Many travellers will only visit a place in the ‘peak season’, which usually correspond with when weather is good and/or reliable. And while most experienced travellers will have at least one cautionary tale of a place that just shouldn’t be visited in the ‘off-season’ (mine is the Salzkammergut Lake District of Austria in the winter—it was so foggy I couldn’t see a thing!), they also have memories of places that were even better without the crowds of tourists and a little refreshing rain (Indonesia during the rainy season is lovely!)
In Nepal, many tourists tend to stay away in the winter and summer/monsoon months (December-February and June-August, respectively). But, there are in fact plenty of reasons to visit Nepal in these seasons. And for people who have their long holidays over their summer months (whether Northern or Southern hemisphere), the Nepali off-seasons may be a logical time to visit the country. It’s all about where, and being prepared weather-wise. Here are some suggestions for great trips to take in Nepal in the off-seasons.
- Summer trekking
The drawback of monsoon-time trekking is reduced views, getting a bit wet and muddy, and the possibility of leeches. But there are also many positives, so trekking shouldn’t automatically be dismissed in the rainy season. Even during monsoon, the rain doesn’t usually last all day, but rather builds in the afternoon and evening, and most trekking is done in the early morning. You’ll probably have made it to your night’s accommodation before the rain even begins. The landscape is also beautifully lush during the rain, with bright green fields, clean air, blossoming flowers and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.
But for something a bit different in the summer—and without the risk of rain or leeches—try Mustang. The Mustang District lies on the ‘other side’ of the Himalayas, in the rain shadow, meaning that it doesn’t experience the monsoon like the rest of Nepal. It is also a high-altitude region, so visiting in other seasons can be particularly cold. Summer is the perfect time to trek in Mustang, as the weather will be optimal.
- The Terai
The flat lands bordering India can get excruciatingly hot in the summer, but comfortable in the winter. The biggest draw of the Terai for foreign tourists are the Chitwan and Bardia National Parks, and winter can be a great time to explore the jungle without the heat.
- Water sports on the Trisuli
Although river levels rise dramatically during the monsoon and in the month immediately afterwards, the Trisuli River is still a great spot to go rafting or kayaking during the monsoon. Although the Trisuli’s water levels do rise, it remains a safe river to raft and kayak along, unlike others. The Trisuli conveniently runs parallel to the main Kathmandu-Pokhara highway, and one to three-day rafting/kayaking trips can be arranged on the river.
If you’re after spectacular mountain views, winter is the absolute best time to trek in Nepal. In hardly ever rains during the winter, and humidity is at its lowest, so you will be guaranteed spectacular views. Yes, it may get very cold at higher elevations, so come prepared with the right clothes. But when you’re trekking you tend to get very warm anyway, so it won’t always be as cold as you imagine.