Mixing outdoor and jungle activities with a healthy dash of comfort and service, this trip will take you through the best of Nepal — with time for both adrenaline rushes and relaxation. The adventure starts in Kathmandu with a flight over the mountains, continues to the country's oldest temples, and leaves time for views of the Annapurna range, where thirteen peaks scrape the sky. Two days of rafting send you through the jungle to finally discover the abundant wildlife of Chitwan National Park.

Highlights

  • Take a flight above stunning Mount Everest
  • Visit the area's sacred temples, including Monkey Temple
  • Raft the Seti River for two exhilarating days
  • Hang with the elephants in Chitwan National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 2 Mountain flight and sightseeing  Kathmandu
Day 3 Relaxing in Pokhara  Pokhara
Day 4 Exploring Pokhara  Pokhara
Day 5 River-rafting  River camping
Day 6 River-rafting and jungle-trekking Chitwan National Park
Day 7 Elephant encounter  Chitwan National Park 
Day 8 River and jeep safari  Chitwan National Park 
Day 9 Back to Kathmandu  Kathmandu
Day 10 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu

Dwarika's Hotel, Kathmandu

Welcome to Nepal. Upon arrival in Kathmandu via the Tribhuvan International Airport, you'll be met for the transfer to your hotel. It's likely been a long flight, so you're welcome to decompress by the pool, grab a drink at the bar, or settle into your room for a good start to tomorrow.

Day 2: Mount Everest and Sightseeing

The Khumbu Valley, Nepal
The Khumbu Valley, Nepal

Today starts early — you'll head to the domestic airport for a flight to see Mount Everest. Once checked off your bucket list, return to the hotel for breakfast. 

The morning continues with a sightseeing tour of Pashupatinath, the most sacred of all Hindu temples in the country. Situated on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, only Hindus may enter, but others may look in from the opposite bank. 

Afterwards, you'll visit Boudhanath, possibly the world's largest Buddhist stupa, or shrine. Boudhanath is a site of great veneration for Buddhists — you'll see numerous monasteries from the various sects of Tibetan Buddhism here, including one that houses an enormous seated statue of Maitreya Buddha (the future Buddha). Enjoy lunch on the rooftop of one of the many restaurants surrounding the stupa. 

Finally, move on to Swayambhunath, the “Monkey Temple.” It's one of the oldest shrines in the world, established more that 2,500 years ago.  Perched on a hilltop, Swayambhunath supplies a superb view of the city below and beyond, though the temple itself is also worth your gaze. The four sides of this ancient structure are painted with the compassionate eyes of the Buddha, and between the eyes is a mystical third eye symbolizing true wisdom. The nose, appearing as an incomplete question mark, is the Nepalese figure of "one," a symbol of unity.

Day 3: Relax in Pokhara

Pokhara, Nepal

After a sumptuous breakfast, you'll take a 25-minute flight to Pokhara. On a clear day, the Annapurna mountain range — one of the tallest in the world — will unfold before you from the airplane. 

Upon your arrival at the airport, you'll be met and transferred to your lodging in Pokhara.  The views here are particularly noteworthy: the Pokhara Valley has panoramic views of Machapucchare and three of the world's fourteen 26,000-foot (8,000 m) peaks: Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu.  

The afternoon can be spent relaxing at your hotel or getting out on one of the many short hikes accessible from your front door. Sunset drinks on the terrace is a great way to unwind and take in the breathtaking beauty of the Annapurnas. 

Day 4: Explore Pokhara

Shopping in Pokhara
Shopping in Pokhara

Day four is your opportunity to explore the surrounding sites of Pokhara. You'll get a taste of the more relaxed Nepal, compared with the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. 

