This eighteen-day trip is the perfect way to get a taste for all the variety that Nepal has to offer. Starting by visiting some of the old UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu and the Valley, you sample the life of Tibetan monks with an overnight stay at Neydo Monastery in Pharping.
A night at Nuwakot at Famous Farm (an authentic Newari manor house, lovingly restored) and visit to the nearby Seven Storey Palace of King Prithvi Narayan Shah will be one of the highlights of your trip with, if weather permits, panoramic view of Ganesh Himal.
Gain an insight into the lives of the Magar and Tamang communities at Ramkot and spend a few days trekking in the foothills of the Annapurna’s. Relax (or indulge in adventure sports) at lakeside Pokhara and discover the spiritual heart of Buddhism at Lumbini, birthplace of the Buddha.
Then top it all off with an encounter with the incredible wildlife of Chitwan National Park – Rhino, elephant, deer – perhaps even a tiger – as well as a huge variety of flora and birdlife.
International airport arrival transfer in Kathmandu.
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.
Sightseeing: UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The day is spent visiting some of the major World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva the God of Destruction, also known as Pashupatinath (Lord of Animals), Pashupatinath (built CE400) is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva and is also one of the few active cultural heritage sites in the world. Unlike other cultural sites or museums, Pashupatinath is a centre of energy, alive with worshippers at all times of the day, every day.
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the holiest sites in Nepal, venerated by Buddhist and Hindu alike.
Built in the shape of a mandala designed to replicate the Gyantse Kumbum of Tibet, the stupa was renovated by Licchhavi rulers in the 8th century. The location of the stupa is interesting as it once lay on the ancient trade route to Tibet, and it was here that Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers for many centuries. It is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world.
Hill top Swayambhunath Stupa is reached by climbing a few steps, rewarded by panoramic views of Kathmandu city. This Buddhist pilgrimage center is one of the most popular, holy and instantly recognizable symbols of Nepal. The temple is colloquially known as the ‘monkey temple’ because of the large tribe of monkeys who guard the temple.
You will have plenty of time in the afternoon to prepare for your trip – visit Thamel and shop or relax in one of the many cafes and bakeries serving excellent local tea and coffee.
Kathmandu to Pharping transfer with visit to Patan Durbar Square.
Patan Durbar Square is surrounded by a fascinating array of temples built in various architectural styles and displays 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.
Transfer from Pharping to Nuwakot.
From Pharping to Nuwakot we drive through lush green forest alongside the Trishuli River. After Galchi the road is unpaved as far as Nuwakot.
Nuwakot (meaning nine forts) holds great significance in the history of the Kathmandu Valley. Set near the confluence of the Trisuli and Tandi Rivers, for centuries it served as the hilltop fort to the west of the Valley. Nuwakot was also an important post on the old trading route between India and Tibet. The seven-story Nuwakot Durbar complex towers over the little town. The vast complex includes the main 18th century palace built in the local architectural style, the Hindu Bhairav Temple and numerous other shrines and temples.
Transfer from Nuwakot to Bandipur.
From Nuwakot you head into the hills on the southern side of the Trishuli River Valley. Follow the river through Kurintar and Mugling to Deurali where we leave the river toward Dumre and Bandipur.
Bandipur is a small, peaceful and ancient town with an enviable ‘eagle’s nest’ location, perched high in the hills with commanding views of Manaslu and the Annapurnas. It was transformed from a small trading port to a bustling commercial center in the 1800’s but has been bypassed by modern highways so retaining its traditional feel – temples, shrines, sacred caves, innumerable festivals, and a Newari architecture that harks back to the Kathmandu Valley of old.
Hike to neighboring Ramkot Village with a local guide and packed lunch.
Village trails take you to small villages where you can see typical village life, traditional homes and interesting temples. Purano Kot, formerly an old fort, lies just a twenty minute walk west from the bazaar. A small temple nearby contains old statues. Beside this, a Newari temple has been built, where local people come to pray for rain to the god Mahadav during times of drought. A further two hours hike away is Ramkot village. Passing through Muchuk village and Mukundeswari, Ramkot is a typical Magar village with traditional round houses, little touched by modern development. Another two hours along an easy trail is Chabdi Barahi, dedicated to the Fish-Headed goddess, an important pilgrimage site for both Buddhists and Hindus.
Bandipur to Pokhara transfer.
It is a short drive from Bandipur to re-join the Prithvi Highway. Heading west across the Madi River; climbing again (with views of deep rocky gorges crossed by suspension bridges) before descending to the broad Seti Valley to Pokhara.
Pokhara’s lakeside district is one of the most pleasant and relaxing in Nepal with a stunning mountain backdrop. It is also a centre for adventure sports, offering paragliding, ultralight flights, rafting and more.
Pokhara to Nayapul; trek to Ulleri.
Pokhara to Nayapul is an easy 46km / 1.5hrs drive. Nayapul is small settlement commonly used as a start or end point for Annapurna treks.
