The following interview on traveling alone in Nepal as a woman is from one of our readers, Celina.
Why did you decide to travel to Nepal by yourself?
Nepal was my first country on my backpacking journey in 2014, and this one was my first journey of this kind in my life. I was just overwhelmed by all the countries, which sounded equally interesting and challenging, so I picked the one where my mum traveled almost 30 years ago. She loved it and remembered it as a mecca for travelers, which it actually still is.
The nature, of course, is stunning with the Himalayas in the north and the flat countryside with its rain forest in the south. I visited Nepal in the monsoon season, which is the least touristy season, but wow…nature just explodes this time of the year there. But also, the food and people make you love this country very quickly.
>>Check out the ultimate female packing list for hiking the Annapurna Circuit.
Did you have any trouble traveling solo there?
It was the first country on my trip, and even more importantly, I was alone and everyone had told me that the world is dangerous and scary. Nepal was the country to show me that the average person in the world wants the best for you. So many times I was alone but people helped me; there was never any violence or harassment against me.
One time, though, I witnessed a fight between two groups (I was told later that these were two groups of homeless people). Everyone was looking, nobody was helping, and it was quite an unfair fight. One group was bigger and had steel sticks, and they hit the smaller group till they bled. Seeing violence so close was shocking and brought a lot of my fellow travelers back to reality, away from the romantic hippie view on a very poor country.
Did you ever feel unsafe?
Even though I had seen this, I never felt more or less safe than in Germany, my home country. Actually, in Nepal I felt more welcomed than in Germany. You meet extremely inspiring people there every day!
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences from traveling solo in Nepal.
I did workaway in Nepal for a week and lived with an amazing woman who was able to buy some land and rent a couple rooms. These rooms were owned by an old couple. The husband had no legs knee downwards and his fingers looked shorter than normal because he braided traditional carrying baskets. The wife had a really tough life. She told me a lot of stories (mostly in Nepali, so I didn’t understand a lot of them, but she didn’t care).
When I understood them, they were mostly brutal or were about almost starving to death… but then she always did one thing! She ended the story with a Nepali saying: Keeganeeh. It means something like: What to do? We can not change the past. And she started laughing, a loud, happy laugh paired with a big smile. When I am sad or frustrated about the past, I think Keeganeeh and remember her face and I just have to smile and feel better. Nepali women can be so inspiring if you listen to them.
Were there any special precautions you took to feel safer while traveling solo?
I carried around some feel-safer-things, which I have never used. They were for my peace of mind, but they weren’t needed.
It’s probably more important to watch out for the food. It’s a poor country, where people have a lot of stomach distress in their life. So get hot food and buy only fruit with a peel, like bananas, mango, pomegranate and lychees.
Did you meet any other solo female travelers while you were there?
A ton! The travelers in Nepal are divided into two predominant groups: very sporty people who want to trek the Himalayas, and the more hippie, spiritual people. Of course, there are also people in between. But you can really meet a lot of people who did meditation retreats in Nepal, or often they are traveling alone.
What luggage did you bring with you to Nepal?
I was a luggage newbie, so I took my Deuter 55L. It’s a beautiful backpack, but it’s not for my type of traveling. When I was trekking, it was too empty to have a good weight distribution and the rest of the time it was too full. I love my Farpoint 40, which I use now.
>>Check out another reader’s review of her Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack.
Were there any items you were glad you brought with you or that you wished you had brought?
I loved my steripen, even though it is a little bit bulky. It was so nice that I could drink water from everywhere without putting chemicals inside.
>>Read more about traveling with water purifiers here.
What’s your number 1 tip for females traveling solo to Nepal?
Give Nepal the time it deserves, and don’t be scared to go there during the monsoon season. The people are a lot more friendly in the touristy areas at that time of the year and the nature, especially in the Chitwan National Park area, is stunning.
>>Read Celina’s interview about traveling alone in Cambodia.
About the author: Celina is a 20 year old student in Media IT in Bremen and traveled to Nepal, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Vietnam on her last 9 month trip. She is from Germany and has seen a lot of places within Europe, as well as Senegal, Israel and the USA outside of Europe and Asia. Her most important reasons for traveling is meeting fellow travelers and trying new food.
All photos, except the following image, provided by Celina.