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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

2017 Nepal & the Mystical Himalayas

Nepal: Kathmandu, Pokhara, 3-Night Overland Trek, 2-Night River Camp, 2-Night Jungle Safari

85% Traveler Excellence Rating Read reviews

17 Days from only $5395 including international airfare

Courtesy Kirsten Horne, Sarah Lustig, and Stephen Embleton
Greater One-Horned Rhinos

Explore the lush forests of Chitwan National Park, home to Nepal’s rare one-horned rhino.

Courtesy Cynthia Younker
Earth Diaries - Kathog Pageant

Let holy rituals on the Tibet extension enchant you as they impart blessings and oust bad spirits.

©2015 The New York Times
Katmandu Before the Quake

Discover life among the temples of Kathmandu—many of which were destroyed in a 2015 earthquake.

Courtesy Maude Plante-Husaruk
A Moment at the Top of the World

Experience life in a remote Nepali village, where high altitude often makes small tasks a challenge.

Courtesy Keshab Penday
Kids on a Wire

See how Nepali children literally go to great heights to receive a daily education.

FROM
$5395
17 DAYS
$318/DAY
including international airfare
14 DAYS FROM $3895 Small Group Adventure Only
  • 3 nights from only $595
    Single Supplement: $295
Extend Your Trip
 

Trek among the foothills
and villages of the
mighty Annapurna. Learn More »

 

CRITICAL AIR INFORMATION
The air routing for this trip is very demanding. Learn More »

 

Break up your lengthy flight
with a Stopover in Dubai.
See More Options >>

Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5

Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

Travel to Nepal with O.A.T. and discover the mighty Himalayas, whose snowcapped peaks are the very rooftop of the world. Sinuous green terraces wind as far as the eye can see along mountain valleys. Prayer flags adorn lively temples that reveal ancient scrolls and exquisite carvings. This is Nepal. With O.A.T., you’ll trek on stone paths threading pristine hillsides and sweeping valleys … float on a river raft through untouched forest … and ride by elephantback through lush jungle.

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • Did you know that you have control over the way you want to fly with us? O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other ways you can personalize your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Upgrade your seat: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. 
    • Fly the way you want to: When you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • Consider personalizing your O.A.T. airfare with a Stopover. Break up the lengthy trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, and take time to relax, refresh, and add another stamp to your passport with a visit to Dubai before your main adventure—or before your pre-trip extension in Bhutan. An O.A.T. representative will meet you at the airport in Dubai and assist with your transfer into the city for three nights in a centrally-located hotel—the rest is up to you!

    From soaring to the top of the world’s tallest building, to shopping in the souks of the old city, to leaving footprints in the sand of the surrounding desert, an adventure in Dubai offers surprises at every turn. However you spend your time, you’re sure to leave energized and ready to begin your journey in Nepal. This Stopover includes three nights at the Raviz Centre Point Hotel (or similar), daily breakfasts, and roundtrip airport transfers. Single Supplement is $295.

    Suggested Activities in Dubai

    • After perusing the bright and shiny wares of the Deira Gold Souq, stroll over to the bank of Dubai Creek, where you can admire the brightly-colored dhow boats that ply the Indian Ocean—or hop aboard a smaller abra boat to see the cityscape from the water
    • Spend a day in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, where you can admire one of the world’s largest religious buildings, the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, or stroll along the beaches and gardens of the Corniche
    • Soar to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, where you’ll look out on the surrounding city and desert from a vantage point that bests the Empire State Building by 46 stories
    • Discover Islam and Emirati culture at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where you can converse with local people and all questions, no matter how controversial, are encouraged
    • See how lights, water, and music combine to form a piece of art at the Dubai Fountains, the world’s largest choreographed fountain performance, where water shoots up to 500 feet into the air
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Stay for a day, a week, or even a month in a favorite locale. Or consider arriving in Kathmandu a few days early for a fresh start, or spending more time in Dubai after the adventure ends. Our Adventure Specialists can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. One of the most common adventures combined with Nepal & the Mystical Himalayas is Heart of India. And now you’ll save an additional $250-$350 per person when you reserve two trips right after one another.

