You may arrive at the joining-point hotel at any time on Day 1 as no group activities are planned for today except for a group meeting in the early evening followed by an optional dinner. It is important that you arrive in time for this meeting as we will cover important aspects of the trek. Please check the entrance of the hotel for a notice from your CEO detailing the location of the meeting. Kathmandu is Nepal’s magical capital and largest city and for many, simply the name alone is sufficient to conjure up images of temple pagodas, long-haired saddhus in clouds of hashish smoke and the ever-present Himalayas. Kathmandu is all this and more. Sitting in a bowl-like valley surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains on earth, Kathmandu has been a crossroads of cultures since hundreds of years before Christ, a tradition very much alive today. Kathmandu is fascinating at every turn and a great place to just wander, seeing where chance, fate or the city may lead you.
On Day 2 we will take a tour of the world heritage sites of Durbar Square and Bhaktapur. Durbar Square was built primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries. Within the square there is of course the Royal Palace and many temples built in the traditional Newari pagoda style. On the south side lies the Kumari Chowk, home to Nepal's living goddess the Kumari, a prepubescent girl chosen as the incarnation of the Hindu goddess Talejn. The Kumari lives a cloistered life rarely leaving the confines of the chowk, when she does it is for important religious festivals and whilst traveling her feet must never touch the ground. Once the Kumari reaches puberty another 3-5 year old girl will take her place. Known as Bhadgaon or the city of the devotees, Bhaktapur is a unique old town. Since time immemorial it lay on the trade route between Tibet/ China and India. This position on the main caravan route made the town rich and prosperous, which in turn fed the cultural life of the city, which today is a living gem of Hindu temples, pagodas, palaces and monuments, many dating back to the 16th century. The old palace in Durbar square, built in 1700, is well preserved and has beautifully carved wood work and a finely worked gilt gateway. Nepal's Malla dynasty's achievements in arts and crafts are reflected throughout the city. During our stay here you will observe interesting happenings such as colorful open markets, locals making clay pots and weaving. The town is famous for its home made curd which is known locally as khopa dhau. In your free time you may want to visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the largest Buddhist shrines in the world. Here you may observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the Stupa. Another fascinating place is Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here we will see Hindu holy-men (or Sadhus), pilgrims performing ritual bathing, and occasionally, funeral pyres burning on the ghats. Swayambhunath is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. Its lofty white dome and glittering golden spire are visible for many miles. On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes. These eyes are symbolic of God's all-seeing perspective. There is no nose between the eyes but rather a representation of the number one in the Nepali alphabet, signifying that the single way to enlightenment is through the Buddhist path. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye, signifying the wisdom of looking within. No ears are shown because it is said the Buddha is not interested in hearing prayers in praise of him. To reach Swayambhunath you climb 365 steps that lead up the hill and the area surrounding the stupa is filled with temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects. MOUNTAIN FLIGHTS Regular flights are conducted daily from Kathmandu towards the Himalayan Range in the North and East of Kathmandu. The flight generally takes off in the morning and lasts for one full hour. This is the quickest way to get a close look at Mt. Everest, the highest mountains in the world. Other mountains that can be viewed at close range are Nuptse (7879 M), Lhotse (8501 M), Cho Oyu (8000M), Makalu (8475 M) and Kanchenjunga (8584 M).
A lively bus ride along stunning scenery brings us from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Pokhara lies on a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. The enchanting city has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of Himalayan peaks - creating the ambience that has made it such a popular place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. Nestled in a tranquil valley at an altitude of 827m, Pokhara is a place of natural beauty. The serenity of Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the fish-tailed summit of Machhapuchhre (6977m) rising behind it create an ambiance of peace and tranquility. Pay a visit to the striking temple of Brindabasim which stands proudly over Pokhara. The temple is of great religious importance to Hindus and is the site of much religious fervor. Dedicated to the goddess Durga who is the chosen guardian deity of Pokhara. Animal sacrifices take place here usually on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Later why not relax in a café, hire a boat and float around the lake or shop for Nepali and Tibetan souvenirs in the endless stalls and shops.
