Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trek, 8 days trek/4nights Kathmandu total 12 days
Level: Easy (max. altitude 2,760 m)
Best Months :All year except June and July
Kathmandu Valley is so often said to have a mystical quality, and on this trek you'll understand why. A mere half-hour ride away from the centre of town are villages untouched by the excesses of the modern world. A few hours' walk and you recede deeper into villages where the culture, everyday activities and landscape remain much as they have always been - there are lovely old temples, some simple and some ornate, corn and chilli hanging to dry from eaves, old men sitting in the village squares, women braiding hair, threshing grain or brewing up some potent aila or chhang, lush mustard fields and emerald paddy stocks, silvery rivers and streams glinting in the sunlight old brick and mud houses with wood accents, old tanks with orante stone spouts that bring snow melt down to the Valley sides, children looking wistfully out of schoolrooms at bright skies and upon rolling hills, and any of the countless local and Valley-wide festivals that are always underway or around the corner. The traditional Newar culture, enriched for centuries by trade with Tibet and India as well as the extraordinary fertility of Kathmandu Valley, is rich and multilayered. There is incredible artistry with wood, metal and stone in the Hindu, Buddhist and syncretic temples that dot the landscape and a highly developed aesthetic sense in simplest arrangement of villages and the humblest home. Yet, the Valley's culture is far from monolithic, and woven through the daily fabric are other ethnic groups and castes such as Bahuns and Chhetris who add flavour to the mix. In the villages a little higher up and farther away are also Tamangs, not quite as Tibetan-influenced as their cousins in the high Himalaya, but with their own distinct and discrete mix of traditions and practices. Also ringing the Valley are dense forests of everything from bamboo to oak to pine, home to wild boar and deer. Phulchowki, at 2,760 m the highest point in the Valley, is home to a few hundred species of birds and flowers, and orchids and rhododendrons galore.
Day 01. You will be picked up by our representative from airport and transfer to the hotel.
Day 02. Free day in Kathmandu, night at hotel.
Day 03 On the bus to the famous Changru Narayan temple, where are stone pillars dating back to the 4th century. Set on a hillside above glimmering fields, this complex is a Kathmandu classic - a pagoda style temple with a gilded copper roof and elabrately carved wooden struts, surrounded by smaller shrines and some of the best of Nepal's celebrated stone statuary. Technically this is a temple to Vishnu, but Valley Buddhists also worship here, regarding the deity as a manifestation of the Buddha. There are great views of the Valley and the silver threads of its rivers from here, and a short walk up the saddle takes you to the ridge along which is the hill resort of Nagarkot (2,190 m). The view from here of the verdant Valley and its surroundings is always brilliant, but on a clear day the panorama stretches from the Annapurnas to Everest.
Day 04: A walk to Dhulikhel (1,585 m) through thick forests and woodlands, up and down hillsides and across fields, lovely villages, and little brooks. One especially charming village is Nala, where there is both a Buddhist shrine and one to a Hindu goddess. Also along the way is Banepa, the 14th century capital of Kathmandu Valley that has in recent years become a viable home for professionals outside the Kathmandu. Dhulikhel, has also long been a prominent village, occupying a key position on the old Nepal-Tibet trade route. It now retains its wonderful bucolic and laidback quality with fields, old houses and houses, and pictureseque winding streets while also being home to a private university, a medical school and hospital, and the most progressive municipality in Nepal.
Day 05: Today again there are classic pine forest and ridge walks and Tamang villages, along with brilliant views of the Valley - all fields, streams, birds and flowers. The village of Namobuddha has one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Nepal, commemorating the Buddha's sacrifice of himself to feed a hungry tigress and her cubs. Atop this hill flutter prayer flags around a 17th century stupa and modern meditation centre and all along the hillside are traditional pilgrims' shelters called pathi.
Day 05 In addition to having very authentically picturesque old world charm, the typically Newar village of Panauti, with its authentic old world character, is also a sacred place, since it is at the confluence of two rivers. The Indreswar Mahadev temple, dating back to the 15th century, is supposed to be one of the oldest standing structures in the Valley. There are other temples too, brought back to glory through the international restoration efforts of the 1980s.
Day 07 It's a worth-every-breath hike up to Pulchowki (2,760 m) in the south of the Valley. The surroundings are the tranquil best of the Valley and the views are stupenduous - try and spot the landamarks you already know. On a clear day, the vista can stretch from Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas all the way to Everest. At the bottom of the hill is the pretty settlement of Godawari, home to a large botanical garden and sacred tank, and an increasingly viable suburban home option.
Day 08 Stay in the southern end of the Valley, walking through fields and tranquil countryside to the well-preserved old Newar village of Chapagaon, where there are blissful, quiet fairytale evenings and a 16th century temple.
Day 09 Thick forest, prayer flags and superb views lie all around you on your hike up to Dakhshinkali and Pharping. Dakshinkali is famous for the Tuesday and Saturday animal sacrifices and also for its old 14th century structure and idyllica location in a copse by a stream. Pharping, another Valley classic, is a splendid hilltop Newar village surrounded by pine, bamboo and oak forests filled with chirruping birds and bounding deer, and gleaming fields.
Day 10 On the bus back to Kathmandu.
Day 11: Free day in kathmandu for shopping.
Day 12: Transfert to the airport or own destination.
Cost on your request
Cost quoted in itineraries includes:
Ł Airport-hotel transfer at arrival and departure
Ł Domestic land and air transport as described in itinerary
Ł Four nights 2 stars accommodation in Kathmandu with breakfast Hotel UTSE or similar.
Ł All trekking and conservation area and national park permit fees,
For Camping or Tented Trek
Ł All meals, camping gear (except sleeping bags) such as tents, kitchen equipment etc, salaries and insurance for guides, sherpas, cooks, porters (who will carry 15 kilos of personal belongings per person) etc during tented treks.
Ł Re-confirmation of flight
Cost quoted does not include:
Ł Your international flight into and out of Nepal
Ł Travel insurance
Ł Domestic and international airport taxes
Ł Lunch, dinner, drinks in Kathmandu (US$6-15 per day)
Ł Tips, souvenirs or other shopping