Category: Nepal

Nepal itinerary with kids

Nepal with kids: a 16 day itinerary

Nepal is perhaps one of the most difficult countries we’ve travelled with the boys, but also one of the most rewarding. Seemingly short distances on a map take a full day bouncing around stomach-churning bends on old rusty buses, and dressing the kids in layers to keep them warm in the colder months can become a battle. Plus, I think my knees have only just forgiven me for all those steps on our 5 day trek to Poon Hill!  But hiking as a family amongst the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas was truly invigorating (and the boys are still talking about their doko adventures!), I’m still craving momos, and thinking about the genuine friendships we made with locals on our travels warms my heart.

If you’re looking for a true family adventure that is a little out of the ordinary and keeps the whole family happy, then Nepal could be for you! This is our 16 day itinerary for visiting Nepal kids. At the time, our boys were 2 and 4 years old.

Day 1-3 Kathmandu

Base yourself in Thamel, the main tourist district bursting with trekking shops and decorated with prayer flags. It’s just a 30 minute taxi ride from the airport and if you have pre-booked your hotel, they will arrange the transfer for you.

Spend you time wandering around the hiking shops of Thamel (we stocked up on winter hats and gloves), reflect on the devastating destruction of Durbar Square (parts are still in ruins after the horrific earthquake of 2015), and head up to marvel the incredible temples and stupas os Swayambhunath (you will need to get a taxi there, and beware of the monkeys!)

Kathmandu can feel rather congested and you will need hold on tight to your littleones. However, if you take the short walk to The Garden of Dreams, there is lots of green space for them to run and explore.

If you have time, take a taxi to Bhaktapur (just 8 miles out of Kathmandu) to explore the medieval city where only a few temples were destroyed by the earthquake. However, you may want to leave this excursion until your return to Kathmandu on day 16.

Nepal itinerary with kids

Pre-book the bus to Pokhara with your hotel. We paid Rs700 per person. Under 5s can sit on your lap, but with the hairpin bends and infinite potholes, we were extremely appreciative of the separate tickets we bought the boys.

Where we stayed: Hotel Yambu. Wonderfully friendly staff and family rooms available. Great location too! However, there are A LOT of steep steps to get up to the rooms on the high floor and layers of clothing are required for breakfast as the dining area is open. 

Day 4 – Travel to Pokhara

You will be told that the bus will pick you up at 7am. Don’t rush as it certainly won’t be there on time. Also, if you’re travelling during the Winter months, ensure you keep gloves, hats and coats handy as it will still be cold on the bus.

Kathmandu to Pokhara is only 200km, but prepare for an 8-hour bus journey. Thankfully the driver stops every 1.5 hours, this worked perfectly for our recently potty-trained 2-year-old. You can also purchase snack and drinks at these stops.

Nepal itinerary with kids

Where we stayed: Mount View Pokhara (hosted). On a clear day there are fantastic views across to Fish Tail Mountain. Rooms are clean, heated, and practical with a bathroom. Good hearty breakfast served each morning. A good mid-range option. 

Day 5 – Pokhara

Meet your porters for your  5 day Himalayan trek and arrange with them your TIMS cards and Annapurna permit. Details of these can be found here.

Nepal itinerary with kids

Once logistics are sorted, take a wonder alongside Phwa Lake and perhaps rent out a rowing boat for an hour (although mental images of our fearless 2 year old leaping off the side deterred us from this). After stocking up on your last minute equipment and supplies for your trek (you can never have enough lollies when hiking with young kids), select a restaurant and treat yourselves to a slap up meal, as tomorrow your Himalayan trek begins!

We stayed a second night at Mount View Pokhara (hosted).

Day 6-10 – Poon Hill trek

This was the highlight of our time in Nepal, only made possible by the fantastic porters at Drift Nepal Expeditions who carried the boys in dokos (baskets) when needed and guided us at our pace. This 5-day trek took us right into the heart of the Himalayas with views of 8000 metre peaks towering over us as we trekked from teahouse to teahouse, to reach Poon Hill at 3210m. You can read the full review of our Poon Hill trek here; including tips on dealing with altitude, keeping the kids happy, fitness, what to pack and where to stay.

Where we stayed: Our guides knew the best teahouses to stay and we went with the flow of where they recommended. Our overnight stops are all detailed in the Poon Hill with kids post.

Day 10-11 – The Pavilions Himalayas

Once down from the mountains, head straight to The Pavilions Himalayas, Pokhara, to enjoy some time of blissful nothingness. After your exertions in the mountains, you deserve to lap up some luxury. Children will enjoy exploring the gardens, meeting the goats or swimming in the pool (although it was too cold for us in February) in the morning. The spacious villas, deep spa bath, great food and impeccable service, all provided in a tranquil environment, make for the perfect post-trek reward.

Where we stayed: The Pavilions Himalayas

Day 13 – Bus to Chitwan

Take a taxi to the bus station in time for the 7am bus to Chitwan (although, again, don’t expect it to leave on time). You will miss breakfast at The Pavilions, so they will provide a packed breakfast if you ask.

After a 5 hour bus journey, we were picked up from the bus station and taken to Sapana Lodge. This is a wonderful place for kids as there is loads of space to play, as well as a playground. They will enjoy watching the elephants being bathed at the end of the day, before enjoying a chocolate pancake around the fire.

Where we stayed: Sapana Lodge. Very welcoming to families, and family rooms available. Our room felt a little damp and cold. 

Day 14 – Chitwan National Park

Take a half-day private jeep safari around Chitwan National Park. We arranged this through Sapana Lodge. You will see lots of monkeys, crocodiles, deer and colourful birds, and you are very likely to see the endangered one-horned rhino. If you’re very lucky may see a sloth bear or wild elephants (the majority of elephants in Nepal are domesticated), and if it really is your lucky day, you may even spot the elusive leopard.

We stayed a second night at Sapana Lodge

Day 15 – Bus to Kathmandu

This is a long, long day. The road to Kathmandu was badly damaged in the earthquake and the incessant hair pin bends took their toll on our 2 year old and he threw up all over Dad! The distance is only 150km, but it took us 10 hours! By the time we all arrived back in Kathmandu, we were absolutely shattered.

Where we stayed: Kathmandu Home Annex. Warm, good location and comfy beds.

Day 16 – Kathmandu

Once you have recovered from the previous day’s travels, wander for a last time around the shops of Thamel for those last minute souvenirs, then find a roof top restaurant to regale your adventures over an Everest Beer (for the parents), hot chocolate (for the kids) and a plate of hot momos.

Stayed another night at Kathmandu Home Annex.

Nepal itinerary with kids

Had this made for in Thamel. Reads: TRAVELYNN FAMILY POON HILL 3210M.

Day 17 – Fly home

There is very little in the way of restaurants at Kathmandu Airport and there are no play areas. Stock up on snacks and ensure the little ones have had a run around before jumping in the taxi to the airport. A taxi from Thamel to the airport cost Rs500 and took just under 30 minutes.

Nepal itinerary with kids

 

Have you visited Nepal with kids? I would love to hear about your experiences!

Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family was hosted by The Pavillions Himalayas and Mount View Pokhara. We were provided discounted rates for our Chitwan safari by Sapan Lodge and Himlayan trek by Drift Expeditions Nepal. However, as always, these are all my own words and opinions. Furthermore, this post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, this is at no extra cost to you, although I receive a small commission. 

Nepal itinerary with kids

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Poon Hill with kids

Himalaya Trekking: Ghorepani / Poon Hill with kids

I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous about trekking to Poon Hill with kids. Our boys were just 2 and 4 years old, and aside from the odd afternoon stroll in the parks in Bangalore or short walks in the Peak District, UK, we weren’t at that hardcore hiking level quite yet. Plus, my fitness really wasn’t what it used to be and how would we all cope with the cold and altitude?

