that generally has clear weather at the higher altitudes and is traditionally a time when mountaineering expeditions commence their ascents.

    The monsoon creates a rainy season in Nepal, which lasts from mid-June to mid-September. During this time the Nepal Himalaya is unsuitable for trekking, with the exception of a few remote valleys.

    During the monsoon in Nepal it is possible to trek in Tibet, the Indian Himalayan regions of Kulu, Garhwal & Ladakh, Central Asia and Pakistan, places that are at their best during this time.

    The post-monsoon period - From early September the monsoon rain starts to decrease. By mid-October through to mid-December the weather is usually stable with mild to warm days, cold nights and clear views. Daytime temperatures can reach 25 - 30 degrees Celsius at lower altitudes and decrease as you gain height. Over 3000 meters the daytime temperatures can vary as much as 10 to 20 degrees Celsius, and may be hotter or colder, depending on whether it is sunny or windy etc. At night at lower altitudes, temperatures do not normally drop much, although as you approach November it does get colder and the days shorter. Up high it can drop sharply at night, from 0 to minus 10 or 15 and more when camped on the ice or snow.

    The pre-monsoon period - In March the cold, dry winter season begins to give way to warmer, wetter spring conditions. Mornings are usually clear with cloud build-up bringing occasional afternoon rainstorms. Views of the mountains in the middle of the day and afternoon may often be obscured. Daytime temperatures increase quickly in March with temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius and mild nights. At higher altitudes it is similar to the conditions of the post-monsoon period, however there is usually more snow, which has accumulated over the winter period. There are spectacular displays of rhododendrons and wildflowers at this time of year. Late spring conditions ie April and May, are generally hot at low elevations and as the clouds build up to the next monsoon, daily afternoon rainstorms are common.

    Nepal Borders

    China (Tibet Autonomous Region) to the north; India to the east, south and west.

    The majestic peak of Ama Dablam&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Sue Badyari</i>

    147,181 sq km (56,827 sq mi) / (94th largest country in the world), divided into 14 administrative zones

    Trek along the Modi Khola valley and marvel at the Annapurna range&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Jake Hutchins</i>

    Nepal is ranked at 139 out of 178 countries (with an improving trend) on the Environmental Performance Index (2014), which quantifies and benchmarks performance of government environmental policies and outcomes

    Environmental issues include deforestation (mainly due to overuse of wood for fuel); water contamination (from animal and human waste, agricultural runoff and industrial pollution); pollution from vehicle emissions; and wildlife conservation.

    Natural hazards include severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, droughts, famine—all of which are dependent on the timing, length and intensity of the monsoon season.

    Nepal is a signatory to various international environmental and conservation agreements.

    Local flora, Annapurna, Nepal&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Learna Cale</i>

    Nepal is home to a huge biodiversity of plant and wildlife, which can also be discussed within the Tarai, hill and mountain regions.

    The Nepali Tarai contains the Heritage-Listed Chitwan National Park (which became Nepal’s first national park in 1973), as well as many other national parks and protected areas. The Tarai region is home to fertile alluvial plains, flooded forests, jungle, savannah and extensive marshlands. The Tarai was once covered mostly in thick jungle—a natural barrier that protected the unique Nepali culture— but the area has since been heavily cleared and the fertile plains of the Tarai now make it Nepal’s most productive region.

    The moist tropical conditions of the Tarai support marsh and grasslands, and commercially important forest species such as khair (acacia catechu), Indian rosewood (dalbergia sissoo) and sal (shorea robusta), with sal timber being one of the most important hardwood species in Nepal and India, and a traditional material used in the religious architecture and wooden sculpture of the Kathmandu Valley. The Tarai is home to a wide range of wildlife including elephants, buffalo, leopards, various cats and deer, sloth bears, wild dogs and pigs, dolphins, crocodiles, fish, seabirds, reptiles and insects. In addition, the Chitwan National Park is home to some of the world’s last populations of the endangered gharial (fish-eating crocodile), Bengal tiger and single-horned Indian rhinoceros.

    The hill region of central Nepal has much less in the way of wildlife now due to extensive forest clearing, but bears, deer, leopards and smaller carnivores are sometimes found in the remaining woods.

    The lower slopes of the central Lesser Himalayas are dominated by pine and oak forests, which make way to magnificent mixed forests of pine, oak, fir, cypress, ash, spruce, juniper, poplar and willow, and magnolia and rhododendron blooms. Alpine shrubs and grasses grow below the snow line of the Great Himalayas, where snow leopards and wolves prey upon the grazing antelopes, musk deer, wild goats and sheep. The mahseer is a large freshwater fish found in Nepal’s rivers, prized for food and sport. The danphe pheasant (known in India as the monal) is Nepal’s national bird, found throughout the forests of the Lesser Himalaya, with the male danphe sporting brilliant rainbow-coloured feathers. Herds of domesticated yaks are kept for milk, meat, wool and transport of goods by the people of the Himalaya, along with a cow-yak hybrid called djopke, bred especially for high altitude.

    Of particular interest to many visitors to Nepal are the spectacular rhododendron flowers that bloom from March–May in the Himalayan regions with elevations between 1,400–3,600 m (4,593–11,811 ft). Dozens of species are found in Nepal, in shades of red, pink and white, but it’s the bright red Rhododendron arboreum that is the country’s beloved national symbol.

    Everest as seen from Kala Pattar

    Nepal is a country of relatively small size but great geographic diversity and beauty. Around 75% of the country is covered by mountains, including most of the world’s highest peaks. Nepal’s geography can be discussed in terms of three major latitudinal belts, from south to north: the Tarai (which can be further divided into Outer Tarai and Inner Tarai), hill region and mountain region

    The Tarai (or Terai) is a lowland strip of tropical and subtropical alluvial plains running parallel with the lower ranges of the Himalaya, straddling the border between northern India and southern Nepal.

