All our Nepal itineraries are tailor-made. Having been ‘off the map’ for a number of years due to its political problems, Nepal is an increasingly sought after destination – sometimes as a stand-alone, or sometimes in combination with India. We generally use Qatar Airways to reach Nepal, as their connections through Doha are extremely good, however if you are visiting India as well, we recommend flying with either British Airways or Jet Airways to India, with a connecting flight from Delhi, or one of India’s other major airports, to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. Although wildlife enthusiasts often spend only a night here en route to or from Nepal’s national parks and rural areas, if you have more time, the Kathmandu Valley has some wonderful sights that warrant a closer look. The old city of Kathmandu is a warren of ancient palaces, courtyards and temples built between the 12th and 18th centuries, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just outside the city, on a clear day the hilltop Buddhist temple complex of Swayambunath, offers fabulous views of the snow-covered mountains that overlook the valley. Nearby the royal cities of Bhaktapur and Patan also have ancient historic centres filled with palaces and temples. An hour or so’s drive away the forested slopes of Phulchowki Hill offer good walking, birdwatching and opportunities to photograph some of Nepal’s highest peaks. To do justice to the royal cities of the Kathmandu Valley, you should allow at least a day to see the main sights – but if you enjoy wandering and browsing, two days is even better.
Dwarika’s Hotel is a unique haven of peace, consisting of 74 rooms and suites located around a series of courtyards, gardens, a temple and swimming pool. The building incorporates many antique Newari wood carvings and traditional Nepalese arts and crafts into its fabric, and is located in a quiet suburb of Kathmandu, not far from the holy temple of Pashupatinath.
Yak & Yeti is one of Kathmandu’s top hotels, centrally located on Durbar Marg, near ancient temples, shops and restaurants. The hotel contains 270 comfortable rooms, various restaurants, tennis courts, a pool, sauna, jacuzzi and gym.
Shivapuri Heights is a charming fully-furnished house with stunning views down into the Kathmandu Valley from high on the edge of the Shivapuri Reserve. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, and library – and your own private chef is on hand to prepare your meals. This is the perfect retreat for anyone seeking a secluded rural getaway, yet it still offers the convenience of being just 25 minutes from central Kathmandu.
Le Meridien Kathmandu is a tranquil resort and spa complex, located in a small area of temperate forest in the Kathmandu Valley that was formerly a royal hunting ground, but now contains Gokarna Forest Golf Resort. 16 cottage rooms are operated by Le Meridien, and the original lodge now houses the reception, bar and restaurant. There is a health club and spa with a pool, gym, and a range of Ayurvedic treatments, plus the adjoining golf course.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is located in the lowlands of southern central Nepal, along the border with India, roughly 160 kilometres (5-6 hours by road) south of Kathmandu. The park consists of 976 square kilometres of sal and riverine jungle, a magnificent natural environment that contains a greater variety of wildlife than any other area of Nepal. Over 480 bird species have been recorded here, as well as many mammals, reptiles and numerous insects. Mammals include the endangered Indian rhinoceros, wild boar, sambar, muntjac, chital, rhesus and Hanuman monkeys, while reptiles include marsh mugger and gharial crocodiles. Activities include wildlife-viewing from elephant back, jungle walks, birdwatching, game drives and river safaris.
Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Chitwan is famous for its tree houses and bungalows which contain 20 guest rooms with fans and en suite bathrooms. There is a large circular open-roofed dining area and bar and resident naturalist guides lead safaris on highly trained elephants, well-maintained vehicles and boats.
Tiger Tops Jungle Camp is a tranquil tented camp beside the Reu River. Here, 12 twin and double safari tents enjoy sweeping views across the tall alluvial grasslands of Chitwan to snowy Himalayan peaks. Each tent has an en suite bamboo bathroom and is equipped with lanterns. A thatched central ‘gol char’ doubles as dining room and bar, and activities include safaris on elephant back, on foot, by jeep or boat with naturalist guides. Araised viewing platform enables ‘armchair’ viewing of the grasslands below.
Machan Paradise View is a jungle safari resort beside the Rapti River, overlooking Chitwan National Park. Five large bungalows each contain four large, comfortable rooms which combine modern amenities with a Nepalese feel. The resort is just five minutes from the park headquarters, gharial breeding centre, elephant breeding centre, museum and library. There is a dining room, swimming pool and bar, and activities include safaris on elephant back, by jeep and on foot, as well as canoeing, nature walks, birdwatching and fishing. Exciting overnight rafting trips can also be organised to and from Machan.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is an important wetland area situated on the plain of the Sapta-Koshi River in the eastern corner of Nepal, close to the country’s southern border with India. The reserve covers 175 square kilometres north of the one kilometre long dam that spans the Koshi River. The vast expanse of open water it creates, and the surrounding area of marsh, lagoon, sandbank, mudflat and arable land are an outstanding wetland habitat, and one of the finest birdwatching sites in Asia (now recognised by Ramsar).
