This 12-day venture through Nepal takes us on a journey in the mountains & jungles of the land of the Himalayas. You'll experience temples & culture in Kathmandu, do a 3-day trek in the Annapurna circuit staying at Tibetan-run teahouses, visit the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini, experience a sustainable eco lodge on an organic farm, enjoy yoga & an Aryuveda wellness mini retreat, and learn about the ancient techniques of Thangka art. During our September 2019 dates we’ll have twice daily yoga with Austin-based instructor Gigi Mao.
Ashley Blakeis an avid traveler, cultural consultant and Traverse Journeys founder with a background in tourism, entrepreneurship and project management. She is a fluent Spanish speaker with conversational Portuguese skills and is just starting to study Arabic. Ashley has worked and traveled in 45 countries across Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa including tours she has designed and led in Spain, Germany, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Morocco, Croatia and China. Ashley is passionate about connection, communication and coordination in order to link others with the opportunities and experiences that promote self-growth and community engagement. Ashley traveled Nepal with our guide Kiran in 2018 and immediately saw the beauty of the country's culture, history, and incredible natural surroundings.
Welcome to the beautiful land of the Himalayas! Arrive at the Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), and your driver will transfer you to your boutique hotel in the vibrant Thamel district. Take some time to settle in & rest up or explore this pedestrian-friendly district before we enjoy our Nepalese Welcome Dinner of fantastic traditional cuisine and cultural education with our local guide.
Today we'll explore the top cultural and historical sites in Kathmandu. Our first stop is the Swayambhunath Stupa - or the Monkey Temple - which has 360 degrees of view of the Kathmandu Valley. The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa and several shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. We'll then head to the Pashupatinath Hindu temple, which is one of the most important Shiva shrines and the most important Hindu pilgrimage temple in Kathmandu. We'll be able to see cremation ceremonies along the holy Bagmati River, a unique and very important tradition in Nepali culture. Next we'll visit Boudhanath, the biggest Buddhist stupa in Nepal which is located in a colorful village area filled with shops, huge prayer wheels and multitudes of chanting devotees. After lunch, we will visit Patan, the royal palace square consisting of 16th century pagodas and temples that have undergone meticulous restoration after the devastating 2015 earthquake. This evening take time to rest, explore and enjoy many cuisine options in Thamel such as Nepali, Indian, Thai and much more.
This morning we’ll take a quick 45-min domestic flight followed by a short drive to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. We’ll get on bikes to first visit the Maya Devi Temple, built in the 2nd century and dedicated to Buddha’s mother. Next we'll visit the Ashoka Pillar, built in 259 BC by King Ashok. When he constructed this pillar, the King exempted the villagers from paying tax and gave out 100 golden coins to the people. There are 10 different Buddhist stupas in this area, all made by different countries with different monks. Each monastery has a unique architectural design and surrounding gardens, which are beautiful to take and photograph. Later we'll have the opportunity for a tea time with local monks to learn more about Buddhism. In the evening we'll enjoy a delicious Nepali meal on-site at our local hotel.
This morning we’ll drive back to the airport for another quick domestic flight to Pokhara, a vibrant, lakeside town at the base of the Annapurna mountain range. You'll have free time to walk around and choose from many fantastic lunch options before our afternoon boatride on Fewa Lake to the Barahi Temple for sunset. Dinner is on your own and you can choose from the many different world cuisines in town and meander along the lakeside where locals like to gather after work.
Today is a free day to explore beautiful Pokhara! You can check out the market, take a lakeside walk, or shop for textiles, teas, or singing bowls. You can also choose to join optional guided tours of Devi’s Falls, the Gupteswor Gupha sacred cave, Bindabashini Temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga, the Old Bazaar and the Mountain Museum, which is devoted to the mountains of Nepal and the mountaineers who climbed them. Here you can see original gear from many of the first Himalayan ascents and also learn about the history, culture, geology and flora and fauna of the Himalayas. Tonight, we'll get packed up for our 2-night trek. You’ll only bring the gear you need and you’ll be able to leave the rest in Pokhara.
