Without a doubt this country is a potpourri of culture and diversity. It boasts as having the highest mountain in the world Mt Everest mixed with unique wildlife and exotic culture. Discover yourself amidst this strange world of mystical beliefs and incredible history. Every aspect of life is tainted with spiritual reasons. From morning prayers to the universal deities, walking Sadhus on village trails, to Buddhists spinning prayer wheels while sitting in front of their stores. You will have many opportunities to witness this aspect of life, and to share with people your own ideas about it.
The art and craft of Nepal are basically based on the religious themes taken from Buddhism and Hinduism. Nepalese art has been influenced and promoted since the earliest recorded times by the Newars. In Nepal, ethnical cultural groups are diverse and many of them have their own languages and customs. The country’s capital Kathmandu and largest city simultaneously reeks of history and the wear and tear of increasing modernity. The tightly packed historical centre, with its squares and temples, continues to preserve a world light years away from shantytowns, expensive hotels, restaurants and shops on the city’s outskirts. Kathmandu’s core is Durbar Square, with the Vishnumati River to the west and Ratna Park to the east, The Bagmati River forms the southern boundary, whilst Thamel, the popular tourist hangout sprawls to the north. This would have to be one of the most exciting cities in the world today.
Our adventure begins when we arrive at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan airport and transfer to the domestic airport for a spectacular 30-minute flight to Pokhara. Pokhara is a beautiful town set on the banks of the Phewa Lake. It is smaller and much less hectic than Kathmandu and is the perfect starting point for our trip. Whilst in Pokhara we will stay at the delightful Hotel Stupa run by Mrs Raj Kumari and her family. Upon arrival we will be free to relax in the hotel after our long journey, or explore this friendly easy-going town and take in the many shops and bazaars. The following morning a tour will be arranged for us to visit the Tibetan Refugee Camp and Devi Falls.
No other area in Nepal has such a splendid variety of natural beauties as the Annapurna region. It is a rare combination of long arrays of snow-capped peaks, crystal lakes, and turbulent rivers with deep gorges, Tibetan monasteries, and picturesque villages, inhabited by simple and friendly ethnic people.
On our trips we will pass through many villages where we will have ample time to take photographs and chat with the local people. Language is not a big problem as many of the local people speak English. If not, our Guide will be happy to translate for us. There are many different ethnic groups along the trail, but the predominant people in this area are the Gurung. Together with the Magar and Chetrie people, the Gurung are famous as soldiers in the British Army, better known as Gurkhas. You will experience diverse terrain from glacial valleys to sub-tropical valleys with banana trees and rice paddies to high ridges clad in thick rhododendron forest .
Royal Chitwan National Park where you will see yet another side of Nepal. The 3 days here are spent on trips into the jungle on an elephant's back, swimming, jungle walks, and bird watching and if the river is up, even a canoe trip on the Rapti River to look at crocodiles. Or, if you prefer, you can stay at the lodge and just relax. Please inform the Lodge Manager if you wish to do any different or independent activities. Also, if you want to walk out of the lodge and down to the swimming hole, ensure that a guide accompanies you. Never wander about the jungle yourself. Your jungle lodge is very comfortable and in a great location within the park. Facilities are not luxurious there is no electricity in the Park, so all lighting is by hurricane lantern and candle. Hot water for showers comes from wood-fueled burners and is available only in the evening. However, after trekking, it will seem luxurious, and we are sure you will appreciate the rustic style. The food is excellent - a combination of western and traditional Nepali. The friendliness and knowledge of the staff will be a highlight of your stay here.
Situated in the Rapti Valley, Chitwan National Park is approximately 80 miles southwest of Kathmandu by road. The region in which the park is situated is known as the Terai, a flat and highly cultivated plain that constitutes the entire southern quarter of the country. Extremely hot in the Summer while mild and cool in winter, this region produces most of the country’s food. Early this century, the Terai was a rarely visited jungle expanse with very few inhabitants, the only visitors being members of the Nepalese upper class on hunting trips.
During the 1950’s malaria was eradicated and the population began to expand rapidly. Loggers and farmers in search of new fields slowly cleared the jungle. Conservationists soon realised that if action were not taken it wouldn’t be long before all the animals of the Terai would be extinct. In 1962 King Mahendra designated Chitwan as a rhinoceros preserve. In 1973 it was finally gazetted in parliament as the first national park in Nepal.
Today there are only about a thousand one horned rhinos left in the world, and over 300 of these are in the Chitwan National Park. Fewer than 2000 tigers remain in the sub continent, more than 40 live in Chitwan. There are many other animals such as: the fish eating gharial crocodiles, buffaloes, sloth bear, hog deer and wild peacocks. For amore in-depth study of all the animals in the park you should read The Heart of the Jungle by KK Gurung. Remember that although there are many animals to be seen in Chitwan, it is not a zoo. Nor is it like the vast open plains of southern Africa. It is a small compact jungle park where you must go out and find the animals; it is possible that you may not see anything at all. If you rise early in the morning and go on a jungle walk or elephant ride with the park guides, you are very likely to spot some wildlife. It should also be noted that there are over 400 species of birds living in the park, and if you are interested in bird watching there will be plenty of opportunities. Just ask the Lodge guides all transport, meals and activities are included in your stay.
Departure: 11 April 2015 Ex Kathmandu US$2250 twin share
Departure: 28 October 2015 US$3950 twin share