Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its geographical position and altitude variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 metres above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest all within a distance of 150 kilometres resulting in climatic conditions from sub-tropical to arctic. This wild variation fosters an incredible variety of ecosystems, including the greatest mountain range on earth which has eight of the world’s fourteen highest mountains, thick tropical jungles teeming with a wealth of wildlife, thundering rivers, forested hills and frozen valleys. Within this spectacular geography is a rich cultural landscape. The country has over forty ethnic groups and sub-groups who speak over 93 languages and dialects. The majority of the population is found in the Kathmandu Valley located in the centre of Nepal and home of three major towns, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur.
Lying in the heart of the Kathmandu Valley, the modern day capital of Nepal has remained a centre of trade, religion and politics since ancient times. During the 14th Century, the valley was divided into three independent kingdoms; Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu, until the region was invaded and unified to form the nation of Nepal in the late 18th Century. Kathmandu is a treasure trove of mediaeval art, temples and religion, colonial style parks, regal palaces and museums. Standing in the heart of the city are the Royal Palace and Durbar Square, while on the outskirts, two of Nepals’ most distinctive and important stupas stand guard; the Swayambunath Stupa, also known as the “Monkey Temple” and Bodnath Stupa, a centre for the Tibetan culture in Nepal and one of the largest stupas in the world.