Terraced temples and Tharu jungle trek

Evesh Basnet

Nepal highlights: Kathmandu - Patan - Bhaktapur - Chitwan - Pokhara - Tirkhedhunga - Ghorepani - Ghandruk - Pokhara - Kathmandu

During this 2 week Nepal highlights itinerary, you'll visit the cultural treasures of the Kathmandu Valley (Patan & Bhaktapur) before travelling on through the dense jungle of the Royal Chitwan National Park. Perched high on an elephant's back you'll spot the endangered one-horned rhino and maybe, just maybe, the elusive Asian tiger. You'll spend the day with the local Tharu tribes people, who will also take you on a jungle trek. You can experience Tharu village life, help them prepare dinner and spend the night in a jungle hut on stilts at the edge of the village. After this, your Nepal highlights trip continues to the friendly town of Pokhara for the start of a spectacular trek. You'll climb to the top of Poon Hill for a wonderful sunrise - the highlight of this Nepal trip.

Duration 14 days - 13 nights

Departs daily


Comfortable guesthouses and basic lodges. Comfort Level 1-3 (see accommodation for comfort levels)

Price Please see our Contact Us page for further details

Includes Accommodation with breakfast, excursions as described, bus trip Pokhara - Kathmandu, private transport, English-speaking guide and porter, National Park permit

Transport Private transport and bus

Excludes Other meals, admission fees (approximately £20 per person), tips, international flight

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu

On arrival at Kathmandu Airport, you'll be greeted by your driver and whisked away to your authentic Nepalese accommodation. When you've freshened up and recovered from the flight, the Nepal highlights trip really begins and you can take a stroll around the area to soak up the typical Nepalese atmosphere, perhaps even find a good spot to eat. Definitely check out one of the many rooftop restaurants Thamel has to offer. Your hotel just outside the centre of Kathmandu is full of character and has a beautiful serene courtyard garden.

Day 2: Kathmandu

You'll have plenty of time on Day Two of your Nepal highlights trip to see Kathmandu with your guide. Your sightseeing tour will take you to Durbar Square, Pashupatinath, Bouddhanath and Swayambunath. Durbar Square is the ideal starting point from which to explore this ancient city. You'll find quite a few fascinating temples here. Take a seat on the steps of one of the many temples and just watch the locals going about their daily activities. You will also visit the temple complexes Swayambunath and Pashupatinath (comparable to Varanasi in India; it's the most holy Hindu pilgrimage site in Nepal).

The Bouddhanath temple, a Tibetan buddhist monument, is one of the highlights of today's tour. It's one of the largest stupas in the world. You may feel all templed-out at the end of the day but you'll definitely have a better idea of the significant role religion has in Nepalese daily life.

Day 3: Kathmandu - Patan - Bhaktapur - Kathmandu

On Day Three of your Nepal highlights itinerary, you'll visit the Kathmandu Valley with a driver and a guide. The drive to Bhaktapur will take about 1 hour. The city is one large open-air museum, especially since large portions of town are pedestrian areas. Throughout the town you'll find plenty of medieval buildings with beautiful wood carvings. This town is perfect for a stroll past shops and stands. Durbar Square is the oldest square in Bhaktapur. The square has lost some of its splendour as time has gone by, especially since most of it was destroyed during an earthquake in 1934. Even so, the square is still nothing less than impressive and, when you see it, you'll probably understand why significant portions of Bertolucci's 'Little Buddha' were filmed here.

At the end of the morning you'll visit Patan. You'll have an opportunity to have a bite to eat here. You'll see many ancient squares where rice is laid out to dry, pots are being made by hand and you'll see children running around playing with paper kites. You can also spot lots of old-fashioned water pumps throughout the city. It's like being in a medieval time-warp.

