This route is an excellent opportunity to experience the culture of traditional life in the Nepali countryside, as you share the route with shepherds and donkey trains and witness traditional Nepali farming life. You'll also get those incredible views that Nepal is famous for with overnights in luxury lodges along the way. You'll then leave the mountains for the jungle to experience a completely different side of Nepal before returning back to Kathmandu.

Highlights

  • Experience traditional life in the villages of the Annapurna foothills
  • Enjoy stunning views of the Annapurna range and Dhaulagiri
  • Learn about Gurung culture, the largest ethnic group in the Nepal Himalaya
  • Stay in the famous Ker & Downey lodges for a taste of luxury each night
  • Relax at a jungle resort for a couple days before returning to Kathmandu

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Drive to Astam Astam
Day 4 Trek from Astam to Dhampus (1700m) Dhampus
Day 5 Trek from Dhampus to Landruk (6,234 ft / 1900 m) Landruk
Day 6 Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk (6,365 feet / 1,940 m) Ghandruk
Day 7 Trek from Ghandruk to Kimche, Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 8 Explore Pokhara Pokhara
Day 9 Explore Pokhara, Drive to Bandipur Bandipur
Day 10 Drive from Bandipur to Chitwan Chitwan
Day 11 Explore Chitwan: Safari by Jeep or by Foot Chitwan
Day 12 Explore Chitwan: Boat Safari to Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge Chitwan
Day 13 Fly from Chitwan 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

As you fly into Kathmandu, you'll have beautiful views over the city, the Himalaya, and of the terraced fields below. After going through customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you and guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets to get you settled into your hotel.

Once you've settled in, head out and explore the city. 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 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).

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: Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Drive to Astam

Pokhara
Pokhara

After an early breakfast, you will be transferred to the domestic airport for your flight to Pokhara. This is a stunning half-hour flight along the Himalayan Range, seeing four of the world’s fourteen giant mountains over 8000m: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu, and Shishapangma, before landing in Pokhara.

After landing, you'll be picked up and driven out of town (1-2 hours) taking a scenic route to the village of Astam, entering a completely different world from that of Kathmandu. Along the way, you can see the magnificent views of the Annapurna Range and Machapuchare.

Day 4: Trek from Astam to Dhampus (1700m)

Young Gurung girl in the fields near Dhampus
Young Gurung girl in the fields near Dhampus

This morning, you'll rise to a spectacular view (weather permitting) of the Annapurna range and a hearty breakfast to get you ready for the day ahead. You'll hit the trail and follow the ridgeline to the beautiful Gurung village of Dhampus. The Gurung people are a famous ethnic group in Nepal, well known for their role in the Gorkha regiments of the Nepali, Indian, and British armies. Tonight, you'll stay in one of the famous Ker & Downey lodges, called the Basanta (meaning springtime) Lodge. You'll have amazing views from the garden and can relax with happy hour drinks and take it all in.

Trekking time: 3-4 hours

Day 5: Trek from Dhampus to Landruk (6,234 ft / 1900 m)

Gurungs are the largest ethnic group in the Nepal Himalaya
Gurungs are the largest ethnic group in the Nepal Himalaya

After breakfast, you'll trek up to the village of Pothana and onwards to Deurali through rhododendron and orchid forest that holds a variety of bird species. From on top of the ridge at Deurali, you'll have great views of the Himalaya, including Mt. Dhaulagiri, the highest mountain in this region.

You'll have time to enjoy the views and a well-earned rest, then descend through forest to Tolka, a small beautiful Gurung village rich in culture. You'll then proceed on to Beri Kharka and, from here, the trail descends through forest and villages to Landruk. Landruk is a large Gurung village situated above the Modi River where you'll stay the night in a local teahouse. Lunch will be served en-route. 

Trekking time: 4-6 hours

Day 6: Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk (6,365 feet / 1,940 m)

Rice fields near Landruk
Rice fields near Landruk

Enjoy the last moments of your higher elevation views with breakfast in Landruk. Then, the trail begins with a steep descent towards the Modi Khola (river) for about an hour, followed by a steep ascent of 2-3 hours through scattered villages to Ghandruk, with great views of the Himalaya en route.

