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May 19th, 2008, 10:13 AM
  #1
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...Which town for Himalayian views?

I was hoping someone would be able to help me finish up my Nepal itinerary. My husband and I are traveling to Nepal in October with my 77 year old mother-in-law and our 21 year old daughter. We would love to spend a couple nights in a mountain village to experience Nepal's rural country-side...we will not be treking but would still love to be in the mountains.

We plan to spend a few days in Kathmandu and Chitwan and would like to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city to get a more complete feel of Nepal. I would really appreciate any input.
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May 20th, 2008, 04:45 PM
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I hope my son or daughter will take me to Nepal when I am 77. You are good people.
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May 20th, 2008, 08:09 PM
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Hello Erwen,
Greetings froom Nepal..

It's nice hearing from you that you are heading to nepal with your families and ofcourse october is one of the best season travelling to Nepal.Generally,weather in october get pretty cold and ofcourse you should bring some warm clothes and here I came to know that your mother-in-law is still travelling together with you that's why she should have warm clothes right?

Well, as I am working in tourism here in Nepal I may suggest you to stay couple of days near kathmandu which is call Nagarkot(1,984mt)and that is best mountain to spend time together with your family and you will be able to see such a wonderful and panaromic view of eastern himalayan range like as Mt.Everest,Makalu,Kanchanjanga and many more.

To visit Nagarkot you may hire car or some other comfortable vehicle and takes one and half hour and on the way you may visit one old heritage sites which is known by Bhaktapur City.

Later you may travel to Chitwan and even you don't need to stop to Kathmandu, I mean to say you may go to Chitwan directly from Nagarkot and of course you will touch kathmandu city but you will be away from crowed,dusty,polution..

Please write here for further assistance and of course I will be glad to share my work experience with you. Thanking you
regards
Nakul Devkota
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May 20th, 2008, 08:39 PM
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I have to say, I was unimpressed with Nagarkot. I'm heading back to Nepal in October, and have been research some new things to do. A regular poster here, dogster, recommended this place to me http://www.villa-srilanka.com/apanepal/index.htm

It's a spot not terribly far from Kathmandu and it looks very interesting. I can't vouch for it myself, but dogster loved it and recommended it.
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May 20th, 2008, 08:44 PM
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Oops! In re-reading the info, it appears you need to be able to walk for an hour or two to get to the lodging, probably not practical for a 77 year old.

I realize that we were in Nagarkot in December - it should be clearer in October. WHen we were last there, there was really no place to stay in Nagarkot. Perhaps there is now.
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May 21st, 2008, 10:48 AM
  #6
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Thanks for the replies.. I had to chuckle to myself reading Elaniee's "good people" comment. I have to admit that I sometimes question my wisdom in planning a trip to Nepal with my 77 year old mother-in-law. Don't get me wrong, she is a healthy, wonderful, easy-going women... but she is a bit of a novice when it comes to travelling. However, she really wants to travel with us and has instructed me to plan the trip as I normally would and that she will just tag-a-long. I really want this to be a trip of a lifetime for her!

While lurking on this site, I did find Dogster's tip about the Apa Villa property. It looks absolutely wonderful but I did see the walking requirement and feel this would be too much for mom. Although, I just read that a 4x4 could be arranged for transport weather permitting. If Dogster is reading... I'd love to hear more about this property and its surroundings.

We have a daytrip to Nagarkot planned but I'd still love to stay somewhere for a few nights where we can get a mountain village experience.

The travel agent I'm working with suggested flying to Pokhra and staying at the Shangri La. But I don't know about staying in the valley I think I'd prefer to be up in the hills to enjoy the incredible views from up high. It would be great to be in the mountains without having to trek. I saw Tiger Tops has a property in Pokhra but it is a bit pricey. Anyone know of any alternatives?

Kathie.. I'd love to hear more about your itinerary. Any suggestions or tips you have from your first trip would really be appreciated.
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May 21st, 2008, 12:06 PM
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Here I am. Still in Kathmandu. If you think you could possibly make it to Hans Hoefer's magical place then do it. It's EXACTLY what you're after. Views in October should be stunning. It CAN be reached by car but you'd really need a 4WD. My transport arrangements were all a bit last minute [having been chucked out of the Fort Resort at an hour's notice - yet another Nepali strike] and the cab [or the stressed driver]just couldn't deal with the last 1/2 mile of roads. Leaving was also a similar great adventure that I was happy to roll with.

But planning could easily solve this. Their local rep - a Mr. Kailashman - should be able to find you a stress-free way up to Paradise.

I'd suggest an E-mail to [email protected]
explaining your problem might bring about the result you need. I'm sure that a 4WD is easy to get. Once you're there it's a short walk to the villages. Easy. I was completely happy just discovering the property for 3 days - drinking in the big and the small of it. Govinda and Mr. Tiger will look after you.