  • Many O.A.T. travelers simply don’t want their trips to end. With an array of pre- and post-trip extensions to choose from, you have the chance to experience more of the places you’ve traveled so far to see, including Bhutan: The Last Shangri-La and Tibet: Return to an Ancient Path. Plus, you lower your average per-day costs because you’re taking advantage of your already included international airfare.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 3 nights from only $595

    When you purchase airfare through O.A.T., you have the option to personalize your flights and add a Stopover. Break up your lengthy flight to Kathmandu, Nepal, with a 3-night Stopover in Dubai before your main adventure or before your pre-trip extension in Bhutan. An O.A.T. representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your included transfer into the city for three nights in a centrally-located hotel—the rest is up to you! Take advantage of this opportunity to relax, refresh, and explore the futuristic skyline, timeless desert tableaux, and traditional customs of this ultramodern Emirati city. Breakfasts and roundtrip airport transfer are also included. Single Supplement is $295.

    Looking for ways to fill your free time in Dubai? Check out some of our suggestions.

    Learn More
  • 7 nights from only $2795

    Few travelers have ever heard of Bhutan—much less passed through its majestic (but remote) borders. The kingdom cautiously controls tourism to protect its legacy as one of the world’s top ten biodiversity hotspots. Here is a unique opportunity to experience a magical, mystical world of elaborate temple-fortresses, ancient customs, and mind-boggling Himalayan scenery.

    View Extension Itinerary
Kathmandu Chitwan Expand All
  • You depart the U.S. for your flight to Dubai.

  • Stay overnight in Dubai before flying on to Kathmandu, Nepal tomorrow.

  • Travelers on the pre-trip extension to Bhutan: The Last Shangri-La join the main adventure today. This afternoon, we fly to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. When we arrive at our hotel, we meet our Trip Leader, a Nepali, whose mission is to share the cities, land, people, and language of his or her homeland with us.

    Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own in this vibrant city.

  • This morning, we’ll begin our discoveries in Kathmandu (4,265 feet)—the capital and largest city of Nepal. Here, we’ll visit the country’s holiest temple: the Boudhanath Stupa. Like Mecca is to Muslims, Boudhanath Stupa, standing 118 feet high, is the main pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. Tens of thousands of pilgrims make the journey each year. The temple's hemispherical dome represents the emptiness from which everything begins; rising above the dome, the harmika shines the Buddha's eyes in four directions that symbolize his total awareness. When Tibetan refugees entered Nepal, they settled around the Boudhanath Stupa, creating a small village that elicits the holy atmosphere of Tibet's sacred city, Lhasa.

    Then, we make a short drive to Patan (4,429 feet), which sits across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu. Patan was developed on relatively thin layers of deposited clay and gravel in the central part of a dried ancient lake known as Nagdaha. The city was designed in the shape of the Buddhist Dharma-Chakra (Wheel of Righteousness). The four thurs, or mounds, located on the perimeter of Patan are known as the Ashoka Stupas, named for Emperor Ashoka, who visited Kathmandu with his daughter, Charumati, in 250 BC and erected the five stupas. These mounds are joined by more than 1,200 Buddhist and Hindu monuments of various shapes and sizes located throughout the city. Patan is known for its art and artisans: The region has produced the most artists and finest craftsmen in Nepali history, and their devotional artwork gives us stunning displays of Nepal's fused cultures.

    We’ll explore one of Patan’s bustling markets, as well as its Durbar Square—one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal that are preserved within a protected Monument Zone. As Durbar translates to “palace,” the term “Durbar Square” is used to describe any plaza opposite a royal palace. But while there are several Durbar Squares across Nepal, Patan's is renowned for being one of the most picturesque, with its intricately carved architecture, delicate wind chimes, and ornate fountains.

    After lunch on our own, we’ll return to our hotel. Tonight, our group will gather for a Welcome Dinner at our hotel.