We'll head out early and drive to Nayapul where our adventure in the Annapurna foothills starts! The first two hours of walking are along the riverside where you'll go through villages and farming lands to Syauli Bazaar. Then the trail takes you uphill through the terrace, farming areas, local villages and natural surroundings. Then we'll have a final uphill leg to arrive at Ghandruk, one of the biggest local villages of this area with spectacular sunset views. Hiking: 5-6 hours, 6500 feet elevation
This morning we'll awake to impressive sunrise views of Annapurna South (23,661 feet), Hiunchuli (21,132 feet) & Fishtail (22,943 feet) and enjoy a delicious mountain breakfast. From Ghandruk, we'll trek straight down to the Modi River valley, taking us across the river then uphill through terraced land to Landrum. We'll have some easy walking through local villages, forested hills and Himalayan terraces to Tolkha for lunch. Next, the trail winds up to a forested hill, known as Deurali, before we reach Potana. After a tea break, we’ll have a last, short leg to our camp atop a hill with gorgeous views of Annapurna ranges as well as the Dhawalagiri Himalayan ranges on clear days. We'll enjoy dinner & Nepali spiced tea under the stars before a good nights’ rest. Hiking: 6-7 hours, 7,021 feet elevation
This morning we'll enjoy sunrise views of Dhaulagiri (26,794 feet), Annapurna I (26,542 feet), Annapurna South (23,661 feet), Hiunchuli (21,132 feet) & Fishtail (22,943 feet). From camp, it's just a short hike down to Kande through forested hills before driving back to Pokhara. We'll stay just outside of the city at a beautiful lodge resort where we'll learn about sustainable agriculture in the area and local community-driven projects. After dinner, the evening is yours to rest and relax after our trekking excursion.
This morning we’ll take a short domestic flight back to the Kathmandu Valley, where we’ll head up into the hills to visit a Thangka painting school. We’ll learn about this unique art style from a local master and its importance in Buddhism and Nepal. After, we’ll drive farther up the valley hills to Nagarkot for a post-trekking retreat in a gorgeous mountain setting overlooking the valley. We’ll have optional yoga in the evening with sunset views of Langang and the northeast Himalayan range.
We'll enjoy a full day retreat today with yoga, an Aryuvedic workshop to learn about traditional medicinal practices, an individual spa session, meditation and ample time to enjoy the beautiful gardens. We'll enjoy fresh & cleansing meals, with fantastic vegetarian cuisine and local teas.
This morning we’ll say farewell to our beautiful retreat center and take our time back in to Kathmandu, stopping in the cultural village of Bhaktapur. In the afternoon you'll have time for final shopping & explorations in Thamel or other parts of the city. We’ll reconvene in the evening for a special farewell dinner to say goodbye to our new friends and dream of the next adventure.
Depart any time today or add on a Mt. Everest Base Camp flight or trip to Sri Lanka or Bhutan.
11 total nights: 6 nights local 3-star hotel in Kathmandu & Pokhara with 4-star boutique hotel upgrade option; 1 night Lumbini boutique hotel; 2 nights trekking guest house; 2 nights boutique mountain retreat cabin
Daily breakfast + 6 dinners + 5 lunches
Domestic flights from Kathmandu-Lumbini-Pokhara + Airport transfers & transit between local excursions
2x daily yoga with Gigi Mao + meditation workshops + 2-day mountain yoga retreat
Guided tour & entrance fees of Kathmandu valley to see Hindu & Buddhist cultural & UNESCO heritage sites including Durbar Square, Buddha Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple & more
3 days, 2 nights trekking through terraced fields and local villages in the Annapurna mountain range (4-7 hours hiking daily) with all meals, assistant guide and porters
Guided tour options in Pokhara Valley to see Devi’s Falls, Fewa Lake, Gupteshore Cave, Bindabashini Temple & more.
Guided bicycle tour through Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha + Tea time with a monastery monk to learn more about Buddhism
2-night retreat in Nagarkot with 4 yoga sessions, an Aryuvedic workshop, an included spa session, fresh healthy meals, optional hiking, and a peaceful mountain setting
Thangka art workshop visit & cultural education
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