Explore Nepal with Lavinia Spalding & Jeff Greenwald

Feb 26th - March 8th, 2018

As we move through our lives, we all turn a wheel of stories. Some arcs are brief, while others span decades. All help define who we are—and the stories we gather on our travels are often the most compelling of all.

 Nepal is a country of vivid colors, unforgettable faces, and countless stories waiting to be told: a place where the sacred and profane spin together. During our 10-day exploration of the Kathmandu Valley, we'll visit ancient temples and hidden alleyways, meet with artists and spiritual leaders, and shop for beads and Buddhas in the labyrinthine bazaars of the old city.

While we’re immersed in this world, we’ll compose short, powerful sketches of the people and places that move us. These “flash nonfiction” pieces will reflect pivotal moments and may serve as the seeds for longer narratives. Committing them to the page will become a kind of spiritual practice, supported by our morning meditation sittings.

 During our 10 days we will:

*    Hone our writing skills

*    Capture transformative moments

*    Compose small stories, some photo illustrated

*    Join in morning meditations  

*    Engage all our senses

*    Ignite our curiosity and deepen our awareness

*    Shop for Buddhas (of course)

*    Cultivate positive journaling habits

*    Connect to a deeply spiritual culture

*    Share our work with our travel community


We invite you to join us aboard the chaotic, magical wheel of Nepal this coming March.  

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Day 1:  When you arrive in Kathmandu our drivers will be there to pick you up from the airport.  You’ll be transferred to the Hotel Vajra, where you can unwind from your journey, rest, enjoy the garden and a meal, and soak up the atmosphere.  Once everyone has arrived we’ll have a brief orientation meeting and dinner before turning in for the night.


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Day 2:  After an early breakfast at the Hotel Vajra, we’ll gather in the library for an opening meeting and then we’ll get started writing right away.  Later, before lunch, we’ll walk up to the nearby Swaymbunath stupa (also known as “The Monkey Temple”) for a spectacular view out across the entire Kathmandu Valley.  We’ll also learn a bit about the local architecture and Nepal’s rich Buddhist & Hindu religious traditions.  After lunch, participants will have one-on-one meetings with the faculty and rest.  Then we’ll head out for a stroll through Asan Tol (the old market district) with Jeff and then to Thamel for a night on the town & a chance to enjoy some excellent authentic local cuisine. 



Day 3:  After an early breakfast at the Hotel Vajra, we’ll meet in the library for a morning of workshops & discussions before journeying to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Patan.  For centuries, Patan been a town of artisans and we today will have the chance to meet some of the people who give this city its unique beauty.  After a patio lunch, we’ll return to our hotel where you’ll have some time on your own to reflect & write before joining the rest of the group for a typical Tibetan meal at the beautiful rooftop restaurant of the Vajra.





Day 4:  After breakfast at the Hotel Vajra we’ll again gather in the library for a morning of workshops, individual writing & discussion before journeying to Boudhanath, the Tibetan Buddhist heart of Kathmandu.  For centuries, this vibrant place of spiritual power has been the destination of pilgrims from around the world. For the next three days this will be our home as we explore and gather seeds of inspiration from the sounds, sights, tastes & smells swirling around the Great Stupa at Boudhanath.





Day 5:  Pashupatinath is a one of the most sacred Hindu sites in the Indian subcontinent.  In addition to being the home of wandering holy men, cave yogis, and Shiva devotees, the cremation ghats on the banks of the Bagmati River are an ideal place for us to reflect on the themes of loss and letting go.  We will be up with the sunrise today, to join the local Nepalis for their morning devotional prayers at Pashupatinath, and then we’ll return to Boudhanath for an afternoon of rest, reflection & writing.  In the evening you are free to explore the colorful side streets and markets of Boudhanath.

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Day 6: The temples and monasteries of Boudhanath offer a living mandala of authentic spiritual teachers in the Buddhist tradition.  Today we will visit a few of these monasteries, and immerse ourselves in the teachings, visual expressions and rituals that bring this tradition to life.  We will have the chance to meet with Buddhist teachers and to experience meditation practice in one of the local temples.  Afterwards, will explore the ways that the inner journey of the writer can manifest on the written page.

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Day 7:  Ascending to 1,550 meters feet above the Kathmadnu Valley, today we journey to our new home for the next 3 days: the Namo Buddha Resort.  This beautiful hotel offers both beautifully landscaped gardens and, when the weather is clear, stunning views of the snow-peaked Himalayan mountains.  It is a short 30-minute walk to one of the most sacred "power places" for spiritual practice and retreat in the Kathmandu Valley. We'll arrive at the Namo Buddha Resort in the late afternoon, settle into our cottages, and soak up the scenery. Here in the deep solitude of a mountain retreat we will have uninterrupted space and time to refine our individual writing, and to get inspiration & ideas from others.

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Day 8:  After a hearty breakfast in view of the snow-peaks, we will take a short walk nearby Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery, perched on a steep ridge overlooking the valley. The beautiful and sprawling Thrangu Monastery was built on the hillside where, in a previous life, the Buddha is said to have offered his own body to a starving tigress in order that she could feed her cubs. The site is a principal pilgrimage place for Tibetan Buddhists  Later, when we return to the Namo Buddha Resort, we will have all afternoon to reflect on the day.  After dinner, will have a casual evening of sharing our own work, or the inspirational work of others, with the guidance of our featured writers.



Day 9: We will spend our last full day in the mountains, reflecting on the time we’ve spent together and creating space to draw out key insights & inspiration for the journey home.  It will be a leisurely day, spent at your own pace and, after reconvening for sunset cocktails, the featured writers will hold an interactive session around topics relevant to spoken word & live performance.




Day 10:   After a final breakfast in the mountains, we will return to Kathmandu for a celebratory day at the luxurious Dwarikas Hotel.  Here you will have an opportunity to take advantage of the hotel’s charming gardens, swimming pool, spa & shops, and in the evening we will gather again to enjoy to an elaborate traditional Nepali-style dinner.  After dinner, we will conclude the Himalayan Writers Workshop with a public performance, spotlighting our featured writers & any participants who feel inspired to share their own work.

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Day 11:  After breakfast at Dwarika's Hotel, it's time to say goodbye and head back home.  Our staff will be ready to help with airport transportation & anything you need for your onward journey...

Rooms are shared (private rooms are available for an extra fee depending upon availability).

You'll spend a total of 3 nights at the Hotel Vajra, an authentic, Newari-style hotel with some Tibetan touches. You'll have everything you need for a very comfortable stay. Rooms have parquet floors and the attached bathrooms all have shower and running hot water. There is a old-style Library with several writing tables at the Vajra, which will be used for our workshops.  Rooms are also equipped with chairs and writing desk and there are quiet corners to work in the gardens. Some rooms have a coffee table and private balcony.  Internet services are located on the ground floor.


During your 3 nights at the Harmika Hotel, you’ll rise to the sound of monastery horns from the Tibetan Buddhist monastery next door, and enjoy the early morning as monastic life carries on around you. Harmika, located just a short walk from the Boudhanath Stupa – the heart of Buddhist Nepal – and offers simple, comfortable rooms, each with its own bathroom and hot water, flat screen TV, and a pleasant garden and outdoor bar. Here you can relax and be inspired by the many sights and experiences that this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers.

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Located at the top of an 1,800 meter (5,905 ft) hill, the Namo Buddha Resort offers a taste of the simple life in the Nepali countryside. Comprised of several small, beautifully built cottages, this one-of-a-kind resort is rich in traditional Nepali style. All cottages feature, adobe walls, decorative niches, stone roofs, colorful textiles and lots of gorgeous woodwork. On a clear morning, wake up to panoramic views of the Himalaya, including the Annapurna and Khumbu mountain ranges.

The resort is surrounded by forest and has its own organic farm where vegetables, grains, flowers and many fruits are grown. They collect milk from their own cows and honey from their bees. They also makes their own jams, breads, and other bakery items.  Namo Buddha Resort also features wireless internet and a wood sauna.

For the final leg of our journey, we'll return to Kathmandu mid-afternoon and spend our last day at one of the city's finest addresses: the luxurious Dwarika's Hotel. Lonely Planet calls it "a cross between a museum and a boutique hotel, with a lush, pampering ambience."  Here we'll not only have time to relax and indulge a bit before heading back home, but we'll also host a final reading event, open to the public. The featured writers from the Himalayan Writers Workshop's will read from their own work and, if you feel inspired, you are welcome to add your voice to a final celebration of travel & creativity.


Program Fee:

$2,980 (USD) regular program fee double occupancy (+$400 for single room depending upon availability)
Final payment deadline: January 26, 2018

A non-refundable deposit of $600 is required at the time of registration to hold your space.

Late registration: After January 26, 2018, we can accommodate late registration only in the event that a space remains available. If a late registration is possible after January 26, 2018, full payment is required at the time of registration to hold your space and the entire payment is non-refundable.

Fee includes: 10 nights accommodations, 3 vegetarian meals per day on most days, bottled water and tea/coffee at meal times, scheduled excursions to pilgrimage sites, knowledgeable guides and teachers, all entrance fees, land transportation within Nepal, and airport transfers.

Fee does not include: air fare to and from Kathmandu, airport or departure taxes not included in your air ticket, visa fees ($30), additional hotel nights before or after scheduled program dates, unscheduled activities and excursions, soft drinks, alcohol and espresso drinks, phone calls, massage services, shopping, laundry or other personal expenses, additional meals, drinks and snacks, travel insurance, trekking extensions, or single supplements ($400 depending upon availability).

The program begins late Monday afternoon (around 4pm) on February 26th and ends after breakfast on Thursday, March 8th. If you're pressed for time, you may arrive on February 26th and depart on March 8th. You're also welcome to arrive a few days early, or stay for awhile after the workshop has concluded. Please inform us if you require an extra night or two on either end of the trip and we'll make a reservation on your behalf. (A fee for extra hotel nights would apply.)