Nepal is not just about mountains and trekking. There are many places to see and things to do here that don’t involve exerting yourself too much! Home to many World Heritage sites, beautiful scenery, historic towns and villages, fascinating culture, this trip will give you a good introduction to the diversity that Nepal has to offer.
Starting in Kathmandu, you visit some of the World Heritage Sites and explore the rich cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley in Bhaktapur and Panauti, a beautiful medieval town in the Kathmandu Valley. You stay at a monastery where you can join the monks in their rituals. Staying in a Tharu village in Chitwan, you go on a jungle safari and if you are very lucky, you might even see a tiger! You break your journey in another beautiful old Newar town, Bandipur, where you have time to sit back and admire the Himalayan range before you. Finally, you spend a few days in Pokhara before returning to Kathmandu where your trip is complete.
Inspired? Learn more about similar kinds of trips that Royal Mountain Travel can offer:
Annapurna Community Adventure Trek
Kathmandu Valley Homestay Tour
Best of Nepal (Homestay Option)
Interested in staying in a homestay? Read more from CommunityHomestay.com and Inside Himalayas: 10 Tips for Staying in Homestays; 10 Reasons to Stay in a Homestay
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Sightseeing: Boudhanath Stupa, Bhaktapur and Panauti|
|Day 3||Sightseeing Tour – Patan Museum, Golden Temple, and Pharping|
|Day 5||Kurintar hike and Chitwan|
|Day 6||Chitwan National Park|
|Day 7||Chitwan – Bandipur (1,030m)|
|Day 8||Drive from Bandipur to Ramkot|
|Day 9||Pokhara (830m)|
|Day 10||Pokhara – Sarangkot – World Peace Pagoda|
|Day 11||Pokhara – leisure|
|Day 12||Pokhara - Kathmandu|
|Day 13||Kathmandu – free day|
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail condRead More...
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail conditions. The guide in charge of your trip may have to alter the schedule if necessary and any such changes are at the discretion of Royal Mountain Travel and your guide.
The trekking day
Your day starts with a wakeup call, followed by breakfast and baggage pickup. You are then driven to the start point of your trek. While trekking, your day starts with breakfast at the tea house where you are staying. You need to pack up your baggage before breakfast as porters usually set off early.
Normally you are on the trail by 8am and stop for a leisurely lunch around noon, with the chance to stop along the way for short breaks. Lunch time usually lasts a couple of hours to give you time to relax, or to explore the village where you have stopped. The afternoon walk is shorter and you can expect to arrive around 4pm to allow time for short excursions to nearby sites, monasteries, exploration of the village or for relaxing with a book or catching up on your diary. Dinner is generally around 7pm.
Everyone walks at different speeds and you should always go at the pace that is comfortable for you. The grade of the trek is only an approximate indication of what to expect, based on the altitude and the hours of walking per day. In general, the condition of trails is good as these are the main routes between villages.
What you carry
Each porter carries 15kg so you should pack 7.5 kgs of baggage, sharing one porter between two persons. These things will not be available to you during the day as the porters usually leave early and do not walk with you. Your daypack should contain all that you need during the day. This should consist of warm clothes for when you stop, a water bottle, camera, sunscreen, lip salve and maybe waterproofs depending on when you’re trekking. Your guide will let you know each evening about any extra items you might need for the following day. You should take a comfortable daypack to carry just the few kilograms of things you need along the way.
Food and drink
No meals are included on your trek. These are available in tea houses, lodges and bhattis that may sometimes have quite limited menus. There are a lot of tea houses and lodges along the way while you are trekking. Meals are generally simple, but filling, but you may wish to stock up on ‘trail munchies’ before leaving Kathmandu or Pokhara. Although mineral water in plastic bottles can be found along the way in many places, you should try to avoid using this. Plastic bottles are a serious problem on the trekking routes as there is no way to dispose of them. Instead you should use water purification tablets, a water filter or ask for boiled water at the lodges. It is a good idea to bring a heat resistant water bottle which can double up as a hot water bottle when you go to bed at night too!
It is not recommended to drink alcohol at altitudes above 3,000m or so, where altitude sickness can start to have an effect.
Accommodation is in lodges and teahouses and is of a basic standard. Rooms may be twin or multi share with basic shared toilet facilities. Hot showers are available in some places for a small charge. It is a good idea to pack wet-wipes to freshen up, especially useful when you reach high altitudes where the water can be very cold. It is not recommended to wash your hair when you are at higher altitudes and where the outside air is cold, as you run the risk of getting a chill when your wet hair takes a long time to dry.
Lodges usually have a common room where later in the day, when people start to arrive from their day’s trek there might be a stove that is lit to keep warm. Bedrooms however are not heated. Lodges provide clean bedding, but you may want to pack a sheet sleeping bag for peace of mind.
The main means of transport is on foot, or in some cases by horse, with mules or donkeys sometimes carrying baggage. On most trekking routes, your baggage will be carried by the porters. You should ensure that anything you might need during the day is in your day pack as you will not see the baggage that is being carried again until the end of each day.
You will be provided with government licensed experienced trek guided assisted by the porters who transport your baggage with one porter for every two trekkers. The guide is in overall charge of the trek and looks after you. This is the person you should go to with any problems, concerns or questions. Our guides are highly trained in all aspects of trekking, conservation, high altitude medicine, first-aid and emergency procedures. They are professionals selected for their knowledge and passion for Nepal and its peoples. However, you should remember that they are local guides and their English may sometimes be quite basic and limited to trek-related topics. Usually porters will have a more basic understanding of English. Please try to speak slowly and clearly to make communication easier.
Trek grading and preparation
It is impossible to have a ‘foolproof’ grading system as everyone has different expectations and perceptions of their own fitness level. Remember that no trek in the Himalaya is a stroll as all involve going up and down, often at altitude. Altitude affects everyone differently, and even if it has not affected you much before, each time can be quite different in how it affects you.
Regardless of age or fitness, preparation before you arrive is a good idea. Aerobic activity, swimming, cycling or brisk walking is recommended or, at the very least, walking up and down stairs in your trekking boots to be sure that they fit well and are comfortable. Try to use hiking boots that you have already broken in to avoid blisters. Remember that the trek should be fun and you should go at your own pace.
It is best to bring cash in major currencies such as US, Canadian or Australian dollars, Euros, or Pounds. Ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations. Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide we suggest about USD 8 – 10 per meal in Kathmandu and Pokhara and USD 30 – 35 per day whilst trekking. If you drink or smoke you need to allow a bit more.
You should exchange enough money into Nepalese Rupees to last the entire time of your trek before leaving Kathmandu. You can find the money exchange counters near your hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara but there are no exchange facilities in villages along the way.
Communication: mobile phones and internet
Please note, as you will be often trekking through valleys and will not always be close to mobile towers, mobile phone reception can be very patchy. NCELL, the local mobile company has quite good coverage, but sometimes the signal can be very weak. Usually lodges have powerpoints to recharge your mobile, although this sometimes can be at an extra charge.
Tipping is a personal and voluntary matter and is not included in the trip price. If you wish to reward the efforts of those who have worked to make your trek the best they can, we suggest the following: USD 4 per day for groups of 8+, USD 5 per day for smaller groups which will be shared amongst the whole staff, including porters.
Travel insurance is not included in the trip price. It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation (including helicopter evacuation) and personal liability. We also recommend that it cover cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Be careful to check the small print of your insurance regarding altitude as some policies only provide cover up to 2000m.
There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal. Your health condition must be sound as you will be climbing to above 4000m. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Nepal. Be aware that some drugs, including anti-malarial, have side effects at altitude. Please discuss this carefully with your doctor.
Please be aware that you will be in remote areas and away from medical facilities for some time during this trip. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. The way to reduce the affects of altitude is to ascend slowly, 300 meters per day above 3,000 meters until you have acclimatized. Poor acclimatization can result in headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing and swelling of fingers and glands. The only cure for AMS is to descend to lower altitude and your guide’s decision on this matter is final. There is a possibility of AMS in any trek that passes through altitudes above 4000 meters.
