The National Geographic has placed Nepal on the list of the top 10 places to visit in 2016.
Nepal made to the top 3 spots among the round up of 10 places in the June issue of UK-based travel publication. About 800,000 tourists visited Nepal each year before the earthquake of 2015. Tourism contributed to 8.9 % of GDP.
Although Kathmandu and Nepal have long attracted adventurous travelers, the 2015 earthquake, wrought about $10 billion ( half of the Nepal’s GDP ) in damages and hampered country’s tourism industry, it writes.
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, a UNESCO-listed compound of palaces dating back as far as the tenth century, was partially destroyed, as was another of Kathmandu’s iconic structures: the 19th-century Dharahara tower.
A year later, however, Nepal’s situation is, if not what it once was, then nonetheless stable. And although several of Kathmandu’s most famous tourist structures have been damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, others—like the fifth-century Pashupatinath Temple and the relic-containing stupa of Boudhanath, now undergoing restorations—remain largely, if not entirely, intact, it said.
WHY GO NOW
Power may not be a constant (nor are paved roads) but for travellers willing to sacrifice a degree of comfort for a sense of adventure, Nepal’s draw remains, it said. “Nepal’s economy, deeply reliant on the tourism trade, is more in need than ever of visitors. While the earthquake has damaged Nepal’s man-made structures, its mountain trails—including the legendary Annapurna Circuit through the snow-capped shadow of the Himalaya—remain accessible.”Only two of Nepal’s 35 listed trails have been rerouted as a result of earthquake damage, and as early as last summer, all of the Annapurna trail’s bridges were successfully tested for safety.
If you’re not up to a seven-day trek in the Himalayan wilderness, Kathmandu has a range of more sedate activities on offer. The tradition of the Himalayan singing bowls—bell-like structures historically rung before, during, or after periods of Buddhist meditation—has a long history in Nepal. Cultural centers like the Kathmandu Centre of Healing offer three-day intensive bowl workshops (from $300) where you can learn the art of playing the bowls to make them “sing.”
Combine your Nepal tour / trek with a day or week long volunteering projects. Money spent in homestay, village tour and agricultural tours directly benefits locals to rebuild and recover from the earthquake damages. Here are lists of some of the sustainable / social tours.
Volunteer in a primary school
Fulkharka village in the 135 km northwest of Kathmandu was badly effected by 2015 earthquake. 27 people died and about 98% house were destroyed. After a year and half, we have rebuilt a primary school. We are running volunteering tourism to help school and the village. Both skilled and non skilled volunteers can participate. The volunteer tour is combined with village walk and hike to see Ganesh Himal (7,440 m) and other snow peaks.
Lwang village tour
Lwang village is about 35 km north of Pokhara. The authentic Gurung village is the best way to experience day to day life people. Community homestay serves hygienic accommodation and organic food. About 100 farmers produce tea in the foothills of Annapurna Himalayas.