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Suggested flights (not included in the cost of the tour) British Airways BA 257 departing London Heathrow at 19.25 hrs.
Arrive in Delhi at 08.20 hrs and connect to an Indigo flight 6E 31 departing Delhi at 11.45 hrs arriving Kathmandu at 13.45 hrs.
Transfer to the luxury Hyatt Regency Kathmandu city resort hotel situated outside the city centre near the Boudhanath Stupa. Afternoon city tour of Kathmandu including the famous UNESCO Pashupatinath Temple which is considered one of the most sacred temples of the Hindu faith, serving as the seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, and famous for its burning ghats. Also visit the great white stupa at Boudhanath, one of the world’s largest stupas and also the most important Tibetan Buddhist monument outside Tibet. Traditional six-course Nepali dinner at Dwarikas Hotel’s Krishnarpan restaurant.
Visit Swayambhunath, the ‘Monkey Temple’, the oldest shrine in the world established more than 2,500 years ago, situated on top of a high hill and commanding superb views of the valley below. The four sides of this ancient structure are painted with the compassionate eyes of Buddha. Rickshaw ride through Kathmandu including a stop at a local market.
Lunch at Kaiser Café in the Garden of Dreams. Afternoon at leisure with options to spend the afternoon in the shopping district of Thamel, soaking up the atmosphere, shopping or relaxing in bars; or further explore Kathmandu; or return to hotel to unwind by pool or enjoy the spa. Traditional Tibetan dinner at the home of long-term local resident Lisa Choegyal.
Morning trek through the scenic beauty of the Kathmandu Valley to the medieval town of Bhaktapur with a special curated picnic lunch en route.
Explore Bhaktapur, an ancient Newar town which is the third largest in the Kathmandu Valley and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork. Late afternoon tea and snack stop in Bhaktapur before returning to Kathmandu. Dinner under own arrangements.
Dawn flight from Kathmandu airport over Mount Everest (8,848 metres) during which you will have a bird’s-eye view of the highest peak in the world and the Himalayan panorama. Later this morning, take a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and transfer to the Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge where two nights are spent. Situated on a spectacular hilltop ridge above the Pokhara Valley, the lodge has stunning mountain views. Accommodation is in hand-cut stone bungalows, set in natural gardens around the hilltop. The lodge’s spa services include massage, yoga and meditation.
Lunch at the lodge. Afternoon at leisure before a short hike through the surrounding hills. Sunset drinks on the open terrace while enjoying the stunning views. Cooking demonstration followed by dinner at the lodge.
Ridge-top walk through the natural beauty of the Annapurna Mountains with breath taking views. Stop for a picnic lunch en route.
Return to relax or enjoy the lodge’s facilities. Photo workshop with Chris followed by dinner at the lodge.
Transfer to Pokhara for a flight to Bharatpur. On arrival transfer to Kasara Resort where three nights are spent. The resort is located on the borders of Chitwan National park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the country’s most visited national park. The resort’s proximity to the national park ensures a close interaction with nature and the community forests of Chitwan. The essence of Kasara’s design is a blend of simple luxury in a lush and natural jungle environment. Resort facilities include a spa, swimming pool, lounge bar and a restaurant serving much of its own organically vegetables and fruits.
Lunch at the resort. Settle in at the resort and enjoy an elephant ride with expert naturalist guide in National Park buffer zone. Dinner at the resort.
Take a morning jeep safari inside the National Park with a chance to spot game such as the one horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Sloth bear, various species of deer, monkey and birds.
Lunch at the resort. Visit a local village. Dinner at the resort.
Morning canoe ride on the Rapti River in a dugout canoe, made from a single tree, during which it is possible to see various birds and crocodile species and other animals alongside the banks.
Morning forest walk with expert guides and a naturalist with opportunities to catch sight of various species of animals such as deer, rhinos, monkeys and birds.
Lunch at the resort. Transfer to Bharatpur for a flight to Kathmandu. On arrival transfer the Inn Hotel, situated in Patan Durbar Square, where one night is spent. An old traditional brick and timber Newari house transformed into a beautiful heritage hotel by conservation architect Rohit Ranjitkar the hotel is equipped with 10 individually designed rooms and a private courtyard in historic configuration. Dinner at a Chez Caroline.
Morning visit to Durbar Square in Patan, city of arts and architecture, founded in 250 AD and also known as Lalitpur. It is renowned for its fine works in bronze, silver and copper.
Lunch in the Café of Patan Museum which faces Durbar Square and is housed in a beautifully restored and renovated former Malla palace. Transfer to Kathmandu airport for a flight to Varanasi. Transfer to the Taj Ganges Hotel where two nights are spent. The luxury hotel is set in 12 acres of landscaped gardens with facilities including a spa and swimming pool. Its restaurants rank amongst the best in the city, serving international cuisines as well as sumptuous thalis, inspired by produce from the hotel’s own organic garden. Evening boat trip on the Ganges to see the sunset Aarti ceremony, a daily ritual conducted by Hindu priests, worshipping the river goddess with incense, camphor, flowers and earthen lamps. Dinner at the hotel.
Early morning boat ride on the Ganges past the ghats to see pilgrims gathering on the steps that lead down to the river to bathe in the misty dawn light. Return to the hotel for breakfast and a morning at leisure.
Boat ride to Gai Ghat which is decorated with a huge statue of a cow symbolising Mother Earth and used to be the marker of the southern-most limit of the city. Walk back to the hotel along the ghats and through the backstreets, stopping to see temples, mosques, and the ancient Jantar Mantar observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1737. Try a fruit flavoured lassi at one of the lassi shops for which Varanasi has become known. Dinner on the roof terrace of the Brij Rama Palace Hotel.
Further walking tour of the ghats from Assi Ghat north to the old city.
Lunch under own arrangements. Transfer to Varanasi airport for a flight to Delhi. On arrival, transfer to the Trident Gurgaon Hotel, where one night is spent. Conveniently located for the airport, the Trident hotel offers a tranquil setting with 7 acres of stunning landscaped gardens, walkways, courtyards, pools and fountains. Farewell al fresco dinner at the hotel.
Morning at leisure with lunch under own arrangements.
Transfer to Delhi International Airport. Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) British Airways flight BA 256 departing Delhi at 11.05 hrs arriving at London Heathrow at 15.20 hrs.
It was an extraordinary, wonderful and memorable holiday. Thank you to everyone.- EE, Kenya & Zanzibar