Although our routes are carefully planned to allow proper acclimatization you may feel some effects of altitude for the first few days or at higher altitudes. Breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease as your body adjusts. Maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.
Variation of climate is directly proportional to the altitude. For this trekking, trekking routes are often passing through a range of altitudes from 850m upwards. Between about 2700m and 3000m a cool temperate climate prevails, and you should expect a cool summer and very cold temperatures in the winter. Above 3000m, even if the daytime is sunny and quite warm, the temperature will drop sharply as soon as the sun goes down.
The weather in mountains is notoriously changeable so always be prepared for a change in conditions and note that if severe or dangerous weather conditions occur your guide’s decision on any course of action is final.
Trekking permits are required for almost all treks and will be obtained by Royal Mountain Travel. The Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) is essential for the record of Nepal Tourism Board keeping in mind about probable hazards to occur. You need to provide your full name, nationality, home address, passport number, sex, date of birth and 2 photographs for each permit. Royal Mountain Travel also pays any fees required for entry to national parks, conservation areas or restricted areas.
Packing for your trek
You will need to bring a comfortable medium sized daypack to carry the things you will need during the day. This should have a waist strap or (better) a padded waist belt.
You should limit your baggage to about 7kg. You will find the following items useful.
Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.
Arrival in Kathmandu
Arriving at Tribhuwan International Airport is an experience in itself. Don’t let it put you off, as our airport representative will be waiting to welcome you with your name written on a placard. Depending on traffic, the drive to your hotel takes about 20-30 minutes.
Sightseeing: Boudhanath Stupa, Bhaktapur and Panauti
Starting in Boudhanath, you will visit the largest Buddhist stupa in Asia which is the hub of Tibetan culture in Nepal. The 36-meter high stupa is one of the largest stupas in South Asia. It was built on the site where ancient Tibetan merchants used to rest and offer prayers over the centuries and formed a kingdom within a kingdom.
One of the most fascinating and important World Heritage Sites in Nepal, Bhaktapur is made up of three large squares filled with historic shrines and temples, Newar architecture and fine art. Famous for its clay pots and exquisite wood carvings, Bhaktapur is also legendary for its colourful festivals and its delicious and unique cuisine. Bhaktapur retains its medieval feel and the local people are still engaged in farming and traditional crafts like pottery, metalwork, art and woodwork which have supported the city since it was established in the 12th century. This is a ‘must see’ place to explore! You will be shown the magnificent Golden Gate in Durbar Square (square of the palaces), the Palace of 55 Windows, the Nyata Pola Temple, Newar houses and pottery square. Although the town was damaged in the 2015 earthquake, there has been a lot of work to repair the old buildings.
You are taken to Panauti, another medieval town where you have lunch with a local family before being taken to explore the beautiful authentic old town. Surrounded by sacred rivers, this is the birthplace of a number of legendary figures. It is famous for its 40 temples and 28 festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. Panauti’s temples are dedicated to various deities can be seen scattered around the small old town. You will be taken to see Indreshwar Mahadev Temple – Panauti’s most famous temple. Panauti is rich in Newari culture and although many of its festivals are similar to those celebrated in Kathmandu, others are unique with a completely local character.
Sightseeing Tour – Patan Museum, Golden Temple, and Pharping
Patan Durbar Square: Patan City is surrounded by a fascinating array of temples, built in various architectural manners. Patan Durbar Square is a home of numerous temples like Krishna Mandir, Bhimsen Mandir, Taleju Bell, Bhai Dega and much more, which also display that Gods and Humans have always lived with each other since long-long time ago.
All the temples are decorated with masterpiece handicrafts, and according to the Newari architecture. The City is built on Newari cultural perspectives, thus, the city holds the utter pride of Newar history.
Most of the monuments of the city belong to the medieval Malla period, from 15 to 17 centuries. Golden Gate & Golden Window from the old palaces, traditional metal craft, Krishna Mandir famed in 21 Golden Pinnacles, the Royal Bath of Sundari Chowk, the Royal Taleju Temple, Vishwa Narayan (Bishnu) Temple are the some of the finest examples of unique craftsmanship, and faith of the locals to the Gods projected in the wood.
