Arrive any time. Arrival transfer is included. Enjoy a six-course welcome feast tonight, savouring the diverse flavours of Nepali cuisine. No group activities are planned until the evening welcome meeting, so feel free to explore. Kathmandu is fascinating at every turn and a great place to just wander, seeing where the city may lead you.
Spend the day exploring Kathmandu, the colourful capital of this Himalayan nation. Pay a visit to Bodhnath Stupa, the holiest Tibetan Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet, and explore the wood-carved temples, pagados, and palaces of Bhaktapur, Nepal's medieval capital. Afterward, visit the Sisterhood of Survivors Project, dedicated to supporting female survivors of human trafficking. Meet a survivor who has successfully completed the project's paralegal training, and learn how to make momos??Nepalese dumplings??with women enrolled in the project's hospitality program. Enjoy your creations for lunch.
Opt to take an early morning flight over Mount Everest, catching a glimpse of the highest peak on the planet; then venture to the ancient hilltop temple of Swayambhunath, decorated with vibrant prayer flags and home to troops of rhesus monkeys. Later, we'll hear about National Geographic Grantee Chhing Lhomi's efforts to preserve the weaving traditions of the Upper Mustang region through her work with the Himalayan Indigenous Society, a Kathmandu-based nonprofit. Then depart for nearby Pharping, known for its Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and settle into a tranquil monastery guesthouse for the night. Get an insider's view of monastery life, and enjoy a chanting and prayer service; or opt to take a walk in the monastery's peaceful grounds. Experience the serenity of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The monastery guest house offers comfortable accommodations in a peaceful setting with balconies and private western-style bathrooms. There are approximately 200 monks in residence following the Nyingmapa tradition. This is a new monastery (2006), and income from the guest house directly supports it.
Rise at dawn to listen to the monks' morning chanting, and witness a stunning sunrise. Then drive to the small riverside village of Kurintar and hike to our lodge, nestled on a forested hill overlooking the Trishuli River. Opt to relax by the pool or take a guided walk through the surrounding countryside, stopping at local villages. Arrive at our remote lodge, which sits on a ridge amidst the hills overlooking sandy beaches and a river. Forests cascade down the hillsides, enclosing tiny settlements of tribal people.
Today, we travel towards Chitwan National Park, Nepal's oldest wildlife reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park is home to 68 recorded mammal species, including the one-horned rhino and the Bengal tiger, as well as hundreds of species of birds. Check in to our lodge, located on the banks of the East Rapti River. After lunch, board a traditional flat-bottomed boat for a river safari, keeping your eyes out for aquatic birds, crocodiles, and other riverine fauna. Spend two nights enjoying cultural and wildlife excursions in and around Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP), the oldest national park in Nepal. Established in 1973, it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984. Within its area of 932km² (579 mi²), RCNP is home to at least 43 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and 45 species of amphibians and reptiles, including sambars, chitals, rhesus monkeys, tigers, and langurs.
Spend the day exploring Chitwan National Park on a variety of excursions; activities differ depending on the season. Set out on a jeep safari through the grasslands and forests, seeking out rhinos, leopards, elephants, monkeys, and the elusive Bengal tiger. Meet with a "tiger technician" from the Nepal Tiger Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection and conservation of these majestic cats. Visit a farming village bordering the park for a glimpse of rural life, and return to our lodge this evening in time for a dance performance by the local Tharu people.
Drive to Pokhara, an enchanting town set on the shores of turquoise-hued Phewa Lake against a backdrop of snowcapped Himalayan peaks. Enjoy a guided walk around the city, and opt to have dinner at a popular local restaurant. Nestled in a tranquil valley at an altitude of 827m (2,713 ft), beautiful Pokhara lies on a once vibrant trade route between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalayas. This enchanting city has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of Himalayan peaks. It's a popular place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Venture to Sarangkot village early this morning and hike to the famed Sarangkot lookout to witness a breathtaking sunrise over the Annapurna Himalaya. Back in Pokhara, climb up a lush forest path to the gleaming white Peace Pagoda, built by Japanese monks after World War II. Later, visit a Tibetan refugee settlement, established by the United Nations in 1964. Learn about the history of the community on a walk through their photo gallery, and enjoy a traditional Tibetan lunch. In your free time, opt to go paragliding, or take a boat tour of Phewa Lake.
Catch a flight back to the capital, Kathmandu. Enjoy time to shop in the bustling Thamel district, or choose to visit Pashupatinath Temple, the most sacred Hindu temple complex in Nepal. Enjoy free time in the afternoon for exploring. Visit the burning ghats at Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath, or the monkey temple. Kathmandu is fascinating at every turn, and some travelers prefer to just wander, seeing where the city may lead them.
Depart at any time. Feel free to depart at any time today, but remember that check out time from the hotel is 12:00pm.