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Annapurna Circuit & Nar Phu Valley Tour

Best trip I have ever been on. I have traveled with many tour companies but none compare to the itinerary, information, and professionalism of this company.

Marijo W, 8 Feb 2018

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Annapurna Circuit & Nar Phu Valley OVERVIEW

TOUR SUMMARY

22 days

Kathmandu to Kathmandu

From

$2440 (p/p)

Country(ies): Nepal

Tour type: Private

Group size: Min: 1 | Max: Any

Accommodation: Boutique hotel & trekking lodges

Meals:

Transport: A/C minibus

Highlights: Kathmandu temples & bazaars, trekking in the Annapurnas, remote Nar & Phu Valleys, Tibetan mountain culture, cross 2 high passes (Kang La & Thorung La), majestic high mountain views, Newari village of Bandipur, hike to Ramkot

Considered by many as one of the world’s classic treks, the Annapurna Circuit is a long trek of incredible diversity, panoramic views and soaring peaks. The route takes you from sub-tropical zones right up to the very edge of the arid Tibetan plateau.
Over recent years roads have been extended up both sides of the circuit through the Marsyangdi and Kali Gandaki Valleys. Our new trekking route takes advantage these roads to allow time for a remote trek through the Tibetan influenced Nar and Phu Valleys, while still including the highlight of the original route across the high Thorung La Pass to Muktinath and avoiding walking on the roads themselves. This is a hugely rewarding trek that encircles the entire Annapurna Himal mountain range.

You begin your tour in Kathmandu with an informal walking tour of this bustling city through narrow streets, past markets and temples to the stupas and palaces of Durbar Square.

From Kathmandu you travel by road to Besi Sahar, and then on up to Kotor where your trek begins, leaving the road and the busy main Annapurna Circuit route behind. Your route through the beautiful Nar and Phu Valleys is challenging at times, especially while crossing the 5100m Kang La Pass. You spend the nights staying in trekking lodges and a monastery at Nar Phedi, where you will meet other trekkers and guides, and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere after the exertions of the day's walking.

After returning to the main Annapurna Circuit trail the next challenge is the 5416m Thorung La pass which sits at the very edge of the Tibetan plateaux and affords fantastic panoramic views. Once across the pass, you visit the pilgrimage temple at Muktinath, before descending to the Upper Mustang village of Kagbeni. We leave the main route again here for a couple of days hiking via Dhagarjung village to Jomsom or Marpha from where we take a shared jeep down through the Kali Gandaki valley, between the massive peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, to Tatopani. A night's break here allows a chance to relax in the hot springs before you drive back to Pokhara.

The tour ends with a drive back to Kathmandu which we break into two days, spending one night at the Newari hilltop village of Bandipur which is well worth a visit, and has several good half day hikes around it if you'd like to stretch your legs again.

There are many ways which we can adjust the duration and the route of this trek if required, and extensions are also available to visit Chitwan or Bardia National Parks, or to try some white-water rafting.

ITINERARY

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Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu, transfer to hotel

We greet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the centre of Kathmandu, where our Encounters Travel rep welcomes you, helps you settle in, and explains the agenda for the rest of your tour.

OVERNIGHT:

Kathmandu hotel

MEALS:

None

EXTRAS:

None


Day 2 Kathmandu sightseeing and free time

The first part of the morning will be dedicated to a pre-trek briefing and introduction to your trekking guide. After this you'll take a relaxed walking tour through the tourist district of Thamel, and on through tiny markets, past local temples and on to the central Durbar Square with its splendid array of Hindu temples, stupas and palaces. The rest of the day is then free to explore yourself and to make any final purchases from one of the many trekking shops. 
In the evening you have an opportunity to try out the numerous, restaurants and bars, and soak up the feel of the place that makes Kathmandu a magnet for travellers from all over the world.

OVERNIGHT:

Kathmandu hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 3 From Kathmandu (1400m) drive to Besi Sahar (850m)

Ye leave Kathmandu early today and head West along the main road towards Pokhara. You will travel in a private car/minibus and, once clear of the city’s surrounding hills, you may be rewarded with a wonderful panorama of snowcapped peaks as you wind your way down to the Trisuli River valley. White water rafters can often be glimpsed enjoying the rapids far below.   The journey will also give you your first glimpse of Manaslu, far away to the north. After you arrive at Dumre, you head north to Besi-Sahar (823m) where you spend the night. The drive today is approximately 6 hours in total.

OVERNIGHT:

Besisahar trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 4 Jeep from Besi Sahar to Koto (2600m)

After spending last night in Besi Sahar we’ll follow the newly constructed road and start heading up through the Marsyangdi valley to Koto where we’ll begin our trek tomorrow. The classic full Annapurna Circuit trekking route starts from Besi Sahar itself, but since the road has been built we find it a better experience to drive the first section and then to start hiking from further up where we can then spend more time in remote, less visited areas such as the Nar and Phu Valleys, well away from the new road. Our drive will be in a jeep which may be shared with other trekkers. Approx. 4 hours drive in total today.

OVERNIGHT:

Koto trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 5 Trek from Koto to Meta (3560m)

We’ll be making an early start today as we have a lot of ground to cover on our journey from Koto to Meta. We begin our day hiking along the banks of the Soti Khola, passing through pine and rhododendron Forests and crossing suspension bridges before we make our way to Dharmasala, our mid-way point. We then have a steep ascent towards Meta village where you will be rewarded with views of Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal. Trekking time - 7-8 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Meta trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 6 Trek from Meta to Phu (4080m)

The remote Nar and Phu Valleys are famous for their Tibetan culture and that's exactly what you'll experience today. We'll make our way out of Meta this morning and pass by colourful Tibetan Chortens and through interesting villages. We'll also get good views along the way of the Nar Phedi Monastery which we'll visit (and stay at) on day 8. As we get closer to Phu, you'll cross over a bridge and pass by a line of Chortens which greet you on approach to the village. These valleys remain little visited by tourists and the trekking experience here is excellent. Trekking time - approx. 7 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Phu trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 7 Day to acclimatise in Phu, optional hike to Himlung Himal base camp

As we increase our altitude the risk of experiencing altitude sickness increases and we have therefore built in an acclimatisation day today in Phu which can be used for an additional hike to Himlung Himal base camp or exploring the local village. Phu village itself is very interesting and a good way to spend today is by exploring the narrow streets of the village, seeing the locals carrying out their day to day tasks such as processing mustard seeds for oil and spinning wool. You should also definitely make time to visit the Tashi Lakhang Monastery, which is thought to have been the last monastery constructed by the revered Karmapa Rinpoche. For those looking to further exert themselves, there is a good day hike from here through a scenic glacial valley to Himlung Himal base camp (trekking time 4-5 hours).

OVERNIGHT:

Phu trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 8 Trek from Phu to Nar Phedi (3490m)

Today we'll begin retracing our route back towards Meta, however we'll divert off route to Nar Phedi Monastery where you'll be spending the night. Rooms are the monastery are modest but clean and comfortable. In the evening you'll be able to join the novice monks for their evening prayer before joining a communal meal. Trekking time - approx. 6 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Nar Phedi monastery

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 9 Trek from Nar Phedi to Nar (4110m)

Despite gaining altitude again, we have an easier day today and should arrive at our destination, Nar village at around lunch time. As we say goodbye to Nar Phedi we'll begin our ascent towards Nar following a winding path, which, if the weather is clear, rewards you with views of the snow-capped peak of Kang Garu in the distance. Every now and then you will come across a traditional chorten lining the route.
Once you arrive in Nar Village, you will notice that it's livelier than Phu, with the village square being where most of the activity takes place. The village is located in a natural bowl and is surrounded by farmland and beautiful mountain views in the distance. Trekking time - approx. 4 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Nar trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 10 Trek to Ngawal (3660m) via the Kang La Pass (5320m)

Today will be one of the longest and hardest days you'll have on this trek, so we'll be making an early start, shortly after sunrise. As we leave Nar Village, we'll head towards the Kang La Pass on a pleasant path which takes us through farms and yak grazing lands. Once on top of the Pass you'll want to pause for a moment to appreciate the beautiful views of Annapurna II, Tilicho Peak and Gangapurna. After passing over the Kang La Pass (5320m) we'll have a steep descent to Ngawal  which will take us through some sections of scree which will need to be carefully navigated. As Ngawal is back on the main Annapurna Circuit route, you'll see a noticeable difference from the traditional villages you've just visited. The lodges here are larger, with more facilities, some may even have Wifi. Trekking time - approx. 7-8 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Ngawal trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 11 Trek to Manang (3500m)

We have a relatively easy day today which will firstly see us trekking along the Marsyangdi River for around an hour before entering Braka Village to explore the monasteries here. After time in Braka, we’ll push on and trek the remainder of the distance to Manang. Manang is by no means a large town, however you will find a good selection of guest houses here and even some trekking supply shops.Trekking time – 4 to 5 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Braka or Manang trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 12 Trek to Yak Kharka (4050m) or Churi Lethar (4200m)

On leaving Manang, the trail follows the Jargeng Khola, a tributary of the bigger Marsyangdi Khola. You continue to gain altitude as you travel through small villages eventually arriving at Yak Kharka (3,950m). Excellent views abound, especially of the Glacier Dome. If you're feeling good, you may push on to Churi Lethar today.
Approx. Trekking time – 3.5 to 4.5 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Yakkharka or Churi Lethar trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 13 Trek to Thorong Phedi (4525m)

Pressing on from Yak Kharka, you trek through the tiny cluster of buildings at Churi Lethar. You then cross the Jargeng Khola and it’s just a bit further to Thorung Phedi. This is second fairly short day's walking, but you are gaining altitude still and taking this steadily is sensible, especially as there is a long hard day tomorrow. Trekking time – approx. 3 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Thorong Phedi trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 14 Cross the Thorung La Pass (5416m) to Muktinath (3802m)

You must leave early today as you have a long, slow, and steep ascent ahead and you need to lose considerable altitude again after crossing the high pass before you can rest for the night. Leaving early also helps to ensure better weather as the views are spectacular and you should be travelling slowly enough to fully appreciate them. Your guide will check reports on the weather and snow conditions on the Pass before you set off.
After a tough, steady walk in the high altitude, around late morning you reach the highest point of this trek, the Thorung La Pass at 5,416m, and you cross from the Marsyangdi Khola to the Kali Gandaki river valleys. Not many people ever get the chance to trek at such heights and you really feel the privilege and the altitude.

As you descend it becomes very steep in places, and hard on the knees, but the views and the beautiful Hanging Meadow on the way down are more than enough to compensate. You can rest your legs and be proud of your accomplishment when you arrive in Muktinath (3,802m) having covered over 2,400m in height today. There is an “eternal flame” here as flames burn on water where a spring and natural gas exit the ground together. This is housed just above the town in the temple complex. Muktinath has long been a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists alike because of this remarkable occurrence.
Trekking time – approx. 7 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Muktinath trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 15 Trek to Kagbeni (2850m) or Ekle Bhatti (2740m)

After the long hard day crossing the Thorung La yesterday you've a choice today. You can either take the quicker and easier route downhill from Muktinath, following the road along several sections of the route to Kagbeni (2850m), or take a longer more scenic trek avoiding the road. This alternative route takes you through the dramatic village of Jarkot (3500m) and across the Lubra Pass (3772m) before a long descent into the Kali Gandaki Valley and the village of Ekle Bhatti (2740m). You could spend the night here or walk a little further up the valley to Kagbeni, which is a beautiful village in Lower Mustang. Either way you should enjoy great views of Dhaulgiri (8167m) across the valley. 

If you get to Kagbeni early, its worth crossing the valley and exploring the traditional villages of Chhyongkhar, Jhong and Purang, which are all culturally part of Mustang.

OVERNIGHT:

Kagbeni or Ekle Bhatti trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 16 Trek to Dhagarjung village (3200m)

You could finish the trek today and take a jeep back down towards Pokhara. However, we like to add another couple of days here to make the most of your time high in the mountains, and to see more of how the more barren scenery contrasts with that on the Manang side of the Thorung La. This itinerary's route therefore leaves the main Annapurna Circuit path (and road) again today to head into the hills on the western side of the Kali Gandaki valley. There are several routes to choose from to get from Kagbeni or Elke Bhattia to Dhagarjung village, and you can discuss which to take with your guide, depending on how long you would like to make your day's walk. Trekking time - 3-5 hours.

