- Roam narrow alleyways in bustling Kathmandu and discover Durbar Square
- Take a scenic flight to Pokhara with great views of the Himalaya
- Learn about Gurung culture, the largest ethnic group in the Nepal Himalaya
- Go on safari by jeep, boat, and foot in search of exotic and endangered wildlife in Chitwan
- Spend a day feeding, interacting, and learning about elephants
|Day 1||Welcome to Kathmandu!||Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square||Kathmandu|
|Day 3||Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trek to Majgaon (1,400 m)||Majgaon|
|Day 4||Trek from Majgaon to Landruk (1,565 m)||Landruk|
|Day 5||Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk (6,365 feet / 1,940 m)||Ghandruk|
|Day 6||Trek from Ghandruk to Kimche, Drive to Pokhara||Pokhara|
|Day 7||Rafting on the Lower Seti River (Damauli to River Camp)||Seti River Camp|
|Day 8||Rafting on the Lower Seti River, Drive to Chitwan||Chitwan National Park|
|Day 9||Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation||Chitwan National Park|
|Day 10||Explore Chitwan: A Day With Elephants||Chitwan National Park|
|Day 11||Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu||Namobuddha|
|Day 12||Drive from Namo Buddha to Bhaktapur||Bhaktapur|
|Day 13||Depart Kathmandu|
Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!
Flying into Kathmandu, you'll have views over the valley, the Himalaya, and the terraced fields below. After completing customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you outside the airport and to guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets to your hotel.
Once you've settled in, head out and explore the city. Kathmandu Durbar Square is a great place to start your exploration, where you'll walk through narrow alleyways teeming with small shops, ancient temples, and local restaurants. If you want to stretch your legs, Swayambhunath, the white stupa rising above the valley, is the perfect spot to catch the sunset over the valley.
In the evening, the tourist hub of Thamel is a good place to grab your first meal, with a variety of restaurants to chose from offering both Western and local Nepali dishes.
Day 2: Explore Kathmandu: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up by an English-speaking guide for a full-day tour of the Kathmandu Valley, visiting three sacred sites: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square.
This day fits quite a bit in—helpful for maximizing your time in Kathmandu—but doesn't overload you with too many sites. You can spend as much time as you like at each temple (this is a private tour just for you), although most people tend to spend an hour. For lunch, you'll stop at one of our recommended local restaurants.
Return to your hotel in Kathmandu in the late afternoon and meet your trekking guide who will go over details for tomorrow's adventure.
Tour length: 7-8 hours (including transfers)
Day 3: Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trek to Majgaon (1,400 m)
After breakfast in Kathmandu, you'll be picked up by private transfer and driven to the domestic airport for your flight to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest city. This is a stunning half-hour flight along the Himalayan range, where four of the world’s 14 giant mountains over 8,000 m can be seen: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu, and Shishapangma. Your specialist can help you get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane for views of the Himalaya en-route.
In Pokhara, you will be met by your trek guide and transfer to Lumle, the trek start point by private vehicle. The drive takes approximately one hour. If you wish, we will stop along the way to take pictures of the stunning views.
From Lumle, it's an hour's walk to the village of Chandrakot at 1,580 m. From here, you'll have great views of Annapurna South and Machapuchare, the sacred and unclimbed Fishtail Mountain. The trail then takes you through a forest for another 45 minutes to your lodge for the night.
After lunch, you are free to explore the local villages of Tanchowk, Majgaon, and Patlekhet.
Day 4: Trek from Majgaon to Landruk (1,565 m)
Day 5: Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk (6,365 feet / 1,940 m)
Enjoy the last moments of your higher elevation views with breakfast in Landruk. Then, the trail begins with a steep descent towards the Modi Khola (river) for about an hour, followed by a steep ascent of 2-3 hours through scattered villages to Ghandruk, with great views of the Himalaya en route.
Eventually, you'll reach the village of Ghandruk, one of the largest Gurung settlements in western Nepal. Once here, you will have time to enjoy the landscapes and snow-capped peaks like Gangapura, Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), and Mount Annapurna.
If time permits, visit the Annapurna Mountain Conservation Area Project (ACAP) headquarters. The ACAP is the first conservation area and the largest protected area in Nepal. Rich in biodiversity, the area offers over 1,000 species of flowering plants, mammals, amphibians, and birds. You can learn about tourism management (and its effect on the environment) and activities that benefit local communities.
Trekking time: 4-5 hours (2.5 miles / 4 km)
Day 6: Trek from Ghandruk to Kimche, Drive to Pokhara
After breakfast in Ghandruk, you'll make an easy trek downhill to Kimche where a jeep will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Pokhara.
Trekking time: 1 hour (2.4 miles / 3.9 km)
Day 7: Rafting on the Lower Seti River (Damauli to River Camp)
After breakfast, you'll be driven two hours to Damauli where you will put in for your rafting trip. The trip starts with a short safety briefing along the river bank, and then you'll set off for a 3-4 hour float down the beautiful Seti river surrounded by green hills with the majestic Annapurna Massif in the background. It's a gentle river, and you'll stop along the way for a picnic lunch on a sandy beach. Today, there are only two short sets of Grade II rapids, then the remainder of the day is more of a gentle paddle.
