Kathmandu lies in the centre of the Kathmandu Valley, surrounded by the foothills and the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas. Originally Kathmandu was one of three Kingdoms. Today it physically (if not administratively) encompasses the old Kingdom of Patan also. On this seven day tour you will see the highlights: three iconic heritage sites in Kathmandu, the old palace square in Patan and the Durbar Square of Bhaktapur (the third kingdom). Your tour also takes you up to Nagarkot where the breathtaking views of eight different Himalayan mountain ranges will simply stop you in your tracks. Here the sunrise and sunset views present different faces of these majestic mountains.
Heading out of the Kathmandu Valley, you will fly (more mountains to be seen through the window!) to Pokhara approximately 200km south west of Kathmandu. Pokhara is the starting point of the Annapurna treks. But you don’t need to hike anywhere to see the famous Mt. Machhapuchhre, also known as Fish Tail because of its distinctive shape. This mountain dominates Pokhara and can be seen by simply looking up from your stroll through Lakeside. Known also as the lake city, you will stay in Lakeside on the lake itself. You will visit natural beauties such as waterfalls and caves and those made by man such as the Peace Stupa. You will also have a chance to learn about the lives of mountain people through a visit to the International Mountain Museum and a Tibetan Refugee Camp.
This tour is perfect for people who have either completed their trek or who do not wish to trek but still wish to see mountains. For those interested in culture and architecture this is also a perfect tour as there is plenty on offer!
If you would like to know more about this trip, or any other trip in Nepal, please do not hesitate to contact Sherpa and Swiss Adventures. Basically, the itineraries on our websites are for the most popular destinations. You can contact us and let us know your requirements. For example, your intended length of stay, your preferences of hotels, your choice of route for trek, the places you would like to visit, or any kind of customization. We would love to hear your unique choices and travel ideas; based on which we can curate a blend of our ideas and come up with the most suitable trip itinerary for you as an individual or a group.
It all starts here. But first, the formalities…
Our airport representative will be there to meet you outside the terminal at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. You will recognize her/him from the Sherpa and Swiss Adventures signboard they will be holding. You will then be transferred to your hotel by our private tourist vehicle.
Later that day there will be a pre-trip meeting in our office. If your flight arrives after 4pm you will be briefed when you reach your hotel. Please ensure to ask any questions you may still have about the trip regardless as to when or where your briefing meeting takes place.
Please bring to the meeting: your original passport and your travel insurance policy (hard copy please). During the meeting we request you to clear any outstanding monies and sign the legally binding trip form and a non-liability disclaimer. Thank you for your cooperation.
If there is time, we will arrange some sightseeing for you. So please advise us of your proposed flight arrival time when you book your trip. In this way we can arrange a suitable sightseeing tour to fit with your timing. Alternatively, you can rest and/ or explore the surrounding area yourself.
We will collect your from your hotel after breakfast to take you to the domestic airport for your flight to Pokhara. On arrival in Pokhara transfer to your hotel for some quick refreshment then catch a boat across Lake Fewa and hike (approximately 45 to 60 minutes) to the Peace Pagoda. Returning back, stop off at Barahi Temple in the middle of the Lake. Alternatively, should you not wish to hike you can enjoy boating on Fewa Lake and visit the Barahi Temple. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy by exploring Lakeside with its many shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Peace Pagoda
Sitting high above Fewa Lake is the Shanti or Peace Pagoda, its white exterior shimmering in the sun. Built by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji organisation, the stupa is a symbol of peace. The stupa is the perfect place to view the mountains around Pokhara as well as the lake far below.
The Barahi Temple is small pagoda style temple is situated in the middle of Fewa Lake so the only way to reach it is by boat. This Hindu temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga (Barahi), a manifestation of the Goddess Shakti. Many worshipers come here, particularly on a Saturday. There may be animal sacrifices so please tell us if you would rather not visit.
Pokhara is situated near Fewa Lake although it is the tourist area of Lakeside that has grown up on its shores. This is a stream-fed freshwater lake but as a dam regulates the water reserve it is classified as a semi-natural freshwater lake. There are many boats for hire on the lake. People do swim here but it is not recommended as there are many areas of aquatic weeds.