Activities available from your lodging include: 

  • A ridge-top walk visiting local villages
  • Short hikes and naturalist-guided nature and bird-watching walks
  • Relaxing in Col. Jimmy’s Library, reading about famous mountain expeditions
  • A refreshing swim in the infinity pool

Day 5: Raft the Seti River

The Seti River from above
The Seti River from above

Leaving the lodge after breakfast, it's time for a two-day rafting adventure on the Seti River. After a 90-minute drive, you'll arrive at the rafting starting point — it's here your guide will provide a briefing about the landscape and various rafting techniques. This is a grade-III river, offering a gentle ride with a handful of white-water rapids and plenty of stunning scenery along the way. 

After three or four hours, you'll reach the river camp, where the staff is ready to welcome you with drinks and snacks.  

Day 6: Raft to Chitwan National Park

Rafting the Seti River

After breakfast, grab your helmet and vest — another morning of rafting fun awaits. The end point is at Ghai Ghat, where a car will be waiting for you, ready to take you to the jungle of Chitwan National Park

Here you'll be met with a welcome drink in the dining hall of your lodging. Continue to the garden, where lunch will be waiting for you. Settle into your room or explore the lodge grounds — the large swimming pool makes it easy to while away a sunny afternoon swimming and reading with a cool drink in hand.

After tea and biscuits in the main area, take a stroll to the Narayani River, where a family of elephants will be bathing and frolicking (a naturalist will accompany you to get more out of this experience).  Return to the lodge for a hot shower and a cold drink before dinner.

Day 7: Elephant Encounter in Chitwan National Park

Walking with the elephants

Early in the morning, you'll follow the elephants to the grasslands, where the mahouts — those that tend to elephants for a living — will feed the animals, showing you grasscutting and binding techniques along the way. To top it off, while watching the elephants graze in the mist, you'll be handed a steaming cup of celebratory traditional Nepali tea.  

Back in the camp, breakfast awaits. The rest of the morning is spent with the mahouts: making kuchis (sandwiches for the elephants), watching the elephants enjoy their free time in the corrals, and following the mahouts' activities. Lunch will be served around noon, and then you're free to relax — just like the elephants.

As the sun sets, go for a walk through the jungle with the elephants and their caretakers. You'll walk alongside the creatures, watching them and listening to their rumbling and trumpeting. On the way, a naturalist will guide you through the jungle, grasslands, and wetlands (with the elephants close at hand). Surprises include tiger tracks, deer, various species of birds, and maybe a rhino or two, depending on the route.

Day 8: River and Jeep Safari through Chitwan

Rhinos in Chitwan National Park

Breakfast will be served al fresco beneath shady mango trees — fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, and bacon get the day off to a solid start.  Afterwards, it's time for a safari on the Narayani River. The outing commences with a nature walk or bullock cart ride through the riverine forest, followed by a scenic float down the river. Keep your eyes peeled all the birdlife and wildlife — especially the endangered fish-eating Gharial crocodile.

A Nepali-style lunch will be served back at the lodge, after which you're welcome to return to the pool for another early afternoon of sunbathing and relaxation.

Afternoon siesta complete, you'll meet with a naturalist for a jeep safari in a vintage Land Rover to get a taste of Chitwan's jungle. Don't hesitate to ask questions, as that's what the expert guide is there for. During the safari, you'll likely encounter deer, birds, monkeys, the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, and, hopefully, the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger.

Days 9 and 10: Back to Kathmandu and Departure

Elephants grazing in the grasslands

Wake up early for a last-minute jungle activity, like bird watching or saying goodbye to the local elephants. After breakfast, you'll be transferred to Bharatpur airport for a quick flight back to Kathmandu. From here, you'll transfer to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure (perhaps with some last-minute souvenir shopping).

In the evening, meet with your travel guide for a farewell dinner at a Nepalese restaurant. In the morning, it's back to Tribhuvan International Airport for your departure flight home.

Map

Map of Classic Nepal Adventure: Rafting, Wildlife, and Culture  - 10 Days
Map of Classic Nepal Adventure: Rafting, Wildlife, and Culture - 10 Days