  • At dawn, you may elect to join us for an optional flight to Everest (weather permitting). This iconic mountain is known in Tibet as Chomolungma, which means “Mother of the Universe” or “Goddess Mother of the Earth.” The Nepali name is Sagarmatha, or “Goddess of the Sky.” Avid climbers call this mountain “the ultimate climb,” and with its astounding summit height of 29,029 feet above sea level, Mount Everest earns the title of the tallest peak on Earth. Rising majestically out of the Himalayan range, its snowy peak and intricate geography offer us breathtaking views from the air.

    Or, you can enjoy some time at leisure before we all embark on a tour of Bhaktapur (Bhagdaon). The “City of Devotees,” Bhaktapur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning four square miles. The city was the crown jewel of the Malla Empire 700 years ago, and today features its historic Durbar Square, ancient courtyards, holy temples, and twisting streets where artisans still practice age-old traditions. After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll explore some of these sites on a guided tour.

    This evening, we'll return to Kathmandu. Dinner tonight is on your own.

  • This morning, we fly to Pokhara (3,080 feet), a vital city along the ancient trade route from Tibet to India built around Lake Phewa. From our plane, we may see panoramic views of impressive canyons carved out by the Seti River and defined by the fast rise of the Annapurna mountain range. Pokhara boasts a number of natural phenomena such as a waterfall that plunges and disappears into a hole and a stretch of the Seti River that disappears into a small opening in the canyon wall.

    Before our journey begins, we meet our trek guide for a briefing. Then we begin our trek amidst terraced farmland and wooded hillsides. Walking through the lower foothills of the Annapurnas, intoxicating views of the Pokhara Valley surround us. As we enter the Modi River Valley, we hear the rush of flowing river and may find many colorful birds and butterflies fluttering on the riverbanks.

    After approximately an hour of walking with our light daypacks, we stop for a packed lunch along the route. After lunch, we continue to follow the Modi River until we approach our lodge (3,362 feet). The lodge offers views of Macchapuchare, or Fishtail Mountain, a sacred peak that has never been summitted. While this famous peak is less than 22,000 feet high, it is known for its twin peaks and its startling beauty.

    The balance of the afternoon is yours to simply relax and enjoy the view. Later we'll have afternoon tea and a roundtable discussion on life in Nepal. We dine this evening on the simple, traditional fare of the Modi River Valley at our lodge.

  • As the sun rises at our lodge, mountain silhouettes transform into dramatic snowy peaks against a crystal blue sky. Join us for tea and coffee as we take in the unfolding of the landscape before us. Then, after breakfast, we begin our morning trek to the village of Birethanti (3,382 feet), passing through hamlets and forests. The houses of Birethanti seem to naturally rise out of the hillside, in perfect time and meter with the terraced rice fields. These velvety green “steps” that cascade down the hillside are a testament to the care and hard work of the people that live and work on the land. Upon entering this ancient village, and due to our small group size, we have the chance to interact with the villagers as they move through their day of feeding the animals, farming, and caring for their children.

    We return to the lodge for lunch and then you are free to explore the riverbanks and surrounding land at your own pace.

    We dine at the lodge before retiring for the evening.

  • A Day in the Life

    See what it’s like to spend a day in the Nepali farming community of Tomejhong village.

    This morning, we embark on A Day in the Life of a Nepali village, a day of discovery during which we'll learn firsthand what it's like to live in the shadow of the Annapurnas. First, we'll enjoy a chance to meet local children in their school (when in session) which is supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation. Though formal education has existed in Nepal for 150 years, for the first century it was only available to members of the royal family. It has only been the last five decades that ordinary Nepali children were able to enjoy schooling as a result of the popular democratic uprising that ended the rule of the royal family. Today, five million students fill more than 20,000 schools (from elementary schools to universities). You'll get to know a few of these promising young people when we visit.

    Then we depart for nearby Tomejhong village, where we'll explore and spend time with the hospitable people who live here. A Gorkha family will join us for lunch to share insight into their traditions and daily life. The Gorkha people arrived in western Nepal from Tibet centuries ago, and trace their roots to a Mongolian clan—part of the Kshatriya, or warrior class—from classic Hindu tradition. Known for their military prowess, courage, and loyalty, many Gorkhas were recruited by the British Army during their occupation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Their culture is a fascinating blend of their Hindu roots and local traditions like shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, as we'll learn during this exclusive opportunity for real cultural exchange.

    Back at the lodge, we'll enjoy leisure time in the late afternoon, then come together for dinner.

  • After enjoying breakfast, we begin our transfer back to Pokhara. Set in a valley where Asia's ancient civilizations crept down from the highlands of Tibet and the Indo-Gangetic Plain, Pokhara marks an important stop along an age-old trade route. The mountains around this serene tropical valley shoot up starkly toward the sky, leaping upwards of 26,000 feet and disappearing into the misty shroud that drapes about their shoulders. As lofty symbols of man's highest hopes and the source of eternal inspiration, these peaks are considered sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and followers of Tibet's indigenous Bon traditions alike. Machapuchare, the fishtail crown at the center of the Annapurnas, is off-limits to climbers because of its association with the high gods.

    We arrive in Pokhara and stroll through a market before lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon is free for you to browse among the lakeside shops of Pokhara or relax in the lodge gardens before dinner at a local restaurant.

  • We enjoy breakfast at our lodge this morning, then we visit the International Mountain Museum (IMM). The IMM is the gateway for climbers and mountain enthusiasts, and the organization is working to support the people of the Himalayas while also bringing the majesty of this towering and expansive range to the international community. The IMM comprises four galleries, a research center, events, educational activities and climbing opportunities and will provide us with comprehensive information about the Himalayan range.

    After lunch together at a local restaurant, you'll have some time at leisure. Tonight, we'll dive into daily life in the Himalayas when we join a local family for a Home-Hosted Dinner.

  • Today we begin our rafting journey along the Seti River (2,500 feet). This animated river runs through Pokhara and displays some visually amazing feats—at one point it appears to be only two meters wide, while its massive volume of water continues to flow, hidden by incredible depths. We drive to our rafting launch site after breakfast and receive information and instructions from our river guides.

    Then we board our American-made raft and let our experienced crew navigate the three-hour ride. The views are truly thrilling. Along its banks, women wash clothes, men fish with sticks and cloth nets, and children swim and play.

    We face a few sections of Class II rapids, where there may be some rough water with waves up to three or four feet, and perhaps some rocks and drops that require maneuvering by our expert guides. After a picnic lunch on the Seti's shores, our afternoon rafting follows smooth, easy waters. We land on the banks of the river to settle into our safari-style camp surrounded by luscious forest. Dinner tonight is followed by conversation beneath an endless starry sky.

  • After breakfast this morning, our guides lead us on a trek to a nearby village.

    We return to camp for lunch, and the afternoon is ours to relax in the camp's gardens and hammocks. Or, take a refreshing dip in the warm Seti River. You may also ask your Trip Leader for suggestions on local hikes.

  • We begin our final rafting leg this morning. Savor the images of clear, rushing water, lush jungle foliage and villagers waving from the banks. We raft for about two hours, observing riverside villages and a colorful array of birdlife. Our rafts and experienced Nepalese crew expertly navigate five sections of Class II rapids and one patch of Class III rapids (especially after monsoon season) as we travel to our end point. After bidding farewell to our faithful rafting guides, we set off overland to Chitwan and enjoy lunch at our lodge.

