- Explore Kathmandu and take a guided tour of sacred sites
- Spend two days gliding through Nepal on a mountain bike
- Go rafting on the Trishuli River
- Relax in the lakeside splendor of Pokhara
- Tackle a 5-day trek to sites like Muldai Peak and Poon Hill
|Day 1||Welcome to Kathmandu: Bazaar Walk & Kathmandu Durbar Square||Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Explore Kathmandu: Patan, Boudhanath, and Pashupatinath||Kathmandu|
|Day 3||Ride Kathmandu to Nagarkot (via Boudhanath & Bhaktapur)||Nagarkot|
|Day 4||Ride Nagarkot to Kathmandu (via Panauti & Lakuri Bhanjyang)||Kathmandu|
|Day 5||Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trishuli River Rafting||Pokhara|
|Day 6||Explore Pokhara||Pokhara|
|Day 7||Drive from Pokhara to Kimche, Trek to Tadapani (8,694 feet / 2,650 m)||Tadapani|
|Day 8||Trek from Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m)||Dobato|
|Day 9||Trek from Dobato to Ghorepani (9,416 feet / 2,870 m)||Ghorepani|
|Day 10||Trek from Ghorepani to Tikhedhunga (5,052 feet / 1,540 m)||Tikhedhunga|
|Day 11||Trek from Tikhedhunga to Nayapul, Drive to Pokhara||Pokhara|
|Day 12||Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Depart!|
Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu: Bazaar Walk and Kathmandu Durbar Square
As you fly into Kathmandu you'll have beautiful views over the city, the Himalaya, and the terraced fields below. After you make your way through customs, you'll meet a representative who will guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets and get you settled into your hotel.
Depending on your arrival time, you can head out on a walking tour of the city's vibrant, ancient bazaar. Explore the secret alleys and courtyards of old Kathmandu, dotted with Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples. You're sure to be dazzled by the lines of tiny stalls selling fruit and vegetables, spices, fabric, brass kitchenware, and more.
If you're out and about, be sure to visit the nearby Kathmandu Durbar Square, a storied center of royal and religious power. Here you'll see an eclectic mix of architectural styles, the centerpiece being the Hanuman Dhoka Palace.
In the evening, consider grabbing the first meal of your trip in Thamel, a tourist hub whose eateries offer a variety of Western and local Nepali dishes.
Day 2: Explore Kathmandu: Patan, Boudhanath, and Pashupatinath
After breakfast, you'll get to know the incredible Kathmandu Valley with a full day of guided sightseeing. You'll meet your expert in your hotel's lobby and will be chauffeured by private car to three incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Your first stop is Patan (also known as Lalitpur), the ancient city of fine arts. You'll visit Patan Durbar Square, which showcases stunningly preserved temples and palace complexes.
Next up is Boudhanath Stupa, one of the biggest stupas in the world. The structure is embellished with four pairs of eyes, each looking out in one of the cardinal directions, keeping watch for righteous behavior and human prosperity. The stupa is constructed on an octagonal base inset with prayer wheels and is ringed by houses of Lamas (Buddhist priests), monasteries, and shops.
Your final destination on today's tour is one of the holiest temples in the Hindu religion: Pashupatinath. The temple is revered as the birthplace of the Hindu god Lord Shiva and is therefore dedicated to him. You're bound to be joined by a constant stream of sadhus, Hindus making the pilgrimage to this important site by way of India and other regions in Nepal.
Pashupatinath rests on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, which serves as an access point for cremation. Note that this is the main cremation site for Hindus in the Kathmandu Valley, and you'll notice cremation ghats lining the edge of the water.
Day 3: Ride Kathmandu to Nagarkot (optional stops at Boudhanath and Bhaktapur)
It's time to hit the road! Today you'll glide through Nepal on a mountain bike. You can ride jeep trails and single trail to reach the traditional old town of Sankhu, from which you'll climb up to Nagarkot, a charming hill town famous for its truly incredible views of the massive Himalayan Range.
Or depending on time, interest, and ability, you can include some fascinating stops en route. Head east out of the city center to revisit Boudhanath, the incredible Buddhist Stupa that is part of Nepal and Tibet's shared history.
After, cruise out of town on small roads and through fields to the 9th-century city of Bhaktapur, also known as Bhadgaun (meaning "the city of devotees"), the home of true medieval art and architecture in the Valley. Learn about Napalese traditional wood carving as you admire the cit's famous carved peacock windows, and watch locals continue to approach life the way their forebearers did: farmers dry their harvest, potters turn their wheel and people go about life as they have done for so long.
While in town, you'll visit the Durbar Square (palace square), its temples, the Palace of Fifty-five Windows, and the Taleju Temple, which is the best example of Pagoda style structure in Nepal.
Riding: 25-30 miles (40-50 km) depending on route and ability
Day 4: Ride Nagarkot to Kathmandu via Panauti and Lakuri Bhanjyang
This morning, sit out on the terrace of your lodge and set a breakfast date with some of the tallest and most beautiful mountains on earth. As you drink in the scenery, be sure to eat up for the wild road ahead.
Today you'll tackle a good mix of road and off-road terrain, through villages and rice fields, to Panauti. This village sits at the confluence of two rivers and is allegedly a place Buddha visited once upon a time.
From Panauti, you'll ride up through a beautiful valley for about 9 miles (15 km) to Lakuri Banjyang, a stunning viewpoint that offers a different perspective of mountain views. Admire the Himalaya from this unique angle, then hop back on your bike to enjoy a great downhill on jeep trail, followed by beautiful small roads as you return to Kathmandu.
Day 5: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trishuli River Rafting
After breakfast, you'll depart Kathmandu for Pokhara, Nepal's second-largest city. This lakeside charmer is situated in a tranquil valley (2,713 feet / 827 m) and is the starting point for many of Nepal’s famous treks. Your drive there today follows the banks of the Trishuli River past traditional villages and terraced fields.
En route, you'll stop for a heart-pumping 3-hour rafting trip; the river is quite safe and a great introduction to rafting in Nepal. You'll enjoy lunch on the road and will end at a riverside resort on a hillside with outstanding views. (If you'd prefer to stay on land, you can relax instead at the resort.)
Once you finally arrive in Pokhara, you'll check in to your hotel; after, explore Phewa Lake and relax over dinner.
The Trishuli River
The Trishuli is Nepal's most popular rafting river, given its proximity to Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan. It has exciting rapids (easy to moderate) and impressive gorges. Its headwaters start in Tibet and go on to become one of the main tributaries of the Narayani river. One of the best things about the Trishuli is that regardless of the season, it always offers a great ride. During the monsoon, you'll get high volume (although safe waters), and in winter, the river turns more technical.
Driving time (Kathmandu to Trishuli): 1-2 hours
Rafting time: 3 hours
Driving time (Trishuli to Pokhara): 3-4 hours
Day 6: Explore Pokhara
Spend today relaxing — Pokhara has a bevy of yoga studios, funky shops, and great coffeehouses — or choose an adventure that speaks to you. Commune with nature on a leisurely boat ride, rent a bike and glide along the Phewa's banks, or take a long out-and-back walk up to the World Peace Pagoda, which offers incredible views of the Himalayas. You can also visit a Tibetan refugee village near the Pagoda; meet the locals and shop for their beautiful handicrafts and traditional Tibetan carpets.
If you're hungry for more adrenaline, try tandem paragliding with a professional pilot, zip-lining, mountain biking, or sightseeing on a classic Enfield motorbike! If you're visiting during the main season, you can also tour the breathtaking Annapurna Base Camp by helicopter for truly spectacular views.
When you start feeling pecking, head out to Pokhara's wonderful eateries and lakeside cafés; your local specialists are happy to give you some wonderful recommendations.
Day 7: Drive from Pokhara to Kimche, Trek to Tadapani (8,694 feet / 2,650 m)
This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel; you'll take a private jeep for a scenic one-hour drive to Nayapul, then off road for a couple of hours to Kimche. Enjoy lunch and rest in the village before you hit the trail, commencing your trek with a gentle ascent up to Ghandruk. Along the way, you'll enjoy great views of the Machapuchhre and Hiunchuli mountains.
You'll continue winding your way up through the beautiful old Gurung houses of Ghandruk, then will climb an undulating trail to a forest teahouse with an amazing view of the Annapurnas. Take a break before heading on through the rhododendron forest and watch the landscape become increasingly beautiful as you go deeper into your route.
After a while, you'll hear the roar of waterfalls and will follow a stream that hurtles down the hill from the trail. You'll cross a scenic bridge before tackling a steep section to the teahouses at Bhaisi Kharka — be on the lookout for Langur monkeys playing in the trees while you rest your legs.
After you finish your cup of Nepali tea, you'll head back out to a stunning, undulating trail through magniﬁcent rhododendron forest, with a canopy of gigantic old growth trees and a blanket of orchids and mushrooms dotting the forest floor. You'll trek through this stunning wonderland for about half an hour before your final steep climb of the day to Tadapani.
Driving time: Approx 2-3 hours
Walking time: Approx 4-5 hours
Day 8: Trek from Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m), Sunset at Muldai Peak
Incredible rhododendron forest awaits you as you trek out of Tadapani this morning. As light filters through the ancient trees towering above you, you may feel as if you're in a Tolkein novel or fairytale. You'll tackle a short climb, then will descend into a dell, after which you'll be on a more serious ascent all the way to Dobato.
Along the way, you'll emerge on the northern side of the ridgeline, with a stunning view of the Annapurna South Massif and the roar of waterfalls and the racing river in the valley far below. Once the forest changes to oak trees and conifers, you'll face a steep half hour up to the ridgeline teahouse at Meshar Danda. Enjoy a cup of tea, then head back out for an hour more of forested trail until you reach Isharu, a hillside village where shepherds graze their sheep, and where you'll stop to have some lunch too.
Your afternoon starts with a gentle ascent as the trail contours around the hillside and then up to a small, beautiful pass; the path even goes through a fascinating Gurung temple. From here, it's a short descent to a lovely open valley before you head into the trees again, then back up to the ridgeline. En route, enjoy incredible purple barked rhododendron trees — smaller and more striking than those you saw earlier. From the ridge, you'll hike down to a creek bed; follow this to a small pass, from where you contour around to the lodges at Dobato.
For those with extra energy to spare, head up to Muldai Peak for sunset views. It takes about 45 minutes from the teahouse to reach the view tower and the view is stunning, one of the highlights of the trek!
Walking time: Approx 6 hours (not including summiting Muldai for sunset)
Accommodation: Community lodge
Day 9: Trek from Dobato to Ghorepani (9,416 feet / 2,870 m), Sunrise at Muldai Peak
You'll wake an hour before dawn for an early breakfast, then you'll head up to the viewpoint at Muldai Peak. From Muldai, you'll continue south down a small steep trail towards Banthanti. This is one of the best sections of the trek, where you're well away from the main trails and crowded routes that most trekkers follow.
You'll continue descending steeply for a couple of hours to Banthanti, where you'll rejoin the main trail. The trail then steepens as you climb through rhododendron forest to Deorali, before dropping down to the lodges at Ghorepani. At this point, you're back on the main Annapurna Circuit route and, depending on the season, you'll find quite a few other travelers passing through this ridge-top settlement in both directions.
Ghorepani literally means “horse water” and was a popular stopping place for the mule trains that plied the route from Pokhara to Jomsom and beyond to Tibet. The impressive peak you see across the Kali Gandaki Valley to the northwest is Dhaulagiri (26,795 feet / 8,167 m), the seventh highest mountain in the world.
Walking time: Approx 6 hours
Day 10: Trek from Ghorepani to Tikhedhunga (5,052 feet / 1,540 m), Sunrise at Poon Hill (10,500 feet / 3,200 m)
It is an absolute must for those who stay at Ghorepani to make the walk up to the celebrated viewpoint of Poon Hill, which overlooks the village. Dawn is the best time to go, so you'll have a 5 am wake up call, then you'll head up the well-marked track by torchlight. The first light of dawn illuminates Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak with a surreal pink glow.
After a late breakfast, you'll begin the long descent to Ulleri. You'll contour down the hillside through a mix of beautiful forest, small villages and open meadows. You'll come to a fascinating shrine before you cross the river and enter a spectacular, steep gorge. For about an hour, you'll trek downwards with the sound of the river below roaring, until you ﬁnally emerge into the sunlight and open vistas of the valley. You'll be able to see the villages ahead on the way to Ulleri.
You'll be joined on the trail today by mule or goat caravans carrying supplies to the mountains, heralded by the musical bells they wear. The stunning peaks of Machhapuchare and Annapurna will greet you as you continue on; you'll trot down a steep section of seemingly never-ending stairs down to Tikhedhunga, where you'll cross a suspension bridge and then can enjoy an easier walk for the rest of the trek.
You'll cruise for another hour until you come to your teahouse for the night; after check-in, enjoy your ﬁnal sunset on the trail.
Walking time: Approx 5-6 hours (not including Poon Hill sunrise)
Day 11: Trek from Tikhedhunga to Nayapul (3,510 feet / 1,070 m), Drive to Pokhara
You'll begin the final leg of your journey this morning after breakfast. On the trail, the valley will open up and you'll reap the beneﬁts of the newly built dirt road, your weary legs enjoying the gentler grade (and the complete lack of steps).
When you meet the river, jump in and cool off in one of the beautiful pools (if weather permits). You'll then continue along the road (taking a short detour through the beautiful, tiny village of Mahathanti) and will arrive in Birenthanti, where you'll enjoy lunch in a charming old guest house.
You'll walk for half an hour more, first along the road, then on the old trekking trail to Nayapul, where you'll meet your vehicle for the 1 ½ hour drive back into Pokhara.
Walking time: Approx 4-5 hours
Day 12: Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Depart!
After breakfast, you'll be transferred to Pokhara's domestic airport for your flight back to Kathmandu.
If you're flying back home from Kathmandu today, you need to ensure your flight departs no earlier than 11 am to ensure you'll have enough time to catch it. (The earliest you can arrive back in Kathmandu will be around 9:15 am.)