KATHMANDU – TRISULI RIVER
TRISULI RIVER / MEGHAULI NATIONAL PARK
TIGER TOPS LODGE / POKHARA
POKHARA / KANRE / POTHANA TREK
POTHANA / LANDRUK
ARRIVAL TO DELHI
DELHI / AGRA
AGRA – DELHI – FLY TO KATHMANDU
LANDRUK / CHOMRONG
DRIVE TO AGRA
TAJ MAHAL AND AGRA FORT
DRIVE TO DELHI AIRPORT AND FLY TO KATHAMANDU
MT. EVEREST, PATAN, BHAKTAPUR
JUNGLE TREKKING AND ELEPHANT CAMP
PRIVATE ELEPHANT SAFARI
ANNAPURNA SANCTUARY TREK
TREK 5 HOURS
TREK 6 HOURS
TREK 5 HOURS
SUNRISE HIKE TO POON HILL
3-HOUR TREK TO POKHARA VALLEY
TREK ANNAPURNA SANCTUARY
Adventure/ Elephant trek
India and Nepal: visiting Delhi, Agra, Kathmandu, Trisuli River, TigerTops and Pokhara. Trekking through Kanre, Pothana, Landruk, Chomrong, Tadapani, Ghorepania, and Tirkhedunga. Nepal's mountains beckon on this journey to the "Roof of the World" and the pristine Annapurna Sanctuary. Begin at a slightly lower altitude in Delhi on this individual tour, where you can get a taste of India's past with tours of monuments such as Humayun's Tomb and the Red Fort. Since we' re so close, we can' t pass up an opportunity to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World in Agra's Taj Mahal before flying up, up and then some to Kathmandu in Nepal. Views of Mt. Everest at sunrise prepare you for the days ahead as you explore some of the glistening temples in the city. Move on to an exciting river rapids expedition on the Trisuli River that will take you to the Meghauli National Park and the Tiger Tops Lodge with elephant-back safaris in search of the king of this jungle. Then, pack light as you set out on an once-in-a-life time trek through the Nepalese mountains hiking through small villages, amazing scenery and lush greenery. As you reach the foot of the Himalayas on your trek, you may wonder what the rush is to return home.
ITINERARY IN DETAIL
Day 1: Delhi
A warm Indian welcome awaits you upon your arrival in Delhi. A taste of what’s in store becomes apparent as you drive through the streets of this exotic city while transferring to your hotel.
Day 2: Delhi
The city unfolds outside your hotel door, in Connaught Place, the premier district of business and shopping where your morning tour begins. New Delhi, designed and built by the British in the 1920's, is famous for its wide boulevards, government buildings and great swaths of greenery and gardens. Your drive takes you along the ceremonial avenue, Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate and Parliament House, as well as two monuments from Delhi’s past: Humayun's Tomb and Qutub Minar In Old Delhi, see the Red Fort, an opulent reminder of the Moghal Empire; Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque; Raj Ghat, the memorial site of the Mahatma Gandhi; and Chandni Chowk, the ancient and bustling market.
Day 3: Delhi / Agra
Today drive to Agra, where your hotel offers splendid views of the Taj Mahal.
Day 4: Agra
Agra is a city known for its wealth of architecture, handicrafts and jewellery, but is most renowned for the Taj Mahal. Once the capital of the Mughal Empire, Agra is the “third apex” of India’s Golden Triangle, and also includes among its attractions the Agra Fort, which you will visit. Built in 1565, it is known for its domed and arched marble palaces, elephant gates and elaborate gardens. The Taj, the world's most beautiful monument to love and one of the Seven Wonder of the World, was begun in 1632, and was erected by Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Queen Mumtaz Mahal. You will visit this incredible marble monument when its turrets and domes glow in the light of sunset. This sight alone makes the journey worthwhile.
Day 5: Agra / Delhi / Kathmandu
We return to Delhi to catch an afternoon flight to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where your journey of the heart, mind and spirit truly begins. Most trekkers enter Nepal at Kathmandu, its largest city, which you will explore tomorrow. One of its most famous sectors is colourful Dunbar Square, a kaleidoscope of commerce, temples, beggars, palaces, cows, pilgrims, exhaust pollution, bells, music and yes, wonder. The newer Tamel area of embassies and smart shopping lies to the north, and to the south, Freak Street, a popular spot on the 1960s hippie trail, memorialized in song by Bob Seger. But sleep well tonight, because tomorrow begins with a flight over Mt. Everest, or Sagarmatha, its Nepali name, meaning “Brow of the Queen.”