OVERNIGHT:

Dhagarjung trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 17 Trek to Marpha (2670m) via the Windy Pass (3472m)

Your final day's trekking today takes you over one last pass, the 'Windy Pass' of Bhatase Bhanjyang at 3472m before you descend back into the valley floor at Jomsom. There is an airport here and there is an option to fly back from Jomsom to Pokhara if you'd like to shorten the tour. This should ideally be booked in advance, but may be available locally too. Our route crosses the valley again to avoid the road and continues to descend through Thini and on to the welcoming village of Marpha (2680m) which we much prefer as a place to stay than Jomsom. Unlike some villages on the route, Marpha has worked hard to preserve its unique heritage and architecture, with stone built houses nestling against the cliffs.

OVERNIGHT:

Marpha trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 18 Jeep to Tatopani (1190m), afternoon in the hot springs

You’ll be able to give your legs a rest today as we drive the remainder of the journey. Early morning, we'll take a bus or shared jeep further down the Kali Gandaki valley through Kalopani (2530m) and Ghasa (2010m) and on down to Tatopani (1190m). This drive should take around 3 1/2 hours. In the afternoon, the hot springs can provide a welcome relief from the past few weeks walking. Only the good food on offer is enough to drag some out of the steaming pools. The brave can alternate the hot water with quick dips in the ice cold river which rushes alongside.

OVERNIGHT:

Tatopani trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 19 Drive from Tatopani to Pokhara. Free afternoon

Your final drive out of the mountains leg takes you the remainder of the way from Tatopani by shared jeep or bus to the lakeside town of Pokhara. The city is enchanting, and dominated by views of the Annapurnas and in particular of Machhapuchhare. The Lakeside area (around Phewa Lake) is delightful and throngs with travellers in the evenings. Alternatively if you would like to extend your time in the Annapurnas we can arrange a trek extension up from Tatopani to Ghorepani to the famous view point of Poon Hill, from where you descend again before returning to Pokhara - please contact us for details and pricing.

OVERNIGHT:

Pokhara hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 20 Morning drive to Bandipur. Afternoon hike to Ramkot, or free time

You leave Pokhara behind today and make the drive to the Newari hilltop village of Bandipur (approx. 3 hours). The beautiful centre of Bandipur has been lovingly restored and much of the town is now a pedestrian only zone and surrounded by beautiful old buildings. After settling into your hotel you can spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the town or take a hike to the nearby village of Ramkot. Ramkot is a village inhabited by the Magar community with good views, and gives you the opportunity to see another Nepalese community with their traditional round houses.

If you wish, you could skip Bandipur completely and return all the way to Kathmandu today, shortening the whole tour by a day.

OVERNIGHT:

Bandipur hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 21 Time around Bandipur. Drive to Kathmandu

There's more free time this morning to explore Bandipur before driving back to Kathmandu (approx. 4-5 hours, subject to the traffic on arrival in Kathmandu). You can start at a time of your choosing, depending on whether you'd like more time around Bandipur or in Kathmandu. One good option is to spend the morning walking down through the forests from Bandipur to Bimalnagar on the the main Kathmandu road at the bottom of the hill, stopping at the Siddha Gufa cave on the way. This cave is reputedly the largest in Nepal, at over 400m deep and 50m high, full of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as hundreds of bats. Compulsory guides are present if you'd like to enter (approx. NRs200). The cave is unlit, with torches available for hire. The stone steps down from Bandipur can be slippery.

OVERNIGHT:

Kathmandu hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 22 Free time in Kathmandu. Departure airport transfer

You'll have some free time in Kathmandu today until we transfer you to the airport for departure. Extensions are available if you'd like to do some other trekking, try some white water rafting, or add a visit to one of Nepal's national parks.

OVERNIGHT:

N/A

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


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Included:
  • All accommodation (4 nights in mid-range hotels, 1 night in Bandipur hotel, 16 nights in trekking lodges)
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Private car for journeys to Besi Sahar and back from Pokhara
  • Shared jeep from Besi Sahar to Koto and Jomsom/Marpha to Pokhara
  • Services of a trekking guide and porter(s) throughout the trek
  • All meals on trek
  • Insurance for porters and guides
  • Trekking area permissions/permits
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (breakfasts in hotels, all meals on trek)

Excluded:
  • International flights (available on request)
  • Visa fees (available on arrival for most nationalities)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for guides and porters
  • Sleeping bag (available for hire in Kathmandu as part of a trekking pack)
  • Any other items not mentioned above

Gallery


Dates and Prices

Seasonal prices are given below based on 2 people travelling with one trekking guide and porter. We can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements and the number in your party. Please contact us for more info.

Start Date
End Date
Price (P/P)
Offer price
Note

21st of Sep 2020

30th of Nov 2020

US$2505

-


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11th of Feb 2021

31st of May 2021

US$2505

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1st of Jun 2021

31st of Aug 2021

US$2440

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Monsoon season


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1st of Sep 2021

9th of Sep 2021

US$2575

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Accommodation

The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.

Apsara Boutique Hotel

Apsara Boutique Hotel

Kathmandu


Apsara Boutique Hotel is located in Kathmandu, 0.9 miles from Kathmandu Durbar Square. The hotel has a terrace and views of the mountains. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property.

Local rating

Our rating

 Apsara Boutique Hotel Apsara Boutique Hotel

Apsara Boutique Hotel is located in Kathmandu, 0.9 miles from Kathmandu Durbar Square. The hotel has a terrace and views of the mountains. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property.

Rooms have a flat-screen TV. Some rooms include a seating area to relax in after a busy day. A terrace or balcony are featured in certain rooms. The rooms have a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bath robes, slippers and free toiletries.

There is free shuttle service at the property.

Guests can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant, followed by a drink at the bar. The property also offers room service and packed lunches.

The hotel also offers bike hire and car hire. Swayambhu is 1.3 miles from Apsara Boutique Hotel, while Pashupatinath is 2.2 miles from the property. The nearest airport is Tribhuvan Airport, 3.1 miles from the property.

Barahi Resort

Barahi Resort

Pokhara


Set in the heart of the Pokhara Valley, Hotel Barahi is located beside Lake Fewa. It features an outdoor swimming pool and air-conditioned rooms with a flat-screen cable TV. Free Wi-Fi and parking are provided.

Local rating

Our rating

 Barahi Resort Barahi Resort

Set in the heart of the Pokhara Valley, Hotel Barahi is located beside Lake Fewa. It features an outdoor swimming pool and air-conditioned rooms with a flat-screen cable TV. Free Wi-Fi and parking are provided.

Modern rooms at Barahi come with a private balcony and have plenty of natural light. All are fitted with a tea/coffee maker and personal safe. Shower facilities and toiletries are in the en suite bathroom.

Guests can enjoy relaxing traditional Ayurvedic body treatments at Wellness Spa. Nepali cultural dances are performed in the evenings. Currency exchange and car rental services are also provided.

The restaurant serves a fine selection of local and international dishes. Room service is available upon request.

Barahi Hotel is 200 yards from Fewa Lake and 550 yards from the Paragliding Landing Ground. Pokhara Airport is 1.9 miles away.

Lodges & Teahouses

Lodges & Teahouses

Trekking


Trekking lodges & teahouses can range greatly, depending on the remoteness of the trek, from comfortable lodging with good facilities and amenities including WiFi and hot showers to much simpler accommodations.

Local rating

Our rating

 Lodges & Teahouses Lodges & Teahouses

For lodge-based treks, we use a variety of tLodges and Teahouses. In recent years many new lodges have sprung up and been improved and many offer quite good facilities and amenities including hot showers, WiFi and recharging points.  However, in some areas the lodges can be run on a very simple basis where toilets and bucket showers are outside the main building. We can't promise that you will always have full amenities all the time, so you should understand this before embarking on these treks.

Staying in lodges gives you more comfort overnight than camping, and also allows you to meet up with and talk with other trekkers and guides at the end of the day. It also allows us to put more back into the local economies than if we were bringing everything with us.

Rooms in lodges are normally based on same sex sharing of twin rooms (though couples will be able to share).  Some sheets & blankets are provided but a sleeping bag is still required. We provide the option to hire a sleeping bag in our trekking pack option, though you may still wish to bring your own inner sleeping bag liner or sleep sheet if you wish.  Warm showers are available for a small fee at most lodges, though these may be bucket showers higher up. You may also need to pay a fee for WiFi access and for recharging devices.

The Old Inn

The Old Inn

Bandipur


Situated in the beautiful Nepalese village of Bandipur, this hotel features a restaurant, a bar/lounge and a coffee shop/cafe. Free continental breakfast, free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided.

Local rating

Our rating

 The Old Inn The Old Inn

Situated in the beautiful Nepalese village of Bandipur, this hotel features a restaurant, a bar/lounge and a coffee shop/cafe. Free continental breakfast, free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided.

Other amenities include Laundry facilities, Library and tour/ticket assistance. All 29 rooms offer free WiFi, room service (during limited hours) and showers. Guests will also find desks and free toiletries.

Options

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you‘re visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single room supplement (NPTMAC)

Single room supplement

Min numbers: 1


This tour's pricing is based on shared twin/double accommodation. This option books a single room in all the hotels used on the tour. Subject to availability, solo travellers may need to share a same-sex twin room in the trekking lodges.

*Price from
$400
per person/s

*Price based on 1 person/s

This tour's pricing is based on shared twin/double accommodation. This option books a single room in all the hotels used on the tour. Subject to availability, solo travellers may need to share a same-sex twin room in the trekking lodges.

Tour Notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

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  1. Accommodation

This tour uses a variety of accommodation from comfortable boutique style hotels to basic trekking lodges.

Hotels in Kathmandu & Pokhara
We use a comfortable boutique style hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara (approx. 3 star), set in the Thamel and Lakeside parts of each city which are most popular with tourists and have easy walking distance to plenty of cafes, shops, restaurants and trekking equipment shops.

Trekking with lodges
For this lodge-based trek, we will use a variety of Lodges and Teahouses. In recent years many new lodges have sprung up and many offer quite good facilities and amenities, especially on the main Annapurna Circuit route. However, in some areas including the Nar & Phu Valleys, the lodges can be run on a very simple basis where toilets and washing facilities are outside the building. We can’t promise that you will always have full amenities all the time, so you should understand this before embarking on this trek.

Staying in lodges gives you more comfort overnight than camping, and also allows you to meet up with and talk with other trekkers and guides at the end of the day. It also allows us to put more back into the local economies than if we were bringing everything with us.

Rooms in lodges are normally based on same sex sharing of twin rooms (though couples will be able to share).  Some sheets & blankets are provided but a sleeping bag is still required. We provide the option to hire a sleeping bag in our trekking pack option, though you may still wish to bring your own inner sleeping bag liner or sleep sheet if you wish.  Warm showers are available for a small fee at most lodges, though these may be bucket showers higher up.

One night is spent staying in facilities similar to a simple trekking lodge at the Nar Phedi monastery, and one night in a simple, friendly hotel in Bandipur.


  2. Meals

Hotels in Kathmandu, Pokhara & Bandipur
Breakfasts only are provided in these hotels. Kathmandu and Pokhara in particular have a wealth of restaurants serving excellent food from all over the world, so you will never be short of ideas or places to eat within a short walk of the hotel.

Trekking with lodges
Three meals per day are included on the trek, covering one main item from the lodge menu plus tea/coffee for breakfast and dinner, and a more basic lunch. This provides a hearty breakfast and dinner, but you may add to these if you wish (eg. for deserts or snacks), paying the lodges directly.  You’ll find that the lodges along the route provide a surprisingly good selection of food and drink. In places the menu may be limited but the food is always nourishing and wholesome. To protect the limited resources available in remoter trekking areas (particularly with regard to fuel) we politely suggest that you either eat the same items as the guide / porters, or as the rest of your party, and not to order too many different items from the menu.

