I spent a month living in Nepal and travelling around the country solo. I share my solo travel Nepal experience and funny stories to inspire you to visit Nepal
My Solo Travel Nepal Experience
I’ve arrived in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal; a small country landlocked between the two giants that are China and India. It’s a congested city, with black smoke fogging the narrow streets oozing out of car exhausts. People sell coconuts by the roadside, goats sit on top of buses and cows roam around the few pavements within this polluted city. Motorbikes and tiny taxis constantly honk, dodging pedestrians as they walk along the litter strewn streets.
Amongst the rundown houses sits one tall building, looking out of place against the backdrop of the Himalayas. People greet you with ‘Namaste,’ and wear colourful saris and drink tea – I feel like I am in India…
I awake to a flurry of activity outside my window, people scrambling through the rubbish pile that dogs had guarded the night before. It is barely dawn and within minutes the crowd has dispersed leaving barely a trace. Crows heckle in the morning mist. I can hear the deep moans of the Nepali people as they pray. It’s a haunting but comforting sound; a deep cry that echoes from the corners of this enthralling city.
But in this chaotic place, I feel a sense of calm, a sense of place that this is where I need to be…
How I miss English transport. At least we have health and safety in our country and don’t play ‘how many people can you squeeze onto a microbus?’ with people hitting their heads on the ceiling and falling into others.
There are no scheduled times to depart and buses wait until they are full to the brim before leaving. I’ve even witnessed a fight breaking out and people just stare instead of wading in!
Apparently one man wanted to bring his goats on and the driver refused! Thank god as I really didn’t fancy having one of those sat on my lap.
But I can’t really complain for 20p for an hour journey.
Nepal's Crazy Transport
It was on the six-hour bus ride to Pokhara when we got stuck in traffic. In a hot sweaty bus, we came to a standstill.
As we passed the scene of the accident two hours later, two buses had collided as one had tried to overtake and gone headfirst into another coming in the other direction. Luckily for both buses they had stopped inches from the edge of the cliff face. I shuddered at the thought.
Miles down the road we passed one that hadn’t been so lucky; a bus on it’s side down a revene and then another and another. During the eight hour journey, we passed four accidents.
And only last week it made international news that a bus in Kathmandu crashed killing everyone on board. But none of this seemed to deter our bus driver who tried to overtake at each opportunity around windy cliff paths with numerous blind spots, honking as he overtook.
It makes taking the bus a scary experience and I wonder if the drivers will ever learn?
Some people have the knack of making anything look good. They can just throw on a pair of Indian trousers and a vest top and hey presto, they are transformed into a hippy yet stylish traveller.
I for one do not have the magic touch and have spent the last 11 weeks looking much like a poor traveller in my scruffy, old clothes. So with only one week left I have decided to lighten my load and travel with a smaller capsule wardrobe.
It's goodbye to my jeans with a broken zip, my combats without the elastic, my holey leggings, faded tops and the infamous brown t-shirt (which has appeared in numerous photos and is threatening to have a blog of it's own).
As I donate them to a more deserving home – to the disadvantaged women of Nepal. But as I part with my second skin I wonder ‘should I really keep the brown t-shirt?'
p.s It's gone.
Visiting a Yoga School in Nepal
‘Honk honk,' sounds the horn as chicken run for their life, trying to steer out of the motorbikes path. We dodge herds of cows and goats as we ride along the hilly roads, the yogi's orange robe flowing behind and me holding onto for dear life.
It is my last day in Nepal and Yogi Prakesh has come to collect me to show me around his yoga school in the Kathmandu valley. In the yoga room sit a class of children, some as young as 2 years old, all sitting cross legged in their yoga class. They are all singing and one is playing the bongos whilst the older ones of 12 years, dance in an Indian fashion. One is asleep and it looks like others want to follow.
‘This is our welcome song for you,' Prakesh says as he introduces me as a special guest to the class. I say ‘Namaste' and put my hands in a prayer prose.
‘Lisa is an English teacher from England,' he says. ‘Would you like to ask her any questions?'
The class stay embarrassly quiet. Then one says ‘How old are you?' and I laugh nervously before answering my audience. I feel like a VIP.
The Shanti Yoga Ashram is the first of it's kind in Nepal set up with the intention of teaching the life skills of yoga practice and philosophy as well as English, Maths, Science and Sanskrit. Yogi Prakesh is passionate about teaching yoga at such an early age and after witnessing children as young as two being able to sit crosslegged quietly, I think it's a great idea.
