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Rhinos & Rhododendrons

The landscapes of Nepal’s isolated mountain kingdom are surprisingly varied. Taking an alternative approach to a classic combination, this journey contrasts the heady and hectic streets of Kathmandu with the open savannah of Chitwan National Park. Slow down to search for tigers and rhinos amid the wilderness, before strapping up your boots for a light trek between two atmospheric lodges in the Himalayan foothills around Pokhara. Travelling between a handful of Nepal’s headline destinations by road rather than air keeps the journeys more sustainable, and creates extra sparks of spontaneity which can turn a good trip into an outstanding one.

Kathmandu, Boudhanath
Durbar Square, Kathmandu
Elephant bathing at Chitwan National Park
A ranger driving a horse and kart at Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park
Pewa Lake, Pokhara
Pavilions lakeside in Pokhara, Nepal
Trekking in Nepal
Nepalese weaver
Nepal landscape

The white-peaked Himalayas dominate Nepal’s skyline magnificently, but there are also lush lowlands, jungle-clad foothills, deep river valleys, and even the rain-starved deserts of little-visited Upper Mustang to explore. Throw into the mix a few congested, labyrinthine cities and some of Asia’s more challenging terrain, and you can see why a road trip in Nepal needs careful planning and expertise.

A feast for the senses

Kathmandu is always a sensory overload, even for those who’ve visited before, but there are plenty of ways to step back from the rush. Explore the less-visited quarters where rickshaws, bicycles and vendors crowd narrow streets lined with stalls selling everything from ceramic pots to pashminas. Feast on street food in the bustling markets, and enjoy a cup of lassi or a cool beer in side-street cafes as you soak up the atmosphere and watch the comings and goings of daily life.

If you’ve got an extra night to spare, head an hour’s drive out of the city for a breath of fresh air at the Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery Guest House. Built beside a working monastery, the hotel is infused with a sense of serenity and peace, giving guests a taste of Himalayan monastic life as you dine and meditate alongside the monks. It’s the kind of spiritual simplicity you begin to crave when surrounded by these legendary mountains.

Into the wild...

Chitwan National Park, covering almost 1,000 square kilometres at the foot of the Himalayas, provides lush habitats for a huge array of flora and fauna. As Nepal’s most committed eco-lodge, the Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge stands out from the crowd, and it’s the only place we recommend resting your head when in Chitwan. The lodge effectively combines sustainability with an impressive guest experience, giving you time to kick back, breathe deep, and immerse yourself in your wild surroundings. The absolute highlight is walking into the park behind the lodge’s rescued elephants as they make their way gently through their natural habitat. Wandering in their wake, you find yourself in their protective ‘bubble’ and are often able to get adrenaline-pumpingly close to the park’s other wild animals, who are simultaneously reassured by the elephants’ presence whilst respectful of keeping a safe distance.

The National Park’s most famous residents are also some of the hardest to spot: the elusive Bengal tigers that lurk in the deeper forests, and the endangered greater one-horned rhino. However, with an experienced tracker as your guide, you’ll have a good chance of a rhino sighting, and if you’re lucky, perhaps a flash of striped, flame-coloured fur through the trees...

Between two Pavilions

Coming to Nepal without doing some trekking seems wrong, as it has to be the ultimate place in the world to do it. However, you don’t necessarily need to pack a tent and disappear into the peaks for days! A day hike between two of our favourite properties, the twin Pavilions Himalayas, allows you to dip your toes into Nepal’s famous trekking waters whilst enjoying refreshing respite at either end. 

The first Pavilions Himalaya, set on an organic farm in Pokhara, has excellent eco credentials, and is a serene place to spend a couple of nights soaking up the bucolic mountain scenery. Two to four hours’ hike away passing amongst slopes often blanketed in blooming rhododendrons, on the shores of Lake Phewa, the Pavilions Himalayas Lake View gives you space to unwind in alpine bliss, gaze at the distant peaks, and dine al fresco overlooking the water. Wake early to begin your trek between the two (which can be done in either direction) following a low ridge with some gentle inclines. Picturesque peaks, low-lying lakes, and small villages appear in all their glory along the way, so keep your camera primed.

A note on cost…

The guide price of £2,290US$2,790 is a per person price (not including international flights) staying 3 nights in Kathmandu, 3 nights at Chitwan National Park and 4 nights in Pokhara; all in our favourite mid-range hotels.
How yours looks is up to you, our tailor-made specialists work with you to create your perfect journey.

What's included in your Selective Asia holiday

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