Hidden Nepal

Nepal

Culture

Embrace native customs & culture of Nepal

16 days £1,995 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Intro, Dates & Prices

Intro

Explore the hidden treasures of Nepal, from the heights of the mighty Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau to the depths of the jungles. Take a trip to the historic village of Bandipur high in the hills and enjoy the serene natural surroundings of Phewa Lake on a boat tour. Visit the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini before traversing through the jungle for the opportunity to see some of the world's most endangered animals in Bardia. Experience the charm and hospitality of the Nepalese people in villages on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bustling Nepalese capital, Kathmandu
  • Pokhara, the gateway to Annapurna
  • Sunrise at Sarangkot
  • UNESCO Heritage site Lumbini listed as Buddha's birthplace
  • Wildlife & exotic birds in Bardia
  • Cable car trip in Kurintar
  • Medieval city of Bhaktapur

Places Visited

Kathmandu - Patan Durbar Square - Kirtipur - Chobhar - Pharping - Bandipur - Pokhara - Phewa Lake - Sarangkot - Lumbini - Bardia National Park - Butwal - Kurintar - Bhaktapur - Nagarkot

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Domestic flights 
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks

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Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive in Kathmandu where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Kathmandu. 

Overnight in Tibet Guesthouse, Kathmandu

Meal plan: n/a

Kathmandu is the capital of the ancient mountain kingdom of Nepal, which was only opened up to foreign visitors in the 1950s. It has the air of a medieval city with its labyrinth of narrow streets, wooden temples and beautifully decorated palaces. In the background, you can often hear the gentle sound of cymbals and smell the rich aromas of the markets. 

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Day 2 : Kathmandu

Enjoy an optional mountain flight (supplement payable and weather dependent), where you will see the closest possible aerial views of Mount Everest and the Tibetan Plateau. Later, continue to Patan and visit the UNESCO-listed Patan Durbar Square. Optional extra activities in Patan include wood carving, sculpturing and visiting the industrial area. Proceed to Boudhanath stupa where you can light butter lamps and get blessed by a monk. The rest of the evening is free at your leisure. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Overnight in Tibet Guesthouse, Kathmandu

Meal plan: Breakfast

Boudhanath (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the centre of Tibetan culture in Nepal. The 36-meter-high Stupa of Boudhanath is one of the largest Stupas in South Asia and was renovated by Licchavi rulers in 8th century. The mandala design in Boudhanath is a copy of the one in Gyangtse in Tibet. The stupa is said to entomb the remains of a Kasyap sage venerable both to Buddhists and Hindus. Smaller stupas are located at the base. Today, Boudhanath bustles with Tibetan population, busy with carpet manufacture, trade, and prayers at the several monasteries belonging to different sects of Tibetan Buddhism. 

Patan Durbar Square is a marvel of Newar architecture and a UNESCO world heritage site.  The Square floor is tiled with red bricks and there are a number of temples and idols in the area.  The history of the Durbar Square is not clear. Although the Malla Kings of Lalitpur are given credit for establishing the royal square. 

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Day 3 : Kathmandu

In the morning, visit the ancient city of Kirtipur and the picturesque village of Chobhar. Continue to a monastery in Pharping, where you can light a butter lamp and be blessed by a monk. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Overnight in Tibet Guesthouse, Kathmandu

Meal plan: Breakfast

Founded in 1099 AD, the small sleepy town of Kirtipur is steeped in history, witnessing many historic battles and invasions. With impressive medieval temples dotted along the maze of brick and stone streets, it is a centre of Newar culture. The old, upper town has been particularly well-preserved after a conservation project lined the streets with fine stone pavings and restored many of the temples. 

The small picturesque village of Chobhar overlooks the Bagmati River. The beautiful Chobhar Gorge lies below the village alongside Jal Vinayak Temple, an important pilgrimage site for the locals of the valley. According to legend, the gorge was carved out by the mighty sword of the Bodhisattva Manjushree in an attempt to drain the ancient lake that filled Kathmandu Valley. 

Pharping is a small town lying above the Bagmati river on the southern edge of the Kathmandu valley. It is the site of several Buddhist pilgrimage sites as well as monasteries, including the ​Neydo Tashi Chöling, which houses about 200 monks. This monastery also runs a guest house next door. There are two retreat centres in Pharping: ​Palyul Samten Ösel Ling, and Tegchen Leksheyling.

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Day 4 : Kathmandu - Bandipur

Morning drive to the historic village of Bandipur that sits on top of a ridge in the Mahabharat range of hills, and values its responsible tourism and eco-friendly credentials. Bandipur remains very much a vibrant community and the town is a living museum of Newari culture. In the afternoon take a short walk around Bandipur and visit Tundikhel, from where you will have fantastic views across the entire Annapurna range as well as the Mansaslu, Dhaulagiri, Ganesh Himal and Langtang ranges. Overnight in Bandipur.

Overnight in The Old Inn, Bandipur

Meal plan: Breakfast

Located at an altitude of 1030m, Bandipur has been described as a natural view tower, providing a spectacular panorama of the entire Annapurna Range, plus the peaks of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu (above 8,000m) and Langtang to the Marsyangdi valley which is below 500m. Apart from the stunning views of the Himalaya and the Marsyangdi Valley, a visit to the town is an opportunity to get a close look at thousands of years old Newar cultural life that reflects the refined civilization of the Kathmandu valley. 

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Day 5 : Bandipur - Pokhara

Drive to Pokhara and on arrival, check in to the hotel. Proceed on a sightseeing tour around Pokhara, including a visit to the beautiful Devi's Fall and Gupteshwar Cave, one of the largest caves in Pokhara. Also see World Peace Stupa. In the evening, go on a boat ride around Phewa Lake. Overnight in Pokhara.

Overnight in Glacier Hotel, Pokhara

Meal plan: Breakfast

Pokhara is a remarkably beautiful city situated 900m above sea level and 200km west of Kathmandu valley. It has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of Himalayan peaks. The lakes and magnificent Himalayan peaks rising behind them create an ambience of peace and magic. 

Devi's fall (also known as Devin's and David's) is a lovely waterfall lying on the Siddhartha Highway. Legend has it that a trekker (named Devin or David) was washed away by the Pardi Khola river and mysteriously disappeared down into an underground passage beneath the fall.

The entrance to Gupteshwar Cave is right across from Devi's Fall. The cave is almost 3 kms in length, with individual chambers varying from big hall-sized rooms to small passages where you must crawl on all four. This cave holds special value to Hindus since a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva is preserved here in the condition that it was discovered.

The central attraction in Pokhara is Phewa Lake - the second largest lake in the country. Here, one can sail or row a hired boat across to the water or visit the island temple in the middle.

Constructed by Japanese Buddhists, the World Peace Stupa is an impressive white pagoda complete with a shining gold statue of Budda in the posture he assumed when he was born. Peace Pagodas like this one were built after World War II around the world as a symbol of world peace. Built on top of  the Anadu Hill that provides spectacular sunrise and sunset views, the Shanti Stupa is the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal and the 71st in the world. There are several ways to reach the pagoda including hiking trails, cycling tracks, and roads.

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Day 6 : Pokhara

In the early morning, transfer to Sarangkot to watch the sunrise over the Annapurna range (weather dependent). Return to the hotel for breakfast before continuing on a full day sightseeing around Pokhara. Visit the pagoda-styled Bindabasini Temple and Gurkha Memorial Museum. Later, explore the International Mountain Museum, observing the records of past and present momentous mountaineering activities around the world. Overnight in Pokhara.

Overnight in Glacier Hotel, Pokhara

Meal plan: Breakfast

The white pagoda-style Bindabasini Temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga and located near the busy Old Bazaar of Pokhara. People flock here daily and offer animal sacrifices. It is a very popular spot for Hindu wedding ceremonies.

Gurkha Soldiers joined the British Army in 1815 and later into the Indian Army after its independence in 1947. The Gurkha Memorial Museum displays a collection of uniforms, medals (including the Victoria Cross) and pictures of the Gurkha infantry regiments, Gurkha engineers, signals and transport regiments and Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force.

Sarangkot (1592m) is the most popular tourist destination where the tourist can enjoy the great view of the Pokhara Valley and the magnificent view of the mountains. From Sarangkot, enjoy panoramic views of Annapurna (8091m/ 26,545ft), Manasalu (8165m/ 26,781ft), Ganesh Himal (7446m/ 24,422ft), Dhaulagiri (8167m/ 26,795ft), Machhapuchre (the sacred mountain) and 25 other mountains over 6000 meters (19,680ft) high. Sarangkot can be reached easily by car (30 minutes from Pokhara) and then a 45 minute hike to the main view point.

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Day 7 : Pokhara - Lumbini

In the morning drive to Lumbini to visit the birthplace of Buddha and Buddhist monasteries in the area. Overnight in Lumbini.

Overnight in Buddha Maya Garden, Lumbini

Meal plan: Breakfast

Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage place and is listed as a UNESCO Heritage site as Buddha's birthplace. It has a number of old temples, including the Mayadevi Temple, as well as newer ones and some that are still under construction.

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Day 8 : Lumbini - Bardia

Start your drive to Bardia National Park in the morning. The drive is a beautiful, though long, journey as you pass through forests and then through the mainly flat and rural Terai. The actual park entrance is at Ambassa which is situated close to the small village of Thakurdawa, 14km southwest along a dirt/gravel road from Ambassa on the Mahendra Highway. Check into the lodge and the rest of the day is at your leisure. Overnight in Bardia.

Overnight in Bardia Tiger Resort, Bardia National Park

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Bardia National Park is a protected area covering 374 square miles and is the largest, and most undisturbed, national park in Nepal's Terai or lowland region. In 1815 Nepal lost this region to the East India Company and it became part of British India for 45 years. Roughly 70% of the park is covered with forest and the wide range of vegetation types provides excellent habitats for all sorts of animals. It is home to at least 53 mammals including the Bengal tiger, wild elephant, and rhinoceros.

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Day 9 : Bardia

Start the day with a half-day jungle walk. This is an excellent opportunity to see the wild animals, including small mammals and birds. You will have a chance to wait in a tower for wild sightseeing without being obtrusive, and be accompanied by experienced naturalists and a wildlife tracker. The rest of the day will be a Tiger Tracking & Birdwatching tour where you will have the opportunity to spot a Royal Bengal Tiger and a great many species of birds found in the national park. Packed lunch will be provided and there are many excellent photographic opportunities. Overnight in Bardia.

Overnight in Bardia Tiger Resort, Bardia National Park

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 10 : Bardia

After breakfast in the resort embark on a full day jeep safari inside Bardia National Park. This is an excellent opportunity to see wild animals including many other smaller mammals that have made Bardia their home. Packed lunch will be provided. Visit the crocodile breeding centre. Later witness a cultural dance by the local Tharu people at the resort. Overnight in Bardia.

Overnight in Bardia Tiger Resort, Bardia National Park

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 11 : Bardia - Butwal

Morning drive to Butwal. Check in at the hotel on arrival and the rest of the day will be at your leisure. Overnight in Butwal.

Overnight in Dreamland Gold Resort, Butwal

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Butwal stands beside the banks of the Tinaau and Dano rivers near the southern border of Nepal. It once acted acted as a trading post between the hilly Lumbini zone and the Indian plains, connecting the Nepali people with north Indians. It is a lively, rapidly growing city with panoramic views of the hills and wide plains.

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Day 12 : Butwal - Kurintar

Drive to Kurintar in the morning, stopping at the Jatayu Vulture Restaurant in Nawalparasi on the way. When you arrive at Kurintar, you can either take a trip in the cable car up to the beautiful Manakamana Temple, embark on a river rafting excursion along the river, or take a short hike to hte nearby villages. Overnight in Kurintar.

Overnight in Riverside Springs Resort, Kurintar

Meal plan: Breakfast

A small village located on the sandy banks of the Trisuli river, Kurintar has become a popular resting place for travelers due to the Manakamana Temple.

Established in 2006, the Jatayu Vulture Restaurant is the first of this kind of program in South East Asia. It is a sanctury for vultures set up in the Namuna community forest, providing safe food to vultures and preserving them from the brink of extinction.

Situated atop a 1300-meter hill, 105 kilometers to the west of Kathmandu, the Manakamana Temple is a highly venerated sacred place of the Hindu Goddess Bhagwati, an incarnation of Parvati. The name Manakamana is derived from two words, Mana, meaning heart and Kamana, meaning wish. It is believed that the Goddess Bhagwati rewards those who make the pilgrimage to her shrine by granting their wishes. The Manakamana temple overlooks the Trisuli and Marshyang-di river valleys, and offers breathtaking views of the Manaslu, Himalchuli and Annapurna mountains to the north. The temple is set in a square, which is overlooked by an enormous sacred magnolia tree. Two popular festivals, Dasain (in September-October) and Nag Panchami (July – August), draw large numbers of pilgrims from throughout the country.

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Day 13 : Kurintar - Bhaktapur

Leave Kurintar in the morning and drive to Bhaktapur. Check into the hotel upon arrival and the rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Bhaktapur.

Overnight in Hotel Heritage, Bhaktapur

Meal plan: Breakfast

Bhaktapur is one of the 3 royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley. It was tragically damaged in the 2015 earthquake, with temples destroyed, traditional buildings made uninhabitable and whole streets lost. However, there is still much to see in Bhaktapur, with elaborately carved temples, medieval squares, and winding narrow streets between red-brick houses showcasing the city's rich culture and history. 

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Day 14 : Bhaktapur - Nagarkot

In the morning, explore Bhaktapur Durbar Square. There are a range of optional activities available: Taste delicious Newari food at lunch; observe Thanka painting, a style of Buddhist painting on cotton or silk applique; or visit the first bamboo school in Nepal. In the afternoon, drive to Nagarkot. Overnight in Nagarkot.

Overnight in Club Himalaya, Nagarkot

Meal plan: Breakfast

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is located in the centre of Bhaktapur and was added to the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1979. The Square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley, highlighting some of the finest medieval arts of Nepal. The art Gallery of Bhaktapur Durbar Square contains ancient paintings belonging to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of various periods and is open every day except Tuesday.

Situated at a height of 7,200 ft, the small farming village of Nagarkot offers stunning views over the Himalayan mountains. The villagers have adapted to their environment by using special farming techniques to deal with the steep terrain.

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Day 15 : Nagarkot - Kathmandu

After breakfast, either drive to Changunarayan or hike (approx. 4-5 hours), and enjoy a walking day tour on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, exploring the local villages along the rural trail. On arrival, take an excursion in and around Changunarayan Temple. Later, drive to Kathmandu and enjoy a farewell dinner with Nepali food and a cultural show. Overnight in Kathmandu.

Overnight in Tibet Guesthouse, Kathmandu

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Perched on a narrow ridge, the UNESCO-listed Changunarayan Temple is said to be the oldest in the valley, believed to have been built in 323 AD by King Hari Datta Varma. Richly decorated with sculptures and carvings, the double-roofed temple is a living museum of the craftsmanship and artistic skill of the Licchavi period. 

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Day 16 : Depart Kathmandu

Transfer to he airport at the appropriate time for your onward journey home.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Tibet Guesthouse

Kathmandu (4 nights)

Tibet Guesthouse is located at the heart of Kathmandu. The hotel has been designed and decorated in a traditional Tibetan style. bedrooms are spacious and equipped with modern facilities. The Nurbu Restaurant serves a selection of Nepalese, Tibetan, Indian and Chinese cuisine. Guests can enjoy panoramic views across the city from the rooftop restaurant and gardens. 

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The Old Inn

Bandipur (1 night)

The Old Inn is a restored traditional Newari townhouse fitted with low ceilings and comfortable rooms. The house is filled with stories of the ancient trans-Himalaya trade routes and of store rooms crammed with merchandise from India and Tibet. With an "eagle's nest" vantage point high above the Trisuli Valley, the Inn supplies stunning, uninterrupted views of the Himalayas.

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Glacier Hotel

Pokhara (2 nights)

Glacier Hotel can be found beside Phewa Lake in Pokhara. The hotel bedrooms have a contemporary decor, along with modern comforts that include an ensuite bathroom, satellite television and wifi access. Guests at the Glacier Hotel can also enjoy the spa facilities, Cafe Lounge and Mediterranean Restaurant & Bar. The hotel's many terraces and balconies boast scenic views across the lake and surrounding forests. 

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Buddha Maya Garden

Lumbini (1 night)

Relax in the birthplace of Buddha where there is a lotus pond and multi-cuisine restaurant. With the sound of birdsong and spiritual hymns to wake you in the morning, take a stroll through the sacred gardens and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere that is so sacred to Buddhists.

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Bardia Tiger Resort

Bardia National Park (3 nights)

Situated opposite the Bardia National Park, you can hear a harmony of animal and bird sounds coming from the park at night. The resort is surrounded by beautiful, peaceful gardens and is fully equipped with comfortable rooms for you to have a relaxing, tranquil stay.

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Dreamland Gold Resort

Butwal (1 night)

Situated 8 kilometers south from the bustling center of Butwal and surrounded by lush greenery, this resort is an idyllic getaway from the heat and traffic. It offers beautifully decorated and fully air conditioned rooms with views of the gardens from the large windows. Enjoy a range of Nepali, Indian, continental and Oriental cuisines with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. There is a gym, swimming pool and other sports facilities to keep you entertained, as well as cultural shows and folk dancing in the evenings.

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Riverside Springs Resort

Kurintar (1 night)

The Riverside Springs Resort offers nature lovers solace in comfortable rooms, with a varied restaurant overlooking a luxurious swimming pool and the white sands of the Trisuli river beach. There are plenty of activities to get stuck into, from table tennis, cards, or pool indoors, to horse riding, a light hike, or swimming outdoors.

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Hotel Heritage

Bhaktapur (1 night)

Hotel Heritage lies in Bhaktapur, not far from the iconic Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The design of the hotel has been inspired by Malla, Rana, Newari and Mihila heritage, along with Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The bedrooms have been furnished with authentic antique pieces that create a comfortable and unique Nepalese experience. The Kutumba Restaurant serves local delicacies along with continental options. 

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Club Himalaya

Nagarkot (1 night)

Club Himalaya lies at an elevation of 7,200 ft, boasting panoramic views of the mountains of Annupurna, Everest and Kathmandu Valley. The spacious bedrooms are furnished with modern comforts such as satellite television and air-conditioning. Each room has its own private balcony that provides beautiful mountain views. The hotel is home to an indoor pool, spa facilities and a selection of restaurants that guests are welcomed to enjoy during their stay. 

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Extensions

Highlights of the Subcontinent (22 days)

Discover iconic sights of India, Nepal & Bhutan

Essential Nepal & Bhutan (16 days)

Traditional cultures and majestic Himalayan scenery

Glimpse of India & Nepal (16 days)

Golden Triangle and the Himalayas

Hidden Nepal (16 days)

Embrace native customs & culture of Nepal

Classic Nepal (13 days)

Journey through Nepal's rich cultural history

Reviews

From start to finish, the whole trip was well planned to our requirements. Everything went smoothly and the guides and drivers looked after our every need. We stayed in an interesting and diverse selection of excellent hotels. Throughout the trip, the company regularly checked that everything was going OK and that we were happy. We felt very looked after. Overall, a wonderful holiday above our expectations. We would use Travel the Unknown again.

Graham & Barbara Wilson , Tailormade India & Nepal
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