Traveling to the non-tourist areas of Nepal

Jun 14, 2024

Traveling to the non-tourist areas of the Karnali Zone in far western Nepal offers an authentic and immersive experience, diverging significantly from the more frequented tourist routes of Nepal like the Annapurna Circuit or the Everest Base Camp trek. Here, the journey is not just about the destination but the entire experience, from the rugged landscapes to the deeply rooted cultural heritage of the region.

The Journey into Karnali

The journey into Karnali often begins with a flight to Nepalgunj, followed by a combination of bus rides and trekking. Roads are often rough, and the journey can be long and arduous, but it is through this very difficulty that the true essence of the region is revealed. The stark landscapes, with terraced fields and isolated villages, provide a backdrop that is both breathtaking and humbling.

Cultural Immersion

In the villages of Karnali, such as Jumla, Simikot, or the remote areas of Dolpa, the culture remains largely untouched by modernity. Visitors have the opportunity to interact with the Thakuri, Brahmin, Chhetri, Lamas and various indigenous communities. These interactions are a window into a way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries, characterized by traditional farming practices, local festivals, and religious rituals.

Staying with local families or in basic teahouses, travelers can participate in daily activities such as farming, cooking, and even local festivities. This level of engagement fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of the local culture and way of life.

Natural Beauty and Biodiversity

The Karnali Zone is home to diverse landscapes, from the dense forests and alpine meadows of Rara National Park to the arid trans-Himalayan terrain of Upper Dolpa. Trekking through these regions, one can witness an incredible array of flora and fauna, including rare species like the snow leopard, Himalayan tahr, and musk deer.

Rara Lake, the largest lake in Nepal, is a highlight of the region, offering serene beauty and a tranquil environment, ideal for reflection and nature appreciation. Similarly, the Phoksundo Lake in Dolpa, with its stunning turquoise waters, offers a surreal and peaceful escape.

Challenges and Rewards

Traveling in Karnali comes with its set of challenges. Infrastructure is limited, with basic facilities for accommodation and transportation. Health facilities are sparse, and it is crucial to be well-prepared for emergencies. However, these challenges are often overshadowed by the region's raw beauty and the warmth of its people.

The rewards of traveling in Karnali lie in the unique experiences and personal growth that come from stepping out of one's comfort zone. The region's remoteness offers a sense of solitude and a break from the fast-paced world, allowing travelers to reconnect with nature and themselves.


Exploring the non-tourist areas of the Karnali Zone in far western Nepal is a journey into the heart of a land where time seems to stand still. It is an adventure that promises not just spectacular scenery, but also profound cultural encounters and a deep sense of accomplishment. For those willing to embrace its challenges, Karnali offers an unforgettable and transformative travel experience.



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