So, don't abandon hope just yet. This place is such a rarity, such a wonderful folly in such a stunning, stunning location that I'd love you to persevere -

Any questions - just ask - I'm around for the next couple days.

Kathmandu was totally still, not a car on the streets today. Strike. Yesterday was Lord Buddha's birthday. Now, THAT was a party. Those same streets around Boudha were packed with a humongous parade.

Never boring, Kathmandu. Not for an instant.
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May 21st, 2008, 01:03 PM
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And a word on those sweeping Himalayan views: mostly they aren't there.

Smoke haze outside Kathmandu is as bad as the pollution inside the Basin. By about 9.00 a.m., it's all over red rover.

So a day trip to Nagarkot isn't necessarily gonna get you anywhere - if views are what you're after. And there ain't anything else in Nagarkot BUT views for the non-trekker. Just a string of ugly hotels and a road. Dhulikiel is worse. There the town is ugly as well.

I spent six days stranded in Pokhara last year and never once saw anything that resembled a view after 9 a.m. I did once, very grumpily, get up before dawn for the obligatory 'Sunrise Over The Bloody Himalayas' and, yes, they were there. Kinda.

But MAYBE you get lucky, maybe there's rain the night before, maybe there's a full moon, maybe, just when you're least expecting it, whoever is in charge decides to reward you for taking your 77 yr. old mother-in-law to Nepal - THEN you'll see it. And that's just fine.

Mountain views, like the Chitwan tigers, appear according to their own whim. Which I kinda like. Kathmandu reveals itself in a similar fashion: suddenly, without warning, there's a revelation in the midst of a polluted hell-hole.

But only if you have eyes to see.

AND a good guide - there are some shockers in Kathmandu. To be fair: the Three Ages of the Erwench family would stretch any guide. Dealing with a group of four with ages from 21 to 77 will, at first, bring out that familiar look of strangled politeness that the Nepalis do so well. BUT, you're a family. You can guide HIM.

I'd be doing a little gentle preparation with mom-in-law on the general level of disgustingness in KTM if she is, as you say, a bit of a novice - but, judging by some of the intrepid travellers of the same vintage I've shared the road with on recent occasion she might just surprise you all. Funnily enough, the 21 year-old daughter might have more issues in Nepal than the 77 yr. old.
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May 21st, 2008, 02:32 PM
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LOL, dogster, I expect you're right that the 21 year old may well have more difficulties with the sanitation (lack of)in Kathmandu than the 77 year old!
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May 21st, 2008, 02:58 PM
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I totally agree! This trip should be a real eye opening experience for my daughter. Exactly what I hope to accomplish by taking her to Nepal at such a pivitol time of her life. She is graduating from college this month after having studied foreign politics and has so many opinions about the world... I really want her to get a taste of the everyday challenges that face so many around the globe. An experience that will hopefully change the way she lives thinks about her life.

Dogster... your enthusiasm has convinced me that Hans Hoefer's property is a must during our time in Nepal. I love to find places or experiences that are a bit off the beaten track. Thank you for finding and sharing this property. Would you suggest 2 or 3 nights here?

We are currently planning to stay several nights at Dwarikas with a side trip to Chitwan but I'm open to any suggestions. When you refer to Kathmandu as a "polluted hell-hole" it makes me question if we should stay in one of the outlying towns instead... may Bhaktapur with day trips to Kathmandu? Would it really make any difference?

Thank you so much for your help Dogster. If you have any favorite restaurants or sights that you feel are not to be missed (excluding the usual suspects) I'd love to hear about them.

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May 21st, 2008, 06:35 PM
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If you feel seeing the Himalayas is a must do for you, take the flight. I did so on my previous trip, and it was spectacular. However, I don't feel the need to do it again... perhaps because I see snow-capped mountains most days from home.

I don't know that our itinerary will be of much help to you. We're staying in Kathmandu and going to spend our time in the Katmandu Valley. We are very interested in Buddhism and Buddhist arts, so will spend a fair amount of time at Buddhist sites. We're also interested in local crafts and will be looking for some interesting items. We'll visit all three of the cities in the valley, and will wander the back streets. Bhaktapur is really lovely and fascinating.

I'm not sure there are really places to stay in Bhaktapur other than inexpensive guesthouses. I expect Dogster knows more. As dirty and chaotic as Kathmandu is, we're staying in the city. I feel like for me it's necessary to really experience the place.
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May 21st, 2008, 08:19 PM
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We stayed in Nagarkot last September. The drive up was nice, the countryside views were pretty. We stayed at the Niva Niwa Lodge. It's Japanese owned but looks like a european lodge. It's seen better days. I wouldn't suggest staying there. It wasn't bad, just a bit run down. You are correct. All I saw was a street and a few hotels. The views from our lodge were beautiful, but the fog rolled in quickly. We got up @ 5:30 and only saw a little bit of the mountain view. I hear you can really see the mountains in October though. Now the hotel next door looked prettier and busier. It is called Hotel Country Villa. http://www.hotelcountryvilla.com/
I think there was only 1 other couple at our hotel and it was a very quiet evening. Nothing to do but have dinner at the hotel. The hotel next door had several people therefore much more fun and it did look much nicer. We did have a guide with us the following morning and took us for a 3 hour walk thru the countryside. That was so much fun. The people were very friendly and the vistas were spectacular. I must admit the Apa Villa looks absolutely beautiful though.

We stayed at the Kathmandu Guesthouse. I thought it would be too run down, but it was so much fun. Lots of interesting people, all ages and right in the shopping district.
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May 22nd, 2008, 01:19 AM
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Of course, stay in KTM - regardless. If Dwarika's takes your fancy, then stay there. Look for the thread [not far back] called 'Dogster? Dwarikas.' for my point by point comparison of Dwarikas vs Hyatt. It's perfectly fine there - but you must specify you want SOFT beds - AND get it in writing AND make sure you get them.
Even then, their idea of 'soft' and mine do not coincide. Just deal with them direct thru their website.

Your travel agent is almost certainly giving you the classic 10 day tourist shlep. Is this a local tour agent? What itinerary is he/she offering you? If not a local one, then which local company are they working thru?

I confess, I've never once been to Chitwan - but I do note that the Tiger Tops properties are expensive. Do a seach on 'Kathmandu' in here - you'll find a post 'Review of Nepal Hotels' which will give you info on Tiger Tops Pokhara.

Definately, FLY to Pokhara. Personally, I found it less than inspiring. Let's see what others say...

As you can already see, Nepal is full of lousy travel agents who will tell you anything to sell you anything. They don't represent the Nepali people at all. They also have great trouble thinking outside the square. The itinerary is EVERYTHING. That you might want to do something NOT in the normal touristy package can be difficult for them. [This applies in a lotta places in Asia - not just Nepal]

Maybe other contributors in here can suggest a good one - I found Kathmandu Travels and Tours, just over the road from Dwarikas, to be efficient. Over-priced, but efficient. Remember tho', that 4 people travelling together is a far more cost-efficient package than one solitary dogster. They will, most certainly, have NEVER heard of Hoefer's place.

DON'T get conned into long drives. 3 hours is more than enough on any one day. Verrrry pretty tho'. I could go on - let me know your planned itinerary eh?
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May 22nd, 2008, 12:11 PM
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One other thought. When I did my research for my trip to Nepal in 1994, I was considering going to Chitwan. After a lot of research and correspondence with various travelers, I decided that if we went to a wildlife area, it would be the less-visited Bardia. In the end, we didn't go to either, but you might want to look into it as an alternative to Chitwan.
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May 23rd, 2008, 06:51 PM
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Here's the itinerary as proposed by Tapas of Trintera Tours based in India. We were initially planning to travel to India but after researching have changed plans completely and now are focusing on Nepal. Since I had already developed a good relationship with Trintera I am asking them to arrange our trip. We are keeping the Taj Mahal visit from our earlier plans for my mother-in-law... I really would rather skip this as it seems so out of the way but I want to keep mom happy and she has told me she would hate to miss the Taj.

Day 1 USA to Delhi arrive 0330 stay Taj Mahal Hotel Delhi (club room with early check-in)
Day 2 Delhi- tour of Old/New Delhi
Day 3 Drive to Agra- Taj Mahal stay Taj View Hotel
Day 4 Return to Delhi- Dinner with Tapas and his family
Day 5 Fly to Kathmandu. Afternoon tour of city -overnight Dwarika
Day 6 Morning Everest Flight. Later tour Bhaktapur. Possible visit to Nagarkot- weather permitting
Day 7 Drive to Chitwan overnight Jungle Lodge
Day 8 Chitwan
Day 9 Drive Chitwan to Pokhara ?
(May change this to Apa Villa Phulbari) ?Need distance between locations?
Day 10 Pokhara vs Phulbari
Day 11 Pokhara vs Phulbari
Day 12 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu overnight Dwarika or Hyatt
vs
Day 12 Drive to Kathmandu with flight back to Delhi
Day 13 Overnight Delhi
Day 14 Flight back to USA

Please feel free to give opinions or advice. I'm not 100% settled on anything. I love the idea of an elephant safari and bathing elephants..the chance to be up close with elephants would be a unique experience for all. I realize its a long drive from Kathmandu to Chitwan... way over the 3 hour limit suggested by Dogster. Maybe there is a town or stop on the way from Kathmandu to Chitwan where we can stop overnight to break up the trip? Haven't checked a map but wonder is Phulbari closer to Chitwan than Kathmandu?