Day 6: Kathmandu. (Mt. Everest / Patan / Bhaktapur)
One can hardly imagine a more memorable way to begin a day than this – an hour’s flight to view Mt. Everest, its snow-clad and rocky peaks lighted by the sun. Words such as purity and majesty leap forward and there’s the temptation, perhaps, to infuse the mute mountain with moral virtue, for why else is there nothing like it on earth? You return, and after breakfast, set out on a fascinating full-day tour of Kathmandu: Dunbar Square; the courtyard of the Living Goddess; the old Royal Palace; down narrow lanes with carved wooden balconies and bazaars bright with masks, metalwork and crafts. After lunch, visit Nepal’s royal cities of Patan and Bhaktapur (Bhadgaun) - through streets filled with splendid palaces, pagodas and worshippers turning prayer wheels and presenting offerings. The temple of Swayambhunath, high on a hill, and the eyes of the Buddha, watches over this timeless setting. Tonight, separate your trekking clothes and supplies into a backpack for the week ahead, leaving suitcases safely stored in Kathmandu.
Day 7: Kathmandu / Trisuli River-Rafting
The western hills of Nepal are calling as we proceed to the Trisuli River today to meet our rafting crew at the put-in for an amazing adventure, stretching over two days, through the mountains. Here, Magars, Gkurungs, Tamangs and Hindu castes live in traditional and prosperous little villages clinging to the hillsides, and the women are gleaming repositories of the family’s gold jewelry. Terraced fields, sleeping mountain peaks, thundering gorges and sandy beaches slide past as you maneuver through the Class 3+ waters, traversing whitewater rapids with irregular waves and the possible necessity of some shoreline scouting. Here, good intentions are not enough, and you will silently applaud the otherwise unheralded skills of the experienced crew, who will be providing all necessary safety instruction and equipment. Now, what could be better than lunch and dinner, prepared riverside and enjoyed in the crisp mountain air? Tonight, look up at a sky sprinkled with stars.
Day 8: Trisuli River / Meghauli National Park
With equipment at the ready you set off again, in this undeveloped paradise. No wonder the Trisuli is a favored spot for rafting – with its ever-changing vistas, quiet and tranquility. Before you know it, we arrive at the take-out, where a private driver is waiting to transfer us to our lodge near Meghauli National Park, where we check in and then have lunch. This afternoon an expedition into the jungle via elephant is planned, but first we’ll visit an elephant breeding camp to learn about their life and care from park rangers. You’ll proceed to a loading platform from which you’ll board the elephant, with a phanit (driver) sitting astride the animal’s neck, giving directions and an occasional whack. This is the safest way to explore the jungle, especially when the grass is high, allowing for up-close viewing and a better chance to see rhinos, deer, monkeys, wild boar, sloth bear, crocodiles, numerous species of birds, and perhaps an elusive tiger.
Day 9: Tiger Tops
Today, morning and afternoon elephant-back safaris are in store; otherwise you might not want to leave the lodge, which is built on stilts, with private balconies overlooking grasslands, where animals sometimes roam at night. Certainly, this is a spectacular meeting of nature with a welcoming atmosphere that doesn’t intrude or contrast with the jungle setting. Villas are simple, yet comfortable, filled with local materials and Tharu artifacts, since in Nepal, most elephant men are from the Tharus tribal groups. At lunch and dinner, you’ll have time to learn more from the guides and compare notes.
Day 10: Tiger Tops Lodge / Pokhara
Early this morning rise for your last elephant-back safari in the park. Then, after breakfast, a private vehicle takes us to Pokhara, (4-hour drive), where we’ll arrive in time for a late lunch at Nepal’s 5-star Fulbari Resort. Rooms face either the Annapurna Range or the Green Canyon and Seti Gorge. This afternoon is at leisure, allowing time to pamper yourself, have a swim, and prepare for the upcoming 7-day trek. The remarkable route is called the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, a 7-day journey, during which a guide will explain the flora and fauna of the mountains, and the crew will haul all supplies, as trekkers walk with only their backpacks, cameras and binoculars. Meals are prepared, and sleeping arrangements made each night, allowing trekkers freedom to fully experience their surroundings.
TREKKING THE ANNAPURNA SANCTUARY
Day 11: Pokhara / Kanre / Pothana Trek (1-hour drive, 3-hour trek)
This morning, transfer to Kanre, an hour’s drive away, to meet the crew of 10 who will be our wonderful companions for the coming week’s trek through the beautiful Himalaya Mountains. After the equipment is loaded, we leave Kanre to climb the trail, ascending through forest and into a clearing and settlement called “The Australian Camp” (6,400 feet), which takes two hours. If weather permits, we stop for lunch and for the incredible views encompassing breathtaking peaks: Dhalagiri (26,800 feet) and Lamjung Himal (22,715 feet). After lunch, continue hiking for another hour to Pothana (6,726 feet), where you will enjoy majestic views of Machhapuchre or Mount Fishtail (22,950 feet); Annapurna South (23,690 feet); and Hiunchuli (21,132 feet). Have fun learning the Nepali names of the white-peaked mountains from your crew. Spend the night at Pothana.
