Soul of Nepal

Soul of Nepal

17 Views
10 Days From

$4034

$3853

Soul of Nepal

10 Days Starting and ending in Kathmandu 44600, Nepal

Visiting: Kathmandu, Chitwan National Park, Panauti, Lalitpur, Bungamati, Khokana, Neydo Tashi Chöling Monastery, Bhaktapur

Tour operator:

Crooked Compass

Tour code:

2808

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

2 - 12

Physical rating:

Medium

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Active

Activities:

Walking

From:
$4034
$3853 Exclusive Tourhub Members Discount: -$182

NB: Prices correct on 19-May-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

Experience a traditional blessing from a Tibetan LamaWitness an Aarti ceremony on the banks of Bagmati RiverEnjoy wildlife and Tharu cultural experiences in Chitwan National ParkSlip into local life in a quaint Kathmandu valley village for a traditional homestay experienceVisit a Tibetan Refugee centreExplore the ancient villages of Bungamati and KhoknaSpend the night in an active monasteryExperience the lesser known side of Nepal. The quieter, hidden and more local side. Uncover the soul of this welcoming, warm country as you spend time living with locals in remote rural villages surrounded by lush rice paddies and ancient temples, be blessed by a Tibetan Lama and embrace the magic of an evening aarti ceremony on the banks of the holy Bagmati River.

Search for the elusive rhino on elephant back as you explore Chitwan National Park whilst also taking time to understand and appreciate the local Tharu culture. Cook with locals learn their daily way of life.
This journey also introduces you to the mysterious and intriguing monastic life where you will better understand and appreciate how the Kagyu and Nyingma Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism are lived. The perfect journey for those who are seeking to discover the off beat and local side to a destination as beautiful and enigmatic as Nepal.

Highlights

  • Experience a traditional blessing from a Tibetan Lama

  • Witness an Aarti ceremony on the banks of Bagmati River

  • Enjoy wildlife and Tharu cultural experiences in Chitwan National Park

  • Slip into local life in a quaint Kathmandu valley village for a traditional homestay experience

  • Visit a Tibetan Refugee centre

  • Explore the ancient villages of Bungamati and Khokna

  • Spend the night in an active monastery

Itinerary

Expand All

Day 1 : Arrive Kathmandu

Location: Kathmandu

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Nepali Ghar or similar

Meals Included: No Meals

Welcome to the buzzing city of Kathmandu! Stepping off the plane is an adrenaline rush in itself for many people. Your eyes darting from left to right, not wanting to miss any of the action, your ears ringing with the whirring sounds of Himalayan mountain life and the aromas assaulting your senses. You will be met upon arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure to trundle through narrow winding streets or hop in a rickshaw and explore. This evening, a pre tour meeting will take place where you will meet your fellow travellers and receive a briefing on your tour. Documents will be collected this evening, so please ensure you have a copy of your passports, travel insurance and at least four passport photos.

Day 2 : Kathmandu

Location: Kathmandu

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Nepali Ghar or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Following breakfast this morning, you will be met before commencing your city tour of the enchanting city of Kathmandu. Kathmandu for many is exhilarating, intoxicating and exhausting.



Durbar Square swarms with life. Though a few of the square’s 50-plus monuments date from the 12th century, most are from the time of the Malla Kings. Probably the most famous building here is the Kumari Bahal, a building richly decorated with beautiful woodcarvings, which is home to the Royal Kumari, the Living Goddess, and a manifestation of the great goddess Durga. Nearby, the former Royal Palace is a Mall Dynasty dwelling, once considerably more extensive than today. Within the courtyard is Nassal Chowk, which originally hosted dramatic dance performances. It is now the coronation site of the Shah kings and contains some of the finest wood carvings you will see anywhere in the kingdom. The 14th century Jagannath Mandir is the oldest temple in the area, its steps carved with inscriptions in many languages, nearby Telaju Mandir is one of the largest and finest temples in the Valley. It is dedicated to the patron deity of the royal family, Taleju Bhawani, a wrathful form of Durga who once demanded human sacrifices.



