I T I N E R A R Y — Feb 6 - 19, 2020 ( 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 - 3 — Bhaktapur & Kathmandu Valley
We will focus our attention on the last week of the month-long Swasthani festival, where approximately 200 women have been praying & fasting. Following in their footsteps, we will witness firsthand the rituals & ceremonies these women practice daily from sunrise to sunset at different sacred sites in the Kathmandu Valley. This part of the photography tour will require some flexibility, since the Swasthani pilgrims’ itinerary is not fixed until just 2-3 days beforehand. During this time, 1 or 2 workshops will be conducted, depending on the group’s need or desire, using the festival as a subject for practicing the photography techniques learned in the workshops.
Day 4 — Dakshinkali
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.
Day 5 - 6 — Sankhu & Kathmandu Valley
Today marks the final day of the Swasthani festival. Amazing photographic opportunities arise as the pilgrims complete their month-long ascetic routines with spectacular ceremonies and moments of profound intimacy between the participants who shared the rigors of this journey. The Sankhu community, who hosts this annual event, is bursting with festivities as the sun sets and the month-long festival comes to a close.
Return to Bhaktapur and 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.
Dates and Prices
DATES: Feb 6 - 19, 2020 — COSTS: $5,380 USD
TOUR LEADER: Mick Stetson PARTICIPANTS: Max. 7
1) All accommodations (single room), excluding the Lumle homestay; 2) All breakfasts during the tour & all meals during the Lumle homestay; ３) 3 dinners & 1 lunch (in transit to Pohkara); 4) Transportation from Kathmandu airport to Bhaktapur and back; 5) Bhaktapur historical city pass;
6) Overland transport for all travel during the tour, including Kathmandu to Pohkara and back; 7) A chartered minivan with driver (and lots of luggage space) to transport us safely and comfortably around the Kathmandu Valley & Pohkara for the entire trip; 8) A cultural tour guide throughout the tour to provide historical background information, enabling Mick to give full attention to the photographical needs and queries of the group.