Tihar - Festival of Lights
■ Register your details today for our 2020 journey
14 days from $3350 AUD
On this journey, you will experience the illuminated festivities of Tihar. Throughout the Festival of Lights, Nepalese will honour their divine connection with animals and the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi by adorning their homes in lights, flower petals and coloured rice. Taking place over 5 days you’ll really get the opportunity to experience one of Nepals favourite festivals.
Tihar is one of the most beautiful times to be in Nepal, with the streets of Kathmandu illuminated in fairy lights and celebratory fireworks igniting the sky.
Come with us and get lost in the evocative lane ways of Kathmandu and travel to some of the Kathmandu Valley’s most sacred religious landmarks. Then head off on safari to spot the one-horned rhino and the elusive Bengal tiger in UNESCO-listed Chitwan National Park. Soak up the breathtaking Himalayan views from the lakeside town of Pokhara and participate in traditional puja ceremonies at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, then discover the secrets of Nepali cuisine during a family-run cooking class. This unique adventure will also see you connect with young students whilst volunteering at a local school as you get a behind-the-scenes look at the “real” Nepal.
2 x Domestic Flights
Private Vehicles for long distances
Accommodation (twin share)
Hotel (10 nts)
Jungle Resort (2 nts)
Buddhist Monastery (1 nt)
* single supplement available
5% of journey cost goes directly to our sponsor school
Walking tour of Kathmandu
Entrance fees for all attractions included in itinerary
Cable car admission fee
Chitwan National Park jeep safari, dugout canoe and village tour
Overnight stay in a Buddhist Monastery
Traditional cooking class
Tibetan settlement tour
Tipping for both local guide and driver
DAY 1 - Namaste and welcome to Kathmandu
On arrival, you will be met by your Namaste Journeys Guide and transferred to your hotel in the tourist district of Thamel.
From the moment you step off the plane, you’ll be mesmerised by the sights, sounds and smells of Kathmandu.
DAY 2 - Kathmandu
We start the morning with cultural classes, orientation and a few “dos and don’ts” to help you relax into this exciting new country.
Spend the afternoon wandering the narrow streets and laneways of the tourist district, Thamel. We will explore town squares packed with extraordinary temples and monuments and watch the golden glow wash over the Kathmandu Valley as the sun sets on the Swayambhunath Monkey Temple. According to legend, the Kathmandu Valley was once a lake (geographical evidence supports this) and the hill on which Swayambhunath now sits spontaneously rose from the waters. Hence the name Swayambhu, which means “self-risen”.
At 6pm, meet with your Namaste Journeys guides and fellow travellers for a welcome cultural dinner.
(B, L, D)
DAY 3 - Kathmandu Valley
This morning after breakfast we will make our way to Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple, Pashupatinath. Set on the banks of the holy Bagmati River (just as Varanasi is positioned on the Ganges), Pashupatinath is an open-air crematorium that is accessible to the public. Sadhus and devotees of the Hindu God Shiva are often found here worshipping and, if you’re lucky, you may get the chance to have a photo or two taken with one of these famous dreadlocked holy men.
After Pashupatinath, we will head to Boudhanath – the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. The original stupa was built sometime after AD 600 but was reconstructed again in the 14th century after being wrecked by Mughal invaders. Boudhanath is an impressive monument and thousands of pilgrims gather daily to make a kora (ritual circumnavigation) of the dome under the watchful eyes of Buddha, which gaze out from the square tower.
DAY 4 - Chandragiri to Chitwan National Park
This morning we head to the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley, where we’ll stop at the sacred Chandragiri Hill that boasts outstanding views of the Kathmandu Valley and the Himalayan ranges. Ride the cable car up to the 2550-metre-high peak where the Bhaleshore Mahadev temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is found.
We will then head to the domestic airport in Kathmandu to take a short 30 minute flight towards the steamy, subtropical jungles of Chitwan National Park, whose name translates as “Heart of the Jungle”.
After arriving at our hotel in Chitwan, enjoy a late lunch and time to settle in before we embark on a guided tour of a local Tharu village. Experience the daily comings and goings of life in this unique community and discover their close association with the natural world of the Terai plains. End the day watching the sun set over the Rapti River, with the calls of nature ringing around you.
DAY 5 - Chitwan
Wake early this morning as we head down the river in a traditional dugout canoe. Keep an eye out for marsh mugger crocodiles sunning themselves on the river banks, as well as some of the more than 500 bird species found here.
Return to the resort for a buffet lunch, then head down to the river to assist Chitwan’s working elephants as they enjoy a well-earned bath. In the mid-afternoon, venture off again wildlife spotting in the national park, this time on a jeep safari, renowned as home to the one-horned rhino and the elusive Bengal tiger. Your guide will help you spot the myriad of wildlife that inhabits the forests, marshes and grasslands of Chitwan, including sambar deer, rhesus monkeys and maybe even a sloth bear- if you’re lucky!
