This yoga & meditation journey will be jointly facilitated by yoga instructor Jeffrey Lester, and an experienced Himalayan Hermitage facilitator. The groups will hold the maximum amount of 15 people.

Originally from Atlanta in the USA, in 2014 Jeffrey unwittingly embarked on a spiritual journey when he decided to leave a career in academia to follow his interest of sharing nutrition and fitness with others. Soon after he quickly discovered his true purpose and the wonderful gifts that yoga has to offer. Grateful to be in the position to share his living wisdom and his infectious childlike energy, he travels around the world teaching workshops and master classes to embrace and uplift communities of all types. He leads workshops and courses internationally and facilitates yoga teacher trainings for Happy Jack Yoga, an international yoga school based in Canada.

– We are very excited to be facilitating this yoga & meditation journey together for the first time!

We start the day by exploring the inner experience of awakening in ourselves, as well as grounding our awareness into the body through yoga in the afternoon sessions we enhance the experience by becoming pilgrims and yogis. We explore the outer element of sacredness and the culture of awakening by visiting, and paying homage to the many sacred temples and shrines in the Kathmandu Valley. Evening meditation after dinner.

img10

  • 7:45 – 9:00 Yoga
  • 9:00 – 10:00 Breakfast
  • 10:30 – 12:00 Morning session on Tibetan Buddhism & Meditation Practice
  • 1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
  • 2:00 – 3:30 Free time
  • 3:30 – 5:30 Visiting sacred places
  • 7:00 – 8:00 Dinner
  • 8:15 – 8:45 Evening meditation

Having trained and taught all over the world in disciplines ranging from vinyasa and yin yoga to shamanic ceremonial traditions, Jeff has assimilated a catalogue of beautiful practices and techniques that bring people together with high vibes and harmony. It is his pleasure and joy to share with you the practices that light up our world! Expect to work on all aspects of your life with Jeff. Deep inner work is often complemented by connecting as a community through sharing and expressing our experiences as a group. Jeff loves to arranged group circles, where all are equal, connected, and whole. Jeff teaches pranayama, mantra, meditation, and asana in addition to connecting with shamanic ceremonial practices, nature, and Ayurvedic wisdom.

There is no prerequisite for joining a pilgrimage journey, 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 qualities and 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, tested, and true’ introspective 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 18-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 per day, combining a short presentation with group discussion.

Throughout the 18 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)’, ‘Shunyayta (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.

Please refer to the ‘Price’ tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

• DEPOSIT: The deposit is due at the time of registration
• BALANCE PAYMENT: The full balance of the payment is due no later than 90 days before the starting date of the journey (unless booking last minute, which is generally not a problem – please inquire with Himalayan Hermitage about this). After filling out the REGISTRATION FORM and paying the deposit you will be sent an email with the ‘Payment Procedure’ which outlines how to transfer the balance of your payment into Himalayan Hermitage’s bank account.

‘Early Bird Special’: 2900 USD (expires 6 months prior to the starting date of the journey)

Normal price: 3160 USD

Single room supplement: 390 USD

Deposit: 500 USD

INCLUSIONS

  • All accommodation, meals & transport in Nepal
  • Experienced guides & instructors
  • Jeep ride from Kathmandu to Phablu and flight from Phablu to Kathmandu
  • Healthy, vegetarian meals
  • Daily Dharma talks & introduction to meditation
  • Notebook for journaling during the pilgrimage

EXCLUSIONS

  • 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

Luggage

For your main luggage bag that you fly with, you are free to bring any kind you like! Please bring a small day pack for carrying snacks, water, and layers while hiking and in the city. We will provide duffel bags that we will use when we go up into the Himalayan foothills. Instead of taking all of our luggage with us, we will only pack what we need for our time in the foothills into the duffel bags – porters will carry these. The main luggage bags will stay in Kathmandu. You may want to keep some space + weight free in your main luggage bag for carrying home souvenirs, etc.

Sleeping bag

As we will be sleeping in the nunnery guesthouse up in the foothills of the Lower Everest region of the Himalayas, it makes the journey more convenient and comfortable to bring your own sleeping bag. Temperature rating of the sleeping bag should range from 0° to -30° C. Temperatures will be moderate, but in the mountains it can get cool at night. You can either bring your own sleeping bag with you, or otherwise it is possible to rent a good quality sleeping bag in Kathmandu for around 7 USD per day (we will be hiking in the foothills for five days in total). We can help you organise this in Kathmandu.

