RCGS Nepal

RCGS: Highlights of Nepal with Javier Frutos

12 days
from
$3,899
incl. taxes
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Culture
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
ANTS
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
9–16
Min age:
16

An adventure travel legends are made of…

Journey to the Roof of the World with renowned RCGS photographer and Canadian Geographic Creative Director, Javier Frutos. Nepal has long drawn in active adventurers and explorers from around the world and this special photographic departure will show you why. From photographing glaciers in the Alps to penguins in Antarctica, Javier has extensive experience and will be on-hand to share the secrets to wildlife and nature photography surrounded by some of the most enchanting scenery in the world.

This all-encompassing adventure brings you to the best of Nepal, from the cultural meccas of Bhaktapur and Kathmandu and the lakeside town of Pokhara where life takes on a different pace to the incredible wildlife of Chitwan and an introduction to the Annapurnas. Enjoy day walks through picturesque villages in the Annapurna foothills. Search for tigers, rhinos, crocodiles, and sloth bears during safaris by foot, jeep, and dugout canoe. Relax by the lake in Pokhara and watch the sunrise over the sacred Fishtail Mountain. Visit medieval Bhaktapur, known as the best-preserved city in the Kathmandu valley, where local artisans create handmade pottery and monks can be heard chanting in the streets. 

Highlights

  • Enjoy magnificent views of the Annapurnas, including sacred 'Fishtail' Mountain.
  • Walk through picturesque villages in the Annapurna foothills.
  • Take a boat across Pokhara's Phewa Lake and walk to the World Peace Pagoda.
  • Explore medieval Bhaktapur, one of the ancient cities of the Kathmandu Valley.
  • Search for rhinoceros and crocodiles on a jeep safari and dugout canoe ride in Chitwan.
  • Discover all that Nepal has to offer with RCGS photographer and Canadian Geographic Creative Director, Javier Frutos.

Key information

  • 7 nights hotels/guesthouses, 2 nights comfortable jungle lodge, 1-night teahouse and 1-night mountain resort, all en suite
  • 3 daywalks (low altitude throughout)
  • Group normally 9-16, including the RCGS guide plus local leader. Min. age 16yrs
  • Travel by private bus, boat, and one internal flight
  • Countries visited: Nepal

What's included

  • 11 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners included
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request - 9 nights only)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for private group trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus, we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Exodus has a longstanding relationship with our local partner in Nepal, having worked with the family business, passed from father to son, for over 30 years. We employ local leaders, guides and staff throughout and work with family-run hotels, such as the Hotel Royal Singi wherever possible.

Exodus has set up and supported many projects in Nepal over the decades, from installing solar cookers and donating smokeless stoves (a safer means of cooking, which helps prevent eye and lung problems), to supporting a tree nursery in Braga (in the Annapurnas) and helping supply water and hydro-electric power to several villages.

Following the 2015 Nepal earthquake, Exodus’ emergency fundraising appeal raised over a quarter of a million pounds thanks to our loyal customers and friends. This enabled us to provide emergency relief (shelters, food and medical supplies), to rebuild homes and schools, and to run a medical camp in spring 2016 in the remote village of Thulopatel in partnership with volunteers from Nepal Medical College. Over 1,500 patients from rural communities were treated for a variety of ailments, to whom medical facilities are not normally readily available. Many of our previous projects (both water pipes and stoves) were damaged in the earthquake - in 2017 we replaced many of these. 

Exodus also worked with Health Partnership Nepal and sponsored their medical camp in Charikot in 2017 as well as sponsoring 1000 Freedom Kits (providing sanitary wear) for women in Nepal – a project which we continue to support. 

If visiting Chitwan National Park, please note that Exodus strongly advises against elephant-riding in line with our animal welfare policy. 

To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kathmandu
to
Kathmandu
  • Day 1

    Start Kathmandu.

    The tour starts at the hotel in Kathmandu this afternoon – an airport arrival transfer is included, provided you have supplied Exodus with your flight details in advance. Upon arrival please check the noticeboard by the Exodus desk in the hotel reception area for details of where and when your group welcome briefing will be held this evening. 

    Hotel Royal Singi (or similar) 

  • Day 2

    Drive to lakeside town of Pokhara, gateway to the Annapurna Range.

