IN & AROUND CHITWAN, POKHARA & KATHMANDU
PMGY volunteer in Nepal participants are offered a choice of rural and urban locations in this stunning country with volunteer programs in Chitwan, Pokhara & Kathmandu. Each location is unique in its own way!
This off-the-beaten-track destination offers such stark and beautiful scenic contrasts from mountains to jungle and there are few countries in the world that are as well set up for independent travel as Nepal. Wandering the trekking shops, bakeries and pizzerias of Thamel and Pokhara, it’s easy to feel that you have somehow landed in a kind of backpacker Disneyland.
Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.
Chitwan is located in the vast flat and fertile Terai region close to the Indian border. The main city in the region of Chitwan is Bharatpur. Paddy fields, ox-towed carts and an array of wildlife, make this a perfect location for those seeking a quieter and more rural atmosphere. However, there are still plenty of activities to do in your spare time: bird watching, jungle safari and white-water rafting. Whether you cross the country by mountain bike, motorbike, raft or tourist bus, Nepal offers an astonishingly diverse array of attractions and landscapes.
Far from the earthquake epicentre, and almost unaffected by the disaster, Pokhara is blessed with spectacular scenery and a booming adventure sports scene. One of the world’s best paragliding spots, surrounded by white-water rivers and the gateway to the world-famous Annapurna range treks. What’s not to love about this laid-back, lakeside town with views of snow-capped mountains just 20km away. You’ll find everything you need here from western restaurants and international hospitals to markets and boating on the lake.
Kathmandu is Nepal’s capital and only major city. It is a bustling metropolis rooted in history and rich in culture. Filled with temples, palaces and courtyards, the unique architectural heritage and religious influence make it a fascinating location to live. The 2015 earthquake brought devastation to parts of the city. Stroll through the backstreets and Kathmandu’s timeless cultural and artistic heritage will reveal itself through the hidden temples overflowing with marigolds, courtyards full of drying chilies and rice, and tiny hobbit-sized workshops.
This square, where the city’s kings were once crowned and ruled from, remains the traditional heart of the old town and Kathmandu’s most spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. It’s easy to spend hours wandering around this Unesco World Heritage Site, with its popular watch-the-world-go-by temples. Unfortunately, the square bore the brunt of Kathmandu’s 2015 earthquake damage. Half a dozen temples collapsed, as did several towers in the Hanuman Dhoka Palace complex, but it’s still a fabulous complex to explore.
ROYAL PALACE - HANUMAN DHOKA
Kathmandu’s Royal Palace, known as the Hanuman Dhoka dates back as far as the 4th century AD, although it was expanded considerably in the 17th century. It gets its name from the stone image of Hanuman, the Hindu deity, that sits near the main entryway. ‘Dhoka’ means door or gate in Nepali. Sadly, this sprawling palace was hit hard by the 2015 earthquake and damage was extensive. It has been reopened however and visitors still have access while the Nepalese go about reconstructing this beautiful complex.
GOLDEN TEMPLE - KWA BAHAL
Untouched by the earthquake, this unique Buddhist monastery is just north of Durbar Square. It was allegedly founded in the 12th century, and it has existed in its current form since 1409. The temple gets its name from the gilded metal plates covering the front and is one of the most beautiful in Patan. Outside of winter, look for the tortoises pottering around the compound – these are the temple guardians. It’s worth ducking south to see the small, two-tiered Uma Maheshwar Temple and the handsome stone Gauri Shankar Temple.
Another Unesco World Heritage Site, the journey up to the Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath is one of the definitive experiences of Kathmandu. Mobbed by monkeys and soaring above the city on a lofty hilltop, the ‘Monkey Temple’ is centred on a gleaming white stupa, topped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of the Buddha. Coming to Swayambhunath is an intoxicating experience, with ancient carvings jammed into every spare inch of space and the smell of incense and butter lamps hanging heavy in the air.
The Nepal Himalaya is the ultimate goal for most mountain lovers. Some of the Himalaya’s most iconic and accessible hiking is on offer here, with rugged trails to Everest, the Annapurnas and beyond. Nowhere else can you trek for days in incredible mountain scenery. Then there’s the adrenaline kick of rafting a roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into a bottomless Himalayan gorge. Canyoning, climbing, kayaking, paragliding and mountain biking all offer a rush against the backdrop of some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes.
