A sport is something that involves physical stretch and a bit of skill to fully gain enjoyment. The entertainment is heightened when a certain individual or a group competes against another group for the top spot. To this day, mankind has invented and adapted hundreds of sports as per their background and interests. When you add the word "extreme" before sports, then that is another topic to discuss. Otherwise known as adventure or action sports, these kinds of sports usually involve a higher degree of risk-taking. Be it high speed, height, or extra physical strain, extreme sports require a high level of specialized gear too.
Not all countries and places have the facility to entertain their tourists with such extremities. Due to this reason, people travel hundreds of kilometers to foreign territory and get their dose of adrenaline rush. Adrenaline is something we received from our bodies after doing something that requires courage and risks. As it seems, some people are addicted to the release of this natural hormone and will try anything to get it on a daily basis. Be it parkour, rock climbing, cliff diving, paragliding, or anything scary, people are just after the hormonal rush. Of course, there are people who try these things just for the sake of a one-time enjoyment or achievement.
Remember we talked about how rush seekers travel across continents just for the sake of enjoyment? Yes, all this brings us to Nepal, the land of Himalayas, and challenging geographical terrains. Nepal has three major land divisions, the Himalayas, the hilly regions, and the flat plains of Terai. The whole country is small, but the gradual decrease in height makes this place a wonderful spot for extreme sports. Hills and mountains mean we have no height issues and with height, speed can be achieved with some preparation. The glaciers of Himalayas have given birth to hundreds of high current rivers that provide a different kind of sport facility. Due to the diversity in biological aspects, people also refer to Nepal as the playground for adventurers. I could not agree more.
The most sought-after sport in Nepal is climbing and trekking. Due to this, there are several trekking routes that lead you to the wonderful snow-covered peaks of Mother Nature. Everyone knows about the trekking mania of Mount Everest, but there are dozens of other peaks capable of providing the same kind of thrill. Other than this, Nepal has gained popularity for other extreme sports in recent years. All these are filled with excitement and sends chills down your spine. The sport in itself might be scary, but once you have completed the task, you will have a wonderful memory to look back to. So, without further ado, let's dive into the list of the top 10 extreme sports in Nepal.
1. Mountain climbing: Okay, let's get to the obvious ones at first. If you think mountain climbing will satisfy your excitement thirst, then stop searching and head directly towards Nepal. Nepal is known as the land of Himalayas for a reason. If we look at the statistics, this country has 1,310 peaks that range higher than 6,000 meters above sea levels. This does not mean you can go and climb the peak you just drew out of your climbing lottery game. The Government of Nepal permits tourists to climb 238 peaks out of these options. And the reason is very simple. The other peaks are quite dangerous and need more inspection.
When the topic of mountain climbing arises, people immediately turn their thoughts towards the mighty Mt. Everest and get their faces pale. Let me tell you, there are several other options that can give you an equal amount of entertainment. Moreover, not everyone can climb the Everest on their first attempt. Opting for other options might save you a lot of money and time too. Some of the other peaks that receive comparatively low climbers are the Kanchanjunga, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu. These are the peaks which stand above 8,000 meters like the Everest.
If you are still skeptical of these high peaks, there is an alternative form of sport that can give you the same level of thrills. There is a division of peaks which gets categorized under the term "Trekking peaks". These are like an easier version of mountain climbing which does not involve risking your lives climbing high-altitudes. Also, you have to pay less to get the permit for climbing these peaks. Some of the highly appreciated trekking peaks are Island Peak or Imja Tse that stands at 6,189 meters and Mera Peak has the height of 6,476 meters.
The problem with extreme sports is that people get too competitive and compromise their safety. Let me tell you, it does not matter what peak you climb it’s the experience you accumulate in the process. The bond you strengthen with your peers as you gradually crawl towards your common goal is more worthwhile. This year, muster up your courage and challenge yourself physically and mentally by climbing up a peak or going for trekking peaks.
