- Explore Kathmandu and its sacred sites
- Spend four days trekking through the Annapurnas
- Visit Chitwan National Park, home to exotic wildlife and vegetation
- Safari by jeep and by boat, spotting elephants and possibly tigers along the way
- Relax in Pokhara and its picturesque Phewa Lake
|Day 1||Welcome to Kathmandu!||Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Explore Kathmandu: Patan, Boudhanath, and Pashupatinath||Kathmandu|
|Day 3||Fly to Pokhara, Trek to Astam Village (5,249 feet / 1,600 m)||Astam|
|Day 4||Trek from Astam Village to Dhampus (5,577 feet / 1,700 m)||Dhampus|
|Day 5||Trek from Dhampus to Majgaon (4,593 feet / 1,400 m)||Majgaon|
|Day 6||Trek from Majgoan to Landruk (5,217 feet / 1,590 m)||Landruk|
|Day 7||Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk Phedi, Drive back to Pokhara||Pokhara|
|Day 8||Pokhara: Peace Pagoda, Waterfall, and Caves||Pokhara|
|Day 9||Fly from Pokhara to Chitwan||Chitwan|
|Day 10||Jungle Safari||Chitwan|
|Day 11||Boat Safari to Tiger Tops Elephant Camp||Chitwan|
|Day 12||Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu, Visit Bhaktapur||Kathmandu|
|Day 13||Depart Kathmandu|
Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu: Bazaar Walk and Kathmandu Durbar Square
As you fly into Kathmandu you'll have beautiful views over the city, the Himalaya, and the terraced fields below. After you make your way through customs, you'll meet a representative who will guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets and get you settled into your hotel.
Depending on your arrival time, you can head out on a walking tour of the city's vibrant, ancient bazaar. Explore the secret alleys and courtyards of old Kathmandu, dotted with Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples. You're sure to be dazzled by the lines of tiny stalls selling fruit and vegetables, spices, fabric, brass kitchenware, and more.
If you're out and about, be sure to visit the nearby Kathmandu Durbar Square, a storied center of royal and religious power. Here you'll see an eclectic mix of architectural styles, the centerpiece being the Hanuman Dhoka Palace.
In the evening, consider grabbing the first meal of your trip in Thamel, a tourist hub whose eateries offer a variety of Western and local Nepali dishes.
Day 2: Explore Kathmandu: Patan, Boudhanath, and Pashupatinath
After breakfast, you'll get to know the incredible Kathmandu Valley with a full day of guided sightseeing. You'll meet your expert in your hotel's lobby and will be chauffeured by private car to three incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Your first stop is Patan (also known as Lalitpur), the ancient city of fine arts. You'll visit Patan Durbar Square, which showcases stunningly preserved temples and palace complexes.
Next up is Boudhanath Stupa, one of the biggest stupas in the world. The structure is embellished with four pairs of eyes, each looking out in one of the cardinal directions, keeping watch for righteous behavior and human prosperity. The stupa is constructed on an octagonal base inset with prayer wheels and is ringed by houses of Lamas (Buddhist priests), monasteries, and shops.
Your final destination on today's tour is one of the holiest temples in the Hindu religion: Pashupatinath. The temple is revered as the birthplace of the Hindu god Lord Shiva and is therefore dedicated to him. You're bound to be joined by a constant stream of sadhus, Hindus making the pilgrimage to this important site by way of India and other regions in Nepal.
Pashupatinath rests on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, which serves as an access point for cremation. Note that this is the main cremation site for Hindus in the Kathmandu Valley, and you'll notice cremation ghats lining the edge of the water.
Accommodation: Hotel Manaslu
Day 3: Fly to Pokhara, Drive to Hejma, and Trek to Astam Village (5,249 feet / 1,600 m)
Enjoy an early morning breakfast, then head to the domestic airport for your flight to Pokhara. This is a stunning half hour flight along the Himalayan Range; on it, you'll see incredible aerial views of four of the world’s tallest mountains — Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu and Shishapangma.
Your guide will meet you at the Pohkara airport; after, you'll take a short drive to the township of Hemja, where you'll swap wheels for boot power and head out on your trek. Today's destination is the stunning ridgetop village of Astam.
The journey up to the ridgeline today will either be on jeep trail or through the forest. The jeep trail starts relatively steeply but then has a more gradual 2-3 hour climb up to the top; you'll stop and rest for a cup of Nepali tea at a lovely village along the way.
On the forest and ridgeline trail, you'll start with a steep climb and then will follow the ridgeline with great views of the mountains and lush forest. You'll even come across a fascinating local shrine to the naga (snake gods); the site is more deeply rooted in shamanistic tradition than what you'll see in the Brahmin Hindu village you'll stay at tonight.
