With high peaks, rolling hills, deep canyons and long rivers, there are 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 bit more unexpected. Read on to discover where to find your next adrenaline rush in the Himalaya.
However, you don’t have to choose such an extreme peak to enjoy mountaineering in Nepal. ‘Trekking peaks’ are a category of peaks that don’t require an 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, 6,189 metres) and Mera Peak (6,476 metres).
The rewards and challenges vary from route to route, but you can expect to see stunning 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 generally a good idea to do so, for your own safety.
And one of the best parts? Like almost everything in Nepal, white-water rafting expeditions are much cheaper here than you’ll find in most developed countries.
Where there are white-water rapids good for rafting there are also white-water rapids good for kayaking. On many of Nepal’s 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 rafts cannot, so there are even more options for adventurous kayakers.
Nepal is also a great place to learn to kayak, with kayak clinics offered just a short drive from Kathmandu and Pokhara.
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 half-way between Kathmandu and Pokhara and on the Bhote Kosi River, northeast of Kathmandu.
Rather than going full-on mountain climbing, shorter rock-climbing excursions can also be enjoyed. In Kathmandu, there is the Astrek Climbing Wall in Thamel, an artificial wall to practice climbing skills. There are other natural climbing spots around Kathmandu, such as at Pharping and Nagarjuna, which are frequented by city-based climbers. Then, of course, there are the endless unknown spots throughout the mountains, but proper gear and experience are required before setting off solo.
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.
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 visit to try this sport.