Water & Drinks
It is very important that you drink lots of water and remain well hydrated during this, and any trek. We also recommend you refrain from drinking much alcohol during the trek. This all helps your general wellbeing and to protect against the symptoms of altitude sickness. You can buy bottled water at most of the lodges along the route and tap water is also available but should be treated. However, we strongly recommend against buying bottled water as plastic waste is a perenniel problem in the Himalayas and other trekking areas. We therefore recommend that you carry your own water bottle (or two) and refill it each day at the lodges you pass or from springs or streams your guide suggests are OK to use. Any water collected this way should be treated either with a water filter or with purification tablets. Water bottles with built in filters are readily available these days and are excellent for trekking with. Purification filters and tablets are available to buy in trekking shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara if you don't want to bring them with you. You can also get cheap powdered flavourings to remove the taste of purification tablets. 


  3. Group Size / Tour Leaders / Guides

Group size
This is a private tour, so your 'group' will just be whoever you are booking and travelling with, plus your guide and porter(s).

Guides
Fully trained English-speaking Nepalese trekking guides are provided on this tour and many of our travellers consider them a highlight of their tour. For parties of 1-6 travellers we provide one trekking guide plus porters, and for groups of 7 to 12, two guides are provided plus porters.

Porters
This is a supported trek, and we provide porters to carry your main bag. All you will need to carry is a small day-pack containing your water bottle/camera/snacks/clothes you may take on and off during the day. You can leave a bag with some of your luggage locked securely in the hotel in Kathmandu.
We support and follow international guidelines for the employment of any trekking porters we use, including those of Tourism Concern and the IPPG (International Porter Protection Group). Insurance is provided for all porters. Generally we use one porter per 2 trekkers though this will vary slightly on occasion depending on the make up of your party.
If there are two people travelling, then our normal arrangements are for one guide and one porter. You could bring two main pieces of luggage with you, leaving one behind in Kathmandu and sharing your kit in the other main bag for the porter to carry. Our strict maximum weight limit for porters in Nepal is 30kg. Please therefore plan to take a maximum of 15kg per person on the trek that you would like the porter to carry.

At Encounters Travel we only use local Nepali guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.


  4. Transport

We use private cars or minibuses for all the main transfers & journeys on this tour, including from Kathmandu to Besi Sahar, and Pokhara to Bandipur and back to Kathmandu.

Jeeps, which may be shared with other travellers, are used for the rough gravel roads from Besi Sahar to Kotor, and down from Marpha/Jomsom to Tatopani and Beni.

An upgrade to a domestic flight back from Jomsom to Pokhara is available on request either in advance or during the trek (subject to availability).


  5. Transfers

This tour include a 24-hour airport arrival and departure transfer service at Kathmandu airport and all other transfers. There will be a collection of people waiting on the far side of an airport service road immediately in front of you as you exit Kathmandu airport. Please look out for an Encounters Travel signboard to find our representative. You may well be pestered for tips by porters who try to carry your luggage. We suggest you either be firm and insist on carrying your own luggage, or if you want assistance, wait until you have met our representative and then let him arrange the porter for you. You will need to have some money ready for a small tip (eg. up to NRs 50 or a single US Dollar bill).

Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the time you have booked with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.


  6. International Flights

We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.

Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour.

Most of our Nepal tours start and finish at Kathmandu airport (KTM).

On tours that combine Nepal with Tibet, and/or Bhutan, any international flights connecting these countries may be included in the price of your tour or we may ask you to purchase them individually. If we arrange the flights then e-tickets will be sent to you in advance but will also be available in Kathmandu before you travel to the airport for the flight.


  7. Trekking

The trekking times given in the daily itinerary are approximate, and will vary depending on your fitness, and also importantly, on the speed you want to walk.  We will normally set off early in the morning, and have plenty of breaks during the day, before finishing trekking in mid-afternoon.  Some days will be longer than others, and your guide will let you know when there is a long day ahead.

Acclimatisation days are added into all our itineraries where required, and these cannot be missed out.  You can however, slightly adjust the itinerary as you go along if you are struggling on a particular day, or you want to forge ahead - as long as this does not change the profile of the way you are gaining altitude from day to day. This must be done in consultation with your guide and be based on lodge availability. If travelling in a group of people, you should be prepared to walk at the speed of the slowest member.

We have graded this trek as: DIFFICULT:

“A serious trek, where we would expect you to have had previous trekking experience and to prepare in advance. You should be very confident of your trekking ability and be prepared to walk some long days perhaps on a steep climb (or descent). You may also have to walk difficult terrain or at high altitude for a number of days. This is definitely the kind of trek where you are more likely to experience extremes of altitude and/or weather.”

You will need to prepare in advance for this trek and we will provide you with a simple training guide. We will also ask you to complete a simple questionnaire about your fitness which will help us to advise you on how best to prepare.

Due to the nature of the trek we set a minimum age of 15 on this tour. If you have a family with younger children then please contact us and we will be able to offer options for alternative trekking routes.


  8. Trekking seasons

Winter - December to February
It can get extremely cold higher up during the winter, and large dumps of snow can also cause delays and block the high passes. For this reason we avoid trekking during these months.

Spring - late February to May
This is a great time to trek, with the weather getting gradually warmer, and rhododendrons in flower.

Monsoon season - June to September
The monsoon rains start around mid-June and continue through July and August and into September. While it is possible to trek during these months, we avoid them on this route because the trails particularly at lower elevations can get muddy and slippery and hiking through prolonged periods of heavy rain isn't that enjoyable. There is also a higher risk of landslides blocking the trails and potentially causing injury.

Peak season - October-November
October and November are peak season for trekking in Nepal, with good weather and mainly clear skies, though you will often still get some afternoon showers if the monsoon is running a bit late. This is the busiest time on the mountain and flights into Nepal can also fill up and get expensive earlier.

The notes above are a rough guide and the weather does vary throughout each season and from year to year. The monsoon rains can start earlier and also drag on into October, and cloud cover can be variable too. However, taking a balance of the numbers of people on the trails and the weather & visibility, our preferred months to trek this route are October-November, March and April.


  9. Acclimatisation and Altitude Sickness

The tour reaches an altitude of over 5000m on several occasions and we therefore plan the daily walking schedule to ensure that you acclimatise gradually and to take account of the effects that spending time at high altitude can have on you. The speed that we gain altitude is therefore restricted and you may not push on ahead even if you think it has been an easy, short day, if you are feeling fine at the time or if you want to shorten the overall trek.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can develop at any altitude over 2000 meters. The early symptoms are headache, extreme fatigue, and loss of appetite. Some people become breathless at rest. AMS is the result of fluid accumulating in parts of the body where it does not belong: in the brain, in the lungs, or both. When mild symptoms develop, it is a signal that you must stay at that altitude or descend until symptoms have gone away. Never ascend with any symptoms of AMS!

