Did you know that Nepal is the only nation in the world with a triangular flag?! Neither did I. This was the first of many surprises that I uncovered on my exploratory trip to Nepal. Having never visited before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but on receiving an impressive itinerary from the team at Distant Frontiers DMC, the bar was set high.
Our whirlwind adventure began in the heart of Kathmandu. Upon landing at the international airport there is a short transfer, bringing you to the heart of this vibrant city. Whilst there are many hotel options, our home for the night was the Marriot Kathmandu hotel, set perfectly within the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a great way to spend your first evening and soak up the ambience.
To give you a taste of what is on offer, Kathmandu could be described as the crossroads of the ancient civilisations of Asia. Home to over 130 historical monuments including several Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites, I would describe it as a harmonious clash of cultures.
Our first afternoon was spent exploring the iconic sites of Boudhanath Stupa and Durbar Square, winding our way through the narrow alleys with our expert local guide, Abid, before stumbling upon the White Monastery for a unique blessing ceremony by the resident monks! As the sun set on the city, we enjoyed a spin on a rickshaw, gliding through Thamel we reached our final stop of the day – the beautiful grounds of the Garden of Dreams. This is a wonderful location and has the added bonus of being able to host prestigious gala events. Here we enjoyed a tasty meal at the resident Kaiser Café before heading back to the hotel for a nightcap.
Day two saw us depart from the city in jeeps, heading for the hills, we were set for an invigorating hiking experience. Led by our very own Everest summiteer, Sherpa Singee. Singee made the trip unforgettable, treating us to incredible tales of Everest and his many years of travelling the mountain. Singee instinctively knew where he was going, treating the group to breath-taking views, and giving us a real insight into Nepalese life as we explored the local villages.
Before long, we stumbled into our perfectly positioned picnic lunch, feasting on local delicacies and blissfully inhaling the mountain air. After lunch we continued our hike to our home for the night, Dwarika’s Dhulikhel Resort, where we were met with a traditional welcome and a pre-dinner soak in the hot tub!
Set over 20 beautiful acres of land, Dwarika’s Dhulikhel Resort offers panoramic views of the Himalayas. This unique boutique property embraces Nepal’s ancient philosophy of respect for nature and one’s self, providing a fully immersive holistic experience. Pre-dinner, we assembled in the Zero Zone Meditation Maze for an in-house priest blessing ceremony before tucking in to a 3-course meal at the hotel’s impressive restaurant.
Following a very restful sleep, it was time to explore the multiple activities available onsite, as well as cast our eye over the unique private event spaces. With its own helipad, the resort can provide a direct route to Everest Base Camp offering a real once in a lifetime experience, with options to enhance this with a champagne breakfast. From here we made our way on to Bhaaktapur Durbar Square to try our hand at traditional ‘Momo’ making, hosted by a local restaurant. We enjoyed lunch from the rooftop overlooking the square, as we explored creative gala dinner options to include atmospheric lighting and cultural entertainment processions through the square, to mark the occasion. In the evening, we were taken on a culinary journey of Nepalese fine dining with a 6-course meal hosted at the Krishnarpan restaurant within the Dwarika’s sister property in Kathmandu. The beautifully designed hotel oozes elegance, offering a treasure trove of unique artefacts from the 13th century. The evening was hosted by Sangita Shrestha, the hotel’s owner. She perfectly illustrated the decadence of the hotel, retelling gripping stories of the hotel’s iconic history.
The last day was set to be the best yet. Despite the early start and bleary eyes, the atmosphere was electric as we boarded our mountain flight to experience the Himalayan mountain range up close! We toasted to Mount Everest’s summit. It was the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the past few days and how privileged we had been to have had this once in a lifetime experience. With feet firmly back on the ground, we made our way on to our last stop of the day, via Pashupatinath Temple, to Patan Durbar Square. We were about to enjoy a magic singing bowl experience and a unique interactive session with an ex Kumari. After a swift lunch we said our goodbyes and headed on to the airport for our return journey home, taking our memories with us.
It is fair to say that this whistle stop adventure of Nepal has ignited a fire within me. I definitely want to return, as I feel I've only scratched the surface of Nepalese possibilities. This truly unique destination has it all – rich culture, ancient history and the wow factor. Traveling with the team at Distant Frontiers was a real pleasure as their meticulous attention to detail proved that they had taken care of every eventuality. From personalised water bottles and hiking gear, to beautifully crafted singing bowl pillow gifts. The subtle touches allowed the group to experience the destination as our guests would – like true VIPs! I can’t wait to showcase my findings to our clients.
By Holly Mills
Beginning her career in incentive travel in 2007 Holly is an expert in delivering once in a lifetime experiences to reward and recognise groups.More articles by Holly Mills