Nepal is a heady place, whether you're a trekker on a trail to Annapurna, a climber on your way to Everest or a seeker on the path to enlightenment.

There are few countries on Earth that can match Nepal's combination of spectacular scenery, exotic culture and hospitable people. Along with the world's deepest canyon and eight of the world's 10 highest mountains, Nepal has steamy jungles and terraced valleys laced with ancient villages, remote temples and wildlife preserves.

For all its dizzying beauty, though, there are still problems in Nepal these days that can bring you down to earth in a hurry: Trash is still found on some peaks (though much has been cleared), robbery occurs occasionally on several of its most popular trekking trails, and pollution still fills the Kathmandu Valley—the benefits of new electric bemos (minibuses) are largely lost in a growing number of motorbikes.

Though the good hearts and spiritual nature of most Nepalis remain unchanged, the situation should be monitored by budding Siddharthas or would-be Edmund Hillarys tempted to visit Nepal at this time. Its peace is still precarious.

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