Starting in landlocked Nepal tucked in 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 Annapurna’s and beyond. The adrenaline rush of rafting down a roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into a bottomless Himalayan gorge draws others. Madness.
Then it is on India for a complete contrast – hot, busy and oh so colourful. Here you will explore India’s highlights starting with the famous Taj Mahal, the palaces in Rajasthan and the beaches of Goa but not before you have visited the home of the Dalai Lama and helped teach English to the monks and nuns who travel there on a pilgrimage.
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.
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 - visiting many of teh famous sites and monuments.
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.
Here you will have time to:
White water raft down the Trishuli River.
Cycle to the elephant breeding centre.
Visit Tharu village and see their famous Stick Dance.
Canoe and jungle trek to track the wildlife.
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.
Community Development Projects
It is in one of these valleys where we have organised for you to contribute to a volunteering project in an orphanage, monastery or with environmental conservation.
Orphanage or Monastery Project:
As a volunteer you will work to better the lives of the community through basic renovation and teaching. You will have the opportunity to teach English and conduct creative programs including games, music, art, drawing and painting.
Or you will be able to work in the village nursery where to help with seed collection, sowing, mulching, watering and trimming. The nursery produces seedlings that are later distributed for to the local schools, communities, and villagers for planting in community fields.
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.
Trek to the Base Camp of Mt Everest
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.
Swap the mountains of Nepal for the smells, sounds and colours of India. Experience the hustle and bustle of Delhi, exploring by foot and tuk tuk, before a week’s tour of the Golden Triangle, Red Fort and Taj Mahal; one of the modern Wonders of the World.
You will have the chance to spend the day taking in the sights and sounds of this magnificent city. Being the capital city, Delhi forms a microcosm within India. It draws in people from all over the country who bring with them the unique and distinct flavours of their own cultures. As it is the nation’s capital, it contains many historically and culturally important sites that you will have time to explore.
Agra & the Taj Mahalv
The next part of the trip takes you to the jewel in the crown of India. A testimony to love forever enshrined within a marble mausoleum and recently included as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World - The Taj Mahal guarantees to wow.
You’ll head to Jaipur to see the City Palace, Amer Fort and elephant ride, Pink City, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and Jal Mahal.
Your next phase will take you up to the old colonial Hill Station of Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama.
The primary project work is to teach English to the Tibetan Monks and nuns, who travel from different monasteries to learn English. Volunteers teach conversational English and pronunciation. This helps the Monks and Nuns to grow culturally and so they can read books from other religions and later teach young monks.
As well as teaching English to the Monks, you will also have an opportunity to look after and teach English to children while their parents are at work. As a volunteer you will help keep the children active by playing, colouring, singing and dancing. Also light cleaning, cooking, feeding and other light tasks asked by the head teacher.
Mcleod Ganj – Home of the Dalai Lama
There will also be time to explore Mcleod Gang, the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. We will visit the Dalai Lama Temple Complex, also known as “Little Lhasa of Tibet” where the Dalai Lama gives his teachings, and also see the Headquarters of the Tibetan Government in exile. You will also be able to visit other well known sites including Bhagsunag falls and Temple (an important spot of Hindu Pilgrims), and the local markets where you can buy Tibetan handicrafts.
The small town of Bir is renowned for its eco-tourism and meditation studies. It is located in a beautiful setting in the foothills of the Himalayas surrounded by forests and tea gardens. Bir is the perfect place from which to do some light hikes and is also the paragliding capital of India.
The final leg of your adventure takes you first through the state of Rajasthan, land of the Kings with majestic forts and lavish palaces, jungles and sand dunes. Continuing south you’ll spend a few days exploring India’s second city, Mumbai, before reaching your final destination – Goa with its clear seas, pristine beaches, exquisite cuisine and friendly people.
As one of India’s most visited states, Rajasthan can show you the very best of what India has to offer – from palaces and forts, to never ending desert landscapes with camels and snake charmers.
Formally known as Bombay, the city of Mumbai sets the pace for all western India, its commerce, cinema, energy and global profile are instrumental in the rise of the country’s ambitions. Admire the Gateway of India Monument, shop in Crawford Market, take a stroll down Marine Drive and do some people-watching at Chowpatty Beach where Fakirs walk on fire, sleep on nails and climb ropes in midair. Also time to try local food such as kulfi ice cream and bhelpuri, a spicy local speciality.
The final part of your trip takes you down to the sandy beaches of Goa. With its hot climate, pristine beaches, exquisite cuisine and friendly people, Goa is consistently ranked year after year as one of the top tourist destinations in India.
As well as exploring the history you will have more than enough free time to relax on some of the outstanding beaches, visit spice plantations and of course lose yourself in a few local markets where you will be able to grab those last minute presents.
Our next team departs in Sept 2017 This program is eight 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.
It is possible to only join the first 4 weeks in Nepal. Get in contact for more details.