This Best of Nepal tour perfectly mixes adventure and cultural exploration with relaxation. Featuring multiple days of trekking through the Annapurna foothills, you will start in the Kathmandu Valley before flying to Pokhara to begin the trekking portion of the itinerary. Discover Gurung villages and ancient temples and feed elephants and safari in the Chitwan National Park.

Highlights

  • Visit Kathmandu's famous Monkey Temple, Swayambhunath, before sipping chai in Durbar Square
  • Take a scenic flight to Pokhara with great views of the Himalaya
  • Experience daily life in traditional Gurung villages
  • Spend the day with elephants, feed and interacting with them
  • Go on safari by jeep, boat, and foot in search of exotic and endangered wildlife in Chitwan

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Explore Lakeside Pokhara
Day 4 Explore Pokhara: Guided or Self-Guided Day Tours Pokhara
Day 5 Drive from Pokhara to Lumle, Trek to Majgaon (4,593 ft / 1,400 m) Majgaon
Day 6 Trek from Majgaon to Landruk (1,565 m) Landruk
Day 7 Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk (6,365 feet / 1,940 m) Ghandruk
Day 8 Trek from Ghandruk to Tadapani (8,563 feet / 2,610 m) Tadapani
Day 9 Trek from Tadapani to Ghorepani Ghorepani
Day 10 Trek from Ghorepani to Ulleri, Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 11 Drive from Pokhara to Chitwan Chitwan National Park
Day 12 Explore Chitwan: A Day With Elephants Chitwan National Park
Day 13 Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation Chitwan National Park
Day 14 Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 15 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 16 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa
The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa

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

Patan Durbar Square
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, Explore Lakeside

View of Machapuchare from Pokhara
View of Machapuchare from Pokhara

After breakfast, you'll be picked up and driven by private transfer to the domestic airport for your flight (30 minutes) 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. 

Upon landing, a driver will be waiting to bring you to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore or just to relax by the lake. Pokhara has plenty of great cafés, restaurants, funky shops, and yoga studios that cater to expats and adventure travelers.

Day 4: Explore Pokhara: Guided or Self-Guided Day Tours

Boats along the shore of Phewa Lake
Boats along the shore of Phewa Lake

Today, you'll have a full day in Pokhara to relax or enjoy a variety of activities. You may want to explore the cafés and restaurants, go shopping, or perhaps do something more adventurous like paragliding or mountain biking.

Day 5: Drive from Pokhara to Lumle, Trek to Majgaon (4,593 ft / 1,400 m)

Local women tend to their harvest
Local women tend to their harvest

After an early breakfast, you'll be met by your trekking guide and driven to Lumle, the starting point for the trek. Feel free to ask the driver to 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're free to explore the local villages of Tanchowk, Majgaon, and Patlekhet.

Driving time: 1 hour

Day 6: Trek from Majgaon to Landruk (1,565 m)

Enjoy stunning views of the Himalaya along your route
Enjoy stunning views of the Himalaya along your route
After breakfast, set forth on the path to Landruk. The trail takes you through ancient rhododendron forests and small Gurung villages on the way. After three to four hours of walking, you will reach the beautiful village of Landruk. After having lunch at the lodge, spend the rest of the day as you choose, perhaps a visit to a nearby Gurung village.

Day 7: Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk (6,365 feet / 1,940 m)

Ghandruk village
Ghandruk village

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 8: Trek from Ghandruk to Tadapani (8,563 feet / 2,610 m)

Springtime blossoms invite plenty of photographs
Springtime blossoms invite plenty of photographs

Wake up with breakfast in Ghandruk and enjoy great views of Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), Annapurna South, and the Hiunchuli peaks. 

From here, you'll continue on the trail upwards through Deurali and into some dense rhododendron forests. This blossom is Nepal’s national flower and during spring months, when the trees are in full bloom, the forests turn into gardens of vibrant displays that look especially breathtaking against snow-capped mountains in the distance.

