This trip is more about the ‘alternative’ Nepal. Hiking in the Chepang Hills you meet the Chepangs, the last hunter-gathers in Nepal. The trails between their villages are very much off the beaten track and you are unlikely to see anyone other than a few local people as they go about their business. Though short, the trek is fascinating, but be prepared for very ‘rustic’ accommodation (outside bathrooms and no hot showers).
After this, you are welcome in Barauli, a village close to Chitwan National Park. This is a different kind of village homestay where you have a lot more comfort, with attached bathrooms and hot water! Here you see something of the lifestyle and day to day life of the Tharu people, which is very different from the Chepang hill people. You are taken to see the wildlife in Chitwan National Park and if you are lucky, you might even see a tiger.
Again, completely different from the life in the hills and the plains, you return to the Kathmandu Valley, where you stay with a family in the beautiful little historic town of Panauti. Here you see yet another alternative side of life in Nepal.
Trek grade: This is an easy grade 2 trek with quite short days walking and altitudes of less than 2,000m.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Kathmandu sightseeing|
|Day 3||Drive to Hugdi (360m) and trek to Hattibang (1400m, 3-4 hrs)|
|Day 4||Trek to Jyandala (4-5 hrs)|
|Day 5||Trek to Gadi (1,280m, 4-5 hrs)|
|Day 6||Trek to Shaktikhor (350m) and drive to Kathmandu or Chitwan National Park|
|Day 7||Chitwan National Park|
|Day 8||Drive to Kathmandu (6 hrs)|
|Day 9||Bhaktapur and Panauti|
Arrival in Kathmandu
Arriving at Tribhuwan International Airport is an experience in itself. Don’t let it put you off, as our airport representative will be waiting to welcome you with your name written on a placard. Depending on traffic, the drive to your hotel takes about 20-30 minutes. (Traditional Comfort Hotel or equivalent)
The day is spent visiting some of the major World Heritage Sites of Kathmandu.
You will have plenty of time in the afternoon to prepare for your trip and check that you have everything you need. You might want to visit Thamel, the tourist hub of Nepal where you can easily find all you need for trekking. Or if you just want to relax, there are many cafes and bakeries serving excellent local tea and coffee. It is best to avoid the street food, however, unless you have a very strong stomach. It is recommended that you have an early night as you will have an early start in the morning.
Drive to Hugdi (360m) and trek to Hattibang (1400m, 3-4 hrs)
Starting the day with an early breakfast, you are driven to Hugdi, about three or four hours away along the main highway to Pokhara. Along the way, you can see Ganesh and Buddha Himal. Starting your trek in the late morning, you pass scattered settlements and terraced fields. Looking down behind you, you have a bird’s eye view of the Trisuli River and valley.
Hattibang is the main village of people around here where there are Chepang, Magar and Chhetri people living. Staying overnight at a homestay, you will be able to sample home cooking using local and organic foods. (Village lodge)
Trek to Jyandala (4-5 hrs)
After breakfast continues climbing, trekking upwards through the beautiful forest until you come out onto a ridge. From here you can climb the nearby Siraichuli Hill (1945m) that offers splendid views. Here you can see for miles down into Chitwan and behind, to the Annapurnas. The village, no more than a few houses on the hillside is where you will stay the night. (Village homestay)
Trek to Gadi (1,280m, 4-5 hrs)
Gadi is an interesting place and was originally the region’s first district headquarters. On the top of the hill is a massive fort built by the Shah dynasty to defend the country from invasion from the south.
You stay in a cottage in the village. You have time to visit the historic fort and enjoy the spectacular views of the sun setting over the Annapurna and Manaslu ranges. Looking south, you have a view of the Chitwan Valley. In this village, you find a mix Chepang, Magar and Gurung ethnic groups. In the evening, you are entertained by a cultural program of singing, dancing and playing madal by local people. (Village homestay)
Trek to Shaktikhor (350m) and drive to Kathmandu or Chitwan National Park
After breakfast, you trek downhill for about 3 hours and arrive at Shaktikhor where there is a jeep waiting for you to take you to Sauraha, an hour away. This is the gateway to the famous Chitwan National Park.
You are driven to Baurali Jungle Lodge in Chitwan where you spend the next couple of nights. In the evening, take a stroll through the local village, and interact with locals to learn something about their way of life. Accommodation is provided in twelve little cottages that have been built by the villagers, simply furnished, but offers everything for a comfortable stay. The village women, who are also the owner of each cottage, live nearby the homestay so that they can take care of their guests as staying at their homes. Enjoy the local welcome ceremony by the Tharu community people and cultural dance performed by the villagers. (Barauli Community Homestay)
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park was the first national park in Nepal and was set up 1973. It was made a World Heritage Site in 1984. With an area of over 932 km2 and an altitude of between 100 m to 815 m in the Churia Hills, it is home to 68 species of mammals. You may see the “king of the jungle,” the Bengal tiger as this is reported as being one of the best tiger habitats in the world. More commonly sighted are the one-horned rhinoceros, sambar deer, red muntjac, hog deer, rhesus monkeys, Hanuman langurs and wild elephant. You will be taken on a jungle jeep safari and nature walk and visit a local village outside the national park. (Barauli Community Homestay)
Drive to Kathmandu (6 hrs)
You are driven back to Kathmandu where you have the rest of the day free. You can opt to fly for a supplement (1.5 hrs to airport, 25 min flight).
Bhaktapur and Panauti
Starting the day with a visit to Bhaktapur, this is one of the most fascinating and important World Heritage Sites in Nepal. Made up of three large squares filled with historic shrines and temples, Newar architecture and fine art, it is famous for its clay pots and exquisite wood carvings. Bhaktapur is also legendary for its colourful festivals and its delicious and unique cuisine. It retains its medieval feel and the local people are still engaged in farming and traditional crafts like pottery, metalwork, art and woodwork which have supported the city since it was established in the 12th century. This is a ‘must see’ place to explore! You will be shown the magnificent Golden Gate in Durbar Square (square of the palaces), the Palace of 55 Windows, the Nyata Pola Temple, Newar houses and pottery square. Although the town was damaged in the 2015 earthquake, there has been a lot of work to repair the old buildings.
In the afternoon you are driven to Panauti where you meet your Homestay host who will show you around. Panauti is an old traditional Newari village where you can see a large number of Hindu and Buddhist religious monuments and temples. Originally a small state given by King Bhupatindra Malla as a dowry to his sister, it is still largely unchanged over the passage of time. You visit Indreswor temple and Durbar square in the town centre. Situated at the confluence of the two rivers Rosi and Punyamati, it has been regarded as an important religious site since very early times. Panauti is surrounded by scared rivers and is birthplace to a number of legendary figures and to a traditional Newari confection produced only during a harvest festival each year. Panauti is also famous for its 40 temples and 28 festivals. The temples are dedicated to various and are deities spread around the small one-kilometre town centre. Rich in Newari culture, many of the town’s festivals are similar to those of Kathmandu while some are unique to a completely local character. (Panauti Homestay)
Returning to Kathmandu in the morning, you have the rest of the day free. You might like to try out one of the many cooking classes or workshops on offer, go for some more sightseeing or do some last minute shopping.
You transfer to Tribhuvan Airport to connect with your onward flight. Please note that you should check in three hours prior to your flight time.