Nepal, home to Mount Everest, is dominated by the majority of the world's most imposing mountains. A tiny country (147,181 square kilometers), 18 percent of its territory is occupied by the spectacular mountain range we know as The Himalayas. Nepal was a mysterious land to the west for many centuries, it was closed to the outside world until 1951, this only added to its mystique. It has over the remaining years developed into both a very spiritual place to visit as well as being one of the most exiting destinations for adventure in the world. Nepal is known for both its friendliness and hospitality and it holds a wealth of experience and opportunity for travelers of all ages.
Nepal can roughly be divided into three geographical regions, stretching from west to east across the country. The southernmost strip of land, the Terai, is bordered to the north by Himalayan foothills and to the south by the Ganges River. The area was originally covered with tropical vegetation, but has been almost completely converted to agricultural production. The Terai is now the breadbasket of Nepal and is covered with farms.
The southern part of Nepal is known as the terrai, it covers around 18% of Nepal’s land. It is mainly made up of very fertile farmland and sub tropical jungle and it is where a lot of Nepal's staple crops are grown, rice and wheat in particular. Over half of the populations (around 26 million) of Nepal are based here.
The region is extremely rich in both wildlife and bird life including the Royal Bengal Tiger and the One Horned Rhinoceros.
Overseas visitors who visit the Terrai do so mainly for jungle safaris or bird watching, accommodation is provided at one of the national parks or bird reserves. Tharus, are the main ethnic group residing in the area, they are dark skinned and a very exotic race that originally lived on the northern Indian plains.
Tharu culture and practice is distinct from other Nepali regions, many Tharus still practice a form of Animism (the worship of animal spirits.) Most work of them are farmers.
The middle hills spread over the majority of Nepal around 68%, both Kathmandu the capital of Nepal and Pokhara Nepal's beautiful city that surrounds a beautiful lake and sits at the base of the Annapurna are situated here. The region also offers the majority of lower to middle altitude treks.
The region has a rich heritage where the culture has evolved over many centuries and it remains very much in evidence today.
Tourists at present if they are flying in, need to land in Kathmandu a busy place nowadays but a few kilometers away from the busy city center there is a lot of culture and history to be discovered. Pokhara on the other hand is situated on the banks of Lake Phewa and it provides peace and tranquility along with some stunning mountain views. There is also a lot of wildlife in the region including the leopard, barking deer and the Himalayan black bear.
Newars who are a mixed race mainly of Mongal descent are the oldest community residing in the Kathmandu valley they are very skilled artisans.
The Nepal Himalaya covers the remaining 15% of Nepal, it is a hugely impressive can get extremely cold and very desolate a times and there is little vegetation growing above 4500mtrs. Although this is the case some of Nepal’s most interesting animals and plants are found here, including the solitary Snow Leopard.
The Sherpa's who migrated south from eastern Tibet over five hundred years ago are the main ethnic group in the region. They are now very well accustomed to the harsh high life. There are no equals where high mountain stamina and endurance is concerned and nowadays they are the backbone to any high mountain expedition in Nepal.
Sherpas have always been keen traders, some still maintain a nomadic lifestyle moving up and down the mountain terrain depending on the season in search of new pastures to graze their Yak.