    The fertile southern plains of the Outer Terai rise to the forested Churia foothills, marking the start of the Inner Tarai region that continues up to the Mahabharata Range, also known as the Lesser Himalaya.

    The Mahabharata runs east-west in parallel with the Great Himalaya, but with peak elevations of 1,500–2,700 m (5,000–9,000 ft), and marks the beginning of the hill region. The hill region encompasses the Kathmandu and Pokhara Valleys and continues up to the point where mountains rise from the temperate zone and into the subalpine zone above 3,000 m (10,000 ft), signaling the start of the mountain region.

    Nepal’s mountain region, the Nepal Himalaya, is home to some of Earth’s most difficult and rugged mountain terrain. Rather than a continuous unbroken mountain range, the Himalaya is a complex system of mountain ranges, massifs and alpine valleys. The Nepali section of the mighty Himalaya—the highest mountain range on Earth, separating the Indian subcontinent from the rest of Asia—contains 8 of the 10 highest peaks in the world, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest (8,850 m / 29,035 ft)—or Sagarmatha, as it is known in Nepali. The mountain region contains towering, permanently snowcapped peaks, gigantic glaciers, huge moraine deposits and deep valleys, punctuated by alpine lakes and glacial rivers. Permanent settlements are found up to elevations of 4,500 m (15,000 ft), and even higher in the summer months in support of mountain climbing and trekking tourism.

    Nepal is drained by three major rivers—the Kosi (or Koshi), Gandak (or Narayani) and Karnali (or Ghaghara) Rivers—each rising in the regions north of the highest peaks of Himalaya. Each of the rivers cut deep gorges through the subranges of the Himalaya as they flow southward to the alluvial plains of the Tarai, where they often cause devastating flood damage. The Kathmandu Valley area is drained by the Baghmati River, which eventually joins the Gandak River. The Pokhara Valley is drained by the Seti River, an important tributary of the Karnali River.

    People gathering around the ghats&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Erin Williams</i>

    Kathmandu Valley (1979) This property is actually a collection of seven different “Monument Zones” within the Kathmandu Valley region in the foothills of the Himalayas. The collection encompasses the four major religious complexes of Swayambhu, Boudhanath, Pashupati and Changu Narayan; and the three Durbar squares (city plazas) of the cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Each of the four extensive religious complexes is incredibly important to the Nepali people, with the collection containing the oldest, largest and most sacred Hindu and Buddhist monuments in the region. The Durbar squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur are living museums with their incredibly well preserved palaces, temples, monuments and public spaces. Together, this remarkable ensemble encapsulates the religious and cultural history of the region, the unique coexistence of Hindu, Buddhist and indigenous beliefs, and the sophisticated architectural and artistic achievements of the people of the Kathmandu Valley.

    Sagarmatha National Park (1979) Nepal’s section of the Himalaya contains many of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest—or Sagarmatha, as it is known in Nepal—the highest point on Earth. Sagarmatha National Park is a region of exceptional natural beauty, environmental diversity, and religious and cultural significance. The park encompasses the rugged snowcapped peaks of many of the world’s highest mountains, huge glaciers, deep valleys and gorges, dense forests and the Dudh Kosi River. The park is home to several rare species of wildlife including the red panda (lesser panda) and the snow leopard. In addition to the park’s environmental significance it is the homeland of the Sherpa people, and is one of the most sacred places in the country, not just for its outstanding natural features but also for its religious buildings and monuments including the famous mountaintop Buddhist monastery at Thyangboche.

    Chitwan National Park (1984) This spectacular property, which was Nepal’s very first national park, is one of the last remaining undisturbed tracts of the lush ‘Tarai’ (or Terai) ecosystem that once covered the foothills of Nepal and India. Chitwan diverse environments include fertile alluvial plains, flooded forests, savannah, jungle, rivers and marshlands, and is Nepal’s best spot for wildlife-watching, being home to elephants, buffalo, leopards, various cats and deer, sloth bears, wild dogs and pigs, dolphins, crocodiles, fish, seabirds, reptiles, insects, and some of the world’s last populations of the endangered gharial (fish-eating crocodile), Bengal tiger and single-horned Indian rhinoceros.

    Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (1997) Lumbini, in the southwestern Terai region, is one of the most sacred places of one of the world’s great religions. It was here in 623 BC that Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, founder of Buddhism, was born. Lumbini is now a major Buddhist pilgrimage site, with the archaeological remains from the original village being incorporated into a Buddhist temple and centre for pilgrims.

  • World Youth Adventures can tailor make a school expedition to Nepal to your school’s budget and curriculum requirements.

    Talk to us about your next school expedition, or if you need some ideas check out the trips below.

  • Capital City:  Kathmandu
    Time zone:  Nepal is +5:45 ahead of UTC/ GMT
    Language:  Nepali (official)
    Currency:  Nepalese Rupee
    Highest Mountain:  Mount Everest
    Highest Mountain Elevation:  8,850 m / 29,035 ft
    Nepal is the only country in the world with a flag that is not rectangular or square. The flag’s unique shape consists of two red overlapping right-angled triangles, stacked vertically, with a dark blue line running around the border of the shape. The upper triangle is slightly smaller than the lower triangle and bears a white stylised moon symbol; the larger lower triangle bears a white 12-pointed sun symbol. The use of the colour red symbolises victory, bravery and Nepal’s national symbol—the rhododendron flower; the blue border represents peace and harmony; the moon represents the serene nature of the Nepalese people and the cool weather of the Himalayas; the sun represents the heat of the lower regions of Nepal.