A bit about Nepal
Nepal is an independent country located in between Tibet and India, nestled between the mountain wall of the Himalayas and the low northern plains of India. At less than 150,000 square kilometres, Nepal isn’t a big country, but it packs quite a punch in terms of landscapes and culture.
Half of Nepal’s 28 million people live in the lowlands and around Kathmandu, the bustling capital city famed for its Buddhist temple-lined medieval city squares and colourful markets. The foothills and the high peaks and valleys of the Himalayas are home to the rest of Nepal’s population, although it’s hard to tell sometimes where all the people are in this region – it’s so quiet and untouched!
This dramatic landscape that rises from 150 metres at its southern border to 8848 metres at the summit of Mt Everest provides an environment for an amazing variety of flora, fauna and people. Historically, Nepal was an important stop on the trading route between India and Tibet, making it a crossroads of cultures and customs for centuries.
Today, Nepal is a melting pot of all things Asia, with 100 languages and 60 ethnic groups ranging from the Buddhist, Sherpa and Tamang people in the wider Himalayan region to the various Hindu castes scattered south of the Kathmandu valley. Travellers to Nepal are amazed by the warm, open and welcoming nature of the Nepali people, and we’re sure you’ll feel welcomed as soon as you get off the plane to explore this land of yaks, yetis, monasteries and incredible mountain landscapes.
Nepal reading and video list
There are so many great stories to come out of Nepal, probably because the landscape and the people inspire such creativity and adventure. Here is a list, gathered from across the Active Adventures family, of recommended reads:
- Seven Years in Tibet and the sequel Return to Tibet. Two autobiographical travel books written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer. Seven Years in Tibet is based on Harrer's real life experiences in Tibet between 1944 and 1951 during the second world war and the time before the Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded. The book quickly became a best seller and has now sold millions of copies and been made into a movie twice - most recently in 1997, starring Brad Pitt!
- The Snow Leopard is an account by Peter Mathiessen, of his and George Schaller's 1973 journey to Crystal Mountain, in the Dolpo region on the Tibetan Plateau. They went in search of the extremely rare Snow Leopard that exists only in the high parts of Asia. Published in 1978, The Snow Leopard is regarded as a classic of modern nature writing.
- A more recent book, Michael Palin's Himalaya accompanies the successful 2004 BBC series. If you're looking for a great coffee table book to help get you inspired, this is it! There are some awesome images by Basil Pao interspersed regularly with Palin's fantastic sense of humour and easy-reading stories.
- You can't go past Into Thin Air, by best selling author Jon Krakauer. This is a hair-raising tale of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster when eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded during a rogue storm. Whilst a little more 'extreme' than our Everest Base Camp trek, this book definitely portrays another element to mountaineering in the Himalayas! Since it was published it has raised many questions surrounding the morality and competitive nature of summiting Mt Everest.
- For those interested in Tibetan Buddhism, The Path to Enlightenment by the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is a must read. In 1959 the Communist Chinese Government forced the non-violent Tibetan Buddhist Government into exile. Having spent the majority of his life in India, the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has spent this time advocating for Tibetan's inside and outside of Tibet. Along with defining the Lam Ram, which are the stages on the spiritual path, the Dalai Lama describes the difficulty of attaining Nirvana (full Buddhahood), but urges determination.
- Sherpas: Reflections on Change in Himalayan Nepal by James F Fisher is a fascinating snapshot of how tourism and modernisation have affected the traditional way of life of the Sherpa people - both positively and negatively. Fisher first visited the Sherpas of Nepal when he accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary in 1964, to help build school houses. One of the by-products of this new school building was a small airstrip, which dramatically increased tourism to the area.
- Touching My Father's Soul by Jamling Tensing Norgay offers a great insight into the Sherpa world. Jamling Norgay was a mountaineer in his own right, who was a climbing leader on the ill-fated 1996 Everest IMAX expedition. As well as a first-hand account of the 96' tragedy, this book also tells little known stories of Tenzing's historic climb.