If you find yourself looking for places to visit in Nepal and are in the mood for an adventure, we could have just the activity for you with our series on mythical beasts and where you can find them.
Few purportedly mythical creatures have caused quite as much controversy over the years as the yeti. While animals like the phoenix and the Welsh dragon are now generally accepted as pure myth, the existence of the yeti, or abominable snowman, is one of the world’s greatest enduring mysteries.
Stories of the yeti are so entrenched in Himalayan folklore that real scientific research has been commissioned time and time again to discover the truth behind the ‘man-bear’. But it is merely myth, or is there some form of man, beast, or hybrid of the two up there in the high Himalayas, just waiting to be discovered?
As yet, there’s still no definitive answer to that question. There has never been any conclusive evidence to prove that the yeti exists, but sightings of a creature have been claimed across the Himalayas - in Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and India – but also as far north as Mongolia, and most recently, at the ski resort of Formigal in north-eastern Spain.
The truth is that a lot of respected mountaineers, such as Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, have claimed to have seen large and unexplained footprints in the snow. Hillary was so convinced by what he saw that he later mounted an expedition to search for the creature. The legend has also been at the root of a number of hoaxes, which has made distinguishing fact from fiction an even more complicated process.
The latest twist in this enduring and fascinating tale comes from the DNA tests run by a British scientist, Bryan Sykes. He examined hairs from two unidentified animals that were discovered in the Himalayas. The results found that the samples were a 100% match with a sample from an ancient polar jaw bone found in Svalbard, Norway. The scientist believes the creatures could be a hybrid of a polar crossed with a brown bear, which would explain why the yeti has been seen walking upright.
Over the years, there have been a significant number of claimed yeti sightings. These have occurred across several continents, with the yeti referred to by names that include Almas (Mongolia), Batutut (Vietnam), Bigfoot (North America), Yowie (Australia) and Fear Liath (Scotland).
The vast majority of supposed yeti sightings, though, have been exposed as fakes. The first publicised report of a yeti sighting came from a German photographer in 1925. Then, during WWII, a Polish soldier claimed he was escaping from a Siberian Gulag across the Himalayas to India when his path was blocked, at one point, by two yetis. Not to be outdone, in 2016, President Putin himself claimed to have seen “a family of yetis” while flying over a remote part of the Kemerovo region in Russia.
More common than sightings of yetis themselves are reports of mysterious footprints spotted on the icy trails of the Himalayas, and while such stories abound, the idea of an unknown creature living in the mountains, although unlikely, isn’t entirely implausible.
If you want to spend your time peering at the ground looking for unusual footsteps in the ice, then Kathmandu would be the best place to stay to give you access to both the Himalayas, and an affordable range of hotels. There are all sorts of hotels in Kathmandu to choose from, with everything from budget guesthouses to upscale hotels. Almost all of the accommodation is located in the tourist district of Thamel, although there are also a few options near Durbar Square.
There are plenty of cheap flights to Kathmandu , and given the distance you’re travelling, if you book in advance they can be extremely competitively priced. However, there are no direct flights from UK airports, so you’ll need to make a stop, usually in Dubai, in India or somewhere in the Middle East.
One way to make the most of your trip to is to explore the option of car hire in Kathmandu, which gives you added independence and convenience, and allows you to create your own schedule and itinerary. At the time of writing, self-drive car hire in Kathmandu is not available for tourists, but there are many locals drivers who will provide this service for you.