Astam itself is beautiful but it’s also superbly located: you'll enjoy amazing views of Machhapuchhare (Fishtail Mountain) surrounded by the peaks of the Annapurna section of the Himalayan Range. After you check-in at your luxe accommodations, enjoy a long, hot soak in the Japanese style public path, then unwind over a dinner comprised of seasonal, organic farm-to-table cuisine.
Walking time: 2-3 hours
Accommodation: Hananoie Nepal
Day 4: Trek from Astam Village to Dhampus (5,577 feet / 1,700 m)
This morning, you'll wake up to a spectacular view of the Annapurna section of the Himalayan Range and a fantastic breakfast to fortify you for the trek ahead.
You'll hit the trail, following the ridgeline to the beautiful, traditional Gurung village of Dhampus. Here you'll be able to learn about the Gurung, a local ethnic group, while also taking in magnificent views of the Annapurna ranges, as well as notable peaks like Lamjung Himal.
Walking time: 3-4 hours
Accommodation: Basanta Lodge
Day 5: Trek from Dhampus to Majgaon (4,593 feet / 1,400 m)
After breakfast looking out onto the Annapurnas, you'll head out of Dhampus en route to Majgaon. From Deurali, you'll head up to Pothana, climbing up through rhododendron and oak forest along the way. You'll also be able to take in an excellent view of Machhapuchhre and other Himalayan giants.
From Pothana, you'll trek through sub-tropical forests peppered with tree orchids, rhododendrons, and magnolias. Your next stop on the route is the unspoiled village of Patlekhet, home to another Gurung community. You'll press on to Majgaon, where you can refuel with delicious food and sink into your comfy bed so you can rest for another day on the trail tomorrow.
Walking time: 6-7 hours
Accommodation: Gurung lodge
Day 6: Trek from Majgoan to Landruk (5,217 feet / 1,590 m)
After breakfast, you'll bid farewell to Majgaon and will hit the trail once more. Your route today passes through rhododendron forest and another small Gurung village en route to the beautiful village of Landruk.
Tonight, relax and rest up, looking out at the mountains before you tackle your final day on the trail.
Walking time: Approx 4-5 hours
Day 7: Trek from Landruk to Ghandruk Phedi, Drive back to Pokhara
The last day of your trek is a gorgeous one. After a hearty breakfast, you'll head back out for a few more hours of your adventure. Your trail today begins with a steep descent towards the Modi River for about an hour. You'll then head uphill again with a steep ascent for two to three hours, but you'll be sustained by the beautiful views of the Himalayas, terraced fields and scattered villages.
You'll end your trek in Ghandruk, a picturesque town of slate-roofed houses surrounded by terraced fields. This is also home to the biggest Gurung settlement in western Nepal. Take some time to rest from your journey, enjoy a cup of tea, and learn more about this ethnic group, their distinctive dialect, culture, and traditions. Drink in the vistas of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Gangapurna, Annapurna III and Fishtail/Machhapuchhare before you say goodbye to your time on the road.
In Ghandruk, you'll meet your driver for your 3-hour transfer back to Pokhara, Nepal's second-largest city, situated on the stunning banks of the Phewa Lake. The city is filled with expats and adventurers, so you'll find a host of funky shops, yoga studios, water activities, coffee shops, and delicious eateries. Tonight, celebrate your accomplishment with a frosty drink overlooking the beautiful water or hit the town for a well-deserved night out.
Walking time: 4 hours
Accommodation: Temple Tree Resort & Spa
Day 8: Pokhara: Peace Pagoda, Waterfall, and Caves
After breakfast, it's time to explore this beautiful lakeside region, starting first on the water. You'll head out on a leisurely 30-minute boat ride across the spectacular Phewa Lake, with a short stop at the Barahi temple located on a small island in the center.
You'll then journey to the far side of the lake, where you'll begin an hour-long hike uphill through the forest to reach the World Peace Pagoda. This Buddhist stupa is one of over 80 Peace Pagodas worldwide, built with the intention to unite people from all over the globe. This particular pagoda was built by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji Order. At the site, you'll notice four Buddha statues, each from a different country, representing unity among nations: Lumbini from Nepal; Boudha Guya from Sri Lanka; Kusinara from Thailand; and Ja from Japan.
When you leave the stupa, you'll drop down the far side of the hill to visit Devi’s Fall, an impressive waterfall marking the point where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground. Next to this waterfall is Gupteswor Cave; inside, you'll navigate tight passages on all fours to reach great chambers revered by Hindus. You will also visit the temple to Lord Shiva inside the caves.
When you emerge from the darkness of the caves, your car will transfer you back into Pokhara, where you can spend the rest of the day and evening however you choose. Stretch out in a yoga class, relax by the water, or linger over a drink in one of the many lakeside cafés.
Accommodation: Temple Tree Resort
Day 9: Fly from Pokhara to Chitwan
This morning you'll be picked up at your hotel, then driven to the domestic airport for your flight to Chitwan, home of the stunning National Park where you'll find myriad exotic animals and beautiful wildlife. After you land, you'll be driven to your amazing jungle lodge; along the way, you'll notice that the landscape and culture differ greatly from that of the high, alpine regions in the Himalaya.
Check-in, then explore the gorgeous grounds of the Barahi Jungle Lodge, which offers deluxe boutique guest rooms, built as individual and two-in-one private villas, all appointed with works by Tharu artisans. Your spacious room will also feature a private balcony from which you can gaze at the jungle canopy beyond. Tonight you can let the sounds of the wilds lull you to sleep before a fun adventure tomorrow.
Accommodation: Barahi Jungle Lodge
Day 10: Jungle Safari
Get ready to go wild on today's unforgettable adventure! Today you'll experience the excitement of Chitwan National Park as you safari by jeep and by foot. You'll be guided through the jungle by experienced naturalists who are experts of all things big and small. Wildlife in Chitwan includes the greater one-horned rhinoceros, spotted deer, hog deer, sambar deer, and barking deer, as well as a wide variety of birdlife. With a bit of luck, you may even get a glimpse of a leopard, sloth bear, or Royal Bengal Tiger.
When you retire to your resort, keep your eyes peeled for more surprises. Since the property is on the banks of the river, you may be able to spot animals at the river's edge, coming to drink and bathe!
Accommodation: Barahi Jungle Lodge
Day 11: Boat Safari to Tiger Tops Elephant Camp
This morning after breakfast, you'll board a traditional longboat for a river safari that will ultimately take you to Tiger Tops Elephant Camp, where you'll spend the night. As you float down the water, you'll have the incredible opportunity to spot birds, see crocodiles, rhinos and maybe even a tiger or two.
When you arrive at Tiger Tops, you'll meet up with mahouts to learn about the property's most important guests: the elephants. As a guest at the Elephant Camp, you will literally be surrounded by elephants living chain-free in spacious, naturalistic corrals and you will be immersed in the elephants’ daily life from sun up to sundown. Even after dark, the elephants’ presence will be felt as their verbal and infrasonic communications fill the night air.
This morning, you'll learn how to make kuchis (elephant sandwiches) and you'll visit the elephant corrals. Lunch will be ready around noon, and you might wish to relax and be lazy just like the elephants during the hot midday hours. In the late afternoon, you'll walk in the jungle with the elephants and their mahouts. You'll walk alongside the incredible animals, watching how they move, what they eat, and listening to their communication, rumbling and trumpeting. On the way, your expert naturalist will show and tell you about the surrounding eco-system as you move through jungle, grassland, and wetland with the elephants. You will most likely encounter tiger tracks, deer, various species of birds, and maybe a rhino or two, depending on the route.
After your trek, wind down and enjoy the luxury touches of the beautiful resort. Nestled beside the lush forest and overlooking idyllic Terai landscapes, Tiger Tops is the perfect place to unwind. Dine al fresco under the shade of a mango tree, take a refreshing dip in the garden-side pool, play a spot of tennis, or simply sway gently in a hammock in the afternoon breeze. The evening is perfect for cocktails and delicious cuisine set to the music of the elephants and the jungle.
Accommodation: Tiger Tops Elephant Camp
Day 12: Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu, Visit Bhaktapur
This morning you may have a chance to fit in one last jungle or village activity before your transfer to the Bharatpur airport for your quick flight back to Kathmandu. After you land, you'll be driven to Bhaktapur for a final day of sightseeing. Bhaktapur is one of the three ancient cities within the Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as Bhadgaun, meaning the "city of devotees," and is the home of true medieval art and architecture in the Valley.
You'll visit the Durbar Square (palace square) with its array of temples overlooked by the Palace of Fifty-five Windows built by King Bhupatindra Malla. You will also visit the Taleju Temple, which is the best example of Pagoda-style structure in Nepal. It stands majestically on five terraces, each of which holds a pair of figures. As you go up from one terrace to the next, the figures gain the strength of ten times that of the lower terrace: you'll see pairs of strong men, elephants, lions, griffins, and goddesses.
Accommodation: Hotel Manaslu
Day 13: Depart Kathmandu
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.