Upon arrival at the international airport in Kathmandu, 1400 m above sea level, pass through security and immigration before collecting your luggage. Meet up with your guide and transfer to your hotel (30mins approx.) in the tourist area of Thamel where you will have a pre-tour briefing. Subject to time enjoy an evening tour: Rickshaw Night Explorer: 2-3hrs approx. Start your interesting ride on a cycle rickshaw, a.k.a. ‘street helicopters’, through the colourful tourist hub of Thamel, then on to the bustling vegetable and spice markets of Asan – the oldest market square of Kathmandu. Continue to take the backstreets into the Durbar Square – tastefully illuminated at night, you will certainly feel the soulful side of the archaic Kathmandu.
Guided tour of Pashupatinath, Bodhnath, Swoyambhunath and Kathmandu Durbar Square if rickshaw explorer not done the previous day. Pashupatinath – holy Hindu temple dedicated to one of the Hindu trinity Gods and God of Destruction – Shiva and the cremation site, Bodhnath – a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site and supposedly one of the biggest ‘stupas’ in the world influenced by Tibetan form of Buddhism, Swoyambhunath (a.k.a. Monkey temple because of all the monkeys running around!) – perched on a pedestal high on the hilltop, Swoyambhunath is acclaimed as the oldest stupa in the world and is influenced by both the Nepalese and Tibetan forms of Buddhism, which attracts constant stream of pilgrims from all around Nepal and Patan – although it is part of the sprawl of the urban Kathmandu, it has a history of its own not least as the centre of Sanskrit learning (City of Living Arts).
Drive northwards out of the Kathmandu valley through numerous twists and turns, the hills and terraced farmlands provide great views. Following more of the bends of the typical Nepalese middle-hill roads, suddenly the massive hulk of the Himalayas of the Langtang range take centre-stage. Driving down the hill, you’ll soon reach the township of Bidur, from where you divert off the main road on to the winding narrow road up the hill through pine forest to the delightful village and former citadel of Nuwakot (4.5hrs approx.) Stroll around the village for a couple of hours visiting the 17th century palace and fortress, bazaar area, local school and an ancient temple of divine power. There was damage here from the 2015 earthquake but slowly the area is starting to rebuild – Nuwakot is also an interesting place to visit. The Famous Farm is a charming and idyllically located typical village accommodation facility with a good expanse of organic crops and produce being grown at the farm.
Drive back down on to the main road and join the road to follow the Trisuli river on to the highway. Another scenic drive heads into the direction of Pokhara (5-6hrs approx.) – a popular lakeside tourist hub with an array of cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops with free time to explore. Phewa Lake offers the chance of serene boat trips (included in your itinerary), whilst a climb up to the nearby World Peace Pagoda will test the limbs and lungs (approx. 1.5hr hike to and fro). Pokhara is about 830m above sea level
Drive to Nayapul (1.5hrs approx.). Trek to Ulleri (5hrs approx.) – today you will be joined by 2 porters. Go down the hill from the road and follow a river to Birethanti (1,025m). You will walk gently uphill for a couple of hours to Hille (1,475m). The many streams, waterfalls, tropical vegetation, and green fields give this area a lush feeling. Pass a suspension bridge in Tikedhunga and walk uphill for about 1.5hrs to your overnight stop at Ulleri (1,960m). Total walking duration: 5-6hrs approx.
Initially your hike is uneven; following a path that finds its way up and down hills, then a staircase leads upwards, passing many homes and teahouses as it climbs. Part way up, you get your first view of Annapurna South. Higher up, enter a wooded area filled with trees often in bloom and large bamboo plants. Beyond Banthanti (2,300m) the vegetation thickens, and trees are hung with moss. Then, onwards and up a narrow valley with more stairs to climb until you emerge from the jungle at Nangathanti (2,520m). From here on, another hour’s climb takes you to Ghorepani (2750m). Total walking duration: 5-6hrs approx.
Rising early, for an optional pre-dawn hike (60-90 mins) up to Poon Hill (3210m) in time for sunrise over Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna Range. Returning to your teahouse for breakfast, before joining the trail that winds its way north along the ridge line with magnificent views of the Annapurnas stretching out from east to west. Following a forested ridge for a while, with views to both sides, descend steeply down a muddy slope to a small settlement before entering a heavily forested gorge. Eventually, the gorge widens, and the trail enters an open area. Descend again before your final upward climb, through dense forest, to Tadapani (2590m). Total walking duration: 4hrs approx.
Wake early to watch the sun rise on the mountains surrounding you. It is a relatively short days trek, following the contours through woodland, keeping an eye out for monkeys in the trees and a few steep downhill sections before going through agricultural landscapes. Reaching a small settlement of Bhaisi Kharka where the two routes to Ghandruk converges; continue to descend until you meet the path following the Kyunri Khola. Crossing the stream, a brief walk leads to Ghandruk through the northern edge of the village. and through open rock-strewn fields to the ‘Gurung’ village of Ghandruk (1,940m), a village which has grown large and prosperous thanks to the pensions of retired Gurkha soldiers. From Ghandruk, dramatic views of the peaks of Annapurna South, Gangapurna, Hiunchuli and the all-so-famous Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Mountain) opens up much to the delight of the onlookers. Rest of the day can be spent wandering around the village, visiting the local museum and the ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) office. Total walking duration: 4hrs approx.
From Ghandruk, the trail descends gradually at first on a wide flagstone-paved trail. Keeping to the contour of the ridge we descend slowly, passing through Kimche (1,670m). The landscape suddenly becomes lusher and eventually the trail becomes steeper as we descend towards the valley floor. The trail finally reaches the river from where the route is once again quite level. After another 30 minutes or so, you reach Birethanti (1,109m), from where it’s just a 30 – 45 minutes’ walk down the river to Nayapul where your transport will be waiting for you to take you back to Pokhara. Total walking duration: 4hrs approx. Check in to your hotel and relax before meeting up with your guide(s) and porter(s) for your final group meal together.
Drive to the village of Bandipur (2.5hrs approx.) – with its eagle’s nest location, its provincial architecture, it’s interesting walks and a warm welcome at The Old Inn. Simply enjoy the lane ways and village paths of this enchanting small town. Find a quiet place to sit in the central, traffic-free bazaar, sip tea, nibble snacks and be a part of village life as children, watched by parents, race each other and play in the village square near sunset. Afternoon stroll around the Bandipur environs as the village life comes to the fore giving you the reflection of the typical laid-back lifestyle of the middle hills of Nepal.
Backtrack to Damauli (45mins drive approx) and meet up with the rafting crew. Safety briefing, practice run and start the rafting (4-5hrs approx. depending up on the river current) on the Seti River. As well as plenty of paddling on calmer waters there are sections of rapids (to grade 3) to negotiate along the way. What you need for the rafting days will go into dry bags and what you don’t need you’ll be reunited with later. Onto the river and most of today’s paddling is on flat water, but very, very beautiful as you follow the river flanked by steep sided jungle, a sight that can only be seen by raft. There is some white water towards the end that will give you a chance to practice for what lies ahead. You’re now below 1000m, so the climate is very much sub-tropical.
Raft to take-out at Gaighat (3-4hrs approx. depending up on the river current). Continue to paddle downstream all morning and after around 3 hours you’ll reach the point where the Seti and Trisuli Rivers join. A short distance from here the river meets the road and the end point for this mini-rafting expedition. Saying goodbye to the rafting crew and after lunch, drive to Chitwan (1.5hrs approx.). Visit a tribal village in the late afternoon.
All day jeep safari in Chitwan National Park (6-7 hours). The Park is regarded as one of the finest national parks in Asia with multitude of wildlife – rhinos, deer, monkeys and a wide array of birdlife; even the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger, though the odds are very high of catching sight of it. Watch the sunsets over the Rapti River before dinner
River safari by dug-out canoe and birdwatching walk in the morning. Float down the Rapti river in a dug-out canoe with opportunities to view ‘mugger’ crocodiles and unique long-nosed ‘gharial’ crocodiles. Drive or fly back to Kathmandu.
Departure (check-out from rooms by noon). Transfer to the international airport in time for your flight home – subject to time, optional sightseeing can be arranged to visit Bhaktapur