Experience two incredible feature stays – a stylish and elegant resort right on the border of Chitwan National Park, and a traditionally beautiful and eco-conscious resort tucked away in the gorgeous valley of Paro.. Get an intimate look at Nepali culture and cuisine during an unforgettable cooking class with the Seven Women, a social enterprise helping disadvantaged women in Nepal.. Witness world-class mountain scenery during a breathtaking Mount Everest flight and a picturesque hike through the inspiring landscapes of Pokhara.. Visit the important monastery of Gangte Goemba where you’ll speak to a senior resident monk about two subjects at heart of Bhutanese culture – Buddhism and happiness.
Explore the Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan on a 17-day Premium adventure. Be blown away by the majestic snow peaks of the Himalaya mountains, explore the wild lands of Chitwan National Park, learn about black-necked Cranes in Phobjikha, uncover the sacred religions and devoted beliefs of the pilgrims, and find the secret to happiness in Bhutan. Discover spectacular landscapes, rich cultures and magnificent wildlife with experienced local leaders by your side on a journey to remember.
Welcome to Nepal! Your adventure begins in Kathmandu, the country’s exhilarating capital. On arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Join an important welcome meeting with your leader and small group at 6pm. If you arrive with time to spare, perhaps take a walk around the Garden of Dreams, a neo-classical oasis in the heart of the city, or check out the futuristic Taragaon Museum, showcasing the intriguing history of Kathmandu’s architecture. After your meeting, head out into the hustle and bustle of the Thamel and Jyatha neighbourhoods for an included dinner with your leader and group. Eating in Nepal is never boring, and upon arrival at the authentic Nepali restaurant, you’ll discover a deliciously diverse array of dishes. Have a taste of some Woh, a pancake made from freshly ground black lentils, or Kukhurako Masu, chicken cooked Nepali style.
In the early morning, make an attempt at the Mount Everest scenic flight. This unbelievable experience will take you over Sagamartha National Park, through a crescendo of the highest peaks in the world, climaxing by getting up close to Mount Everest. Later in the morning, explore Kathmandu on a sightseeing tour with your leader. Head to the lively Durbar square, the once glorious centre of Nepal’s royal power. Visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where you can observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the surrounding monasteries. Stop by a Thangka painting studio and gain inside knowledge on this sacred and traditional form of Buddhist art and the training that goes into being a Thangka artist. Visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, where you will see Hindu holy men meditating, pilgrims bathing, and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats. The rest of your afternoon is free for further explorations.
This morning, set off for a truly special experience that is sure to be one of your enduring memories of Nepal. Visit the headquarters of Seven Women, a social enterprise that works to improve the lives of disadvantaged women in Nepal. Meet the local women and hear how the enterprise has changed their lives. Tour their greenhouse and learn about Nepali vegetables, then learn some traditional recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Master the local methods of cooking and put together some classic dishes, then sit down to lunch with your new friends. After lunch, begin the journey to Nagarkot. Along the way, stop off at Bhaktapur, a beautifully preserved ancient city and host to a wondrous range of temples and statues. Then wander to the ancient temple of Changu Narayan – ask your leader about the legends associated with this site. Upon arrival to Nagarkot, prepare for an overnight stay at Club Himalaya, renowned for its unrestricted view of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Changu Narayan and the surrounding areas. End the day with a toast to your fabulous view over sunset cocktails.
Wake up and witness an early morning 180-degree sunrise view before travelling to Kathmandu airport by chartered coach. From here, you will fly to Pokhara – if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the spectacular Himalayan mountain chain to the north. On arrival, take a boat ride across the lake of Phewa Tal, the second largest lake in Nepal. The visit to the Peace Pagoda afterwards grants excellent views of the mountains including the Annapurnas, the famous fishtail peak of Machhapuchhare and a glimpse back across to Pokhara. In the afternoon, perhaps take some time to enjoy Pokhara’s mellow atmosphere and wander its colourful streets, or take a stroll along the scenic lake and see the brightly painted paddle boats bobbing in the water. Pokhara has no shortage of restaurants to tempt your taste buds so be sure to ask your leader for some great local recommendations.
Start the day with a visit to the International Mountain Museum, which is full of fascinating tales and exploits from climbing expeditions of the past – some ending in triumph and others in tragedy. Then begin the Kalikasthan hike with your leader, walking first to Thulakot and Kaukhola, where you’ll take in unforgettable views of the Himalayas and the Pokhara valley. Your leader will be on hand to answer any questions about the inspiring landscape. Continue on to a small and serene village where various Hindu and Buddhist ethnic groups live harmoniously. Stop in at a restaurant for a chat with the locals and a cup of traditional tea. After your hike, make a visit to the Tibetan refugee camp. Hear harrowing and heartbreaking stories of their journey from Tibet to Nepal and see how they make delicious momos (steamed dumplings) which you will eat together for lunch. Enjoy a free evening in Pokhara.
