Nepal Geography and Climate

Nepal is a distant and mysterious mountainous country located on the Roof of the World, in the Himalayas, between India and Tibet. The exoticism of Asian cities, with their hustle and bustle, alternates here with harsh rocky or snow-ice mountain landscapes. Nepal is a great place for lovers of rafting, trekking and other extreme activities. The Nepalese eight-thousanders are a mecca for climbers. And Nepal itself is a country of contrasts. Tropical jungles give way to coniferous forests, turbulent rivers make their way in steep gorges and spill several kilometers wide in the valleys.

The fauna and flora of Nepal is extremely diverse and has not yet suffered too much from the progress of human civilization. The local population has not gone far from the traditional way of life that has evolved over the centuries. Nepal has a long religious tradition, it is the only country in the world where Hinduism is considered the official religion, but Buddhism, Islam, and many other cults and religions are freely practiced. However, one should not expect a high level of tourist service in Nepal, since its borders were opened to foreigners only in the 50s, and besides, the political situation in the country has been unstable for the last decade, which leads to armed conflicts.

The best time of the year to visit Nepal are spring and autumn. Most of the tourists visit Nepal March-April or October-November. Photographers like to come to Nepal in May and September, when the echoes of the monsoon rains are still felt in nature, and the lighting and clouds change so quickly that it is easy to find the right exposure.

Spring is usually warm, but there may be frequent showers. Autumn, on the contrary, is cool and pleases the eye with a clear sky, this is the most popular season for trekking, ecotourism and climbing. In winter, from December to February, it is cool at night, and sometimes even frosts occur, it snows in the mountains. However, by the second half of the day the weather usually improves, it is warm and clear. In winter, you can visit the Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys, as well as the Middle Mountains and foothills of the country: the Mahabharat and Sivalik ranges. However, trekking in winter will become difficult without warm clothes and special training.

Rafting in Nepal can be practiced at least all year round. However, during the rainy season, the rivers overflow, their category of difficulty changes, many roads are washed out, so moving around the country is difficult, so it is better to go rafting in Nepal in autumn, winter or spring.

The official language of Nepal is Nepali, otherwise Parbatia (mountain language) or Khas-Kura (Khas language). Nepal is native to about 50% of the country’s population. Initially, its carriers were the Gurkhas, who inhabited the western middle mountains (the valleys of the western Mahabharat) and captured the Kathmandu valley in the middle of the 18th century. After the seizure of power and the founding of the Shah dynasty by the Gurkhas, the Gurkhali language became the main language for communication between numerous ethnic groups and nationalities and was called Nepali. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages and is related to Hindi. The Terai are inhabited by immigrants from India who speak Maithili, Bhojpuri, Avadhi, Bengali, which, like Nepali, belong to the Indo-Aryan languages. The Tibeto-Burmese group includes languages and dialects that are distributed mainly among the indigenous population of the Himalayas: Tamangs, Newars, Gurungs, Magars, Sunwars, thakali, rai and limbu. Sherpas speak a dialect of the Tibetan language. 14 of the languages and dialects of Nepal have their own script, which is mainly based on Hindi.

Despite the abundant flow of tourists that flooded into Nepal in the 90s of the last century, English is not understood everywhere. And if in the Kathmandu valley it will be quite easy to find a person who speaks English, then in villages remote from the capital and major tourist centers, this may be a problem. Usually conductors and guides accompanying tourists speak English quite well. According to estimates, about 5,000 Nepalese speak Russian, mostly graduates from the universities of the former USSR, Russia or the CIS, and education in Russia still remains attractive to Nepalese. Excursions to the most popular tourist places are conducted not only in English, but also in Russian, but, as a rule, they must be ordered in advance, back in Russia.

Geography in Nepal

According to top-engineering-schools, Nepal, a small mountainous country in Asia, is located between two Asian giants – India and China. Nepal stretches for 650 km along the Great Himalayan Range, while its width does not exceed 200 km. In terms of area, it occupies about 150 thousand square meters. km. Nepal is landlocked, bordering only two countries, it is located very closed. It is bordered to the north by Tibet, an autonomous region of China, and to the south it is surrounded by Indian states (west to east: Uttaranchal, Utter Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim). Just 15 km of the territory of West Bengal separate Nepal from Bangladesh, and Bhutan is located 88 km beyond the Indian state of Sikkim.

Despite the fact that Nepal is a small country, its territory has a very diverse topography. From south to north, the territory gradually rises from 250 m above sea level to the very peaks of the Main Himalayan Range, ending at an altitude of more than 8000 m. In Nepal, three large physiographic zones can be distinguished, lying in parallel and replacing each other from south to north: Terai, midlands and directly high mountains, the Himalayas.

The flat region of Nepal, Terai, is located along the border with India. Terai is the northern tip of the Indo-Gangetic lowland, only 20-40 km wide. The southern part of the Terai is located at an altitude of 300 m above sea level and rises to the north to the foothills of the Sivalik ridge (that is, the “Shiva ridge”) to heights of up to 1000 m. in the central part – the Rapti valley, it is also Chitwan.

It is believed that the word “Terai” comes from the Persian language and means “wet, swampy”, which very accurately reflects the nature of the area. The hot and humid climate favors the formation of impenetrable, sometimes swampy jungles, in which, until recently, there was a high probability of contracting malaria. India, and only relatively recently the development of this area began. The main rivers in this area are the Koshi, Narayani and Karnali. During the monsoon rains, they overflow and cause floods.

The Sivalik Ridge is quite gentle and has rounded shapes. Its slopes are indented with artificial terraces used by the local population for agriculture. Then, further north there is a slight decrease, called the inner Terai (in Nepalese – Bhitri-Madesh). Behind them begins the Mahabharat ridge, which is medium in height, up to 16 km wide and up to 3000 m above sea level. Between it and the Main Himalayan Range is a fertile inner valley (Pahar-Khanda), lying at altitudes from 600 to 2000 m above sea level. Here is the heart of the country – Kathmandu Valley, the most densely populated and developed region of the country.

In the north, the Pahar Khande region limits the Main Himalayan Range, the average height of the peaks in it is 6000 m. In Nepalese, the Himalayas means “abode of snows”, in Nepal there are 14 eight-thousanders from this mountain system. The highest point not only in Nepal, but in the whole world – 8848 m, Mount Everest (in Tibetan Chomolungma, in Nepalese Sagarmatha) – is located on the border with Tibet. The highlands are covered with snow either most of the year, or the whole year, and are practically uninhabited. This area is an inexhaustible source of interest for climbers and therefore received the title of Mecca for climbers.

Rivers.

AT Nepal can be divided into three categories of rivers, based on the source of their power. The first category is the rivers fed from the glaciers and glacial lakes of the Himalayas. These include the following major river systems: Koshi in the east, Gandaki in the center and Karnali in the west of the country. The Koshi system is located in the Sagarmatha region (area of Everest) and consists of several large rivers: Arun, Tamor, Dudha Koshi, Tama Koshi, Likhu, San Koshi and Indravati. The Indravati, merging with its tributaries, forms Sankoshi, into which Tama Koshi, Likhu and Dudha Koshi flow in turn. Near Dhankuta it merges with Arun and Tamor, and in the lower reaches is called Sapta Koshi. After passing through a narrow gorge 10 km long, Sapta Koshi (or simply Koshi) spills over the plain and then flows into the Ganges.

The Gandaki system consists of several rivers (Kali-Gandaki, Budhi-Gandaki, Marsyangdi, Trisuli, Seti, Madi and Daraundi) originating in the glaciers of the great Himalayan range from Mustang to Langtang. Kaligandaki is the longest of the rivers of this system. The rivers Budhigandaki, Marsyangdi and Seti flow into Trisuli in turn, into which Madii flows. Trisuli merges with Kaligandaki near the city of Bharatpur, and the Narayani River flows through the Chitwan valley, which then flows into the Ganges. In western Nepal, the rivers Humla Karnali, Mugu Karnali, Seti and Bheri form the Karnali system.

The second category of rivers is fed from the Mahabharat range. It includes rivers like Mechi, Mahakali, Bagmati, Rapti, Kamala. The Bagmati River , originating in Baghdwar and flowing through the Chobar Gorge, is the main river of the Kathmandu Valley. The remaining rivers and streams originating in the Sivalik Range belong to the third category of rivers, fed by monsoon rains and drying up during the dry season.

Climate in Nepal

Climatic conditions vary greatly in different areas of Nepal. Based on the height above sea level, it is possible, with some degree of conventionality, to distinguish 5 natural and climatic zones in Nepal. Below 1200 m there is a tropical and subtropical zone, in which the Terai are located. Then, at an altitude of 1200 to 2400 m, there is a temperate zone, the middle mountains fall into it (the Sivalik ridge and the valleys of the Mahabharat ridge, including the Kathmandu valley). The cold climatic zone is located at an altitude of 2400 to 3600 m, this is the Mahabharat ridge and the foothills of the Himalayan ranges. The Himalayas themselves are located in two climatic zones: subarctic (3600-4400 m) and arctic (from 4400 m). Natural climatic zones affect not only the climate, but also the flora and fauna that inhabit them.

The climate of the Terai, which lie in the tropical and subtropical zones, has a pronounced monsoon character. The rainy season starts in mid-June and ends in September. During this time, up to 80% of the annual precipitation falls. On average, 1400 – 1900 mm falls per year. Terai is very hot most of the year, even the average annual maximum temperature here is 28 – 31 o C, and the minimum is 15 – 18 o C. The coldest month is January, at which time night temperatures average 6 – 9 oC, and daytime 20 – 23 o C. The hottest months in Terai are April and May (average temperature during the day is 34 – 38 oFROM). Then comes the rainy season, during which the heat weakens somewhat, and the average temperature during the day is 30 – 33 o C, but at the same time the humidity increases greatly. Therefore, the best time to visit Terai, in particular the Chitwan National Park, lasts from October to February.

The middle mountains lie in the temperate zone, the climate here also has pronounced monsoon features. The rainy season lasts from June to September, during which time 70-80% of the annual precipitation falls. The average annual rainfall depends on the orientation of the valley and can vary from 1000mm in Dhankut to 4000mm in Pokhara, Nepal’s rainiest city. Kathmandu receives an intermediate amount of precipitation, about 1400 mm per year. The least amount of precipitation falls in November, from 5 to 20 mm depending on the valley. In the middle mountains, it is generally cooler than in the Terai, however, in the summer months, the average daytime temperature reaches 28-30 oC, which combined with high humidity makes the rainy season an unfavorable time to visit. The dry and cool season lasts from November to February, at which time the average monthly temperatures during the day are 12-20 o C, and at night 2-10 o C, depending on the height above sea level. The months from October to May are considered a comfortable time to visit the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara and other cities located in the middle mountains.

In the cold zone, the influence of the monsoon on the climate weakens, and in the subarctic and arctic it ceases to be felt at all. The amount of precipitation falling per year in the highlands is 250-600 mm, depending on the relief and height above sea level. The maximum and minimum average monthly temperatures also depend on these factors. A characteristic difference between the highlands and the previous belts is the cold winter months from December to February, when the average temperature at night drops to -2..-6 o C, and during the day it does not rise above 7-10 o C. In the summer months, the average temperature during the day is 16- 20 o C, and at night 8-13 o C. Higher in the mountains, the average monthly temperature drops by 0.6-0.8 oWith every 100 m of ascent. Most of the trekking and climbing routes lie just in the highlands, that is, in the cold zone, or even higher in the arctic and subarctic zones. From December to February, snow can fall and lie in the cold zone, it does not melt in the subarctic zone, and the arctic zone lies behind the line of eternal snow. Nepalese eight-thousanders represent the realm of piercing wind, snow, cold and ice even in summer.

Best time to visit:
The best time of the year to visit Nepal is spring and autumn. Most tourists visit Nepal in March-April or October-November. Photographers like to come to Nepal in May and September, when the echoes of the monsoon rains are still felt in nature, and the lighting and clouds change so quickly that it is easy to find the right exposure.

Spring is usually warm, but there may be frequent showers. Autumn, on the contrary, is cool and pleases the eye with a clear sky, this is the most popular season for trekking, ecotourism and climbing. In winter, from December to February, it is cool at night, and sometimes even frosts occur, it snows in the mountains. However, by the second half of the day the weather usually improves, it is warm and clear. In winter, you can visit the Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys, as well as the Middle Mountains and foothills of the country: the Mahabharat and Sivalik ranges. However, trekking in winter will become difficult without warm clothes and special training.

Rafting in Nepal can be practiced at least all year round. However, during the rainy season, the rivers overflow, their category of difficulty changes, many roads are washed out, so moving around the country is difficult, so it is better to go rafting in Nepal in autumn, winter or spring.

Nepal Geography

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