Nepal is a landlocked and magical country placed between Tibet, Bhutan, India and Kashmir. Ever since Nepal first opened its borders to outsiders in the 1950s, this tiny mountain nation has had an irresistible mystical allure for travellers. Today, masses of trekkers are drawn to the Himalaya’s most iconic and accessible hiking, with rugged trails to Everest, the Annapurnas and beyond on offer. The adrenaline rush of rafting down a roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into a bottomless Himalayan gorge draws others. Madness.
But there is also a peaceful side to Nepal. A must see are the temple-lined medieval city squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, and joining Buddhist pilgrims on a spiritual stroll around the centuries-old stupas and temples scattered across the Kathmandu Valley. Further south lie Nepal’s wild and woolly national parks, where nature buffs scan the treetops for exotic bird species and comb the jungles for rhinos and tigers from the backs of lumbering Indian elephants.
You’ll fly into Kathmandu – the centre for Nepal’s music, dance and a treasure of arts, culture and religion, the main ones being Buddhism and Hinduism.
The winding streets are filled with bookshops, extensive markets, handicraft shops along with some the greatest cultural and spiritual world heritage sites in the world: Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Patan or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known nearby towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw are a must see.
The Royal Chitwan National Park is situated in the central Terai region of Nepal. Chitwan is the Nepal’s oldest national park and now a World Heritage site. This region is a massive contrast to the Kathmandu Valley as it’s in the subtropical southern part of Nepal.
Here you’ll find massive river plains and a steaming jungle hosting one of the largest populations of the rare Bengal tiger, along with the one-horned rhino and wild elephants that are best viewed on elephant-back safaris.
In many ways the Kathmandu Valley is Nepal. Created by the sword of the Buddhist deity Manjushri, this natural basin is a patchwork of terraced fields and sacred temple towns that showcase the glory of the architects and artisans of Nepal.
The valley provides a green and lush base for medieval villages, centuries-old temples and sacred sites; while just beyond the valley rim lie the larger than life Himalayan range and the road to Tibet.
The Everest region is located in the northeast of Nepal. The prime attraction – the 8,848 m peak of Mt. Everest in the Sagarmatha National Park, also home to two other ‘eight thousanders’ – Lhotse and Cho Oyu – besides other whoppers above 6,000 m.
Designated a World Heritage Site in 1979, much of the 1,148 sq. km park lies above 3,000 m. The park is made up of rugged terrain with deep gorges, glaciers and huge rocks. The vegetation changing from pine, hemlock, fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron to alpine plants and then onto bare rock and snow. It’s home to the ghoral, tahr, serow and musk deer as well as the impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, red-billed chough and the yellow-billed chough. Mind blowing.
The remote village of Sankhu is in the depths of the Kathmandu Valley. Here you’ll stay in our volunteer house just a 15 minute walk from an orphanage we have supported for a while. Set up by local Nepalise for about 70 kids rescued from the streets of Kathmandu aged 4 -20 years.
The orphanage provides a home and an education for these kids who rely on our volunteers (that’s you!) to teach basic English, renovate parts of their home and basically provide love, daily care and fun. Evening football matches are an essential part of the day.
Your first week will be spent in this extraordinary capital city - the urban core of the Kathmandu valley, rich in culture and happily providing a ‘sensory overload’.
Here you will stay in a hotel right in the middle of the city from where you can gently acclimatise to both the altitude and culture. Your days will be spent sightseeing and attending our Nepali language lessons so you get to grips with the basics of the language, which will really help you integrate with the communities and Sherpas you’ll meet later on.
The Royal Chitwan National Park provides the perfect setting for a week of exploring and a full on four-day adventure safari of game viewing and adrenaline sports is included in the programme cost.
You’ll stay inside the park in a hostel and venture out from there. The four-day adventure safari will include white water rafting on the rapids of Trishuli River, a bike ride to visit the elephant breeding centre, an elephant ride, canoeing and game drive/hikes to spot the elusive Bengal tiger, elephants and an amazing array of local birds.
The trek to Everest Base Camp is without doubt one of the most famous in the world and takes you into the heart of the Himalayan Range, with awe-inspiring views. The trek takes you through lush valleys with abundant flora and fauna and through friendly Sherpa villages with their Buddhist monasteries and yaks.
From Kathmandu you will fly to Lukla where you will begin your trek, supported by Sherpa’s who are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local terrain.
Your trek takes about 14 days and will include a day in Namche Bazaar, a bustling market town in the heart of Sherpa country, Pheriche, where you’ll visit a cluster of houses set among the high summer grazing pastures of the region, Kala Pattar, the highlight for most, from where you can view the chaotic ice sculptures of the Khumbu Glacier, Nuptse and the south-west face of Everest itself.
But most days will be spent trekking from one remote village to another staying in traditional teahouses, surrounded with breath taking scenery of the snow-capped peaks. Unforgettable.
Over the course of the four weeks you're going to be super busy with all we have lined up for you. But if you plan on extending your stay, we suggest you head over into the Indian Himalayas, tackle the Annapurna circuit or hike to the beautiful Gokyo Lakes.
Alternatively, for some rest and relaxation you might consider flying to the beaches of India or Sri Lanka.
We have one team departing for Nepal in Sept 2016. More options planned for 2017. This program is four weeks long, taking in all the sights and experiences you'll find described on this page with plenty of downtime for you to explore the country as you please.
Because the itinerary in Nepal is only four weeks long it's unfortunately not possible to shorten the trip.