Visiting: Nepal, India
From the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal down on to the great plains of India and out across to the colourful far reaches of Rajasthan, this journey will constantly amaze. It is a fantastic overland adventure which provides opportunities to meet local people and witness first-hand life in this unique part of the world.
Mountains & Plains
Sometimes the going can be tough, but India and Nepal will get into our blood and provide incredible memories to take back home with us of this incredibly colourful and diverse region.
Today is an arrival day and no activities are planned, so you may arrive at any time. If you are arriving early in Kathmandu you may wish to wander down to Durbar Square, which is the spiritual heart of the city located only 10 minutes walk from our hotel. Please ask at the hotel reception for suggestions of things to see and do in Kathmandu. A pre-departure meeting for the first (Nepal) part of your tour takes place this evening at the hotel. Please also check the noticeboard for details of this meeting and for any other messages from your tour leader. Please also bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the meeting. Afterwards we have the opportunity to go out for an optional group dinner.
Today we visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where we observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the stupa. We also visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here we see Hindu holy men (sadhus) meditating, pilgrims bathing and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats. The rest of our time in Kathmandu is free for further sightseeing and exploration. You may wish to wander back into the centre of town, scour the shops in Thamel or just relax in the hotel gardens. Alternatively you may wish to arrange for a taxi to take you out to Bhaktapur, probably the most fascinating of the medieval towns in the Kathmandu Valley.
This morning we drive out over the rim of the Kathmandu Valley before descending to follow the Trisuli River Valley. On a clear morning, views of the Ganesh, Manaslu and Annapurna ranges can be seen as we head west to the town of Pokhara. After a driving journey of six hours, we arrive in the early afternoon and check into our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to wander around the shops or relax in one of the cafes by the lakeside. Alternatively there is the option of a boat ride out on to the lake.
(Walking time: approx 5 hours)
We catch a bus for the fairly short drive to the village of Naya Phul. In clear conditions, there are fine views of Annapurna peaks and the famous fishtail peak Machhapuchhare along the way. We commence our short Annapurna trek and for the first hour we follow a dirt track road along the banks of the Modi Khola River to the villages of Birethanti and Shyauli. From Syauli we then ascend above the valley floor on a stone staircase. To the north, there are again superb views of the Annapurna Mountains. A short but steep section leads to Kimche (1630m) where we take lunch before following a wide and well-defined path of stone flags that contours through fields of wheat and millet to the largest village in the region, Ghandruk, which is the site of our overnight lodge. There are great views of the Annapurnas from here.
(Walking time: approx 5 hours)
We are now over 600 metres above the Modi Khola and we can look east across the valley to Landruk, the next major village on the trek. Close as it may seem, this requires a steep descent down to the river and then a steady climb back up the other side. The scenery is fabulous on this section and more than makes up for the effort of the walk down and the climb up the other side. We take lunch at Landruk, a neat Gurung village, before contouring around the valley and ascending to the small village of Tolka (1780m)
(Walking time: approx 4 hours)
After breakfast we continue the climb uphill to the pass at Bhichok Deorali. Here, after a welcome break, we descend through forest of oak and rhododendron to Pothana for lunch. In the afternoon we descend gradually following the crest of the ridge, through pretty forest of oak and rhododendron to the village of Dhampus and our overnight halt. From here there are superb panoramic views including the 8000-metre peak of Manaslu to the east and we will have the opportunity of enjoying both sunset and sunrise from our lodge.
(Walking time: approx 2 hours)
After breakfast and enjoying the views of the Annapurna range we pass through the village and descend steeply into the Yamdi Khola river valley to Phedi. Here we catch our transport to our hotel in Pokhara. We arrive in time for lunch and the rest of the afternoon is free to unwind. We have time to explore the lake and to enjoy the many excellent restaurants and cafes in this beautiful lakeside town.