    We leave Kathmandu early this morning and drive to Pokhara - traffic leaving Kathmandu can prolong the journey but once out of Kathmandu city, the journey usually takes around 7 hours depending on the road and traffic conditions. In the afternoon your leader will take you for an orientation walk along the shore of Phewa Lake. Pokhara is a pretty lakeside resort at the foot of the Annapurna range.

    Hotel Lakefront / Hotel Dahlia (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Free day in Pokhara; optional excursion to Sarankot for sunrise.

    We have the whole day to explore Pokhara. You might like to take a taxi up to the viewpoint at Sarankot for a magnificent sunrise over the whole Annapurna Range. For the energetic, you can ask the hotel for a packed breakfast and then walk back down to the lakeside from Sarankot (approx. 3-hour walk). You can also hire bikes in Pokhara and cycle along the lakeshore. The Mountain Museum has interesting displays and for those interested, there is also a Gurkha Museum. You can hire a boat and go boating on the lake and there are some pretty walks around Begnas Lake (another lake a short distance outside of Pokhara). Your leader will brief you on all the options available and help you organise transport. If the group want to do different activities today your leader will accompany the largest group. There are also plenty of shops along the lakeside and lots of nice garden restaurants for lunches and dinners. Your leader will also recommend restaurants and will accompany you to dinner.

    Hotel Lakefront / Hotel Dahlia (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Drive to Khare; trek through forest to Australia Camp (1880m/6168ft); afternoon bird watching walk.

    This morning we drive out of Pokhara to Khare (1.5hrs), from where we walk through lush forests to Australia Camp. The walk takes us gradually uphill for about 2.5hrs. Australia Camp was originally a clearing in the forest with great mountain views where trekking groups used to camp. There are now several lodges in the clearing but the views are still as beautiful. On a clear day we get magnificent views of Annapurna South, Huinchuli, Machhapuchhare ('Fishtail' Mountain) and Lamjung Himal. We should be at our basic but comfortable lodge by lunchtime and we can spend the afternoon either admiring the view or your leader will take you on a bird watching walk. This day will give us a taste of trekking in Nepal. The rooms at the lodge are basic but have attached bathrooms, and there is a decent choice of food.

    Australia Camp - teahouse (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Walk through beautiful terraces to Dhampus with magnificent views of Macchapuchhare and the Annapurnas; return to Pokhara.

    On a clear morning it is well worth getting up early for the spectacular sunrise. After a leisurely breakfast we head to the neatly laid out terraces of Dhampus. It will take approximately 1.5hrs walking. This village is set on a ridge with magnificent views of the Annapurnas and Machhapuchhare, the 'Fishtail' mountain can be seen as it sits in the middle of the range and has a very distinctive shape. Considered holy, this mountain cannot be climbed by anyone. From Dhampus we descend on a stone staircase to Dhampus Phedi where we meet the road and our bus. We drive back to Pokhara and the rest of the day is free.

    Hotel Lakefront / Hotel Dahlia (or similar)  

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Boat across Lake Phewa; short walk to Raniban visiting the World Peace Pagoda en route.

    We pack up this morning. The bus will take our luggage (and anyone not wanting to walk) to Raniban Retreat, which overlooks the lake and the mountains. We will take a short boat trip across the lake (approx. half an hour). We then have quite a steep climb up to the World Peace Pagoda, set on a hill overlooking the lake. From here it’s a short walk to Raniban Retreat, where we stay tonight. This peaceful guesthouse looks out across the lake and with the Annapurnas as a backdrop, it makes for a perfect setting to enjoy the sunset and sunrise from the veranda. After lunch, there is the option of an afternoon walk further up the ridge. There are an amazing number of birds in the forest and we may also be able to visit a local village house.

    Raniban Retreat (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Transfer to Chitwan National Park; afternoon ox-cart ride to a Tharu village

    We drive to our jungle lodge in Chitwan (approx. 5.5 hours’ drive), where we spend the next two nights. The drive will take us back along the road towards Kathmandu. As we leave Pokhara we get our last views of the whole Annapurna Range. The road winds through small settlements and gives us a great overview of typical middle hill Nepal scenery. At Mugling (the halfway point between Pokhara and Kathmandu), we turn south and the road winds along the Trisuli River down to the southern plains and jungles of Nepal.  We will reach our lodge in Chitwan around lunchtime and in the afternoon we meet our naturalist guide and start our jungle activities - activities may be offered in a different order however usually today's activity will be an ox-cart ride around Tharu Village where and we will witness a traditional Tharu dance.

