Live the high life on top of the world with this eight-day round-trip through central Nepal. Admire some of the most dramatic landscapes in the planet, sail on lakes and rivers, enjoy an unforgettable elephant safari and contemplate peaks that rise more than 8,000 metres above the earth to kiss the heavens. Visit, too, some of the most spiritual locations in the country and wander through historic royal districts.
Sadhus: These dreadlocked holy men with painted faces exude ethereality as they squat passively outside Hindu temples
Elephant safari: Riding on top of the elephant you can come to within a metre of other animals without them noticing
Sunrise at Sarangkot: Seeing the peaks of the Annapurna bathed in the golden glow of the sun rising over the roof of the world
A wide range of optional excursions and pre and post-programme extensions are available on request. Please ask tour designer Subodh Rana for rates and conditions
Kathmandu: Visit the top cultural and historical sites in the capital, including Durbar Square, the Pashupatinath Temple, the stupa of Boudhanath and the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Patan
Chitwan National Park: Discover a lost world of towering trees and twisting vines, of pre-historic rhinos and lumbering elephants, of crocodiles, pythons and deer, of brilliantly coloured birds and, with a bit of luck, the superb royal Bengal tiger
Pokhara: This picturesque lakeside city nestling at the foothills of the Himalayas offers stunning panoramic views of the Annapurna peaks and a wonderful base from which to trek the hinterland
Arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, meet and greet by Malla Travel & Trek representative and transfer to your hotel in Kathmandu. Once you are settled in, it’s time for your Nepalese adventure to begin in earnest. In the afternoon, enjoy an informative and relaxing walking tour from Thamel to Durbar Square, the historic heart of the city. This is a great way to settle into the country and get a feel of the atmosphere. Along the way, see famous attractions such as Kumari Bahal, a building richly decorated with beautiful woodcarvings, which is home to the Royal Kumari, a child who is a ‘living goddess’ and a manifestation of the deity, Durga. Nearby is Hanuman Dhoka, the former royal palace, whose Nassal Chowk courtyard was the coronation site of the Shah kings and contains some of the finest wood carvings you will see anywhere in the kingdom. Close by is a popular local favourite, the statue of the Black Bhairab, a colourful carved representation of the Lord Shiva at his most terrifying. In the evening, there’s a genuine Nepalese culinary experience at the renowned Utsav restaurant near Durbar Square. Not only will you be able to feast on daal-bhat, the rice and lentil dish that is Nepal’s national dish, but you will also be able to enjoy a demonstration of how it is prepared. The process takes more than three hours so in the tradition of cookery shows, daal that has been almost fully prepared earlier will be explained in brief.
Enjoy a spiritual start to the day with a morning sightseeing tour taking in the Hindu Pashupatinath Temple and the Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal. Located on the banks of the holy River Bagmati, the vast Pashupatinath is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and is one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. Thousands of pilgrims flock to this temple every year during Shivaratri, the birthday of the Lord Shiva. There are many eye-catching elements such as the large, gilded triple-roofed temple but there is so much going on around you, with the throngs of faithful and pilgrims, that the din of hustle and bustle becomes an attraction in itself. Entrance to the main temple is forbidden to non-Hindus. Behold the beautiful Buddhist Boudhanath stupa, which traces its origins to King Mana Dev in the fifth century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s leading centres of Tibetan Buddhism and is bedecked with traditional prayer rolls and Tibetan prayer flags. Lunch is in a restaurant in the Boudhanath (either the Boudha Kitchen or Café de Temple). The afternoon is dedicated to exploring Durbar Square in Patan, a historic city just a few kilometres south of central Kathmandu. This traditionally Buddhist bastion – they make up about one-sixth of Nepal’s population – is a veritable Oriental treasure trove where Buddhism and Hinduism meet, creating a fascinating architectural landscape in the Newa style. Durbar Square is considered to be one of the finest urban streetscapes in the world, the centrepiece being the palace of the Malla monarchs, who ruled Nepal for six centuries. Wander this stunning complex, which boasts a series of beautiful courtyards with ornamented windows and colonnaded arcades, temples and shrines, all noted for their exquisite carvings. Contemplate the square’s Krishna Temple and Rudra Varna Mahavihar Buddhist monastery.
Depart Kathmandu after breakfast at the hotel, transferring to Chitwan, passing through beautiful villages and breathtaking landscapes of verdant valleys framed by majestic mountains and by the wild white waters of the River Trishuli. Arrive at Royal Safari Resort, located on the edge of the Chitwan National Park and by the banks of the East Rapti River. Enjoy a refreshment while the check-in process takes place and then a briefing before lunch in the resort. In the afternoon (time permitting) a naturalist outlines the programme over the coming days, which features a jungle walk, an elephant safari and canoeing. Then it’s time to explore the jungle before returning to the resort for dinner
Discover the wild side of Nepal with an elephant safari in Chitwan National Park. Explore the jungle on the back of an elephant, enjoying a truly special natural environment in unison with one of these gentle giants. Return to the resort for lunch. The naturalist will brief on the afternoon’s jungle activities.
Head north to Pokhara in the foothills of the Himalayas, passing through lush landscapes in the shadow of magnificent mountain ranges. Arrive at Hotel Utsab Himalaya, which is adjacent to a park on the banks of Lake Phewa. Lunch is in the hotel with the remainder of the afternoon and evening being free for you to either relax at the hotel or maybe explore the area around it.
Start the day on a high in every sense of the word by witnessing sunrise from Sarangkot, a 1,600-metre-high mountain in the northern shore of Lake Phewa. (This segment is subject to weather conditions.) In the flickering light of early morning, watch as the eight snowcapped peaks of the Annapurna range are bathed in a kaleidoscope of golden-hued shades – a truly awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Tea/coffee will be served at a local café in Sarangkot. Pass through the beautiful Schima-Catonopsis forest on the way to the lookout, from where you can also enjoy views over the lake and its tributary rivers. Return through the forest – which can now be appreciated in the splendours of the natural light bursting through the branches – for breakfast at the hotel. Once replenished, enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Pokhara city and a boat ride on Lake Phewa to the Taal Barahi temple. See the city’s top attractions, such as the Bindhyavasini temple, which is dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathi. Return to the hotel for lunch. Spend the afternoon learning all about the summits in whose shadow Pokhara lies at the International Mountain Museum. Here you will find collections dedicated to the flora and fauna of the Himalayas as well as exhibits documenting mountain cultures and their ways of life, the local environment and mountaineering history. The museum also has a restaurant, landscaped gardens and a climbing wall. Cap off the visit at the viewing platform from where you can contemplate the three 8,000-metre-plus peaks of the Annapurna range.
Take to the road for the scenic drive to Kathmandu, passing through the bucolic Nepalese countryside and parallel to stretches of the white waters of the rivers Trishuli and Marshyangdi. Lunch en route at Riverside Spring Resort, which is located on a bend in the River Trishuli, about half-way between Pokhara and Kathmandu. While resting at the resort, you can avail of an optional visit to the Manakamana Temple by cable car. The 2.7km-long journey climbs just over 1,000 metres and takes about 10 minutes from the bottom station to the top. The pagoda-style temple dates from the 17th century and, from the north face, you can take in the spellbinding views of Mount Manaslu, Mount Himachali and the Annapurna range. Continue to Kathmandu and upon arrival transfer to your accommodation for check in at the Grand Hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Tribhuvan International Airport to connect with your outward flight. Breakfast included.