Seti River Whitewater Rafting
We leave Pokhara after breakfast for the short drive to the start of our rafting adventure on the Seti River. After introductions to our rafting crew we then put on jackets and helmets, have a short safety briefing before taking to the water. This river is an ideal and gentle introduction to whitewater rafting. Over the next two days we raft for approximately 30 kilometres through beautiful countryside, with plenty of small fun rapids. Lunch is taken on one of the many pristine white beaches and there are plenty of opportunities to swim in the warm waters. In the afternoon we continue our gentle pace down the river to reach our camp by mid-afternoon and enjoy free time before our cook serves a hearty evening meal. After dinner we relax and enjoy reliving the thrills of the day’s rafting. (L, D)
Chitwan National Park
In the morning, whilst we enjoy breakfast, the guides break camp and load the rafts. Then it’s off on the water for a pleasant combination of bouncing rapids and magnificent scenery before we reach the confluence of the Trisuli River at Gai Ghat, where we transfer by bus to Chitwan National Park. During our lodge stay we ride elephants into the jungle and, accompanied by a wildlife guide, go in search of Indian rhinoceros, sloth bear, deer and a multitude of different birds. Tiger sightings are very rare these days; however, luck may be on our side! We also have time at for some optional activities such as jeep and canoe safaris. (B)
In the early morning we leave Chitwan National Park by private vehicle and travel across the plains to Lumbini, the birthplace of Prince Siddharta Gautama - founder of the Buddhist religion. We visit the various temple complexes that have been constructed by Buddhists from Japan, China and Myanmar, as well as the ancient Ashoka Pillar and Maya Devi Temple. We spend the night in a lovely jungle camp - a great base for a walk or bike ride.
Varanasi - overnight train
In the morning we cross into India. After customs and immigration formalities are completed, our Nepalese tour leader will bid us farewell and hand us over to his Indian counterpart. We then continue our journey to Varanasi. It’s a long day of travelling (approximately 8 hours), but done in the relative comfort of our own vehicles with several rest stops made along the way. On arrival in Varanasi, there is another tour briefing, this time on information relevant to the Indian sector of our tour. Please bring along your passport and travel insurance documents. Regarded as the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi is the city of Shiva built on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Thousands of pilgrims flock to the great ghats to bathe in the holy waters - a ritual that is believed to wash away all sins. The city claims to be one of the oldest in the world and it’s a magical place where we are able to witness the rituals of life and death on the ghats, on an early morning boat ride. Our tour leader also takes us for a walk through the back lanes and crowded alleyways of this timeless city. After our time in Varanasi we board our overnight sleeper train and head westward to Agra.
Agra is home to India’s most famous site - the majestic Taj Mahal. After settling in we visit this amazing 17th century marble mausoleum, built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his second wife who died giving birth. Started in 1631 the project was completed in 1648 and employed a workforce of over 20,000 people. Construction materials were brought from all over India with the marble from Rajasthan transported by over 1000 elephants. Our tour leader can also help us arrange an optional visit to Agra Fort.
One of the features of a Imaginative Traveller’s trip through Rajasthan is visits to small, out of the way villages. Tordi Garh is a small town that we have identified is a true ‘off the beaten track’ experience. After a 4 hour bus trip from Agra, we are met by jeeps and drive a couple of hours through beautiful countryside to Tordi. Very few travelers have even heard of Tordi and even fewer visit it, because it’s hard to get to on your own. We explore the village, meeting potters, visiting an old village temple, walking though markets and meeting families on the way. Ruined temples and a fortress lie further afield and we enjoy a visit to these sites.
Our host is the owner of the palace at Tordi. He is a direct descendant of the feudal lord who built the palace in the 16th century. The accommodation has unforgettable ambience and charm and really makes the visit to Tordi a special highlight.
This morning we travel by jeep to Jaipur - the vibrant and colourful capital of Rajasthan. Here, traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches make their way through crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles. On our second day in Jaipur we travel 11 kilometres out to the stunning medieval Amber Fort. This fort was built in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh and is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Several hours are needed to explore this huge fortification and we include the services of a local guide for our tour. Our tour leader also takes us to an area known as the Old Bazaar where the Hawa Mahal, better known as The Palace of the Winds, is situated. This five-storey façade with its pink, honeycombed sandstone windows is one of Jaipur's best-known landmarks. We also have ample free time in Jaipur and there are many interesting things to see and do; our tour leader will be happy to assist us with getting to some of these places.
We return to Delhi by bus and are transferred to our hotel. Our tour leader then takes us into the old city's market area known as Chandni Chowk as well as Connaught Place - the commercial heart of New Delhi. The rest of the day is free for relaxing or doing some further sightseeing on our own. Red Fort and the impressive Jama Masjid (Great Mosque) are two of the city's most notable landmarks, whilst Raj Ghat is a monument that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. In the final evening we have the opportunity to head out for a final group dinner (optional) before saying our goodbyes.
Our trip ends today around breakfast time. If you wish to stay on in Delhi, please pre-book your post-tour accommodation before you commence your travels. Delhi has many interesting museums and monuments. If you are interested in historical and cultural matters, it is recommended that you to extend your stay and visit some of these places. Humayun's Tomb and Safdarjang's Tomb are other great examples of Mughal architecture and design. Hauz Khas Village is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown - a chic artistic enclave set right next to the remnants of a historical site.
While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
Key: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner