Nepal: Himalayan Explorations

Travel on an awe-inspiring mystical journey from Kathmandu to Annapurna Basecamp in the breathtaking Himalayas and realize why Nepal is called "Heaven on Earth" and a center of peaceful and sensational wonder.

March 3-19, 2020

This program will wed the disciplines of religion, philosophy, cultural study and outdoor leadership on a mystical journey into the breathtaking Himalayas.  After exploring the ancient and cultural treasures of Kathmandu. participants will hike the Nagarjun Hill, visit UNESCO cultural heritage sites, and embark on the 10-day Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek to the Annapurna Basecamp in the Western Himalayas that will be an awe-inspiring tour of scenic grandeur.  Nepal is often call "Heaven on Earth" and this program will certainly be one of peaceful rejuvenation and sensational wonder.

Along the way, students will consider how this region of the world is quite a unique context where history, religious and cultural diversity, poverty, modernization and ecological beauty (and destruction) are both abundant and starkly manifest. From the simple Christian graveyards behind one of the world’s oldest and largest Shaivite Hindu temples to Newar Buddhists sharing the peak of their sacred stupa (and foothill) with both Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus alike, Nepal is filled with an overwhelming amount of examples of true diversity and respect among a wide range of religious traditions and backgrounds (including Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Jews). A region at a true crossroads between south and east Asia as well as the West, Nepal provides a persistent tension between ancient culture and Western modernizations of commerce, entertainment, and tourism. Finally, students will observe the various climates and areas of ecological beauty in Nepal in order to observe how its environment functions as a primary source of Nepal’s vibrant spiritually while also being continually threatened by the culture’s rapid modernization and subsequent secularization.

Simultaneously, students will participate in Lawrenceville’s experiential Harkness Travel Leadership curriculum that emphasizes intentional student contributions to the experience and rotating daily responsibilities that include: leader of the day, navigator, journalist, photo-journalist, logistics coordinator, resource manager, etc. This process will develop individual authenticity and important collaborative skills like communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and decision-making. As members of the group, students will be asked to reflect on their roles and their place within the group and how their own actions and decisions can impact the whole in both positive and negative ways. Time for journaling will allow an exploration of mindfulness by using prompts that teach self-diagnosis of feelings, attitudes, and place-based insights. The reflections will be used to help students write journal entries that reflect on and critically analyze their own western assumptions about the nature and purpose of religion.

We will stay in hotel accommodations as we explore Kathmandu and Pokhara, and in incredible mountain Tea Houses along the trails that we trek with backpacks. 

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  • Cost

    $5,500 (not including specialized individual clothing and gear*)
    Includes all ground transportation, flights, meals, accommodations, visas and all required non-routine vaccines.  Families will receive a list of all MANDATORY vaccines that are required.  All travelers must be up-to-date on routine vaccines.  Families will be charged for any trip related routine vaccines administered on campus.  If the participant has received any of the mandatory vaccines, documentation must be provided to the Health & Wellness Center no later than December 13. 

    The current cost is based on the posted price of flights available at the time of trip planning. There is the potential for this to change. Participants will be alerted to any changes at time of trip sign-ups.

    *Please see the packing list for individual clothing and gear needs.

Know Before You Go

Program Leaders
Jason VonWachenfeldt, Chair of the Religion and
    Philosophy Department 
John Hughes, Director of Experiential Education 
Stella Leach, French Master

Student Expectations

Students will be required to carry 30+ lb. backpacks holding both personal and group gear while on a 10-day trek in the Annapurna Range. The trails in Nepal can be steep and the hiking will be moderate to strenuous, including some river and stream crossings. As a group, students will be required to care for one another and work together as they address the challenges that come in the backcountry.

The temeprature range on this program will be wide, from potential lows of 14˚F at base camp to highs of 75˚F in the cities, with mostly dry and sunny conditions.

A bonus treat on the trip will be an opportunity to enjoy a dip in a hot spring.

Pre-Trip Work
There will be regular meetings and homework during the Winter term to prepare for the expedition, inluding a MANDATORY training day on Sunday, January 5.


All passports must be current seven months past the return date of any School-sponsored trip. Please check and plan accordingly. A photocopy of the passport information page is required for sign-up when the first payment is due.

All travelers must be up-to-date on routine vaccines. Families will be charged for any trip related routine vaccines administered on campus.
Families will receive a list of all MANDATORY non-routine vaccines required for this program. If the participant has received any of the mandatory vaccines, documentation must be provided to the Health and Wellness Center no later than December 13.

Packing List

Sign Up

Target Student Population
This trip is open to III-V Formers who have completed Introduction to Religious Studies and who are interested in combining outdoor skills development with a focus on comparative Eastern Religious and Philosophical study. Students must be able to hike up to seven hours per day, carrying their own backpacks through varied terrain. Additionally, maturity and fitness will be used in the selection process to create the best possible backcountry team. All participants will attend regular winter term orientation meetings, including a mandatory winter training (see above).

Participation for all Lawrenceville Harkness Travel Programs is dependent upon a review of student surveys, Housemaster/Advisor recommendations, medical fitness for participation, and financial and disciplinary standing.  Seniority and gender balance is also considered in the selection process.

Application to this program is not considered complete until both of the following items have been submitted:

Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose.  Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.