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The Adventure Ahead… A Tentative Itinerary

Nepal Semester Student's Catherine Von Holt's photograph of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.

Dear Fellow Adventurers,

In just over 2 weeks, we’ll all be together in the heart of the ancient Kathmandu valley.  As a group coming from all backgrounds, we will set out on a journey into the life, culture and landscapes of the Himalayas.  Suren and I have been behind the scenes exploring itinerary options and possibilities for our time together This yak is to share our tentative itinerary with you.   Please note the word “tentative,” as it highlights our philosophy and reflects how flexible, adaptable, and alive an adventure with Dragons can be.  Please note that dates and places are subject to change based on our needs and hopes, as well as some of the unique surprises that arise in Nepal.

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August 18th – 19th: Our first days together will be spent in Bhaktapur, another of Kathmandu’s world heritage sites. This Newari town is known as the “city of devotees” and you will see why when you see the density of shrines and temples in the old part of town. We will stay in a quaint hillside guesthouse and take a chance to catch our breath after our days of travel.   Here we will take some time for “Orientation” – settling into our magical surroundings, learning about place and culture, as well as practicing some basic phrases in Nepali language. This will be the time that we start to get to know each other and the group, and start gathering the tools and knowledge that we will need to engage with this journey with confidence and respect. On top of this, we will get to explore the winding, magical streets of Bhaktapur and some of the surrounding holy sites to witness daily rituals.

August 20th – 23rd: Traveling south across the valley, we will enter the medieval city of Patan where we will stay with Newari artisan families who practice ancient crafts that have been passed down through the generations. Every day will be a new learning journey as we navigate the cobbled stone streets, explore the ancient and modern architecture and abundant temples. This will be our chance for independent study, as we will get to spend a few hours every day learning a local craft or spiritual tradition from an expert mentor. During the rest of the time we will visit sites of cultural significance and meet local activists and academics to talk to us about the current issues facing Nepal.  There will also be an optional excursion to a nearby ashram.

August 24th – 26th: Heading back to the outskirts of Kathmandu, we will stay at Namo Buddha, a Tibet Buddhist monastery in the Kagyu tradition.  Situated above some small villages east of Kathmandu, this monastery is built on the site where the Buddha in a past life was said to have mastered the perfection of compassion by sacrificing his body to a mother tiger and her cubs. We will receive teachings from a Khenpo on topics such as Buddhist history, philosophy, practices, community, ethics, and meditation. We will also be sharing all meals with the monks and participating with them during the puja ceremony at the monastery. You will have the option to spend the whole retreat in “noble silence.”

August 27th:  We will venture by foot through the lush landscape and terraced fields to the town of Panauti.  This leisurely 4-6 hour day hike will expose us to the more rural side of Nepal, as we meander through villages, along footpaths that have been used as walking highways for generations.  We will have an opportunity to explore another historic city where Hindu and Buddhist religious monuments and iconography are situated side-by-side.

August 28th – 30th: Our final days will be spent in Boudha, one of the ancient spiritual sites of Kathmandu valley. Centered around one of the largest stupas in the world and a thriving Tibetan community, this location offers a space for reflection.  These final days of the course are what we call “Transference.” Collectively, we will pull together the threads that we have been learning about and try to draw some meaning and conclusions. On top of this we will make time for celebration as we end our time together, and discuss ways in which we could best integrate all we learned into our lives back home.

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Rest assured that another yak will be posted shortly going over arrival information in detail.

Thank you so much for joining us on this journey. We are thrilled to get the chance to share this experience with you!

Your Instructor Team,

Shannon & Suren