Joyce Staver

Destination Coordinator
Certified Wellness Advisor

First impressions can stay with you a lifetime and my first day in Nepal will be forever etched in my mind. My #memoriesbeyond moment came about by chance…or was it meant to be? Wandering around Kathmandu, the centuries-old capital, I got lost trying to get back to the hotel, so I asked a monk for help. He kindly took the time to walk me there himself and it was a wonderful 10-minute experience hearing about his life as a monk for 30 years. Personal encounters are the best way to peer into a culture!

I also enjoyed a visit to the Boudhanath Stupa, spinning the prayer wheels, listening to the mix of mantras around me, and navigating through the maze of monks, tourists, and Nepalese. I bought a healing bowl in a shop that offers sound healing classes!

This ancient city is chock full of Unesco World Heritage sites—its architecture and monuments a blend of Hindu heritage and Buddhist culture. A gateway to the Himalayas, Kathmandu’s surrounding landscape is magical.

The next day was a whole new world! After the bustle of Kathmandu, it was sheer heaven to experience such a peaceful, environmentally sustainable lodge. Being in Chitwan National Park was amazing. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site and home to the rare Bengal tigers and one-horned rhinos, which we spotted along with monkeys and deer! There are also scores of bird species including the Giant Hornbill.

I was free on day 3 to enjoy the national park. The lodge offered a nature and wildlife jungle walk, jeep safari, village tour including a cultural dance show, and a canoe trip down the Rapti River.

The fourth day was a spiritual journey in itself…visiting Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the apostle of world peace. Filled with sacred gardens, temples, and pagodas, this Unesco site is an enchanting place. What could be more mesmerizing than sitting perfectly still listening to the monks chanting around the Bodhi tree? We also enjoyed exploring the Cambodian Monastery and grounds.

There is always so much planning involved in travel that I love unexpected surprises. In Pokhara we entered what looked like a shop in town but was actually the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. We descended an elaborate staircase with lots and lots of steps with minimal lighting to enhance the suspense! When you reach the bottom there is a small waterfall at the end of the cave, a surprise pointed out by our guide! It was a nice day wandering around the shops and restaurants.

Another surprise on our last day! We took a boat trip on the picturesque Phewa Lake, the 2nd largest lake in Nepal. We docked on a small island in the southeast section of the lake and visited the Hindu Tal Barahi Temple of the Goddess Durga (Barahi) where visitors come to pray. It was such a special place—a surprise to encounter on the island. Afterwards, we hiked to the brilliant white World Peace Pagoda, set on a narrow ridge above the lake and built by monks from Japan. I could feel the peacefulness and quiet calm in the air at this Unesco World Heritage site. A Japanese monk was murdered by anti-Buddhist extremists during the construction of the monument and his grave is near the base of the Stupa. From the top of the monument you can see a breathtaking view of the Annapurna Range, the lake, and the city of Pokhara. Though we didn’t have time, they offer paragliding in this area and it would be a spectacular experience for travelers to include it in their itinerary.

I’m home now. The experience is over, but the memories live on!