From Nayapul start out walking along the Modi stream to Birethanti, a gorgeous village that has plenty of tea shops and guest houses. Stop for a tea break then continue to Ulleri situated on the bank of the Burungdi stream.
Trek to Ghorepani.
Wrapped up warm in the cold morning, we can view the sunrise against the mountain peaks. Against the Himalayan backdrop you will see early risers perform their morning yoga rituals
The trek to Ghorepani is roughly the same distance as yesterday, but much steeper with only a few flattish sections. Ghorepani is one of the larger villages on the trekking circuit and an interesting place with small shops and stalls selling local products and crafts. There are majestic views of Annapurna South (7,219m) and Hiunchuli (6,441m).
Poon Hill, Trek to Tadapani.
Start early this morning to climb for about an hour up Poon Hill to witness the majestic scenery and sunrise over the high mountains. Myriad snow-capped giants can be seen from here including Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Annapurna South (7,119m), Fishtail (6,993m), Nilgiri South, Singachuli, and Annapurna (8,091m).
Admiring the stunning mountain views and dramatic landscapes along the way, set off to Tadapani, descending through rhododendron forest and passing spectacular waterfalls along the way.
Trek to Ghandruk. Jeep Drive to Pokhara.
Ghandruk is also known as the ‘Switzerland of Nepal’. This is an easier journey than previous days so relax as you make your way downhill along these gentle slopes. First head to Bhise-Kharka and then continue along forested trails to Ghandruk. This terraced mountain village is populated by the Gurung people. Explore the maze of village stairs that connect cafés, shops, and teahouses whilst admiring the peaks of Annapurna South, Himchhuli, and Fishtail in the distance. Then your driver will be waiting to take you back to Pokhara.
Pokhara – Free day.
A free day to explore Pokhara and surrounds and perhaps to indulge in paragliding or an ultralight flight. It is a beautiful lakeside city and you may just relax after your trek or take a boat out to the island shrine in the lake.
Pokhara to Lumbini transfer.
Driving from Pokhara to Lumbini via Palpa there is still plenty of opportunity to admire magnificent mountain views as well as the small towns and villages along the way. Lumbini is the place where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha of this era, was born in 623 BCE. This sacred place is marked by a stone pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka of India in 249 BCE and is listed as a World Heritage Site. It is a place of pilgrimage and a symbol of world peace. Many countries have built shrines and monasteries here reflecting the architectural traditions of their respective cultures.
Lumbini to Chitwan (Barauli) Welcome program in Barauli.
From Lumbini to Barauli is an easy drive through the low Terai terrain. Barauli is a small Tharu village close to Chitwan National Park. Famous for its wildlife, the area is less known for its rich cultural value. Tharu people have never been heavily involved in tourism, being primarily farmers. However, at Barauli, you are welcomed by the homestay host, and you can have a relaxing time and enjoy the food and culture of the local Tharu community.
Accommodation is in twelve cottages especially built. They are simply, but attractively furnished and offer you everything you need for a comfortable stay – each has a modern attached bathroom and comfortable beds. The village women live close by and ‘own’ the cottages, with their names on a board outside. They take care of their guests as if you were staying in their own homes. The purpose of Barauli Community Homestay is to provide a platform for locals to generate extra income yet protecting their culture and traditional values whilst offering guests a close-up glimpse of typical village life.
Jungle Activities: Jeep Safari, Cycling, Tharu Cultural Stick Dance.
Jeep Safari: With Barauli located on the edge of Chitwan National Park, jungle safaris are one of the many highlights of our homestay. We have our own jeeps and excellent naturalists. There is no chance that you will miss anything there is to see on your jungle safari. Cycling: We assure you that cycling via small Tharu villages and fish farms to the shore of the Narayani River is an experience you will recount often. We recommend cycling towards evening when the sunset looks like a golden ball sinking into the Narayani River. Cultural Dance: Tharu are proud of their culture, perhaps because they have one of the best cultures in Nepal. The famous Tharu stick dance; when women dance and sing, is simply amazing. The dancing takes place in front of our homestay, normally at night, to provide a bit of recreation and relaxation from the days’ activities. If guests enjoy the dance, then they are more than welcome to join in.
Chitwan (Barauli) to Kathmandu transfer.
Leaving the lowlands, climb into the Central Hills to join the Prithvi Highway at Mugling. It is then a slow journey towards east along Nepal’s busiest highway to Kathmandu.
It is however a scenic route with steep rice terraces making a dramatic back drop to the river, funeral pyres, suspension bridges and villages. 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. Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed in Kathmandu valley from time immemorial and the valley residents make little distinction as they worship in both Hindu and Buddhist shrines. Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions are zealously guarded while at the same time embracing modern technology.
Day at leisure for individual activities.
Suggestions: You can book a guided tour and explore the heritage sites of the 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. Check out our Day Tours for more options
International airport departure transfer in Kathmandu.
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.
In April 2019 i went with my partner and my parents to Nepal. Akshay (our guide) was very friendly and always there (in person or by app) to help us out!