Water bottle

It is a good idea to bring along a Nalgene or another kind of water bottle for drinking water up in the foothills. It is a nice idea to carry two water bottles so we are sure to have enough water. Almost every monastery and local guesthouse will have hot water thermoses, so it is possible for us to refill our water bottles in most places. In this way we are not leaving behind too much plastic. It is easier to carry our own water and we will not be depended on many plastic bottles for our water supply during the journey. The added bonus is that these water bottles can be transformed into a hot water bottle at night to warm up our beds during the chilly nights in the foothills!

Wear layers in the foothills

When hiking in the mountains or foothills of the Himalayas it is always advised to bring a lot of layers to wear – from the chillier and fresh temperatures in the mornings to the warmer temperatures in the daytime, and again more cooler  evenings. Layers could be for example: carrying a warm hat, several changes of wool/synthetic socks for hiking, light long underwear/base layer, pants for hiking, short/long sleeved shirt (synthetic or wool clothing is best for quick drying and easy for handwashing), light scarf/bandana – for warmth and can be used for dust/sun protection. It can be nice to have a change of clothes for after a day of hiking. Sweater or fleece layer as a second layer. In addition to this, It is also nice to bring comfortable clothes for yoga practice, as well as a warm jacket, such as down or other light weight jacket work well for packing. In this way it is easy to put on and take off layers of clothes during the different times of the day. Make sure to bring a warm jacket for mornings and nights. Note that laundry service will be available in most of the places that we stay throughout the journey.

Shoe wear

What shoes to bring for hiking in the foothills? We will not be walking in difficult terrain on our 5-day hike in the foothills. However, it can be nice and comfortable for the feet to wear good shoes. Anything between good runners to more outdoor and firm hiking shoes. We recommend high hiking boots or sturdy hiking trail shoes with a good sole and support for going up and down hills and steps in the foothills.
Alternatively, a light pair of casual shoes for wearing in the evening/down time and in the city is also nice.

Yoga mats

We offer yoga mats as part of the Yoga & Meditation Journey, which you will receive upon your arrival in Kathmandu. If you should feel like bringing your own yoga mat that is also fine.

Bring a small towel

We will be able to have access to hot water – either as a shower or bucket shower – in the foothills, but this is not guaranteed in every spot. Therefore, it is comfortable to bring a small quick dry travel towel for this.

Sun protection

We recommend sunglasses, sunblock SPF 30 or higher, SPF lip balm, sun hat or baseball cap, and light layers for wearing while hiking to protect from strong Himalayan sun.

Personal toiletries

Any personal toiletries you may need during your stay and travel such as: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, lotion, medications, etc.

Trekking poles

This is optional and depends on how you find it comfortable to hike. It is however nice to have trekking poles for going up and down in the foothills, and can work as a good support. It is also possible to buy these in Kathmandu upon arrival.

Light rain jacket

It is nice to have a light rain jacket to carry along just in case.

Flashlight/headlamp

A flashlight/headlamp with extra batteries can be nice to have for finding the bathroom at night, etc.

Camera

This is of course optional. It can be handy to have a plug adapter for charging your mobile phone, etc.

Adapter

Nepal uses European outlets. You may want to bring an adapter for your mobile charger or laptop if they have a different plug other than the European standard. This can also be purchased in Kathmandu upon arrival.

Ear Plugs

It is advisable to bring along a set of ear plugs. During the nights at the nunnery – the wooden walls of the guesthouse are not too thick and sound proof, so if you are a light sleeper you will appreciate ear plugs!

• How fit should I be in order to join the Yoga & Meditation Journey?
Travelers should be relatively physically fit and mentally prepared for several hours of hiking daily. The hike up to the nunnery in the Everest region will take us 6-7 hours with a lunch break included. The terrain is comfortable and not too strenuous. As an alternative to this hike it is possible to ride on horseback. There is no prerequisite for joining neither the yoga nor the meditation sessions.

• How can we expect the accommodation to be like?
We will be staying in comfortable guesthouses in Pharping and Boudha and a beautifully located resort in Namo Buddha. We will be staying in a lovely mountain lodge in Phablu, gateway to the Everest region, prior to and after our stay at the nunnery higher up in the valley.

