Think of adventure in Nepal and mountain climbing is likely to be the first thing that comes to mind. Climbing Mount Everest certainly is the ultimate Nepal adventure. But only the most fit, most disciplined and most experienced climbers qualify for a crack at the summit. Climbers must withstand significant hardships, horrific weather, lack of oxygen and extensive fatigue. Those who make it to the top of the world stay less than 30 minutes, but earn the right to brag for a lifetime.
Fewer than 1,000 people make the Everest climb each year. But more than 100,000 people visit this enchanting country annually. Here are eight other ways to get a thrill in Nepal.
#1 Trekking to Where Few Have Trekked
Thanks to new roads, Dhorpatan, the high-altitude plateau in Western Nepal, is now more easily accessible. Trekking here is still a destination for the most adventurous; only a rare handful of foreigners visit the area each year. That means little has been spoiled in this region.
The local Magar people are intrigued by outsiders and happy to welcome visitors into their homes. This trek features amazing views of Dhaulagiri (the name means White Mountain) and offers the chance to see some rare wildlife, including snow and forest leopards.
#2 Skydiving in Sagarmatha National Park
Step out of a helicopter flying at 7000m (23,000 ft) and fall 2400 m (8,000 ft) for an Everest Skydive to land at Syangboche Airport or drop to Ama Dablam base camp at 4,570m (15,000 ft). On the way down, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys of eastern Nepal that is dominated by Mount Everest.
#3 Paragliding in Pokhara
If you prefer a less extreme altitude, try paragliding in Pokhara. Paragliders are lightweight, foot-launched, free-flying gliders with a canopy. Do it solo or in tandem with a pilot. Either way, it feels like you’re soaring with the hawks. You’ll float over a lake at 610m (2,000 ft) with a backdrop of some of Nepal’s highest mountains: Dhaulagiri, the Annapurna massif, Machhapuchhre, and Manaslu.
One of the world’s longest ziplines, ZipFlyer Adventure, is also in Pokhara. It is a thrilling two-minute ride. From 1,650m (5,400 ft) above sea level, you zip through the Annapurna Range at speeds up to 120 kph (75 mph) while descending 600m (2,000 feet) on an 1800-meter (5,906 ft) long cable.
#5 Bungee Jumping
Set over the Bhote Kosi River gorge is the world’s tallest bungee jump. The 160m (525 ft) high bungee platform is located near the Tibetan border, about a three-hour drive from Kathmandu. The best time to make your leap is in the morning. Check out the photos from The Last Resort to get an idea of what to expect.
#6 Cycling in the Clouds
Bike trekking from Kathmandu to Pokhara is very popular, but Mustang is now considered one of the world’s best and toughest cycling destinations. Upper Mustang hosts the world’s highest altitude bike race, The Yak Attack.
The 10-day, 400 km (248 miles) ride navigates snow, dusty roads, water and at one point reaches an altitude of 5416 m (17,769 ft). Riders have to contend with temperatures that can vary between +30ºF (80ºF) to -20ºC (-4ºF). They ride at an average altitude of 4,000m (13,123 ft.).
Spectacular scenery and extreme heights literally take your breath away. This is not for the faint of heart.
#7 Running in the Mountains
Nepal’s two multi-stage marathons are the ultimate challenge. The landscapes are stunning, and the high altitudes grueling. The eight-stage, 200k Mustang Trail Race in April reaches heights between 2,900-4,300m (9,500-14,100ft). The 197k, Manaslu Trail Race (November) takes seven days. It crosses a 5,100m (16,735 ft.) pass and runs under a glacier on its way to Manaslu Base Camp.