You may have gathered by now that for most members of Stubborn Mule, Nepal holds a very special place in our hearts. If you’ve been to this landlocked, mountain kingdom, you’ll understand: if it’s not the most beautiful country in the world (nothing prepares you for the majesty of the Himalayas), it’s certainly one of the most welcoming.
Chitwan National Park
It’s now the last bastion of the Great Bengal Tiger and one of last remaining populations of the single-horned Asiatic rhino, but, at 93,200 hectares, Chitwan Park is more than just a fantastic conservation story. Packed with flora, fauna and wildlife, lush vegetation is backed by forested hills and behind that, the mighty Himalayas. Will you be lucky enough to spot a tiger? [See places to visit in Nepal]
White water rafting
High mountains means low valleys and running through them, a heck of a lot of rivers. The Trishuli, Seti, Kali Gandaki, Sun Koshi rivers to name a few. Let us be clear. This is not Pooh Sticks territory. It’s white water rafting of various grades, which for the adrenaline junkie, older teen and / or long-suffering but ‘up for it’ parent, is a boon. We can help arrange trips of just a few hours up to a few days.
No bucket list is complete without trying momos, the steamed or fried dumpling, often vegetarian, often not, just-right-mouthful-of-deliciousness that typifies Nepal cuisine and that of immediate neighbours.
We challenge you, when learning how to make these little clouds of heaven during a momo making class, not to stuff them straight into your salivating mouth. If you can resist, you are made of stronger stuff than we are.
There are other cookery classes we know of – a Thenduk noodle soup often widely eaten by Sherpas; a dal bhat class, the ubiquitous, twice daily meal of lentils and rice; even an adventurous Newar cooking class where you’ll learn to cook more ‘exotic’ parts of an animal (bull testicles quite the delicacy, apparently). The momos though. Oh, the momos.
Experience local life in a Newari home stay
Just on the outskirts of Kathmandu, there’s a little place we know, a ‘hidden gem’ run by the local community where you can stay in comfortable, well-furnished rooms and where meals are cooked by a host family. Feel free to help them in the kitchen, if you’d like to learn more, or wander the quiet streets, out amongst the fields or visit the local Hindu temple. Although close to Kathmandu, the village’s position affords spectacular views of the Himalayas in the distance.
Paint your own Thangka
For Buddhist Nepalis, it’s both the process and significance of painting a Thangka that’s important. Depicting deities, images of Buddha and mandalas, the religious homage is obvious. The fact that it usually takes weeks to paint, though, is in itself, a Buddhist meditation.
None of our passengers will have time to undertake the real deal. This workshop, though (older children only), allows you to understand the fundamental stages of Thangka art. And oh, what a souvenir you’ll have!
Boating on Pokhara Lake
This utterly charming lakeside town was quite unaffected by the earthquake two years ago and retains all for which is famous: a chilled-out atmosphere, fabulous food, stunning mountain backdrop (where the ‘Fish Tail’ mountain of Machapuchare dominates) and shopping. Hire a rowing boat, relish the mountain views, relax and be at one with nature.
Stay in a monastery
If Mount Everest and the Himalayas are the most iconic images of Nepal, then its temples and Buddhist stupas are its second. As a deeply religious country, monuments are everywhere and it’s palpable that religion pervades every part of life here. Whether you want to find out more about Buddhism or just relax and absorb the incredibly moving ceremonies and chanting that comprise a monk’s everyday life, we can arrange a culturally sensitive overnight stay in a Tibetan-style monastery. The monks are happy for you to take part in early morning or evening ceremonies in the main hall. You’ll be amazed how absorbed and fascinated your children will be.
For a capital city, Kathmandu is tiny – and all the more charming for it. Either wander around the streets yourself or take advantage of our guided tours, which as well as showing you the highlights such as Durbar Square, the ‘hippy’ areas of ‘Freak Street’ and Thamel will also take you on a journey through hidden alleys, medieval architecture, almost on a journey back through time. Don’t miss the Snowman Café in Freak Street: one of the best-known hippy-now-backpacker hangouts on the planet, but more importantly, a place with mouthwatering apple pie.
- carve a wooden mask
- thrown your own pot
- hand-weave your own piece of silk
- go on a food tour to discover snacks Nepalis like best
- join a bespoke shopping tour
- learn about local farming and milk a cow.
More about Nepal family activities
See our Nepal itineraries for families page which has example trips with and without trekking. Or catch up with a recent report in the Independent on how Nepal has bounced back following the devastation of 2015.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel