Study Focus: geological history of the Himalayas / Nepal’s mega diversity
- Students arriving in Katmandu on international flights will be greeted by their Nepalese guides and transported to the domestic terminal for a 30-minute flight to Pokhara.
- On arrival, students will be transferred by bus to a lookout point with a wonderful panorama of the central Himalayas and the town of Pokhara bordering a beautiful lake far below. Here in the shadow of the World Peace Pagoda, we will have group introductions and a trip orientation session.
- Leaving our bags in the bus for transfer to our hotel, we then descend to the lakeside; hiking through a lovely forest grove, before climbing aboard boats that will take us on a sunset cruise across the water to our guesthouse.
- A delicious dinner will be followed by a presentation on the geological history of the Himalayas and the various factors that contribute to Nepal’s mega diversity.
Overnight: Pokhara Guest House
Study Focus: vegetation zones / Himalayan birds / camp skills / endemic species / nocturnal animals
- No one will want to miss the sunrise from the rooftop of our guesthouse as the snowy summits of the Annapurna Range glow pink in the first light of dawn.
- Following a hearty breakfast we set off on a three-day adventure into the wilds. The first leg of our trek will be done on mountain bikes, but for those that are not skilled or get too tired there will be the option of riding in a support jeep.
- After 2 to 3-hours of cycling to Machhapuchre we will begin our hike to Kharka along a route well off the beaten path for most trekkers.
- Along the way there will be many opportunities to study vegetation changes from one elevation to another and to record the many bird species we spot.
- A picnic lunch will be served along the route before reaching our camp for the night set in a clearing surrounded by a beautiful forest.
- Even though we will have a full Nepalese support team, everyone will help with the camp set up, pitching tents, hauling water, building a fire and preparing our dinner.
- Following dinner there will be a study session around the campfire on the endemic, indigenous and exotic species of Nepal.
- Before retiring to our tents and sleeping bags, students will have an opportunity to explore the forest surrounding camp, searching for nocturnal animals by torchlight.
Overnight: forest camp
Study Focus: Himalayan flora & fauna / constellations
- Waking up in camp to a chorus of songbirds in the surrounding forest is a great way to start the day. We will want to take advantage of this most active time of day to expand on our bird list.
- After breakfast we break camp and continue our trek to Korchon via Chchemle Kharka. There should be many great vistas this day of the Annapurna Range looming above us if the weather is clear, especially the spectacular “Fishtail” – a mountain that resembles the Matterhorn of the Swiss Alps.
- Our high elevation camp this night will offer a perfect setting for stargazing. Here high above any valley dust or light pollution the firmament will seem almost within reach.
- Students will use constellation charts this night to gain an appreciation of our solar system that can never be learned from a book.
Overnight: high elevation camp
Study Focus: Himalayan avifauna / geothermal springs / Nepali culture
- The final day of our trek offers a magical morning as the rising sun strikes “Fishtail” summit, towering directly above us, long before it lends warmth to our tents.
- This will be our last chance to complete our Himalayan bird inventory, so students should be out early with their binoculars to catch the active avifauna.
- Heading back down from the mountain after a good hot breakfast, we hike for 6-hours to Kharpani via Mirsa and come to the end of our trek at a geothermal spring.
- A hot soak to soothe sore muscles will never feel better. After taking lunch students will have a lesson in geothermal activity before being transported back to Pokhara by bus.
- Returning to the hotel comforts of a soft bed and hot shower will seem deluxe after three days on the trail.
- A delicious dinner will be served at the lakeside this night followed by a lively dance performance from some of the indigenous peoples of the Pokhara Valley.
Overnight: Pokhara Guesthouse
Study Focus: river hydrology & ecology / wildlife of forests & savannah lands
- We set off early this morning right after breakfast and drive 2-hours to the Seti River near Damalui to begin our rafting expedition.
- Following a safety briefing and getting properly outfitted, we join the flow of the river.
