This tour takes you into the heart of the Everest region, staying in Sherpa villages along the way, including a spectacular helicopter flight by Mt. Everest. Then, you'll head south to Nepal's jungle and to Buddha's birthplace in Lumbini. To break up the drive from Kathmandu to Chitwan, you'll take a short rafting trip and overnight at a cozy resort in the village of Kurintar. 

Highlights

  • Experience the best of the Everest region in a short amount of time
  • Take a helicopter tour over Everest Base Camp amidst the world's tallest mountains
  • If you're looking for comfort, mix in overnights at luxury lodges with great views
  • Spend a few days in Nepal's jungle, relaxing and spotting wildlife
  • Visit the birthplace of Buddha and explore the temples of Lumbini

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, Trek to Monjo (2,850 m) Monjo
Day 4 Trek from Monjo to Namche Bazaar (11,302 ft / 3,445m)  
Day 5 Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tashinga (3450 m) Tashinga
Day 6 Trek from Tashinga to Pangboche (3908 m) Pangboche
Day 7 Helicopter from Pangboche to Lukla via Everest Base Camp Lukla
Day 8 Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 9 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 10 Drive from Kathmandu to Kurintar, Rafting on the Trishuli Kurintar
Day 11 Drive from Kurintar to Chitwan Chitwan
Day 12 Explore Chitwan: Safari by Jeep or by Foot Chitwan
Day 13 Explore Chitwan: Boat Safari to Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge Chitwan
Day 14 Explore Chitwan: A Day With Elephants Chitwan
Day 15 Drive from Chitwan to Lumbini Lumbini
Day 16 Explore Lumbini, Fly to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 17 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 18 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

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

As you fly into Kathmandu, you'll have beautiful views over the city, the Himalaya, and of the terraced fields below. After going through customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you and guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets to get you settled into your hotel.

Once you've settled in, head out and explore the city. 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 Lukla, Trek to Monjo (2,850 m)

The entrance to Sagarmatha National Park
The entrance to Sagarmatha National Park

The flight to Lukla is an attraction in its own right. Prepare for a stunning 35-minute ride over quaint and hilly landscapes, followed by a heart-stopping landing along Lukla's famously tiny mountaintop runway.  Soothe your nerves over a welcoming cup of warm, fragrant chiya, or Nepali milk tea—and stretch your muscles in preparation for another trek. 

Warm up by leisurely traversing a few scenic villages, then stop for a plate of dal bhat, a traditional lunch of steamed rice and lentil soup, along a picturesque river at the base of the Kusum Kangaru, the snowy peak known as "Three Snow-White Gods" in the local language of the Sherpas. From here, it's only a gentle, three-hour hike to Monjo, passing along green, undulating hills and under dramatic mountaintops. Listen carefully for the trill of wild birdsong and keep your eyes peeled for colorful plumage in the trees.

Trekking time: 5-6 hours

Day 4: Trek from Monjo to Namche Bazaar (11,302 ft / 3,445m)

Himalaya views on the trail
Himalaya views on the trail

A principal benefit of walking as far as Monjo on the first day is that you can walk up the steep hill to Namche when fit and fresh in the early morning. You leave Monjo and continue to the park gates of the Sagarmatha National Park at Jorsale where you complete entry formalities. You then walk on alongside the river to arrive at the confluence of the Imja Drangka and the Nangpo Drangpo, which combine to form the Dudh Khosi.

Crossing the river on a high bridge you start the steep climb to Namche. Near the halfway point up the hill, if the sky is clear, your first views of Everest and Lhotse come into sight. You then continue the climb, less steeply now, to Namche.

Namche is the largest and most prosperous village in the Khumbu. Thamserku (6,618m) and Kwangde (6,224m) loom to the east and west and the sacred mountain Khumbila (5,707m) dominates the skyline to the north behind the village. The narrow streets at its centre are a mixture of traditional and modern, with Sherpa homes mingled with cafes, handicraft shops and shops selling or renting trekking and climbing equipment, foodstuffs and vegetables, tennis shoes and Tibetan boots. Don't be surprised if, after the exertion of the climb and the rise in elevation, you feel a little tired  You will feel better after a cup of tea and a rest.

Walking time: 4 hours
Overnight: Teahouse

Day 5: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tashinga (3450 m)

Tashinga
Tashinga

Today, you have a few options for a short day of trekking. The day’s destination is Tashinga and can either take the direct (and more gentle) route, contouring around from Namche, or you can make the climb up to Khumjung for a range of options.

If going to Kumjung, you can visit the Everest View Hotel (lots of good stories behind that!) on the way. Situated above the village of Khumjung in a spectacular position this huge development, although out of keeping with its surroundings, has really superb views from its terrace. You can enjoy a cup of tea or a hot lemon while looking out at Everest and other Himalayan giants. 

It might also be possible to visit the clinic in Khunde and the Khumjung school—both projects are supported by the well-regarded Himalayan Trust and, if organized well in advance to prevent any disruption to the medical services or the kids’ school day, it is possible to visit and learn about health and education in the mountains.

The picturesque little Gompa (monastery) in Khumjung, set in a grove of trees above the houses of the village, is also well worth a visit. On payment of a small donation to the caretaker, you may be allowed to see the so-called head of a yeti which is kept there.

From Khumjung, the trail descends with chortens forming a dramatic frame to the superb view of Ama Dablam (6,696m), and Kantega (6,779m), flanked by the towering heights of Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse. You descend from the village, first through walled fields and then through rhododendron and blue pine forest to the village of Tashinga.

