Here, we have the outline of TENTATIVE itinerary for your time in Nepal. As the dates of your arrival in Nepal is near the horizon, we are very excited, and we want to present you the overview of the upcoming three months. Here, we have mentioned dates and time frame, so that you can have good idea about the time we will be spending on different components of our program. We also want to let you know that it is subject to CHANGE due to various circumstances – unavoidable weather conditions, medical emergencies, potential logistical hurdles etc. But again, this is one inherent aspect of traveling- embracing changes and flexibility, and at many times, those unexpected changes make our travel even more memorable. However, we want to ensure you that we will have an incredible time in Nepal.
8th Feb: Arrival
Welcome to Nepal!! This day we will get together as a group at Tribhuvan International Airport. We instructors will arrive at the airport to receive you. We will be waiting outside the ARRIVAL section with a Dragons shirt and some sort of sign. Don’t stress about finding us- it’s a small airport, so you will see us when you get out.
Feb 8th– 12th : Orientation
Orientation is time for us to introduce and get to know each other. For orientation, we will drive to Bhaktapur; a beautiful city within Kathmandu valley with ancient temples and courtyards. We will settle ourselves into a guesthouse and spend about four days there. Within this time, we will introduce you to Nepali language, culture and activities that will establish our group culture. We will also spend time exploring alleyways of Bhaktapur and observing its arts and architecture.
Feb 13th – 15th : Valley rim trek
After orientation, we will go on our mini-trek around the hills of Kathmandu valley. We will spend about 3 days exploring incredible terrain of mountain-like hills, getting visual treat of the Himalayas and lodging in guesthouses along the way. On our final day, we will descend down from the trails of Shivapuri National park and stop at Boudhanath; an ancient stupa which is a cultural hub for many Buddhists.
Feb 16th – 14th March: Urban Homestay at Patan
Patan is another city rich in history, art and architecture. We are so lucky to get to spend 4 weeks exploring its ins and outs, spending time with our homestay families and — Some of our time in Patan will be quite structured, as described below, but you will have time to explore the city independently.
Monday-Friday in Patan: Each morning the group will meet at our program house to eat breakfast, check-in with each other about how we’re doing and have your Nepali language class. Some days we will also make time to hear from incredible guest speakers – artists, musicians, activists! Other days we will have student or instructor led discussions and dive deeper into topics that we’re passionate about.
After lunch together, you’ll spend the afternoons doing your Independent Study Projects (ISPs). There are so many options, a few include: wood or silver carving, painting, tailoring, cooking, photography, a host of musical instruments and Ayurvedic medicine.
Saturday & Sunday: The weekend will be devoted to spending time with your homestay families, but also exploring the city and its surrounding areas through student led expeditions.
March 15th – 17th : Mid-course
Mid-course is a time where we mark the middle of our course, reflecting on the experiences we have had and thinking about ways we can make our time in Nepal more fruitful.
March 18th – 25th : Buddhist Retreat at Namo Buddha
After the reflective transition of mid-course, we will be on our way to Namo Buddha, a historically significant place for Buddhists in Nepal. At Namo, we will follow monastic schedule of Thrangu Tashi Yangste monastery, observing daily rituals and have routinely meals with monks. Our time here will also be marked by daily teachings and meditation sessions from our Khempo La(a highly learned monk).
March 26th – 31st : Expedition Phase
Following Namo Buddha, we will step into Expedition Phase. One of the most exciting opportunities you will have on your semester will be to plan and execute something called an Expedition or X-Phase. You’ll book tickets, plan activities, lead discussions. This is a time when instructors take a step back so that you all can begin to cultivate important travel and leadership skills.
April 1st – 3rd : Rest Days
After the completion of Expedition phase, we will settle in Kathmandu for a few days to debrief its learnings and take a break before we head on to more rugged travel. During these few days, you will have the opportunity to get proper briefing about the long trek and village homestay. Meanwhile, you will also have the opportunity to buy essential gears and supplies; if required, for trek and rural homestay.
April 4th– 10th : Rural Homestay in Chokati Village
Following the rest days, we will head to our rural homestay in Chokati, east of Kathmandu. Similar to the Patan homestay, you will live with families, but this time in an entirely different setting. Here, we’ll work with families in their homes and fields, discuss issues surrounding development, service and progress, to name a few. You will also get the chance to use your newly acquired language skills to communicate with and get to know the community.
April 11th – 26th : Rolwaling trek
The mountains are calling!! After rural homestay we will directly start our trek through Gaurishankar National Park. These two weeks we’ll find ourselves in the midst of the Himalayas and in some of the most breathtaking places. We will trek along Rolwaling valley that has also been used for time immemorial as a pilgrimage route. In fact, Padmasambhava; a tantric yogi who brought Buddhism to Tibet, is believed to have meditated in different high-cliff caves along the valley. This trek will take us through traditional Sherpa villages with Yaks, and to Tsho Rolpa; a glacial lake(15030ft), that lies above the valley.
April 27th – May 30th : Transference
Before we come to the end of our time together, we like to take time to reflect on the months we’ve spent together, but also think about how we can carry this trip forward into the next phase of our lives. At Dragons, we call this Transference. This intentional, often emotional and important time together will mark the end of our semester, but the beginning of something new and just as special .
Tsheten, Alena and Nick