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CULTURAL SAFARI: Nov 10 - 20, 2020

CULTURAL SAFARI - November 10 – 20, 2023

cultural-safariWe have not had a Cultural Safari for a few years, what with Covid and all, so this year we are determined to travel to all our old haunts around Nepal.  We start in Kathmandu, and if you are not trekking before hand you will need to arrive on 8 November.  Some folks are ‘staying on’.   We can visit Swayambu, Bouda, Durbar Square and the shopping/café mecca of Thamel – that place really never changes.

We will take our own vehicle, a minibus or a jeep, depending on numbers, firstly to Chitwan, staying at a luxury resort.  Two nights and action-filled days.  Elephant ride through the bush looking for rhino, tiger, deer, sloth, peacocks, wetland birds, etc.  Then open jeep to a small jetty for a dug-out canoe ride downstream, watching water birds and crocs. Visit the crocodile breeding conservation centre. Evenings watch local dancing. Warm enough down in the lowlands to stay outdoors most of the time.  We will be on the Indian border.

From Chitwan to Lumbini, an interesting drive.  Still struggling to find the ideal accommodation option here.  Very expensive was terrible, again,  last time, medium price had pretty crappy rooms, though the cooking was excellent.  I will find a good option by November. In the morning we can visit the birthplace of the Lord Buddha.  It is in a park with Buddhist temples donated from many countries.  We will take in a few favourites.  After lunch we will drive up to Tansen Palpa, via Butwal for lunch.  Not a great road but fab scenery.  Hope for a clear afternoon at Tansen, it is wondrous when clear.  If not, perhaps the morning…..
Next day we will drive through more hills and valleys on winding roads to Pokhara. We can stroll along the lakefront, eat outside in a lovely café or cruise the shops.  Tomorrow we will take a boat across the Phewa Tal and climb up (its just an hour) to the Peace Stupa. Great views and breakfast at the top.  Don’t worry, you will get coffee before we go!

Second morning  in Pokhara we will rise early and get a ride up to Sarangkot.  We can then climb the stairs for about 20 minutes for another spectacular view.  Afternoon we will move on to Bandipur.
Bandipur is a very cute little village, just 9 km from the highway between Pokhara and Kathmandu.  Nothing spectacular to do there.  We generally like to just dag around looking at the pretty houses and walking out to the edges of the village in a few directions and eating local street food like veg samosas with local creamy yoghurt and sweets.   We can stay in a beautifully restored old house.

A big drive today, all the way back to Kathmandu.  I have not finalised this concept yet, but thought we might spend a night at Benchen Monastery Guesthouse on the edge of Kathmandu.   I will see if rooms are available – depends on teachings at the Monastery.  Morning ‘kora’ circuit of nearby Swayambu temple?

If this plan works out, we could drive today to Bhaktapur.  Only about an hour, but a hideous hour in traffic if we arrived yesterday afternoon and kept going.   Hope this makes sense. Planet Bhaktapur is a funky hotel just outside the city.  In the afternoon we can walk into this World Heritage listed old city for a look at some of the best pagodas you will ever see. There was some earthquake damage in 2015 but some pretty good restoration is taking place.

Today we can drive back to Kathmandu, to the International Guesthouse.  If we are too early for our rooms to be ready, we will go find a trendy lunch in Thamel, which is just a few hundred metres away.  After lunch you may wish to shop?  Only four weeks or so till Christmas.    I can certainly help there.  A more cultural activity, such as a visit to Pathan with its Durbar Square and lovely museum, could be arranged.  As you like.

I need $1850 AUD for this one.  We will stay in a luxury safari lodge in Chitwan and take the nicest hotels I know of in each location – which is not always the poshest.   You do not need spending money except for shopping – and by crikey the shopping is very tempting indeed. I will cover EVERYTHING.  Airport taxi, accommodation, ALL food, ALL drinks, entrance fees, expenses…EVERYTHING, including me!
So far, we have two definite bookings for this trip, both are staying on after trekking to the Everest region in October/November.   If you are flying to Nepal just for this trip you need to arrive on 8 November, or thereabouts.    Say $100 extra.

Here is how I expect the trip to pan out.  Remember, this is Nepal.  No itinerary is written in stone.  We may need to adapt here and there and sometimes these are the best adventures.

Here is the day by day itinerary:

November 10:

Head off to Chitwan. If you are joining us just for this trip, then try to arrive on 8 November. It is quite a long drive so we will leave early in the morning and stop for coffee, toilets, morning tea and lunch on the way. It is a beautiful resort overlooking the Rapti River.

