Journey to the Birthplace of the Buddha & Jungle Safari
Light or Moderate
Travellers can choose between a light or moderate activity level.
Light - daily activities may include hikes, visits to sacred sites and/or drives on bumpy roads. Moderate - travellers should be prepared for multiple hours (2-4) of physical activity such as hiking to remote monasteries.
Superior Journeys are led by an experienced Himalayan Hermitage facilitator accompanied by our top local expedition team who draw from an in-depth wealth of knowledge and local experience which allows for a deeper and more immersive accessibility to sacred sites and Himalayan culture. Itineraries are carefully designed to visit the most beautiful locations and sacred sites with a good balance of free time. Accommodation has been carefully selected with comfort appreciation for beauty in mind – only high-end or the best available. Ground transportation, healthy meals, and activities are included in the journey price.
We spend the first days of the journey in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, exploring the Pharping Valley and its many sacred sites. We spend the first days at beautifully located Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Pharping and receive daily guided meditation sessions and introduction to Buddhist philosophy. From here we journey southward to the birthplace of the Buddha in Lumbini, near the border between India and Nepal. We pilgrimage in Lumbini for a few days, visiting the Buddha’s birthplace and the sacred sites of the area. We then journey 2-3 hours by road to a beautiful lodge near the Chitwan jungle. Here we can rest, swim in the pool, enjoy the amazing wildlife in the vicinity and the jungle surrounding us and go for walks with the elephants into the jungle. If we are lucky we will be able to spot rhinos, wild deer, birds and other wildlife. Upon our return to Kathmandu on day 8 & 9 we will stay at a nice guesthouse in the Tibetan area of Boudha in the eastern part of Kathmandu and pay homage to two of the most important and sacred Stupas in the region, Boudhanath and Swayambhunath.
Originally from Canada, Alex has been based in Nepal for the last number of years and has in-depth knowlege on the many sacred sites of Nepal and the Himalayas.
Alex has studied Buddhist philosophy at a University based out of a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu and is therefore familiar with a classical Tibetan learning environment. At the same time, Alex’s studies in Tibetan Buddhism have stemmed from a psychological/’mind-training’ interest, which comes out in his approach to meditation, philosophy, and various cultivation practices from the rich Tibetan Buddhist wisdom tradition.
Sisse Budolfsen, Co-Director & Facilitator
Thanks to a wealth of experience in Nepal and in the Himalayan region, Sisse is a knowledge gateway between Asia and the West. For the last twelve years, Sisse has been traveling to Nepal and Tibet. Sisse is originally from Denmark.
Ten years of experience with meditation practice and for the last years, guiding meditation at the Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Center (HBMC) in Kathmandu, combined with local experience as a freelance consultant for various international organisations, her studies of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan language, as well as working as a travel guide in the Himalayan region are the basis of her expertise to found Himalayan Hermitage. Sisse is the founder, as well as photographer and facilitator of Himalayan Hermitage.
A Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Pharping
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL & STAY AT A TIBETAN BUDDHIST MONESTARY IN PHARPING, KATHMANDU VALLEY
Arrival and pick up at Tribhuvan International Airport of Kathmandu. We drive straight to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Pharping, the South Western corner of the Kathmandu Valley. Here we have time to rest, go for a walk or enjoy the spectacular views over Kathmandu Valley. In the afternoon there will be an introduction to the pilgrimage by the Himalayan Hermitage facilitator.
Rapseed fields on our hike up to the Asura cave
DAY 2 – STAY AT A TIBETAN BUDDHIST MONASTERY
Morning meditation session followed by breakfast. We have our introduction session to Buddhist philosophy before lunch. After lunch and a rest, we hike through rice fields to visit the Asura cave and the self-arisen Tara in Pharping. Dinner and Meditation session. We spend the night at the Tibetan Buddhist monastery guesthouse.
DAY 3 – WE FLY TO LUMBINI
In the morning we fly to Lumbini. After lunch we settle in at the hotel. In the evening we have a Dharma talk and introduction to Lumbini. Meditation session after dinner.
DAY 4 – PILGRIMAGE TO THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE BUDDHA, LUMBINI
Morning meditation session followed by breakfast. We spend the day visiting the Buddha’s birthplace and exploring the monasteries of the different Buddhist traditions. We move around on bicycle inside the inner area of Lumbini. Rest followed by dinner. Evening meditation.
DAY 5 – WE JOURNEY TO THE THARU LODGE IN CHITWAN
After breakfast we travel 2-3 hours by jeep to the beautiful Tharu Lodge. After lunch we can rest at the lodge or have a swim in the pool. Afternoon walk on the premises. Dinner and evening meditation.
DAY 6 – STAY AT THE THARU LODGE
Morning meditation practice & discussion. In the middle of the day it is possible to take a rest and a dip in the lovely pool. Evening jungle walk with the elephants. Evening meditation.
DAY 7 – STAY AT THE THARU LODGE
Morning meditation session. In the middle of the day it is possible to take a rest and a dip in the lovely pool. Evening jungle walk with the elephants and sundowner while they bathe. Evening meditation.
DAY 8 – WE RETURN TO KATHMANDU, OVERNIGHT IN BOUDHA
After breakfast we return to Kathmandu by jeep which takes between 4-5 jours. Lunch, rest, and free time until dinner at a rooftop restaurant near the magnificent Boudha Stupa. Evening meditation.
DAY 9 – WE SPEND THE DAY IN BOUDHA, EVENING AT THE SWAYAMBHU STUPA
After breakfast we walk to Shechen Monastery. We have a meditation session in the meditation room of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist masters of our time. After lunch the group will have a closing circle with homemade chai in Swayambhu. Back to Boudha for dinner.
DAY 10 – DEPARTURE
Day of departure. We provide transportation to the airport.
There is no prerequisite for joining a pilgrimage, nor is it required to have any knowledge or experience with the practice of meditation. Simply, to have the wish to go deeper with one’s mind, and to have curiosity regarding its functions is enough. There is nothing religious about the practice of meditation or in visiting sacred places. In fact, there is nothing even Buddhist about it! The idea of pilgrimage here means that while we are exploring sacred sites, we are also investigating ourselves with a ‘tried & true’ internal/contemplative process called meditation. The practice of meditation is simply a tool to bring your mind back to a place of naked awareness, to a place of basic space with yourself and environment. It is simply a technique with which to uncover all the layers of hope, fear, grasping, and judgement that are all such strong habits which cloud the mind. With the practice of meditation we can learn to come back to ourselves, to become familiar with the groundless, unfabricated, and raw quality of reality.
The daily schedule in this 10-day itinerary comprises of meditating together every morning and evening – this can be for 30-60 minutes (several sessions of sitting and walking meditation) depending on what the group wants and where we are in our itinerary. Buddhist philosophy sessions are roughly 1 hour/day combining a short presentation with group discussion. Throughout the 10 days we slowly walk through all 3 yanas (vehicles) of the Tibetan Buddhist path. We explore how & why shamatha/mindfulness (one-pointed ‘calm abiding’ meditation) + vipassana (insight) are used as tools from the beginning through to the end of the path. The foundational path of the Shravakayana is comprised of: ‘The 4 Turnings of the Mind’, ‘Refuge’, ‘The 3 Marks of Existence’, and ‘The Four Noble Truths’. There is an emphasis on exploring the middle yana – the Mahayana (the ‘great vehicle’ of the Bodhisattvas) which entails: ‘Bodhicitta’, ‘The 6 Paramitas (perfect actions)’, ‘Shunyata (emptiness)’, ‘Relative and Ultimate Truth’, and ‘Lojong (mind-training)’. We contemplate Lojong slogans as brought forth in an accessible way by great Tibetan/Western hybrid teachers Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Pema Chodron. We touch upon the final yana of the Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism) by exploring its many expressions and intricate symbolism. At face value Tibetan Buddhism may look esoteric, but with investigation we may see first-hand how it is simply a system for training one’s mind by utilizing various methods which combine mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom cultivation practices.
‘Early Bird Special’: 3399 USD (expires 6 months prior to the starting date of the journey)
Normal price: 3599 USD
Single Supplement: 410 USD
All accommodation, meals & transport in Nepal
Experienced guides & instructors
Flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur (Lumbini) and jeep ride from Chitwan to Kathmandu
Jungle Safari & elephant walks while in the jungle
Healthy, vegetarian meals
Daily Dharma talks & introduction to meditation
Notebook for journaling during the pilgrimage
International flight ticket to Nepal
Personal insurance during the pilgrimage
Personal visa to Nepal (25 USD for 15 days / 30 USD for 30 days to be purchased upon arrival)
Any alcoholic beverage during the pilgrimage
Tip to local guide and porters
We will be staying in nice accommodation with good amenities during this 10-Day Journey. During the first days we stay at a beautifully located Tibetan Buddhist monastery guesthouse in the hills of the Kathmandu Valley, with access to a bath tub and comfortable rooms. During our stay in Lumbini we stay in a nice hotel near the entrance to the sacred sites around Buddha’s birthplace. During our time near the Chitwan jungle we stay in a stunning lodge with access to a swimming pool surrounded by lush jungle.
