Profile of Nepal

Buddhist stupa in a Himalayan valleyWomen working in fieldsNepal flagOutline map of NepalNepal is a land stretching along the Himalaya that has long held a fascination and mystic for the western world. It is a mystical land with ancient cultures, colourful religions, and some of the most superb scenery in the world. A small kingdom trapped between the tropical plains of northern India and the icy desert land of Tibet – a precarious situation between these two great powers has influenced the history, religions and culture of Nepal. Its people have endeavoured to trade with, and at times feared the threats of invasion from both of these neighbours.

This is a country of amazing physical contrasts with altitude ranging from the heights of Khumbu – over 8000metres (Everest the highest mountain at 8848m) to the tropical area of the Terai in the south, barely 200metres above sea level. Boasting the greatest geographical contrasts over such a small area and arguably the most dramatic mountain scenery anywhere in the world. The culture and the landscape are inextricably linked. Everest, known locally as Sagarmatha, has the meaning “Head of the Oceans”. The Annapurna Sanctuary is also known as the abode of the gods.

Since Nepal opened its borders to the west it has become the Shangri La for many travellers.. from the hippies travelling overland in the 1960s to the trekkers of the current age. The huge variety of physical landscapes can offer an unlimited choice of activities for the modern adventurer. In the mountains, the adrenaline seekers climb, trek and paraglide, the rivers provide a chance for white water rafting, canyoning and kayaking, mountain bikers go where they dare, whilst elephant back safaris are also on offer for the more discerning of travellers! The mountain scenery alone is second to none and has lured the traveller back to this enchanting ancient kingdom again and again. Fortunately you don’t have to be either a Sherpa or a mountaineer to get amongst the great mountain giants of the world.

In spite of all this natural beauty, Nepal is a country of supreme poverty with some 90% of its 24 million population engaged in subsistence agriculture, contributing in no way to the economy. Farming in places is prosperous where the soil is good and the weather none extreme, but in the higher mountain regions life is difficult and opportunities severely limited. The national average annual income is below £130 with many existing on less than £2 per month. International development aid provides the highest foreign exchange earnings, proving just what a devastatingly poverty stricken country Nepal is. In 2000 tourism with all its dependent services and souvenir trade accounted for 22% of foreign exchange earnings. This industry is therefore of paramount importance. In the capital, Kathmandu, there is a massive gulf between the rich and poor as many more people migrate to the capital in search of work. Many men are tempted to temporarily migrate for work opportunities in India, Asia and the Gulf States.

As you can see, Nepal is a land of extremes, rich in culture and landscapes, yet economically poor. As a none commercial organisation , we offer you a unique opportunity to visit this spectacular Himalayan Kingdom knowing that all profits generated will be invested in local charitable projects. Whether it is trekking amongst the splendid mountain peaks, an elephant safari in the jungle or an enriching cultural experience, Nepal is the ultimate travel destination, and The Responsible Travellers are the very essence of responsible & ethical tourism.

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