2. Trekking: Here is the most popular choice for extreme sport when people recommend Nepal. Since the geography of our country has extreme contrasts, trekking has always been the first choice for tourists. There are literally thousands of trekking trails in Nepal which varies according to the level of difficulty and availability per season. So, one can easily select their preferred trail keeping their experience and fitness levels in mind. Trekking is kind of a laid-back extreme sport where the risk is definitely there, but you can choose to gradually up the levels. The number of days allocated for a particular trial can vary according to the level of your stamina. If you don't feel like walking for the day, just take the day off and focus more on recovering and blending with the local communities. Treks like Annapurna Circuit, Upper Dolpo cultural trek, and the Annapurna Community eco-Lodge trek fall under this category.
So, what is the reward of all this hardship? This depends upon the route and destination you chose before you print your first fresh footprints. Most trekking routes might be scary, but they generally lead to eye-catching destinations. People approach trekking mostly for the peace of mind and connection with nature. The snow-capped mountains, the icy streams, vibrant farmlands, shady forests, and rural communities are some of the common things you will come across during your journey. Be sure to taste the natural flavor of each of these things. For international tourists, we recommend hiring an experienced guide. I know, this might cost you some money, but it is not a good idea to tackle the unknown terrains without someone with knowledge.
3. Rafting: Rafting is a sport that involves flowing along the high current water and enjoying the hurdles that come with it. As mentioned before, strong water flow is a must. The geographical terrains of Nepal has the best arrangement for rafting facilities. The glacier from the Himalayas gradually moves down the slopes, starts melting, and slowly picks up the pace as it turns into water. The result is high current water that is white as snow, cold as ice, and a perfect destination for water sports lovers. The long rivers with bouncy water tides and sandy beaches will surely multiply your sport adventure. Rafting can be done for a day or can be stretched for a multi-day experience.
Don't worry; this sport is compatible with the people who don't have swimming skills too. You will have a life jacket tightly stuck to your body in case you fall off the boat. There is also a guide that accompanies each group along with the tides. One thing rafting can teach you is the importance of teamwork. You can definitely pay for a package that lets you enjoying rafting with only a guide to share your boat. But, I would recommend tackling the tides with a group. Maybe your team can compete against another team in the first place. This will bring a sense of competition among the teammates and you will give your best for the small achievement.
White water rafting is also available in other countries with rivers. But, Nepal has a different kind of feel to the whole water sports scenario. First of all, you will find Nepal and river rafting services very cheap. After you have completed your rafting thrill, you can just return to your hotel along with your teammates, grab a beer, and enjoy a barbeque with your mates. Remember, the whole point of going for an extreme sport is the satisfaction that comes with its completion. So, work hard and party harder.
4. Kayaking: Another water-related sport that shares its similarities with river rafting. Basically, the idea is the same where you fight your way through the ups and downs of tides and return victorious. The difference is, you are the master of your own boat or Kayak. The service providers do not let you go on your own with just a boat and paddle in your hand. There is a guide that will show you the most delicious places that enhance your kayaking experience. Solo rowing means you need to have some familiarity with boat rowing and maintaining your body composure. People that get scared easily after getting slammed into the cold water should go for rafting rather than kayaking. This sport really tests the animal within you and your capacity to adapt to situations.
The easy and convenient services for kayaking can be found near Kathmandu and Pokhara. The most popular one is the kayaking adventure in Bhote Koshi River lies on the northeast side of the capital city. The best season for kayaking has to be the season just after monsoon when the current is at its best. Of course, you cannot fight against the water during the rainy seasons. Most rafting and kayaking services do not operate during this time. When the current reaches healthy levels, you can either visit the service provider or you can book the whole package from home. There are several discount offers during this time. Be sure to check the packages from time to time.
