This walking holiday is a superb introduction to the pleasures of Himalayan teahouse trekking. Enjoy a gentle four-day trek in the quieter foothills of the Himalaya among traditional villages and beautifully terraced fields with spectacular views of the Annapurna range. Kathmandu - Explore the temples and bazaars of Nepal's capital including a visit to Bodnath Stupa Chitwan National Park - Spot a wide variety of animal species and the rare one-horned rhino Pokhara - Relax after the trek in this friendly lakeside town
The trip starts today in Kathmandu, the busy, colourful and chaotic capital city of Nepal. Your Leader plans to meet everyone in the hotel reception for a welcome meeting at 5 pm. For those that wish, there is the chance to go out together as a group for dinner afterwards. There are no other activities planned for today. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your leader will leave any essential information and details of the best time to catch up with them, at the hotel reception. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM). You should allow at least 45 minutes to reach our hotel in central Kathmandu as traffic congestion in city can be bad. Depending on the arrival time of your flight, should you wish to explore, our hotel is located a short walk from the lively Thamel area. Home to a multitude of outdoor gear, souvenir shops, great bookshops and a huge variety of restaurants, it's a fun place to wander.
After breakfast there will be a longer briefing to give you an idea of what to expect on a day to day basis while on trek and to make sure that everyone is properly equipped. For those wishing to hire equipment in Kathmandu for the trek, your leader will be able to assist you on a visit to an equipment hire shop. Afterwards we head out on a walking tour visiting the bazaar and temples of old Kathmandu. Much of the day to day life of Kathmandu takes place in the local bazaar: a fascinating mixture of people selling spices; potters spinning their wheels; rickshaw wallahs honking their horns and the ever present sacred cow wandering amongst it all.
We make a morning departure to drive out of the high Kathmandu valley and descend to the foothills where we overnight at a riverside hotel in Kurintar at the much lower altitude of about 262m. As we leave the valley, on clear days we will have views of the Ganesh, Manaslu and Annapurna ranges of the Himalaya. En route you have the option of partaking in an exciting half-day's whitewater rafting trip on the Trisuli River (Grade III-III+). No previous experience is required (although we do recommend that you are confident swimming for at least 25 metres unaided) and the price includes all permits, equipment, the services of experienced river guides and lunch. The rafting trip finishes at the beach just below our hotel. Those who do not wish to raft will continue to the hotel with the bus after dropping off the rafters and can spend a leisurely afternoon relaxing by the hotel pool.
This morning we head first to Pokhara (840m). Pokhara is smaller and more relaxed than Kathmandu and is beautifully situated on the banks of Lake Phewa. There are superb views from here of the snowcapped Annapurna range,including Machhapuchhre - the famous Fishtail Mountain. We'll call in at our hotel to deposit the luggage not needed for the trek and then continue our drive north west to the trek start point at Kande (1700m). From here we walk for around two hours passing cultivated fields and scattered small settlements to the Gurung village of Badauri (1661m) where several trails cross. Today's five kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours with a total ascent of 305 metres and a descent of 405 metres.
After breakfast our walk takes us mostly through mixed oak and rhododendron forest to the high point of the trek - Panchase Danda 2500m. The summit has panoramic views of all the Annapurna peaks as well as 8000m Dhaulagiri to the west and 8000m Manaslu to the east. This area is also part of a pilgrimage route and we may visit the nearby shrine to the Hindu god Shiva. We descend to Panchase Bhanjyang - a bhanjyang being the local name for a pass (2100m). There are several local houses at the pass and we have wonderful views of the mountains as well as of Pokhara and Phewa Tal. Today's nine kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of 940 metres and a descent of 440 metres.
Our walk today is through a largely uninhabited area on a less major trail. We will spend some time in forest but will also pass several open meadows specifically cleared to graze water buffalo. In the spring you can look out for rhododendrons and white orchids in bloom in the forest. There are several welcome stone built resting places along the route which climbs to the top of a ridge and then crosses three small passes on the descent to our overnight stop at Bumdi (1500m). Today's 14 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of 470 metres and a descent of 1020 metres.
We're now coming back into a much more inhabited area and pass many cultivated fields and several settlements. There are lots of cherry trees in blossom here in November. We pass the chhettri village of Pumdi with its distinctive houses to reach the white dome of the Japanese Peace Pagoda all the while with good views of the mountains to the north. From here we descend through Rani Ban (the Queen's Forest) to the end of the trek near the dam at the south eastern end of Phewa Tal. From here we drive a very short distance to our hotel. Today's 10 kilometre walk is expected to take around four hours with a total ascent of 60 metres and a descent of 791 metres.
The day is free to explore the interesting town of Pokhara. You could visit Tashiling, a thriving village of Tibetan refugees with its own schools and monastery, where you can watch Tibetan carpets being made. Alternatively hire a boat to visit a small temple on an island in Phewa Tal. There will also be time for some souvenir shopping.
Today we drive to the flat lands of Nepal's Terai region where we stay just outside of Chitwan National Park. Once a private hunting ground, Chitwan is now a National Park with thick tree cover and tall elephant grass sheltering a wealth of animals. We'll be briefed today on the variety of activities that we can enjoy in the Park and orientate ourselves on a short walk around the village. All Park activities will be accompanied by a trained naturalist guide who will help us get the best enjoyment from these excursions.
Throughout your stay you will be kept busy except for a couple of hours around lunch time when you can read or relax in the shade. Activities in the park include a jeep safari searching out Chitwan's famous rare one-horned rhino, bird watching, jungle walks and a dugout canoe trip along the Rapti River. Canoeing will be dependent on the water level, floating silently down the river in a traditional dugout canoe gives us the opportunity to spot many varieties of water birds. On a nature walk in the company of trained native naturalists we walk along trails in the less densely forested parts of the park. An early morning bird watching walk near the river will reveal many of the 450 bird species that can be found in the park, especially kingfisher.
Today we drive back to Kathmandu. In 2019 due to ongoing roadworks this journey is taking longer than usual, possibly up to eight hours.
Today has been left free with the opportunity to make various optional excursions which your Leader can help arrange. One option is to visit the Newari town of Bhaktapur in the eastern corner of the Kathmandu Valley. Also know as Bhadgaun or the City of the Devotees, Bhaktapur evokes the feel of a medieval village, a snapshot of a time when the city lay along the prosperous trade routes between Tibet, China and India. The ancient centre of the town is a dazzling collection of temples, palaces and monasteries that has earned it a place on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Other places to visit include the Swayambunath stupa, perched on a hilltop and also known as the 'monkey temple' because of its resident group of very inquisitive primates and nearby Patan, whose Durbar Square has the finest collection of temples and palaces in the entire country.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Kathmandu. There are no activities planned for today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM).
12 Break Fast(s) 6 Lunch(es) 5 Dinner(s)
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