Explore the nooks and hidden crannies of Kathmandu by rickshaw. The best way to experience the bustling markets and the daily life of the Nepalese people is from the back of a rickshaw as you wind through the labyrinth of lanes through Ason and Indra Chowk to Thamel.



Continue on to Boudhanath. This is the largest stupa in Nepal and one of the largest in the world located east of the valley. It was built by the Lichchhavi King Mana Dev in the 5th century A.D. The Rinpoches who reside here established Boudhnath as one of the most flourishing centres of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. The colossal ancient stupa is 36 metres high.



From here, you will be transferred to the Monastery at Boudhanath for a traditional blessing from a Tibetan Lama.



Rinpoche or incarnate Lamas have long been offering a variety of blessings and ceremonies for the well-being and benefit of individuals, the community, and all sentient beings.



The Blessings include:



House/Land Blessing – This is a blessing to promote the health, peacefulness, and productivity of house and land.



Blessing For Children – This is a blessing to promote fertility.



Blessing Of Children -This is a blessing that promotes the safety, health and auspicious development of children.



Anniversary Blessing – This is a blessing to commemorate an event or special occasion.



Pet Blessing – This a blessing for the sentient beings that people adopt as a loving part of their lives.



There are several different types of ceremonies which include a marriage ceremony or long life ceremony. This ceremony promotes a long life for the devotee and family, as well as invoking the great compassion of the Buddhas to bless and augment the vitality of all living beings. There is also a special long life ceremony – This is a unique and powerful way to magnetise all vital forces to assist the recovery and well-being of individuals.



Tibetan Buddhist Funeral Ceremony – This is to promote the enlightenment and good migration of the departed person’s mental continuum.



After your blessing, you continue onto Pashupatinath. This is Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the subcontinent’s great Shiva sites. The supreme holiness of the site stems from the Shiva linga enshrined in the main temple and its location. It expresses the very essence of Hinduism as pilgrims, priests, devotees, temples, ashrams, images, inscriptions and cremation ghats intermingle with the rituals of daily life, all sprawled along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River. The temple’s origins are obscure, an inscription dates from 477, but a shrine may have stood here for 1000 years before that. The evening Aarti ceremony on the banks of Bagmati River, is truly fascinating with mantras, kirtan, bells, incense and lights, all surrounded by the many devotees. It is a magical experience to witness.

Day 3 : Chitwan

Location: Chitwan National Park

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Barahi Eco Resort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, you will make your way to Chitwan National Park. Chitwan is 180km from Kathmandu (approx 5 hour drive). Chitwan is one of Asia’s premier wildlife reserves. Its 360 square miles of tall grasslands and forests are home to a wide variety of mammals and birds, including several endangered species. Upon arrival, enjoy some refreshments, before learning of the activities on offer here.



Whilst in Chitwan, you will have opportunity to be immersed in a Tharu community experience which provides great opportunity for uplifting the Tharu people’s culture and lifestyle through hospitality services. A wide variety of wildlife adventures and local community activities are available for you to participate in.

Day 4 : Chitwan

Location: Chitwan National Park

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Barahi Eco Resort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today is a day of park based activities. Keep your eyes peeled for tigers, leopards and other elusive wildlife. Other activities on offer include canoeing, nature walks and bird watching. Enjoy walking through the forests with naturalists and witness the native folk dances of the Terais.

Day 5 : Chitwan To Panauti

Location: Chitwan National Park, Panauti

Accommodation: Homestay

Accommodation Name: community home stay

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Following breakfast, you depart and head towards Panauti, 190km from Chitwan. Although the distance is not far, the drive is long taking 6-7 hours to reach. Upon arrival, the remainder of the day is at leisure.



