November 2017. The Natural & Cultural Jewels of Nepal
You asked for a journey that would take you on an exploration of a landscape both external and internal, and we have created one for you in the company of a charming Nepali Sherpa who is clearly passionate about his country. Your two weeks will take you from the vibrant streets of Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park, into the rural countryside and on up into the Himalayas. You are fortunate to be here when the Mani Rimdu festival at Chiwong Monastery is taking place and, because you are in the company of Ang, you will have an experience that is both privileged and local. I wish you a blessed and meaningful trip.
Day 1: Arrival Kathmandu
Day 2: Kathmandu
We will start the day with breakfast at Dwarika’s and then make our way to the Durbar Square in the old city which acts as a historic record of four kingdoms, sporting architecture from each reign. We will also visit the Kumari Living Goddess Palace – the residence of the Royal Kumari, a young girl believed to be the incarnation of the goddess Taleju. Later on we will visit Swayambhunath Stupa, an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, a complex of temples of different faiths dating back to the 5th century.
Day 3: Chitwan National Park
Let’s meet at 8:00 AM for breakfast and then leave for the airport to catch a small plane to go to Chitwan National Park. This is the first National Park in Nepal and home to the Bengal Tigers, One-Horned Rhinoceros and elephants among other wildlife.
Day 4: Chitwan National Park
This day will also be spent in the jungles of Chitwan. With a wide range of activities to choose from we can either go on an elephant back safari, bird watching, canoeing on the river, or take a walk through the local Tharu villages.
Day 5: Kathmandu
Fly back to Kathmandu and check in at the Dwarika’s Hotel. We will take a trip to Patan Dubrar Square, the most authentic area of Kathmandu and we can have lunch at the Patan Museum or Chez Caroline at Baber Mahal, which is also a good option 15 minutes away from the museum. Besides being a pleasant restaurant for lunch, Baber Mahal has about 20 craft boutiques where you will see the wonderful hand work that is made and produced in Kathmandu.
Day 6: Phaplu
This is the day we will fly to the mountains! We will fly by small mountain helicopter (40 minutes flight time),, the most reliable means to get to the mountains. We will arrive in Phaplu by late morning and check in at the house. Lunch will be traditional Sherpa meal and served outside in the garden. In the afternoon we will do some light village walking together. (Altitude 2,500 meters)
Day 7: Chiwong Monastery
Today is the festival of Mani Rimdu at Chiwong Monastery. After breakfast we will walk from Phaplu to Chiwong (approx. time 2.5 hours) The walk is a nice gradual climb. When we get to the monastery, the procession of the festival will be in progress and we can join in to be part of the Dharma and prayers. Tonight will be spent camping in the yards of the late Sange Lama, the founder of the Monastery (1932). Tents and equipment will be brought by our team. (Altitude 2,800 meters)
Day 8: Chiwong Monastery and Phaplu
We will be part of the ongoing ritual and prayers. In the morning, we will organize a private audience with Sang Sang Rinpoche who presides over the festival. This is also the day of Tibetan theatre and storytelling. The monks perform different acts to tell the story of how Buddhism came to Tibet and how the Dharma was spread through the land. In the late afternoon, we will walk down to Phaplu to the house for a comfortable dinner, relaxation and warm bed.
Day 9: Camping in the Mountains
Today we start our 4 nights camping trip. We will walk 5 hours to the village, Junbesi. Junbesi is the cradle of Sherpa culture, the village to which the first Tibetans migrated from all over the Himalayas. Here we find a beautiful little village and the first Sherpa monastery in Nepal. The walk is mostly flat with a bit of climbing. (Altitude 2,700 meters)
Day 10: Sasha Oynan
Today we will start our climb up to Sasha Onyan. Most of walk will be through a forest that in spring turns pink from the Rhododendrons. When we get to the top we will camp on an open hilltop and have a panoramic view of the hills and mountains of the region. (Altitude 3,300 meters)
Day 11: Pikey
Today we walk to Pikey base camp. We will follow the ridges and always have a view of the Eastern Himalayas on our journey. When we get to the base camp our team will have set up a camping spot and we will have a view of Everest and other great Himalayas from our tents. (Altitude: 3,700 meters)
Day 12: Pikey Summit & Suke Pokhari
Early morning wake up with hot chocolate, tea or coffee. After a light breakfast we will start our summit walk. It will take approximately 1.5 hours to make it to the top of the peak. At the summit we will be at 4,100 meters. Pikey is placed in such a way that it is the only viewpoint in Eastern Nepal that offers a panoramic view of the West to East mountain ranges. Altitude: 4,100 meters.
After summiting we will return to base camp, have a good breakfast, and then walk onwards to Suke Pokhari where we will camp for the night. Altitude: 3,500 meters.
Day 13: Phaplu
Waking up with a view of the Himalayas, we will start our descent to Phaplu and back to the house. By late afternoon we should be back in Phaplu and can relax and unwind.
Day 14: Phaplu & Ratnange
We will spend the morning in Phaplu, visiting the hospital built by Sir Edmund Hillary as well as the school and meet with students and teachers. After lunch we will start our walk to Ratnange ridge. It is a 3-hour walk from the house and we will arrive in time to enjoy the sunset over the Himalayas. We will camp here tonight.
Day 15: Ratnange & Phaplu
Breakfast in Ratnange with a view of the Himalayas. Walk down from Ratnange to Phaplu through the jungle and the bustling village of Salleri.
Day 16: Kathmandu
We will breakfast in Phaplu and then fly back to Kathmandu late morning. Check in at the Dwarika’s hotel. Visit Thamel local market and the tourist district of Kathmandu. In the late evening, we will visit Boudhanath Stupa where we will have dinner surrounded by thousands of lit butter lamps and a wonderful positive energy.
Day 17: Kathmandu and Departure
This morning we will visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the oldest and largest of the ancient capitals around Kathmandu valley and home to different artisans who work in wood carving, silver making, Buddhist paintings. A traditional Nepali dinner will be organized for our final night.