Eventually, you'll reach the village of Ghandruk, one of the largest Gurung settlements in western Nepal. Once here, you will have time to enjoy the landscapes and snow-capped peaks like Gangapura, Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), and Mount Annapurna.

If time permits, visit the Annapurna Mountain Conservation Area Project (ACAP) headquarters. The ACAP is the first conservation area and the largest protected area in Nepal. Rich in biodiversity, the area offers over 1,000 species of flowering plants, mammals, amphibians, and birds. You can learn about tourism management (and its effect on the environment) and activities that benefit local communities.  

Trekking time: 4-5 hours (2.5 miles / 4 km)

Day 7: Trek from Ghandruk to Kimche, Drive to Pokhara

The Pokhara Valley, Nepal's adventure hub
The Pokhara Valley, Nepal's adventure hub

After breakfast in Ghandruk, you'll make an easy trek downhill to Kimche where a jeep will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Pokhara.

Trekking time: 1 hour (2.4 miles / 3.9 km)

Day 8: Explore Pokhara

Devi's Falls, Pokhara
Devi's Falls, Pokhara

Today, you'll have a full day in Pokhara to relax or enjoy a variety of activities. You may want to explore the cafés and restaurants, go shopping, or perhaps do something more adventurous like paragliding or mountain biking.

Day 9: Explore Pokhara, Drive 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 1030 meters. 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.

Stay at The Old Inn Bandipur, a renovated red-brick Newari townhouse with lots of little homely touches.

Accommodation. The Old Inn

Day 10: Drive from Bandipur to Chitwan

Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park

After breakfast, you'll head out in your private vehicle to the famous Terai region of Nepal. The landscape and culture are totally different from that which you have experienced so far and from the high, alpine regions of the Himalayan range. The name the ‘Terai’ refers to the extensive plains in the southern part of Nepal—this area is the most northern extension of the great Gangetic plains of India, land that was won and lost in decades of struggle and shares both Indian and Nepali characteristics and culture.

During the drive, you'll pass through narrow winding gorges and deep river valleys past terraced fields tilled by generations of family members, reaching the vast plains and the vibrant jungle of the Chitwan National Park in time for a late lunch. This is a stunning overland journey and you will be able to relax and take in the incredible views of this diverse country from the car.

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.

Day 11: Explore Chitwan: Safari by Jeep or by Foot

Wild endangered one-horn rhinoceros grazing in Chitwan
Wild endangered one-horn rhinoceros grazing in Chitwan

Today is sure to be memorable, as it's a full day of safari activities in the Chitwan National Park and you're guaranteed to see some spectacular wildlife. All wildlife activities are escorted by an experienced naturalist who will tell you everything you want to know about the park and its flora and fauna.

Wildlife that you can see includes the greater one-horned rhinoceros, spotted deer, hog deer, sambar deer, barking deer, gharial crocodiles and a wide variety of birdlife. With a bit of luck, you may even glimpse a leopard, sloth bear, or Royal Bengal Tiger.

Day 12: Explore Chitwan: Boat Safari to Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

Rooms at Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge
Rooms at Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

After breakfast, another amazing day lies ahead. You will walk down to the boat ramp on the river and get in the traditional long boat for not only your transfer to Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge but this is also an incredible opportunity for bird spotting, seeing the crocodiles, rhinos, and possibly even tigers from the boat.

Arrive at Tiger Tops a bit before lunch and drive to the lodge. Situated beside a lush forest and overlooking idyllic wetlands and farmland on the edge of the park, the Tharu Lodge is a beautiful place to unwind. Dine in the shade of a mango tree, take a refreshing dip in the pool, play a spot of tennis, or simply sway gently in a hammock with a book. If you fancy a bit more activity, in the afternoon go for a bullock cart ride into the Tharu village nearby. At night, enjoy the sounds of the forest, just meters from your window.

Day 13: Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu

Kathesimbhu Stupa in Thamel
Kathesimbhu Stupa in Thamel

After breakfast in Chitwan, you'll be transferred to Bharatpur airport and return to Kathmandu by flight. 

Once you're back in Kathmandu, you'll be transferred to your hotel where the rest of the day is yours. 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.

Flight time: 25 minutes

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 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.