Most people reaching altitudes above 3000m and certainly above 3500m will experience some breathlessness, mild headaches, and poor sleep patterns. Other common symptoms include lack of appetite, increased urination (though you should be drinking a lot so should expect this anyway), strange dreams, tightness in the chest and fatigue. However, few people get very severe symptoms or go on to develop acute altitude sickness (AMS) which requires medical treatment.

If you are male and/or unfit/unhealthy and/or older (60s, 70s, 80s) then you are more likely to be affected than if you are female and/or fit & healthy and/or younger. However, there is no hard and fast rule and there are plenty of exceptions to these generalisations.

To try and minimise the effects of altitude, we recommend that you:

  • Ensure you keep warm
  • Don’t take any baths or showers for your first couple of days at altitude
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat more fruit & vegetables than normal
  • Breathe deeply but normally – don’t be tempted to gasp and hyperventilate
  • Drink lots of water (several litres) before you leave low altitude, and carry on drinking a lot of water while at high altitude.
  • Don’t rush – walk slowly and don’t exert yourselves. Taking things easy and slowly really helps prevent mountain sickness
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Tell each other and your guide how you are feeling as time goes on (this helps others spot if symptoms are becoming severe)

People with serious heart disease should not visit high altitudes, and people with light heart troubles should check with their doctor and follow their advice, as should people with high or low blood pressure.

More severe symptoms that may require medical treatment or an early descent to a lower altitude include severe and persistent headaches, nausea & vomiting, disorientation and loss of co-ordination, irrational behaviour. If you do experience any of these, make sure you tell each other and your guide straight away.

Trekking and Altitude Sickness
If you are trekking with us then you should keep your guide informed at all times of any symptoms you may be developing, especially headaches and breathlessness while at rest. You may need to spend a night or two at the same altitude before continuing your trek. All our trekking tours have acclimatisation days or specially designed schedules to help with this. Usually within one or two days you will feel well and can continue your trek. On private tours, your guide will adjust your itinerary to try and ensure the normal route can be achieved, though this may not always be possible. On group tours, the group may delay their ascent if the itinerary allows, or a porter or second guide may remain with you until the group descends and rejoins you.

If you are resting at the same altitude and your symptoms are becoming worse, then it is necessary to descend. Worsening symptoms of AMS including increasing tiredness, severe headache, vomiting, and loss of coordination. These are signs of High Altitude Cerebral Edema (or HACE). HACE can lead to unconsciousness and death within 12 hours if progressive symptoms are ignored. Increasing shortness of breath, cough, and tiredness are signs of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema or HAPE. HAPE can also be rapidly fatal if ignored.

A person suffering from AMS may not have clear thinking and may have to be forced to descend. You accept that our guides have the final decision on whether you should descend and that ignoring their advice constitutes your choice to leave the tour. Even if someone is willing to descent they should never be allowed to descend alone and one of our porters or a second guide will accompany you. Keep descending until the person shows some sign of improvement, usually after 300-500 meters of descent. Even if the diagnosis is not clear, but might be AMS, you should descend. You can always re-ascend when you feel better.

It is best to start descending while the person who is ill can still walk. In Nepal, if the person can no longer walk, a yak or horse might be obtained. Porters can often be found to carry a sick person down. Do not wait for a helicopter. If you choose to administer oxygen or medications do not delay the descent to watch for improvement.

In summary, if you are not doing well at altitude, most likely you have some mild symptoms of AMS. Rest at the same altitude until you feel well. If you are getting worse at the same altitude, descend to at least the last point at which you felt well. If you are not sure of the diagnosis, err on the side of being too cautious. Remember severe altitude sickness is entirely preventable if you follow these guidelines.

Costs for changing itineraries:
If you are not able to complete your trek or tour for any reason and choose to return back down early, then you may be liable to pay for extra accommodation and transport costs (see our booking conditions for full details). We try to be as flexible and helpful as possible in these cases, and will aim to arrange some lower altitude trekking or other tours during the time you would have spent at higher altitude. You must ensure that you have travel insurance that will cover you for any extra costs incurred due to symptoms or treatment or altitude sickness, and that your policy will cover you for helicopter evacuation to the altitudes reached on your tour.

More useful information on altitude sickness


  10. Fees & Permits

All your entry fees and permits are included in the price of the tour to cover entry into the trekking conservation areas, and sites on any optional day tours added to the tour.

This trek passes through a restricted trekking area (Nar & Phu Valleys) for which advance permits are required. We will need to receive a scanned copy of your passport at least 2 weeks prior to arrival in order to ensure that permits are ready for you to start the trek.


  11. Time

The time in India and Sri Lanka is GMT plus 5 1/2 hours.

The time in Nepal is GMT plus 5 3/4 hours.

The time in Bhutan is GMT plus 6 hours.

The time in Tibet is GMT plus 8 hours.

Daylight saving adjustments are not applied.


  12. Health and Vaccinations

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

Nepal: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Bhutan: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.

Tibet: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the lowland regions Bhutan are considered malarial zones, while higher altitudes including central Bhutan including Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang are not. Nepal is considered mainly low risk with prophylactics not normally required.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary. Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.


  13. What to take

Luggage: Whatever you're doing in Nepal, Tibet or Bhutan, you'll find that large rigid wheeled suitcases are cumbersome - you may be able to wheel them inside the airport and your hotel, but due to the condition of roads and pavements that's often about it. As many of our tours involve a degree of adventurous activity, we strongly advise you to bring a more practical bag for these i.e. a rucksack or holdall. These are easier for both your porters, and yourself to carry around. Suitcases are OK for our cultural tours in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan though, but please aim to bring small or medium sized ones rather than very large. If you are trekking or rafting, or doing a lot of travel throughout the country, then as little as possible is the basic message. A rucksack or holdall (50-70 liter approx.) for your main luggage, and a daypack for you to use during the day should be plenty. While rafting we only take essential kit on board the rafts, and your main luggage will travel by bus to the take-out point. While trekking your porters (Nepal) or ponies (Bhutan) will carry your main luggage, leaving you with just a daypack with things you'll need during the day. You can also leave some luggage locked safely in the pre-trek hotel if you wish. We recommend that couples plan to leave one main bag behind, and pool their remaining luggage in their other bag for the porter to carry.