Day 4: Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park

Travel time: approximately 5 hour drive

Today a private driver will take you on a 5-hour drive to Chitwan National Park. After a short briefing there's time to freshen up in your bungalow and grab some lunch in the restaurant. In the afternoon you'll have your first elephant safari, an exciting part of the Nepal highlights tour. You'll share the basket on the elephant's back with a maximum of 3 other travellers. Perched high on the back of these giant beasts you'll be safely out of reach of all that lurks in the tall grass. If you're lucky you'll spot your first rhino, although there's a better chance of seeing them on foot on your walking safari tomorrow morning. If a rhino does come into view your elephant will sound the alarm with an almighty growl, just to show the rhino who's boss...

Day 5: Chitwan National Park

Chitwan is at its most beautiful at dawn. The early morning golden light sweeps across the plains, giving it an other-worldly atmosphere. The river is even more magical. Working elephants stride through the water, battered ferries glide downstream and rhinos graze in the grass.

On Day Five of your Nepal highlights tour, you'll hop into a wooden canoe with your guide for a tour of the Rapti River, where crocodiles sunbathe on the shores. After about 30 minutes you'll go on a guided walk through the jungle. You'll hike along narrow paths through the forests and plains where the high grass seems almost impenetrable. It's a little scary knowing that this grass could be hiding rhinos, leopards and tigers, but don't worry, your experienced guide knows exactly what he's doing. Although the rhinos seem harmless enough, they shouldn't be underestimated. Their poor eyesight often causes them to storm defensively into any unfamiliar noise or smell, so always follow your guide's instructions very closely indeed.

Day 6: Chitwan National Park

On Day Six of your Nepal highlights tour, you'll start with an invigorating 'elephant bath'. Armed with a brush you'll get to work scrubbing off all the dirt. The elephants clearly love pampering and they'll give you a thorough rinse with their trunks once you're done! After you've dried off, you'll head into the jungle with your guide. You're guaranteed a very warm welcome in the local Tharu village. The Tharus are the indigenous people of this jungle and also Buddhist. The enlightened prince's son Gautama Buddha was a Tharu himself. The Tharu will show you all about the jungle and their way of life. The fact that you really get the time to get to know these wonderful people is what makes this module so enjoyable. Together you will prepare the evening meal and, as the sun sets, the fire is lit, drums and rice wine appear and the party sometimes might continue into the early hours...

You'll spend the night in a basic 'jungle tower' at the edge of the village (see images at the bottom of the page). This Tharu house is built on stilts - so don't worry about any jungle wildlife paying you an unexpected visit in the middle of the night! Your room is basic but comfortable enough and you will soon find yourself lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle...

Day 7: Chitwan National Park to Pokhara

Travel time: approximately 5 hours by car

Wake up early on Day Seven of your Nepal highlights itinerary if you want to catch the beautiful sunrise over the forest. Watch the jungle awaken as the mist disappears with the first rays of sun light and listen as an entire orchestra of birds serenades you good morning. You'll have a good chance of spotting some wildlife at this time the day. When you arrive back in the village a tasty breakfast will be waiting, just what the doctor ordered after a morning hike through the jungle.

Towards noon, you'll say your goodbyes to the Tharu and head off on the 5-hour drive to Pokhara. Here, you'll spend the night in a simple hotel and prepare for the trek ahead of you.

Day 8: Pokhara to Tirkhedhunga

Travel time: approximately 1 hour by car and 4 hours of trekking

After breakfast our driver will pick you up for the 1-hour drive to Birethanti. On the way you will be able to see the high peaks of the Himalayas emerging in the distance as the road winds its way up to the starting point of the trek. Packed with your camera, warm sweater and some water, you'll head off, accompanied by your guide and local porters. As the villagers wave goodbye, you'll slowly begin your ascent.

The path leads through a thick bamboo forest to lush green fields where cows with red plumes on their heads graze contentedly. You can stop off for some pictures or a drink on the way. After about 4 hours you arrive in Tirkhedhunga, a small village with a couple of shops, a wobbly hanging bridge across the river and children that follow you with curiosity. Tonight, on the Nepal highlights tour you'll sleep in a basic lodge. There's running water but don't expect a hot shower...