    Safari Narayani Hotel (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Jeep safari, dugout canoe ride and birdwatching walk around the Chitwan area.

    The order of the programme of activities may change but will generally include an early morning birdwatching walk before breakfast. Before lunch there will be another activity, normally a trip along the Rapti River in a dugout canoe looking for crocodile and again observing the many birds. Then before dinner we set out on a jeep safari. If we are lucky we may encounter the Indian one-horned rhinoceros or some of the several species of deer found here. The safari lodge has knowledgeable and helpful staff, who accompany us on all the excursions.

    Safari Narayani Hotel (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Fly to Kathmandu; drive to medieval Bhaktapur.

    Rise early for a pre-breakfast birdwatching walk. We leave Chitwan after breakfast and catch a morning flight back to Kathmandu, from where we transfer by road to Bhaktapur. In the afternoon we'll have an orientation walk around this medieval town.

    Hotel Heritage, Bhaktapur (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square; return to Kathmandu.

    We spend this morning exploring this wonderful heritage town. Bhaktapur is the most mediaeval of the three cities in the Kathmandu Valley. It is quieter than Kathmandu and its temples, although there was much destruction from the 2015 earthquake of the surrounding areas, the city centre survived fairly well. There are two Durbar (main) Squares with ancient pagoda style temples. The surrounding narrow streets and potters square are also worth exploring. We have lunch in a restaurant in the centre and late afternoon we drive back to Kathmandu.

    Hotel Royal Singi (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Free to explore Kathmandu; optional scenic Everest flight.

    The day is free for sightseeing and exploring the temples around Kathmandu. You may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambunath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world at Bodnath, or the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath. We have a number of organised sightseeing tours and activities that can be booked from the hotel in Kathmandu, including an optional Everest sightseeing flight - please see the Optional Excursions section below for further details.

    Hotel Royal Singi (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    End Kathmandu.

    The tour ends after breakfast. An airport departure transfer is included provided you have supplied Exodus with your flight details in advance.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Nepal

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal, which can be obtained in advance or on entry (at present, the Immigration Department of Nepal have suspended  'visas on arrival' for certain nationalities - please check if this applies to you). All Nepal tourist visas are multiple entry. We recommend that you apply in advance as queues on arrival can be very long – applications can be made directly through the Nepal Embassy (by post or in person) or through our recommended visa agency, Travcour. The current cost for a visa in advance is GB£20 for a 15-day visa and GB£35 for a 30-day visa for UK passport holders (plus processing and postage fees if applying through Travcour).

The current cost for a visa on arrival is US$30 for 15 days, US$50 for 30 days, or US$125 for 90 days for UK passport holders. The fee can be paid for in any major currency at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. On arrival in the immigration hall there are 3 queues (if you have obtained a visa in advance go straight to (3) - immigration):

(Step 1) Fill in a 'Tourist Visa' form: either online before travel (recommended) via the Department of Immigration website - print the submission receipt with barcode (valid for 15 days) and bring it with you, or use the electronic kiosk machines on arrival at the airport. If using the kiosks, after inserting your passport the machine will automatically fill out an application form, take an electronic photograph of you and print a paper slip. If the machine won’t read your passport you can complete the details manually using the touch screen. We recommend taking 1 passport photo with you just in case. (Step 2) Proceed to the visa fees collection counter and pay the visa fee (we advise to take some cash) – make sure to keep the receipt. (Step 3) Lastly, go to the relevant immigration desk and present your tourist visa form, payment receipt and passport to obtain your 15, 30 or 90-day visa stamp. Please check you have been given the correct visa duration.

Non-UK nationals should check requirements with their nearest embassy (a few nationalities are not permitted visas on arrival).

Vaccinations

Nepal

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

There is low to no risk of malaria throughout Nepal and antimalarial tablets are not usually advised although may be considered for certain higher risk groups; you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. The risk is highest in the low lying southern ‘terai’ districts bordering India.

A yellow fever certificate is only required if travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of transmission.

Dengue fever is a known risk in Nepal. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. As of August 2019, there has been a recent outbreak of Dengue fever in southeast Nepal and we therefore recommend you take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites (such as wearing full length trousers, long sleeves and applying insect repellent during the day as well as at dawn and dusk).

