This trip connects the three main regions of Nepal and moves at a relaxed yet steady pace to help you get the most out of your time. You'll go from the bazaars and temples of Kathmandu to traditional villages, and then onto Pokhara and Phewa Lake, after which you'll take a short trek in the Annapurna foothills with unforgettable views of the Himalaya. Round out your journey in Chitwan National Park, where you'll see elephants and other wildlife in their natural habitat, before heading back to Kathmandu.

Highlights

  • Explore the winding streets and sacred sites of Kathmandu
  • Fly through the Himalaya to see Mount Everest
  • Go rafting on the Trishuli River
  • Embark on a short trek of the Annapurna Foothills
  • Discover wildlife and the jungle's flora and fauna in Chitwan National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Everest Mountain Flight, Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trishuli River Rafting Pokhara
Day 4 Explore Pokhara Pokhara
Day 5 Trek from Phedi to Dhampus (5,741 feet / 1,750 meters) Dhampus
Day 6 Trek from Dhampus to Landruk (6,234 feet / 1,900 meters) Landruk
Day 7 Trek from Landruk to Nayapul (3,379 feet / 1,030 meters), Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 8 Drive from Pokhara to Chitwan Chitwan National Park
Day 9 Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation Chitwan National Park
Day 10 Fly from Chitwan to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 11 Explore Bhaktapur: Ancient City of the Kathmandu Valley Kathmandu
Day 12 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: Everest Mountain Flight, Explore Kathmandu

Mt. Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse from above
Mount Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse from above

Before breakfast, you'll take an early morning flight (1-hour) to see Mount Everest as well as Nepal's other mighty peaks. It's a spectacular flight that flies east along the Himalayan range to Mt. Everest and back. You'll be picked up from your hotel, shuttled to the domestic airport, and will be back at your hotel in time for breakfast.

During the flight, look out the lefthand side of the plane to see famous peaks such as Shisha Pangma (26,289 feet / 8,013 m), Cho-Oyu (26,906 feet / 8,201 m), Nuptse (25,771 feet / 7,855 m), and finally Everest (29,029 feet / 8,848 m), known as 'Sagarmatha' by Nepalese and 'Chomolungma' by Tibetans.

After breakfast, you'll have some free time to explore on your own. You can relax at the hotel or head out for a short walk. If you need some inspiration, your specialists can recommend some great routes. 

In the afternoon, you'll have the option of taking a guided tour (via private jeep) to some of the famous cultural sites of the Kathmandu Valley. Here are some ideas for making the most of your time in the capital.  

Flying time: 1 hour

Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trishuli River Rafting

Stopping along the river bank
Stopping along the riverbank

After breakfast, you'll depart Kathmandu for Pokhara, Nepal's second-largest city along Phewa Lake. The city is situated in a tranquil valley (2,713 feet / 827 m) and is the starting point for many of Nepal’s famous treks. The drive follows the banks of the Trishuli River past traditional villages and terraced fields.

En route, you'll stop for a 3-hour rafting trip. The river is quite safe and a great introduction to rafting in Nepal. You'll enjoy lunch en-route and will end at a riverside resort on a hillside with outstanding views. If you'd prefer to stay on land, you can relax instead at a lovely riverside resort.  

Once you arrive in Pokhara, you'll check in to your hotel; after, explore the lakeside and relax over dinner.

The Trishuli River
The Trishuli is Nepal's most popular rafting river, given its proximity to Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan. It has exciting rapids (easy to moderate) and impressive gorges. Its headwaters start in Tibet and go on to become one of the main tributaries of the Narayani river. One of the best things about the Trishuli is that regardless of the season, it always offers a great ride. During the monsoon, you'll get high volume (although safe waters), and in winter, the river turns more technical.

Driving time (Kathmandu to Trishuli): 1-2 hours
Rafting time: 3 hours
Driving time (Trishuli to Pokhara): 3-4 hours

Day 4: Explore Pokhara

Boats along the shore of Phewa Lake
Boats along the shore of Phewa Lake

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 5: Trek from Phedi to Dhampus (5,741 feet / 1,750 meters)

Looking out onto the Annapurnas
Looking out onto the Annapurnas

After breakfast, your guide will meet you at the hotel and you'll drive about half an hour to Suikhet Phedi, where you'll start the trek. From here, the trail ascends steeply, first through forest, then through gorgeous terraced paddy fields and again through the forest to the village of Dhampus.

You'll spend the night here in a teahouse out in the mountains of Nepal! From the teahouse, you can see views of the snowy mountains of Machapuchare (the holy, unclimbed Mount Fishtail), Annapurna South, Lamjung Himal, and Annapurna III, if weather permits.

Trekking time: 3 hours

Day 6: Trek from Dhampus to Landruk (6,234 feet / 1,900 meters)

Gurung is the largest ethnic group in the Nepal Himalaya
Gurung is 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 an orchid forest that holds a variety of bird species. From atop 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 before you descend through forest to Tolka, a small beautiful Gurung village rich in culture. Lunch will be served en-route. You'll then proceed on to Beri Kharka and, from here, the trail descends through forest and villages to Landruk. You'll spend the night in a local teahouse in this large Gurung village, which sits above the Modi River. 

Trekking time: 4-6 hours

Day 7: Trek from Landruk to Nayapul (3,379 feet / 1,030 meters), Drive to Pokhara

Terraced fields on today's trek
Terraced fields on today's trek

After breakfast, you'll descend along gentle paved trails through forest and terraced fields to Kimchi. You'll follow the ridge downhill to Kehone Danda and on to Kliu, after which you cross a suspension bridge over the Sadhu Khola river, finally reaching Seuli Bazaar.

From there, you'll follow the Modi Khola as you walk through lovely forests and terraces to Birethanti and on to Nayapul on the Pokhara-Baglung highway. From Nayapul, your vehicle will be waiting for your one-hour drive back to Pokhara.

After checking into your hotel, spend the rest of the day however you choose. You can relax after your trek or explore some of Pokhara's sites before heading out of dinner in one of the city's many great restaurants.

Trekking time: 3-4 hours
Driving time: 1 hour
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 8: Drive from Pokhara to Chitwan

Bathe with elephants in Chitwan
Bathe with elephants in Chitwan

After breakfast, you will 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.

You will drive through narrow winding gorges and deep river valleys past terraced fields tilled by generations of family members; you'll ultimately reach the vast plains and 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, after which you'll check into your resort and meet with a representative to go over the program for your time here.

Driving time: 5-6 hours (91 miles / 147 km)

Day 9: Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation

One-horned rhino, an endangered species, inside Chitwan
One-horned rhino, an endangered species, inside Chitwan

Today, choose from a variety of activities or take the day to relax and explore on your own. You can embark on a full day of jungle safari activities, spending time with Nepal’s majestic elephants in the dense jungle in search of wildlife, or take a river safari in traditional carved-out wooden canoes to spot animals and birds along the river banks.

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 luck, you can glimpse the leopard, sloth bear, and Royal Bengal tiger (although it is very rare to spot a tiger these days, recent spottings have occurred!). 

Day 10: 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 will fly back to Kathmandu. 

In Kathmandu, you'll be transferred to your hotel and 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 11: Explore Bhaktapur: Ancient City of the Kathmandu Valley

Bhaktapur's Durbar Square
Bhaktapur's Durbar Square

After breakfast, you'll drive about nine miles (14 km) east of Kathmandu City to Bhaktapur —one of Kathmandu Valley's three cities. This ancient city is also known as Bhadgaun (meaning "the city of devotees") and is the home of true medieval art and architecture in the valley.

Enjoy lunch and people watch and one of the old squares in Bhaktapur; in the afternoon, take advantage of some free time to relax or explore. You'll then be transferred to your hotel for the night.

Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur was founded in the 9th century and is shaped like a conch shell. Bhaktapur is the center of traditional Nepalese woodcarving, not only because of its famous carved peacock windows but also because of its museum devoted to the craft. This royal city stands out as a historically authentic, traditional community; it is essentially a living museum where farmers dry their harvest, potters turn their wheel and people go about their lives as they've done for centuries. 

Driving time: 1.5 hours (round-trip)
Accommodation: Hotel

Day 12: 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 Mountains, River, and Jungle: Kathmandu, Pokhara, & Chitwan - 12 Days
Map of Mountains, River, and Jungle: Kathmandu, Pokhara, & Chitwan - 12 Days