Upon arrival at camp, you can unpack and relax along the banks of the river. You can stay in basic tents or opt for a more luxurious safari-style glamping experience at Seti River Camp. The evening is spent around an open fire of driftwood.
Day 8: Rafting on the Lower Seti River (River Camp to Gaighat), Drive to Chitwan National Park
Getting back on the river today, you'll have another 3-4 hours of rafting to Gaighat, the confluence of the Seti and Trishuli rivers. You'll pass through five class II rapids and then the remainder of the trip is a gentle paddle when you can enjoy the surrounding countryside. At Gaighat, a car will be waiting to drive you (2 hours) to your jungle accommodation in Chitwan. Arriving at your lodge, you'll be met by staff with a welcome drink and lunch.
After lunch, you will have a chance to settle into your rooms and explore the lodge grounds. After exploring the nearby river or local walks return to your lodge for dinner.
Day 9: Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation
Today, choose from a variety of activities or take the day to relax and explore on your own. You can make the most of your day with a full day of jungle safari activities, spending time with Nepal’s majestic elephants in the dense jungle in search of wildlife or taking a river safari in traditional carved-out wooden canoes to spot wildlife and birds along the river banks.
Wildlife in Chitwan include the greater one-horned rhinoceros, spotted deer, hog deer, sambar deer, and barking deer as well as a wide variety of birdlife. With luck, there is always the chance of glimpsing the leopard, sloth bear and Royal Bengal tiger (although it is very rare to spot a tiger these days, recent spottings have occurred!).
Day 10: Explore Chitwan: A Day With Elephants
Get up early this morning and follow the elephants into the grasslands beside the river, where the mahouts cut and collect the grass for the elephants to eat during the day. While watching the beautiful sight of the elephants grazing in the morning mist, enjoy a steaming cup of traditional Nepali tea. You can even have a go at cutting and binding the grass yourself—it's harder than the mahouts make it look!
Return to the Elephant Camp after breakfast, where you will sleep tonight. Spend the rest of the morning with the mahouts, learning how to take care of the elephants. Lunch will be ready around noon, and you might wish to relax and be lazy (just like the elephants) during the hot midday hours.
In the late afternoon, when the temperature is pleasant, go for a walk in the jungle with the elephants and their mahouts. You will be walking alongside the elephants, watching how they move, what they eat, and listening to their communication, which consists of rumbling and trumpeting. The naturalist will explain everything you want to know about the surrounding eco-system as you move through the jungle, grassland, and wetlands with the elephants. You will most likely encounter tiger tracks, deer, various species of birds, and maybe a rhino or two, depending on the route you take.
As an overnight guest at the Elephant Camp, you will be surrounded by elephants living in a spacious, chain-free environment. You'll be immersed in the elephants’ daily life all day; even after dark, you will feel the elephants' presence through their verbal and infrasonic communications.
Day 11: Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu, Overnight at Namo Buddha
This morning, you will be transferred to the Bharatpur airport for your 20-minute flight back to Kathmandu.
On arrival in Kathmandu, you'll have time to explore a couple more of the main cultural sites of the Kathmandu Valley as they're located not too far from the airport. You can visit Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world, or Pashupatinath, one of the holiest temples in the Hindu religion.
In the late afternoon, you'll then drive about one hour outside of the city to Namo Buddha, a beautiful hilltop site sacred to Buddhists, especially to the local Tamang population. This mountain retreat has incredible Himalayan views and a quirky architectural style making it a lovely place to relax and soak up being in the Himalaya. You'll arrive in time for sunset and can simply relax or head up to a lookout spot close by for stunning sunset views.
Flight time: 20 minutes
Day 12: Drive from Namo Buddha to Bhaktapur, Explore the Ancient City
After breakfast overlooking the mountains, you'll drive to the village of Panauti to explore how Tamang Buddhist culture contrasts with Tibetan Buddhism. You'll start with a short walk down the hillside to the small stupa at Namobuddha. This stupa commemorates Siddhartha Gautam’s selfless act of offering his body to a hungry tigress, which is said to have contributed to his ability to achieve enlightenment and, ultimately, Buddha-hood. From here, you'll climb a short distance up to the newly built Tibetan Buddhist monastery perched on the hilltop above the stupa.
From here, you head back down into the Kathmandu Valley to Bhaktapur, one of the three ancient cities within the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is also known as Bhadgaun (city of devotees) and is the home of true medieval art and architecture and the center of traditional Nepalese wood carving in the valley. Compared to the other two cities (Patan and Kathmandu), Bhaktapur is the most original and is without a doubt the most historically authentic as it is literally a living museum where farmers dry their harvest, potters turn their wheel, and people go about their daily life as they have done for centuries.
Here, you will check into a charming traditional-style guest house and when you are ready, your guide will take you out to explore this fascinating ancient city at dusk.
Day 13: Depart Kathmandu
It's time to say farewell to Nepal. Enjoy your last moments in Kathmandu with breakfast in a café, a final stroll through the narrow alleys and templtes, and some final souvenir shopping. A driver will be waiting for you at your hotel to take you to the airport for your return flight home. It's best to be at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure.