AMAZING NEPAL TOUR (16 NIGHTS 17 DAYS)
Surprising Nepal is our most ample Nepal tour itinerary. Pick this trip and you'll get to experience Nepalese culture, enjoy a rafting trip through the jungle, wash elephants and watch the sunrise at 3190m. You'll visit the most interesting attractions in the Kathmandu area and then you'll continue on to the Chitwan National Park and to Pokhara, the starting point of your short trek.
You'll spend the nights in cosy guest houses, in the Tharu tower, in a jungle lodge surrounded by roaming elephants and at a charming mountain lodge overlooking the giants of the Annapurna mountain range. During this comprehensive Unexpected Nepal itinerary you'll uncover all of this magical country's best kept secrets.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
On arrival at Kathmandu Airport you'll be greeted by your driver and whisked away to your authentic Nepalese accommodation. When you've freshened up and recovered from yoru flight, take a stroll around the area to soak up the typical Nepalese atmosphere and find a good spot to eat. Definitely check out one of the many rooftop restaurants Thamel has to offer. Your hotel, located just outside the centre of Kathmandu is full of character and has a beautiful serene courtyard garden.
Day 2: Kathmandu
You'll have plenty of time today to see Kathmandu with your guide today. Your sightseeing tour will take you to Durbar Square, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath and Swayambunath. The easiest way to get around town is to take a taxi cab from place to place or to agree on a set price with your taxi driver for a tour of all the sights. Naturally we can also arrange a guided tour for you with an English-speaking guide. Durbar Square is the ideal starting point from which to explore this ancient city. You'll see quite a few inspiring temples here. Take a seat on the steps of one of the many temples and just watch the locals going about their daily activities. You can also visit the temple complexes Swayambunath and Pashupatinath (comparable to Varanasi in India, the most holy Hindu pilgrimage site in Nepal). The Bouddhanath temple, a Tibetan Buddhist monument, is one today's highlights during this Nepal tour itinerary. It's one of the largest stupas in the world. You may feel all templed-out at the end of the day but you'll definitely have a better idea of significant role religion has in Nepalese daily life.
Day 3: Kathmandu - Dhulikel
This morning you'll be collected from your hotel in Kathmandu by our driver. Weaving through heavy traffic in the city's congested streets, it will take you about 2 hours to reach the tranquil village of Panauti. From here you'll continue on foot up to the holy site of Namobuddha, which means 'Hail Buddha'. It's one of the most important pilgrimage locations in the valley, particularly for Tibetan Buddhists. The stupas name is linked to one of the 'Jataka' legends recounting the previous lives of Buddha. The many flags and pilgrims dressed in colourful robes create a very vibrant picture as they surround the white dome of the stupa.
After lunch (not included) in one of the small local restaurants, you'll head off on a hike through the countryside to Dhulikel. Passing through fields, farmland and small villages, you'll get a pretty good idea of rural life in Nepal. Dhulikel is a beautifully preserved Newari town, made up of traditional stone houses, some of which 4 - 5 stories high. Traditionally they're home to large families of up to 50 people. You'll spend the night in a small hotel with a lovely view of the surrounding mountain ranges.... this is particularly stunning at sunrise. This is the most challenging and longest day of the trek, but very rewarding.
Day 4: Dhulikel - Nagarkot
After a night in Dhulikel, this Nepal tour itinerary continues to the village of Nagarkot, the highest point in the Kathmandu Valley. It's a lovely 5-hour walk past fertile terraces with, if the weather's clear enough, a fabulous view of the mountain ranges. It's a vigorous hike that will have you stopping to catch your breath after particularly steep parts. Nagarkot, which lies to the north-east of Bhaktapur and approximately 30km to the east of Kathmandu was once an army base but is now a popular destination for hikers and cyclists. The village offers visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of the Himalayas. The view is simply idyllic at the end of the day when the sun slowly sets behind the horizon, casting a fiery glow in the evening sky. It's possible to jump on a local bus for just a few rupees to cut out a small section of the trek and your guide might suggest this if you are weary!
Day 5: Nagarkot to Bhaktapur
Today the trek continues downhill towards Bhaktapur. Along the way you'll see local farmers at work in the fields. After about a 4-hour descent, you'll reach Bhaktapur. Have a drink and rest your feet on one of the many rooftop terraces the look out across Durbar Square before setting out to explore the town. Durbar Square is Bhaktapur's central town square. You'll find museums, temples and galleries selling traditional tankas on the square. Tankas are colourful paintings depicting the life of Buddha and other religious scenes. After lunch (not included), you can head out to explore the area on your own. It almost seems as if time has stood still in Bhaktapur. The city is one large open-air museum, especially since large portions of town are pedestrian areas. Throughout the town you'll find plenty of medieval buildings with beautiful wood carvings. In the centre of the square you'll see the 30m-high Nyatapola Temple, the tallest temple in Nepal. We've deliberately planned an overnight stay on the Nepal tour itinerary in Bhaktapur so that you can explore the town outside of peak hours of 11:00 and 15:00. With most of the tourists gone, the town is blanketed in peace and quiet and you get a feel of what the place was like hundreds of years ago. Wandering through the narrow alleyways, you'll pass local women spinning wool at their spinning wheel and threshing rice by hand. You'll spend the night in a small cosy hotel right on Durbar Square.
Day 6: Bhaktapur - Kathmandu
After a night of blissful sleep, you'll wake up with a hot cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast on your hotel's rooftop overlooking the square. You'll see old men pushing wooden carts and elderly women knitting on the temple steps. Later on in the morning you'll leave the trek through the Kathmandu behind you and you'll continue on towards Kathmandu. The afternoon is yours to spend exploring Kathmandu. Visit the lively Thamel district to pick up a few souvenirs and maybe end the day with a yak steak on one of the city's many rooftop restaurants.
Day 7: Kathmandu - Charaundi - Chitwan -4-5 Hrs.
Travel time: approximately 3 hours by bus/ private transportation and approximately 3 hours of rafting.Today you'll be picked up by your private driver early in the morning and taken to Charaundi, where you'll arrive around 11:30. After you arrive you can grab a bite to eat and change your clothes if necessary. All you'll need are a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and some sunscreen. You'll leave the rest of your belongings behind in the car and the driver will take them to where today's rafting adventure ends.
After a brief instruction on the rafting it's time to hoist yourself into your life vest, hop into the rubber raft and make your way downstream. It'll take a few white water rapids to get the hang of effective paddling, so don't expect to stay dry. The Trisuli has a couple of major class 3 rapids, but there are also plenty of calmer stretches where you can gently float along enjoying the scenery of remote river valleys and canyons. After your rafting adventure you'll head on to Chitwan.
Day 8: Day in Chitwan National Park
Chitwan is at its most beautiful at dawn when the golden early morning light seeps across the plains giving it a mystical atmosphere. The river is particularly magical. Working elephants stride through the river, rickety ferries glide to the other side and rhinos graze in the grass. After breakfast you and your guide will hop into a wooden canoe and together you'll sail across the Rapti River past banks lined with sunbathing crocs. After about 30 minutes you'll leave the canoe behind for a jungle walk with your guide. You'll hike along narrow paths through the forests and across plains where the shoulder-high grass seems almost impenetrable. It's a little scary knowing that this grass could be a hiding spot for rhinos, leopards and tigers, but our professional guides know what they're doing. As sweet and harmless as those rhinos may seem, don't underestimate them. Because they have very poor eyesight, they tend to storm into any noise or smell they're not familiar with so it's best to follow your guide's instructions very closely. This afternoon you'll go on safari, perched high on the back of an elephant. You'll share the seat/ basket on top of the elephant with a maximum of 3 other travellers. You'll be safe from any large predators hiding away in the bushes. If a rhino dares approach the elephant, it won't be long before the elephant shows him who's boss with a loud bellowing sound. It's just the subtle way the gentle grey giant let's the rhinos know he's a little too big for them to mess around with.
Day 9: Day in Chitwan National Park
it's also an important employment project for the locals. You'll also find several tiny workshops where the indigenous and poorest part of the population, the Tharus, make and sell their arts and crafts. There are also plans to build a library, a school and a medical post here. We're therefore very excited to have joined forces with Sapana Village in order to help them make these plans a reality. We run this very special section of the Nepal tour itinerary in partnership with the Tharus, and it's one of our favourite Nepal experiences. You'll start with a relaxing 'elephant bath'. Armed with a brush you'll get to work scrubbing off all the dirt. The elephants clearly love all the pampering and rest assured they'll give you a thorough rinse-off with their trunks once you're done!Once you've dried off you'll head into the jungle with your guide. You're guaranteed a very warm welcome in the local Tharu village. The Tharus are the indigenous people of this jungle and they are also Buddhist. The enlightened prince's son Gautama Buddha was a Tharu as well. The Tharu will tell you all about the jungle and their way of life. The fact that you really get the time to get to know these wonderful people is what makes this module so enjoyable. Together you'll prepare the dinner and as the sun sets the fire will be lit, drums and rice wine appear and the party will continue into the early hours...
You'll spend the night in a 'Tharu jungle tower' on the edge of the village (see images at the bottom of the page). The house is built on stilts so don't worry about any jungle wildlife paying you an unexpected visit in the middle of the night. The room we've arranged for this Nepal tour itinerary is basic but comfortable enough and you will soon find yourself lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle...
Day 10: Chitwan -Bandipur-3 Hrs
Rise and shine early today so that you don't miss one of Nepal's mesmerising sunrises. Watch the jungle awaken from shrouds of mist as an orchestra of birds serenade you good morning. You'll have a pretty good chance of seeing wild animals this early in the morning. After you say goodbye to the Tharu, you'll hike back to Sapana Village where breakfast will be waiting for you.
You'll arrive in this charming village early in the afternoon. Immediately you'll feel as if you've stepped into a time machine. The streets are narrow and cobbled and lined on both sides with the traditional wooden Newari houses. Curious faces will peek out and as you drive past you, the first smiles appear... You'll be dropped off at a warm and inviting mountain hotel where you'll spend 2 nights. The hotel has a colonial atmosphere, a spectacular view and great food to boot. It's surrounded by a wonderfully aromatic pine forest and somewhere among the trees you'll find a pool. Unfortunately it wasn't filled up during our visit, but perhaps you'll have better luck.
Day 11:Bandipur - Pokhara-3 Hrs
Today you'll travel Bandipur to Pokhara. As you follow the winding road up through the mountains, you'll notice the air getting cooler. Pokhara stands at 885m and you can see the white mountain peaks getting closer. The scenery gets ever more beautiful so stop off to take some pictures - it's a good moment to enjoy a hot cup of tea served by the cheerful local women in the small tea houses along the road. While in Pokhara, you'll enjoy the lovely view of the lake. On a clear day you can see the high mountain peaks glistening in the sun in the distance. There are plenty of options today on the Nepal tour itinerary: rent a boat and paddle out onto the lake, visit a temple or just chill out and enjoy the atmosphere in one of the many local restaurants in this charming lakeside town.
Day 12: Pokhara - Tirkhedhunga ( Drive to Starting Point and Trek )
After breakfast, our driver will pick you up for the 2-hour drive to Birethanti Village. On the way you'll see the high peaks of the Himalayas emerging in the distance as the road winds its way up to the starting point of the trek. Packed with your camera, warm sweater and some water you head off on a broad path up into the hills, accompanied by your guide and local porters. The villagers will wave goodbye to you as you slowly begin your ascent.
The path leads through a thick bamboo forest to lush green fields where cows with red plumes on their heads graze contentedly. You can stop off for some pictures or a drink on the way. After about 4 hours you'll arrive in Tirkhedhunga, a small village with a couple of shops, a wobbly hanging bridge across the river and waving children that follow you with curiosity. You'll spend the night in a basic lodge with running water, but don't expect a hot shower...
Day 13: Trek from Tirkhedhunga - Ghorepani ( 5-6 Hrs Walk)
After a hearty breakfast, it's time to pack your things and head off on your Nepal tour itinerary trek. The first stretch is fairly easy, as you walk downhill into the valley. As you cross the Burungdi Khola, make sure to stop and admire this spectacular mountain river, which looks like a peacefully flowing stream but can fast become a wild churning rapid. The freezing cold melt water flows down from high up on the mountain. After this, you'll begin the most strenuous part of the trek. Heading up many stone steps, you'll slowly make your way to 2000m. At the end of this strenuous climb you'll be rewarded with an amazing view of the snow-capped mountains rising up about the surrounding hills. You'll have such an incredible view from here. The last part of the trek is pretty level and leads through a colourful and aromatic rhododendron forest. Once you reach Ghorepani, you can put your feet up, have a drink and relax. As you look around, you'll see colourful prayer flags blowing in the wind at the many temples and snowy mountain peaks in the background.
Day 14: Ghorepani - Ghandruk Village Via PoonHill.( 5-6 Hrs Walk)
Today you may want to start off the day early so you don't miss the sunrise at Poon Hill. After breakfast you'll start off on the 1-hour climb to the top at 3190m. Once you reach the top, sit yourself down on a nice comfy flat rock and watch as the sun slowly colours the white peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri a deep orange. It's enough to give you goose bumps...
When the sun's up the trek continues to Tadapani, where you'll spend the night. The following day you'll head out on a hike to Ghandruk. You'll meet a lot of local villagers on the way. Everything is lugged up the mountain, from sacks of rice to live chickens in big baskets, even household furniture. The local men all wear simple flip-flops but they're still a lot faster than us tourists in our posh hiking boots and when carrying unfeasibly large loads. Along the way, you'll pass through fertile fields where you can see farmers working the land. At the end of the afternoon you'll reach a small Gurung village where you'll spend the night in a basic lodge.
Day 15: Ghandrung - Pokhara( 5 Hrs walk and 1 hr drive to Pokhara)
This morning you'll leave for the last part of the trek to Nayapul; it should take about 1.5 hour. When you arrive, you'll find your transportation waiting for you for the two-hour drive to the placid town of Pokhara. This friendly town is the starting point for many different treks. Most hotels are situated around the town lake and this is also where you'll find plenty of bustling bars and restaurants. Pokhara offers a lot of western food too so you can enjoy those burgers, pizzas and fresh fruit juices again or even a beer or cocktail if you fancy it. On a clear day you can see the snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance, you can rent a boat and go out on the lake or visit the golden Varahi temple.
Day 16: Dive or Fly to Kathmandu.
After a last laid-back lakeside breakfast, you'll be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu. It's a small aircraft so you're guaranteed a window seat to enjoy the amazing views of the Annapurna range on the one side and, with a bit of luck, a glimpse of Mount Everest on the other. On arrival in Kathmandu, your driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel. You'll be pretty familiar with the city by now so you won't have any problem finding your way back to that great little restaurant you discovered when you first stayed here at the start of your trip. In the afternoon there's time for a final bit of sightseeing, or visit the local markets for those last-minute souvenirs.
Day 17: Kathmandu Departure.
So you have enjoyed the best of Nepal in 19 days and your itinerary ends after breakfast this morning. You'll either continue travelling in Nepal, fly into Delhi to explore India, or head in the direction of home. If you're beginning your journey home, we can arrange your airport transfer on request. Once you're home, we'd love to hear just how your trip went. You can always extend your stay in Nepal if you like - just ask one of our travel specialists for some options.
END OF THE TRIP