Panauti is a historical, and a hidden gem of Nepal. History books state that in the early 18th century, the king of Bhaktapur gifted Panauti state as a dowry to his brother-in-law. Panauti still holds an apex reputation for its beautiful temples, arts and crafts, festivals and tradition. Panauti nestles at the confluence of two spiritual rivers, Rosi and Punyamati.



In Panauti, you will be staying in a community homestay which operates under a distinct philosophy, ‘Run by the Women for the Women’. Here you will have the opportunity to experience the typical, but sweet lifestyle of a Nepali family.



Meals are cooked by your host family and if you are interested in learning, you are more than welcome to join in with the host family in their kitchen.

Day 6 : Panauti

Location: Panauti

Accommodation: Homestay

Accommodation Name: community home stay

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today is yours to explore Panauti. Wander through the ancient city or hire a bike to go further afield. Panauti feels as if has been left exactly the way the founders had built the town. A nostalgic atmosphere covers the narrow town streets and ancient structures. It is known as a Newari town.



For those who are interested, take a trek for 2-3hours to visit Namo Buddha Temple. It is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites for both Buddhists and Hindus in Nepal. Nestled at the top of a hill, your eye’s will be entertained by the infinite sight of the Himalayan mountain range and valley below.



For those wanting to get their hands dirty, depending on the season, you can get to work in the fields with the local farmers. Panauti is a beautiful green town, highly occupant by traditional farmers. Most of the farmers in Nepal depend upon Rain-Water for irrigation, so monsoon (June to August) is the best time to join in with farmers for planting rice seedlings. Similarly, harvesting (October to November) is also a memorable experience.

Day 7 : Patan

Location: Lalitpur

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: The Inn Heritage Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today following breakfast, it is time to farewell your Nepali family. The drive is approx 2 hours . You will visit Patan also known as Lalitpur, the city of beauty. The city is separated from Kathmandu only by the Bagmati River and is the second largest town in the valley. Lalitpur is fragmented from other cities due to its ancient architectural masterpieces. Patan’s central Durbar Square is absolutely packed with temples: Its an architectural centre point with a far greater concentration of temples per square metre than Kathamandu or Bhaktapur. Within the city also lies the Tibetan refugee centre, home to most of the valley’s Tibetan population. While technically refugees, the Tibetans are some of the wealthiest people in the valley because of the carpet industry they operate. For those looking to bring home a fine Tibetan carpet, this is the place to shop.

Day 8 : Bungamati And Khokna

Location: Bungamati, Khokana

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Neydo Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today enjoy a visit to Bungamati. Bungamati is a classic Newari village dating from the 16th century. It is perched on a spur of land overlooking the Bagmati River, 10km from Kathmandu, and is shaded by large trees and strands of bamboo. Fortunately, the village streets are too small and hazardous for cars so it retains a quaint charm. There are many woodcarving shops in the village and a couple of carpet looms, but visitors have yet to arrive en masse, so tread gently. In the centre of the village square is the Rato Machhendranath Temple, a shikhara style temple.



Khokana is another Newari village, a short walk across the paddy fields from Bungamati. Khokana, a traditional and tiny Newari village lies about eight kilometres south of Kathmandu (on the outskirts of Patan). With its own history, this town has retained its tradition and culture. It is a living museum and recalls medieval times. The farming community of Newars who live here are mostly dependent on agriculture and much of their daily activities take place outside of their dwellings. You will see the women sitting outside spinning and men crushing seeds. The village is famous for its unusual mustard-oil harvesting process in which a heavy wooden beam is used to crush the mustard seeds in order to extract the oil. This oil can be consumed if desired, but it can also be used for therapeutic massage. This was also the first village, indeed the first habitation, to receive electricity, before Kathmandu. In the centre, there is a three-storey temple, Shree Rudrayani, with a particularly wide main street, especially for a village of such small size. Khokana has been nominated to be listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, representing an indigenous village and its mustard-oil seed industrial heritage.



