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 eight 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 take part 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.

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Explore Lakeside Pokhara
Day 4 Pokhara to Nayapul, Trek to Ghandruk (6,364 feet / 1,940 m) Ghandruk
Day 5 Ghandruk to Tadapani (8,563 feet / 2,610 m) Tadapani
Day 6 Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m), Sunset from Muldai Peak Dobato
Day 7 Dobato to Upper Chistibung (3,198 feet / 2,975 m) Upper Chistibung
Day 8 Upper Chistibung to Khopra Danda (12,007 feet / 3,660 m) Khopra Danda
Day 9 Rest day in Khopra Danda (Optional day hike to Kaire Lake) Khopra Danda
Day 10 Khopra Danda to Pauduwar (6,561 feet / 2,000 m) Pauduwar
Day 11 Pauduwar to Tatopani, Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 12 Drive from Pokhara to Bandipur Bandipur
Day 13 Drive from Bandipur to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 14 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: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up by an English-speaking guide for a full-day tour of the Kathmandu Valley, visiting three sacred sites: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square.

This day fits quite a bit in—helpful for maximizing your time in Kathmandu—but doesn't overload you with too many sites. You can spend as much time as you like at each temple (this is a private tour just for you), although most people tend to spend an hour. For lunch, you'll stop at one of our recommended local restaurants. 

Return to your hotel in Kathmandu in the late afternoon and meet your trekking guide who will go over details for tomorrow's adventure.

Tour length: 7-8 hours (including transfers)

Day 3: Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Explore Lakeside

View of Machapuchare from Pokhara
View of Machapuchare from Pokhara

After breakfast, you'll be picked up and driven by private transfer to the domestic airport for your flight (30 minutes) 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 over 8,000 m can be seen: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu, and Shishapangma. 

Upon landing, a driver will be waiting to bring you to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore or just to relax by the lake. Pokhara has plenty of great cafés, restaurants, funky shops, and yoga studios that cater to expats and adventure travelers.

Day 4: Drive from Pokhara to Nayapul, Trek to Ghandruk (6,364 feet / 1,940 m)

The village of Ghandruk
The village of Ghandruk

In the morning, you'll be picked up by a private jeep and driven to Nayapul where the trek begins.

Along the way, you'll pass a TIMS checkpoint and entry to the Annapurna Conservation Area; your specialist will make sure you have both permits. This well-traveled trail between Nayapul and Ghandruk winds through rivers, mountain farms, and the Kimche Waterfall. You'll encounter several restaurants, teahouses, bars, and shops along the path, so stop as you please for a break.

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

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

Day 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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 10: Trek from Khopra Danda to Pauduwar (6,561 feet / 2,000 m)

Rice terraces near the village of Pauduwar
Rice terraces near the village of Pauduwar

Wake up with breakfast in Khopra Danda and enjoy a sunrise view as Dhaulagiri and the Kali Gandaki Gorge begin to fill with light. Today, you'll begin your downhill journey on the ridge towards one of the local villages where you’ll spend the night, so relax and explore more of the ridge before departing.

As you descend into the valley below, you'll encounter terraced farm fields and beautiful stone villages. Fewer trekkers come to this part of Nepal, so this is your chance to experience a more local setting than other well-visited trails in Nepal.

Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Trekking distance: 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 11: Trek from Pauduwar to Tatopani, Drive to Pokhara

Aerial view of the Kali Gandaki River next to Tatopani
Aerial view of the Kali Gandaki River next to Tatopani

Wake up early and take a short walk up the ridge behind the lodge to get a special sunrise view. From here, you'll head back down and have breakfast before you start your final leg of the trek. All that remains is a short journey down to the small town of Tatopani through local villages, where you’ll catch transportation back to Nepal's second largest city of Pokhara. If you have time, there is a hot spring in Tatopani if you’d like to soak your muscles. 

Upon arrival in Pokhara, settle in your hotel and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure. This relaxed lakeside town (relaxed compared to Kathmandu) is the gateway to the Himalayas, so there are plenty of cool cafés, restaurants, cocktail bars, yoga studios, and funky shops for bargaining that cater to expats and adventure travelers.

Suggested activities:

  • Visit the 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.
  • Take a taxi and walk up one of three paths to visit the World Peace Pagoda, constructed by Buddhist monks. Have coffee, tea, or a meal at one of the site's small cafés.
  • Go stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking in Pokhara's freshwater Phewa Lake. There are numerous rentals on the north shore, commonly called Lake-Side. While paddling around, get up close to the two-storied pagoda Tal Barahi Temple lying in the center of Phewa Lake, the most important religious monument in Pokhara. 

Trekking time: 3 hours (3.5 miles / 5.6 km)
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 12: 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 13: Drive from Bandipur to Kathmandu

The main street of Bandipur in the morning
The main street of Bandipur in the morning

After enjoying breakfast and sunrise from Bandipur, you'll start the drive mid-morning for your trip to Kathmandu. The road follows a valley for a couple hours before veering north and upwards to the Kathmandu Valley. 

You'll have time to stop for breaks and snacks along the way.

Day 14: 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.