Arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to the hotel. There will be a notice informing of the time of the introductory group meeting this evening. Here we'll meet our CEO and the families in our group and go over the logistics of the upcoming adventure. Following the meeting we will have our first meal as one big family.
In the morning we take a guided tour of some of Kathmandu's most interesting monuments and learn the basics of the local language with an introductory lesson. Lord Pashupatinath Temple dating back to 400 AD is the Nepal's holiest Hindu shrine. With its astonishing architectural beauty, it stands as a symbol of faith, religion, culture and tradition. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple that is also known as 'The Temple of Living Beings'. The richly ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. You can mingle with the holy men or sadhus on the banks of Bagmati River, and see the daily chores of Nepalese people paying their homage to Lord Shiva. Often you can see the traditional cremation ceremony on the riverbank, which occurs all through the day at the shrine. On the other hand, Boudhanath, is one of the world's largest stupas (Buddhist shrine). Boudhanath (also called Bouddhanath, Bodhnath or Baudhanath or the Khasa Chaitya) is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet which enters the Kathmandu Valley by the village of Sankhu in the northeast corner, passes by Bodhnath Stupa to the ancient and smaller stupa of Ca-bahi (often called 'Little Bodhnath'). Join the pilgrims who gather to circumnavigate the enormous dome, beneath the watchful eye of the Buddha which gazes out from the gilded central tower. Join the pilgrims in lighting butter lamps or candles on the shrines of the stupa, and send the prayer wheels spinning their prayers up into the heavens. After Lunch we travel by private bus to the nearby city of Patan (Lalitpur), which is the oldest of the three major cities in Kathmandu Valley and is famous for its Buddhist monuments, Hindu temples, and traditional artisans working with wood, stone and metal. Without doubt you will marvel at the fine arts, intricate wood and stone carvings, metal statues, and ornate architecture, including dozens of Buddhist and Hindu temples, and over 1200 monuments. Without doubt one of the most interesting places in Patan is Durbar Square, which is situated in the center of Patan city, it houses the residence of the former Patan royal family, it features an excellent display ancient Newari architecture. After sokaing in the history and ancient culture we later drive to Thamel for free time. Its concentration of narrow streets are lined with small shops selling an eclectic mix that is sure to suit all travellers and all budgets.
In the morning we drive the short distance to Pokhara with its ancient monuments and stunning natural landscape. On the way we will change from bus to boat, and raft along the Trisuli River. We will be given a full safety briefing, and the trip along the river is not through the most treacherous rapids, so this would be suitable for most families. We then continue to Pokhara. You will have time if you so wish to visit some of its main attractions. Phewa Lake is the center of all attraction in Pokhara. It is the largest and most enchanting of three lakes that add to the resplendence of Pokhara. The eastern shore, popularly known as Lakeside or Baidam, is the favorite haunt of all travelers restaurants, handicraft shops and other tourist facilities are located. Also the Barahi temple is the most important monument in Pokhara. Built almost in the Center of Fewa Lake, this two-storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protector deity representing the female force of Shakti.
Setting off from Pokhara today, we have our first experience of trekking in the Himalayas. This is a trekker's paradise, as people come from around the world to walk in these mountains. For many with our group, this may be their first experience of the mountains, and there is no better place to hike than in the shadow of the Himalayas. The entire region from Phedi, on the valley floor to the top of the hill is commonly known as Dhampus. But the main part of Dhampus is on the top of the rise, more than 500m above. Interested trekkers will start their walk from Phedi or you can choose to take the drive to reach our Lodge. Dhampus - This area is inhabited by Brahmans, Chhetris and a few Gurungs, though along the hillside is a mix of Gurung and Magar ethnic settlements with guesthouses and teahouses. The views of the mountains and valleys are superb, with great mountain vista as you continue along the ridge. On day 6, we enjoy our day in the mountains and explore village life and trekking routes of Nepal. The walking route from Dhampus to Pothana is a very pleasant one through the Rhododendron forest with the Annapurna Ranges at the background. If you do not wish to hike, you can choose to stay at the lodge for leisure time.
Today we drive through across the Terai to Chitwan which is one of the few remaining undisturbed vestiges of the region, which formerly extended over the foothills of Nepal. This National Park is the first in Nepal home to at least 43 species of mammals. In Chitwan, all the jungle activities are just a step away and there's always a chance to spot wildlife. The warm subtropical Terai region of Nepal is a home of such animals as Royal Bengal tigers, rhinos, leopards wild elephants, black bears, monkeys, Langurs, crocodiles, kinds of dear and over 250 species of exotic birds. We will take a jeep Safari in the jungle to spot wildlife. We also will do village walks.
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 air (approx 1 hour). 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.
We transfer to the airport, where the tour ends, and we say goodbye to our new, extended family.