Far Western Nepal

Nepal's far west is still an off-the-beaten-track destination, but that could change as entrepreneurs move to promote the area, opening it up to mainstream tourism. One such group is the Tourism Development Society (www.farwestnepal.org) based in Dhangadhi. As well as promoting local accommodation, this not-for-profit organisation can help arrange cultural tours to Hindu pilgrimage sites and Tharu villages, where you can stay with a local family in traditional homestays. They also offer more adventurous multiday treks into the region. If you wish to hike to the far west from Bardia, contact the Wild Planet Tour & Guide Office there.

Remote Khaptad National Park is one of the best trekking destinations in the far west, with oak and pine forests, rolling meadows filled with wildflowers and several lakes. There is also a variety of animals, including ghoral (a goat-antelope), Himalayan black bear, yellow-throated marten, barking deer, wild boar, and both rhesus and langur monkeys. Treks typically start from the town of Silghadi, an eight-hour drive from Dhangadhi airport, and take a week or more. Inside the park, visitors stay at Bichpani Camp and Khaptad Camp, which are connected by a beautiful 15km trail. Named after Khaptad Baba, a Hindu holy man, the park also contains Khaptad Baba Ashram near its headquarters, which attracts Shiva-worshipping pilgrims. In addition to Wild Planet, there are numerous Kathmandu-based trekking companies now offering Khaptad itineraries, which run around US$1500 all included. The best time to visit is September to December and March to May.