Enjoy the mountain scenery, natural history and diverse traditional cultures of Nepal. This program combines three modules-Kathmandu; the ancient villages of the surrounding valley; and an elephant safari in Royal Chitwan National Park. Each module can also stand alone, before or after any of our Nepal treks or as a building block in your custom trip. Our senior Nepal staff lead these trips based on the interests and preferences you express. This is the best way to make your stay efficient and avoid the sometimes chaotic character of navigating Kathmandu and Nepal.
Day 1: Kathmandu / Dhulikhel
Arrive at Kathmandu Airport and transfer directly to the village of Dhulikhel on a ridge top north of the Kathmandu Valley. You will stay at a lodge with panoramic view of the Himalayas. You have only a 20-minute walk to the village with its winding streets and narrow alleys. This an excellent place to relax and observe typical rhythms of life in Nepal. Meals: (L) and (D).
Day 2: Dhulikhel
Dhulikhel offers a wealth of opportunities for exploration. Roam the shops in the village, enjoy guided hikes of various lengths and difficulty or just relax on the patio and enjoy the splendid view. There are sacred Hindu temples, an active Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, a venerated holy location where the Buddha offered his flesh to a starving tiger, and many scenic view points within a morning's walk of your lodging. Local people are very friendly and likely to invite you in to see their homes, school or shops. All meals are included.
Day 3: Dhulikhel / Kathmandu
Return to Kathmandu via the ancient city of Bhaktapur, once a separate kingdom where the city still retains an architectural and design spirit of a feudal state focused on artistic and religious glorification. You will feel you are walking back in time strolling through the core of the old city now preserved and interpreted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take some time to look in the shops to observe potters, weavers, brass-makers, religious artisans, Brahmin priests and spice merchants carrying out their professions as they have done here for hundreds of years. This is the best place in all of Nepal to shop for souvenirs.
Indeed, you will probably find a more diverse range of cuisine and a larger variety of restaurants within one mile of your hotel than exists anywhere else in Asia. You are within walking distance of many major architectural and religious sites of the city. The rest of the day is free to explore on your own. Your guide will offer suggestions for restaurants and guidance in navigating the enticing chaos of commerce around you. Meals: (B).
Day 4: Chitwan National Park
After breakfast you will drive or fly to Chitwan National Park, depending on group size, weather season, road conditions and flight schedules. Our goal is to get you there in time for an afternoon elephant safari. If you drive you will pass interesting villages and scenery along the way. Chitwan is one of the world's best habitat for the rare Bengal Tiger and the One-horned Rhinoceros. Almost 2600 sq km of lush riverine grasslands and subtropical forests provide the last sanctuary for hundreds of species of birds and other animals. We utilize Temple Tiger camp at the western end of the park. This one of the very finest facilities in the park. You have a very private location in a relatively small but comfortable camp with excellent guides, food and other facilities. This is probably the best facility for viewing the larger mammals. Meals: (B) and (L).
Day 5: Chitwan National Park
On elephant back you will explore the jungle looking for birds, wild boar, deer, rhinoceros and the elusive Bengal Tiger, though these are rarely seen. Enjoy nature walks and canoe trips to find crocodiles. Usually activities begin before dawn as the jungle wakes up. Mid-day you will have a break, but in mid-afternoon you will again head out with your naturalist in search of game. There is usually a sumptuous evening meal and a campfire program with the night sounds of the jungle all around you. All meals are included.
Day 6: Chitwan / Kathmandu. Return to Kathmandu by air or surface. You will get a glimpse of village life in the southern plains of Nepal. On arrival in Kathmandu, the rest of your day is free to explore on your own. You will return to your hotel in Thamel. Meals: (B).
Day 7: Kathmandu
Guided sightseeing in Boddhanath and Pasupatinath. Boddhanath is a great white half dome with the Eyes of Buddha painted on it. It is one of the most famous cultural icons of Nepal. Doddhanath is a site of very active worship and many Tibetan-type Buddhist monasteries representing sects from Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, different areas of Nepal and India. Nowhere on earth will you encounter such a concentration or Tibetan Buddhist activity.
Non-Buddhists cannot appreciate the great holiness of this location and its significance as a growing, glowing, radiant center of spiritual attraction. Not far away you will visit one of the most holy and venerated of all Hindu temples, Pasupatinath. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the golden-roofed pagoda-style temple, but you can glimpse the great golden bull through the doorway. A great pilgrimage occurs here in February attracting Hindu ascetics and devout worshipers from all areas of the Hindu world. Monkeys are everywhere around the grounds, riverside creations are often taking place and there is always a colorful and often bizarre area of visitors encamped in the general area. Finally, this day, if time permits you will visit the Tibetan refugee center and Patan, another of the old Kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley. Meals: (B).
Day 8: Kathmandu / Onward
Final time for shopping or exploring Kathmandu. You will realize there is much more to do in Nepal. If you have specific requests to see things not included, wish to contact professional peers in an informal setting or pursue other ventures, let us know and we can easily add extra days to this itinerary to meet your needs. Late morning transfer to the airport for your onward flight or continuing on with other explorations in Nepal. Meals: (B).
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