Nepal is one of the most dramatic countries in the world, where spectacular scenery and centuries of spirituality combine to create a truly breathtaking destination. With eight out of the world's ten highest mountains within, or straddling, its borders, Nepal is of course an outdoor enthusiast's dream. But holidays to this small, landlocked country have much more to offer though than simply soaring peaks and snow-capped summits.
The capital Kathmandu, a chaotic array of cows, bikes, cars, beggars, pilgrims and vendors, is a fascinating and friendly city. At the heart of it stands Durbar Square, named after the royal palace and home to the city's living goddess. Other highlights include the Bagmati ghats, a throng of riverside temples and statues that stretch along the shore.
Venture out to Swayambhunath, a magnificent hilltop temple complex, teeming with Tibetan exiles and Buddhist pilgrims. Alternatively, clamber aboard an elephant to spot tigers or rhino in the Royal Chitwan National Park or head to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve for some exceptional bird watching.
Trekking in Nepal is big business. The easiest treks to access are those in Langtang. Trekkers should also consider the legendary Annapurna Circuit, a 300km track that climbs to 5,300m and touches the edge of the Tibetan plateau. Nepal's second city Pokhara is the end point for the famous trek. If this sounds too strenuous, just enjoy short hikes from Jomsom. The trek up to Everest Base Camp is also popular and a great way of experiencing the thrill of being close to the world's highest peak.
Away from the mountains, raise your pulse by white water rafting down the Bhote Kosi River, kayaking or mountain biking amidst world-class landscapes.