5. Rock Climbing: You might have come across the term rock climbing during several holidays and through experiences of people. Rock climbing is a must when it comes to the top 10 extreme sports in Nepal. People often relate rock climbing to mountain climbing and get skeptical. Sure, mountain climbing has a thing of its own, but rock climbing is equally thrilling and adventurous. The main enjoyment is the climbing part, not the geography. For those who are new to the whole concept of rock climbing, you can practice and polish your arts in Kathmandu with an artificial setup first. The place is called Astrek Climbing wall and it lies in the Thamel area. You can ask your guide or just Google search the place.
After you have gained some experience and confidence, it's time to hit the actual rocks. You can first start with the basic rock climbing sites such as Nagarjuna and Pharping. These are the most commonly visited destinations and you can find a lot of city climbers in these routes. Interact with those people and learn new things about climbing. From foot movements to breathing patterns, soak up everything you can extract from experienced travelers. With time, you will get the hang of the steep hills and rocks. Then and only then you can challenge the real deal amongst the mountains. Don't worry; there are hundreds of natural spots for climbing in the mountain region. Climbing there requires proper gear and experience if you like to travel solo. It is often hard to believe that we can gain so much happiness and fulfillment by simply climbing up hills and make our way through the Rocky Mountains. Maybe the extra mile we push ourselves and the sweat we wipe off our brows gets us closer to who we are deep inside.
6. Mountain Biking: This takes the adrenaline rush to another level. Let me tell you, biking in the mountains is not for everyone. A little slip of the tire and you could even lose your life. There are hundreds of cases of people getting their bones broken just for the sake of challenging the rocks on wheels. I do not mean to scare you or discourage bikers, but I would recommend this extreme sport for only those who have experience beforehand. The whole point of this article is educating people about the pros and cons of these sports in our country. I would not want anyone to return home with a dislocated joint.
Mountain biking is our best mention among the top 10 extreme sports in Nepal for obvious reasons. The person needs to be very patient and should be ready to carry their mountain bike in case the road gets too scary. You can find several trails outside of the Kathmandu valley where the only noise that you will hear is the crushing sound of your tires and the squeaky sound of your brakes. There is also the facility of biking around the Phewa Lake in Pokhara. This might not be too dangerous, but it still ignites the wilderness inside you.
7. Ice climbing: Here is an updated version of the rock-climbing scene. Why climb through boring rocks when you can literally climb up the ice with the help of gears. You can find other tourists climbing up frozen waterfalls without a hint of fear in their eyes. We do not call these extreme sports for nothing. If you have the guts and passion for ice climbing, I would recommend taking a guide with you. Yes, you might have experience in this field, but we humans are prone to error. In case something terrible comes your way, you always have somebody behind your back for support. Taking help from a professional should not be an issue of ego, but a pride in the fact that you care about security. The important thing is getting out of the adventure alive and standing among the peers to share the experience.
Ice climbing requires winter season as the water needs to freeze and become sturdy enough to climb. Due to the perfect requirements for this sport, not many places allow this adventure. If you really like to go, there is a perfect spot in the Annapurna region near Besisahar. The village is called Humde and you can find all your arrangements at a reasonable price.
8. Paragliding: Okay, enough talk about climbing and falling. Who wants to fly in the sky and feel the breeze against their faces? Paragliding is a sport for those who want to challenge their fear of heights. Did you know that the fear of heights and the fear of public speaking are the two main fears of humankind? Gliding your way through the city sounds so much fun, but you ought to be strong once that glide starts soaring. Taking off and landing takes time and favorable placement so once you have decided to go for it, do not waver from your decision. This might make your guide uncomfortable. Anyways, you will have a selfie stick which you can hold and film the whole flight. If you like to just soak up the experience without filming, there is always your guide behind your back. You can share your thoughts with him along the journey.
