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Annapurna Sanctuary Tour

Had a worry free amazing experience from the time we booked the trip till we arrived back home. Definitely recommend using them.

David, Jan 2018

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Annapurna Sanctuary OVERVIEW

TOUR SUMMARY

17 days

Kathmandu to Kathmandu

ON REQUEST

Country(ies): Nepal

Tour type: Private

Group size: Min: 1 | Max: Any

Accommodation: 3-star hotels & trekking lodges

Meals:

Transport: A/C minibus

Highlights: Kathmandu temples & bazaars, trekking in the Annapurnas, sunrise on Poon Hill, majestic mountain views in the Annapurna Sanctuary, Newari village of Bandipur, hike to Ramkot.

The 'Annapurna Sanctuary trek' takes you into a hidden bowl in the heart of the Annapurna range, where you are surrounded by a spectacular panorama of towering peaks, ten of which are over 6,000m. One of the more popular Annapurna treks, this trek takes you as far as Annapurna base camp at 4,095m. We reach the sanctuary after a beautiful and varied trek through the Himalayan foothills, passing through small villages, mixed forests and terraced farmland. En-route we enjoy great mountain views at sunrise from Poon Hill, and finish with some time relaxing in the lakeside town of Pokhara. An excellent introduction to Nepal and trekking in Annapurna.

You begin your tour in Kathmandu with a guided tour of this bustling city. You have the chance to see the famous Durbar Square and Royal Palace along with a visit to the hilltop Stupa at Swayumbunath. From Kathmandu you have a scenic road journey to Pokhara where your trek begins from nearby Phedi. Staying in lodges throughout, you will get to meet and talk with other trekkers and guides each evening, and discuss the places you've visited, and the route ahead.

Starting in the foothills, immediately north of Pokhara you start the trek by climbing to Ghorepani, where you can enjoy beautiful sunrise views of the Annapurna range from Poon Hill. From Ghorepani you cross several valleys and then ascend along the beautiful Modi Khola valley. Huge Rhododendron forests, with sprinklings of a whole range of orchids, and bamboo forests replete with chattering monkeys, are a dominant feature of this trek.

As you walk further up into the centre of the Annapurna Himal, you will visit Machhapuchhare Base Camp followed by Annapurna Base Camp itself. As you enter the Annapurna Sanctuary (a mountain ringed amphitheatre of immense proportions), you will be rewarded with spectacular views of 10 snow-capped peaks above 6,000m. The peaks include: Fang, Glacier Dome, Homunculi, Annapurna, Annapurna South, Annapurna 1, Annapurna 3 and Machhapuchhare. All of these, combined with the impressive backdrop of the south face of Annapurna 1 (8,090m) make this trek a truly unique and unforgettable experience. After some time exploring the Sanctuary, you retrace your steps for a couple of days to leave, before trekking back towards Pokhara, stopping along the way at the hot springs near Jhinnadunda.

You have a free day in Pokhara which we leave to give you time to relax in this peaceful lakeside town, and to allow for any delays on the trek itself. From Pokhara you travel by road back to Kathmandu where you have a little free time to do some last minute shopping or a little more sightseeing around the city and surrounding valley.

You can join one of our small-group departures, do the tour privately, or use it as a base for a tailor-made itinerary. Options are available to explore the ancient areas of Patan & Bhaktapur outside Kathmandu, do a mountain flight up to view Everest, or extend the tour to try some white-water rafting or visit one of Nepal's wildlife sanctuaries.

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 Encouners 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, tour

The first part of the morning will be dedicated to a pre-trek briefing and introduction to your trekking guide. After this we arrange for you to taken on a guided tour of the fascinating, sprawling city of Kathmandu. We take you to visit Durbar Square with its splendid array of Hindu Temples and the old Royal Palace. We also visit the important Hindu temple of Pasupatinath where you will learn about Hindu traditions and rituals and possibly see some cremations at this holy and auspicious site. Next, we climb up the many steps leading to the immense, and very different, Buddhist Swayambhunath Stupa, which sits upon a hill overlooking Kathmandu and gives a spectacular view out over the city. You will also have some free time to check out the numerous little gift shops that line the maze-like streets.

In the evening your time is free to try out the numerous, restaurants and bars, and soak up the unique nightlife that makes Kathmandu a magnet for travellers from all over the world.

OVERNIGHT:

Kathmandu hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 3 Travel by road to Pokhara

Today you set off early heading west for Pokhara. You will travel by private car/minivan/minibus and, once clear of the city's surrounding hills, there is a wonderful vista of snow-capped peaks as you wind your way down into the Trisuli River valley, through the junction town of Mugling, and on to Pokhara (approx. 7 hours). The journey will also give you your first glimpses of Himalchuli and Manaslu, away to the north.

OVERNIGHT:

Pokhara hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 4 Pokhara to Thirkhe Dhunga

We drive you to Nayapul via the large village of Lumle (approx. 1 ½ hrs) and then you start your trek to Birethanti, a large and prosperous town. Your path follows the main trail to Sudami where you climb steadily up the side of the valley, reaching Hille (1,495m) before pushing on to Tirkhe Dhunga.

Trekking time: Approx. 2½ hours

OVERNIGHT:

Thirkhe Dhunga trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 5 Thirkhe Dhunga to Ghorepani

From Tirkhe Dhunga the trail crosses a stream and then ascends a steep stone staircase to the large Magar village at Ulleri (2,070m). You trek through rhododendron and oak forests and across streams before making a short, final climb to Nangethanti. From Nangethanti you finally trek up to Ghorepani (2,850m).

Trekking time: Approx. 5 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Ghorepani trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 6 Ghorepani to Poon Hill to Tadapani

It is no surprise that many people come to Poon Hill to see sunrise and an early start allows you to watch it from the summit. At 3,210m it is considered one of the best viewpoints in the Himalayas. Most of the way up, there are good views of the Annapurnas and Dhaulagiri, while on top you are surrounded by a whole panorama of mountains. There is an observation platform at the summit with picnic tables around the edge of the hilltop and usually a local selling welcome hot drinks. The snow-capped peaks are the first to be set alight and while you watch, the mists gently dissipate and lines of hills poke their ridges through to welcome the sun. When the sun breasts the hills to the east its warmth suddenly takes the chill out of the air. (Take an extra layer of clothing with you because it can be quite chilly before this).

You next descend to Ghorepani and from here you follow a gently forested ridge for a while. There are views to both sides and the air is often busy with the sound of chattering monkeys. Machhapuchhare is visible to your left, before you descend steep, muddy slopes and a heavily forested narrow gorge. As the gorge widens, you arrive at Banthanti. Continuing on, you descend steeply before climbing through dense, dark forest up to Tadapani (2,700m). Sunrise and sunset offer particularly good photographs of Annapurna South, which towers above the town and Machhapuchhare, which is visible across the valley.

Trekking time: Approx. 4½ hours

OVERNIGHT:

Tadapani trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 7 Tadapani to Chhomrong

Today you descend through a jungle-like forest (notorious for leeches in the summer) where the tree branches are draped with hanging mosses and the air is mixed with the scent of decay and flowering trees. Eventually you emerge past a woodcutter's sawstation and onto terraced fields on the side of a deep valley. From here, you follow the valley down past cowsheds and small houses, stopping to watch local farmers working on the terraces. At the river you cross a sturdy bridge, before climbing up to the other side of the valley. Here you round the shoulder of the hill and join the much larger Modi Khola Valley. It’s only a short distance along the valley, which leads you directly up to the Annapurna Sanctuary before we get to Chhomrong (2,300m). The village of Chhomrong is relatively large, and spread out along a steep stone staircase down the side of the valley. Water burbles down cleverly built channels following the hundreds of steps down to the bottom. There is a hydroelectric project at the base of the hill, which now provides most of the village with electricity. It is the last major inhabited village you'll encounter before you return from Base Camp.

Trekking time: Approx. 3 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Chhomrong trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 8 Chhomrong to Himalaya Hotel

Following a well-worn trail, you rejoin the Modi Khola Valley. You follow the valley through rhododendron forests, gently climbing uphill and pass through high bamboo forests populated with monkeys, and with occasional meadows above. You eventually reach a divide in the trail and bear right down to the lodges of Bamboo near the river, and a welcome break. This stretch of walk provides a good opportunity to pickup a stout bamboo walking stick for the coming climbs to Base Camp (ask your guide what you can take). You leave the river, walking again though wet rhododendron forest and start to climb up to the lodges at Doban before you finish, after some quite steep sections, at the grandly named Himalaya Hotel (2,890m).

