Day 1 - Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. You can arrive at any time today as there are no activities planned until a group meeting this evening. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. If you touch down early then there’s heaps of stuff for you to do in Kathmandu, or to just take time to relax before your trip begins. Quirky Kathmandu is a fascinating mix of ancient architecture and contemporary development, modernity and time-honoured tradition. For decades, it’s been a legendary destination, the first stop for exploring the mightiest mountains in the world. Its streets are filled with signs of the country’s long artistic and cultural heritage, and you can explore the narrow lanes of Pashupatinath, filled with holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats and even sacred cows. Discover crowded market places, bazaars, and hole-in-the-wall eateries that are the centre of Nepali life, as prayer flags flutter overhead.
Day 2 - Nuwakot
In the early morning you can make an attempt at the Mount Everest scenic flight. This amazing experience will take you over Sagamartha National Park, through a crescendo of the highest peaks in the world, climaxing by getting up close to Mount Everest. Later, you’ll head to Kathmandu's most important Buddhist shrine – Swayambhunath (aka The Monkey Temple). Perched high on the hilltop, it's said to be the oldest stupa in the world, influenced by both Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhism. You can huff and puff up 365 steps to the temple, which is home to hundreds of monkeys that swing from the trees and prayer flags. It’s said that when Manjushree (the bodhisattva of wisdom) raised the hill, the lice in his hair transformed into these monkeys! In the afternoon, drive to the secluded rural village of Nuwakot for a delightful stay in a converted farmhouse (approximately 4 hours). At Nuwakot you can spend a few late afternoon hours exploring the surrounding village and temples, where some reconstruction from the 2015 earthquake may be on-going. Stop by the Nuwakot Bazaar, a centrepiece of the Nepalese story, embellished by the rich history behind the 16th century fortress and royal palace. Tonight you’ll enjoy a Nepalese dining experience here in this charming and ideally located farm.
Day 3 - Bandipur
This morning, set off west to journey to the small village of Bandipur (approximately 4 hours). As you travel through the foothills of the legendary Himalayas, keep an eye out for views of the beautiful high peaks. Arrive in Dumre, then turn south off the main highway and continue to a ridge set at an altitude of 1,050 metres, where the little-known Newari trading village of Bandipur lies. Winding its way up and down hills, Bandipur's main street is lined with three or four storey brick buildings with carved wooden windows. Small temples add to the unique, peaceful atmosphere in this traditional Nepali hill village, still relatively untouched by modern tourism; few foreigners find their way up here. Sit and relax, or stretch your legs with a walk through the village, visiting ornate temples or heading out into the surrounding countryside for superb views up the Marsyangdi River valley and to the Himalayas beyond. Many of the range's giants can be seen – Langtang, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu, and the distant Annapurnas. Tonight you’ll stay in a restored traditional house, where you can play chess on a giant board, and this afternoon you can join in local games with the local kids on the traffic-free street of Bandipur bazaar.
Day 4 - Pokhara
This morning you’ll drive to the lovely lakeside town of Pokhara (approximately 2.5 hours). As you come closer to Pokhara, the Himalayan Peaks – dominated by Annapuran and the unique fishtail peak, Machhapuchhare – come into view. When you arrive in Pokhara you’ll have free time to explore – the city has an interesting old area, an elaborate Hindu temple, a Buddhist monastery, and the fascinating International Mountain Museum. The lakeside area has good shopping opportunities and internet cafés. You’ll also head out for a boat trip on the lake (Phewa Tal), which is the second largest in Nepal. Relax lakeside and enjoy the lush and tranquil surrounds against the backdrop of mighty mountains. In the evening, there’ll be the fun night of snuggling up together for a movie-night, while your accommodation for tonight also has great grounds and a swimming pool to relax or play in.
Day 5 - Annapurna Trek/Pokhara
Strap on those walking shoes and get ready for a full day of trekking in the incredible Annapurna Mountain Range. Trekking in Nepal is one of the most rewarding parts of a visit to this mountainous kingdom. Some are put off by the thought that it requires superior mountaineering skills, and specialist equipment to match. This isn’t true for most routes, including the one you’ll walk. But it’s important to remember that all trekking is more difficult than just a ramble, and that there is little, if any, flat ground in Nepal's hills. On this trek however, you will not reach very high altitudes. You’ll navigate well-graded rural trails used to link remote farming communities. Steep stone staircases and occasional suspension bridges dot the route. Most people, including children, will find the pace, distance and duration of each day's walk within their capability – as long as they are realistic about their fitness and abilities. Drive to Begnas Lake (approximately 40 minutes) for the start of the trek. Walking at a leisurely pace, pass through rice fields, climb through villages offering superb panoramic views, and meet the villagers of these isolated communities. After approximately four hours’ trekking, you’ll arrive at the small village of Chisapani ('cold water' in Nepali). Spend the night camping at a Himalayan altitude of around 1,260 metres, and witness a spectacular sunset over the snowcapped peaks.
