Nepal's many cultural attractions have roots in Hindu and Buddhist traditions that go back thousands of years. This itinerary starts with several day-trips from Kathmandu before you head to the jungle. Balance the sacred pilgrimage sites and monuments with outdoor activities: hike in Nagarkot, paraglide in Pokhara, and ride an elephant in Chitwan National Park.

Highlights

  • Choose from a number of day tours, including an Everest Flight
  • Explore villages like spiritual Nagarok in the Kathmandu Valley
  • Get to know Kathmandu's best neighborhoods
  • Take an elephant safari in Chitwan National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu with Optional Day Tours Kathmandu
Day 3 Drive from Kathmandu to Nagarkot, Day to Relax Nagarkot
Day 4 Sunrise from Nagarkot, Drive back to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 5 Flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Pokhara Valley Tour Pokhara
Day 6 Paragliding in Pokhara, Visit to Local Cultural Sites Pokhara
Day 7 Drive from Pokhara to Chitwan, Afternoon Activities Chitwan
Day 8 Jungle Excursion in Chitwan National Park Chitwan
Day 9 Flight from Chitwan to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 10 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

Kathesimbhu Stupa. Kathmandu
Kathesimbhu Stupa. Kathmandu

It's a beautiful flight into the Kathmandu Valley with views of the Himalaya and terraced valley floor. Upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, one of our representatives will greet you and transport you to your hotel.

Depending on your arrival time, you'll have time to explore the city. Some popular sights include Kathmandu’s Durbar Square and its narrow alleyways teeming with small shops, ancient temples, and local restaurants. There's also Swayambhunath temple, where you can watch the sunset over the valley and the Himalaya to your north.

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. Then, if it's not too late, head to the busiest bazaar in the city, Asan Tole, which offers an authentic display of spice, fish, and vegetable stands that make for great photo ops. Practice some basic Nepali phrases and chat with friendly locals!

Day 2: Explore Kathmandu with Optional Day Tours

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).

Optional Day Tours

  • Sacred Sites of the Valley (Full day): Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square. This is a full-day tour and you'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant during the day.

  • Boudhanath (1 hour): A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest spherical stupa (Buddhist shrine). Check out the site’s numerous monasteries, as well as an enormous adorned statue of Maitreya Buddha.

  • Pashupatinath (1 hour): The most sacred of all Hindu temples in Nepal, located on the holy Bagmati River. This is a large temple complex where you can easily spend an hour exploring.
  • Bhaktapur (3 hours): A 30-minute drive outside of Kathmandu is the ancient city of Bhaktapur, home of medieval art and wood carving. Founded in the 9th century, visit the town’s narrow alleys and observe villagers going about their day-to-day life.
  • Everest Mountain Flight (1 hour): A unique opportunity, consider taking a mountain flight to see Mount Everest (one hour).
  • Shivapuri National Park (half-day): Go hiking or mountain biking in this scenic national park located on the northern fringe of Kathmandu Valley. There are hundreds of species of flora and fauna, including medicinal herbs, as well as historical and religious sites.

Evening Trip Briefing
However you choose to spend your day, you’ll return to your hotel in Kathmandu in the early evening and meet your specialist (or one of their staff members) who will go over details of your trip, including what to expect and transport logistics.

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: Drive from Kathmandu to Nagarkot, Day to Relax

Terrace relaxation in Nagarkot
Terrace relaxation in Nagarkot

Today, after breakfast in Kathmandu, you'll be picked up by a private driver and transferred to Nagarkot. This is a free day to hike amidst the flowering plants and butterflies around central Nepal, or relax in town and enjoy great mountain vistas. The village of Nagarkot is on the outskirts of the valley with striking mountain views, and has close proximity to Buddhist and Hindu cultural sites. 

There are plenty of cafés, restaurants, and conveniences for travelers and trekkers. Have dinner in town and check out the sunset view before bed.

Driving time: 1-1.5 hours
Driving distance: 17.3 miles (27.8 km)

Day 4: Sunrise from Nagarkot, Drive back to Kathmandu

Sunrise views near Nagarkot
Sunrise views near Nagarkot

This morning in Nagarkot, take an early morning walk to the village tower for a sunrise view of the Himalayas. If the weather is clear, it's possible to see a range of peaks including Everest, Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Jugal, and Numbur. After breakfast, you'll return back to the capital city by private transfer. 

Take advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the 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 upmarket 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.

Trekking time: 4-5 hours (7.5 miles / 12 km)

Day 5: Flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Pokhara Valley Tour

Visit the Tal Barahi temple by boat
Visit the Tal Barahi temple by boat

After breakfast in Kathmandu, you'll be picked up by private transfer and driven to the domestic airport for your flight to Pokhara, a city located west of Kathmandu. Your specialist can help you get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane for views of the Himalayas en-route.

Upon reaching Pokhara you'll be transferred to your hotel for check-in. Your English-speaking tour guide will then pick you up for a sightseeing tour in Pokhara valley. The itinerary includes visits to Phewa Lake, along with a one-hour boat ride and a trip to Tal Barahi temple, located in the middle of the lake. Afterward, you'll hike one of three paths to a narrow ridge and visit the bright-white World Peace Stupa, constructed by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji group. 

In the afternoon, you'll drive back to Pokhara visiting Davis Falls, leading to a lengthy tunnel, and the neighboring Gupteshwor Cave with ancient stalagmite formations and an underground waterfall, en-route.

Related links:
Best Cafés in Pokhara
Top 18 Places to Eat & Drink in Pokhara

Day 6: Paragliding in Pokhara, Visit to Local Cultural Sites

Paragliding near Pokhara
Paragliding near Pokhara

Today, you'll wake up extra early in Pokhara and get picked up by a paragliding trip staff member who will drive you to Sarankot to see a beautiful sunrise view against the mountains. You'll then prepare and have a 1-hour tandem paragliding experience with panorama views of the Annapurna range including Dhaulaghiri and Manaslu peaks. 
 
After the adventure, you'll return to your hotel in Pokhara while visiting the high-altitude Bindabasini Temple en route. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga, Pokhara's chosen guardian deity. This site is of great religious value to the Hindus living here.

In the afternoon, take time to visit Pokhara's Gurkha Museum with multimedia displays dedicated to Nepal's former soldiers in the British and Indian armies, or the Regional Museum—an exhibit preserving the history of the region's ethnic groups. If it's a nice evening, you can always head back to Phewa Lake for more relaxation. 

Day 7: Drive from Pokhara to Chitwan, Afternoon Activities

Villagers working in a rice field near Chitwan
Villagers working in a rice field near Chitwan

Today, you head south to the jungle of Nepal’s Terai region, from the mountains to the jungle.

After breakfast, you'll be picked up by private transfer and driven to Chitwan National Park, home to rich wildlife, lush grasslands, and rare species of birds and animals. Though the distance is not long (147 km), the trip will take longer than expected due to hilly road conditions.

Chitwan village and its national park (the first one in Nepal) is one of the country's top attractions. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park protects a sizable portion of forests, grassland, and marsh, and is also one of the best national parks for wildlife in Asia. 

Highlights of Chitwan

  • Seeing the iconic one-horned rhino, bison, wild boar, monkeys, deer and a wide array of birds (over 400 species on record), and, with luck, the Royal Bengal tiger, bear, and leopard.
  • Another highlight is the canoe ride on Rapti River, which borders the northern side of the park, the banks of which are home to sunbathing 'mugger' crocodiles and the unique long-nosed 'garial' crocodiles.
  • Village walk

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
Driving distance: 91 miles (147 km) 

Day 8: Jungle Excursion in Chitwan National Park

Elephant safari in Chitwan National Park
Elephant safari in Chitwan National Park

Today, you'll have a full day jungle adventure, starting with breakfast at the hotel and ending with dinner and a cultural show.

Activities you can choose from:

  • Elephant safari - walk alongside the elephants through the jungle to spot wildlife
  • Canoe ride down the Rapti River in search of crocodiles, river birdlife and maybe a rhino or two. Pull up on the riverbanks and take a short jungle walk to an elephant-breeding center
  • Elephant bathing session in the river, where you can swim with these gentle giants in river
  • Visit a crocodile breeding center
  • Jeep safari into the deep and dense jungle in search of the fabled Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinos, and other jungle-dwelling critters

Day 9: Flight from Chitwan to Kathmandu

A rickshaw in Kathmandu
A rickshaw in Kathmandu

After breakfast in Chitwan, you'll be transferred to Bharatpur airport and fly back to Kathmandu, where you'll spend the afternoon at your leisure. 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.

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 upmarket 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.

Day 10: 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.