Day 12: Pothana / Landruk (Trek 5 hours)
This morning, fully rested, we leave camp and proceed on a two-hour hike through dense forest, rhododendrons, firs and fans, before arriving at a small pass called Deurail (7,055 feet) where brief views of the same mountain peaks seen yesterday are in view, but from another vantage point. Then we begin a steep, three-hour descent through dense forests alive with the sound of birds, and filled with lush growths of ferns and orchids. A walk down the Modhi Khola Canyon takes us to the picturesque village of Landruk (5,448 feet). Here we will enjoy lunch surrounded by some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on earth, before setting off to explore the village, where you will meet local residents and fellow trekkers. As the day progresses, clouds often gather, then part again at sunset – we hope.
Day 13: Landruk / Chomrong (Trek 6 hours)
Now you’re in shape for a longer trek, so this morning we set out just beyond Landruk village, heading north toward the Annapurna sanctuary via the Modhi Khola Valley. This is a fascinating hike through a varied landscape of rice-terraced fields spread across mountain hillsides, through deep forests and ending at a picturesque waterfall. After 1-1/2 hours, we arrive at Himal Pani where we then take a steep climb of 2-1/2 hours to Jhinu Danada (5,742 feet). Isn’t it about time for a rest and a nice, hot lunch? Indeed it is. Here you may also take time out for a hot-spring bath down at the river, about 15 minutes away. Your muscles will thank you for it. Then, gather your energy for another upward, 2-hour climb to the welcome sight of a cluster of tea houses, and beyond that, Chomrong. This large village lies tucked adjacent to the slopes of Mt. Hiunchuli (21,132feet) and is a spectacular place from which to view the snow-capped peaks to the south: Annapurna South, Gangapurna, Annapurna III and Machhapuchhre. Enjoy the afternoon.
Day 14: Chomrong/Tadapani (Trek 5 hours)
This morning, if weather permits, you can be awakened to see the most magnificent of sunrises, spilling over snow-capped peaks. Otherwise, sleep in and get ready for a marvelous day in which every bend in the trail reveals something new - rice-terraced fields, lush crops of buckwheat, numerous little villages and schools. After about 2-1/2 hours, we traverse the suspension bridge at Kyumum Khola and arrive on the other side at a small village called Chhule, and break for lunch. We continue our ascent through forests of rhododendrons, dahpne, firs and pine. This is a great day for bird watchers as the area is filled with numerous species as well as flowers in bloom. At the conclusion of this afternoon’s 3-hour trek, we arrive at Tadapani where the views are once again spectacular. Then it’s time to break for a night at camp.
Day 15: Tadapani/Ghorepani (Trek 5 hours)
By now, your trek has probably become a map not only of the exterior terrain, but of your personal, inner terrain as well. The world, with its ordinary concerns has fallen away, and while this is certainly a quest for beauty, it is clearly something more as well. This morning the trail gently descends through thick forests of rhododendrons, daphne and bamboo, then ascends once again to a small stream with a wooden bridge, which we cross, arriving at a slight ridge in about 1-1/2hours. In the shadow of the huge rock-face lies the village of Banthat, comprised of tea houses and wooden lodges. After a rest, we begin a 2-1/2-hour ascent offering exciting trekking to Deurail Pass (10,100 feet). The views here are the most majestic of the entire trek. Above us towers the pyramid peak of Annapurna South; to the west is Mt. Dhaulagiri; below is the deepest river gorge in the world – The Kali Gandaki Valley. The views seep in, locked away for all time. An hour’s trek downhill takes us to the village of Gorepani (9,631 feet) where we camp for the night. And reflect.
Day 16: Ghorepani/Tirkhedunga (4 hours)
Now we enjoy the fruits of our trekking as we begin our descent to Tirkhedunga. But before we do, there is an optional sunrise hike to Poon Hill (10,540 feet), taking an hour round-trip. The views are spectacular, but it might also be a joy to sleep in. After breakfast, we begin a 4-hour descent on trails through dense forests of rhododendron, oak, and pine, past crystal-clear streams, ravines and tea houses. As the altitude drops, clearings open, exposing new and magnificent views of the Annapurna sanctuary. We continue to the village of Ulleri, where we break for lunch and rest. Beyond, the trail descends to Bhurungdi Khola (4,625 feet), where we cross a suspension bridge and arrive at the town of Tirkhedunga (5,053 feet). The tiny village, set against the vast mountain landscape, engenders thoughts of scale, in every possible context. The afternoon is free to spend in the village, talking and resting.
Day 17: Pokhara/Kathmandu
Almost everywhere in the sanctuary 360 degree views of indescribable beauty surround you. This morning we descend to the base of the Himalayas at the town of Naya Pool (3,511 feet) a 3-hour trek offering unforgettable views of the Pokhara Valley. Here we say goodbye to our crew of 10 enjoyable companions who made our trip possible. Our vehicle is waiting to take us to the hotel for lunch and to claim any stored belongings. We then take a short flight to Kathmandu. The balance of the afternoon is free for a rest and a long-sought hot shower or a soak in the tub. Enjoy a wonderful evening together reminiscing over dinner.
Day 18: Kathmandu/Delhi
We fly to Delhi and enjoy dinner at the Hotel transferring later to the airport for a connecting flight home, a journey like no other coming to a close.