- Sightsee in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Jomson
- Trek through the unique landscapes of Lower Mustang, with incredible mountain views
- Enjoy a day trip to a shrine in Muktinath
- Hike through an ancient citadel in Kagbeni
- Visit a monastery devoted to Bonpo, a pre-Buddhist animist religion
|Day 1||Welcome to Kathmandu!||Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square||Kathmandu|
|Day 3||Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara & explore the lakeside||Pokhara|
|Day 4||Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom (8,924 feet / 2,720 m)||Jomsom|
|Day 5||Trek from Jomsom to Kagbeni (9,514 feet / 2,900 m)||Kagbeni|
|Day 6||Trek from Kagbeni to Jharkot (11,647 feet / 3,550 m)||Jharkot|
|Day 7||Day trip to Muktinath||Jharkot|
|Day 8||Trek from Jharkot to Jomsom via Lupra Valley (9,154 feet / 2,790 m)||Jomsom|
|Day 9||Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara||Pokhara|
|Day 10||Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu||Kathmandu|
|Day 11||Depart Kathmandu|
Day 1: Welcome to 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: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and 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 the lakeside
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 26,246 feet (8,000 m) can be seen: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu, and Shishapangma.
Upon landing, you will be greeted by a driver who will bring you to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore or you can simply to relax by the waters of Lake Phewa. Pokhara has plenty of great cafés, restaurants, funky shops, and yoga studios that cater to expats and adventure travelers. Enjoy the serene pace here however you're inspired to do so.
Day 4: Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom (8,924 feet / 2,720 m)
After an early breakfast in Pokhara, you'll drive to the airport for a 30-minute flight to Jomsom, the headquarters of Nepal's Mustang district. The flight takes you over the Kali Gandaki, the deepest gorge in the world. From the plane, you'll have great views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna; minutes later, you'll touch down in a different environment — the arid valleys of the Himalayan rain shadow.
Jomsom is among the very few places in Nepal from where the Himalayan peaks can be admired at such a close range and yet from a safe altitude of only 8,800 feet. Giant peaks like Nilgiri, Tilicho and Dhaulagiri seem so close you could reach out to touch them.
In Jomsom, you'll feel how much cooler and drier the air is. Today is a day for taking it easy and exploring the charming town and its environs. Depending on how you feel, you can take a great two-hour walk down the Kali Gandaki Valley to Marpha, home of Thakali people and their famous Marpha apples and apple brandy. You can explore the village and learn about traditional design principles, including the flat roofs used to dry produce for the long winters and the local underground drainage system. You can also visit the distillery and sample its wares before returning to Jomsom.
Flight time: 30 minutes
Day 5: Trek from Jomsom to Kagbeni (9,514 feet / 2,900 m)
This morning, you'll trek north to Kagbeni, arriving in time for lunch. The wide trail along the western side of the sandy, saligram-filled riverbed provides views of the nearby peaks of Dhaulagiri, Tukuche, and Nilgiri, and, to the south, the Annapurna Massif.
Kagbeni, spectacularly situated atop a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Kali Gandaki and the Jhong Khola rivers, is the last village in Lower Mustang and guards the entrance into Upper Mustang (visible across the Kali Gandaki riverbed). It is an oasis of green fields amidst rocky, arid mountains, with Niligiri looming beyond. This ancient, partially ruined citadel town is a glimpse into a unique way of life, with its narrow alleyways and tunnels, irrigation canals, green fields of barley and its massive, 800-year-old brick-red Sayka Gompa. You can also wander past the ancient 100-room King’s Palace.
At the police check post at the north end of the village, there is a sign that reads "Restricted area, tourists please do not go beyond this point." This is the trail going up to the famous Lo Manthang, in ‘forbidden’ Upper Mustang.
Trekking time: 4 hours
Day 6: Trek from Kagbeni to Jharkot (11,647 feet / 3,550 m)
You will want to eat a hearty breakfast this morning, because today, the climbing begins. The route from Kagbeni to Jharkot takes approximately 3-4 hours, depending on how you are feeling in the dry air and the altitude.
It's an uphill trek from Kagbeni to Jarkhot and you'll gain quite a bit of elevation, so it’s nice to stop and take the afternoon to explore this old fortified village. The main feature here is the striking red Gompa (monastery) that sits prominently at the front of the village. This 500-year-old Gompa belongs to the Sakya sect of Buddhism and is home to an active Tibetan Medicine school. There are stunning views down the valley and up towards the famous Thorong La (pass), which is the highest point of the Annapurna Circuit trek.
Trekking time: 3-4 hours
Day 7: Day trip to Muktinath
Muktinath is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus and is a great example of a sacred place harmoniously shared by followers of the two religions. Local Buddhist nuns (belonging to the lineage of Lama Wangyal) caretake the site. Every year, thousands of devotees from India, Tibet, and Nepal come here on pilgrimage for purification and salvation. It is said that throughout history many kings throughout Asia did the same.
It's well worth spending a day here not only to visit this sacred shrine but also to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Day 8: Trek from Jharkot to Jomsom via Lupra Valley (9,154 feet / 2,790 m) and Bonpo Monastery
You'll descend to Jomsom via Lupra village, visiting a local Bonpo Monastery on the way. While you have to ascend the mountain again for a short way to get back on the trail, it is a great route that trekkers on the Annapurna circuit miss out on, so you will be far away from the crowds and the jeep trail to Jharkot and Muktinath.
Bonpo is an ancient pre-Buddhist religion not represented by many monasteries these days, so you'll have a rare and special chance to learn about this ancient animist religion while taking a stunning alternate route back to Jomsom.
Trekking time: 6 hours
Day 9: Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara
After breakfast in Jomsom, you'll catch a 30-minute morning flight to Pokhara. Snag a window seat as the scenic mountain views en route will be nothing short of spectacular.
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 unwind in the cool local cafés, explore Phewa Lake by boat or by land, or stretch out after your trek in a yoga class.
Flight time: 30 minutes
Day 10: Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu
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 11: Depart Kathmandu
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.