At 8091m, Annapurna 1 is one of the highest mountains in the world. Its surrounding sister mountains are equally imposing, creating magnificent panoramas from any view point. Throughout the trek we come across isolated mountain communities, each observing different ancestral customs and traditions, resulting in not only a visually superb expedition but also a culturally rich one. Amid the rugged mountain scenery, we meet warm and welcoming locals herding yaks and goats on the grassy pastures. We also enjoy the opportunity to visit their monasteries and temples. Along the way we see waterfalls of melted snow, cross icy rivers, broad plains and high mountain passes and reward ourselves with a soak in natural hot springs (boy, have you earned this!). Day 04. We transfer to our trekking start point Nayapool which is around 1.5 hours from Pokhara. From here we start to trek up hill passing the foothill of Annapurna Region to reach Ghandruk. Ghandruk is a village which is populated by mostly Thakalis, Gurungs and Magars. Total hiking time today is about 5 - 6 hours and distance hiked is 8-9 km. (Altitude at Nayapool: 1080m, at Ghandruk: 1920 meters) Day 05. After breakfast, we trek all the way to Jhinu Danda which takes approx. 4 hours (distance hiked: 6 km). We spend about 2 hours in Jhinu so we can take a break and enjoy the hotsprings. In the afternoon we hike another 3 hours (5-6 km) through the forest of Annapurna to reach Landrung. (Altitude at Jhinu Danda: 1710m, at Landruk: 1630 meters) Day 06. Today our 4 - 5 hour trek brings us to Dhampus for the evening. The total distance hiked is 8-9 kms. (Altitude at Deurali: 2100m, at Dhampus: 1600 meters)
Today we have a final two hour trek to Phedi from where we return to Pokhara for lunch before continuing to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Royal Chitwan National Park (approx 4-5 hrs). Known as the Terai Tarai ("moist land"), the landscape you travel through today is a belt of marshy grasslands, savannas, and forests at the base of the Himalayas. The Terai zone is composed of alternate layers of clay and sand, with a high water table that creates many springs and wetlands; the zone is inundated yearly by the monsoon-swollen rivers of the Himalaya. Total time trekking: 2 hours Distance hiked: 3km
The Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands form an eco-region that stretches across the middle of the Terai belt. They are a mosaic of tall grasslands, savannas and evergreen and deciduous forests; the grasslands are among the tallest in the world, fed by silt deposited by the yearly monsoon floods. It is this eco-region that is home to the endangered Indian Rhinoceros, as well as elephants, Bengal tigers, bears, leopards and other wild animals. Much of the region has been converted to farmland, although both Royal Chitwan National Park and Royal Bardia National Park preserve significant sections of habitat, and are home to some of the greatest concentrations of rhinoceros and tiger remaining in South Asia. Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP), the oldest national park in Nepal. Established in 1973, it became a World Heritage Site in 1984. Within its area of 932km², the Royal Chitwan National Park is home to at least 43 species of mammals, 450 species of birds, and 45 species of amphibians and reptiles including sambars, chitals, rhesus monkeys, and langurs. Until 1950 the Chitwan Valley was a hunting reserve for big game. Happily, today tourists come only to spot wildlife, rather than shoot it, and the park offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Asia. We explore the national park by jeep safari before we are accompanied by our local guide for a half day walk inside the park. There will also be free time to go on a canoe ride or to enjoy a spot of bird watching.
Return to Kathmandu by road (approx 6 hours). The afternoon is free for your own explorations and shopping. If you have not done so already you could visit the burning ghats at Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath, the monkey temple. More than almost any city in the world, Kathmandu is fascinating at every turn, and some travelers prefer to just wander, seeing where chance, fate or the city may lead them.
You are free to depart at any time tody, though remember check out from the hotel is 12.00 midday. Your CEO can help you arrange any onward travel.