Great Buddha Trail - Highlights of Nepal
Nepal, Discovery, 14 days - from £1,395 (land only) - from €1,745 (land only) - from $2,440 (land only)
Day 1: Rendezvous at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Complimentary airport transfers are provided. KE Land Only package services begin with the evening meal.
Day 2: We have a full day of sightseeing in Nepal's bustling capital city. There is much to see here and we start in the centre of the ancient kingdom of Kathmandu with a walking tour of Durbar Square. We then visit Bouddhanath, the largest Buddhist shrine in Nepal and Swayambhunath known as the 'Monkey Temple'. This evening we watch a cultural show and enjoy a traditional meal. Overnight in Kathmandu
Day 3: After breakfast we drive to Bhaktapur. This medieval city has several magnificent temples but also a walk through its maze of cobbled streets reveal countless examples of exquisite Newari woodcarving. From Bhaktapur we visit the Changu Narayan Temple before continuing to our hilltop resort at Namo Buddha.
Day 4: We start the day with a spectacular sunrise on the chain of the Himalaya. After breakfast we take a walk through field terracing to the monastery of one of the holiest sites in Buddhism. We then visit Panuti which boasts some beautiful temples and from here drive to the lush green forest of Godwari, home to hundreds of species of birds. We stay overnight in Godwari Village Resort.
Day 5: Another day of rich cultural heritage, visiting several of the most significant sites of pilgrimage including Karya Binayak and Dakshin Kali. We stop at the 'living museum' town of Khokana, a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status. Crossing the Bagmati river we visit Pharping Monastery and Sheshnarayan. We stay tonight in Daman at a hilltop resort hotel with another sensational Himalayan view.
Day 6: We have another opportunity to watch the sunrise on the Himalaya and after breakfast. we drive south through the terraced foothills passing small villages to reach the flat Indian plain. We arrive at Chitwan National Park by midday and check in to our comfortable safari lodge consisting of a series of bungalows surrounded by parkland. After lunch we have an afternoon of jungle activities.
Day 7: We have a full day of jungle activities which will include wildlife safaris on elephant-back, nature walks with expert wildlife guides, a visit to an alligator farm, and a canoe ride on the river. In the evening we can enjoy an educational & cultural show. We have a second night at the lodge in Chitwan.
Day 8: Today we drive to Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha - a trip highlight. We arrive in time for lunch and after check-in at our hotel, we tour the various important Buddhist sites of Lumbini and its gardens, including Kapilvastu, Kudan, the Ashokan Pillar and the sacred Bodhi tree. In the evening we visit the Maya Devi Temple which marks the exact spot where Buddha was born.
Day 9: We drive for 3 hours to Tansen, an ancient town considered one of the most beautiful of west Nepal. Situated on a ridge between two hot regions of Nepal, the town is also popular for its cool weather. There are several Buddhist sites around Tansen which we will visit before checking into our hilltop hotel which affords sensational views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.
Day 10: After breakfast we continue north towards the great Himalayan chain, driving for 3 hours to the famous lakeside town of Pokhara. After checking in to our hotel here we can go out on the lake or take a stroll through the bazaar where just about every handicraft made in Nepal can be found. Pokhara has a special relaxing ambience and a very pleasant climate.
Day 11: A free day for sightseeing and activities. Popular option include a visit to Sarankot, taking a boat onto the lake, or a walk up to the Japanese Peace Pagoda to enjoy a drink while overlooking the lake and the incredible array of Himalayan Peaks. Pokhara is also firmly established as an adventure centre and its possible to book more exciting activities from paragliding to bungee jumping.
Day 12: We drive through the fascinating countryside of Nepal's 'Middle Hills' to Bandipur, a charming village located on a high ridge above and off the main road. There are sensational views of Annapurna, Manaslu and Dhaulagiri from the village. We check into our hotel and this afternoon we can take a walk through the village and along the ridge.
Day 13: Today we complete the Great Buddha Trail, driving along the valley of the Trisuli River to reach the protective ring of hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. After climbing to the valley rim we descend to the hustle and bustle of the city and check into our hotel close to Thamel. This evening we will have a celebratory dinner in one of the city's renown restaurants.
Day 14: KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. Complimentary airport transfers are provided.