After trekking over a small pass, you'll reach Tadapani where you'll get to enjoy more of those excellent views. Many friendly Tibetans live in the village and they'll likely be out and about selling trekkers items to take back home as souvenirs. 

Trekking time: 3-4 hours (6 miles / 9.7 km)

Day 9: Trek from Tadapani to Ghorepani

Forested trails near Ghandruk
Forested trails near Ghandruk

Today's trek is a bit longer with 5-6 hours of trekking. It is an uphill walk through fields and pastures and later through rhododendrons and oak forests. Ghorepani was originally a horse watering post, which is now an important crossroad for trekkers and the numerous mule caravans on the Jomson-Pokhara route. It is also the start and end point for the Poon Hill climb the next morning. 

Trekking time: 5-6 hours

Day 10: Trek from Ghorepani to Ulleri, Drive to Pokhara

Morning on Poon Hill
Morning on Poon Hill

Start before dawn for a one-hour climb of the steps all the way up to Poon Hill (3,200 m) to watch the sun's first rays on Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), the seventh highest mountain in the world. Poon Hill is a popular destination due to the spectacular views, so expect to share the moment with lots of other excited trekkers. Remember to bring a little cash for a cup of tea on the top. 

After descending to Ghorepani, enjoy your breakfast at the lodge. The continue the trek down to Ulleri, where the vehicle will be waiting to pick you up and take you back to Pokhara.

Day 11: Drive from Pokhara to Chitwan

Bathe with elephants in Chitwan
Bathe with elephants in Chitwan

After breakfast, you will head out in your private vehicle to the famous Terai region of Nepal. The landscape and culture are totally different from that which you have experienced so far and from the high, alpine regions of the Himalayan range. The name the ‘Terai’ refers to the extensive plains in the southern part of Nepal—this area is the most northern extension of the great Gangetic plains of India, land that was won and lost in decades of struggle and shares both Indian and Nepali characteristics and culture.

You will drive through narrow winding gorges and deep river valleys past terraced fields tilled by generations of family members, reaching the vast plains and the vibrant jungle of the Chitwan National Park in time for a late lunch. This is a stunning overland journey and you will be able to relax and take in the incredible views of this diverse country from the car.

You'll arrive in Chitwan in the early afternoon and check into your resort and meet with a representative to go over the program for your time here.

Driving time: 5-6 hours (91 miles / 147 km) 

Day 12: Explore Chitwan: A Day With Elephants

The elephants at Tiger Tops
The elephants at Tiger Tops

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 13: Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation

One-horned rhino, an endangered species, inside Chitwan
One-horned rhino, an endangered species, inside Chitwan

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 14: Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu

Kathesimbhu Stupa in Thamel
Kathesimbhu Stupa in Thamel

After breakfast in Chitwan, you'll be transferred to Bharatpur airport and return to Kathmandu by flight. 

Once you're back in Kathmandu, you'll be transferred to your hotel where the rest of the day is yours. Explore the city's streets on foot, bicycle, or rickshaw, perhaps shopping for souvenirs or seeing anything you may have missed at the beginning of your trip.

Flight time: 25 minutes

Day 15: Explore Kathmandu

Boudhanath stupa
Boudhanath stupa

Kathmandu has a special atmosphere during the early morning hours when the city is slowly coming to life yet not too chaotic. It's a great time to walk and explore the streets or have a chai overlooking one of the local courtyards or durbar squares. 

After breakfast, there are then a number of ways you can spend your day given the numerous famous sights around the Kathmandu Valley. You can use this as a free day or we can provide a local English-speaking guide who knows the city well and can explain the history and significance of the sights (along with a private jeep to take you around).

Later in the evening, head out for dinner at one of the city's great eateries, or your specialist can arrange a home-cooked dinner with a local family.

Day 16: Depart Kathmandu

The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath
The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath

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.