So you have been in Nepal for a good few weeks now. You have visited Kathmandu and the UNESCO sites of Patan and Bhaktapur. You have been to the lakeside city of Pokhara, and from there proceeded to go on an amazing trek that provided you with some of the best memories of your life (at least I hope you did). You have even ventured south to Chitwan and seen the rhinos and the crocs. But now what? You still have another week until your flight, or maybe even a little longer, and you are lost without an idea of what to do.
This was the situation I found myself in. My flight was in two weeks time but there I was sat in Kathmandu with a fully ticked off "to see list". The Mardi Himal Trek (tick), rafting the Kaligandaki (tick), Bhaktapur, Patan, Dhulikhel, Nagarkot, Bandipur (all tick). I didn’t fancy doing another trek so soon after finishing my first, and, as much as I liked Pokhara and Kathmandu (tick and tick), I just couldn't stay there any longer, leaking money on beer and curry. But where to go?
I decided to do a little research on the matter.
This however proved very tricky. Rough guides (my go to source) and Lonely Planet have very little information on Nepal outside of these main places. Same went for Traveller. And other blog sites just focus on the treks. There is nothing on other places and Nepalese culture. I was drawing a bit of a blank on where to go.
But then, I stumbled upon Indra Homestay, which specializes in organizing eco tours in eastern Nepal and encouraging travelers to explore these remote parts. The site had photos of cute hillside villages combined with panoramic views and colorful communities and people. Jackpot!
I'm usually a thrifty traveler and never really book on tours. But I couldn’t find anything on public transport, next to nothing on places to stay, and embassies definitely couldn’t be located. Being stuck in a remote village with no information and a potentially serious language barrier was a daunting prospect. I therefore decided to contact Indra Homestay and I organized a 6 day bespoke tour. And I couldn't recommend it enough.
Eastern Nepal is such a beautiful place to travel, incorporating a perfect mix of Nepali villages, mountain views, tea plantations, and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
I visited the tea plantations of Ilam, a patchwork of green that sprawls over the rolling hills and mountain sides for over 40km in any direction. It is the perfect place to stroll, and get lost amongst the photographers, the young couples and families and the tea stalls selling amazing green tea.
Visitors can also explore the plethora of quaint hillside villages tucked away into remote regions of the east. I personally visited Rajirani, Namje and Dadabazar, but there are so many more. You are spoiled for choice with endless cute villages with amazingly vibrant cultures and communities. As you roam the trails, you find yourself being invited in to random homes for tea and striking up conversations with the most warm and friendly people in Asia. One man in Rajirani insisted on cooking me Chowmein after hearing that I had been living in China the previous year.
Then you combine this with mountain rounds that meander through the diverse scenery. They provide stunning views of rice paddies cascading down valleys, magical forests and jungle like terrain, and the occasional waterfall appearing out from the mountain side.
Eastern Nepal remains an unexplored gem due to its location off the beaten tracks of Pokhara and Kathmandu. But don't let the distance put you off. Eastern Nepal was one of the best places I have traveled in Asia. The lack of tourism adds to its authentic charm, and you get to experience Nepal in its natural glory.