    This afternoon, you can enjoy some free time at our lodge or opt to join us on an optional Jeep safari in Chitwan National Park (1,000 feet), the oldest national park in Nepal. The park lies in the subtropical inner Terai lowlands of South-Central Nepal. Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984, the park covers a pristine area with a unique ecosystem of significant value to the world. It contains the Churiya hills, ox-bow lakes and flood plains of Rapti, Reu, and Narayani rivers. Formerly, the Chitwan Valley was well known for big-game hunting and until 1950 was exclusively managed as a hunting reserve for the Rana Prime Ministers and their guests. In 1963, the area south of the Rapti River was demarcated as a rhinoceros sanctuary. In 1970, His late Majesty King Mahendra approved, in principle, the creation of Royal Chitwan National Park. From the back of an open Jeep, you’ll search the grasslands and jungles of Chitwan for animals such as spotted deer, Bengal tigers, and one-horned rhinos.

    Later, we’ll regroup and spend our early evening in a discussion with a naturalist who outlines the history and features of Chitwan, which we will all experience together tomorrow. Tonight we share dinner and reflect on our remarkable day.

    Please note: Our Jeep safari optional tour is not offered on August-September departures, and may be unavailable on select October departures, depending on weather conditions.

  • Today we begin our exploration of the buffer zone surrounding Chitwan National Park. Our morning begins with a walk and canoe ride through the jungle as our accompanying naturalist helps us search for the flora and fauna that thrives here, including endangered birds.

    We’ll return to our lodge briefly before embarking on the next chapter of our adventure, which begins where the Sal forest of the Chitwan jungle meets the wide valley of the Rapti River. Broad grasslands sweep north to the Mahabharata range and virgin jungle extends south to the Churia hills. For centuries, the dense jungle covering the foothills of the Himalayas formed an impenetrable barrier for Nepal, keeping it a hidden and mysterious land. The indigenous Tharu people, however, have spent generations living off this fertile land. Following lunch, we board ox carts and take in our lush surroundings as we make our way to a Tharu village. Tharu women are adept at transforming the exterior walls of buildings into vibrant works of art; as we observe their skill, we are greeted by the villagers and given glimpses into their lives and homes.

    We’ll return to our lodge for lunch and early afternoon relaxation before we embark on an exploration of the buffer zone from an entirely different perspective. A perch on the back of an elephant affords us the perfect vantage point to view all that this area has to offer. Elephants move fluently through the jungle with its thick tree cover and tall elephant grass. There are more than 43 species of mammals, more than 450 species of birds, and more than 45 species of amphibians and reptiles in the park. After our elephant trek, we return to the lodge for a traditional Tharu dance and dinner.

  • After breakfast, we enjoy a discussion with our naturalist about local elephants and learn about regional efforts to protect this beloved and valuable animal.

    Following this discussion, we drive to the airport and fly back to the bustling city of Kathmandu (4,265 feet) via Bharatpur where we'll stop for lunch. Our Trip Leader accompanies us to our hotel as our small group readjusts to city life after days surrounded by the quiet of the Himalayas, the rush of the Seti River and the cacophony of animal calls in the jungle of Chitwan. Next, we'll discover Pashupatinath, the most sacred temple of the Hindu god, Shiva, who is also known as Pashupati. This pagoda-style temple boasts gold-robed copper rooftops and silver-crowned doorways.

    This evening we toast the memories of our journey during a special Farewell Dinner at our hotel.

  • This morning, you will have some time at leisure before we fly from Kathmandu to Dubai, where, after midnight, you'll board your return flight to the U.S.

    If you are taking the post-trip extension, Tibet: Return to an Ancient Path, you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa today.

    Please note: If you took our pre-trip to Bhutan and are not taking the post-trip, you will fly from Kathmandu to Delhi, where you will stay overnight and fly to the U.S. on Day 17.

  • Just after midnight, board your flight from Dubai to the U.S.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Tibet: Return to an Ancient Path

    8 nights from only $2895

    The Himalayas are your companion as you continue your adventures on the rooftop of the world with eight nights in timeless, ethereal Tibet—the spiritual center of Buddhism. We’ll explore beyond the capital of Lhasa to the central valley cities of Gyantse and Shigatse, where we delve deep into the powerful spiritual core of Tibetan culture.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Nepal & the Mystical Himalayas

Read Travel Planning Guide

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