NEPAL: A HIMALAYAN EXPERIENCE
Once considered as mystical and inaccessible as Shangri-La, this landlocked country of valleys and peaks has attracted an astounding number of visitors for decades. From the endorsers of ‘Flower Power’ in the hedonistic 60’s to the daring adventure traveler, Nepal has catered to the diverse needs of visitors in its own inimitable way.
The free-spirited hippies left their own mark here, a street that they named Freak Street. Kathmandu is situated in a valley full of historic temples, shrines and pagodas. It is a bustling, crowded city with hotels, bars and restaurants to suit all budgets.
The country extends from the Himalayan range in the North to the Indo-Gangetic lowlands in South. Mt. Everest, the highest point of the Himalayas is in Nepal and is a major attraction for serious mountaineers and tourists alike. The landscape offers a kaleidoscope of green paddy terraces, dense forests, marshy grasslands and mighty rivers. The plethora of options for adventure tourism include mountaineering, trekking, white water rafting, kayaking, jungle safaris, bungee jumping, paragliding and fishing.
Exciting wildlife tours are another attraction. Nepal is home to numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The Royal Chitwan Park is a favorite for its Elephants, Tigers, Leopards, Rhinos, Sloth Bears and 350 species of birds. The rich flora and fauna of the country is relatively undisturbed even today.
Beyond Kathmandu the smaller towns are easily accessible and spectacular in their own right. The natural scenic beauty of Pokhara, Nagarkot and Dhulikhel is complemented by views of the most incredible sunrise and sunset. Bhaktapur is a devotee’s delight, with its ancient temples built in the medieval style.
Day 1: ARRIVE KATHMANDU
Our Nepalese colleagues will meet you in the arrival area of the airport after you clear all immigration and custom formalities.
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and the city stands at an elevation of approximately 4,429 feet in the bowl-shaped valley in central Nepal surrounded by four major mountains: Shivapuri, Phulchowki, Nagarjun and Chandragiri. The city’s rich history is nearly 2,000 years old, as inferred from an inscription in the valley. Its religious affiliations are dominantly Hindu followed by Buddhism. People of other religious beliefs also live in Kathmandu giving it a more cosmopolitan culture.
Depart for your hotel. After assisted check-in, you will have some time to freshen up.
In the afternoon, you will visit one of the most important heritage sites of Kathmandu. Starting with the Boudhanath Stupa (a UNESCO World Heritage site); the 2,500 years old Buddhist stupa in the valley was built in the 5th century, adorned with four pairs of eyes of the Lord Buddha gazing in four cardinal directions. This is meant to keep an eternal watch over the people and their doings. With a base of 269 feet in diameter, Boudhanath is claimed to be the largest Buddhist stupa in the world. Today, Boudhanath bustles with the Tibetan population, busy with carpet manufacturing, trade, and prayers at the several monasteries belonging to different sects of Tibetan Buddhism. Also visit a monastery where the young monks are residing and studying Tibetan Buddhism and you will have the chance to interact with them.
Overnight Hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 2: KATHMANDU
Today you will discover what it was like to live in towns in medieval times. You will cover two ancient kingdoms of Kathmandu valley; Kathmandu Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square from the time of the Malla Dynasty.
After driving for half an hour you will revel at this ancient satellite city exactly about the time when people are just starting their day. Patan, also known as ‘Lalitpur’, the city of artisans, and home to the valley’s finest craftsmen who have preserved such ancient techniques as the repoussé and lost wax process used to produce exquisite sculptures. The city retains much of its old charm with its narrow streets, brick houses and multitude of well-preserved Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (vihars) and monuments. As in Kathmandu, Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed here for ages, influencing each other, and the religious harmony is exemplary. Patan Durbar square is one of the seven monument zones that makes Kathmandu valley a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Later you will visit Nepal’s living goddess Kumari in Patan. The word Kumari literally means “virgin” in Nepali. These living goddesses are young, pre-pubescent girls who are worshipped in Nepal by both Hindus and Buddhists as omnipotent deity and the manifestation of the Hindu goddess of power, Durga. They live a sheltered life until they reach puberty.