Luggage limits: Most international airlines allow 20-23kg per person of hold luggage. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.

If you are trekking with us, we ask that you keep the weight of your main bag that the porter will carry to a maximum of 12.5kg. This then allows the porter to carry up to 2 bags, and a maximum of 25kg (the International Porter Protection group's advised limit for Nepal is 30kg, which then leaves a little more weight for their own kit). This weight allowance includes your sleeping bag if you are hiring it from us and not carrying it with you to Nepal
If you are doing an Everest trek and flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, then flight luggage limits are 10kg for your main bag and 5kg for hand luggage - total 15kg. You can re-arrange that after you arrive in Lukla. Please keep to these limits as while you can pay for extra weight, it may be held back until the next flight which may then be delayed or cancelled.
Treks in Bhutan follow the same weight limits for your ponies.
You may leave other luggage securely locked in your hotel during the trek. If you are travelling as a couple then we suggest you leave one main bag in Kathmandu and share the other main bag that the porter will then carry.

Clothing & Climate: Nepal and Bhutan have a climate that ranges widely depending on when you visit, and where you are visiting.
- Autumn - late Sep-Nov: The weather is good and very warm, with lots of sunshine, getting quite hot during the day in lowland regions. It will still be cold at night at higher altitudes if you are trekking. Shorts & T-shirts are fine while you are walking, but you should still bring warmer clothes for the evenings. There is a good chance of rain in September and early October, so bring a waterproof.
- Winter - Dec-Feb: It will be pleasant in lowland regions with very little rain, but will be cooler at night. Long trousers and shirts are advised during the day, and you will need warm clothes in the evenings. If you are trekking, then it will be cold during the day, and extremely cold at night, particularly at higher altitudes. Several warm layers are recommended so you can regulate your comfort as you walk, including a waterproof, even if only to protect from cold winds. We include thick down jackets in our optional trekking packs for comfort in the evenings at higher altitudes.
- Spring - Mar-May: The weather is very pleasant during the spring, and again shorts & t-shirts are fine while you are walking. There is a higher chance of rain as the season progresses, so a thin waterproof is recommended in case. It gets very hot and humid in the lowlands from May onwards.
- Monsoon - Jun-mid Sep: It will be hot and sticky during these months, with lots of rain, so come prepared accordingly if you are visiting during these months - gaiters are highly recommended if you are trekking to keep out leeches.

A huge variety of cheap trekking gear is available in Kathmandu (fleeces, waterproofs etc.) and buying some here can save you carrying it with you, and support the local economy. However, you should definitely bring your own walking boots.

Modesty rates highly in Nepal and Bhutan especially for women, so please ensure all clothes are loose fitting and not too revealing. You'll find the Bhutanese dress fairly smartly or in national dress, so you will stand out even more if you look scruffy.

Whilst rafting:

On the raft: Shorts, Tevas (sandals) or trainers, baseball style cap to keep the sun off your face, sunglasses with a strap to keep them on your head, swimwear, sarong for women, sun-cream, lip balm, water bottle, several t-shirts.
Note: All footwear on a raft should be rubber soled, and of the type that will not come off easily.
Off the raft:
Long trousers, warm sleeping bag (provided, but you may want to bring a sheet sleeping bag as well), petzel type head torch, warm jacket/fleece, dry shoes, boots, warm socks, towel, warm long sleeved shirt, toiletries.
Cameras: You can take cameras on the raft, and we endeavour to keep that sort of kit dry in waterproof bags. But there is always an element of risk of getting the camera wet.
What you shouldn't take on the raft: All the rest of your kit and you're your valuables. We will make arrangements for their transport to your take-out point.

Whilst trekking:

Suggested Clothing and equipment: Strong hiking boots or walking shoes that you have broken in; Good sized rucksack or holdall; 3 to 4-season sleeping bag (only if you want to use your own rather than the one provided in our optional trekking pack); silk or cotton sleeping bag liner; lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket; (waterproof gaiters, waterproof over trousers - these are only necessary on some treks in some seasons - contact us for further info if required); 3 or 4 t-shirts; small day pack; several pairs of light socks; 2 pairs of heavier woollen socks; underwear including thermals; warm hat and gloves; swimwear; pair of lightweight trousers; pair of shorts; 1 fleece or warm jumper and 1 sweatshirt. Also, sunglasses, torch and batteries, toiletries (include a lighter to burn toilet paper), bring biodegradable shampoo & soap, towel, blister kit, money belt and any personal medication you might require. Remember, Lots of layers are the key to staying warm and comfortable. Also, keeping your feet comfortable and healthy makes a huge difference to how you enjoy your trek. So, bring waterproof boots/walking shoes and plenty of pairs of socks so you can change them regularly.
Day Packs and Main luggage: You will want a sturdy and comfortable daypack to carry your day-to-day items with you while you are walking (clothes you may change in and out of regularly, drinks, snacks, camera). You will also need a sturdy holdall or backpack for your main luggage. Your porters or ponies will carry this for you, so suitcases are not appropriate. They may leave earlier than you, and may not walk with you throughout the entire day, so bear in mind that you won't have access to this luggage all the time - you need to ensure you are carrying everything you require during the days walk in your daypack. You can leave luggage behind in storage at your hotel so you don't need to take everything with you on the trek.

Whilst in the game parks:

You should bring long trousers and long-sleeved shirts for jungle walks and travel within the park. Please ensure these are of drab colours to avoid drawing attention. Sunglasses and sun-hats are advisable for hot and bright days. Mosquito repellent is highly recommended. Binoculars are extremely useful at any of Nepal's National Parks, and are not generally available for hire locally. Don't forget fast film for those jungle shots and moving animals/birds. A good cleaning kit is essential as these items are unavailable once at the park. It is also better to take quality film, either from home or Kathmandu into the parks, and to ensure you have a spare fully charged battery and memory card.

All tours: We recommend that you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.


  14. Tipping - Nepal

While an accepted part of the culture and customs in Nepal, tipping is always optional, and any amounts paid should reflect excellent service. Tipping in Tibet and Bhutan is less prevalent though it is still normal practice to tip your guide and driver at the end of the tour.

