Meditation Journey in Nepal and Bhutan

November 8th – 22nd 2020

With Sisse Budolfsen & Alex d’Artois

With this Meditation Journey in Nepal & Bhutan we start our first 6 days in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, where we explore the sacred areas of Swayambhu, Pharping, Namo Buddha and Boudha Stupa – listed to be some of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage spots in the world. After becoming acquainted with the Nepali Buddhist cultures of the Himalayan region, we travel to the other sacred Buddhist land of Bhutan. Here we spend 8 days, embarking on a journey where we get to both observe and learn about the spiritual heritage of Bhutan, as much as taking time to practice ourselves and take in the many blessings of this place.

Message us to discuss all the details: hello@himalayanhermitage.com

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  • 8:00 – 9:00 Meditation
  • 9:15 – 10:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 – 12:00 Morning session
  • 12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
  • 1:00 – 4:30 Visiting sacred places
  • 7:00 – 8:00 Dinner

Itinerary

The majestic ‘wishfulfilling’ Boudha Stupa

 

DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU

 

Arrival and pick up at Tribhuvan International Airport of Kathmandu. We drive straight to our guesthouse in Boudha, five minutes walking distance to the sacred Boudha Stupa. There may be time to rest from the journey or go for a walk to the Boudha Stupa. In the afternoon there will be an introduction to the meditation journey by instructors Alex d’Artois & Sisse Budolfsen.

 

Local shrine at the Boudha Stupa

DAY 2 – FULL DAY IN BOUDHA

 

Morning meditation session followed by breakfast. We have our introduction session to Buddhist philosophy before lunch. After lunch and a rest, we walk to the Boudha Stupa and Shechen Monastery, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Kathmandu. We get to visit Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s meditation room, the founder of Shechen Monastery and one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist masters of out time. We have dinner in Boudha and overnight at the guesthouse.

 

The beautifully located cottage in the Shivapuri National Park

 

DAY 3 – HIKE FROM KOPAN TO SHIVAPURI NATIONALPARK

 

Morning meditation and breakfast. After breakfast we start our 6-7 hike that day up to Kopan and from there across the Northern hills of the Kathmandu valley to Shivapuri National Park. On our way we stop at Nagi Gompa, a nunnery nestled in the national park and we pay homage to Tulku Urgyen, the late founder of the nunnery and one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist masters of his generation. We take our lunch at the nunnery before doing the last stretch of the hike up to the beautifully located cottage where we will stay for the next coming nights. Dinner and overnight at the cottage.

 

View from the cottage in Shivapuri National Park

DAY 4 – FULL DAY AT THE COTTAGE IN SHIVAPURI NATIONAL PARK

 

Morning meditation and breakfast. We spend the full day at the cottage in the Shivapuri National Park. Free morning and lunch at the cottage. In the afternoon we have a meditation and philosophy session followed by a sunset view over the Kathmandu valley. Dinner and overnight at the cottage.

 

Our hotel near Swayambhu Stupa, an oasis in the city

DAY 5 – WE DRIVE TO SWAYAMBHU

 

Morning meditation and breakfast at the cottage. After breakfast we drive to Swayambhu and settle into our hotel which is 20 min walk from the Stupa. We take lunch at the hotel.

 


Paro Valley in Bhutan

DAY 6 – WE FLY TO PARO / BHUTAN

 

After breakfast we depart for the international airport and fly to Paro, Bhutan. We visit Dhuntse and Kyichu Lakhang – the house of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist masters of this century. We spend the night at a lovely resort.

 


Trail behind the Rimpung Dzong

DAY 7 – JALA DZONG

 

After breakfast, we drive to up the hill behind the dzong to begin our  walk to Jala Dzong. We have lunch at camp and then visit the Dzong and enjoy the day at this location. This is also a famous location for encountering the national flower of Bhutan – the blue poppy – but only during summer season. We spend the night camping at Jala Dzong.

 


Camp at Latakkha Monastery

DAY 8 – CAMP AT LATAYKHA MONASTERY

 

After breakfast, continue our walk to Lataykha monastery, which as retreat location for Buddhist practitioners of the region. From this location, we can enjoy Great views of Hemphug Monastery, Bemri and Phurdo Gompa.

 

 


Local stupa near the place of the 100,000 Dakinis

DAY 9 – HIKE TO BEMRI, THE SITE OF THE 100,000 DAKINIS

 

After breakfast, we walk to Bemri a sacred site which is known as the mountain of 100,000 dakinis who took flight from here. We continue hiking for visits at  Dhunkalha or Phurdo Gompa and return to hotel by vehicle. We spend the night at a beautifully located resort in Paro.

 


Picnic in nature

DAY 10 – CHELE LA & KILAY NUNNERY

 

We rise early for the drive to Chele la and visit Kilay gompa (nunnery) along the way. We have a picnic lunch at the top of the pass where we will get great Himalaya views if the weather is clear. After this continue down the back side of the pass to Haa valley. We spend the night at a beautiful farmhouse.

 


Dordenma Buddha, overlooking the Thimphu Valley

DAY 11 – VISIT TO SHEKHAR DRAK & THIMPHU

 

We visit Shekhar Drak (dedicated to Avalokitsvara) and continue on driving the back road of Haa. We will  stop for a picnic lunch at the scenic Dobsey Dzong. We continue onto Thimphu and check into the hotel. In the afternoon – free time for exploring the city. Prior to dinner, we pay a visit to the Dordenma Buddha which sits above the city and overlooks the entire Thimphu valley.

 


Tamchoe Monastery near Paro

DAY 12 – RETURN TO PARO

 

We spend the morning (half day) in Thimphu – select from visits to:  Zorig Chusu the School of 13 Traditional Arts, Textile Museum, the Traditional Medical Center or Memorial Chorten. Lunch in Thimphu and then return to Paro with a stop at Tamchoe monastery the famous location of Iron bridge builder Thang Thong Gyalpo and see his chain bridge and other relics located here. We spend the night back at a beautiful resort in Paro.

 


View of Taksang, Tiger’s Nest

DAY 13 – TAKTSANG/TIGER’S NEST

 

We begin our early morning pilgrimage walk to Taktsang Monastery or the famous Tiger’s Nest. On the way back down, we have lunch at the Taktsang “cafeteria”. Return to the hotel where an optional Bhutanese hot stone bath can be organized (at an additional cost) and a farewell dinner for our last night in Bhutan.

 


Stupa in Solo Khumbu region, Nepal

DAY – 14 – RETURN TO KTM

 

We return to Kathmandu, Nepal by morning flight and spend our last night in Boudha. Free day and farewell dinner at Roadhouse in Boudha, with direct view to the Stupa.

Alex d’Artois, Co-Director & Facilitator

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.

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 14-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 14 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’: 5299 USD (expires 6 months prior to the starting date of the journey)

Normal price: 5599 USD

Single Supplement for both seasons: 575 USD

INCLUSIONS

  • 14 nights/15 days
  • All accommodation, meals & transport in Nepal & Bhutan
  • Experienced guides & instructors
  • Return flight between Kathmandu & Paro (Bhutan)
  • Healthy, vegetarian meals
  • Daily Dharma talks & introduction to meditation
  • Notebook for journaling during the journey

EXCLUSIONS

  • International flight ticket to Nepal
  • Personal insurance during the journey
  • Personal visa to Nepal (25 USD for 15 days / 30 USD for 30 days to be purchased upon arrival)
  • Any alcoholic beverage during the journey
  • Tip to local guide and porters

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!

Pay a deposit of $500.00 per item

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