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Kathmandu is a diverse, historic city with amazing architecture, exquisite wood carvings and metal craft which showcase the skills of the Newar artisans of centuries ago – the UNESCO listed town of Bhaktapur is a prime example. Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed in Kathmandu Valley from time immemorial and residents make little distinction as they worship in both Hindu and Buddhist shrines.
Appreciate the natural beauty of Nepal as you spend a night at in a homestay at Nagarkot, on the Valley rim then hike through farmland and villages to Panauti. Spend two nights with a local family in this traditional Newar town, exploring the historic centre and/or taking a hike to the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Namo Buddha.
International airport arrival. Transfer to Hotel.
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 various 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 up to 30 minutes or more.
Kathmandu to Nagarkot transfer with visit to Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
First stop today is Bhaktapur, an interesting and historical Newari town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bhaktapur is a lavish illustration of Newari architectural skills, a city of pagoda roofs and harmonious blend of wood, mudbrick and copper.
Malla (wrestler/wrestling) became the hereditary title of Malla Dynasty heirs and Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is wide and open to facilitate wrestling matches. Throughout the city beefy carved wrestlers remain the city’s trademark and are worshipped as the guardians of holy temples.
Climbing out of the Valley, the road to Nagarkot winds past terraced farms and areas of lush green forest.
The Nagarkot Community Homestay Network includes 13 homestays, all run by members of the extended Bastola family. Homestays provide a personal, enjoyable and authentic alternative to the modern hotels of Nagarkot. You will have a private bedroom and western-style bathroom, whilst being within the home and part of the family.
A major highlight of Nagarkot is the view of the mountains and you can enjoy these directly from your homestay’s rooftop terrace.
Seasonal activities at Nagarkot Community Homestay.
Admiring the sunrise is a primary attraction of Nagarkot so, after an early morning wake up call, some tea and a light snack for breakfast, walk a short way up to the viewpoint where you can admire the sunrise over the Himalayas. Here too is a fascinating little temple where you will see local people coming to worship.
You will have the opportunity to take a yoga class that is run by one of the brothers of the families from the Community Homestay. The session will be held where you can also enjoy the view of the hills around you.
Returning to your homestay for brunch, you then set out to explore the nearby forest and waterfalls with your guide.
Nagarkot to Sanga transfer. Hike to Panauti
The drive from Nagarkot to Sanga Bhanjyang (19km) passes terraced hills of rice farms. At Sanga you are greeted by a 143ft tall statue of Lord Shiva, currently the tallest in the world.
After a steep ascent for about half an hour the route mostly flattens out, and takes you along ridgelines with steep drops below and views of rice fields and farmland, the town of Banepa and – on clear days – unobstructed views of the Himalayas. The paths are those used by the villagers and not overrun with tourists – you will still arouse curiosity in the locals we meet.
The hike ends at Panauti, a beautiful Newari town surrounded by rice fields, and famed for being one of the best-preserved Newari settlements in the whole of Nepal.
The Panauti Community Homestay is the flagship of the Community Homestay program, a successful model of women-run homestays that has been followed by other communities around Nepal. The women who run the homestays in Panauti are a close-knit community, proud of their accomplishments, and the important business skills they have learned. 17 homes in Panauti are part of the Community Homestay, and while each home is different, they all provide a high standard of homely accommodation.
Free Day in Panauti.
You have a leisure day in Panauti with a variety of options.
Don’t miss the chance to tour the temples and other Newari architectural features of the town. The complex of temples at Triveni Ghat, beside the confluence of the Roshi and Punyamati Rivers, includes some of the most ancient in Nepal and which have the unusual honour of never having been destroyed in an earthquake.
For the more active, hire a local guide for a hike to Namo Buddha (an important pilgrimage site, especially for Tibetan Buddhists) or explore surrounding villages by bicycle.
Drive back to Kathmandu. Rest day at leisure
From Panauti it is a very short drive back to join the Arniko Highway for the 35kms down into the Kathmandu Valley and into the city.
The rest of the day is free for you to pursue your own interests – you can book a guided tour to further explore the heritage sites inside Kathmandu Valley, join a Dal bhat or Momo cooking course at a local’s house, or grab your map and explore the city on your own. Your options are limitless.
International airport departure transfer
Check-in is 2.5 hours prior to departure, and it is best not to skim 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.
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