We will visit Nepal to explore how geography matters to the people of this mountain kingdom, and see how nature has shaped it into one of the world's most interesting and beautiful countries. We will spend four whole days trekking through sweeping valleys and over dramatic passes, always under the silent presence of the world's highest peaks, camping each night and learning about the rivers, mountains and villages that we see. This Annapurna range of the Himalayas contains many colourful Hindu/Buddhist villages where the hardy yet peaceful inhabitants of this land go about their lives. After trekking and camping for four days we will travel to the humid Chitwan National Park with a chance to see alligators, deer, rhino, elephant and if we are very lucky, tigers!
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the walking terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trek. The Annapurna Trek is graded introductory - moderate. This is primarily due to the low altitude gains and the condition of the trail which is well defined and not unduly demanding. During the trek you will be walking for up to five to six hours a day at a slow but steady pace. You will need a reasonable level of fitness (remember there is no such thing as an easy trek) and we suggest 30 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trek. Hill walking with a daypack in variable weather conditions is also recommended.
Upon arrival we will be met by a representative of World Youth Adventures and transferred to the comfortable group hotel located in the centre of the action! we will have the afternoon to freshen up and take a walk around the city before a pre-trek briefing. We will discuss the itinerary, Nepal, food and culture as well as ask any questions that we have about the trip. Afterwards we will receive our kit bags, down jackets and sleeping bags, ready for the trekking part of the trip. Afterwards we will have our first taste of Nepali cuisine in a local restaurant and celebrate our arrival in the Himalaya.
After breakfast we will be taken on an exciting tour of Kathmandu, a city designated as a UNESCO world heritage site, and brimming with religious, historical and cultural monuments. There is so much to see so we will pack as much as we can into this morning and afternoon. Firstly we will visit the vibrant Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati River in the eastern part of Kathmandu. The temple is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams (Holy Abodes of Shiva on the continent). Over the past times, only born Hindus were allowed to enter the temple. Boudhanath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. The stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath.
We journey a short distance to the medieval town of Bhaktapur, known as ‘Khwopa’. This fascinating settlement is rich with temples, monasteries and palaces, with ornately carved features such as the famous ‘Peacock Window’. The main square, Durbar Square, is also UNESCO world heritage site, and is best appreciated by sitting and watching while one of the many religious festivals and processions passes by.
This morning we will take a flight west to Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest town (820m), and our base for setting out into the Himalaya. Situated on Fewa lake at 820m above sea level, the city has some stunning views of the nearby Annapurna mountains. We will drive to the trail head at Khara for an hour. before kitting up, taking a quick stretch, before beginning the first leg of the trek. The trail firstly winds uphill through terraced fields where locals grow millet, buckwheat, potatoes and rice, before heading through mixed oak and rhododendron forest. This is a short day with plenty of time to reach camp, designed to ease the group gently into the trek and acclimatize them. Stunning views of Annapurna and surrounding peaks greet us on reaching our campsite at Dhampus, a small community that exist on farming and shepherding, as well as the nascent tourism industry. We will set up camp and enjoy a hearty meal and a cup of tea, before settling in for our first night under canvas.
After a (hopefully) bright sunrise in the mountains we will continue our trek through a series of Gurung villages where lifestyles have not changed substantially over the centuries, following a river down a valley and stopping for regular breaks to consider the evidence of geographic interest around us. Erosion, volcanic activity and climate change has continually altered the landscape around us, and the people that live here have adapted very efficiently to cope. After a picnic lunch with mountain views, we follow the trail along a river to the prosperous village of Landruk where we camp for the night. Landruk is a small village of around 1000 inhabitants and is well known locally for its honey hunting festival and its traditional Gurung culture.
After an early breakfast we backtrack for an hour through the morning before following a trail high above the stunning Modi Khola gorge, its sheer walls rising up high around us, created by millenia of melting glacial waters that run down from the mountains. This is a great stage of the trek which will lead us again out into terraced fields and ancient oak forest (with a few ups and downs to cross tributaries) before a gradual ascent to the village of Ghandruk. We will have ample time to explore this ancient settlement and include visits to the local museum and learn about about the community that has provided the backbone of the famous Gurkha regiments for many years. Our destination is the beautiful and ornate village of Ghandruk, home to the Annapurna Conservation Area Project.
After enjoying some even more spectacular views of the Annapurnas we head down the Modi Khola valley along a secluded village trail that is rarely followed by other trekking groups. After lunch at the scenic village of Dansing we complete a short, steep descent to the village of Birethanti following the Modi Khola river. We cross a bridge before making our way to Naya Pul where our vehicle will be waiting to take us to our private camp in Pokhara. In the evening we can go for a walk down to the lake and can either pick up any last minute gifts or ride down quiet roads to some local waterfalls and visit a nearby Tibetan community and admire some of the unique arts and crafts.
This morning we will take our last views of the mighty snow-capped peaks of the Annapurnas and transfer east to Chitwan by road. This part of Nepal is considerably different in both its geography and anthropological make up. A more humid and low-lying region, it is famous for its animal and bird life that live in its swamps and extensive forests. We will be staying close to the National Park here to give us the best chance to experience the wildlife and habitats on offer. Our base will be in a village of Tharu people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Terai, the southern foothills of the Nepal and northern India. The spiritual beliefs and moral values of the Tharu people are closely linked to their natural environment and the pantheon of their gods exhibits a large number of deities that have close spiritual and natural characteristics linked to the forest and its animals.
A full day’s activities are available including jungle walks, elephant rides, canoe rides and bird-watching, as well as talks on village life, elephant welfare and other local flora and fauna. We will spend the day in the expert hands of the local Tharu guides who have been educated in the biology and ecosystems of the region, and whose keen eyes can spot even the tiniest bird hiding in the undergrowth. We will enjoy another delicious meal together and can also see a Tharu cultural show should we wish.
After breakfast we will transfer by road north to Kathmandu. We will enjoy a final group meal with some hearty Nepalese food and discuss what we have learned and enjoyed from our expedition to Nepal.
We will drive to the airport for our flight home, and to say goodbye to this beautiful mountain kingdom.
Per Person, Twin Share