Notes: Few nationalities provide a camping experience as well as the Nepalese; their hospitality and organisational skills are legendary, as will become clear on the trek. Tents and mattresses are provided, camp staff cook your meals, providing tasty and nutritious food, whilst porters carry your main bags, leaving you with only your daypack to carry.
Day 6 - Seti rafting/Chitwan
You’ll begin another overnight adventure this morning after breakfast – drive to the start of your two-day rafting adventure on the Seti River. After a safety briefing, and getting you all kitted out with the right equipment, set off from nearby Damuli (approximately 1.5 hours from Pokhara) and work together in a great family exercise as your team navigates through the water chutes and channels. Pass through the Nepali landscape of terraced rice fields, local villages, waterfalls, suspension bridges, men fishing and women washing clothes, and through an isolated gorge surrounded by wildlife-rich jungle. The river flow is gentle and the rapids are medium class – and if you get wet, the river’s not that cold! End the day pitching a tent by the river on a white sandy beach. Spend your evening chilling out in this secluded spot in front of the rushing river, surrounded by mountains that feel close enough to touch. The camp makes an atmospheric base for the night, with dinner served around the campfire to the sound of the wilderness.
Day 7 - Annapurna Trek/Pokhara
Today you’ll continue the trek, which will be around 7 kilometres long and take approximately 3.5 hours. En route you can pause to admire the views, take photos, or stop off for a drink in one of the many picturesque wayside village teahouses. All around these villages the terraced fields are a testament to the ingenuity of the Nepalese people, who have turned the steep hills into productive fields, growing rice, wheat and maize – say ‘Namaste’ to smiling farmers along the way. People you pass are incredibly friendly, and kids will often walk alongside, practising their English. In the village centres, old men sit beneath banyan trees on stone benches, smoking and gossiping. Women and children come up from the fields carrying huge loads effortlessly. At the end of your trek, a vehicle will be waiting to take you back to Pokhara. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax or explore as you please. Perhaps visit the World Peace Pagoda, Devi's Falls, or Mahendra Cave. Or make time for a visit to a nearby Tibetan village settlement, where superb carpets and other handicrafts can be haggled over. This evening you’ll drop by Pokhara Base Camp (a single-story, stone and mud building that’s rather like a laid-back country club), which will be set up for an end of trek party with trekkers and staff alike.
Day 8 - Seti rafting/Chitwan
Continue your rafting adventure this morning, drifting along crystal clear Himalayan water and sometimes doing battle with the rapids (and maybe even your fellow rafts!). Your rafting will finish up around lunchtime, when you’ll say goodbye to your rafting crew. Then it’s time to take off your helmet and pop on your safari hat as you drive down to the lowlands and Chitwan National Park (approximately 1.5 hours). UNESCO (who know at thing or two about this kind of stuff) declared it a World Heritage site in 1984, and it offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Asia. Think of it like ‘The Jungle Book’ come to life – there's rhino, deer, monkeys and a wide array of birdlife here, including the infamous Nepalese wild chicken! Your accommodation here is a real treat, built in traditional Tharu village style and surrounded by nature and the exotic sounds of the jungle.
Day 9 - Chitwan National Park
Today is all about exploring Chitwan National Park and discovering the wildlife that lies within. Hop aboard a jeep and take a safari drive through the park – if you're a very lucky person you might catch a glimpse of one of the 100-or-so Shere Khan-esque Bengal Tigers that call the park home. There’s also the chance to float down the Rapti River in a dugout canoe, keeping an eye out for the great Indian rhino, deer, exotic bird life, and the marsh mugger crocodiles that inhabit the riverbanks. A bird-watching walk through forests and across grasslands is also a great way to get closer this incredible piece of nature. There will also be some great opportunity for cultural interaction here – later today you might enjoy a cultural program performance from a local Tharu dance troupe for example. Whatever happens today, you’re sure to have a memorable experience in the luxuriant, teeming jungle.
Day 10 - Kathmandu
You have this morning free to explore the jungle a little more before taking a transfer to Bharatpur (approximately 1.5 hours), then a short flight back to the Nepalese patchouli–scented capital, Kathmandu (approximately 30 minutes). If you wish, join a wander through the backstreets and vibrant local markets to Durbar Square, in front of the old royal palace and home to numerous beautiful temples, and browse the stalls of merchant's wares. Hunt for the perfect souvenir and last minute present (Tibetan prayer flags, anyone?) – there are plenty of bargains to be had and it’s the perfect chance to perfect you bargaining skills. Maybe end this incredible trip through Nepal with a final farewell feast of momo (dumplings).
Day 11 - Kathmandu
Your adventure through Nepal comes to an end today. There are no activities planned, and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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