Most of our trips to Nepal go to high altitudes where there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please refer to the Altitude Warning within the Trip Notes for further advice on AMS.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners are included in the price of the tour.

Breakfasts are mostly continental buffet style or set menus typically including fruit juice, cereal, toast, eggs, tea and coffee. In Chitwan, all meals are provided and comprise a mix of Nepali and Continental food, available from the lunch/dinner buffet.

Dhal bhat is the staple diet in Nepal and comes in many different forms but generally comprises some curried lentil dhal and meat or vegetables, some rice, and a pickle/chutney. 'Momos', a type of Nepalese dumpling filled with meat or vegetables, steamed or fried, are also a delicious snack or starter. 

Please allow 34-42 CAD/36-32 USD/20-25 GBP per day for lunches and dinners that are not included.

Drinking Water

Staying hydrated is important when travelling, especially in hot weather. We encourage you to avoid buying bottled water whenever possible to minimise the amount of single-use plastic that you leave behind.

Most hotels will give you a complimentary bottle of water in the room and they will all provide cold water free of charge if requested. Although this should not be drunk untreated, we recommend that you bring a reusable bottle with a wide opening (Nalgene or similar) with you and use a SteriPEN or another form of purification to treat it with. A SteriPEN is a handheld UV water purifier – small, lightweight and battery-powered so easy to pack. SteriPENs are widely stocked on Amazon and other online retailers; look for the latest models and those with lithium batteries. 

Weather

This special Royal Canadian Geographic Society departure runs in spring:

Spring/Pre-monsoon: March to May. Both day and night temperatures will be much hotter in general but haze will often build up in the afternoons and there can be some rain. It is hot in the lowlands and temperatures rise to 30-35°C/86-95°F. Flowers bloom in this season and this is one of the reasons people chose to travel to Nepal in spring. Chitwan will be very hot in the daytime and mild in the evenings.

Please remember that in any mountain area the weather is never wholly predictable and you should be prepared and equipped to deal with any differences in weather beyond the conditions described above.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is graded leisurely/moderate (Activity Level 2) and is a full itinerary with plenty of cultural interaction. There are three short day walks: the walking is well within the reach of anybody who is reasonably fit and all the walking is on well-established trails. All walking is at low altitude (below 2000m/6562ft).

There is free time in Kathmandu and Pokhara with a variety of optional activities to choose from to suit your interests.

There is one long drive, from Kathmandu to Pokhara, which usually takes around 7-8 hours but this can vary hugely depending on the road condition and traffic (traffic leaving Kathmandu can be very slow and prolong the journey to 10 hours plus). 

Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for private group trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Lodges

7 nights hotels/guesthouses, 2 nights comfortable jungle lodge, 1 night teahouse and 1 night mountain resort.

The hotels usually used are listed within the itinerary, however, occasionally these may vary by departure date due to availability. 

In Kathmandu we stay at the Hotel Royal Singi (4-star local rating), which has been recently refurbished. It is well located within walking distance of Thamel, the Garden of Dreams, and a local market (Durbar Marg). There's a large lobby with comfortable seating, an outdoor courtyard, a bar, restaurant and coffee shop. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. The rooms are a good size and are well appointed. 

In Pokhara and Bhaktapur we use guesthouses with twin-bedded rooms and en suite bathrooms.

We spend a night at Raniban Retreat, excellently located on a hilltop above the World Peace Pagoda, overlooking Lake Phewa and the Annapurna Mountain Range.  The restaurant has magnificent views on a clear day. The twin-share rooms are en suite and there is free Wi-Fi.

We get a taste of teahouse trekking, which Nepal is so famous for, and spend a night in a lodge at Australia Camp. Located in a clearing on a hillside,  this lodge offers fine views of the Himalaya. Although relatively basic, all rooms have en suite facilities.

In Chitwan we stay in a comfortable jungle lodge (usually Safari Narayani Hotel) in twin-bedded huts with en suite bathrooms.

Extra Accommodation

If you require any additional accommodation in Kathmandu either before or after the tour, we can book this for you (subject to availability), please enquire with your Sales Consultant.

Single Accommodation 

If you would like a single room please request this at the time of booking. Single supplements are subject to availability and are not available at Raniban Retreat or Australia Camp.

Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for private group trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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