• Passports & Visa information
• Food
• Health & Vaccines
• Money
• Communication throughout the journey

Passport / Visa Information

• What do I need to know about the visas?
Firstly, it is important that your passport is valid at LEAST 6 months beyond the end date of the journey. In addition to this, please make sure that you have at least two empty pages free in your passport.

You will not need to apply for your Nepali visa prior to the journey.

Nepali visa

This can easily be obtained ‘upon arrival’ in the Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport. Once you reach the immigration section of the airport, please proceed directly to the machines available in the far left corner and fill in all of the necessary information asked. It will ask you how long you will need the visa for (15 days, 30 days and beyond). Fill in the needed days + take the photo of yourself on the spot and proceed to payment. Payment can be done either in cash or with credit card (you might have to insist on the credit card as they will try to turn this request down!). For more information about the Nepali visa see here.

Food

• I have special dietary needs; can this be accommodated?
Throughout the Journey in Nepal we will be eating primarily vegetarian meals. Vegan food can also be accommodated, as well as ‘gluten free’ options. Please inform us in the registration form under ‘dietary needs’.

Health & Vaccines

• Which vaccines will I need in Nepal?
There are no required vaccines for Nepal, but we recommend that you speak with your physician to decide on what options are best for you. Tibet is located at higher altitude and it is therefore difficult for most viruses and bacteria to survive.
• What about malaria?
As we will only be spending time in Kathmandu valley and in the Everest region there is no risk of malaria.

Money

• How much money will I need to bring?
During the journey your accommodation, food, and transportation are all covered so you will only need to bring for any extras such as gift shopping and tipping local guides.

• How Do I get cash in country?
In Kathmandu you will be able to take out Nepali Rupees (NRP) from any ATM which you will find all over the city. Once we reach Phablu (gateway to the Everest region) it will not be possible to take out money from an ATM so it is good to take out before to ensure pocket money for snacks and souvenirs.

Communication throughout the journey

• Will I be able to get wifi throughout the journey?
For the most part of the journey you will be able to connect with wifi on hotels and guesthouses in Nepal. During our three nights up at the Tibetan Buddhist nunnery guesthouse in the Everest region we will not have wifi access.

We are more than happy to give recommendations for your international airfare; however, it will ultimately be you who will make the purchase yourself. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

• When must I arrive in Kathmandu?

Please make sure that you arrive in time to meet up at the meeting point no later than 2pm on the starting date of the journey. We then leave together to go to Pharping, the first visit on the journey. We have a pick-up service to arrange someone to pick you up from the airport when you arrive in Nepal and then bring you to your Hotel/Guesthouse (if you arrive before the journey). Please lookout for your driver who will be holding a sign that says ‘Himalayan Hermitage’ when you exit the Airport (the first time you get out-doors). You also have the choice to either be picked up from your Hotel/Guesthouse (or airport) on day 1 to be brought to the meeting point or to meet us at the meeting point at 2:00pm with all of your luggage (although most Guesthouses and Hotels will offer a free drop-off service if requested). 

The meeting point: is in the lobby or lounge of the Hotel ‘International Guesthouse’, which is situated in Thamel (the main tourist district of Kathmandu). 

If you wish, upon request Himalayan Hermitage can arrange your accommodation for you by booking you in one of their choice Hotels (see the tab ‘Kathmandu Add-ons’ for more information) before and/or after the Journey, or you may wish to choose + book your Hotel yourself. 

• What time should I book my departing flight from Nepal?
You will return to Kathmandu a few days prior to the end of the journey and are therefore safe to book a flight on the last day of the journey. If you would like to stay on in Nepal hereafter let us know and we are happy to help you either book something or offer advice on nice places to go.

To partake on a journey with Himalayan Hermitage you MUST be covered by a travel medical insurance. If you arrive without having this coverage, you will not be able to participate on the journey. This insurance needs to include trekking or travel over 4000 meters (10,000 feet) and it needs to include emergency medical expenses, helicopter evacuation, and emergency repatriation.

We highly recommend a travel cancellation insurance as you never know what might come up in life at the time of getting ready to leave for a big journey.

Please have a look here below for different options:

World Nomads provides medical travel insurance for travellers below 70, including also the journey cancellation. You can use the box below to get a quote for your journey.

Medical Travel Compared offers a good platform for comparing what different options of travel medical insurances that are out there.

 

Photo Gallery

Photos from the journey. Please click to enlarge the photo