With high peaks, rolling hills, deep canyons and long rivers, there is a multitude of outdoor adventure sports you can try in Nepal. Some are practically synonymous with the country in the minds of travellers, while others might be a little more unexpected. Read on to discover where to find your next adrenaline rush in the Himalayas.
Planning an action-packed trip to Nepal? Book yourself onto Culture Trip’s 11-day Nepalese adventure, where you’ll ride a rickshaw through Kathmandu, white-water raft on the Seti River and encounter Bengal tigers in Chitwan National Park.
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Mountaineering in Nepal
While Nepal and Mount Everest go hand-in-hand for many travellers, there are many other mountains to climb. Nepal is home to eight of the highest mountains in the world, some of which are easier, cheaper and more enjoyable to climb than Everest. Lhotse, Kanchenjunga and Cho Oyu are all above 8,000m (26,247ft) and are all climbed far less often than Everest.
However, you don’t have to choose such an extreme peak to enjoy mountaineering in Nepal. Trekking peaks don’t require extensive high-altitude experience – although it helps – and the permits to climb them aren’t nearly as expensive. Highly rated trekking peaks include Island Peak – or Imja Tse – at 6,189m (20,305ft) and Mera Peak at 6,476m (21,247ft).
Trekking in Nepal
The trekking trails in Nepal will turn any hiker into the most sedate, urban traveller. There are options for many levels of fitness and all interests – from multi-day expeditions, such as the Annapurna Circuit and Upper Dolpo, to cultural treks, such as the Tamang Heritage Trail. There are also a few easier homestay treks, including the Annapurna Community Eco-Lodge trek.
The rewards and challenges vary from route to route, but you can expect to see snow-capped peaks, rural communities, vibrant farmland, shady forests, icy streams and plenty of wilderness. Although it’s not always necessary to trek with a guide – it’s only a requirement on certain restricted routes – it’s typically safer to do so.
Rafting in Nepal
Nepal is one of the best destinations in the world for multi-day white-water rafting trips. There are numerous long stretches of clean, bouncy rivers flanked by sandy beaches, forested hills and rural settlements. Everything from beginner-friendly one-day trips from Pokhara and Kathmandu to 12-day rafting, trekking and kayaking multi-trips are available. Spend your days bouncing along refreshing rivers and your nights’ camping on beaches under the stars. And one of the best parts? Like almost everything in Nepal, white-water rafting expeditions are much cheaper here than you’ll find in many other countries.
Kayaking in Nepal
Where there are white-water rapids good for rafting there are also white-water rapids good for kayaking. On many of the rafting trips, you’ll find an even split between rafters and kayakers. But, kayakers have the added benefit of being able to navigate stretches of the river that rafters cannot – so naturally, there are even more options for adventurous kayakers. Nepal is also a great place to learn to kayak, with kayak clinics just a short drive from Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Rock climbing in Nepal
Rather than going full-on mountain climbing, shorter rock-climbing excursions can also be enjoyed. In Kathmandu, there’s the Astrek Climbing Wall in Thamel – an artificial wall to practise climbing skills. There are other natural climbing spots around Kathmandu, such as Pharping and Nagarjuna – which are frequented by city-based climbers. Then, of course, there are endless unknown spots throughout the mountains, but proper gear and experience are required before setting off solo.
Canyoning in Nepal
If lowering yourself backwards off a waterfall and sliding down natural water slides sounds like fun, then Nepal is a good place to be. Season dependent – with the strongest flow immediately after the monsoon and the lowest immediately before – guided canyoning trips can be arranged around Jalberi, about halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara and on the Bhote Kosi River, northeast of Kathmandu.
Mountain biking in Nepal
Many trekking trails – both short and long – are also suitable for mountain biking. Be prepared to carry your bike at certain points, such as over icy patches or up steps. For shorter biking adventures, there are numerous trails around the outside of the Kathmandu Valley or the circuit around Phewa Tal in Pokhara.
Ice climbing in Nepal
If ordinary rock climbing sounds a bit boring, how about chipping your way up a frozen waterfall? This activity is best done in winter, for obvious reasons – and should always be done with an experienced guide or others who know what they’re doing. The village of Humde – near Besisahar in the Annapurna region – is a particularly good place to try this sport.
Canyon swing in Nepal
There’s just one place to try canyon swinging in Nepal, at the Last Resort on the Bhote Kosi River. It’s the same height as the bungee – 160m (525ft) – as it takes off from the same suspension bridge. But instead of diving headfirst towards the river, you free fall face-first for several seconds before swinging from cables fixed to the sides of the canyon – reaching a speed of up to 150kmh (93mph).
Paragliding in Nepal
With the snow-capped Annapurna Himalaya in one direction, terraced farmland and the city of Pokhara and Phewa Tal below, it’s hard to imagine a better spot for paragliding in the world. And, the thermals – warm air currents – from Sarangkot Hill make this a consistently good take-off point for paragliding. Another good paragliding spot in Nepal is around Bandipur.
Zip-line in Nepal
Pokhara was home to the longest zip-line in the world until the UAE took that honour in 2018. But, at nearly 2km (1.2mi) long and reaching speeds of 120kmh (74mph), it’s difficult to argue that this zip-line in Nepal is second to anything.
Bungee jumping in Nepal
There are only a couple of places where you can go bungee jumping in Nepal and like almost everywhere else in the country, the views are incredible. At the Last Resort, you can fall 160m (525ft) from a suspension bridge into the tropical Bhote Kosi River gorge. The bungee near Pokhara is not so high, sitting at a more comfortable 70m (230ft).
Vespa city tour in Nepal
Zipping around Kathmandu on the back of a moped might not seem like an adventure sport – until you experience the Kathmandu traffic. Tour company, Vespa Valley, offers tours of interesting sights in the city – such as street art or street food – from the back of a vintage-style Vespa. Rather than taking your life into your own hands by driving in the capital, place it trustingly in the hands of one of their experienced drivers.
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