I T I N E R A R Y — Feb 12 - 25, 2018 ( 14 days )
Day 1 — Kathmandu, Nepal
Arrive in Kathmandu any time, transfer to our hotel in Bhaktapur (this will be our base-camp for the first week). In the evening, we will meet and get to know each other, ensuring that the group will be together and ready to begin the following morning.
Day 2 — Pashupati (Maha Shivaratri)
Before dawn, we will arrive at the temple of Pashupatinath, one of the most sacred destinations in Nepal. This is the day of the Maha Shivaratri festival where pilgrims from all over Nepal and India gather to worship the Hindu god, Shiva. Before all the crowds arrive, we can experience a kaleidoscope of color and a cacophony of sound as we wander through the area where the pilgrims and sadhus keep an all-night vigil with traditional drumming, chanting, storytelling and dancing. This is an amazing event where photographs abound and the memory of it lasts forever. Later we will return to Bhaktapur to photograph the Shivaratri festival as it is practiced by the Newari people of this ancient city.
Day 3 & 4 — Bhaktapur & Kathmandu Valley
We will explore the ancient city of Bhaktapur (a UNESCO Universal Heritage site) and its surrounding environs, experiencing its people and traditions, including the Navadurga dancers as they visit different districts within the city. During this time, one workshop will be conducted (the content depending on the group’s need or interests), using the city and its people as a subject for practicing the photography techniques learned in the workshop.
Day 5 — Bodinath
At dawn, we will visit the Bodinath Stupa where amazing photographic opportunities arise when devout Buddhist pilgrims bearing candles & incense circumambulate the sacred stupa in an holy pre-dawn procession. Surrounding Asia’s largest stupa are more than 50 Tibetan monasteries, supporting a large community of Tibetan Buddhists and making Bodinath the center of Tibetan culture in the Kathmandu Valley.
On this 15th day of Losar (Tibetan New Year), Tibetan Buddhists celebrate the Butter Lamp Festival (Chonga Choepa) where elaborate displays of lamps in the shape of flowers, trees or birds are lit to commemorate one of the four events in the life of the Buddha.
After a workshop in the afternoon in Bhaktapur, we will return to Bodinath in the evening to photograph the pilgrims again as they conduct their prayers and ceremonies, taking advantage of the best light and capturing moments that may have been missed in the morning.
Day 6 — Dakshinkali, Kathmandu Valley
In the southern hills of the Kathmandu Valley, Dakshinkali is one of the most sacred sites for Hindu pilgrimages. The temple is dedicated to Parvati’s most bloodthirsty incarnation, Kali. As pilgrims bring goats, chickens, sheep and pigs to be sacrificed to the god, you will viscerally experience this visually exotic spiritual event. When a sacrifice is complete, the temple priests, who are also skilled butchers, prepare the carcass for the family to barbeque. The pilgrims then spend the rest of the day in the forest barbequing and eating the feast, nothing is wasted.
We will return to Bhaktapur and spend the rest of the day exploring the quiet, meandering streets and back alleys where few tourists walk. Bhaktapur contains a variety of architectural sites as well as ethnic and cultural traditions that are unique for photography. The itinerary today will be less demanding than the preceding days allowing time to rest and organize things as we prepare for the trip to Pohkara.
In the evening, we will enjoy a dinner and a slideshow of the group's best images for the week.
Day 7 & 8 — Pohkara
In the morning, we will travel to Pohkara along the Prithvi Highway where historic villages and ancient temples flank the valley road. Lunch will be provided either along the pristine, cascading water of the Trisuli River or in the ancient trade center of Bandipur (group members will decide).
That evening we will arrive at our hotel in Pohkara where you will be free to explore the lakeside at your leisure for the evening and the entire next day until we meet for dinner that evening (Day 8) and an overview of the next part of the journey.
Day 9 thru 12 — Annapurna Foothills
Transfer to our “homestay” in a beautiful village in the foothills of the Annapurna range. For the next 5 days, you will be immersed in the timeless scenes of village life in the Himalayan foothills. You will witness firsthand the authentic lives and work of villagers from the many small villages surrounding our base village.
All meals will be prepared and provided by local residents. On one of the evenings, there will be a Nepali cultural performance that is typical of this region, and on another evening there will be a photography workshop that will teach you techniques/methods for producing memorable photographs of village life.
Day 13 — Pohkara
Spend the morning exploring and photographing village life, then after lunch we will return to Pohkara. You will have the remaining part of the day to explore the lakeside.
In the evening enjoy a “farewell” dinner and celebration.
Day 14 — Kathmandu
Return to Kathmandu and transfer to the airport for your flight home.