Spend the night amidst the most scenic area in the Kathmandu Valley, in a Buddhist Monastery Guest-house, located in the most peaceful location alongside Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery. Here you will learn the life of a monk.



At 5pm, witness the debating session of the monks, which happens outside behind the monastery. It’s an interesting activity to watch and looks almost like a great challenge with an opponent. This activity helps monks understand and internalise the teachings of the day.



Following the debating, experience the daily protection puja, with the constant beating of drums, blowing of the conch shell and long traditional horns etc. This is a traditional ritual, which propitiates mainly the Mahakala and his retinue and other hosts of Dharmapalas or Protectors of the Buddha Dharma to seek protection of the Dharma and its lineage as well as protection to all the true practitioners of the Dharma. Dinner is from 7pm in the dining room.

Day 9 : Neydo Monastery And Bhaktapur

Location: Neydo Tashi Chöling Monastery, Bhaktapur

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Hari’s Home or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

At around 5am, the bell rings to wake the monks. They make their way to the main hall to perform standard chants for about one and a half hours for world peace, as well as aspirational prayers and longevity prayers for the upholders of the Dharma. (English transliteration and translation text is available to follow the prayers. It is a very soothing experience, where the sounds surround you with resonance and awe.)



Breakfast follows and you may queue to eat with the young monks in their refectory, or return to the guesthouse for a more leisurely breakfast.



After breakfast, classes start for the young monks and continue throughout the day. These include reading and writing Tibetan, literature and studying Buddhist teachings. You will meet with a Khenpo to teach you meditation for an hour.



Following meditation, enjoy some free time before transferring to Bhaktapur.



Located 12 km east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur or Bhadgaon literally meaning ‘the City of Devotees’ is the smallest city in the Kathmandu valley. Its Main Square or ‘Layaku’ is famous for the 15th century Palace of 55 Carved Windows with the Golden Gate as a royal entrance. In front of the palace building are innumerable temples and architectural showpieces including the Lion Gate, the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla mounted on a giant stone pillar and the stone temple of Vatsala Devi; another beautiful example of Shikhara-style architecture. There is a bronze bell on the terrace of the temple, which is also known as the Bell of Barking Dogs. This was erected in 1737 by King Ranjit Malla; its sounding announced the beginning and end of a daily curfew.



Note: The recent earthquake has destroyed few temples in the durbar square premise including Vatsala temple; several structures have sustained minor damages.

Day 10 : Departure

Location: Kathmandu

Meals Included: Breakfast

Following breakfast, the day is at leisure until it is time for your transfer to Kathmandu airport for your onward flight.

What's Included

  • Meet and greet service on arrival in Kathmandu

  • 9 nights accommodation

  • 9 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners

  • English speaking local guides

  • All activities as per itinerary

  • Private transportation

  • Entrance fees, park fees and permits for Kathmandu and Chitwan

What's Not Included

  • International and domestic flights

  • Visas

  • Travel and medical insurance

  • All services, meals other than those indicated above

  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.

Check out our Q&As

  • What is the minimum group size?

    The min group size is 2 people.

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    International and domestic flights are not included.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes, The local guides on the tour is English speaking

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    Yes, Entrance fees, park fees and permits for Kathmandu and Chitwan are included.

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in itinerary.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes. Focusing on providing authentic experiences where ever you are in the world, Crooked Compass has access to a vast array of accommodation styles. From boutique properties in larger cities to local guest houses and home stays within small villages. Crooked Compass ensures that local authenticity flows through your accommodation throughout your tour without compromising standard.

  • What sort of transportation is used for your tours?

    Transportation utilised on a Crooked Compass escorted small group tour is a combination of a private air conditioned vehicle and local transport where appropriate. This may include a local bus ride, use of the cities metro system, a domestic flight to another city or overnight train ride.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Crooked Compass strives to be a leader in sustainable tourism. Crooked Compass is firmly committed to the principles of ethical travel. Our comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Practices policy summarises our commitments and actions. Although the very basis of our ground operations lends itself to the ethos of sustainable tourism, this policy re-iterates our commitment to: Use locally owned hotels Use locally owned ground agents Use local guides and drivers Promote community tourism projects from homestays to craft shops Support charities that work within the destinations that we travel to Carbon offset our travels

  • Who runs your tours and are they experts in their fields?