In the evening, you’ll be treated to a cultural performance from the local Tharu community, including traditional dances and songs.
DAY 6 - Chitwan to Pokhara
Wake early as we prepare for our journey north to the picturesque town of Pokhara. Situated on the edge of Phewa Lake, it boasts spectacular views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks and has made a name for its adventure sports that include paragliding and white water rafting.
We’ll stop en route to have lunch at a local restaurant in Bandipur. One of Nepal’s most charming towns, Bandipur is a living museum of Newari culture, a beautifully preserved village crowning a lofty ridge, its main street lined with traditional row houses. We will arrive in Pokhara by late-afternoon where you’ll have time to explore the town at your leisure, with plenty of funky cafes and handicraft shops.
DAY 7 - Pokhara
This morning you’ll have the option to soak up Pokhara’s breathtaking views from the water during a boat ride along Phewa Lake. If you’re feeling adventurous you’ll be able to stretch your legs as we hike through local villages to the whitewashed Peace Pagoda that teeters atop Ananda Hill. Built as a monument to peace, the Shanti Stupa (as it’s officially known) offers unparalleled view of the Himalayas, Phewa Lake and Pokhara below (weather permitting). Alternatively you can choose to spend the morning relaxing in this picturesque township.
Back in Pokhara, you’ll have time to relax over lunch at a lakeside restaurant of your choosing before having the opportunity to visit a nearby settlement for Tibetan refugees in the afternoon. First we’ll head to a Buddhist Monastery where you’ll get to meet a Buddhist monk and learn about their monastic life and their daily studies and activities in the monastery. We will then get to enjoy Tibetan foods such as tsamba (roasted barley flour), butter tea and tibetan bread with a local family within the settlement. Without the right to work, many Tibetans earn a living selling handmade jewellery, trinkets, carvings and carpets, which you can also peruse whilst experiencing life in their community.
DAY 8 - Pokhara
Enjoy a free day in Pokhara to experience one if its thrilling adventure sports, embark on a day hike or participate in a yoga class. Early birds can watch an unforgettable sunrise from the Sarangkot viewpoint while adrenalin junkies can get a bird’s eye view of Phewa Lake while paragliding amongst the eagles.
Pokhara’s picturesque lakeside setting also makes it ideal for doing absolutely nothing, giving you time to catch up on postcards or just kick back with a good book while soaking up the views.
DAY 9 - Mountains to Monasteries
This morning we’ll depart Pokhara on a 30-minute flight to Kathmandu, with exceptional views of the soaring Himalayan peaks as we cruise just above their snow-capped summits (weather permitting). We’ll then journey through the picturesque countryside of the Kathmandu Valley to a Buddhist monastery where you will be treated to a truly unique experience.
Witness the everyday life of Tibetan monks in this impressive monastery, which is visited by pilgrims of all faiths. Participate in the evening puja (ceremony) as the monks chant mantras and offer sacrifices, then experience a debate on aspects of Buddhist thought and the unique Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
DAY 10 - Monastery to Kathmandu
Wake early for the morning puja and be enlightened by the devotion of the resident monks as they pray for world peace and longevity. Then participate in a meditation session to clear your mind for the day that lies ahead or opt to explore the local village on one of the walking trails around the monastery.
Spend the afternoon back in Thamel where you can wander the little laneways at your leisure, browse the local supermarket or organise to go to the cinema and watch one of the latest Bollywood films.
DAYS 11 & 12 - Volunteering & Cooking Class
Over the next two days, you will put your teaching skills to the test as we volunteer at Namaste Journeys
sponsor school in Kathmandu. Here you will be met by the smiling faces of our dedicated students and staff. Spend the next two days attending lessons and interacting with the young learners as you discover the challenges of education in Nepal and the role you are playing in offering a brighter future.
If you are feeling nervous, don’t worry, as you will receive lesson plans prior to arrival so you can prepare and (where possible) will be partnered with another volunteer. Saying farewell on the last day to all your smiling students will be the hardest part!
In the late afternoon on day 11, your skills will again be put to the test, but this time in the kitchen as you
prepare a traditional Nepali meal. We’ll head off-the-beaten-track into the suburbs of Kathmandu to the home of a local Nepalese family where you’ll get a unique insight of the “real” Nepal. With kids playing in the streets outside and workers heading home for the evening, you’ll feel right at home as you learn about local ingredients and traditional cooking techniques whilst preparing a delicious feast to enjoy at the end.
Day 11: (B,L,D)
Day 12: (B,L)
DAY 13 - Last day in Kathmandu
Spend the afternoon drinking chai in one of the many hip courtyard cafes, fill your backpack full with some last-minute shopping and reflect on what has truly been a life-changing journey.
DAY 14 - Alas! It is time to say goodbye
You will be transferred back to the airport in time for your departure flight.
“Khabi Alvida Na Khena”: as the Bollywood Blockbuster title says – “Never say goodbye”!