Nepal is a country I bring close to my heart… On this adventure, I will share with you the broad Nepali spirit, from the tropical jungle in Chitwan to the remote kingdom of Mustang, in the Annapurna region.
Starting of in Kathmandu, the capital city of the Republic of Nepal, we will head of towards Pokhara, the “capital of adventure”. From here we will go all the way up to Lower Mustang, the ancient kingdom of Lo, home to some of the world’s better kept Tibetan villages and culture. After the cold, we head towards the tropical heat, finishing our trip exploring the jungles in Chitwan.
- Get to know Lower Mustang, one of the World’s best preserved Tibetan areas;
- Visit Muktinath, a Hindu-Buddhist temple at almost 4000m altitude, a popular pilgrimage destination;
- Explore Chitwan’s jungle, the oldest national park in Nepal;
- See some of the of the highest peaks in the world and hang out with wild rhinos, all in the same trip!
- Explore one of the world’s most popular treks: the Annapurna Conservation Area.
Day 1 – Arrival in Kathmandusee
Namaste! Welcome to Kathmandu.
In Kathmandu, our accommodation is at the Thamel, Kathmandu’s hub. A driver will pick you up from the airport and your tour leader Tania will be waiting for you at the hotel. When we are all reunited, we’ll pick a restaurant that pleases everyone, and will get to meet each other and talk about the days ahead of us. Thamel is a vibrant area that has a bit of everything, at any time of the day. It still early to go shopping, so an early night of sleep to set the clocks is the best thing we’ll do today, as we will have a long adventure ahead from us!
Day 2 - Kathmandusee
After breakfast, we will go straight to Kathmandu’s most iconic stupa, the Swayambhunath Stupa, commonly known as the Monkey Temple. It’s a nice walk across town (just over 2km), that allows us to see and embrace the city, it’s scents and lifestyle. On the way, we will visit the Shova Bhagawati, where we can see some young Buddhist monks inside the temple, and the yak wool weavers sitting outside. During the afternoon, we will go visit some of the non-profit projects we support, and will get to know some of the heroic stories of Nepal’s 2015 earthquake.
Day 3 – Trip to Pokharasee
We wake up early, as we have our seven-hour-long drive to Pokhara. The serpentine road is not an easy ride, and no matter how comfortable the bus is, it is always longer than we would wish for. Every two hours (roughly), we will stop for coffee, stretching and beautiful-mountain-seeing. As soon as we reach Pokhara, we notice the spectacular Himalayan vista the city is adorned with. We can see Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhare, the five peaks of Annapurna and others. We will check in to our hotel, conveniently located by the lakeside, perfect to reset the energy from the long road trip of today.
Day 4 - Pokharasee
Pokhara is also known as Paradise city, and it’s easy to see why! Blessed with stunning panoramic views of the Annapurna range and Machhapuchhare peak, reflecting on Phewa lake, it’s a city with favourable climate all year round. Enjoy sunrise from Sarangot (the paragliding spot) is magic, and sunset from the World Peace Pagoda (the Shanti Stupa). The World Peace Pagodas are built to remind people from all the World - from all races and religious beliefs - to come together and seek world peace. This one, in Nepal, with this magical view over the Machhapuchhare peak and its Nepali culture, really help us focus on what really matters. This is also a good day for our last purchases before our Annapurna trek. Along the lakeside, you’ll find countless shops for trekking gear, clothes and accessories, at very competitive prices (and they love haggling!). Also, if you’re not keen on buying, you can rent the equipment you need instead.
Day 5 – Trip to Marpha (2680m)see
The drive from Pokhara to Marpha is a very challenging one! I thought a lot about the best way to take us to the top, and by far this option I chose can be a controversial one: we’re taking the local bus. The local bus is quite an experience: it’s fully hand-painted, with tradicional music playing out loud, bouncing its way up the Annapurna range, giving way to donkeys and goats, which can sometimes delay our already long trip. The journey takes as long as the journey from Kathmandu, but covers less than half the distance. The maximum speed can sometimes reach the astonishing speed of 5km/h. Which is quite fast - if we’d be hiking all the way up, it’d take us no less than 6 days to get there.
Marpha is inhabited by the Thakali people. It’s the capital of apples in Nepal, and it’s very likely our hotel owner will have some hot apple juice, apple brandy or even the famous apple tart waiting for us. We’re staying in a small family hotel, and the accommodation in the mountains is very basic, but hospitality is enormous!
Day 6 – Trekking Marpha - Kagbeni (2810m)see
Today we start our short Himalayan trek. As we exit Marpha we’ll go past a small village called Syang, crossing the bridge we reach the beautiful and famous lake Dumba. The trail continues along the valley, until we reach Jomsom. Jomsom is an important village: there’s a little airport here, and many pilgrims arrive by airplane, from Pokhara (yes, we could have taken a 25-minute flight instead of a vertigo 7h drive, but wouldn’t have been half the fun!). Just after Jomsom, the hardest part of the trek (in my opinion), as this area has strong winds early afternoon, which make the trek difficult and at times frustrating. We cross the Panga Khola, we reach Ekle Bhatti, aka “the lonely pub”. Here we can have a rest to enjoy a cup of tea and take some photos of the vistas. When we reach the Kali Gandaki river, we’re just an hour away from Kagbeni.
