UK - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Kathmandu.
Upon arrival, we transfer to the Hotel Annapurna (4T). The rest of your day is at leisure until we meet for a welcome dinner this evening at the hotel’s renowned Ghar-e-Kebab restaurant.
Kathmandu Valley consists of medieval city states, and the best preserved of these is Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a particularly spectacular example of the city’s ancient arts and religious values. We see the intricately-carved Palace of 55 Windows, the National Art Gallery and the Golden Gate, a masterpiece in Nepalese architecture decorated with mythical monsters at the palace entrance. In front of the palace building is a medley of glorious temples of various designs, reflecting the different times in history. Lunch is taken with a Nepalese family in a traditional house before we visit Boudhanath, Asia’s largest stupa, topped by a distinctive pinnacle of gold and said to contain the remains of Buddha Kasyapa. A constant stream of Tibetan Buddhists circle the stupa, spin prayer wheels and recite mantras. We meet a Lama (teacher) for a blessing. Next we visit Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine, Pashupatinath. It is believed that those who die in this temple are reborn as humans, regardless of any wrongdoings. Temples, ashrams, images and cremation Ghats are all sprawled along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, which flows into the Holy Ganges. We return here at dusk for an enchanting Aarti ceremony, a mesmerising, structured ritual giving thanks to Lord Shiva.
Kathmandu - Pokhara
The world-famous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers, an integral part of the British Army for over 200 years, take their name from the hill town of Gorkha (seat of the Shah dynasty), and to the south is the Manakamana Temple located on a distinguished ridge 1,302 metres above sea level. The spectacular views of the Manaslu, Himalchuli and Annapurna Himalayan ranges can be seen to the north. We make our way by cable car to this sacred site, said to be built on the spot where an incarnation of the queen of Ram Shah known to possess divine powers, was found by a farmer. It is believed that Goddess Manakamana grants the wishes of all who make the pilgrimage to worship her at her shrine. We take lunch in Kurintar before continuing to Fish Tail Lodge (4T) in Pokhara, a place of remarkable natural beauty with several serene lakes and stunning panoramic views of Himalayan peaks.
This morning we visit the Gurkha Museum, which provides a rich history of these hardy soldiers and their various campaigns, including details of the Gurkha Victoria Cross winners. We then take the opportunity to cruise on peaceful Phewa Lake, the second largest lake in Nepal and surrounded by majestic scenes. This afternoon, we take a 3-4 hour walk through the village of Sarangkot to Naudada, with magnificent views of the Annapurna Mountain Range and opportunities to experience local life. Our location at the end of the hike is an ideal place to watch the sun set over the Himalayas, before returning to Pokhara.
Today is free to spend as you wish. There will be an optional excursion to visit Kalabang village, situated at around 1,500m above sea level. After a visit to the coffee plantation, there will be a village walk providing magnificent panoramic views of the Himalayas, before a visit to a Gurung village to meet the locals, known for their exemplary hospitality and rich culture. Perhaps enjoy a taste of their homemade rice wine (Raksi).
Pokhara - Chitwan
After breakfast we depart for Chitwan and the Barahi Jungle Lodge (5T), where we have lunch. A village walk reveals the quiet, simple lifestyle of the indigenous Tharu people. They have their own language, culture, cuisine and traditional beliefs. Although Nepalese and Western culture is starting to encroach on their traditions, most houses are still large and communal, without doors and plastered with cow dung. Today and tomorrow evening we enjoy a slide-show presentation or a Tharu cultural dance, usually performed at festivals and ceremonies.
With a selection of activities on offer, you can choose how to spend your day. Perhaps discover local birdlife on a pre-breakfast jungle walk, or take a jeep safari into the Chitwan National Park, one of Asia's richest and the most spectacular National Parks, to discover a lost world of towering trees and twisting vines, of endangered one-horned Asian rhinos and lumbering elephants, of crocodiles, pythons, sloth bears and deer, of brilliantly coloured birds and if you are fortunate - the superb Bengal tiger or elusive leopard. The reserve holds the Crocodile Conservation Centre, where the eggs of endangered Gangetic crocodiles, known as Gharials or Mugars, are hatched and reared before being released into rivers, which you may also have opportunities to see today, by canoe if you wish; as well as learning about elephant conservation. Enjoy beautiful sunset views before an evening presentation.
Chitwan - Kathmandu
Another worthwhile early start today if you wish to take a nature walk through the park as its inhabitants wake and prepare for the day. Spend your time watching the different local and migratory birds (over 500 species live within the park) and learn jungle lore as you explore, before we depart for Kathmandu, where we return to the Hotel Annapurna (4T).
The most ancient and enigmatic of Kathmandu Valley’s Buddhist shrines is the golden-spired stupa of Swayambhunath. Records of its history date as far as the 5th century, but its origins are older. This morning we visit this temple worshipped by both Buddhists and Hindus. It was built overlooking the valley which, according to one legend, once held a lake where Swayambhu was born from a perfect lotus flower. The presence of the hundreds of holy monkeys who live here is also derived from legend. We then spend time in Kathmandu Durbar Square, decorated with over 50 monuments. The courtyard Nasal Chowk was the coronation site of the Shah kings, up until the coronation of Nepal’s last king, Gyanendra, in 2001, and contains some of the kingdom’s finest woodcarvings. Our tour then continues by rickshaw, passing bustling bazaars and market squares as you head to the colourful hub of Thamel, where we explore the different angles of Nepalese lifestyle, shopping for handicrafts and artefacts and much more. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 11 Kathmandu - UK
We transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.