This route takes you off-the-beaten-path in the lower Annapurna region to multiple spectacular viewpoints. You'll hike through local villages, terraced farmland, and dense bamboo, oak, pine, and rhododendron forests to rewarding vistas of snow-capped Himalaya. Contrast your adventure with a relaxing stay in the peaceful village of Bandipur before heading south to explore Chitwan's jungle and wildlife.

Highlights

  • Roam narrow alleyways in bustling Kathmandu and discover Durbar Square
  • Take a scenic flight to Pokhara with great views of the Himalaya
  • Watch yaks come to pasture in Khopra Danda
  • Enjoy the peace of Bandipur, a hilltop town with incredible views
  • 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 Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trek to Ghandruk (6,364 feet / 1,940 m) Ghandruk
Day 4 Trek from Ghandruk to Tadapani (8,563 feet / 2,610 m) Tadapani
Day 5 Trek from Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m), Sunset from Muldai Peak Dobato
Day 6 Trek from Dobato to Upper Chistibung (3,198 feet / 2,975 m) Upper Chistibung
Day 7 Trek from Upper Chistibung to Khopra Danda (12,007 feet / 3,660 m) Khopra Danda
Day 8 Rest day in Khopra Danda (Optional day hike to Kaire Lake) Khopra Danda
Day 9 Trek from Khopra Danda to Tatopani, Dip in the Hot Spring Tatopani
Day 10 Drive from Tatopani to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 11 Drive from Pokhara to Bandipur Bandipur
Day 12 Drive from Bandipur to Chitwan Chitwan National Park
Day 13 Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation Chitwan National Park
Day 14 Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 15 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

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 3: Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trek to Ghandruk (6,364 feet / 1,940 m)

The Gurung village of Ghandruk
The Gurung village of Ghandruk

After an early breakfast, you'll be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch your short flight to Pokhara. Pokhara is a city located west of Kathmandu. Your specialist can help you try to get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane for views of the Himalayas en-route. Upon landing, you'll be picked up by private car and transferred to Kimche where the trek to Ghandruk begins!

When you arrive Ghandruk, also known as the 'Switzerland of Nepal', check out the tiny Gurung museum for local history and textiles, and explore the traditional houses made of stone slabs. Or just sit back and relax. There are plenty of places in the village to absorb the snow-capped views of the Annapurna range, Glacier Dome, and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail).

Trekking time: 4-5 hours (5.6 miles / 9 km)

Day 4: 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 5: Trek from Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m), Sunset from Muldai Peak

A rhododendron forest near Tadapani
A rhododendron forest near Tadapani

After breakfast in Tadapani, you'll leave the main trail and begin walking in a more remote area of the Annapurna region through beautiful rhododendron forest. This off-the-beaten-path trail crosses beautiful Nepali villages and a variety of flora, fauna, and ancient trees. It's a magical atmosphere straight out of a Tolkien book. 

After a short climb and descent into a dell, you'll start a more serious climb which continues all the way up to the lodges at Dobato. After about half an hour, you emerge on the northern side of the ridgeline and have a stunning view of the Annapurna South massif towering above you and hear the roar of many waterfalls as the river races away into the dramatic steep-sided valley far, far below. Here the forest starts to change and you see more oak trees and conifers. From here, it's a steep half hour up to the teahouse at Meshar Danda, perched on the ridgeline with truly incredible views.

After a cup of tea and a short rest, you'll have about an hour more of this type of forested trail until you reach the open hillside at Isharu where shepherds graze their sheep and where you'll have lunch. All fueled up, start out with a gentle ascent as the trail contours around the hillside and then up to a small but beautiful pass, where the path goes through a fascinating Gurung temple.

From here, it's a short descent to a beautiful open valley before you head into the trees again and back up to the ridgeline. Along the way, you can see incredible purple barked rhododendron trees, much smaller than the ones you saw earlier but striking for their color (and the mountain backdrop if the weather is clear!). From the ridge, you contour down to a creek bed and 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!

