It’s been one year since a devastating earthquake shook Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and leaving some 21,000 people injured. Now, one year later, we headed back there through the camera lens of travel bloggers The Common Wanderer, to see Nepal as it is today: recovering and ready to greet travellers again.
Amidst the ruins at Kathmandu Durbar Square left by last year’s earthquake, Nepal’s deep spirituality remains defiantly strong. Their country and its cultural heritage may still be in recovery, but Nepali #localsknow that their resilience is the key to moving forward. They will build back better, one day at a time.
As we stood soaking in the chaos of Kathmandu’s busy streets on our first day in town, this man and his beaming smile appeared before us. Eager to chat about our lives and wish us well for our time in his country, he would be the first of many Nepali locals to show us remarkable friendship and generosity during our time. If there’s one thing #localsknow in Nepal, it’s how to make guests feel welcome in their home.
Amidst the maroon sea of Tibetan monks, nuns, and Nepali locals chanting clockwise around Kathmandu’s Boudhanath Stupa, a monk pauses for a calm moment of meditation and prayer. Spirituality and everyday life are completely enmeshed in Nepal, and it’s not hard to see why. The standard greeting here isn’t hello or good day but namaste: the divine in me acknowledges the divine in you.
If Kathmandu is the beating heart of Nepal’s spirituality, its hiking trails are the veins and arteries extending this lifeblood to every corner of the country. From the Hindu villages of the foothills to the Tibetan culture in Manang, #localsknow that every day on the Annapurna Circuit reveals Nepal’s spiritual side. There are tika blessings on our foreheads one day, prayer wheels spun for good fortune in each village. In each village, prayer flags flutter messages of love and fortune through the deep valleys.
#Localsknow how to throw a colourful party in Nepal! The rainbow-coloured Holi festival is a Hindu celebration of spring, and is all about love, the triumph of good, and new beginnings. The best part? Race, religion, and gender don’t matter here one bit, as coloured powder is thrown in the air, strangers embrace to wish each other good fortune, and locals and tourists alike dance the day away together.
As we wind our way up towards the Thorong La Pass through the Annapurna Circuit, it’s not hard to see why this is normally one of Nepal’s main trekking routes. Around us, dramatic peaks surge upwards from ice-blue glacial rivers and soaring snow-capped peaks pepper the skyline above our track. Rhododendrons have begun to bloom in the tropical lower region, terraced rice paddies step down hillsides, snowflakes dance in the afternoons after 3500m. #localsknow that no two days in the mountain are ever the same.
#Localsknow the best way to escape the hustle and bustle is to head lakeside to Pokhara and lose yourself in the tranquility. Set in a dramatic sandwich between the banks of the Fewa lake and the towering Annapurna range, this chilled out city is the perfect place to rest your legs post hike, people-watch, and escape the madness of Kathmandu.
Translated from Hindi as ‘the heart of the jungle’, the tropical Chitwan National Park in Nepal’s south lives up to its name. In Nepal #localsknow how to fiercely protect their wildlife, achieving zero poaching and a rise in rhino numbers in a rare good news story for the country in 2015. Nowhere was this more evident than on an early morning safari, where 15 of these beautiful creatures appeared to say hello.
Two old men wearing traditional Nepali Dhaka Topi hats pass time by chatting animatedly in Kathmandu Patan Durbar Square. At squares across the city #localsknow that these are the best places to catch up with their friends and family, to reconnect with Nepal’s history, and people-watch the vibrant sites in action.