Nepal

Community Homestay Circuit – West Nepal

Nepal

Community Homestay Circuit – West Nepal

Nepal
Trip Overview

The west of Nepal is still a region largely unexplored by tourists and relatively untouched by outside influences. This is mainly due to the inaccessibility of the region and the lack of tourist infrastructure. However, for adventurous travellers, the west offers an amazing combination of beautiful landscapes, traditional culture, lifestyles, and remote communities.

Homestays offer a unique close-up glimpse of rural village life as well as directly supporting local economies and increasing their knowledge of the outside world – the locals are as interested in you as you are in them.

Wildlife-spotting activities in the parks are authentic, following the paths that local people use when navigating the area, and you are unlikely to see many other tourists. Bardiya National Park, less frequently visited than Chitwan National Park, offers a greater chance of spotting the Royal Bengal Tiger along with other animals, including wild elephants, one-horned rhinoceros, and various kinds of deer.

Trip Highlights
  • UNESCO Cultural World Heritage sites including Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Panuati and Lumbini
  • Close up monastic experience
  • Pristine tourist destinations including Bhada and Bardiya
  • Spectacular panorama of Annapurna Ranges, bustling lakeside streets and lakes of Pokhara Valley
Itinerary

Airport arrival transfer in Kathmandu. Orientation walk around Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Namaste & Welcome to Kathmandu!!!

Depending on your travel history, your first impression of arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport may be an experience in and of itself. The time it takes will depend on whether you need to queue for a Visa-on-Arrival as well as immigration and customs. Luggage tags will be checked on exit so have your luggage receipt handy (usually attached to your boarding pass). Luggage trolleys are available and free to use. As you walk down the tunnel to the arrival lounge you will find many people showing placards and waving anxiously. Please walk slowly checking the placards and do not get anxious – our airport representative will be waiting to welcome you with your name written clearly on the placard. They will assist you to your correct vehicle. Depending upon the traffic the drive to your booked hotel can take 30 minutes or more.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Kathmandu

Patan sightseeing, Transfer to Pharping.

Patan Durbar Square is surrounded by a fascinating array of temples built in various architectural styles which display masterpieces of Newari craftsmanship. The numerous temples display gods and humans together as in Nepal they have co-existed for millennia. Newari history and culture is apparent everywhere and the city is a source of great pride in Newari history and culture.

Leaving Patan for Pharping we immediately notice the change in scenery – dense buildings give way to farming fields and lush green forest. The road is winding and the higher we go the better the views back over the Kathmandu Valley.

In Pharping you have the unique opportunity to spend the afternoon and night at a Buddhist monastery. Here you can join in meditation, learn a little about Buddhism and experience the monastic life of the monks. The morning and evening prayers include the chants of Buddhist mantras that can rejuvenate your body and mind.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Pharping

Sightseeing of Bhaktapur and Panauti.

Start the day with a visit to Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bhaktapur is a brilliant illustration of Newari architectural skills, a city of pagoda roofs and harmonious blend of wood, mudbrick and copper. Cultural life is proudly on display and this is a perfect place to ‘get lost’ along narrow winding alleyways whilst witnessing arts, be it weaving cloth, carving timber or the well-preserved pottery. From the magnificent pagoda style architecture to shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five windowed palace of brick and wood, the Durbar square has it all; the charm of the architectural ancient arts.

Panauti is a small, traditional agricultural town surrounded by sacred rivers and is birthplace of several legendary figures and to a traditional Newari confection (Yomari) produced only during harvest festival each year. Panauti is also famous for its many temples dedicated to various deities. 

Panauti Community Homestay was established by local women, the program is a paradigm of successful female empowerment/entrepreneurship in Nepal. You are also supporting and motivating local female entrepreneurs just by appreciating their local culture and tradition whilst gaining insight into local lives and enjoying warm hospitality.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Panauti Community Homestay

Flight to Dhangadi and Drive to Bhada.

Return to Kathmandu airport for the short flight to Dhangadi – with great close-up views of the Himalayas and the fertile southern landscape.