After breakfast you will be picked up from your hotel to drive to visit Davis Falls and Gupteshwor Mahadeva. After exploring these deafening natural phenomena of pounding water, you will be taken to the Tibetan Refugee Camp of Tashi Ling. In the afternoon your tour continues with a visit to the International Mountain Museum where you can learn more about the Himalayas, expeditions to conquer Everest, and mountaineering around the world. In its large grounds there is a living museum providing information about the indigenous peoples of Nepal. There is also a good restaurant providing Nepali cuisine where we will take lunch. Before returning to your hotel you will also visit the temple complex of Bindabasini. This is one of Pokhara’s oldest temples, dating back to the 18th century. If there is time and you are interested, you can also explore Pokhara’s old bazaar. Then your guide will take you back to your hotel. This evening you are free to enjoy Lakeside’s nightlife!
Overnight at a hotel. Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Davis Falls and Caves
Davis Falls is a thundering waterfall on the outskirts of Pokhara. Named after a Swiss woman who drowned there in the 1960’s today this is a busy tourist attraction. Thankfully, now properly organized and fenced, there is less likelihood of falling into the water. Nearby are a series of caves: Mahendra Cave with its stalagmites and stalactites and statue of Lord Shiva; the Bat Cave, providing a home for a colony of bats, and Gupteshwor Mahadeva Cave. In the latter cave, there is a long low tunnel which opens out into a huge cavern and deep gorge.
Tashi Ling Tibetan Refugee Camp
You might see Tibetan women selling trinkets on the streets of Lakeside. Mostly they are living in one of the many Tibetan refugee camps in and around Pokhara. At Tashi Ling camp you can see carpets being made by hand in the factory, and purchase carpets or handicrafts in the showroom.
International Mountain Museum
The museum opened on 29 May 2002 (the 49th anniversary of the first summit of Everest) in the presence of Sir Edmund Hillary and Junko Tabei, the first woman to summit Everest. It then had its less spectacular but official opening in February 2004. The museum provides visitors with information about the mountains, flora and fauna, and lives of mountain peoples in Nepal. There are many galleries to explore and a huge outdoor area to picnic in. There is also a climbing wall, interactive activities and short films to watch. A living museum provides a good insight to the daily lives of mountain people. Particularly, interesting if you have no time to go to the mountains yourself. There is also a restaurant serving some authentic mountain food – which you will get to sample!
Bindabasini Mandir (Temple)
Said to be built by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the King that unified Nepal, the temple sits on a small hill to the north of Pokhara’s old bazaar. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati, the protector of Pokhara. This Hindu temple sits in a large park-like area which has spectacular views of the mountains. This location attracts not only worshippers but families who come to enjoy the peaceful surrounds.
After an early breakfast depart by flight for Kathmandu. On arrival you will be taken straight to Pashupatinath. This is the most revered Hindu temple in the country, particularly for worshippers of Shiva. After exploring the sights, sounds and smells of worshippers carrying out their devotions, we head to Boudhanath Stupa, heart of Tibetan Buddhism in Kathmandu. Here we can take lunch gazing at the iconic “eyes of Nepal’. After lunch we will make our way through the city to the hill on which Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple sits. From here you can see Kathmandu lying below you. This Buddhist stupa attracts both Buddhists and Newar people who follow a unique blend of Buddhism and Hinduism. Your guide will now take you to your hotel where you can freshen up before dinner.
Pashupatinath: Pashupati Temple is the most holy and significant temple among worshipers of Lord Shiva. Non-Hindus are not allowed into Pashupatinath Temple itself but by standing on the opposite banks of the Bagmati, visitors can view the ghats where worship and ritual bathing takes place. A few metres downstream the burning ghats often present a horrific fascination. If that is too intimate, there are plenty of small shrines and trails to explore.
Boudhanath Stupa: Boudhanath Stupa is one of the most revered Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. Here in the early morning and late afternoon, hundreds of Tibetan and Nepali Buddhists come to circumnavigate the stupa in prayer with the sound of spinning prayer wheels and the ringing of bells filling the air. It is possible to eat in one of the many good restaurants around the stupa.
Swayambhunath: Swayambhunath Stupa (or Monkey Temple as it’s often know) has great importance to the Valley’s indigenous Newar population whose religion is a unique blend of Buddhism and Hinduism. We reach the top by a long staircase from the east. In addition to devotees, visitors can see many monkeys on the climb up to the stupa (please do not feed or pet them), and have a wonderful view over Kathmandu.
After breakfast we drive to the neighboring town of Bhaktapur where we spend the morning exploring many ancient temples in the vehicle free Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Here we will take lunch before driving for approximately an hour to the hilltop town of Nagarkot (2,175m). You can taste the clearer air and feel the drop in temperature as we up drive the winding road and through forests to reach this town famous for its sunset and sunrise views of several mountain ranges. Before checking into your hotel we will take you the viewing tower. If the weather is clear the views are astounding. Then you are free to explore the forests and surrounding small town. Your guide will ensure you are at the right place at the right time for the stunning sunset views!
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Kathmandu is made up of three towns which were original separate kingdoms: Kathmandu (Kasthamandap), Patan and Bhaktapur. While Kathmandu and Patan are separated by a bridge across the Bagmati River and are really indistinguishable, Bhaktapur lies out passed the airport and is very different. Within the Durbar Square is the royal palace of the Bhaktapur Kingdom and many ancient temples making up this World Heritage Site. Bhaktapur Durbar Square was severely damaged by both the 1934 and the 2015 earthquakes. Reconstruction from the 2015 earthquake is still underway. But there are still many fascinating ancient stone structures, temples and carvings to see. Bhaktapur is also famous for its pottery and it is possible to watch potters at work. As the centre of Bhaktapur is vehicle free, you can enjoy walking around the temples safely.
Nagarkot and Mountain Views
Many city dwellers come to Nagarkot for the fresh air. But for many visitors it is the mountains that are the main attraction. From Nagarkot, perhaps even from your hotel room window, you can see eight out of the 13 Himalaya mountain ranges! Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Jugal, Rolwaling, Mahalangur and Numbur ranges to be exact! Being higher than Kathmandu the weather is cooler. Cold and foggy in the winter months. This is atmospheric and refreshing. Even for those who have spent time trekking in the Himalayas, the views from Nagarkot are particularly stunning as they are just there – across your breakfast table! Sunrise and sunset is the best time to see the mountains.
Rise early in the cold air to watch the sunrise over the mountains. Be patient. Sometimes the mountains are clear the whole time, but depending on the season the mountains may make their appearance only after the clouds have dropped. This is a very magical time of day as the mountains open up before your eyes. While you eat breakfast, you can still take in the beauty of the mountains from the hotel terrace. After breakfast we drive down to Patan Durbar Square to explore man-made wonders in the form of ancient temples. Patan Museum offers an interesting insight into the history of the valley and how the rich tradition of brass making and stone carving came about. Lunch is taken in the leafy courtyard of the museum before heading back to your hotel. Take the opportunity to do some shopping – either around Patan Durbar Square or in Thamel. Patan is famous for its Thangka paintings and for its brass ware. And Thamel has – well, everything! Tonight a farewell dinner.
Patan Durbar Square and Museum
Each of the three ancient kingdoms – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan – have a Durbar (palace) Square. Each is very different and each site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Patan Durbar Square is the smallest of the three. This square also saw damage during the 2015 earthquake and there is also construction going on. But this doesn’t detract from the beauty of the square. Around the square are many alleys and roads leading off to other interesting places such as the Golden Temple, water spouts and ponds etc. There are also plenty of shops to browse in. The Patan Museum is situated in the heart of Patan Durbar Square in a series of ancient buildings and courtyards. The museum is made up of different galleries, some that change with contemporary works. This is one of the best museums in Nepal in its layout, content and facilities and worth taking time to explore. Its larger outside courtyard is often used for cultural and musical events. There is a lovely restaurant set in a leafy courtyard (run by Dwarika Hotel) which offers good food in a unique setting.
Depending on your flight time you will be transferred to the airport three hours prior to the departure time. In case your flight is late in the evening please let us know if you require an additional half day use of the hotel. This will incur extra charges as the check out time is usually 12 pm. Your airport representative will pick you up from your hotel accordingly and take you to the international airport for your onward flight.
Bon voyage and pheri bhetaula!
You will be staying in your choice of hotel in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Nagarkot. All accommodation is on twin-share basis. A single supplement charge will be added for single rooms and will cost an additional USD 400 or more (depends on your hotel selection in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Nagarkot).
During your trip, we can enjoy authentic Nepalese food as well as regular international cuisine (Tibetan, Continental, Italian, Indian, etc). All meals will be provided during the trip period (breakfast, lunch and dinner), where mentioned in the day-to-day itinerary. There will also be a welcome and a farewell dinner for guests.