PMGY ORGANISED WEEKEND TRIPS
PMGY operate a number of amazing weekend trips in Nepal. Everything is planned for you by a PMGY member of staff who knows the country inside and out, which is the ideal way to travel. As with everything in life though it pays to be organised, so if you have your heart set on any of the trips below and would like to be guaranteed a place please book well in advance of travel.
If you’ve already signed up to one of our programs and would like to book, click the book button below. If you haven’t signed up already, you can add the weekend tour onto your trip during the online application form. Please note places on weekend tours are non-refundable and non-transferable.
CHITWAN SAFARI WEEKEND TRIP (INDEPENDENT) - NPR 14,000 pp.
INCLUDES - TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, MEALS & ENTRANCE FEES
Chitwan National Park lies is the subtropical south-central Nepal, boasting an abundance of wildlife and bordered by the Narayani River, creating a natural boundary to the surrounding villages. This World Heritage Site protects a huge area of grassland and forests, inhabited by Bengal tigers, sloth bears, monkeys, rhinos, leopards and deer. This is the perfect place for wildlife lovers in Nepal, there are thought to be over 500 species of birds living here too!
The best way to explore is a safari around the jungle and marshland, with a guided tour to help you spot those camouflaged tigers and learn about the one-horned rhinoceros. You can glide along the Narayani River by canoe and join the Tharu cultural dancers for a bit of Nepalese tradition!
DAY ONE - TRAVEL TO CHITWAN
We will be heading to Chitwan by Tourist Bus this morning from your project location. Please note that depending on your location the journey may take a few hours due to the road quality and traffic.
After freshening up it’s time for some lunch and some rest. Depending on the weather and season the following activities may be rearranged on your schedule to maximise your experience in Chitwan National Park.
In the evening you can experience the traditional songs and dances from the Tharu culture. This is a unique display of colourful costumes and instruments, with the chance to get involved and join them on stage!
DAY TWO - CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK
We’ll be heading into Chitwan National Park by jeep or bicycle to spot the rhinos, tigers and bears, so get your camera ready! You’ll get a guide on your tour to point out the wildlife hiding behind the trees! The terrain here is the perfect tiger habitat, and there are leopards lurking outside of their territory too. Chitwan is famous for hosting the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, This National Park is also believed to have the highest population density of sloth bears too, a relatively small and very furry brown creature, with very long claws! You may also find monkeys, crocodiles, boar, porcupines and beautiful species of birds.
On the way back we can stop off at the Elephant Breeding Centre to see the local efforts of protecting the endangered elephants in the region.
There’s also a chance to hop in a Canoe along the Narayani River, spotting the birds and crocodiles along the way! Hopefully, we can catch a nice view of the sunset to end a great day.
DAY THREE - TRAVELLING TO PROJECTS
It’s time to head back to your projects after breakfast, with a chance to reflect on your trip on your bus journey home.
POKHARA & ANNAPURNA WEEKEND TRIP (INDEPENDENT) - NPR 21,000 pp.
INCLUDES - TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, MEALS & ENTRANCE FEES
The lakeside town of Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Region, stretching around Phewa Lake, where the Tal Barahi Temple sits proudly in the centre. The landscape here is breath-taking, with a panoramic view of the Himalayas lining the edge of the city.
There are tonnes to do around the lakeside, however, Pokhara is famous for being the base for trekkers into the Annapurna Mountain Range, so you can only imagine how spectacular the views are from both the city below and the peaks above! If you’re up for an adventure it’s time to stretch your legs and head to the mountains for a weekend trek, complete with stunning sunrise views and buckets of Dal Bhat to fuel you!
DAY ONE - EXPLORING POKHARA LAKESIDE
After freshening up it’s time for some sightseeing! We’ll have a walk around the lakeside to explore the shops, bars and yoga hideouts – you can haggle all your last-minute trekking gear here too! We may have the chance to hop on a boat to enjoy Phewa Lake from the water, for a relaxing ride to take in the beauty of the scenery and watching the paragliders circle above.
DAY TWO - TREKKING KANDE - DHAMPUS
Get your walking boots on as it’s time to hit the mountain! After breakfast, we’ll be catching the local bus to the small town of Kande, where our trek will start.
From Kande to Dhampus it takes around 5 hours, hiking uphill past mountain villages, farm terraces and forests. Be prepared as the ascent can get pretty steep! Most of the track is natural mountain terrain or uneven stone steps. We’ll stop for lunch on the way, with many rest breaks to catch your breath and take in the views!
DAY THREE - SUNRISE
There’s nothing more magical than watching the sunrise through the mountains, so we’ll be up early to marvel at the sight! You can admire the view with the Annapurna Himalaya silhouette against the pastel rainbow sky.
We’ll head back to the tea house for some breakfast, then begin the trek down to Phedi. This area is dotted with Gurung villages, a culture that traces back to Tibet after the communities migrated to the Himalayan foothills centuries ago.
The weekend offers another opportunity to learn and get immersed in the Nepali culture. As you walk around you can visit the villages and temples, practise the local language and experience a taste of mountain life.
When we reach Phedi we’ll take a bus back to Pokhara for a well-deserved lunch feast. And the fun doesn’t stop there! There’ll be some free time for sightseeing in the afternoon. We’ll head up to Davi’s Falls, a beautiful waterfall that descends into an underground tunnel to Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave.
DUBAI RETURN STOPOVER TRIP (INDEPENDENT) – 300 USD pp.
INCLUDES - PRIVATE AIRPORT TRANSFERS, ACCOMMODATION, BREAKFAST & ACTIVITIES
Maximise your time overseas with PMGY by finishing your trip with a long weekend in the glamorous Dubai. Plan your flight schedule to grab an opportunity to spend 4 days and 3 nights in this powerhouse of a city. There is no better city for a stopover trip on your way home than Dubai!
Dubai is a glamorous playground, full of innovative and ambitious projects. The world’s tallest building is found in Dubai standing at an impressive 828 metres. A feat of engineering, it won’t take you long to point out the Burj Khalifa. The world’s largest artificial island is another impressive landmark Dubai boasts. So impressive, the palm tree-shaped island can be seen from space!
Your trip includes a city tour, so you don’t miss any of the best bits of Dubai. Furthermore, you will enjoy an exhilarating 4×4 excursion across the deserts of Dubai. You’ll be sandboarding down huge dunes, taking a camel ride and getting a henna tattoo! The trip is topped off with a delicious barbecue dinner under the twinkling Arabian stars. Enjoy your final night feast whilst taking in a traditional Tanura dance performance.
DAY ONE - WELCOME TO DUBAI!
Welcome to Dubai! You will be met at Dubai International Airport by a PMGY representative. They will be holding a name sign and have a meeting point in place. The specific pick up instructions will be emailed to you a few days before you arrive into Dubai.
DAY TWO - DUBAI CITY TOUR
After breakfast, it’s time to hit the city and see what Dubai is all about! You will be collected from either the hotel itself or a common pick up point located close to the hotel. Across the day, there will be plenty of old and new Dubai city highlights to be visited! This will include Dubai Museum, Dubai Spice Souk, Dubai Mall, The Dubai Fountain and Jumeirah Mosque.
DAY THREE - DESERT SAFARI
The thrill-seeker inside you will come alive as we embark on a thrilling desert safari in an adventurous 4×4 vehicle. In addition, you will enjoy a range of other fun activities such as a camel ride, henna tattoo and sandboarding. As the sun sets on your final night in Dubai and the final night of your trip, we will enjoy an evening meal in the middle of the desert. A delicious BBQ dinner in a Bedouin-style tent awaits you. Enjoy your food as you take in a magnificent desert sunset and a traditional Tanura dance.
DAY FOUR - TIME FOR HOME!
Tuesday is your last day in Dubai and the final part of your trip with PMGY. We will arrange your return airport drop off in time for your flight home. Please note that this is included in your fees. Therefore, your PMGY representative on the trip will be in touch during your time in Dubai to arrange this.