A Himalayan Adventure:
Nepal’s Rocks and Temples
A small group tour led by Professor Mike Searle & Professor David Gellner
14 September – 29 September 2020
- All participants in this tour must be fit enough to trek over occasionally challenging terrain for up to five or six hours per day.
- We plan to follow this detailed itinerary, but events beyond our control – unpredictable weather, unruly rivers, blocked roads, cancelled flights, mechanical breakdown – may require changes and work-arounds at the last moment.
Accommodation varies between excellent hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara to trekking lodges in the Kali Gandaki. Trekking lodges typically are simple rooms with very basic interiors, single beds with basic furniture (if any) and generally outside toilets. Some toilets will be local drop types rather than western sit down types.
Degree of trekking difficulty will be average - not excessive and generally along flat along river valleys or gently inclined ridges. One characteristic of the Kali Gandaki are daily strong winds that rush down the valley. Headscarfs are advised.
Altitude varies between 2900 meters at Kagbeni up to 3760 m at Lo Mantang.
Professor Mike Searle
Professor Mike Searle was brought up in Oman since age 15 when his father worked for the oil company PDO (Shell). He did fieldwork for his his PhD (1980) in Oman and has spent the last 30 years working almost every year on his own research projects with students and colleagues both in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. He has been at Oxford University since 1990 and is now Professor of Earth Science and a Senior Research fellow in Worcester college. He has published more than 220 papers, co-edited 5 books, written 2 books including 'Colliding Continents' (Oxford University Press) and appeared in 5 geological programmes for the BBC, Channel 5, History channel and others on the making of Everest and other Himalayan topics. He has also carried out feldwork along the Himalaya, Karakoram, Tibet, Burma, Vietnam, Jordan, Syria and teh Aegean islands, Greece."
Professor David Gellner
David Gellner has been researching religion, culture, ethnicity, and politics in Nepal since 1980. He has written or edited sixteen books and numerous articles on Nepal and/or South Asia. In 2016 he was invited to give the prestigious Mahesh Chandra Regmi Lecture, which he titled 'The Idea of Nepal' (http://soscbaha.org/downloads/mcrl2016.pdf). He still remembers a little of the Sanskrit he studied as a graduate student, and he speaks both Nepali (the national language) and Newari (the Tibeto-Burman language of the Newars, the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley).
London • Kathmandu • Bandipur • Pokhara • Jomsom • Gyemi • Tsarang • Lo Manthang • Pokhara • Kathmandu • London
(Meals: B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
Monday, 14 September
Fly from Heathrow to Kathmandu on Qatar or Emirate Airlines. D
Tuesday, 15 September
Walking tour of Pattan
Morning arrival in Kathmandu. Transfer to Green Tara Heritage hotel in Patan. Afternoon walking tour of Patan, the City of Arts and Architecture, renowned for its fine works in bronze, copper, silver and gold work. Visit to include the Durbar Square, Patan Palace Museum, and Hiranya Varna Mahavihar (the famous ‘Golden Temple’). B D
Wednesday, 16 September
Drive to Bandipur, short walk in the hills around Bandipur
Morning visit to Swayambhu, famous Buddhist shrine and pilgrimage site of the Kathmandu Valley; then drive out of the Kathmandu Valley and on to Bandipur, a bazaar that preserves the old-style architecture of a Newar trading community. This hilltop town overlooks the Marsyangdi river valley with stunning views towards the Himalayas. Overnight stay at Gaun Ghar Hotel. B L D
Thursday, 17 September
Drive to Pokhara: either rest or visit cultural sites in Pokhara
On a clear day see the magnificent Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges with Machapuchare (the ‘fish-tail), the Matterhorn of the Himalaya right above. You may wish to go for a little hike in the afternoon or drive to the Peace Pagoda on the far side of Pokhara’s famous lake. You can buy any last minute items in the many any trekking shops along Lakeside. Time permitting, we will visit Devi’s Fall, also called Hell’s Fall, where the Fewa lake drains wildly through its deep gorge, Ramghat Gumba, and other religious sites. Explore the old bazaar and visit the important shrine of Bindhyabasini, dedicated to the Goddess Bhagwati. Stay at Temple Tree Hotel. B D
Friday, 18 September
Fly to Jomsom (early morning), jeep to Muktinath; visit temples; travel to Kagbeni.
The flight from Pokhara to Jomsom skirts around the Machapuchare–Annapurna range and follows the course of the Kali Gandaki River. There will be spectacular views of the west face of Dhaulagiri, and the Nilgiri peaks with their large folds. In the afternoon we will drive to Muktinath with its ancient temple past the amazing fortress-like village of Jharkot. We will then drive to Kagbeni and stay at Kagbeni Hotel Asia overnight. B L D
Saturday, 19 September
Trek from Kagbeni to Cheley
For the next five days we will trek along the Kali Gandaki valley from Kagbeni north to Lo Manthang, the capital of Mustang. The trail follows the broad valley floor with numerous branches of the river; some fording of streams will be inevitable. Saligrams – small nodules of mudstone enclosing ammonite fossils – are common in this region and are sacred to Hindus as symbols of Lord Vishnu. They have been eroded from the Jurassic and Cretaceous limestones that formed in the Tethys Ocean, a vast ocean that previously lay between the Indian plate to the south and the Asian plate in Tibet to the north. Once in Cheley, we are in the fully Tibetan cultural part of Nepal. Stay in Mustang Hotel. B L D
Sunday, 20 September
Trek from Cheley to Syangboche
The trek along the Kali Gandaki continues with increasing spectacular cliffs of young lake sediments. As the Himalaya mountains rose from about 35 million years ago to the present day, the mountains dammed the rivers flowing south off the Tibetan plateau. The Kali Gandaki was a huge lake over 600 meters deep in the south stretching north for more than 40 km. At some stage during the Pliocene – Pleistocene, earthquakes caused the river to breach and enormous floods were released to the south all the way to the Terai and plains of India. The cliffs of very fine, barely consolidated, pale orange dust are the relic lacustrine sediments left once the lake burst and the water drained. Erosion has caused amazing geomorphological features including pillars of rock capped by stones. Overnight stay at Daulagiri Hotel. B L D
Monday, 21 September
Walk from Syangboche (Shyangmochen) to Ghami
The trek continues through the incredible landscape of Mustang, and past the village of Geling with its temple-gumbas and chortens (prayer walls), to Ghami. Overnight stay at Lower Mustang Hotel. B L D
Tuesday, 22 September
Walk from Syangboche (Shyangmochen) to Ghami
Our route continues over the Choya La pass to Tsarang. The views and lanscapes of Mustang get better and better with amazing cliffs bounding the deep Kali Gandaki and views of the High Himalaya to the south. Overnight stay in Tsarang at Hotel Dolma. B L D
Wednesday, 23 September
Walk from Ghar Gompa to Lo Manthang.
This is the final leg of our trek to the ancient fortress town of Lo Manthang. Overnight stay at Himalayan Hotel B L D
Thursday , 24 September
In Kathmandu: Walking tour of Bhaktapur
Walk to Chhoser, visit Chhoser village and return to Lo Manthang. We will have time to explore the old mud-brick village, monasteries and old palace of the ‘Kings’ of Mustang. Overnight stay at Himalayan Hotel. B L D
Friday, 25 September
In Kathmandu: Walking tour of Bhaktapur
Drive by jeep from Lo Manthang back to Chhuksang. Stay at Hotel Bhrikuti B L D
Saturday, 26 September
Drive by jeep to Jomsom
We will retrace our route back south along the Kali Gandaki in jeeps, pausing briefly at several locations for photography stops. The views south to the Annapurna and Nilgiri ranges east of the Kali Gandaki and Dhaulagiri ranges, west of the Kali Gandaki are spectacular. Overnight in Hotel Majesty. B L D
Sunday, 27 September
Two short flights will return us to Pokhara and then to Kathmandu. We will transfer directly to Bhaktapur and experience a homestay with a local family, that of our local guide Shamsher Pradhan. B D
Monday, 28 September
In Kathmandu: Changu Narayan and walking tour of Bhaktapur
In the morning we will walk to one of the most ancient sites of the Kathmandu Valley, Changu Narayan, which has stunning Lichhavi period sculptures and a museum. The rest of the day will be spent in Bhaktapur, ‘city of devotees’, known as Khwopa in Newari, the local language. It is the best preserved of the three ancient royal cities of the Kathmandu Valley, but also the worst-hit by the 2015 earthquake. We will see the architectural gems of Bhaktapur and observe the damage caused by the earthquake. Stay at Shamsher’s House. B D
Tuesday, 29 September
Departure for London
Fly from Kathmandu to London Heathrow on Qatar or Emirate Airlines.
- How to Book this Tour
- Travel Insurance
* We will contribute £25.00 per person booked on the tour to Kashigoan Village School in Nepal.
This school is supported by Professor Mike Searle. Please see latest newsletter here
- International flights on scheduled Qatar or Emirate Airlines in economy class inclusive all taxes.
- Accommodation with private facilities as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Meal Plan: Breakfast and dinner in Kathmandu and Pokhra. All meals for the rest of the tour.
- All transfers and sightseeing arrangements by private coach/vehicles as per itinerary.
- Entry fee to Monuments and places of interest.
- Services of a local English speaking guide.
- Services of Prof. Mike Searle and Prof. David Gellner as trip scholars.
- Tips & gratuities.
- 100% protection of your payment by our ATOL & ABTA licences.
Cost does not include:
- Visa fee: Tourist visa will be available on arrival at Kathmandu airport. Visa fee for a 15 days tourist visa is USD30. Please keep this money and two passport size photographs handy for the immigration officer at Kathmandu airport on arrival.
Travel Insurance: Foreign office advises all overseas travellers to have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place before departure. You may wish to take a quotation for your insurance from the link below:
Camera/video entrance fees if applicable.
Any expenses of a personal nature.
- To book this tour , please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £500.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.
- If you wish to join the tour and fly from any country other than United Kingdom please contact us for land only arrangements.
It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
- It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
- It provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
- It covers you for all activities.
- Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
- Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.
- If you are making multiple trips we recommend that you take a yearly travel insurance policy.