We arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. Those on Land Only arrangements will join us in the afternoon at the hotel. This evening there will be a full trip briefing
For the next five days we walk through villages, carefully cultivated terraces and forests of conifers, rhododendron and bamboo. The Annapurnas and Machhapuchhare, the sacred 'Fishtail' mountain are our companions. Early this morning we fly to Pokhara, from where we continue by road to our trek start point at Naya Pul (1.5 hours). Our walk today follows the river upstream past rice paddies, cultivated fields, alder and mimosa forest to Tirkhedunga. During the walk we will be following the Burungdi Khola and we should spot some of Nepal's fine river birds including White Capped River Chats, Plumbous Redstarts, Dippers and Kingfishers. Approx 3-4 hours walking.
We ascend all day to Ghorepani. We start by crossing the Burungdi Khola and then climb up a series of stone steps past wonderful terraced hillsides to the village of Ulleri. The trail continues climbing and now enters a beautiful forest. This lofty rhododendron forest is one of the high points of the trek as it is full of birds. We hope to see Rosefinches, Laughing Thrush, Woodpecker, Babblers and Warblers. We may also see Common Langur Monkeys and the very rare Red Panda or Muntjac. We eventually arrive at Ghorepani from where there are great sunset views of the Annapurna Himal. Approx 5-6 hours walking.
This morning there is an optional ascent of Poon Hill (about an hour's walk above Ghorepani) to see the spectacular sunrise over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Himals. Best seen at dawn, it's well worth the effort of the climb. After breakfast we head east, following a forested ridge to cross a pass at 3,193m. The trail then descends through dense forests of fir, spruce, oak and rhododendron home to many birds and a few mammals. Passing through Banthanti at 2,620m, we climb back to 2,745m, where we reach another small pass at Tadapani. From here we have a superb view of Annapurna South and the peak of Machhapuchhare. Approx 5 hours walking.
An easier walk today through wonderful uninhabited forest with great mountain views. Look out for monkeys and high forest birds including Tragopan, Juniper Finch and Rosefinches. We emerge from the forest just above Ghandrung, the largest Gurung village in the area. This area is mostly populated by subsistence farmers who tend the carefully laid out terraces. In Ghandrung there are still older traditional houses with their neat slate roofs. In the afternoon your leader will take you on a village walk and in the evening we can relax in the teahouse and watch the sunset on Annapurna South.
This morning we descend on a stone staircase towards the Modi Khola. Passing through Shyauli Bazaar we come to the pretty village of Birethanthi, where we have lunch overlooking the river. Another short walk brings us to Naya Pul, where we will meet the road and drive back to Pokhara. There will be time this afternoon to explore this pretty lakeside resort.
Day 8 - 11
We drive to Chitwan, where we spend the next four nights. Chitwan is in the lowlands of Nepal, known as the 'terai'. The park comprises 932 square kilometres of sal and riverine forest and grassland. It is a magnificent and unspoilt jungle environment with a greater variety of wildlife than any other part of Nepal. 543 species of bird have been recorded as well as 43 species of mammals and reptiles including Indian Rhinocerous, Gharial Crocodile, Sambar, Mutjac Deer, Rhesus and Hanuman Monkeys. There are also Tigers, Sloth Bears and Leopards in the park but these are rarely seen. During our stay here we will be based at a simple lodge and will make excursions into the forest on foot and on elephant back. We also make trips along the Rapti River in a dugout canoe, looking for crocodile and observing the abundant bird life. The safari lodge has knowledgeable and helpful staff, who accompany us on all the excursions.
Day 12 - 14
From Chitwan we have a long drive east along the East-West Highway to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, with lots of bird life to look out for on the way. Koshi Tappu is in the Sapta Kosi River Plain in the far eastern part of Nepal, close to the Indian border. The reserve covers 175 kilometers to the north of the barrage which spans the Koshi River. The barrage was built to control and prevent flooding in the plains of northern India. A vast open expanse of water was created by the barrage and the lagoons and marshes that lie around it have formed a fantastic wetland habitat and one of the best birdwatching sites in Asia. As well as waders, storks, ibises, egrets, gulls and terns, a great variety of land birds can also be found here especially birds of prey and warblers. The heart of the reserve lies 14 kilometers north of the barrage, where there is forest, grassland and lagoons. This area is the last refuge of the Wild Water Buffalo in Nepal. Other mammals we may spot include Leopard, Jungle Cat, Spotted Deer, Nilgai (Blue Bull) and the endangered Ganges River Dolphin. We have 2 whole days to explore the reserve.
We drive to Biratnagar and fly back to Kathmandu. On a clear day we may be able to spot the snow capped Himalaya to the north. We spend our last evening in Kathmandu.
Those on the group flights to London will be transferred to the airport after breakfast. Those on land only arrangements will leave us after breakfast