To secure your place in this journey please visit the ‘Book a Journey‘ page and follow through the 3 steps explained.
We wholeheartedly look forward to having you on one of our journeys!
What People Say
"Sisse, Alex and Alix (yoga teacher) are superb guides in yoga, meditation and in the Buddhist practice and tradition. The treks were amazing, and practicing with the monks and nuns was priceless. I have many tools to bring back with me and apply to my life at home. I thoroughly enjoyed the Nepal experience with Himalayan Hermitage!"
Sarah Helt, pilgrim from Los Angeles, USA
"My experience with Himalayan Hermitage has been life-changing. The friendly, knowledgeable and charming guides lead you through some of the most challenging situations with grace and compassion. Whenever I thought I hit my limit physically or mentally I was able to fall back into the practices they taught me; or simply open my eyes to the beautiful of Nepal to be reinvigorated on the journey. I am so grateful"
Sarah Helt, pilgrim from Los Angeles, USA
"I have learnt so much. I have learnt to trust. Trust in people, in situations, and in myself. And to have courage. To dig deep and to trust that everything will be ok. I have also learned about the true nature of peoples, their kindness, generosity and their unconditional love. Additionally, the introduction to Buddhist philosophy has been so complimentary and interesting. Nepal is an amazing and interestingly diverse country with very peaceful and loving people. Finally, I have learned how complimentary the yoga and meditation practices are in daily life and how this consistency is so important for progress"
Sybil Foster, pilgrim from Geneve, Switzerland
"What seems to be very complicated back home is kind of presented in a simple framework to build upon. I feel even more curious now after being presented to the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. I feel happy that it is so accessible for me as a Western person. I really feel welcomed here, in Nepal. And being with the monks up early in the morning, meditating. And just to be part of this culture in a very natural way. I had my doubts whether this was possible. But now I see it, I feel it. That it is authentic and that it is a living thing that you can come and experience. And that is something very precious. What stands out for me during this pilgrimage is the moving part, that we move from place to place. We hike through beautiful paths and see the local culture and we come by sacred places. We lit butterlamps and we had this really intense feeling of being in important places. Without this really being part of our culture (back home) but still visiting a living culture. That made a big impression. It is also such a strong feeling to experience something valuable like this in a group. You go and you wander through the mountains and you come to a new place and you settle. You do your practices led by the instructors in beautiful places, you go through the meditation practices, and I was a bit surprised. It helps you settle, and open up. This is a new experience for me, and a very valuable one ( ..) If you stay or visit in Kathmandu definitely combine it with a pilgrimage. That is really eye opening"
Anna Cecilie Skovgaard, pilgrim from Copenhagen, Denmark
“Sisse, Alex and Alix (yoga teacher) are superb guides in yoga, meditation and in the Buddhist practice and tradition. The treks were amazing, and practicing with the monks and nuns was priceless. I have many tools to bring back with me and apply to my life at home. I thoroughly enjoyed the Nepal experience with Himalayan Hermitage!”
Jackie Brandabur, pilgrim from Washington, USA
“Overall, I really enjoyed the pilgrimage! I went into this with an open mind and I was very pleased with the breadth of the experience. Alex, Sisse & Alix (yoga teacher) were very kind, professional and calm under pressure. Their network of guides, porters and their knowledge of the area is top notch! Thank you for this once in a lifetime experience. I will never forget this and the wonderful people I have met”
Peter Keller, pilgrim from Portland, USA
“I have had an amazing time. It has been one of the biggest experiences of my life. I loved being in Nepal and during this pilgrimage it has been an amazing opportunity to get closer to the culture and religion in an amazing way that is understandable for Western people like me. I have learned how Tibetan Buddhism can become a part of my life and I will carry home many tools in my backpack. The sessions we had were so mind opening and I was exposed to so much new information. The places we stayed at were beautiful – they had amazing views and amazing food. I would highly recommend this for everyone to do, it is so important!”
Johanne Schovsbo, pilgrim from Copenhagen, Denmark
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