Trekking time: 5-6 hours (4 miles / 6.5 km)

Day 6: Trek from Dobato to Upper Chistibung (3,198 feet / 2,975 m)

Part of today's trek head to Muldhai Peak
Part of today's trek head to Muldhai Peak

You'll have an early breakfast in Dobato and then begin the climb to Muldai Peak for a magnificent panorama view at sunrise. From here, you'll descend through open ground and a beautiful forest to reach the pastures of Lower Chistibung.

Next, ascend gradually on the trail through another forest before reaching Upper Chistibung, a temporary herder’s settlement. If you’re lucky you might even spot the colorful Lophophorus (Danphe), the national bird of Nepal, as well as Himalayan Thar on the grassy ridge high above the trail. 

Trekking time: 4-5 hours (2.4 miles / 4 km)

Day 7: Trek from Upper Chistibung to Khopra Danda (12,007 feet / 3,660 m)

Enjoy a tea amid the great views!
Enjoy a tea amid the great views!

After breakfast in Upper Chistibung, you'll embark on a steady climb above the treeline through pretty alpine meadows and pastures to reach Khopra. As you enter the ridge, look for the tip of Annapurna South in the distance.

Upon reaching Khopra, go for an easy walk to a viewpoint overlooking the Kali Gandaki River far below in the deep valley. Based in Khopra for the night, you'll also admire the stunning snow-capped mountain panoramas including Mount Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and Annapurna South. 

Trekking time: 2-3 hours (2 miles / 3.2 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 8: Rest day in Khopra Danda (Optional day hike to Kaire Lake)

Starting the day hike to Kaire Lake
Starting the day hike to Kaire Lake

Today is a rest day so sleep in and enjoy a relaxing morning in Khopra Danda.

Kaire Lake Day Hike
After breakfast, you'll have the option to embark on a challenging full-day hike to Kaire Lake where you'll get excellent views of the surrounding mountains. Considered a sacred lake by the Hindus, bathing in Kaire is believed to help you attain Nirvana. Since Hinduism and Buddhism are intricately related in Nepal, you can witness and wander around a number of Hindu and Buddhist shrines scattered around the lakeside.

Kaire Lake altitude: 15,272 ft / 4,665 m
Kaire Lake trekking time: 7-8 hours
Kaire Lake trekking distance: 10.2 miles (16.5 km) round-trip

Not interested in hiking all the way to the lake? A half-day walk from Khopra can also be arranged.

Day 9: Trek from Khopra Danda to Tatopani, Dip in the Hot Spring

Leaving Khopra Danda
Leaving Khopra Danda

From Khopra Danda, you'll descend steeply downhill into the valley toward Paudwar. After lunch at Paudwar, you'll continue the hike down to Tatopani (meaning "hot water" in Nepali).

You'll stay overnight here in a teahouse, and can dip in hot spring and relax for the rest of the day while we can also interact with locals and kids.

Day 10: Drive from Tatopani to Pokhara

Pokhara and Phewa Lake at sunset
Pokhara and Phewa Lake at sunset

After breakfast, you'll take a private jeep back to Pokhara, passing through the town of Beni en route. Beni is one of the main transport hubs that connects Pokhara and Jomsom. From there, you'll continue driving through Nayapul all the way till Pokhara.

Driving time: 4 hours

Day 11: Drive from Pokhara to Bandipur

Views of the valley from the Old Inn
Views of the valley from the Old Inn

In the morning, after breakfast, you'll have time to explore the streets of Pokhara or walk along the lake. You could also take a short boat tour, paragliding trip, or a hike/drive to the Peace Pagoda for great views over Pokhara. 

In the afternoon, you'll be met by your driver and head to Bandipur, a beautiful hilltop village 2-3 hours drive east of Pokhara. It is a small town perched high on a ridge, at 1,030 m. As the center of the town is pedestrianized, you can walk among the red-brick temples and traditional old homes without the same stress of traffic as in Kathmandu. Bandipur used to be an important center of garment manufacturing and was a trading stop along the India-Tibet route.

You'll arrive just before sunset in time to enjoy the views, explore the village, and take in a meal at your hotel overlooking the valley below.

Day 12: Drive from Bandipur to Chitwan

Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park

After breakfast, you'll 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.

During the drive, you'll pass 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.

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: 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 temples, 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 two hours prior to departure.