Trekking time: 3-4 hours 

Day 6: Trek from Tashinga to Pangboche (3908 m)

Statue of Buddha in Pangboche monastery
Statue of Buddha in Pangboche monastery

This morning, looking across the valley, you will be able to see the path sloping diagonally up towards the famous monastery of Tengboche (3860m), but first you have to descend to the Imja Khola (river) before a final climb to reach Tengboche located on a ridge below the impressive north ridge of Kang Taiga. After visiting this famous monastery, you will continue our trek towards Pangboche the highest of the original permanent habitations in the valley via Deboche.

Trekking time: 4-5 hours

Day 7: Helicopter from Pangboche to Lukla via Everest Base Camp

Fly over Everest Base Camp
Fly over Everest Base Camp

Rise early for a spectacular helicopter flight over some of the most magnificent blue glacier lakes and mountains, including a flight over Everest Base Camp. The flight takes around 45 minutes, and then you'll be flown back down to Lukla where you will spend the evening relaxing.

(If needed, there is the possibility of catching the flight out of Lukla this morning, as well, but it's often safer to plan for an extra night in Lukla given there can often be flight delays.)

Day 8: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu

Propeller flight from Kathmandu to Lukla
Propeller flight from Kathmandu to Lukla

After breakfast in Lukla, you'll take an early morning flight back to Kathmandu. 

Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel and will be able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. Explore Kathmandu's streets on foot, bicycle, or rickshaw, perhaps shopping for souvenirs or seeing anything you may have missed at the beginning of your trip.

Other ideas include rewarding your muscles after the trek with a massage service at Seeing Hands (services are offered from the visually impaired), or the more upscale Kinjalla Spa. You can also take an early evening yoga class at Pranamaya Yoga, with two locations in Thamel and Patan.

In the evening, choose from a selection of Nepali, French, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern dishes in Kathmandu.

Flight time: 30 minutes

Day 9: 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 10: Drive from Kathmandu to Kurintar, Rafting on the Trishuli

Summit River Lodge
Summit River Lodge

Grab a window seat in your transport—today's journey is a scenic one through Nepal's middle hills, down to the Trisuli River. You'll drive along the banks of the Trishuli river, past traditional villages and terraced fields.

In the morning, you'll take a short rafting adventure (safe for everyone), providing a great introduction to the sport with a few fun kicks here and there and you're sure to get wet as well. You'll stop to enjoy lunch en route at riverside spring resort on a hillside with outstanding views.

At Kurintar, you'll find traditional village homes and a fertile expanse of farmland surrounded by forested hills. You'll then take an easy 30-minute walk through the village to Summit River Lodge where you'll find excellent forest views and a cool pool ready for a dip.

Day 11: Drive from Kurintar to Chitwan

Stay along the river at a jungle resort in Chitwan
Stay along the river at a jungle resort in Chitwan

After a late breakfast, you'll leave the resort behind and travel overland to Chitwan, the jungle in southern Nepal.

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 12: Explore Chitwan: Safari by Jeep or by Foot

Wild endangered one-horn rhinoceros grazing in Chitwan
Wild endangered one-horn rhinoceros grazing in Chitwan

Today is sure to be memorable, as it's a full day of safari activities in the Chitwan National Park and you're guaranteed to see some spectacular wildlife. All wildlife activities are escorted by an experienced naturalist who will tell you everything you want to know about the park and its flora and fauna.

Wildlife that you can see includes the greater one-horned rhinoceros, spotted deer, hog deer, sambar deer, barking deer, gharial crocodiles and a wide variety of birdlife. With a bit of luck, you may even glimpse a leopard, sloth bear, or Royal Bengal Tiger.

Day 13: Explore Chitwan: Boat Safari to Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

Rooms at Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge
Rooms at Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

After breakfast, another amazing day lies ahead. You will walk down to the boat ramp on the river and get in the traditional long boat for not only your transfer to Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge but this is also an incredible opportunity for bird spotting, seeing the crocodiles, rhinos, and possibly even tigers from the boat.

Arrive at Tiger Tops a bit before lunch and drive to the lodge. Situated beside a lush forest and overlooking idyllic wetlands and farmland on the edge of the park, the Tharu Lodge is a beautiful place to unwind. Dine in the shade of a mango tree, take a refreshing dip in the pool, play a spot of tennis, or simply sway gently in a hammock with a book. If you fancy a bit more activity, in the afternoon go for a bullock cart ride into the Tharu village nearby. At night, enjoy the sounds of the forest, just meters from your window.

Day 14: 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 15: Drive from Chitwan to Lumbini

Buddhist center of Lumbini
Buddhist center of Lumbini

After breakfast in Chitwan, you have a 4-hour drive to Lumbini. Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Kapilavastu district of Nepal near the Indian border, where Queen Mayadevi is said to have given birth to Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE.

Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar. As of 1997, Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The holy site at Lumbini has ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi tree, an ancient bathing pond, the Asokan pillar and the Mayadevi temple, where the precise place of birth of Buddha is located. From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation at the site.

Day 16: Explore Lumbini, Fly to Kathmandu

Reflections of the temple on the lake in Lumbini
Reflections of the temple on the lake in Lumbini

In the morning, you'll have time to explore the temples around Lumbini. You'll then be transferred to Bhairawa airport for your 40-minute flight back to Kathmandu. Upon arrival at Kathmandu airport, you will be transferred to hotel by our private car.

Day 17: 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 18: 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 city stroll, and/or souvenir shopping. A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home. It's good to be at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure.

Alex
Published by Alex Buri, updated Mar 18, 2019