Click here to read our Nepal itinerary with kids

Poon Hill with kids

CONTENTS

The jagged untouched peaks of the Himalayas hold a powerful allure over us. We had previously explored the Everest region (pre-kids), and although the trek to Base Camp was ridiculously hard work, being in the presence of mighty 8000 metre peaks towering above us as we walked between teahouses is one of the most incredible feelings. But is the Himalayas a step too far for a family holiday?

We had heard about other parents who had successfully taken their little ones hiking in the Himalayas with the help of porters who carry them in dokos (baskets). The 5 day circular Poon Hill trek (often completed in 4 days without kids) is a lower altitude trek (climbing to a maximum height of 3210m at Poon Hill), yet efforts are still rewarded with an incredible panoramic view of the Annapurna range. So although we had to be wary of altitude, it would be very unlikely to cause any serious problems.

Poon Hill with kids

So with a bucket load of unfounded confidence we found some cheap flights with the notoriously unreliable Nepal Airlines, ordered some thermals from the UK, and set ourselves the challenge of hiking to Poon Hill with kids.

The porters

Through Drift Expeditions Nepal we arranged two porters (Lok and Ramesh) to carry the boys in dokos (see photo). However, these guys were so much more than porters. They were nannies, guides, waiters and motivators. When the boys wanted to walk, they walked. And when the boys got tired, into the doko they went. Often the boys would swap between the doko and walking every two minutes, but neither Lok nor Ramesh ever batted an eyelid. When we stopped for a break, Lok would often find them a game to play. We kept our clothing in compression sacks that were used as cushions in the dokos, and the porters’ bags were used as a seat.

Poon Hill with kids

Nap time in the doko

Poon Hill with kids

Lok (left) and Ramesh (right) – Our heroes!

The route

The classic Ghorephani/Poon Hill trek follows a clockwise circuit over 4 or 5 days. This involves a VERY steep ascent on Day 2, climbing 3500 steps straight up hill over 7 hours (feel the burn!), and then waking very early to reach the summit of Poon Hill in time for sunrise on Day 3.

However, if you follow the route the other way round (anti-clockwise) the ascent is more gradual over three days. This allows you all to better acclimatise to the altitude, arriving at the summit of Poon Hill on day 4. Although this does mean you have a very steep descent on Day 5, which certainly tests your thighs on the final day.

Day 1 – Kimche (1640m) to Ghandruk (1940m)

Lok and Ramesh met us at Mount View Pokhara before a jeep arrived to take us to Kimche. On the way we stopped to pick up the dokos and head straps so the porters could carry the boys. The majority of hikers take a taxi to Nayapul and hike along the track to Kimche. However, with 4 adults, 2 children and 2 dokos, we couldn’t all fit into a taxi. Plus, at the time of travel (February) the track was very dry and all the passing cars create a cloud of dust. So we decided to take a jeep to Kimche (costing Rs5000) and get a head start on our trek.

Poon Hill with kids

Poon Hill with kids

From Kimche, it was a steep one hour climb to Ghandruk where we would stay for the night. I was surprised how breathless I was already getting! Despite this and for altitude sake, we had to resist the temptation to continue hiking when we arrived at 1:30pm; it was a long time to keep the boys entertained until bed time!

Day 2 – Ghandruk (1940m) to Tadapani (2630m)

There were ‘only’ three hours of hiking today, so we wanted to spread it out with lots of breaks so as not to arrive to the teahouse too early. We had learnt our lesson from yesterday! It was a steady climb uphill, with a couple of very steep sections. However, all day we were in cloud; even once we arrived a Tadopani. We felt that our hiking efforts were not being rewarded with those mountain vistas we were so desperate to see. We couldn’t help but feel disheartened when we fell asleep that night. It didn’t help that it was bitterly cold and we had to sleep with thermals and hats under two layers of duvet.

Day 3 – Tadapani (2630m) to Ghorepani (2860m)

We woke before sunrise as our youngest was demanding milk. I looked outside and the clouds had cleared to the most amazing crystal clear view. Being able to see the mountains as we hiked today certainly lifted spirits and distracted from tired legs.

Poon Hill with kids

Today’s hiking would take an average hiker 4 hours. But with our slower pace and allowing lots of stops for snacks and play, it actually took us closer to 8 hours. Much of today was a continued steady climb with a few descents to break it up. The path actually reached a height of 3200 metres (almost the same height at Poon Hill), before a steep descent to Ghorepani where we would sleep for the night.

Day 4 – Ghorepani (2860m) to Poon Hill (3210m) to Banthani (2250m)

We decided against the idea of Poon Hill at sunrise. With the cold, early start we believed it would be too much for the boys. But as we went down to breakfast at a respectable 7:30am, I noticed the clouds rolling in from valley below. We therefore decided to hold on breakfast, get wrapped up and start the climb then and there up to Poon Hill.

It was a steep 50 minute climb to the top, although it felt much longer with all the steps. But as I rounded the final corner, slowly dragging each foot in front of the other, I saw my two boys ahead racing up the final steps to the summit. I was bursting with pride and couldn’t help shed a tear.

Poon Hill with kids

This moment is what the trek was all about and if felt truly wonderful. The advantage of not getting up for sunrise was that we pretty much had the summit to ourselves. We could have stayed playing and admiring the views for hours, but after 45 minutes we realised we had to start making our way down as there was still a long way to go.

Poon Hill with kids

Poon Hill with kids

After breakfast back at the teahouse and packing up our belongings, we were on our way back downhill, quickly descending into the clouds below. I kept looking behind to Poon Hill and couldn’t believe how high we had climbed. As the boys slept in the dokos, we were able to get to Nyangthani in an hour. From there it was an hour and a half to Banthani. We had planned to go further down to Ulleri, but everyone seemed very tired and we decided to stop for the day.

Day 5 – Banthani (2250m) to Tikhedunga (1525m)

The legs were feeling rather wobbly today and we were ready to get down from the mountains. It was a steep descent, especially between Ulleri and Tikhedunga, although we were grateful that there was no more climbing. That is until we reached the bridge across the river at the bottom of the valley after 2.5hours of trekking only to see yet another steep uphill section awaiting us. It was only 20 minutes though and it wasn’t long until we were back in a jeep for the 2.5 hour drive back to Pokhara.

Poon Hill with kids

The teahouses

Considering how remote we were, accommodation en route was surprisingly comfortable, albeit rather cold. A teahouse is just like a guesthouse and they are dotted all along the trek. You are never more than a couple of hours away from a teahouse and they are therefore good places to aim to for a rest/snack stop throughout the trekking day.

Each teahouse has a communal dining room, serving hot food, with a fire to dry your clothes and warm up alongside fellow trekkers. Private rooms are available (sometimes with an attached bathroom). Bedding is included, so there is no need for sleeping bag. You are able to recharge your electrical items at teahouses (sometimes for a small fee) and many even have WiFi (although this felt slightly wrong to us and we decided to disconnect for the entire time on our trek).

Poon Hill with kids

Snuggling down to bed

Prices were generally between Rs400 and Rs700. We took the lead from our porters and stayed wherever they suggested. It is expected that you eat in the restaurant of your teahouse; you may as well though as the menu is pretty much identical everywhere.

Food

Fresh fruit is hard to come by and, unlike us parents, our boys weren’t too keen on the local vegetarian Dhal Baat. However, we could get boiled eggs, finger chips (fries) and plain noodles at every teahouse. We also took a supply of Mars Bars and sweets from Pokhara. A good hiker’s diet 😉

Poon Hill with kids

For environmental reasons, bottled water is not available in the mountains. However, you can refill your drinking bottle at every teahouse with filtered water.

Altitude

As a small section of this trek takes you above 3000m, you do need to consider the effect of altitude. In young children, the signs are tiredness, whinging and loss of appetite; which admittedly may be difficult to distinguish between a standard day! Our advice is to take it very slowly. Allow for regular snack and rest stops for them to play. You know your own children, if they don’t seem right, then descend. In the photo below, our boys are at 3200m and happily playing; this is probably the best indicator of how they are coping with altitude.

Poon Hill with kids

Keeping the kids entertained

Our porters, Lok and Ramesh, were absolutely wonderful at keeping the boys entertained on the trek. If the boys wanted to walk, the porters would walk alongside, ensuring they didn’t fall down (or up) any steps. There was always something to keep them entertained at a teahouse during the day; whether it be meeting local children, watching locals work or playing with kittens.

Parenting at the end of a day’s trekking could sometimes be hard work. Whilst other hikers had their feet up by the fire reading a good book, we were still parenting. We therefore found it beneficial to lengthen the trekking day with lots of play and snack breaks, meaning we would arrive at our overnight teahouse for around 4pm. After some dinner we would then let the boys choose a film to watch on their Amazon Fire Tablets in front of the fire.

Poon Hill with kids

Finger chips and a movie with a new pal at the teahouse.

Documents and fees

All trekkers (children under 10 not included) need to register their trek by obtaining a TIMS card (USD20 per person). You can do this in Pokhara, or your porter/guide can arrange this for you. Ensure you take with you two passport sized photos, as well as copies of your passports and visas.

You also need to purchase a permit for trekking in the Annapurna region (Annapurna Conservation Area Project, USD30 per person). Again, this is not required for children under the age of 10.

Fitness

Fitness is not really an issue for the kids as they can jump into the doko when they get tired. However, it is beneficial if they are happy walking some distances to burn off some of their energy. Otherwise they will be full of beans when you arrive at the tea house. Indeed, we often found parenting after a day of trekking harder than actually trekking itself!

Dokos can carry children up to about the age of 6. We met a school of 8 and 9 year olds walking the entire trek unaided!

For parents, I very much recommend doing some sort of training before the hike. However, anyone with a moderate level of fitness will be able to do the hike. Just take it slow (and allow time for the kids to play).

What to pack

It perhaps goes without saying, but you need to pack light. We put clothing inside compression sacks, which were used as cushions in the dokos. We then carried one bag with snacks, water, medical kit and a few other essentials. You don’t need to pack sleeping bags as duvets and bedding are provided. Here’s our kit list:

  • Light trekking boots. Our boys wore sturdy snow boots.
  • Parents wore warm jacket, T-shirt, fleece, hiking trousers, hiking socks.
  • Kids wore all-in-one snow suit, T-shirt, jumper, tracksuit bottoms, thermal socks.
  • Thermals for evening (top and bottom)
  • 1 spare change of clothes per person (trousers, T-shirt, underwear and hiking socks)
  • Hats and gloves (bought in Kathmandu and Pokhara)
  • 2x water bottles (you cannot buy bottled water in the mountains, but you can get filtered water refills at all teahouses)
  • Map (can buy in Kathmandu or Pokhara)
  • Thermos flask and powdered milk (our 2yo only takes his milk hot!) To keep water in the thermos hot, we covered it with hiking socks and kept it close to us under the duvet at night.
  • Hiking poles (bought in Pokhara for Rs1000 per pair)
  • Knee supports (for adults)
  • Medical kit (including Calpol, plasters, ibuprofen, immodium, lip salve, sunblock, Savlon, tweezers, scissors and bandages)
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletries (tooth brushes, small tootpaste, small roll-on deodorant)
  • Wet wipes
  • Toilet paper (relatively expensive to buy in the mountains)
  • Nappies (our 2yo was not potty trained at night and nowhere sells them)
  • Snacks (we stocked up on Mars bars, lollies and sweets in Pokhara. You can buy in the mountains, but it will be more expensive).
  • Kids’ Amazon Fire Tablet
  • Small box of LEGO
  • CAMERA!
Poon Hill with kids