On arrival you are driven to Bhada Community Homestay for an experience of agricultural village life in the Western Terai.
The homestay accommodation at Bhada is simple, but clean and comfortable and will meet travellers’ essential needs (fan, mosquito nets, fresh linen). The traditional houses are large and spacious, reflecting the fact that these homes are built to accommodate extended families and you will eat with the family.
The Bhada Community Homestay is run in collaboration with the local women of the community. Running the homestays gives them valuable skills and self-confidence, as well as an independent source of income. It also gives guests an opportunity to interact with ordinary Nepali women, which can be hard in other parts of the country as businesses, accommodation, and tour activities are generally dominated by men.

Notes:
  • Flight Duration: 90 minutes
  • Drive from Dhangadi to Bhada: 2 to 3 hours approx.
  • Accommodation: Bhada Community Homestay

Bhada to Bardia transfer. Welcome program.

Parting from your hosts at Bhada drive to Bardiya Community Homestay. Here, you are welcomed with a traditional Tharu dance performance by the locals. 

You have a wide range of activities to keep you interested, entertained, as you learn new things. The homestay accommodation at Bardiya is basic, but meets travellers’ essential needs. The houses you stay in are made the traditional way out of mud and wood, so you will really feel like you’re having a rural adventure. As with all Community Homestays across Nepal, you will have your own private room, separate from your hosts, who stay nearby.

Notes:
  • Drive Duration: 3 hours approx
  • Accommodation: Bardia Community Homestay

Activities at Bardiya Homestay – Bird Watching in community forest, Jeep safari, Tharu cultural dance.

Keep your eyes and ears open for some of the 250+ species of local and migratory birds that can be found in the Bardiya National Park, on a walking tour that will be equally enjoyed by keen bird-watchers and those who know nothing of the avian world.You’ll have  a good chance of seeing (and hearing) egrets, black ibis, francolins, lesser whistling ducks, hornbills, kingfishers, warblers, and possibly even the  endangered Bengal florican and sarus crane.

A jungle safari is one of the major highlights at Bardiya National Park. Lesser known to foreign travellers than Chitwan, Bardiya National Park is probably the best place to see Bengal Tigers as well as more than 30 other species.
Be entertained by the traditional song and dance of Tharu villagers in their cultural dress and end the evening on a high by joining in the dancing yourself. Young Tharu men and women will perform traditional folk music and dances in their ethnic dress. The stories told through music and dance revolve around rural and cultural life, such as the animals, the harvest, and religious festivals and through your interest these folk traditions are supported and kept alive for future generations.

Nature Jungle Walk and overnight in Machhan (Tree House)

Walking is the best way to get a close-up view of the environment – so take a guided walk through the Shiva Community Forest for an unobstructed view of the flora and fauna, learning about the animals that live here from an expert local guide who knows the best paths to follow at any time.

This part of the forest, in the buffer zone adjacent to the Bardiya National Park, has been maintained and conserved by local villagers from Dalla. Thanks to their conservation efforts, it is possible to see tigers, rhinos, elephants, and various kinds of deer here. Photography enthusiasts will especially enjoy this walking tour, as there will be many opportunities to wait quietly for perfect shots of animals and birds.
To really immerse yourself in nature and feel the wild all around you, spend a night in a ‘machhan’ in the community forest. A machhan is a watchtower, located high above the forest floor on stilts or built like a treehouse. From the balconies you can sit, watch and listen to animals and birds meander by. You will carry everything you need for the night (packed food and bedding, including a mosquito net) a short way through the forest to the machhan. Then set up camp high in the treetops and relax, immersed in nature. Your expert guide from the local community will tell you all about the animals and birds that live in this forest, and help you identify them by sight and sound.

Bardia to Lumbini transfer.

This morning drive to Lumbini, situated in the Terai area of southern Nepal and birthplace of the Buddha and UNESCO World Heritage site. This area of extreme importance to Buddhism contains magnificent monuments, monasteries and fascinating archaeological ruins.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Lumbini
  • Drive Duration: 6 hours
  • Distance: 267 KM approx

Lumbini Sightseeing and transfer to Tansen Palpa.

The Lumbini Garden contains many Buddhist shrines built by many nations (predominantly Buddhist) from around the world reflecting their respective architectural traditions. It is being developed as a place of pilgrimage and symbol of world peace. The major attractions here are Ashoka Pillar, Maya Devi Temple, Puskarni Pond, Kushinagar World Peace Pagoda, the eternal lamp and many different monasteries dedicated to Lord Buddha.

Leaving the Terai and the peaceful atmosphere of Lumbini drive (approx. 3 hours) to Tansen Palpa. Tansen is a picturesque ancient town that offers a tranquil atmosphere and a laid-back cultural lifestyle with cobbled streets in the old bazaar and Srinagar Hill. Although Palpa is dominated by traditional Newari architecture, the district is home to the Magar people. Palpa is one of the twelve Magar regions of West Nepal and enjoys a rich, diverse culture and religion.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Palpa

Hike to Shrinagar Hill and Drive to Pokhara

This morning explore the cobbled bazaar and admire the beautiful old Newari houses. Hike up Srinagar Hill (30mins) to the view tower for a beautiful picturesque view of Palpa and its surroundings. On a clear day, you can see the peaks of Kanjiroba far to the west, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre/ Fishtail, the Annapurnas, Manaslu and Gauri Shankar. 

Head to lakeside Pokhara (117kms), best known for its beautiful lakes with their Himalayan backdrop.

Notes:
  • Drive duration: 4 hours
  • Accommodation: Pokhara

Free day in Pokhara

You do not have any scheduled activity for the day. 

There are almost endless choices for things to see and do in Pokhara. You might like to go boating or take the opportunity to try out paragliding or bungee jumping. Take a tour to the Tibetan settlements or visit Davis Falls, Gupteshwor Cave, Bindabasini Temple and Seti River gorge

Drive Pokhara to Bandipur. Excursion to Bandipur town.

Leave beautiful Pokhara city and, crossing the deep Seti River gorge and the Madi River head along winding roads through small villages and farms to Bandipur. Bandipur is a beautifully preserved town on a hilltop with traditional Newari houses. Bandipur today invites travellers to experience its unique offerings: rich hill culture, mountain views, and hiking. Unlike most trading posts in the Nepal hills, Bandipur has retained its age-old cultural attributes – temples, shrines, sacred caves, innumerable festivals, and a Newari architecture. 

Notes:
  • Driving Distance: 78 km Approx
  • Duration: 2.5 hrs Approx
  • Accommodation: Bandipur

Bandipur to Kathmandu. Farewell dinner in the evening.

Driving from Bandipur back to the chaos and bustle of Kathmandu takes about 5 hours. The rest of the day is free for you to shop, explore, relax … Later in the evening, you can enjoy dinner with the group.

Notes:
  • Drive duration: 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Kathmandu

International Airport departure transfer

Check-in is 2.5 hours prior to departure, and it is best not to skimp on time as queues can be long and slow. Your booked airport transfer will be at your hotel ready to take you to the airport in time, allowing approximately 30mins driving time depending on time of day. At the airport security will check your flight ticket – either hard copy or on your mobile – along with your passport before you are allowed to enter the departure hall.

Services Included
  • Transport by air-conditioned vehicles throughout the trip.
  • Accommodation in Kathmandu , Pharping, Lumbini and Pokhara including breakfast.
  • Accommodation in Panauti Community Homestay with all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
  • Accommodation in Bhada Community Homestay with all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
  • Accommodation in Bardia Community Homestay with all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
  • Accommodation in Palpa Community Homestay with all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
  • Experienced professional English-speaking local guides for sightseeing.
  • Sightseeing entry fees as per the itinerary
  • National Park fees
Services Excluded
  • Travel and medical insurance including evacuation and cancellation.
  • Expenses of personal nature including bar bills, laundry, telephone calls
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Any item not specified as included
  • Expenses arising from unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of RMT
Impact Footprint
  • Female empowerment: Community homestays run by women in Bhada, Bardia and Palpa
  • Conservation and preservation of cultural and natural resources through entry fees
  • The local economy: Every penny you spend on destinations booked with us directly contributes to local economies
  • Unless you have specific hotel preferences, we encourage our clients book hotels which are locally owned and operated

Bikal our Community Homestay manager was amazing.It was good to meet in person with those involved in the planning of our trip

Summer Winter