As I mentioned before, paragliding requires the right location, the best air currents, and good climatic conditions. There are a few places that provide this facility. The most popular one is the paragliding service of Pokhara where one takes off from a hill called Sarang Kot Danda. The warm air current or the thermals in this place makes it very suitable for the taking off location. You can also find a paragliding service around Bandipur. Paragliding sure challenges the heart, but the view you see from the top is something out of this world. Once we can watch Himalayan ranges that reflect the sunlight, the civilization that looks like they have zoomed out, and the cultivation fields that look like huge patterns. There are thousands of visitors that experience the extreme thrill of paragliding every year and go back with good memories.
9. Bungee Jumping: Another sport for the height challengers that does not cost too much. Paragliding includes maintaining oneself in the air for a suspended period of time. There you fly against the gravity, but Bungee is something you go along with the gravity. Let me clear up the misunderstanding here, this sport requires a person jumping off from a high altitude and hitting the rocks below. Just kidding! There is a safety rope that goes around your waist which will help you suspend freely in the air for some time. The rope is perfectly safe and stretchy so that your body will not feel the pressure.
The most famous Bungee spot is The Last Resort in Bhote Koshi River. You Jump off a suspension bridge that is directly above the river. The height is 160 meters of pure excitement. Thousands of national and international tourists have attended the place for the thrill. The authorities check your blood pressure and make sure the safety rope is intact before you jump. After you jump, your heart will literally skip some beats, but the adrenaline rush you feel afterward has a story of its own. This is the best I can describe the sport with words. For the real deal, visit Bhote Koshi or another bungee facility in Pokhara which is 70 meters in height.
10. Zip Line: Zipline is similar to a sport that we used to play as a child except for the fact that it is on another scale. This sport involves people sliding down a rope from a huge height and as the slope increases, the speed multiplies and before you know, you are traveling along with the cables at an astounding and air cracking speed. Don't worry, the sport is completely safe as thousands of people have enjoyed this thrill. Pokhara valley in Nepal had the world's largest zip-line till 2017. Later, UAE topped us with a bigger zip-line facility in 2018. Nonetheless, experiencing this sport in Nepal has another kind of pull to it. You will travel a total distance of 18 kilometers and the speed can reach up to 120 km per hour. I think those statistics are more than enough to give you the general idea.
Hence, the top 10 extreme sports in Nepal consist of the above-mentioned sports and destinations. As a bonus, I would like to recommend Vespa city tour to our visitors. Definitely, riding on a scooter might not sound thrilling to most of you, but wait till you reach the really crowded areas of Kathmandu. Literally, riding a two-wheeler in the busy roads of Kathmandu is a different kind of thrill. Of course, you don't have to ride the scooter yourself. The service providers will recommend a licensed and experienced driver who will take the handle. All you have to do is share the back seat and keep your eyes open. The rider will take you through narrow alleys and crowded market places and you will enjoy the busyness of the city with your helmets on. It is very surprising to see thousands of people going to different directions with no one looking at each other. They all have their own mess to clean and rush to meet their dear ones. You can see the different kinds of markets from top-notch malls to vendors that have their own kind of marketing tactics to make their ends meet.
The roads might be scary and the crowd might make you doubt the skills of your driver, but keep your trust in professional hands and enjoy the ride. If you think the rider is going very fast, you can always tell him or her to slow down to a healthier place. If you like clicking photos, ask the person to stop for a moment and let you click your memories. The rider might also entertain you with the details about different places and their importance. Kathmandu has several historical and cultural destinations along the roads. Feel free to ask for any information on the things you find interesting. You could also stop by to buy some souvenirs for your family or friends. Some places have interesting food items that you would like to try. Tell your rider to suggest those kinds of places where you can experience the cultural excitement to the fullest. You could also write down your day on paper or blog after you have finished the ride.
So, these are some of the top recommendations from my side. There are several others too, but I went with the ones that are convenient and interesting. The list of extreme sports will never include all the things that spike your adrenaline rush. You will have to always find some new ways to rejuvenate your inner child.