Buying warm hats in Kathmandu

When to go

We visited early February and it was bitterly cold, especially at night. As it was low season, teahouses were able to give us spare duvets to double up and we slept in thermals, jumpers and hats. We also found our views obscured by cloud in the lower altitude. But after Tadopani on Day 3, our efforts were rewarded with the most spectacular views.

Poon Hill with kids

Sunrise at Tadopani on Day 3

The best time is actually October to November, when the passing of the monsoon season (June to September) brings crystal clear skies and the weather is still comfortably warm. Generally speaking though, it is advisable to plan your visit with the dry season (October to May).

Getting there and away

Ideally you need to base yourself in Pokhara before the trek. We took a bus from Kathmandu (Rs700, 7 hours) to Pokhara. After our trek and refresh at The Pavillions, we travelled to Chitwan, again by bus (Rs400, 5 hours). Be warned the condition of roads in Nepal is extremely poor. Distances are actually not that far (Kathmandu to Pokhara is only 200km), but prepare yourselves for hours upon hours winding around hairpin bends and bouncing over pot holes. Buses also stop every 1.5 hours, which is actually very handy when travelling with little ones. There are toilets and at these stops, snacks and fruit are available for purchase.

Accommodation in Pokhara

Pre-trek: Hotel Mount View

Centrally located with spectacular views to the Himalayas, Mount View Pokhara is great spot to base yourselves before your trek. Rooms are practical and spacious, with good heating and a small balcony. We had a family room consisting of one double and one single bed, plus an ensuite bathroom with bath and overhead shower. Staff are ever so friendly and a good hot breakfast is included. It’s just a short 2 minute walk to restaurants, ATM and hiking shops (to stock up on last minute items), and 4 minutes to Phewa Lake.

You can leave your luggage safely at the hotel whilst away on your trek.

Poon Hill with kids

Post-trek: The Pavillions Himalayas

After 5 days trekking the mountains, we felt we deserved some luxury and were absolutely delighted to be invited by The Pavilions Himalayas to stay with them for a couple of nights in their exquisite Pavilions Chalet.

Poon Hill with kids

Split across two levels with a double bed on the top floor and two singles for the boys on the lower floor, the Chalet was traditional in design, yet with all modern comforts. The deep spa bath was just what the doctor ordered to sooth my aching limbs, but the boys particularly loved the changing coloured lights under the water. Wrapped in soft towels and dressing gowns we huddled on the beds to watch some kids’ cartoons with the fire blazing in front of us, and treated ourselves to room service. A just reward.

There is a swimming pool on site, but it was rather too cold for a dip (it’s not heated). However, the boys loved exploring the grounds to see the range of vegetables growing, watch the fish in the pond and meet the baby goats. This is a place to embrace a day of doing nothing much at all, which is just what we all needed. With impeccable service and a tranquil environment, this is the perfect place to stay post trek.

To get to The Pavillions, you need to negoiate a taxi from the centre of Pokhara. We paid Rs1000. The resort is located 2 miles out of town along a dusty, pot-holed road and through a small river.

 

Are you considering trekking Poon Hill with kids? If you are looking for porters/guides, we wholeheartedly recommend Drift Nepal Expeditions.

 

Poon Hill with kids

We had this made for the boys’ North Fake rucksacks in Kathmandu.

 

Disclaimer: Our trek was discounted by Drift Expeditions Nepal and our stay at Hotel Mount View and The Pavilions Himalayas was hosted. However, these are all my own words and opinions. 

Poon Hill with kids


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