From the terrace you might see rhino, crocodiles, deer and beautiful waterfowl. Sometimes there is a barbecue, sometimes local dancing.

November 11:

A full day at the resort. There will be a little plan for our group. A definite inclusion will be a ride on an elephant through the bush, looking for rhino, tiger, deer, peacocks, sloth bear, wild boar, etc.

Bear in mind, these elephants do not work very hard and are very well-loved and cared for. We should be able to enjoy a lecture with the resident naturalist up close and personal with the elephants. We will also be taken in open jeeps to the river bank where dug-outs wait for us. Drifting downstream we will see many birds and a few too many crocodiles as we make our way to the Chitwan Reserve to walk through the jungle to visit the croc breeding programme. It is for conservation not handbags! An experienced ranger will accompany us always.

November 12:

Onwards then to Lumbini. If we fancy a village walk through the nearby Tharu village this morning, we may not get away till after lunch. It is about 4 or 5 hours to Lumbini so we will arrive at dusk. Would like to take a stroll through the old village at this time if possible. People taking their goats home, threshing grain, etc. In the morning we will visit the temples.

November 13:

First we will walk through the park to the birthplace of the Buddha. It is an extremely important spiritual place for many people. We need to remove our shoes and be quiet (though hordes of schoolkids will probably not). After this, we can take a rickshaw to a few of the more interesting temples. I like the German one for quality of workmanship and the Thai for perfect whiteness. A nice contrast. We will then drive to Thansen Palpa, about 4 or 5 hours with a leisurely lunch stop on the way at Butwal.

November 14:

With any luck there was a fabulous view of the Himalayas here yesterday afternoon upon arrival. Hope so. If not, it may be clearer this morning. We will walk slowly down through the quaint little town and meet our vehicle at the bottom. They make lovely cotton weaving here. Lunch stops are infrequent and pretty basic, so we will take some snacks and fruit on board for the journey and arrive in Pokhara by mid-afternoon. Enough time to freshen up and go out for a walk along the lakefront and maybe dine outside. At only 650 metres, Pokhara will be warmer than Thansen.

November 15:

Definitely a second day in Pokhara. This morning we can go out on the lake and then climb up, just an hour, to the Peace Stupa for breakfast with a view. After lunch you can trek down, easily through shaded forest, or get a lift. Freee afternoon in Pokhara.This evening, I know a very nice traditional eatery near our hotel.

November 16:

Up very, very early for a lift to Sarangkot. Possibly not for the actual sunrise, but soon after. We can climb up to the top if we like, it takes less than half an hour, but it is steep. Great views from lower down too. Our vehicle will whisk us back to the hotel afterwards and we might find a decent breakfast with a view. After breakfast we should drive to Bandipur. We only have an afternoon there so good to make the most of it by heading off fairly early. The hotel is just four rooms in a lovely old house in the middle of the village. Nothing exciting here. Just mooching around in a rather pretty hill-top town. We sometimes have a travelling dinner. Mo-mo here, snacks there, pancakes at yet another café.

November 17:

We need an early start for a longish trip. I will try to book the Benchen Monastery's Guesthouse for this night, but no guarantee at this stage. We need to be in Bhaktapur tomorrow but it is a bit too far to drive today. I will let you know what we plan to do.

If we are at Benchen, which is on the outskirts of Kathmandu, we can sit in the gompa while the monks are chanting their evening or morning prayers. If you remove your shoes and sit quietly at the back on the right, you may even be served a cup of tea for your devotions. Great views from the balcony of your room

November 18:

Hope to drive us to Bhaktapur today. We stay at a funky little hotel just outside the city. In the afternoon we can walk to the nearby old city. World Heritage listed. Free to wander for a couple of hours. Dinner at the hotel. Italian owned so nice food and wine.

November 19:

Back to Kathmandu. Only about an hour away. Back to the International Guesthouse with its simple rooms but fantastic garden full of antiques. You can 'do your own thing' or I can take you shopping or organise something a bit more cultural that you want to do. We are just a few hundred metres from Thamel. Relax? Shop? I know a great pizza place.

November 20:

Time to go home. We will take you to the airport of course. If your flight is later in the day, we could arrange to do something interesting.


Two people confirmed on this trip so far.  Of course, my partner Ekki and I will be going with you all the way.   This is a great trip to do if you really fancy coming back to Nepal, or visiting for the first time, but do not really want to go trekking, which is not for everyone.   The itinerary above makes it sound a bit frantic but actually there will be plenty of quiet hours to do your own thing, wander around with your camera, etc. or   WhatsApp??
Cheers, Teresa didi