|Day 1, March 3, Friday. Arrive Kathmandu and transfer to hotel (L, D)
It is a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks are stunning, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. A representative and driver from our local tour operator will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. You'll meet Jim and the other tour members at a designated time (to be announced) in the lobby to discuss the details of the trip and to answer any questions you may have about photography. Overnight Kathmandu.
Day 2, March 4, Saturday. Drive to Chitwan (5-6 hours) and Jungle Activities
Early morning, after breakfast in the hotel, a car will drive you along the Prithivi Highway towards Chitwan. The highway itself offers abundant opportunities to spot different species of birds at the river shores and roadside woods. Chitwan is the home of Chitwan National Park, situated 155 km from Kathmandu. The National Park is one of the premier places in Asia for wildlife. 450 species of birds, the one-horned Asiatic rhinos, bengal tigers, elephants, and more can be seen. Overnight Chitwan.
Day 3, March 5, Sunday. Bird photography, jeep safari, village tour, elephant tour
After an early breakfast in the resort we will go on a birding tour in the national park. The wild grasslands and river cover more than 70% of the land in the park. The place is home to many endangered species. Flocks of common and Demoiselle cranes appear here during March. Along the marshlands and small ponds you may spot cormorants, darter, cinnamon bittern, black-crowned night and purple herons, Asian openbill, woolly-necked and lesser adjutant storks, lesser whistling duck, cotton pygmy goose, ruddy-breasted crakes, purple gallinule, and bronze-winged jacana to name a few. You'll want to bring the longest telephoto lens you have to take images with visual impact. After the long day of wildlife and cultural photography you will enjoy the hospitality at the resort within the park. Overnight Chitwan.
Day 4, March 6, Monday. Drive to Bandipur (2-3 hours)
We rise early this morning for more bird photography, and then following breakfast we will be driven to Bandipur. Bandipur is an ethnic Newari village in which the people still follow their traditional ways of living. We'll take classic portraits of the villagers in their beautiful attire and adorned with impressive jewelry. The backdrop to the village is a spectacular panorama of the entire Annapurna Range plus the incredibly impressive snowcapped peaks of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Langtang all of which are over 23,000 feet (Dhaulagiri is the 7th highest mountain in the world at 26,795 feet). This is an incredible day of photography. Overnight at Bandipur.
Day 5, March 7, Tuesday. Drive to Pokhara. Visit World Peace Pagoda.
After a healthy breakfast we travel to Pokhara from Bandipur. Pokhara will have you mesmerized with its majestic sight of snow-capped mountain peaks. It's hard to take your eyes away from the exquisite site. Pokhara is most popular for its lakes Phewa, Begnas and Rupa, and with a beautiful body of water as the foreground, landscape photography here is incredible. We will also visit the World Peace Pagoda, a beautiful work in architecture with a dramatic backdrop of the Himalayas. Overnight in Pokhara.
Day 6, March 8, Wednesday. Early Morning visit Sarangkot and Drive to Dhampus for the hike to Australian Camp.
Before breakfast we drive a short distance to Sarangkot for a spectacular sunrise view. Sarangkot offers great views of the Pokhara Valley and a magnificent view of the mountains. After breakfast we drive to Dhampus (about an hour), and once there we will start our hike up through the rhododendron and oak forests until reaching one of the best places for unparalleled views of the Annapurna Range: Australian Camp. The hike takes about 2 1/2 hours but it's worth the effort because the photography is out of this world. The elevation here does not go over 6500 feet, and the trek is fairly easy. We rest there for a while, we take awesome pictures, and then we walk back to Dhampus. Overnight Dhampus.
Day 7, March 9, Thursday. Return to Pokhara; boating on Phewa Lake.
We explore Dhampus village this morning and look for ethnic portraits of people in traditional attire with spectacular snowcapped mountains in the background. We then drive back to Pokhara and enjoy some leisure time to download pictures, explore Phewa Lake, rest, or to ask Jim for a critique of some of your images taken thus far. In the early evening we will have a one hour boating trip on the Lake to photograph the village and the incredible peaks of the Himalayas. Overnight Pokhara.
Day 8, March 10, Friday. Fly to Kathmandu; Swayambhunath and Patan.
In the morning we take a 25 minute flight back to Kathmandu and again we'll have amazing aerial views of the Nepalese landscape. After being transferred to our hotel we will visit Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple. “Swayambhu” means “self-created” and refers to the belief that the hill emerged spontaneously from the great lake that once covered Kathmandu Valley. We then explore famous Patan Durbar Square where Mahaboudha Temple, Kumbeshwor temple, Krishna Temple, and Golden Temple are, in essence, an open museum showcasing intricately carved windows, intrinsic roof struts, statues of gods and goddesses, and temples designed with sensual carvings. Overnight Kathmandu.
Day 9, March 11, Saturday. Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath and Bhaktapur.
Today's emphasis is on great architecture as well as amazing portraits of sadhus, or Nepalese holy men. Bouddhanath is the largest dome shaped stupa of the country where the practices of Tibetan Buddhism can be observed at its best. We then continue to Pashupatinath, a major Hindu shrine, and it offers countless temples dedicated to different Hindu deities within its widespread area. However, the main temple Pashupatinath is dedicated to lord Shiva. This may be the place where you take the most incredible travel pictures ever because there are many sadhus in their traditional face paint. Bring more flash cards than you think you'll need. After that, we drive to Bhaktapur where you will witness a unique culture and the finest display of craftsmanship. Lion Gate, Golden Gate, the Statue of King Bhupatendra, Nyatapola Temple and the fifty-five windowed Malla Palace are all amazing structures in Bhaktapur. Overnight Bhaktapur.
Day 10, March 12, Sunday. Holi festival
From Bhaktapur you will be transferred to Kathmandu's Durbar square. The entire country is in a festive mood when its Holi. This is one of the most photogenic festivals in the world. Super saturated colored powder gets thrown on the participants, and water balloons filled with colored water explode everywhere. Colorful faces drenched with water make unbelievable portraits during Holi. You'll want to wear disposable clothes today to photograph the colorful chaos and the fun, and don't forget to protect your camera and lens with plastic. Holi welcomes the spring season, and even nature seems to rejoice when its time to play Holi. Durbar Square is the major site of Holi celebration in Nepal. Music, laughter, and craziness plus incredible color will leave you enthralled, and your pictures will be second to none. Overnight Kathmandu
Day 11, March 13, Monday. Bungmati, Khokana and Kirtipur.
Having recovered from Holi, today we go to the villages of Bungmati, Khokana and Kirtipur. Khokana and Bungamati are typical farming villages, and Kirtipur dates from 1099 A.D. All three have a range of stunning temples set in a beautiful landscape. Chirrup village boasts many ancient monuments including the famed temple of tiger-faced Bhairva. The twin villages of Bungamati and Khokana date from 16th century and are typical ancient Newar Villages. They are located south of Kathmandu down a rutty road dotted with "chaityas", or shrines, very appropriate for an ancient procession route. Overnight Kathmandu.
Day 12, March 14, Tuesday. Depart Kathmandu
Today we transfer to the airport for our return flight home, knowing we've captured incredible pictures of the people, the architecture, the culture, and the landscapes of Nepal.
Tour cost: $5395. Includes all lodging based on double occupancy in 4 star hotels, all meals, all ground transportation, English speaking guide throughout, boating on Phewa Lake, all monument entrance fees, airfare from Pokhara to Kathandu including airport tax, airport transfers, photo instruction, model setups, and critiques on demand.
Single supplement: $675
Not included: International airfare, bar bills, alcoholic beverages, laundry, Internet, and other personal items, tips to guide, drivers, etc., travel insurance, and extra baggage charges if any.