Also known as the Khopra Ridge Trek, this moderate, off-the-beaten-path adventure is a peaceful alternative to more popular treks in the lower Annapurna region. You'll climb your way through local villages, terraced farmland, and dense oak, pine, and rhododendron forests to face-to-face views of the snow-capped Annapurnas. Plus, you have the option for a challenging but rewarding day hike to Kaire, a sacred lake that Hindus believe will help you achieve Nirvana.

Highlights

  • Trek through one of the Annapurna Himalaya's less-visited areas
  • Hike to Kaire, a lake sacred to Hindus
  • Admire the sunset and sunrise views from Muldai Peak
  • Soak your tired muscles in the natural outdoor hot springs at Tatopani

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 Tadapani (8,694 feet / 2,650 m) Tadapani
Day 4 Trek from Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m) Dobato
Day 5 Trek from Dobato to Upper Chistibung (3,198 feet / 2,975 m) Upper Chistibung
Day 6 Trek from Upper Chistibung to Khopra Danda (12,007 feet / 3,660 m) Khopra Danda
Day 7 Rest day in Khopra Danda (Optional day hike to Kaire Lake) Khopra Danda
Day 8 Trek from Khopra Danda to Tatopani; Dip in the hot spring Tatopani
Day 9 Drive from Tatopani to Pokhara; Fly to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 10 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

Kathesimbhu Stupa in Kathmandu
Kathesimbhu Stupa in 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

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 myriad famous sights around the Kathmandu Valley. You can use this as a free day or you can utilize 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).

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 Tadapani (8,694 feet / 2,650 m)

Enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Himalaya from the trail and teahouses
Enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Himalaya from the trail and teahouses

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 (standing over 26,000 feet/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.

Upon arrival in Pokhara, you'll be picked up and driven to Kimche (2.5 hours drive from Pokhara); from here, you'll start the trek to Ghandruk, where you'll have lunch and enjoy great views of the Machapuchhre and Hiunchuli.

After lunch, wind your way up through the beautiful old homes of Ghandruk and climb on an undulating trail to a tea house with a great view of Annapurna. From here, you continue through the rhododendron forest, which gets more stunning throughout the day until you reach the teahouses at Bhaisi Kharka. After enjoying this stunning section of the trail, you then have a short, steep climb up into Tadapani.

Driving time: 2.5 hours 
Trekking time: 5 hours

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

A rhododendron forest near Tadapani
Following a ridgeline to Tadapani

After breakfast in Tadapani, you'll leave the main trail and will 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 that continues all the way up to the lodges at Dobato. After about half an hour, you'll emerge on the northern side of the ridgeline. Enjoy 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. The forest will now transition to 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. Fuel up with a hearty lunch before hitting the road again. You'll 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 will contour down to a creek bed and a small pass, from which you'll traverse to the lodges at Dobato.

If you have 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 5: Trek from Dobato to Upper Chistibung (3,198 feet / 2,975 m)

Heading to Muldai Peak
Heading to Muldai Peak

You'll have an early breakfast in Dobato and then will begin the climb to Muldai Peak for a magnificent panoramic 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 6: 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 7: 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. Or head out on a full-day hike to the sacred waters of Kaire Lake.

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, Kaire is believed to help you attain Nirvana if you bathe in the water. Since Hinduism and Buddhism are intricately related in Nepal, you can 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 8: 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 in the village, 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 the hot spring and relax for the rest of the day, and can also interact with locals and kids.

Day 9: Drive from Tatopani to Pokhara; Fly to Kathmandu

Depart from Pokhara back to Kathmandu

This morning, you'll get picked up by jeep and driven back to Pokhara. Here, you'll have a quick lunch at Lakeside before heading to the Pokhara airport for the flight back to Kathmandu, where you'll be transferred to your hotel.

Your last evening in Kathmandu is free for you to explore and enjoy.

Driving time: 6 hours
Flight time: 30 minutes

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 final stroll through the narrow alleys and temples, and some 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.