Chitwan National Park
Make the morning drive to Chitwan and arrive at your feature stay accommodation for the next two nights, the heavenly Kasara resort. Perfectly placed on the border of Chitwan National Park, this modern and elegant resort offers total tranquillity in one of the world’s wildest settings. Enjoy palatial rooms, first-class service and naturally warm Nepali hospitality. After settling in, meet the camp staff and resident naturalists who will provide firsthand information and local insight into the park’s habitat conservation program. There’s some flexibility with activities in this area, which may vary depending on the time of year and known wildlife movements and locations. A late afternoon safari is an experience like none other, showing the varied and exciting flora and fauna of the park. Then journey to the Rapti River and enjoy a cool class of champagne on the banks while you watch the sun set and the birds return home. Back at the resort, you’re in for a real treat. Head to a secluded spot on the property for a creative range of dishes served under a canopy of stars. Feel a world away from it all as the only sounds you’ll hear are the chirping of crickets and the swapping of stories.
Chitwan National Park
After breakfast, leave the lodge for an early morning dugout canoe adventure on the Rapti River. Your tour leader will help you spot marsh mugger crocodiles along with the various birds that inhabit the riverbanks. Tiger sightings are rare these days, but the magnificent creatures inhabit the park so it’s not to be ruled out. Upon your return to dry land, an organised program will help fill the rest of the day and may include further excursions by jeep.
In the evening, enjoy dinner with your group and relax at your accommodation’s fabulous bar while discussing the day’s sightings or listening to the song of the jungle.
Enjoy a peaceful breakfast at the resort before catching a flight back to Kathmandu. The afternoon is yours to enjoy, so perhaps engage in some shopping or learn more of Nepal’s cultural heritage during a visit to the Nepali Folk Musical Instrument Museum, home to more than 650 unique instruments. This evening, you may wish to join your leader and group for a farewell dinner at a fantastic local restaurant, leaving you with a final memory of Nepal’s beautiful and traditional food.
Paro - Thimphu
Leave Nepal behind today with a transfer to the airport and a flight to Bhutan. Depending on the clarity of the weather and your flight path into Paro (2,280m), you may be met with an awe-inspiring view of the massive eastern Himalayan peaks on your way in. Please note that you will be unescorted on this flight, but you will be met at Paro airport and transferred to Thimphu (2,736m), the capital of Bhutan. After settling in, a meeting will take place with your new tour leader to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. If time permits, join your leader for an orientation walk to get acquainted with Thimphu’s main street, and visit the National Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in honour of Bhutan’s third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This evening, join your group and leader for an included welcome dinner at a wonderful restaurant that’s a favourite with the locals. Learn about the rich history of Bhutanese cuisine as you tuck into a traditional feast, including seasonal vegetables and the country’s signature dish – red rice with a tasty chili cheese. You may like to try some Bhutanese peach wine or perhaps some Ara, the national spirit, served neat and hot.
After breakfast you will venture out to explore Thimphu. Stop off at Buddha point, named after its giant gilded Buddha statue, and take in panoramic views of the city. Take a short hike through pine trees where your leader will help you spot takin, the national animal of Bhutan, a unique goat-antelope creature. Carry on to the Zilukha Nunnery then pass by the fortress and monastery of Tashichho Dzong, sitting on the banks of the Thimphu Chhu river. After lunch, your leader will weave together the fascinating cultural heritage of Bhutan during visits to the National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, and the Voluntary Artists School in Thimphu, an institution where young people receive formal education in the art of traditional painting, sculpture, and woodcarving. Thimphu has an excellent range of handicrafts, most notably woven cloth, wooden masks, thangkas, silverware, jewellery, and bamboo crafts that come from all over Bhutan.
This morning, travel out to the castle-monastery of Simtokha Dzong, built to guard against a demon that is said to have escaped into the nearby rock. Next, drive the winding Dochula pass (3100 m), marked by more than a hundred chortens built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers killed fighting Indian insurgents in 2003. Then continue to Punakha and before arrival, stop at a local village and take a short walk to the Chimi Lhakhang – The Temple of Fertility. Your leader will explain how people from all corners of the country visit the Lhakhang to seek a blessing from Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the ‘Divine Madman’. A revered womaniser and drinker, this wandering preacher taught that sexual freedom was at the centre of Truth. On the walk through the village of Sopsokha to the temple you will notice the phallic symbols painted on walls, a symbol of fertility and protection from evil. Arrive at your resort in Punakha and enjoy fabulous views of the valley.
Begin the day with a short drive to the base of a hill where a ridge-top monastery sits. In this almost sub-tropical valley, begin a hike at a suspension bridge that crosses the Mo Chu river and pass through paddy fields before starting to climb a moderately inclined trail to the Kahmsum Yulley temple. Built by the Queen Mother, the temple is a classic example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions. From the top you can take in sweeping views across the valley. After a lunch by the side of the Mo Chu River, you’ll visit the white-walled, red-roofed Punakha Dzong, the administrative and religious centre and winter retreat of His Holiness, Je Khenpo – the chief abbot of Bhutan. The Dzong boasts intricately carved woodwork, prayer halls and beautiful religious paintings on walls and doorways. End the day at the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Temple and nunnery, where you’ll arrive in time for evening prayers.