Where to go and what to do in Nepal’s Low Seasons
The question of when to go to Nepal doesn’t always have a simple answer, and although trekking conditions reach near-perfection at some points of the year, Nepal’s traditional ‘low seasons’ bring their own advantages and unique opportunities.
In short, there isn’t really a bad time to head to Nepal, it just depends what you want to do on your vacation.
When are Nepal low seasons?
Nepal has two low seasons; the monsoon season (June to August) and the winter season (December to February). Both are prime travel times for summer breaks or Christmas vacations, and both offer varied experiences and benefits.
Aside from your costs generally being lower whilst you’re there, you’ll also find things less crowded and even more relaxed than usual. If you like your quiet time and the feeling of being a true explorer, then the low season might be the time for you.
Travelling in the low season brings a benefit to Nepal too, as ‘overtourism’ has taken its toll on the country’s environment. If Nepal’s tourist numbers are more evenly spread through the year, it is much easier to manage the impact. It also helps the Nepali people earn income more consistently throughout the year, which will be much needed as tourism gradually re-opens after the pandemic.
Best places to go in Nepal’s low seasons
The Terai region, in the southern part of Nepal, is a wet lowland area and is home to the famous Chitwan National Park. Nepal’s first national park, Chitwan’s jungle is a sanctuary for one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tigers, crocodiles and a huge variety of rare birds, insects and mammals.
Wildlife safaris in the park can be far more enjoyable, and less humid, in the winter months. Plus with fewer tourists you’ll have the chance for an even more intimate wildlife experience.
Just a few hours south from Kathmandu, it’s easy to reach the Terai and include a Chitwan safari in your plans.
The Mustang district, once an independent kingdom near the Tibetan border, sits in a rain shadow, protected from monsoons by the high Himalayas. Because of its high altitude and the winds that blow up the Kali Gandaki river gorge (the deepest in the world), Mustang can get extremely cold in the winter. The summer monsoon months are the optimal time for a visit to this unique part of Nepal.
While the colorful three-day Tiji Festival often falls in May (dependent on the lunar calendar), travelers can explore the Forbidden Kingdom’s monasteries, meditation caves and villages throughout the summer.
The reach Lower Mustang, the easiest way is a short domestic flight to the gateway city of Jomsom, from either Kathmandu or Pokhara. If you’re brave enough and want so save some rupees, then the bumpy journey from Pokhara by road will take at least 8 hours by shared minibus or (preferably) private jeep.
Speak to the Travel Nepal team for advice on getting to Mustang.
Two of Nepal’s top attractions, Everest and Annapurna, can also be ideal destinations in the winter, when there are far fewer trekkers on the trails. The weather is less predictable at this time of year, so sticking to the lower elevation trekking routes is recommended, but the panoramic views of the great mountains will be just as jaw-dropping.
For lower costs, less environmental impact and that feeling of isolation in the mountains, trekking in the winter months can be a truly memorable experience.
The Mardi Himal Trek is a lesser traveled, four or five day route in the Annapurna range, whilst the Everest Panorama Trek is a beautiful seven-day route through the Khumbu region with views of some of the Himalaya’s most impressive peaks, including Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam.
You can visit Nepal’s dynamic cities, like Kathmandu or Pokhara, at any time of year, but the low seasons mean better deals and fewer crowds at cultural attractions.
In Kathmandu there’s so much to see and do, and you can tour the city markets, temples and the UNESCO World Heritage site at Durbar Square, or even spend some time with the locals at a traditional cooking class. Meanwhile, the surrounding Kathmandu Valley has ancient towns to explore, such as Bhaktapur and Panauti, as well as a number of short treks and day trips to get you out into the sweeping valley countryside.
Lakeside Pokhara is a great place to relax and enjoy the serene atmosphere and local culture. It’s also a hub for adventure sports and the gateway to the Annapurna range, where trekking adventures of all lengths and difficulties are accessible throughout most of the year.
If you’re thinking of coming to Nepal during the low seasons then it’s always worth having a chat with the experts. You can get in touch with Travel Nepal and we’ll talk you through your options to help you plan your prefect trip.