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May 23rd, 2008, 08:26 PM
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Here are my thoughts:

On day 6 - I wouldn't bother with Nagarkot - people typically go there only for the view. And you'll have a much better view from the plane. Bhaktapur is worth most of a day.

You have some looong drives in there, especially to Chitwan. Think about how much time you want to spend driving on not very good roads.

Personally, I'd substitute Apa Villa for Pokhara, then spend some more time in the Kathmandu Valley. You haven't mentioned Patan, and there is plenty to see in Kathmandu itself.

I'll be interested to see what dogster recommends.
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May 23rd, 2008, 09:51 PM
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I'm just about to jump on a plane to BKK so can't reply now: but you need to know that Apa Villas Phulbari is an hour out of KTM on the Bhaktapur/Dhulikel Road. [I'm sure there's a map on their site].

Which Jungle Lodge in Chitwan?\

I'll finish this tonite from BKK.
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May 24th, 2008, 03:29 AM
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Looking back over the information I see a tour of Patan is included on Day 12 after a morning flight back to Kathmandu from Pokhara.

The more I think about it I more I'm convinced that Apa Villa Phulbari is the best choice. It will eliminate the need for a flight and long drive to/from Pokhara. I especially like that its off the beaten path and will give us a chance to explore the beautiful country-side. I agree with eliminating the trip to Nagarkot since we are going to Phulbari. We will definately see mountains on our Everest Flight so no need to do the quick stop in Nagarkot.

Dogster, I'll need to check with the tour operator about which Jungle Lodge he listed... he wasn't specific. Hope you had a good flight!
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May 24th, 2008, 07:00 AM
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Now I'm in BKK.
A few random thoughts:
I appreciate you feel comfy with Trinetra tours - but I do have to say that Nepal is not their area of expertise. So, despite how nice they sound [and their website looks fine to me] you can't assume they know what they are talking about.

That said, it's not rocket science - if you feel good with them then stick with them. I'm sure that they'll look after you fine in India.

Check your flight times Delhi to Kathmandu. Which airline? Make sure, in their enthusiasm, Trinetra don't book you on a 6.00 a.m. flight. Which means you get up at 3.00 a.m. Arghhh. No fun.

Remember, you'll need US $40 [from memory] for your Nepal visa [get it at the airport on arrival - easy]

Dwarika's - try for room[s] on the top floor of the main block] 408 is the best. Do NOT use the taxis from the 'rank' outside. Check for inclusive deals on their website. www.dwarikas.com - Some deals include Nepali dinner/tours/pick up.

KTM: you're not, as Kathie has noted, giving yourself enough time. Noisy, polluted, crowded and crazy it is - but it's a damn interesting town. Two full days sightseeing min.

KTM to Chitwan - 5-6 hours drive. [think 7] No, there isn't a place to break the journey. Make sure you take packed lunch from Dwarika's - otherwise it'll be 'lunch in a local restaurant en route' - a phrase that strikes mortal fear in dogster.
Arrive late afternoon - doubtless straight on to a game drive - 2-3 hours min.
Next day: get an exact breakdown of what you'll be doing. It may well involve two game drives [2-3 hours each].
Next day: possible early morning game drive THEN drive another 5 - 6 hours, either to Pokhara or KTM.

Is this a holiday or an endurance test? How old is your mom-in-law? Can you fly to Chitwan or back - at least one way.

But, remember, I haven't been to Chitwan. Trip Advisor will give you reviews of the various jungle lodges. Check just how expensive yours is - then read the reviews.

Have you contacted Apa Villas Phulbari yet? Better check that all is cool with them before you go much further with your planning. Just write them yourself - you truly don't need a travel agent to do that. They'll reply in a jiffy.

Stay in same hotel in KTM at the beginning and end of your trip. Leave bulk luggage with them while you're in Chitwan and Phulbari/Pokhara. 4 people = mucho luggage.

There's a million more tips - but first, let's get your schedule in order. If you insist on Trinetra then you need to double check them in Nepal every inch of the way.

Ask for a breakdown of costs - Dwarikas will cost you $230 a night double. Hyatt $180 Club Floor.
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May 24th, 2008, 09:59 AM
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A couple more cautions:

Domestic flights within Nepal are VERY unreliable. They rarely run on time and sometimes don't fly at all. I certainly wouldn't count on having time to sight see after a "morning" flight from Pokhara (or anywhere else). So if you decide to follow approximately this itinerary, know that you will need to be flexible.

I mentioned that I did the research on Chitwan and Bardia years ago but didn't go. The reason we opted not to go to either park was the drive time. I didn't want to spend two full days of my vacation driving on terrible roads. If the park is really important to you, by all means do it, but pause and think about how important it is to you. You'll have 14-16 hours of driving for a full day at Chitwan. If it were me (and it isn't) I'd either up the amount of time in Chitwan or cut it entirely. Only you can decide whether it is worth it to you.
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