Your next stop is Kathmandu’s central meeting area, Durbar Square, a profusion of temples reflecting the different architectural styles dating from the eleventh century. The area also includes the Royal Palace with its gilded gates and elaborate statues, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The square is alive with a multitude of nationalities intermingled with stalls displaying a wide variety of Nepalese and Tibetan handicrafts.
Later you will embark an exhilarating rickshaw ride of around 30 minutes from Hanuman Dhoka to Thamel through narrow alleys and you will be able to observe local life from a close range. Thamel becomes colorful & vibrant at this time of day with soft music played in shops, decorated shops with handicrafts, curio, silver jewelries, adventure gears and the list goes on. You will have some free time here to stroll around.
Overnight in Kathmandu. (B)
Day 3: KATHMANDU- POKHARA
After breakfast, board the awaiting vehicle for your trip to the upper hills of Western Nepal.
Your trekking guide joins you as you arrive in Pokhara. We will stop along the way to photograph the breathtaking panoramas of the Annapurna’s. Upon arrival at the village of Lumle, we begin our one and a half hour walk to the Gurung village Majgaun. After some 45 minutes, we arrive at the village of Chandrakot situated at an altitude of 5200 ft.
After some 45 minutes, we arrive at the village of Chandrakot. From this village, there are spectacular views of Annapurna South, the sacred and unclimbed Fishtail Mountain or Machhapuchhre as it is locally known. From Chandrakot, our walk takes us through a forested area along a well-worn trail for a further 45 minutes to the Gurung Lodge which is situated at an altitude of 4,800 ft.
You will overnight at Gurung Lodge for overnight stay. The lodge has extensive grounds with magnificent views of Annapurna South.
Overnight Gurung Lodge. (B, L, D)
Day 4: GURUNG LODGE (MAJGAUN)
After breakfast at the lodge, we will walk through the surrounding forests for 1 1/2 hours to a viewpoint called the Gurung Hill. From here, there are magnificent views Annapurna South and the surrounding mountains. Lunch will be at the lodge. After lunch, you will be escorted to the local village of Tanchowk, Majhgaun and Patlekhet (2 hrs for exploration). There will be a talk at a local house, now made into a museum. The contents of the house illustrate how the local people live together with the tools and implements of day-to-day traditional village life. On the way to the village which is only 15 minutes’ walk from the lodge, we will visit the local school.
Overnight Gurung Lodge. (B, L, D)
Day 5: MAJGAUN- TOMEJUNG VILLAGE – POKHARA
After early morning tea and coffee in your room, you will have the opportunity to photograph the stunning scenery from several different locations around the lodge. After breakfast, we trek down to Tomejung village (Bee village) and return to the place call Dhapa. Along the way, you will enjoy different views of the surrounding valley and mountains.
Our vehicle will be waiting for you to transfer you to Pokhara.
Along the way we will stop and visit the Tibetan village in Hemja. Here you will visit the monastery where you will meet one of the monks who will show you around and explain the symbols and significance of the Tibetan religion. You will have a chance to enjoy interacting with locals over a cup of tea.
(Note: In order to reach the monastery, you’ll need to pass through a Tibetan market where they sell souvenirs aimed at the tourist trade. Prices are generally inflated and bargaining is the norm).
When you reach Pokhara, check in at your hotel.
Remainder of the afternoon is at your leisure. There is no shortage of activities at the resort from bird watching, short trekking and experiencing a working farm. Alternatively, take time off to release all pent up stress in the state of the art spa onsite.
Overnight at Temple Tree Resort in Pokhara. (B)
Day 6: POKHARA
After breakfast we leave for the Damshadi Village Hike.
The Damsadi hike starts after a 10 minute drive south of Pokhara, and you then climb a hill and cross a suspension bridge. Damsadi mesmerizes its visitors with its fascinating mountain view. There are orange orchards, terraced rice fields and typical Nepali houses with thatched roofs along the trail. This short hike offers the cultural richness of Nepal as well as an immense scenic beauty to mesmerize its visitor.
Guests will enjoy the panoramic view of the mountains like Annapurna, Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and many more. En-route you will interact with locals who are ethnically diverse yet living in a perfect harmony. It is an insight to the closely knit community living in a village of Nepal.
In the afternoon, enjoy a boat ride at Phewa Lake.