- The lower Seti River offers a beautiful and safe (grade 1-2) river run far away from traffic and roads. Here students will gain insights into the hydrology of a Himalayan River and become familiar with navigation terms like chutes, haystacks, eddy, back eddy, sweeper, etc.
- River erosion and the role riparian zones play in protecting riverbanks and supporting fish and wildlife will be an important part of the lesson plan this day. A picnic lunch will be served on a sandy river bar along the way.
- At the completion of our rafting adventure we will transfer by bus to a completely different terrain, the vast savannah and forestlands bordering Nepal and India.
- Here schools have two options of places to stay that can affect the cost of the trip by as much as $150/person. Riverside Guest House on the border with Chitwan National Park is the less expensive option and it offers plenty of adventure and wildlife viewing, but for the ultimate experience there is Tiger Temple Resort set right in the heart of the park. It is the only location at Chitwan where wildlife can be seen from the lodge itself.
- Chitwan National Park is one of the finest national parks in Asia and has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the variety and amount of wildlife it supports. Globally threatened species like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Great One-horned Rhino, Gavial Crocodile, Asian Elephant, Sloth Bear, Leopard and over 530 species of birds find sanctuary here.
- Arriving at Temple Tiger in the late afternoon we will check in to deluxe individual villas with twin beds, attached bathrooms and private balconies with hammock and umbrella for relaxation.
- A large thatched dining hall with beautiful interiors and a centrally located sunken fireplace will be the gathering point over the next few days for delicious meals and group sessions. Local naturalist guides offer educational slide presentations in the evenings that will greatly expand student’s knowledge and appreciation of the park.
Overnight: Temple Tiger, Chitwan National Park
Study Focus: endangered species: tigers, rhinos, gavial crocodile / habitat variations: forest, river, lake, swamps & savannahs
- There is so much to see and do in Chitwan National Park so we set off right after breakfast to take in as much as we can.
- We might start out with an elephant safari deep into the jungle in search of tiger and rhino where we can safely observe them in the wild at close quarters.
- Later in the day we may board a riverboat for a quiet cruise on the Narayani River to view fresh water dolphins, gavial crocodiles, marsh mugger crocodiles, golden monitor lizards and water birds.
- Yet another option is a trek through the forests and grasslands of Chitwan with a naturalist guide who can point out for us many fascinating aspects of the ecology of the park.
- Doing a safari by land rover allows us to explore even deeper into the park where we might encounter wildlife not seen near our lodge.
- Part of the magic of staying within the park is the richness of sounds, the birds welcoming the dawn or the roar of a tiger during the night. If school groups choose the less expensive option of staying at Hotel Riverside outside the park, they can still have the option of spending one night in an elevated blind beside a wildlife watering hole within Chitwan’s park boundaries.
- After a delicious dinner this night we gather around the fireside to share tales of our days adventures together.
Overnight: Temple Tiger, Chitwan National Park
Study Focus: Newari culture, history & architecture
- There will be time this morning after breakfast for one more activity, perhaps another elephant safari, before we transfer by land rover and bus to the Bharatpur Airport and fly to Kathmandu, the bustling capital of Nepal.
- If the weather is clear there should be great views of the high Himalayas during our short 20-minute flight.
- Arriving in Kathmandu we will transfer by bus to Tibet Guest House, a hotel run by Tibetan expats in the heart of the Thamel tourist district. This is a fun and lively place for students and teachers to purchase souvenirs and enjoy the goodies of countless little bakeries, coffee shops and cafes, as well as to get a glimpse of Newari culture and architecture.
- Our closing dinner this night, held in the lovely garden courtyard of our hotel will be highlighted by traditional Newari music, the awarding of certificates and program t-shirts. A candlelight closing ceremony will give everyone a final opportunity to share his or her favorite moments during the trip.
Overnight: Tibet Guest House, Kathmandu
- After a hearty buffet breakfast at our hotel students will be transferred 20-minutes to Katmandu International Airport for their return flight home.