7 best destinations for ecotourism in Nepal

ecotourism nature walk
Representational image. Photo: Pexels/ Kai-Chieh Chan

Since most of the places in Nepal have started to get urbanised, natural resources have been replaced with houses and modern equipment. Now, people are starting to notice the scarcity of greenery and its importance. Many are trying to enjoy themselves in nature and again travel for the cause. This whole process can be referred to as ecotourism.

In ecotourism, people are encouraged to enjoy nature or a setting in its natural environment, responsibly without disturbing the natural ecosystem. Ecotourism assists the locals in earning opportunities while publicising their local culture to the tourists and encourages them to preserve the ancient culture, environment, and wildlife at the same time. 

Here are seven places in Nepal that are best for ecotourism:

1. Kathmandu valley

File Photo

The capital city of the country, Kathmandu, and its adjacent districts–Lalitpur and Bhaktapur–are located in the hilly region. The valley of three districts is filled with hills full of forests, woods, rivers, waterfalls, and various cultural importance, providing a variety of destinations for ecotourism. 

One can always begin/end their day with a mesmerising sunrise/sunset from Nagarkot with a panoramic view of Mt Everest and the Langtang range. You can visit Nagarkot by vehicle or hike up to the top of the hill where there is accommodation for people from every sector. Tourists are always welcomed in by the locals from the Tamang village, where one can learn about their lifestyle, cultures and traditions. Other activities such as jungle walks, mountain biking, and bird watching can also be done.

The Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is another famous destination within the woods where one can check the beautiful waterfall located at Bishnudwar. Also, there is Jamacho on the top of Shivapuri Nagarjun hill where one can see the amazing scenery of the Kathmandu valley. Other hills of the Kathmandu valley are also popular destinations for tourists.

2. Chitwan

Tourists photograph Lucky, a retired elephant in Chitwan. Photo: Association Moey
Tourists photograph Lucky, a retired elephant in Chitwan. Photo: Association Moey

Chitwan is mainly known for its lust jungles which house the Chitwan National Park. As a jewel of Nepal, the park is loved by many people and has become a popular destination for vacations and relaxation. Every year, there are lots and lots of people entering Chitwan to explore the national park. 

The locals or the hotel operators are always there to assist the tourists by arranging jeeps as the means of transportation during their jungle safari. Apart from this, Chitwan is an apt place for birdwatching and encountering endangered species.

If you are visiting, you can join the locals for elephant bathing or canoe in the Rapti river. The tourists are always welcomed by the native people (Tharu people) to enjoy their traditional dances, foods, and their culture. 

3. Taplejung

Pathibhara Temple taplegjung
Pathibhara Temple

Taplejung has the Kanchenjunga National Park and the world’s third-highest peak Mt Kanchenjunga. With the help of a local guide, tourists are easily able to have a glimpse of the beautiful mountain and explore the different species of rhododendron, the national flower, and the diverse wildlife within the boundaries of the national park.

Panchthar Siddha-Devi is a religious place in Taplejung that has a crystal clear lake, named Timbung Pokhari, that can be seen covered in ice during winter. And, a hike to the Pathibhara Devi temple at 3,794 metres, is done by a number of people hoping for spiritual fulfilment. 

4. Pokhara/Kaski

hewa Lake,  Pokhara
File: A section of Phewa Lake, Pokhara

The Kaski district is said to be a package full of adventure and beautiful places in Nepal. One such place is Pokhara where one can enjoy boating in the Phewa lake that has Tal Barahi temple at its centre and other beautiful lakes such as Rupa and Begnas. Other attractions such as Mahendra cave and Bat cave are famously loved by the visitors and there is Gupateshwor cave that takes tourists directly below the world-famous Devi’s Fall.

The Ghorepani-Poon Hill trek, known as the easiest but beautiful trek, can be completed along with the Annapurna base camp trek, Mardi Himal trek, and many other trekking experiences can be achieved while overlooking the amazing Annapurna, Dhaulagiri ranges. Sarangkot and Ghandruk can be visited to see the beautiful sunrise along with an opportunity to know more about the local practice of people living there.

5. Solukhumbu

Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Solukhumbu is the only place on this earth that has 99 named mountains in a single place along with the world’s highest peak Mt Everest and other great mountains such as Mt Lhotse, Ama Dablam. So, it is obvious that one can enjoy the best scenery of Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse, Mt Nuptse, and many other mountains. Tourists can do so from Namche Bazaar itself. The whole district holds a great potential to be one of the best ecotourism destinations in Nepal.

It is also a great destination to learn about the lifestyle, culture, and tradition of the brave mountaineers, the Sherpa community. One can also visit the beautiful Khumbu glaciers, the Gokyo lake, and enjoy nature while hiking to Kalapathar, Pike Peak. Lastly, there is Thukla Pass, a memorial made for mountaineers who climbed Mt Everest.

6. Mustang

Nishma Shrestha cycling in Mustang
File: A solo traveller cycling in Mustang in 2016.

One of the two so-called deserts of Nepal, Mustang is a renowned tourist destination and among the best ecotourism destinations in Nepal. Mustang is a mystery in itself, the upper part of Mustang lies the ancient kingdom, which is also known as the land of Lo. Trekking from Jomsom to the Muktinath temple and going directly to Muktinath on the vehicles are some of the ways that tourists use to visit Muktinath

The people who reach Mustang can enjoy horse rides, or travel the whole area on vehicles. It has proper food and lodging. Muktinath is a temple with 108 water taps where many people tend to take a cold bath. One can also visit other religious sites such as Marpha Monastery, Ghar Gompa and have a calm walk near the Kaligandaki river overlooking the beautiful Dhaulagiri range. Also, the eastern part of Mustang has the world’s best-preserved Tibetan Buddhism cave art.

7.  Ilam

ilam ecotourism destinations in nepal
File: A tea garden in Ilam

Ilam is referred to as the tea garden of Nepal and caters for the whole nation with its delicious tea. In Ilam, wherever you go, there is greenery, it is a part of the beautiful nature. Because it is so closely connected to nature, Ilam stands as one of the best ecotourism destinations in Nepal.

During the visit to Ilam, people are allowed to get close to the tea garden, study them or wear traditional dress and create memories in the tea garden. For study and research, it is a great place to discover more about the unique plant and wildlife of Nepal. Lastly with the great support/ accommodation from the local people, an amazing scenic drive is made possible that pleases the eye of the viewer.

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