You will have some free time at the hotel before visiting the International Mountain Museum, conceived with an idea to work towards promoting the understanding of the mountains, it’s people and culture, flora, fauna, and the proud mountaineering history. Established by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), it is supported by various international and national groups.
Pokhara is the third largest city in Nepal, located 124 miles west of Kathmandu. Three out of the ten highest mountains in the world, including the renowned Annapurna are within 30 miles of the city, making it Nepal’s top trekking destination. It’s an ideal place to relax, take walks in the surrounding hills, or engage in the more energetic pursuits of trekking or white-water rafting.
Overnight at Temple Tree Resort in Pokhara. (B)
Day 7: POKHARA- CHITWAN
After breakfast, you will connect on a short domestic flight to Bharatpur, the gateway to Chitwan National Park.
Arrive in Bharatpur and transfer to the Lodge.
The Chitwan National Park lies in the Inner Terai lowlands and consists of Sal forests, tall elephant grasslands, hills, ox-box lakes and flood plains of the Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers. Enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the park spreads over an area of 932 sq.km. The park is home to 56 species of mammals, 49 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 525 species of birds. Wildlife found here includes endangered species like the one-horned rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal tiger, gaur, wild elephant, four-horned antelope, leopard, sloth bear, wild boar, rhesus monkey, grey langur monkey, wild dog, small wild cats, and many other smaller animals. Also found here are cobras, kraits and pythons. The swampy areas and numerous oxbow lakes of Chitwan provide a home for the marsh mugger crocodiles. In a stretch of the Narayani River are found one of the few remaining populations of the rare and endangered fish-only eating gharial, or Gangetic crocodile. Also found here is one of the world’s four species of freshwater dolphins.
The park is a great place to watch colorful birds like the woodpecker, hornbill, Bengal florican and red-headed trogon. Winter birds such as waterfowls, Brahminy duck, pintails and bareheaded geese are drawn by the sanctuary of the park’s rivers. In summers, the forest is alive with nesting migrants such as the fabulous paradise flycatcher, the Indian pitta and parakeets. Winter birds include migratory birds from Siberia.
In the afternoon, take an elephant safari, which remains a popular jungle activity in the Chitwan National park. Every elephant has a ‘Mahout,’ who serves as the animal’s caretakers, trainer and ‘driver.’ On the safari, the Mahout leads the elephant on a journey to seek out the forest’s wild animals in their natural setting. You may be lucky to go home with photographic proof of the prized one horned rhino, or even the Bengal tiger!
In the evening, experience the vibrant traditional cultural performances of the Tharu community. The performances depict their culture, and the significance of their wardrobes in relation to their environment.
Overnight at Taj Meghauli Serai. (B, L, D)
Day 8: CHITWAN
Early in the morning, visit the jungle to refresh your spirit of adventure on a guided walk through the national park, returning to the lodge in time for breakfast.
You will follow a full day true jungle experience with the in-house expert naturalists including bird watching, elephant bathing and canoeing. You will also visit the small village of Tharu ethnic group to get a sense of what their world and lives are like through interactions with the locals.
A special sun-downer can be suggested at the confluence of the Rapti River amidst spectacular sunset view.
Overnight at Taj Meghauli Serai. (B, L, D)
Day 9: CHITWAN- KATHMANDU
Morning transfer Bharatpur Airport to connect flight to Kathmandu.
Arrive in Kathmandu and check in at your hotel. Rest of the time will be free at leisure for independent activities.
Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu. (B)
DAY 10: DEPART KATHMANDU
Assisted transfer to the Tribhuvan International airport to connect to your departure flight. (B)
Kathmandu: Marriott International
Majgaon: Gurung Lodge
Pokhara: Temple Tree Resort
Chitwan: Meghauli Serai Taj Safari
$4,795 per person. No Single Supplement!
Meals included as indicated by B, L, D. Any other references to meals are for logistical purposes, only.
Itinerary as shown, including domestic air
Hotels as described or comparable properties with TWO SINGLE rooms.
English speaking guide and private vehicle throughout itinerary, as noted.
English speaking specialists in Tunisia
Private vehicle with driver
Visa application (Here is recommended e-visa site): https://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa
Gratuities and other items of personal nature