Koshi Tappu was originally established to protect Nepal’s last remaining population of Asiatic wild buffaloes, but birds are now the big draw. Its many small areas of marshland, pools and grassland provide a haven for birds and birdwatchers alike. The vegetation near these banks attracts many passerines, and the finest birding sites in and outside the reserves are located between Koshi Camp and the dam.
Koshi Camp is a centrally located tented camp on the eastern edge of the reserve, in an area well-known for its diverse wildlife and birdlife, with several waterholes nearby. Accommodation is in 11 spacious traditional safari tents with a large dining tent and bar.
If Kathmandu is the cultural hub of Nepal, Pokhara, 200 kilometres to the west, is the centre of nature and adventure activities such as trekking and rafting. Pokhara is an enchanting place of remarkable natural beauty, nestled in a tranquil valley on the shore of Phewa Tal. Rising behind it are magnificent Himalayan peaks, dominated by the fishtail summit of Machhapuchhre (6,977 metres). Its elevation is lower than Kathmandu, which gives it a more tropical feel, as reflected by the lush forests and extraordinary diversity of lovely flowers that thrive here. Pokhara lies on a once busyt trade route that extends from India to Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods from remote regions of the Himalaya to trade. This is the land of the Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The area has numerous trekking and walking routes to suit all abilities. Several daily flights connect Pokhara with Kathmandu, and this thrilling journey along the Himalayas offers views of some of the world’s highest peaks.
Tiger Tops is a boutique hilltop hotel with panoramic views of the Pokhara Valley and the snow-capped Himalayas. Accommodation is in 19 comfortable rooms with en suite facilities in stone bungalows scattered around the hilltop – each with a spacious verandah. There is a central dining and bar area with cosy fireplace, and a pool terrace with spectacular views. Activities include walking, hiking, birdwatching, micro-light flights, golf, tennis, spa therapy, Ayurvedic massage and sightseeing in Pokhara.
Fishtail Lodge has 60 comfortable rooms surrounded by tranquil gardens that slope gently down to the blue-green waters of Pokhara’s lake, Phewa Tal. Facilities include a restaurant, bar and pool, while activities include boating on the lake, birdwatching, trekking, fishing and relaxing.
Hotel Barahi sits on the shores of Lake Fewa in the heart of the Pokhara Valley. Comfortable, well-appointed rooms have a private balcony, and the swimming pool is surrounded by lush gardens full of exotic flowers.
Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park was created in Nepal’s western Terai, with the aim of protecting tiger and their prey in this important lowland ecosystem. Later, greater one-horned rhinoceros were translocated here from Chitwan, and a large area of surrounding forest and private land was gazetted as a buffer zone. In addition to Bengal tiger and rhino, the park is home to endangered animals such as elephant, barasingha (swamp deer), blackbuck, gharial crocodile, marsh mugger and Gangetic river dolphin. Over 200 birds, including endangered species such as Bengal florican, lesser florican and sarus crane occur here. Morning and late afternoon elephant rides are a great way to see the park and get away from the main tracks.
Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge provides accommodation en suite facilities adjacent to Bardia National Park. There is a central dining area and bar, and from the lodge you can explore the surrounding areas on elephant back, foot, jeep or boat.
Tiger Tops Karnali Tented Camp is a classic jungle camp complete with comfortable, spacious twin-bedded tents overlooking the snow-fed waters of the Karnali River, within Bardia National Park. Nepali and Western cuisine is served around the campfire and the fully-stocked bar stays open until the last guest retires. You can explore the park on elephant back, in a dug-out canoe, on foot or by jeep, and individual programmes are planned after discussion with each guest.
Rhino Lodge offers cottage-style accommodation just a few minutes from the park entrance. From here you can explore the park with naturalist guides on elephant-back or by 4-wheel drive vehicle.
According to legend, Lumbini Gardens in the Terai plains of southern Nepal were the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, in 623 B.C. Today, pilgrims from all over the world flock to the town of Lumbini to visit the locations linked to Buddha’s life, and to worship at the many temples, monasteries and stupas that have been built by various nations.
Buddha Garden is a small quiet guesthouse offering private accommodation in traditional thatched houses. The rooms are surrounded by tranquil gardens containing a small thatched dining area, meditation house and library.
Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
Suklaphanta is situated in the extreme south-west of Nepal and covers a 155 square kilometre area of grassland, soon be doubled in size. It protects one of the last remaining habitats for the threatened hispid hare and pygmy hog, and is a stronghold for the endangered barasingha, or swamp deer. Other wildlife includes spotted and hog deer, nilgai, wild dog, jackal, leopard, porcupine and otter. There is a small tiger population, and tiger are frequently spotted in the open terrain; wild elephant have also been sighted here. The raised viewing platform at Rani Tal is a highlight, as the lake attracts both birds and animals. Thousands of waterfowl such as herons, ducks, storks, kingfishers and egrets vie for food, and swamp deer wallow at the edge of the lake – sometimes in their hundreds. Accommodation is at a simple tented camp on the edge of the park, and exploration is done in 4-wheel drive vehicles and on foot with trained trackers and naturalist guides.
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