Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Welcome to a city too laid-back to bother being best; it’s just Kathmandu, a spicy masala of its mixed reputations. If you arrive early, why not try one of our Urban Adventure day tours to get a feel for this fantastic city and its surrounds. Meet your leader and group tonight at 6pm for a Welcome Meeting, followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
This morning, we take a walking heritage tour of Kathmandu’s old bazaars, Hanuman Dhoka and Durbar Square. The labyrinth of backstreets and alleys leading from one bazaar ("chowk") to another are a true highlight of the city's character. Our time in Kathmandu also includes a visit to one of the holiest temples for Hindus all around the world- Pashupatinath. Your leader will then take you through the cycle of birth and death and the story behind the Sadhus (Hindu holy men), who renounce their hedonistic social life to devote their life to Shiva (Hindu God of Destruction) to whom the temple is dedicated. Nearby is the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal. Follow the pilgrims circumambulating the stupa spinning the prayer wheels. Offer your prayers to Lord Buddha lighting a traditional butter lamp at the main entry way to the stupa. There may the option for lunch at a roof-top restaurant with an enticing view over the Stupa. Free time this afternoon and evening after our sightseeing is finished.
Today we make our way further afield from the chaotic and modern self of Kathmandu to the medieval town of Bhaktapur (approx 13km/30min). Bhaktapur preserves the old-world charm of the Kathmandu Valley. Timeless craftsmanship is evident in its temples and squares and its people are still fiercely devoted to the ways of life and faith passed on from their ancestors. We take an afternoon walking tour of the town, including the temples of Taumadhi Tole and Durbar Square. The rest of our time here you will be free to explore on your own.
We make our way on to the fringes of the Kathmandu Valley, stopping at the ancient town of Panauti before reaching Khopasi (total drive approx 20 km/45 min). There's the option to hike (approx 1 hour) or continue on by 4WD (approx 20 min) to the hill-top village of Balthali through thick forests. Our destination is our accommodation for tonight, the hidden retreat of Balthali Village Resort with its commanding views of verdant villages and farms and the mighty Himalayas rising on the horizon.
Pack a day pack for our hike today. Our main luggage will be driven to meet us at our next destination - Namobuddha. Those who do not wish to walk can opt to travel with our bags. The walk will take approx 3-5 hours depending on fitness and track conditions. We start with a descent from the resort before making our way off road. Cut through the vast terraced fields before another sharp descent. Following the trail bridge, we meet a steep, uphill winding track through open pastures and eventually meet the dirt track coming from Panauti. Continuing on, pass a few villages, enter dense forest briefly and then be wowed by the revered Buddhist pilgrimage site of Namobuddha. We visit the stupa and impressive Thrangu Tashi Yangtze Monastery.
After breakfast today, we head out of the Kathmandu Valley towards Pataleban (approx 2-3 hours) in the Chisapani region, a place hidden from the mainstream tourist routes and famous for one of Nepal's few wineries. Stop along the way at in Dhulikhel to explore the bazaar, temples and see the valley from a great viewpoint and then head to to the tallest Shiva statue in the country in Sanga. Settle into our resort accommodation for the next 2 nights with views out on the vineyards, gardens, and distant mountain ranges.
After breakfast in the resort grounds head out on a half day hike with a local guide to Indradaha (also known as Daha Chowk). The moderately easy hike takes around 2 hours and passes through lush green forest, home to birds as well as spotted deer and monkeys. There's a good chance of spectacular views of Langtang, Ganesh, and Manaslu. Return to the resort for lunch and then the rest of the day is free.
Leave Pataleban behind today and follow the Kathmandu road to the Trisuli River (approx 50km/90 min). This is the launching place for our rafting experience and where we will meet our crew and have our safety training. Those not wishing to raft can continue on to our campsite by vehicle and meet the group on the completion of their trip. The Trisuli River is an ideal introduction for first time rafters, with reasonably calm waters and only minor rapids. Safety boats will lead the way and we also have crew in kayaks shadowing the main rafts. Before each rapid, the rafting guides pull ashore to inspect ahead and only then they decide whether to continue through or follow the safety boat on a smoother route. In total, groups usually are on the river for around 4 hours with a stop for lunch, but this will depend on water conditions. Tonight we stay at our permanent campsite Trisuli Centre at Big Fig Beach. Twin share tents, sleeping bags and mats provided.
Wake up early for tea and coffee, maybe take as stroll along the river and get ready for another fantastic day. After breakfast we prepare for the river again for another few hours of rafting (optional), then lunch at our finishing point at Kuringhat where our driver (and our dry clothes!) also await. Pack up and pile in our vehicles to drive back to Kathmandu (approx 100 km/3 hours) where we arrive late afternoon. Join your group and leader for an optional final night dinner to celebrate your trip.
Your tour ends after breakfast on Day 10. There are no activities included today and you are free to depart at any time.