Trekking time: Approx. 6 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Trekking lodge near Himalaya Hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 9 Himalaya Hotel to Machhapuchhare Base Camp

Today you leave the tree line behind you, as you progress steeply upwards into open areas. Traversing past Hinku Cave, a huge overhanging rock that can be used as a makeshift shelter in winter if the weather turns bad, you then cross two regular avalanche flows before you get to Deurali. Then you ascend to the narrow entranceway into the Annapurna Sanctuary. Machhapuchhare is now clearly visible, towering above you and just across the valley. Travelling across a barren rocky area you arrive at the Machhapuchhare Base Camp, which at 3,720m is perfectly positioned at the gateway to this inner Annapurna panorama. From here it’s less than two hours to the Annapurna Base Camp (4,095m), and perfect views of some of the worlds highest mountains. You may struggle to get this far in the winter months, if there is a lot of snow, recent avalanches, or the weather looks like it will turn for the worse. Your guide will have the final say, but walking through these peaceful valleys in the snow, with huge icicles hanging from Hinku Cave and the rocks above, makes up for not getting right to the top.

Trekking time: Approx. 3 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Trekking lodge near Machhapuchhare Base Camp

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 10 Annapurna Base Camp

Much of this day is spent enjoying the spectacular scenery that surrounds you. Dependent upon where you stayed last night, you can explore various viewpoints from which to view the peaks. The huge south face of Annapurna I (8,090m) provides an impressive backdrop, while the closeness of 10 peaks over 6,000m, including Annapurna South, Annapurna 1, Annapurna 3, Homunculi and Machhapuchhare, is simply awe inspiring. Sunrise is particularly special as the rising sun slowly illuminates the snow-capped peaks. Walking through the Sanctuary, the views are spectacular, as you feel almost completely surrounded by nearby mountains. The silence is crushing and only occasionally broken by the distant roar of avalanches.

Trekking time: Approx. 2 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Trekking lodge near Annapurna Base Camp

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 11 Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo Lodge

Leaving the towering peaks behind, you descend back down through the tree line and through the rhododendron and bamboo forests. You continue on past Himalaya Hotel to Bamboo Lodge (2,377m).

Trekking time: Approx. 6 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Trekking lodge near Bamboo Lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 12 Bamboo Lodge to Jhinnudanda

Continuing back along the Modi Khola Valley, you leave the bamboo behind you as you descend through rhododendron jungle towards Chhomrong. From here it’s a short walk to Jhinnudanda (1,700m), where you will stay overnight. Just below the town are hot springs, where you may have time for a welcome soak, revitalising hard worked muscles and joints.

Trekking time: Approx. 5½ hours

OVERNIGHT:

Jhinnudanda trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 13 Jhinnudanda to Pothana

Today you travel via Landruk (1,620m) and begin a steady ascent through Tolka to Pothana (2,000m).

Trekking time: Approx. 5 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Pothana trekking lodge

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 14 Pothana to Pokhara

You leave Pothana, and descend first to Dhampus and then to Phedi, where we drive you back to Pokhara. Set in a broad fertile valley, Pokhara is the gateway to most of Nepal's rafting and trekking destinations.

Trekking time: Approx. 2 hours

OVERNIGHT:

Pokhara hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 15 Pokhara, free day

Today is left free for you to enjoy Pokhara (and to allow for any unexpected delays during your trek). The city itself is dominated by views of the Annapurnas and in particular of Machhapuchhare., and the Lakeside area (around Phewa Lake) is delightful and throngs with travellers in the evenings.

OVERNIGHT:

Pokhara hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 16 Travel by road Kathmandu

Today you depart early to drive back to Kathmandu, arriving around mid-afternoon. The rest of the day and evening is free for you to relax and enjoy, and perhaps do a little more last minute shopping. You can also add an extension to Chitwan National Park today (from Pokhara).

OVERNIGHT:

Kathmandu hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 17 Kathmandu, transfer to airport

Your tour ends after breakfast and, if required, we transfer you to the airport for your flight home.

OVERNIGHT:

N/A

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


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Included:
  • All accommodation (5 nights in mid-range hotels, 1 night in Bandipur hotel, 10 nights in trekking lodges)
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Half day informal walking tour in Kathmandu
  • Private car between Kathmandu & Pokhara (flight upgrades available)
  • Services of a trekking guide and porter(s) throughout the 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 for this tour are given below. We can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.

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

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.

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 (NPTMAS)

Single room supplement (NPTMAS)

Min numbers: 1 person


This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares may be available but the supplement is payable if a room share cannot be arranged.

Price from
On Request
per person

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. If you are a single traveller and would be happy to share a room, let us know and we will see if we can pair you up with another single traveller of the same sex. If a room share is not available when you book then we will add the single room supplement to your booking and it will be payable with your balance payment unless we have arranged a room share for you by then. If a room share is arranged after you have paid the supplement then we will refund it to you. Room shares are arranged in order of booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

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. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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).


  5. 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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.

  8. 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.


  9. 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.


  10. 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.


  11. 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.


  12. 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).


  13. 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')


  14. 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.


  15. 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 Sanctuary & 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