Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, Nepal is where the ice-cold of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Indian plains. It's a land of yaks and yetis, stupas and Sherpas and some of the best trekking on earth. The Himalaya's most sophisticated urban cultures took shape here, in the three great minikingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley - Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur - home to a world-class artistic and architectural heritage.
Behind the Vishnu shrine of Ichangu Narayan, northwest of Swayambhunath in the Kathmandu Valley, rises the 'Abode of Snows' (Himalaya in Sanskrit), a magnet for trekkers and mountaineers the world over. Only in Nepal can you trek for weeks without the need even for a tent. No longer does your name have to be Tenzing or Hillary to set foot in Everest Base Camp. Out of the mountains, get your adrenaline kick from world-class white-water rafting, kayaking and mountain biking, or from the spine-tingling sight of your first tiger or rhino in Chitwan National Park.
Nepal is not just a bungee-jumping, apple-pie eating Shangri-la. It's also one of the poorest countries on earth. However, many visitors, drawn to Nepal by the promise of adventure, leave equally enchanted by the friendliness and openness of the Nepali people.
From the natural rhythm you ease into on a trek to the rhythm of a tabla drum at one of Kathmandu's palace restaurants, Nepal is an amazingly diverse country that offers something for everyone. One journey through this land is rarely enough. The first thing many people do after a visit is start planning the next one.