Small group tour to the highlights of Nepal
A compelling mix of landscapes, exotic religious monuments and vibrant Nepali cultures are showcased on our popular, 9-day group tour through the Himalayan foothills of the Kathmandu Valley. It starts in the capital, with visits to Durbar Square and the historic town of Bhaktapur, site of the country's best preserved medieval temples, before heading west to Bandipur, where you'll get your first really spectacular view of the Himalayan ice peaks.
Holidays types: Group Tours, Cultural Holidays, Wildlife Holidays
➕ Day 1 Kathmandu
On arrival in Kathmandu, the group will be met by the TransIndus team and accompanied to our hotel. We'll spend the remainder of the day recovering from our journey, perhaps venturing out for a stroll to Durbar Square in the evening. Dinner will be at the Bhojan Griha.
A sprawling modern city of nearly a million inhabitants, the Nepali capital can feel overwhelmingly crowded and chaotic on first impressions. But head for its ancient core and things improve dramatically. Durbar Square forms the epicentre of the old quarter. More than fifty temples, 106 monastery courtyards (bahals) and countless shrines line its narrow, cobbled backstreets and stone-paved piazzas. Settle on to one of the terraced platforms of the Manju Devul tower to watch the exotic bustle of marigold sellers, saffron-clad sadhus, stray cows and pigeons. In the evening, the group will convene for a seven-course Nepali banquet at the famous Bhojan Griha restaurant in Dillibazaar.
➕ Day 2 Kathmandu
A full day's sightseeing today around the historic monuments of the Kathmandu Valley, including the beautifully preserved Newari city of Bhaktapur.
After breakfast, the group will head to Boudhanath, the largest stupa in the country, embellished with piercing eyes and strings of prayer flags dangling from a spectacularly gilded tower. Later, we'll board the group bus for the trip out to Bhaktapur, which boasts an impressive concentration of medieval palaces, courtyard monasteries (bahals) and monumental squares. Despite being Nepal's third city, it's a much more easygoing destination thanks to the absence of traffic from its historic centre.
An optional - but highly recommended - extra on the third day of your Nepal adventure is the flight to see the world's highest mountain, Everest. At the crack of dawn, a fleet of small, 16-seater aircraft depart Kathmandu's airport for a scenic 45- to 60-minute flight which, weather permitting, yields unforgettable views of the ice giants lining the Nepali-Tibet border. All passengers have a window seat and for many this is the only practical way of getting up-close to some of the most magnificent scenery in the entire Himalayan range.
➕ Day 3 Bandipur
Drive to the hilltop town of Bandipur in the morning. On arrival, enjoy a stroll around the market area, perhaps venturing out again later for a sunset walk.
Newari traders from the Kathmandu Valley established Bandipur as a hub on the Indo-Tibet road in the late 18th century, bringing with them the rich architectural heritage that endures in the town to this day. Bypassed by the main Pokhara'"Kathmadu highway, its core of brick and wood shop-houses and temple, beautifully embellished with traditional metal work and wood carving, has remained miraculously unsullied by concrete. Before supper, walk up to the old parade ground, or tudikhel, to enjoy the astounding sunset views of the Annapurnas, Mansulu range and Marsyangdi Valley from the avenue of fig trees along its western edge.
➕ Day 4 Pokhara
An early start is recommended for anyone wishing to see the pre-dawn Alpenglow on the Himalayas from the tudikhel viewpoint. Later, board the group bus for the onward drive to Pokhara, in the foothills of the Annapurnas.
Pokhara is the only town in Nepal that could be described as a 'resort'. Lying 198km west of the capital along the Prithvi Highway, it owes its popularity to the magical view of Machapuchare ('Fish Tail') reflected in the glassy waters of beautiful Phewa Tal lake. Spend the rest of the day exploring the lakeshore and market area with your guide.
➕ Day 5 Pokhara
Views of Machapuchare are what everyone comes to Pokhara for, and there are plenty of places dotted around the lakeside and town that make the most of the panoramas.
You can soak up the famous icy profile in a cafe on the lakeshore, or from the water on an evening boat cruise. Later, take the cable car up to the Peace Pagoda overlooking the town for a truly jaw-dropping vieA of the Himalayan summits to the north, which soar from 1000m to 7,500m in less than 30km. Your guide will be on hand to advise any keen walkers in the group who wish to undertake a short trek on their own.
➕ Day 6 Chitwan National Park
A long drive southwest takes you from the Himalayan foothills to the Nepali Tarai region and Chitwan National Park, the country's top nature reserve. Having checked in, spend the remainder of the day exploring the grounds of the hotel and relaxing in your chalet.
The one-horned rhinoceros is emblematic of this area, which it shares with a handful of wild (as opposed to domestic) elephants, crocodile, buffalo and bison. Deer such as the spotted and swamp varieties along with sambar are ubiquitous but there are also antelopes, elusive tigers and leopards, hyenas, sloth bears and jackals. A handful of gangetic dolphins survive in the Karnali River and these may be sighted on boat trips.
➕ Day 7 Chitwan National Park
Explore the park by Jeep, canoe and on elephant back today, with a visit to a local village in the afternoon between safaris.
Elephant safaris are the big selling point of the Royal Chitwan National Park. Sitting astride a swaying, soft-footed pachyderm, you'll stand a much better chance of getting close to the Jurassic-looking rhinos that are the reserve's big stars, as well as the more elusive tigers inhabiting its core zone. Sightings of Gangetic dolphins and gharial crocs are almost guaranteed on the river, which you can explore by canoe. Later, visit the local Tharu village and a co-operative that uses elephant dung to make artisanal paper.
➕ Day 8 Chitwan National Park, Kathmandu
In the morning group members will have the option of a guided cycle ride around nearby Sauraha village, or another game drive in the park. Later, take an early afternoon flight to Kathmandu, visiting Swayambhunath for sunset.
It's hard to think of a better place to spend your final evening in Nepal that the dramatic hilltop temple of Swayambhunath. Colloquially known as 'the Monkey Temple' for its resident population of macaques, the complex centres on magnificent stupa whose gilded tower and pair of huge, all-seeing eyes have become emblematic of Kathmandu.
➕ Day 9 Kathmandu
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK.