Trip Number: 13540A
Price: $2,745 (11-14)
$3,195 (or fewer)
Staff: Aurora Roberts
- Hike through Rhododendron Forests
- Explore the ancient Newari city of Patan
- Visit Royal Chitwan National Park
- Ride an elephant in search of the one-horned rhinoceros and more
- All lodging, meals, entrance fees, and tips
- Porters to transport duffel bags while on trek, and English-speaking
- Flight from Chitwan back to Kathmandu and other in-country transportation
Nepal's Kathmandu Valley is a vast storehouse of Hindu and Buddhist art, with
more shrines and temples per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Kathmandu
also contains an amazing mixture of ethnic groups. We will get a chance to meet
Sherpas, Newaries, Thakalis, Chhetris, Tibetans, Rais, Gurungs, and Tamangs,
among others. Within Kathmandu Valley there are three major cities: Kathmandu,
Patan, and Bhaktapur. On this trip we will have time to explore both Kathmandu
and Patan. We visit the Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath) on a hill overlooking
Kathmandu; Bodhnath, containing one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world;
and Pashupatinath Temple on the river Bagmati, complete with burning ghats for
Hindu cremations. This trek is non-technical and suitable for anyone in good
shape who likes to hike. This is not a backpack trip -- porters will be carrying
We will be trekking along the southern slopes of the Annapurna Himal, which
offers dramatic close-up views of some of the highest and most beautiful mountains
in the world. Every day, and almost every guest lodge, will offer us views of
either the Annapurna range or the Dhaulagiri range. From Pokhara our route takes
us to Phedi, where we'll begin our trek to Dhampus and spend our first night
on the trail. Our route on this trek will take us through many Gurung villages,
with their typical slate-roof houses and complicated networks of terraces. The
Gurung are one of the ethnic groups recruited by the British for their famous
Gurkha regiments. All of the Gurung villages we will visit are located on ridgetops
with close-up views of the Annapurnas. We are likely to see eagles and vultures
circling the rooftops of these villages as they gain altitude in the afternoon
thermals. Very little is level in Nepal, and on many days we will end up almost
no higher than we started -- having climbed, then descended, several thousand
feet. Some of our descents and ascents will be done on the famous "Gurung
Staircases," the largest of which covers a 3,000-foot elevation change.
The leader will be responsible for making modifications to the itinerary throughout
the trip, depending upon the weather and trail conditions that can be unpredictable.
Photo: Aurora Roberts
The next area we visit is Chitwan. Royal Chitwan National Park officially opened
in 1973 and was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in November of 1984.
Chitwan NP is located in southern Nepal in the Terai region, which borders northern
India. It lies between two rivers, the Rapti Reu and the third longest river
in Nepal, the Narayani River. The Narayani finds its origins in the Himalayas
and drains into the Bay of Bengal. After we have completed our trek through
the Annapurna’s, we will board a bus and head south to the Terai plains
for a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site.
The jungles of Chitwan are home to many endangered animals and other mammals.
Approximately 500 one-horned Asian rhinoceros and several Bengal tigers now
reside in the park. After breakfast, we will board the backs of elephants and
trod into the jungle to see if we can spot any of these shy, retiring animals.
Afterward, if we are fortunate, we may be able to help bathe the elephants.
During the afternoon after lunch, we will find ourselves on a canoe safari in
search of water reptiles.
The approximate day-by-day schedule is as follows:
Day 1: Our trip starts with dinner at a guesthouse in the
Chhetrapatti district of Kathmandu.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Kathmandu: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath,
Bodhnath, and Patan Durbar Square.
Day 3: Our journey begins with a flight from Kathmandu to
Pokhara. We'll be flying over the terraced foothills of the Himalayas. If the
weather and clouds cooperate, we will have spectacular views of the Himalayas,
including Himalchule (25,801 feet) and Manaslu (26,760 feet). Upon our arrival
we bus to Phedi (3,445 feet) and hike to Dhampus (5,576 feet).
Day 4: We'll hike up the east side of the Modi Khola Valley
to Landruk (5,315 feet), where we'll stay the night.
Day 5: After spending the second evening of our trek in Landruk
(5,840 feet), we will hike up to Chomrong (7,250 feet). We cross the Modi Khola,
which drains much of the southwestern flank of the Annapurna range, including
the entire Annapurna Sanctuary Basin. We will be passing through Pothaa, Bhickuk
Deurall, and Tolka along our way. These are all places where we can grab a snack,
a coke, or a cup of tea (at your own expense). Chomrong is at the entrance to
the steep valley leading up to the Annapurna Sanctuary and has magnificent views
Day 6: Layover day at Chomrong. There are numerous short day
hikes around Chomrong, and it is also a day to do a bit of laundry.
Day 7: Hike from Chomrong to Tadapani (8,890 feet). The next
two days of trekking will take us down into and up out of numerous river/stream
canyons. We'll hike up through rhododendron forests with trees up to 60 feet
tall. These rhododendron forests grow between 6,500 and 11,000 feet and, from
a distance, appear to be a red/pink strip around the higher foothills. We may
even spot a Langur Monkey or two.
Photo: Aurora Roberts
Day 8: Hike from Tadapani to Ghorepani (9,020 feet). Our hike
takes us through Banthanti (8,268 feet) and Deurali (9,810 feet). As we approach
Ghorepani we will enjoy magnificent views of Annapurna South and Dhaulagiri.
Ghorepani is high on a ridge above the Kali Gandaki Gorge. Separating the Annapurna
and the Khaulagiri ranges, the Kali Gandaki is one of the deepest canyons on
Day 9: We'll spend a day in Ghorepani, with an optional sunrise
hike up to nearby Poon Hill (10,530 feet), which features unbelievable panoramic
views of the Himalayan peaks to the west, north, and east. No one has missed
this on any of my trips in the past. If it's a typical, clear morning and you're
into photography, you'll shoot lots of photos atop Poon Hill. Ghorepani is also
a lovely little village where we can rest, relax, read, and write. The rest
of the day is free and a good time to do laundry and shop. For a small fee,
the porters may do your laundry for you.
Day 10: Hike to Tirkhedhunga (5,055 feet). Today we'll descend
the toughest part of the Gurung Staircase. We will be walking on rocks and uneven
staircases much of the day. We will pass through several small villages that
we use as resting points and a place to buy a snack. From Ghorepani we'll hike
these last two days through numerous little Nepalese villages. We'll get glimpses
of the Annapurna peaks as we hike along the trail and pass through another rhododendron
Day 11: Hike to Birethanti (3,363 feet), where we will probably
have lunch prior to hiking onward to Naya Pul (3,280 feet). From here we will
board our bus and ride into Pokhara for showers, beds, more shopping, and where
we will have our final dinner with our porters and trekking staff this evening.
Day 12: Today we board our bus and ride to Chitwan. We can
have a good rest after we arrive and then enjoy dinner and an evening cultural
Day 13: This day is our elephant ride into the jungle and
afternoon canoeing on the Rapti River.
Day 14: We fly back to Kathmandu and back to our guesthouse,
where we left a fresh set of clothes. We should have time for some last-minute
sightseeing and shopping. We will have a farewell cultural dinner at Bhojan
Griha with our hosts.
Day 15: The trip is over after breakfast and most of us will
be departing to begin our trip home. We will have about two hours after breakfast
to make any last-minute purchases, and then we will be transported back to the
airport for our departure.
You are welcome to make your own travel plans to and from Nepal, or the leader
will put you in touch with other trip participants so that a group flight can
be coordinated. The leader will send more detailed information to registered
participants. In past years, groups have stopped over in Bangkok, Thailand,
or Hong Kong on flights to and from the United States. There are several routes
to choose from but whatever airline you select, please check with the leader
before purchasing your tickets.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Aurora Roberts
We will be staying in guest lodges (also known as tea houses). They typically
provide wood-frame beds with a covered foam rubber mattress. You must provide
your own sleeping bag.
We will be eating at guest lodges along the way. The guest lodges have multiplied
over the past decade and we will typically be no more than an hour or two from
the next cluster of lodges. The menus offered at each individual lodge tend
to be similar. They typically include five or more types of soup, rice, vegetables,
egg dishes, chicken, and/or meat dishes. An assortment of soft drinks and tea
is universally available. One of our Sherpas will go ahead each day to arrange
our accommodations for the night and ensure that we get the best available.
Many of the guest lodges are operated by the families of former Gurkha soldiers
who served with the British Army, and are familiar with Western food preferences
We will not routinely ask for hot water for washing as this wastes too much
fuel. We will observe the conservation code adopted by the Annapurna Conservation
Action Program (ACAP). The code calls for travelers to conserve firewood, respect
villagers and their traditions, stop pollution, and encourage Nepali pride.
Bottled water produces a waste problem and the U.S. Embassy has warned that
bottled water cannot be presumed safe in Nepal. The leader will furnish each
trip member with purification tablets to treat drinking water upon arrival in
You should be in good physical shape for this trip and feel comfortable hiking
seven to nine miles per day on-trail while carrying a 10-pound day pack. Many
of the trails are reinforced with rough uneven steps. In general this is a moderate
trek but has several long days that may feel strenuous to those not accustomed
to climbing steep hills. While the trip has been designed to gradually acclimate
you to the altitude, we will be staying a few nights at 9,020 feet. On some
days altitude gains and losses of up to 3,000 feet are to be expected. There
will be two rest days on the trek, but good conditioning is essential to your
enjoyment of the trip.
Equipment and Clothing
Participants will need well broken-in, sturdy boots, daypacks, sleeping bags,
and a "basics" first-aid kit. You may want to bring a camera. Your
personal gear will be carried by porters and should be packed in a duffel bag,
not a suitcase or backpack. The porters will each carry three participants'
duffel bags in addition to their own gear, and since their load is limited to
30 kilograms, the total weight of your duffel cannot exceed 22 pounds. An itemized
equipment list will be emailed to trip members as soon as you are approved for
Daytime temperatures will be in the 60s to 80s in the mountain areas and possibly
90s in Chitwan at the lower elevations. Evening temperatures range in the 40s
to 50s in our mid elevations but at the higher elevations below-freezing temperatures
might occur during the night, although the temperature rapidly climbs once the
sun comes up. During the afternoon we may experience short, spectacular thunderstorms,
sometimes with hail.
It is recommended that you acquaint yourself with the history, religions, and
culture of the Himalayan countries in order to enjoy the country and its people
to the fullest. Some of these books may be out of print and only available in
libraries, and some may be only available in Kathmandu.
- Armington, Stan. Trekking in the Himalayas. Lonely Planet. This
book gives a good description of the popular trekking routes from the Kali
Gandaki to Arun valleys.
- Bezruchka, Stephen. A Guide to Trekking in Nepal, Mountaineers.
The most detailed trekking guide. Packed with accurate information and an
extensive bibliography. Nepali language section with address for purchase
of cassette tape.
- Matthiessen, Peter. The Snow Leopard. This book has great descriptions
of the Nepal terrain and village life, but is also a spiritual odyssey of
a man in search of himself.
- Fleming, Robert L., Sr., Robert L. Fleming Jr., and Lain S. Bangel. Birds
of Nepal. Vakil & Sons, 1979. The best field guide.
- Hagen, Toni, Nepal, 3rd Ed. Kummerley & Frey, 1971. A classic
book on Nepal with superb photographs by someone who has probably seen more
of the country than anyone else.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Aurora Roberts is an avid hiker who enjoys hiking and exploring the outdoors. As she became conscious of the destruction of forests and pollution of the environment, she saw the need to preserve them, which naturally led her to join the Sierra Club. Aurora became an Outings leader after participating in National and International Outings. She leads international trips to destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, England, Ireland, and Scotland as well as National Outings near Mt Tamalpais in California, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Hawaii. She spends a lot of her time reading, preparing gourmet meals, and writing. Her attention to detail, patience, and flexibility will ensure that you have a wonderful experience. Please contact her if you have any questions about the trip.
Hurston Roberts is a seasoned outings leader who has lived and traveled in many parts of the world. He leads international trips to Nepal, New Zealand, England, and Scotland, as well as National Outing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Hawaii. He has a great love for the outdoors and enjoys sharing his knowledge with others. Hurston welcomes questions about this trip.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips