This tour takes in the highlights of Nepal, taking you to many of the less known places where you can to see the real Nepal: its rich and diverse culture against a backdrop of the Himalayas. Visiting little historic towns of Nuwakot, Bandipur and Tansen, it is as if time has stood still. Accompanied all the way by spectacular views of the Himalayas, you go on a short but very worthwhile trek to Poon Hill where you will feel even closer to the Annapurnas. Continuing south to the plains, you visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Finally spending a couple of days in Chitwan, you go on a jungle safari and if you are lucky, you might even see a tiger.
Trek Grade: This tour is Grade 2 and is easy and safe for all age groups.
Inspired? For similar kinds of trips offered by Royal Mountain Travel, have a look at:
If you are interested by this itinerary, you can find more information in CommunityHomestay.com and Inside Himalayas about places you visit and homestays: 10 Tips for Staying in Homestays; 10 Good Reasons to Visit Tansen
|Day 1||Arrive in Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Kathmandu sightseeing|
|Day 3||Bhaktapur and Panauti|
|Day 4||Namabuddha - Neydo Monastery|
|Day 5||Nuwakot (3-4 hrs drive)|
|Day 6||Bandipur (3-4 hrs drive)|
|Day 7||Bandipur – hike to Ramkot|
|Day 10||Drive to Nayapul; trek to Ulleri (1952m, 4-5 hrs)|
|Day 11||Trek to Ghorepani (2850m, 5-6 hrs)|
|Day 12||Poon Hill, trek to Nayapul (6-7 hrs)|
|Day 13||Drive to Tansen and short hike up Srinagar Hill|
|Day 14||Drive to Lumbini|
|Day 16||Chitwan (5 hrs)|
|Day 18||Kathmandu (5-6 hrs)|
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail condRead More...
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail conditions. The guide in charge of your trip may have to alter the schedule if necessary and any such changes are at the discretion of Royal Mountain Travel and your guide.
The trekking day
Your day starts with a wake-up call, followed by breakfast and baggage pickup. You are then driven to the start point of your trek. While trekking, your day starts with breakfast at the tea house where you are staying. You need to pack up your baggage before breakfast as porters usually set off early.
Normally you are on the trail by 8 am and stop for a leisurely lunch around noon, with the chance to stop along the way for short breaks. Lunchtime usually lasts a couple of hours to give you time to relax or to explore the village where you have stopped. The afternoon walk is shorter and you can expect to arrive around 4 pm to allow time for short excursions to nearby sites, monasteries, exploration of the village or for relaxing with a book or catching up on your diary. Dinner is generally at 7 pm.
Everyone walks at different speeds and you should always go at the pace that is comfortable for you. The grade of the trek is only an approximate indication of what to expect, based on the altitude and the hours of walking per day. In general, the condition of trails is good as these are the main routes between villages.
What you carry
Each porter carries 15kg so you should pack 7.5 kgs of baggage, sharing one porter between two persons. These things will not be available to you during the day as the porters usually leave early and do not walk with you. Your daypack should contain all that you need during the day. This should consist of warm clothes for when you stop, a water bottle, camera, sunscreen, lip salve and maybe waterproofs depending on when you’re trekking. Your guide will let you know each evening about any extra items you might need for the following day. You should take a comfortable daypack to carry just a few kilograms of things you need along the way.
Food and drink
No meals are included in your trek. These are available in tea houses, lodges and bhattis that may sometimes have quite limited menus. There are a lot of tea houses and lodges along the way while you are trekking. Meals are generally simple but filling, but you may wish to stock up on ‘trail munchies’ before leaving Kathmandu or Pokhara. Although mineral water in plastic bottles can be found along the way in many places, you should try to avoid using this. Plastic bottles are a serious problem on the trekking routes as there is no way to dispose of them. Instead, you should use water purification tablets, a water filter or ask for boiled water at the lodges. It is a good idea to bring a heat resistant, a water bottle which can double up as a hot water bottle when you go to bed at night too!
It is not recommended to drink alcohol at altitudes above 3,000m or so, where altitude sickness can start to have an effect.
Accommodation is in lodges and teahouses and is of a basic standard. Rooms may be twin or multi-share, with basic shared toilet facilities. Hot showers are available in some places for a small charge. It is a good idea to pack wet-wipes to freshen up, especially useful when you reach high altitudes where the water can be very cold. It is not recommended to wash your hair when you are at higher altitudes and where the outside air is cold, as you run the risk of getting a chill when your wet hair takes a long time to dry.
Lodges usually have a common room where later in the day, when people start to arrive from their day’s trek there might be a stove that is lit to keep warm. Bedrooms, however, are not heated. The lodges provide clean bedding, but you may want to pack a sheet sleeping bag for peace of mind.
The main means of transport is by foot, or in some cases by horse, with mules or donkeys sometimes carrying baggage. On most trekking routes, your baggage will be carried by the porters. You should ensure that anything you might need during the day is in your day pack as you will not see the baggage that is being carried again until the end of each day.
You will be provided with government licensed, experienced trek guided assisted by the porters who transport your baggage with one porter for every two trekkers. The guide is in overall charge of the trek and looks after you. This is the person you should go to with any problems, concerns or questions. Our guides are highly trained in all aspects of trekking, conservation, high altitude medicine, first-aid and emergency procedures. They are professionals selected for their knowledge and passion for Nepal and its peoples. However, you should remember that they are local guides and their English may sometimes be quite basic and limited to trek related topics. Usually, porters will have a more basic understanding of English. Please try to speak slowly and clearly to make communication easier.
Trek grading and preparation
It is impossible to have a ‘foolproof’ grading system as everyone has different expectations and perceptions of their own fitness level. Remember that no trek in the Himalaya is a stroll as all involve going up and down, often at altitude. Altitude affects everyone differently, and even if it has not affected you much before, each time can be quite different in how it affects you.
Regardless of age or fitness, preparation, before you arrive, is a good idea. Aerobic activity, swimming, cycling or brisk walking is recommended or, at the very least, walking up and down stairs in your trekking boots to be sure that they fit well and are comfortable. Try to use hiking boots that you have already broken in to avoid blisters. Remember that the trek should be fun and you should go at your own pace.
It is best to bring cash in major currencies such as the US, Canadian or Australian dollars, Euros, or Pounds. Ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations. Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide, we suggest about USD 8 – 10 per meal in Kathmandu and Pokhara and USD 30 – 35 per day whilst trekking. If you drink or smoke you need to allow a bit more.
You should exchange enough money into Nepalese Rupees to last the entire time of your trek before leaving Kathmandu. You can find the money exchange counters near your hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara but there are no exchange facilities in villages along the way.
Communication: mobile phones and internet
Please note, as you will be often trekking through valleys and will not always be close to mobile towers, mobile phone reception can be very patchy. NCELL, the local mobile company has quite good coverage, but sometimes the signal can be very weak. Usually, lodges have powerpoint’s to recharge your mobile, although this sometimes can be at an extra charge.
Tipping is a personal and voluntary matter and is not included in the trip price. If you wish to reward the efforts of those who have worked to make your trek the best they can, we suggest the following: USD 4 per day for groups of 8+, USD 5 per day for smaller groups which will be shared amongst the whole staff, including porters.
Travel insurance is not included in the trip price. It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation (including helicopter evacuation) and personal liability. We also recommend that it covers cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Be careful to check the small print of your insurance regarding altitude as some policies only provide cover up to 2000m.
There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal. Your health condition must be sound as you will be climbing to above 4000m. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Nepal. Be aware that some drugs, including anti-malarial, have side effects at altitude. Please discuss this carefully with your doctor.
Please be aware that you will be in remote areas and away from medical facilities for some time during this trip. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. The way to reduce the effects of altitude is to ascend slowly, 300 meters per day above 3,000 meters until you have acclimatized. Poor acclimatization can result in headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing and swelling of fingers and glands. The only cure for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude and your guide’s decision on this matter is final. There is a possibility of AMS in any trek that passes through altitudes above 4000 meters.
Although our routes are carefully planned to allow proper acclimatization you may feel some effects of altitude for the first few days or at higher altitudes. Breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease as your body adjusts. Maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.
Variation of climate is directly proportional to the altitude. For this trekking, trekking routes are often passing through a range of altitudes from 850m upwards. Between about 2700m and 3000m a cool temperate climate prevails, and you should expect a cool summer and very cold temperatures in the winter. Above 3000m, even if the daytime is sunny and quite warm, the temperature will drop sharply as soon as the sun goes down.
The weather in the mountains is notoriously changeable, so always be prepared for a change in conditions and note that if severe or dangerous weather conditions occur your guide’s decision on any course of action is final.
Trekking permits are required for almost all treks and will be obtained by Royal Mountain Travel. The Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) is essential for the record of Nepal Tourism Board keeping in mind about probable hazards to occur. You need to provide your full name, nationality, home address, passport number, sex, date of birth and 2 photographs for each permit. Royal Mountain Travel also pays any fees required for entry to national parks, conservation areas or restricted areas.
Packing for your trek
You will need to bring a comfortable medium sized daypack to carry the things you will need during the day. This should have a waist strap or (better) a padded waist belt.
You should limit your baggage to about 7kg. You will find the following items useful.
Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.
Arrive in Kathmandu
Your first impression of arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport is an experience in itself. But don’t be worried by the apparent confusion as your airport representative will be waiting to welcome you with your name written on a placard. Depending on traffic, you will be at your hotel within 20 minutes or so.
The day is spent visiting some of the major World Heritage Sites of Kathmandu. More…
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.
Bhaktapur and Panauti
Starting the day with a visit to Bhaktapur, (another World Heritage site), you then are taken to the charming old town of Panauti where you will be made very welcome by your homestay host.
One of the most fascinating and important World Heritage Sites in Nepal, Bhaktapur is made up of three large squares filled with historic shrines and temples, Newar architecture and fine art. Famous for its clay pots and exquisite wood carvings, Bhaktapur is also legendary for its colourful festivals and its delicious and unique cuisine. Bhaktapur 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.
After a sightseeing tour of Bhaktapur city, you are taken to Panauti, just an hour or less away. You are introduced to your homestay host who takes you to visit the old town centre. 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. Rich in Newari culture, many of the town’s festivals are similar to those of Kathmandu while some are unique with a completely local character. (Panauti Homestay)
Namabuddha - Neydo Monastery
After breakfast, you leave Panauti to visit Namobuddha, just up the hill from the town. This small village is where you can find the very old Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery. It is a very important Buddhist pilgrimage site and one of the holiest in the world as it is known as the place where the Buddha, in a previous life as a prince, gave his body to a starving tigress and her cubs. The monastery is home to more than 250 monks and includes a monastic college, a school for young monks and a Tibetan Medical clinic.
You are then taken to Pharping and to Neydo Monastery where you can observe the monastic life of the monks here, and if you like, join with them in their prayers and ceremonies. A Tibetan monastery, there are up to 140 monks living in the monastery from Nepal and India. The present Karma Charmé is the seventh reincarnate lama in the unique Neydo Kagyu tradition, which also follows the Nyingma lineage Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery has Nepal’s biggest statue of the Amitabha Buddha flanked by statues of Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Compassion) and Vajrapani (protector and holder of the Buddha’s sacred teachings).
You stay in the monastery’s adjoining guest house. Originally built to accommodate monastic visitors, it was under-used and it was decided to open it so that guests could stay. Now profits from the guest house contribute to the day-to-day expenses of the monastery. The rooms are all very comfortable with ensuite bathrooms, a kettle to make tea and coffee, and a private balcony. There are other wider balconies where you can also relax, admiring some of the stunning views of the Valley. Excellent meals are provided in the dining room.
Nuwakot (3-4 hrs drive)
You are driven back to Kathmandu and then on to Nuwakot, just 75 km west of Kathmandu. It was once the capital of the Kathmandu Valley before Nepal was unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah. For over 1,000 years it was a lookout and fortress that guarded the western entrance to the Valley. Nuwakot was an important trading post for the Malla kings and formed major trade route between India and Tibet.
Built in the Malla style, the historic complex includes the main palace, the Bhairab Temple and other temples and shrines. In 2008 the site was submitted for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 2015 earthquake damaged some of the temples and buildings. The owners of the Famous Farm, (who also played a major role in rescuing Bandipur from dereliction), are leading the restoration effort.
Bandipur (3-4 hrs drive)
Driving down to the Trisuli, the road is scenic to Bandipur. A living museum of Newari culture, it is a beautifully preserved village that sits on a ridge above the highway town of Dumre. The centre of the village is lined with traditional Newari houses. Despite being close to the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake, Bandipur escaped with minor damage.
Originally part of the Magar kingdom of Tanahun ruled from Tansen, Newari traders settled here after the conquest of the valley by Prithvi Narayan Shah. Formerly on the important trading route between India and Tibet, after the Prithvi Highway was built during the 1970s linking Kathmandu with Pokhara, it lost its economic importance. With its glorious 18th-century architecture, an absence of vehicles and cafe tables on the bazaar, it is a lovely place to relax and admire the uninterrupted panoramic views across to the Annapurnas. Bandipur is still a bustling community, with farmers and traders going about their business alongside the tourists.
Though Bandipur is very small, there’s a lot to see. Visit the Silkworm Farm to see the fascinating process of how silk is produced. The farm grows mulberry plants which are fed by the silkworms that are reared indoors. Tundikhel is where you can admire the panorama of Himalayan peaks that include Dhaulagiri (8167m), Machhapuchhare (6997m), Langtang (7246m), Manaslu (8162m) and Ganesh Himal (7406m). In the past, this was where traders gathered to bargain over goods from India and Tibet before starting the long trek to Lhasa or India. It was also a former parade ground for Gurkhas serving with the British Army. Bindebasini Temple, at the northeast end of the bazaar, is an ornate, two-tiered temple dedicated to Durga with walls covered carvings. Khadga Devi temple is one of the most revered temples in Bandipur and contains a Khadga, a sacred sword wrapped in layers of cloth. Legend has it that it was a present from Lord Shiva to Mukunda Sen, king of Palpa (1518-1553 A.D.) Pagoda style Mahalaxmi Temple to the southeast of the main bazaar dates from the medieval period, with Chandithan Temple to the west of the bazaar, and Narayan Temple is to the east of the main bazaar area. A short walk from the bazaar is Paharpani Mahadev, a cave-like shrine where you can find a waterspout, and several small statues of various gods. Also not far west from the bazaar is Purano Kot (Gurungche Hill) that was originally a fort. There is a small temple close to it containing some old statues.
Bandipur – hike to Ramkot
Today you hike to the Magar village of Ramkot, about three hours’ walk from Bandipur. Here you see wooden balconied houses and a few, now rare thatched roundhouses. You relax with a picnic and you walk an hour where you are picked up and driven back to Bandipur (for those who want to, they can walk back).
After breakfast you are driven to Pokhara, arriving before lunchtime. There are lots of things to see and do in Pokhara. You are taken on a tour of the city in the afternoon.
You are taken to visit the World Peace Stupa that sits up above Phewa Lake. Continuing back down on foot to the lake, you take a boat across to Lakeside.
You have time to explore Lakeside or maybe to visit some of the museums like the International Mountain Museum (IMM), the Annapurna Natural History Museum or Gurkha Museum featuring the history of the Gurkha. Or if you are interested in Tibetan culture, you can take a tour of the Tibetan settlements with a Tibetan guide.
Drive to Nayapul; trek to Ulleri (1952m, 4-5 hrs)
Starting with the scenic drive from Pokhara to the Nayapul where the trek starts, you cross over Modi Khola to Birethanti and hike up a stone staircase towards Ulleri (1952m), a large Magar village. From here you can see the Annapurnas and Himchuli.
Trek to Ghorepani (2850m, 5-6 hrs)
From Ulleri the trail climbs to Bantnati (2300m), where you have an amazing view of the Fish Tail Mountain (6996m). The trail goes up through the rhododendron and magnolia forest to Ghorepani (2850m).
Poon Hill, trek to Nayapul (6-7 hrs)
An early start and you hike an hour to the top of Poon Hill (3210m) where you can watch the sun as it rises over the Himalayas. You see Dhaulagiri I, Nilgiri Fan Peak, Annapurna South, Himchuli, Gangapurna, and Machhapurchhre (Fish Tail Mountain). After breakfast, you trek back down to Nayapul where you are driven back to Pokhara.
Drive to Tansen and short hike up Srinagar Hill
Driving along the dramatic Siddhartha Highway, you pass landslide-scarred valleys as you climb and descend to the deep, steamy gorge floor of the mighty Kali Gandaki River.
This “off-the-beaten-track” ancient hill town of Tansen is a fascinating place to look around. Explore its cobbled bazaar and admire its beautiful old Newari houses. In a historic area, Palpa was the seat of the Sen kingdom that ruled over this region from the 16th century for almost 300 years. In the evening you hike up the Srinagar Hill to the view tower for a beautiful panoramic view of Palpa and its surroundings. On a clear day you can see the peaks of Kanjiroba far to the west, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhare/Fishtail and the Annapurnas, Manaslu and Gauri Shankar. It an easy hike of about a kilometre up from the bazaar.
Drive to Lumbini
You are driven to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
With the whole day to explore the Lumbini. Believed to be the place where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Buddha, Siddhartha Gautam, it remained forgotten until it was rediscovered by Nepali archaeologists in 1896. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site due to its importance, the Lumbini site is almost 5 kilometres long and is designated as a monastic zone where only monasteries can be built.
One of the most important temples, the Maya Devi temple is a white building that protects the exact spot of Buddha’s birth that is denoted by a marker stone. The ancient Bodhi tree is supposedly the actual tree where Maya Devi rested in the shade while she was travelling and where she went into labour, taking a ritual dip in the nearby pond, which is also believed to be the place where Buddha took his first bath. Nearby is the Ashokan Pillar, believed to have been built in 249 BC when Emperor Ashoka of India visited the village of Lumbini. He built four stupas and a pillar with a horse idol at the top and an inscription that describes his visit and the importance of Lumbini as the birthplace of Lord Buddha. In the complex there are also many other temples that have been built more recently like the Myanmar Golden Temple, the Japanese World Peace Pagoda, the Tibetan Dharma Swami Vihar, the China temple, the Korean temple, and others built by Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, Germany, Sri Lanka as well as other countries.
Chitwan (5 hrs)
After an early start, you are driven to Chitwan in time for lunch. In the afternoon there are several choices of activities such as going on a jeep safari, a jungle walk, canoeing and riding an elephant.
There is a full day of jungle activities.
Kathmandu (5-6 hrs)
Returning to Kathmandu by road, you should arrive back by late afternoon (flight time 20 minutes). You are free to relax.
Transfer to Tribhuvan Airport to connect with your onward flight. Please note that you should check in three hours prior to your flight time.