Trekking in Nepal
‘Have I got a leech?’ asked one of our group calmly.
Our tour guide lifted up her trouser leg to the sight of congealed blood that covered her sock.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘You have.’
Leeches are really common in Nepal and the worrying thing is that you don’t even feel them. The only way to remove their glued-on bodies is by burning them off your skin. Luckily for two of our group the leeches had already fallen and were nowhere to be seen.
We were on a two-day tour of Nagarkot, taking in the sights and trekking this lush area. Out of the rainy season, it’s possible to see the peak of Mount Everest from this viewpoint but today this famous mountain was hidden amongst clouds.
We had been trekking all day past small villages with cows, chickens and goats and other trekkers. We had nearly made it to our final stop to get the bus back to Kathmandu when the rain came and with it the chance of more leeches.
The ground turned into muddy rivers that soaked our feet and we each walked slowly manoeuvring around the rocks and slippery mud. It had started so warm and sunny but now the heavens had opened and monsoonal rain flowed through the plains.
Finally, we made it to our destination soaked and covered in muddy wet clothes. Still, that’s why it’s called the rainy season!
Picture the scene: a scruffy-looking English girl running aimlessly through the streets of Nepal, closely followed by a long-haired bearded fellow in a flowing orange robe. We were Nepal's answer to Batman and Robin only instead of searching for crime, we were searching for the tourist bus to Pokhara. It was 7.20 am and the bus was due to depart at 7 am but this was Nepal where even tourist buses run on Nepali time.
I had signed up for four days of yoga trekking in Nepal. Always one to try something new I was intrigued about this relatively new concept, which came with a tour guide and my very own yogi. We were off to explore Pokhara, a beautiful part of Nepal surrounding a peaceful lake.
For the whole four days, I was immersed in yoga philosophy and practice, waking each morning at 5.30 am to practice yoga as the sun rose over the mountains. In the evening it was meditation and some well-deserved relaxation after hours of trekking. We stayed in local tea houses, ate local food, travelled by local buses and also managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing. And after four days I was ready to go back to the nunnery, refreshed and peaceful with aching limbs. I definitely recommend it.
Standing amongst fluffy clouds as they drifted gently past my nose I was mesmerised. The sound of donkey bells gently rang in the distance and a crickets orchestra sounded beneath me.
Then one by one the mountainous peaks of the Annapurna Himalayas revealed themselves to me. Each one different from the next, standing taller than the sky, higher than I have ever seen. Sheer cliffs of rock towering at the top of the world dusted with creamy peaks enticing you to climb these monstrous beasts.
Trekking in Nepal is more than just Mount Everest. The country is a trekker's paradise and has 8 of the 14 Himalayan ranges. Since it opened its doors to tourism in the 1950s many brave souls have come to conquer some of the most dramatic landscapes on Earth. But some cannot be conquered although many have tried and tragically failed.
I could feel the draw of these feats of nature and now fully understand why the Nepalese Tourism coined the phrase ‘once is never enough.'
You've Come a Long Way Baby
After 11 flights, 6 different countries and countless experiences (not to mention several challenges) I am finally on my way home.
My journey through the Himalayan countries has finally drawn to a close. I am adventured out, exhausted and heavier than I was when I embarked on my trip three months ago. The past 12 weeks have been a blur of exciting and scary moments.
I have discovered a love for Bollywood movies, chicken momos and masala tea and rediscovered my lust for Buddhism, motorbikes and places off the beaten track, and realised that the world is full of incredible places and people. But most importantly I have learnt to take everyday as it comes, to not sweat the small stuff and to make the most of every situation whether good or bad.
‘If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.'
My Solo Travel Nepal Experience
My solo travel Nepal experience was for a month with Volunteers Initiative Nepal. I lived in a Buddhist nunnery and taught English during my time and explored the rest of Nepal at the end of my placement and in my free time. If you’re considering teaching English in Nepal or anywhere around the world, I took a course with itoi which enabled me to get my teaching placement. * Find out more itoi courses
If you are planning to solo travel Nepal and would feel more comfortable in a group tour, I recommend G Adventures. They are a sustainable travel company that I have used in the past. They offer tours from an 8 day Highlights of Nepal to a 20 day Himalayan Adventure exploring Nepal, India and Bhutan. Read my review here or click on the link below to check their Nepal itineraries.