This trek is all about the views. In a short amount of time, you'll ascend two of the best viewpoints in the lower Annapurna region for views of Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna Himal. The route combines the very popular Ghorepani and Poon Hill trail with an off-the-beaten-path experience taking you up to the amazing Muldai viewpoint. As you're going off-the-beaten-path, you'll have one night in a more rustic accommodation in Dobato.

Highlights

  • Ascend two of the best viewpoints in the lower Annapurna region
  • Get off-the-beaten-path and visit the lesser-known Muldai viewpoint
  • Pass through beautiful rhododendron, oak, and pine forests
  • Trek in the shadow of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna South

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trek to Tadapani (2650 m) Tadapani
Day 4 Trek from Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m) Dobato
Day 5 Trek from Dobato to Ghorepani (2870m), Sunrise at Muldai Hill Ghorepani
Day 6 Trek from Ghorepani to Birethanti (1025 m), Sunrise at Poon Hill, Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 7 Explore Pokhara, Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 8 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, Trek to Tadapani (2650 m)

Enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Himalaya from the trail and teahouses
Enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Himalaya from the trail and teahouses

After breakfast in Kathmandu, you'll be picked up by private transfer and driven to the domestic airport for your flight to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest city. This is a stunning half-hour flight along the Himalayan range, where four of the world’s fourteen giant mountains over 8000m can be seen: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu, and Shishapangma. Your specialist can help you get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane for views of the Himalaya en-route.

Upon arrival in Pokhara, you'll be picked up and driven to Kimche (2.5 hours drive from Pokhara), where you will start the trek to Ghandruk, where you'll have lunch and enjoy great views of the Machapuchhre and Hiunchuli.

After lunch, wind your way up through the beautiful old homes of Ghandruk and climb on an undulating trail to a tea house with a great view of Annapurna. From here, you continue through the rhododendron forest, which gets more stunning throughout the day until you reach the teahouses at Bhaisi Kharka. After enjoying this stunning section of the trail, you then have a short, steep climb up into Tadapani.

Driving time: 2.5 hours 
Trekking time: 5 hours

Day 4: Trek from Tadapani to Dobato (11,220 feet / 3,420 m)

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 5: Trek from Dobato to Ghorepani (2870m), Sunrise at Muldai Hill

Sunrise from Muldai viewpoint
Sunrise from Muldai viewpoint

Before dawn, arise an hour before sunrise for an early breakfast and then to walk up to the viewpoint at Muldai, especially if you missed the sunset. From Muldai, you'll continue south down a small steep trail towards Banthanti. This is one of the best sections of the trek, where you're well away from the main trails and crowded routes that most trekkers follow.

You'll continue descending steeply for a couple of hours to Banthanti, where you'll rejoin the main trail. The trail then steepens as you climb through rhododendron forest to Deorali, a small pass, before dropping down to the lodges at Ghorepani. At this point, you're back on the main Annapurna Circuit route and, depending on the season, you'll find quite a few other travelers passing through this ridge-top settlement in both directions.

Ghorepani literally means “horse water” and was a popular stopping place for the mule trains which plied the route from Pokhara to Jomsom and beyond to Tibet. The impressive peak you see across the Kali Gandaki Valley to the northwest is Dhaulagiri (26,795 feet / 8,167 m), the seventh highest mountain in the world.

Trekking time: 6 hours

Day 6: Trek from Ghorepani to Birethanti (1025 m), Sunrise at Poon Hill, Drive to Pokhara

View from Poon Hill at sunrise
View from Poon Hill at sunrise

Wake up early for the 45-minute pre-dawn ascent from Ghorepani to Poon Hill (3193 m) to catch the classic view of the Annapurnas and Dhaulagiri at sunrise. After breakfast back in Ghorepani, you'll begin the long descent to Birethanti through magnificent oak and rhododendron forests. From the village of Ulleri, a long steep stone staircase seems to go on forever before eventually reaching Hile. Then, a more gradual descent brings you to Birethanti, from where it's a short trek to the road where you'll be picked up and driven back to Pokhara to your hotel.

Driving time: 2 hours
Trekking time: 6-7 hours

Day 7: Explore Pokhara, Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu

A small wooden boat on tour around Phewa Lake
A small wooden boat on tour around Phewa Lake

Today, you'll have time to explore Pokhara, 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.

In the early afternoon, you'll be picked up and driven to Pokhara's domestic airport for 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.

Paragliding flight: 30 minutes
Flying time: 30 minutes

Day 8: 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.