KATHMANDU  “My first  stop was  at  Kathmandu’s  historic  Durbar  Square.  It  was,  in a surreal way, reminiscent of an old European piazza with jazz bars,  bakeries and pizzerias  alongside an ancient city  of  temples,  pagodas, pavilions  and shrines.  Once the former residence of the Kathmandu royal family, it is still the home of Nepal’s living goddess, the Kumari. To me, it felt like the bohemian traveller had to take one step into a medieval city and the other into a quaint European town.”

PATAN “I was told that not many tourists go to Patan, which was to me, the best part about it. In a city that looks like a giant museum, Patan boasts of a real one which is perhaps Nepal’s best. I spent the day being escorted to hidden temples, four ancient Stupas, the royal palace and some incredible places for food and wine. This city, originally named the City of Beauty, richly deserves its title.”

BHAKTAPUR “They  told me  this  was  the  third  of  the medieval  cities  and  as  far  as I could make out, the best preserved. Also called the City of Devotees, this place has not one, but three squares full of medieval temples. Yesterday and today are beautifully intertwined as this ancient city is still lived in.”

BODNATH “It was Nepal’s most distinguished Stupa, and in a way, the finest tribute to Buddha’s path to enlightenment. With a Tibetan settlement around it and the chanting of ‘Om Mani Padme Hoom’, I was transported to another plane. On a lighter note, I enjoyed the shopping and dining there immensely.”

PASHUPATINATH “It is Nepal’s equivalent to India’s Varanasi. On the banks of the Bagmati River was a Shiva temple celebrating Shiva as the Lord of Beasts. The river was the most fascinating part, though. I was moved to see the circle of life completing itself here as this is the holiest place for performing both last rites and celebrating life. On this river that leads up to the Ganges, the people of Nepal let go of their loved ones and seek blessings for their life ahead. A soul-stirring experience.”

CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK “This World Heritage-listed reserve took me to the plains of Nepal. It also took me to wildlife heaven with splendid views seen on elephant-back. This reserve has some high-profile celebrities like the One-Horned Indian Rhino, the Asian Elephant, the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Gharial Crocodile and the Sloth Bear. Not be left out are 450 different species of birds and about 67 species of butterflies that are as big as your hand.

An  early  morning  canoe  ride  on  the  river, with mist, the rising sun, and the meditative sound of the babbling brook as it ran over stones, while I watched stubborn water hyacinths, chirping birds and sleepy crocs was a spiritual experience – one that will stay forever with me.”

POKHARA “Lakeside Pokhara is where weary trekkers come to rest and I could see why as I unwound with magnificent views of the gateway to Annapurna in some spectacular bars and cafes.”

EVEREST “We boarded a specialized high-altitude French Ecureuil helicopter to take us into the heart of the Everest region for what has been referred to as a `Heaven and Earth’ encounter.

From Kathmandu, we flew 45 minutes into the Himalayas, to Lukla, the legendary mountain village from where all expeditions to Mount Everest begin. The flight was extremely scenic, passing famous peaks such as Gauri Shankar, with the vast Tibetan Plateau in the background. We made a brief stop at Lukla to refuel, before proceeding onwards  to  the  Kongde Lodge via simply breathtaking valleys and flying high above the legendary Namche Bazaar.

Kongde Lodge at 4,250 m, reportedly the highest in the world, is on a plateau with unimaginable views of the great Himalayan Range with the world’s tallest peaks; Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho-Oyo, Gyajung Khang and Ama Dablam. Down below is the picturesque Khumbu Valley and Kongde Lake, and the historical trekking stations of Namche Bazaar and Thyangboche Monastery.

We spent between 30 to 45 minutes taking in the magnificent views over chilled glasses of champagne, before flying back to Kathmandu.”