    Crooked Compass works with the worlds best operators who are specialists in their country, region and cities providing you with in depth local knowledge. We use local guides who live and breathe the areas they work in, making sure you experience their region, their way. We believe it is far better to have a local guide who knows a lot about a little than a text book trained Western tour guide who knows a little about a lot. Using local guides also ensures that money stays within local communities and supports the regions we visit.

  • What can I expect from a Crooked Compass tour that I wouldn't get from travelling with an alternative company?

    Crooked Compass provides a sensory way to understand the world – we help you live like a local, eat like a local, do what the locals do and seek the faces behind the places whilst discovering untouched lands and natural beauty. Crooked Compass tours delve deep into the heart and soul of a destination ensuring you get out of your journey all you intended and much, much more. Our intriguing itineraries have been created by travellers for travellers. Steering travellers to follow a different path, Crooked Compass’ itineraries allow you to experience the world’s most fascinating destinations in ways you never dreamed possible. It brings to life those ‘bucket list’ experiences you have yearned to do and separates the travellers from the tourists. Crooked Compass tours are culturally rich, reward travellers with unexpected encounters and uncommon rendezvous, creating truly unique, authentic travel experiences.

  • Who do your tours cater for?

    Crooked Compass escorted small group tours cater for those who are well travelled seeking the what’s next and what’s new. Our travellers are curious minded soft adventurers who want to uncover something more than the mainstream tourist trail. Crooked Compass tours draw travellers with an interest in sustainable tourism and conservation for the areas they visit. A Crooked Compass traveller is someone who is seeking something fresh and unique, who has a yearning for authenticity and discovery, with an appreciation for cultures, tradition and the natural world. We call them Cultural Purists.

  • I am concerned about my impact on travelling through untouched regions. Can I offset?

    Yes. All travellers on Crooked Compass tours have the option to offset their part of their tour’s carbon footprint by donating $4AUD (tax-deductible) at time of booking. 100% of these funds are donated to Greenfleet, an environmental non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting our climate by restoring our forests. By partnering with Greenfleet, we are confident that our carbon offset program provides genuine and lasting environmental benefits. Your offset donation funds plant trees and restore permanent native forests in Australia and New Zealand. As they grow, these forests provide many community and environmental benefits by absorbing carbon emissions, protecting our unique biodiversity, restoring habitat for native wildlife, preventing soil salinity and erosion, improving water quality and much more. If you’d like to find out more and offset the rest of your carbon emissions, visit www.greenfleet.org.au

Reviews of this operator

Jeff Rehn  

A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass

07-Apr-2022

A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass. Considering the country is just opening up to tourism everything went very well - flights, trips, transfers, guides and accommodation - thank you CC - highly recommended

Tripadvisor
Pauline Mavis Rusby  

We were kept safe at all times.

09-May-2022

We were kept safe at all times. When unexpected hurdles appeared they were handled without fuss. Our tour was informative, picturesque and comfortable.

Tripadvisor
Tina Watts-Seale  

Family holiday to Vietnam

01-Aug-2022

We booked a family holiday to Vietnam with Crooked Compass and it was perfect. The booking process was easy and Lisa took all of our requests on board so that the trip was exactly what we wanted. All flights, transfers, accommodations, guides and activities were fantastic, with great communication throughout the whole trip. Would highly recommend, we will be booking again soon!

Tripadvisor

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Monday - Wednesday

Sep 23, 2024 - Oct 02, 2024
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Sep 22, 2025 - Oct 01, 2025
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  • Low Deposit

    Crooked Compass requires a minimum deposit of 20% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of crooked compass charges.

    Up to 61 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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