Also known as the Khopra Ridge, this moderate, off-the-beaten-track adventure is a peaceful alternative to more popular treks in the region. For nine days you'll climb your way through local villages, terraced farmland, and dense bamboo, oak, pine, and rhododendron forests with rewarding vistas of snow-capped Annapurnas. There are plenty of chances to observe and participate in traditional Nepali lifestyle rituals, including staying in teahouses and taking a day-hike to Kaire, a sacred lake that Hindus believe will help you achieve Nirvana.

Highlights

  • Explore Kathmandu's city center and sacred sites
  • Trek the off-the-beaten-path Khopra Ridge route, away from the crowds
  • Watch the sunset from the summit of Muldai Hill
  • Enjoy an optional day hike to the sacred waters of Kaire Lake
  • Discover Pokhara, a serene lakeside city with cafés and lots of charm

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) 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 Swanta Swanta
Day 10 Trek from Swanta to Ulleri Ulleri
Day 11 Trek from Ulleri to Nayapul, Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 12 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 13 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 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, a lakeside city 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. The rhododendron blossom is Nepal’s national flower and in spring, when the trees are in full bloom, the forests turn into vibrant floral gardens that look especially breathtaking against the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

After trekking over a small pass, you'll reach Tadapani, where you'll get to enjoy more 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 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 6: 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 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. 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 9: Trek from Khopra Danda to Swanta

Take in the views of Mount Dhaulagiri
Take in the views of Mount Dhaulagiri

Starting with a sunrise breakfast in Khopra Ridge, you'll begin your descent down a steep trail with frequent views of Dhaulagiri. In fact, the mountain provides a lovely backdrop to the terraced fields and traditional houses of nearby villages. 

Once you arrive in Swanta, you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore the surrounding village — an area densely laden with pine, fir, birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, and juniper forests, as well as wildlife and exotic birds. 

Trekking time: 5 hours
Trekking distance: 6 miles (9.6 km)
Overnight: Swanta (7,448 feet / 2,270 m)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 10: Trek from Swanta to Ulleri

Views near the village of Ghorepani
Views near the village of Ghorepani

After breakfast in Swanta, you'll descend on the trail through village fields to a small river for a look at the local watermill. You'll then cross over the suspension bridge and start an uphill trek to the village of Chittre where you'll connect to the main trekking route in Ghorepani. From here, walk downhill through rhododendron forests until you get to Ulleri—a popular village for trekkers in the Annapurna region.

Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Trekking distance: 7 miles (11.3 km)
Overnight: Ulleri (6,725 feet / 2,050 m)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 11: Trek from Ulleri to Nayapul, Drive to Pokhara

Looking across Phewa Lake at Pokhara
Looking across Phewa Lake at Pokhara

After breakfast in Ulleri, you'll make your way to Nayapul while enjoying amazing hillside landscapes of western Nepal. Your trek will end at Nayapul, where you'll be transferred to your hotel in Pokhara. Even from this urban environment, you'll be rewarded with magnificent views of the Himalayas including Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhre, the peaks of Annapurna, and others. 

Upon arrival in Pokhara, settle in your hotel and enjoy the afternoon and evening on your own. This relaxed lakeside town is the gateway to the Himalayas, so there are plenty of cool cafés, restaurants, funky shops, and yoga studios that cater to expats and adventure travelers.

Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Trekking distance: 5.6 miles (9 km)
Accommodation: Hotel

Related articles:
Best Cafés in Pokhara
Top 18 Places to Eat and Drink in Pokhara

Day 12: Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu

The dense buildings of Kathmandu City
The dense buildings of Kathmandu City

After breakfast, you may have time to do more sightseeing, relax, or check out one of Pokhara's coffee shops. About 1.5 hours before your flight, you'll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the domestic airport to catch your flight back to Kathmandu.

In Kathmandu, you'll be transferred to your hotel and can 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.

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

Day 13: 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.

Map

Map of Khopra Danda Trek - 13 Days
Map of Khopra Danda Trek - 13 Days