We support and follow international guidelines for the employment of any trekking porters we use, including those of the IPPG (International Porter Protection Group). We therefore pay all our porters a higher than average wage, but an additional tip is still normal practice at the end of your trek.

It is normal and accepted for people to tip differently, and you should not feel under any pressure to tip any particular amount. We are often asked for advice on common amounts however, and suggest that you consider around US$ 5-10 per person per day for guides, US$ 3-7 p/p/day for assistant guides or tour leaders, and US$ 2-5 p/p/day for porters and drivers.

Haggling or bargaining is also prevalent throughout Nepal and Tibet, particularly in Kathmandu, and is still done in markets in Bhutan though to a lesser extent in other shops. More often than not the start price is at least double the actual price the vendor will be happy to accept. Do not take offence, but be prepared to bargain if you want to, consider your budget (and what you'd be happy to pay for things at home), pay fairly and enjoy this as part of the experience. Note: if you do offer a price, then you are expected to purchase – do not start bargaining unless you really want to buy.

While you are out in rural/hill areas, we recommend that you should stick to published price lists and pay fair prices for local food, accommodation and services, as this aids local economies (bear in mind that when you are trekking, nearly everything you eat or buy will have been carried there by porters or donkeys).


  15. Money
The local currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NRs). There are a banks and several ATMs in Kathmandu where you can use a debit/credit card to withdraw cash (Visa, Mastercard), but these are not generally available out of Kathmandu or Pokhara. There are numerous money change shops in the main towns. Travellers cheques can be changed in some banks in Kathmandu and Pokhara, but not elsewhere.
You should ensure you have all the Nepalese rupees you think you will need before you leave for any trekking or visiting any more remote areas (including Bardia National Park). Try to obtain as many small denomination notes as possible, as higher value notes can be very hard to change in remote areas. You can pay with US Dollars cash in some places but should not rely on this.

  16. Passports and Visas - Nepal

Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.

Many nationals can obtain their Nepalese visa in Kathmandu airport upon arrival (including UK, EU, US, CA, AU, NZ, SA citizens). The costs for a single entry visa are currently:
- up to 15 days - US$ 25
- 16 to 30 days - US$ 40
- 31 to 90 days - US$ 100
An additional $20 fee is charged to convert these into a multiple entry visa which will be needed for any tours returning to Nepal after visiting Bhutan or Tibet.

The visa is obtained in the immigration area at the point where your passport is stamped. Forms to fill in are available in this immigration hall and may also be given out on your flight (if so, do fill them in before you land as it will reduce your queuing time). You will also need to fill in an arrivals card. Once your paperwork is completed, head to the immigration desk and hand over your forms, 2 passport photos, your visa fee and passport. The visa fees are set in US Dollars, but you can also pay in other currencies, but don't rely on getting given change.

Passport Photos: You will need two passport photos for your Nepal visa if you are obtaining it on arrival. If you are doing any trekking, rafting or visiting a National Park (i.e. on many of of our tours), you should bring extras, as some of the permits we may need to get require these. Please bring at least 4 passport photos with you - they will always come in useful later if you don't need them all.


  17. Voltage

In Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, sockets are mainly two round pronged and 230 volts (Type C,D,M). In Bhutan a range of different sockets can be found, including two and three round pronged and three flat pronged (Type D,F,G). 

Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard UK-European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are sometimes available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already but cannot be guaranteed.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.


  18. Internal Flights

Please note that all Nepalese airlines operating domestic routes in the country are currently on the European Commission's list of airlines banned in the EU. This includes those running Everest viewing flights and flights to Lukla for the start of the Everest Base Camp trek.

Along with these Everest flights we may offer some other domestic flights on some of our tours, either as part of the itinerary or as an upgrade in place of a land transfer. Where this is the case we are careful to select airlines that have a good current reputation in Nepal.


  19. Booking & Payment

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.


  20. Dates & Prices
We offer private departures on this tour starting on any day throughout the available seasons. Prices are given on our website for each season and are based on a minimum of 2 people travelling together. Customised pricing is available on request for solo travellers and for larger parties.

  21. Financial Security

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.


  22. Responsible Tourism

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn't make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you're travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).


  23. Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.


  24. Follow Us Online

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')


  25. Before you travel

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Travel Aware' campaign

Reviews

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Annapurna Circuit & Nar Phu Valley & Country Reviews

Product Review


Posted 13th of Jan 2018

Our trip went off without a hitch and it was absolutely magnificent! We got lucky and no one else booked the same dates we did so we got our guide, Dipess, all to ourselves! Dipess was the most caring soul and we loved spending our time with him! He always made sure that we were well taken care of and he always had a smile on his face! He took care of everything, including our accommodations and meals. Our porter, Razkumar, was also absolutely amazing and never complained about helping us with our bags. We couldn't have done it without either one of them and we were so thankful to have them both! We saw many other trekking companies and guides, but we were convinced that we had the best! It was an amazing experience and one that we will remember for the rest of our lives!

Product Review


Posted 19th of Dec 2017

Very good value for money.

Product Review


Posted 9th of Oct 2016

all Nepal people were great, would love to go again

POSTS FROM OUR BLOG Annapurna Circuit & Nar Phu Valley

Need some travel inspiration or looking for some handy travel tips? Our blog provides excellent insight into our travel destinations - from tour updates to country guides, packing lists to little known things to do, you'll find it all in our travel blog.

https://ucarecdn.com/a9343fad-36e3-4125-8af8-38176c0262d1/ By: Michaila Knauff 2020-03-06 08:15:40

10 reasons to go trekking in Nepal

In Nepal

The beautiful little country of Nepal offers a wide range of trekking options, ranging from short and easy treks to strenuous and lengthy ones. Each year, Nepal welcomes a large number of visitors who flock to the country for its eye-catching scenery, fascinating cultures and welcoming locals. Here are our top 10 reasons to trek in Nepal: 

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https://ucarecdn.com/a9343fad-36e3-4125-8af8-38176c0262d1/ By: Danniell Saunders 2014-03-12 19:00:00

Trekking in Nepal

In Nepal

Nepal offers some of the best trekking to be found anywhere in the world.

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