Day 9: Tirkhedhunga to Ghorepani

Travel time: approximately 6 hours trekking

After a hearty breakfast it's time to pack your things and head off on for the trekking part of your Nepal highlights itinerary. The first stretch is fairly easy as you walk downhill into the valley. As you cross the Burungdi Khola River, make sure to stop and admire this spectacular mountain river which at times is a peacefully flowing stream but can fast become a wild churning rapid. The freezing cold melt water flows down from high up on the mountain. Then comes the most strenuous part of the trek. Heading up some stony steps you slowly make your way to 2000m.

During this strenuous climb, you'll be rewarded with an amazing view of snow-capped mountains rising up through the surrounding hills. An incredible view. The last part of the trek is pretty level and leads through a colourful and aromatic rhododendron forest. Once you reach Ghorepani, you'll be able to put your feet up, have a drink and relax. As you look around, you'll see colourful prayer flags blowing in the wind at the many temples and snowy mountain peaks in the background.

Day 10 and 11: Ghorepani - Tadapani - Ghandruk

Travel time: approximately 4 hours of trekking on Day 10 and 4 hours of trekking on Day 11

Wake up early this morning so you don't miss the sunrise at Poon Hill, one of the most captivating moments during this Nepal highlights itinerary. After breakfast you'll start off on the 1-hour climb to the top - a pretty impressive 3190m. Once you reach the top, you can sit yourself down on a rock and watch as the sun slowly colours the white peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri a deep orange. It's enough to give you goose bumps...

After sunrise the trek continues to Tadapai. You'll spend the night here. The following day you'll wake up rejuvenated and ready for your hike to Ghandruk. Along the way you'll meet plenty of local villagers, many of who will be carrying very interesting items up the mountain. Everything is lugged up the mountain from sacks of rice to live chickens in big baskets, even large pieces of household furniture. The local men all wear simple flip-flops but they're still a lot faster than us tourists in our posh hiking boots and can carry amazing loads of all shapes and sizes. On the way you pass through fertile fields where you'll see farmers working the land. At the end of the afternoon you'll reach a small Gurung village where you'll spend the night in a basic lodge.

Day 12: Ghandrung to Pokhara

Travel time: approximately 1.5 hour trek and 2 hours by car

This morning you'll head out on the last part of the trek, about a 1.5-hour hike to Nayapul. When you arrive, you'll find your transportation waiting for you for the 2-hour drive to Pokhara and the next stop on your Nepal highlights itinerary. This friendly town is the starting point of several treks. Most of the hotels are situated around the lake and this is also where you'll find plenty of warm and inviting bars and restaurants. Many of our travellers choose to spend at least 2 nights here to recuperate from their journey. The restaurants in Pokhara offer plenty of western and local food too so you can also enjoy burgers, pizzas and fresh fruit juices. On a clear day you can see the snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance. If you like you can rent a boat and go out on the lake or visit the golden Varahi temple.

Day 13: Pokhara to Kathmandu

Travel time: approximately 8 hours by bus

This morning you'll arrange your own taxi back to the bus station. We'll make reservations for you on the Greenline bus. It will take you from Pokhara to Kathmandu in just about 8 hours. Would you prefer to cover the distance by plane? Just let us know and we'll make arrangements for you to fly.

At the end of the afternoon you'll arrive in Kathmandu and you'll catch a taxi cab back to the hotel where you'll spend the last night of your Nepal highlights itinerary. You'll stay in the same charming hotel on the outskirts of the city, where you began your Nepal tour.

Day 14: Kathmandu - End of Nepal highlights itinerary

Today your itinerary comes to an end and you'll have some great memories from such a mix of destinations in just under 2 weeks. From here, you can either continue with your trip onwards, relax in Kathmandu for an extra night or two, or head towards the airport for your flight home.

If you have any questions about this itinerary, please call or email us. If you would like to request this itinerary, please fill out our quote request form.