Kagbeni is an interesting windswept village situated on the main age old Trans Himalayan salt trade route to Tibet via Upper Mustang area. The trail from Marpha to Kagbeni winds through the Kali Gandaki river bank, the world’s deepest gorge. If you are lucky, you may have opportunity to see Saligram - the symbol of God Vishnu, the carrier of correct life, wealth, protection, health, pleasure and spiritual blessing. Kagbeni is the gate way of popular Upper Mustang Trek. From Kagbeni, we get great views of Nilgiri, Dhaulagiri and Tukuche peaks.
Day 7 - Trekking Kagbeni - Muktinath (3800m)see
Our journey starts with a special permit check-up and onwards to the riverbank of Kali Gandaki, up to Ranipauwa. During the walk, we will have scenic picturesque places to stop by. From Kagbeni the path climbs steeply to re-join the direct trail leading to Khingar at 3200m. The trail climbs through a desert landscape till Jharkot, one of my favourite villages here. There’s a little temple here with a Russian monk, that every morning connects a micro to a small radio, providing music to the entire village - in fact, to all Himalayas, almost!!
A further climb reaches us to our destination. Our accommodation is home to the world’s highest altitude sauna, according to the Guinness Book of Records, and features great views over the Himalayas. Your legs will thank you!!
Day 8 - Muktinathsee
Muktinath is an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Buddhists alike. In the morning, we pay our visit to visit the Muktinath Temple of the Lord Vishnu. For the Hindus, the region is a "Mukti khsetra” - a region of liberation or salvation. There are water spouts channeled for the stream running above the temple. This is where pilgrims bathe, cleansing their sins and beliefs. From the temple, we can enjoy the magnificent views of Dhaulagiri peak the whole place reflects peace. Muktinath itself demonstrates the religions harmony in Nepal. Afterwards, we will visit other small villages, like Purang and Jhong.
Day 9 – Trip back to Pokhara, with stop at Jomsomsee
A painful day ahead: we will drive to Jomsom by jeep in the morning. Here, we will change to another jeep, to Pokhara. These two trips will take us the entire day, but waiting for us are comfortable beds and the beautiful memories of the top of the Himalayas and a new-found inner peace!
Day 10 - Pokharasee
Now that we have a new vision of Pokhara, we can enjoy the day by simply resting, or take on a suggested activity, like the ones mentioned on day four of this trip. Tonight, we will go to the “most beautiful cinema in the world” (my own words) - a cinema sized screen with the Phewa lake as the backdrop, and films (almost) always related to the Nepali, Himalayan or similar. A beautiful way to say goodbye to Pokhara and the Himalayas.
Day 11 – Trip to Chitwansee
This morning we will go to Chitwan, Nepal’s oldest national park. We get used to the new tropical climate, and hope that on the following day we are blessed with the visit of the national parks special inhabitants: tigers, rhinos, elephants…
Day 12 - Chitwansee
Today is jungle day! There are several activities we can take on today: jungle walks, canoeing on the river Rapti or Naravani, village walk. From crocodiles to rhinos, tigers to aquatic birds, today we can see them all!
Day 13 – Trip back to Kathmandusee
Today we say goodbye to the jungle, and head back to Kathmandu at 9am. As we reach Kathmandu, despite the farewell cloud above us, we still have time to enjoy some of the Nepali culture!
Day 14 - Kathmandusee
Last shop day alert!! We walk around the area, learn about pashmina, cashmere, yak wool, sip tea, taste momos, do yoga… An open day to feel as you like, measuring up to each one of our travellers wishes.
Day 15 – Return from Kathmandusee
Today is farewell time… Our drivers will be waiting for us at the hotel. We will miss Nepal, and we say our goodbyes with a new peaceful mind, and a richer travellers soul. May the experience of this trip and our contribution to some of the causes we’ve witnessed enrich us towards a more tolerant and peaceful world!
Namaste… and see you soon!
What is included?
- Days: 15;
- Accommodation: 14 nights in hotel;
- Transports: tourist bus, 4x4 jeeps, local bus and all the transfers on the dates of the program;
- Meals: 14 breakfasts;
- All the activities mentioned on the itinerary;
- Travel insurance on the dates of the program;
- Book "My way to Kathmandu | A Walker's diary" by Pedro Queirós
- Monitoring and guidance throughout the whole trip by Tânia Neves;
- Group size: 4 (minimum); 11 (maximum)
What is not included?
- International airfare;
- Visa: 25USD;
- Single supplement: 250€;
- Extra activities;
- Paragliding: +/- 80USD;
- Unspecified meals: +/- 15€/Day
- Unspecified visits;
- Personal expenses;