The temple of Bhimsen and its magnificent golden balcony overlooking the backdoor of the temple also includes any other shrines & sculptures scattered in and around the square.
After completing a sightseeing tour of Patan Durbar Square, we shall drive to Pharping, south of the Kathmandu Valley.
Just above Pharphing, Neydo Monastery – a Tibetan Style monastery – is a home to 140 monks from India & Nepal, combined. The present Karma Charme is the seventh reincarnation figure of the Lama of the unique Neydo Kagyu tradition, which also follows the Nyingma Lineage Tibetan Buddhism.
The Neydo Rinponche Monastery guest house provides accommodation in comfortable, well-appointed rooms (all with private bath, kettle to make tea/coffee, private balcony). Further, wide balconies provide stunning views across the valley and the monastery has elegant, comfortable sitting area – a lovely place to think, relax and to read – and excellent meals are guaranteed in the dining room.
Overnight in Neydo Monastery
Meals – Breakfast in Hotel Traditional Comfort
Dinner in Neydo Monastery
Rising early for the morning prayer ceremony with the monks, after breakfast you are driven to Kurintar, about 100km from Kathmandu on the banks of the Trisuli River.
Your lodge sits on a ridge in the middle of forested hills that slope down to the sandy beaches of the Trisuli River. Here you can find the tiny settlements of various tribal groups like Chepang, Dorai, Magar, and some Brahman and Chettri people who eke out their subsistence from foraging in the forests, trapping the odd small animal or wildfowl, and cultivating wheat, rice, maize and vegetables. Typically animist, these people are the last of the hunter-gatherers who live in Nepal.
Kurintar hike and Chitwan
After breakfast, you go on a guided walk in the hills behind your lodge where you can visit some of the homes of the local Chepang and Magar people. This area is very rich in birdlife and flora, with many orchids along the shady pathways. Walking back to the hotel via a lower route, you pass fields and the white sand beaches of the Trisuli River.
After lunch you are driven to Barauli Jungle Lodge in Chitwan where you spend the next couple of nights. Voted as number 1 by TripAdvisor in 2017, this stylish and luxurious jungle lodge hotel offers the best of Nepali hospitality. Located close to the Rapti River in Meghauli, you see the wildlife in and around Chitwan National Park during the two days of your stay here.
In the evening, take a stroll through the local village, and interact with locals to learn something about their way of life. Accommodation is provided in twelve little cottages that have been built by the villagers, simply furnished, but offers everything for a comfortable stay. The village women, who are also the owner of each cottage, live nearby the homestay so that they can take care of their guests as staying at their homes. Enjoy the local welcome ceremony by the Tharu community people and cultural dance performed by the villagers. (Barauli Community Homestay)
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park was the first national park in Nepal and was set up 1973. It was made a World Heritage Site in 1984. With an area of over 932 km2 and an altitude of between 100 m to 815 m in the Churia Hills, it is home to 68 species of mammals. You may see the “king of the jungle,” the Bengal tiger as this is reported as being one of the best tiger habitats in the world. More commonly sighted are the one-horned rhinoceros, sambar deer, red muntjac, hog deer, rhesus monkeys, Hanuman langurs and wild elephant.
You will be taken on a jeep safari and a nature walk, visiting a local village outside the national park and can ride on an elephant. (Barauli Community Homestay)
Chitwan – Bandipur (1,030m)
After a morning game drive and breakfast, you are driven to Bandipur. Described at a ‘living museum of Newari culture’ by Lonely Planet, Bandipur lies on a ridge about 700m above the river. An important stop for traders along the India-Tibet route in the eighteenth century, the Newars brought their cultural heritage and architecture which has remained unchanged. In the nineteenth century Bandipur was a prosperous trading centre, with its buildings that have ornate elegant neoclassical façades and wood-carved shuttered windows.
Although the village suffered decline in the 1970s after the building of the Prithi Highway from Kathmandu to Pokhara, a lot of work has gone into helping restore Bandipur to its former glory. Bandipur Eco Cultural Tourism Project (BECT-Project) that is funded by EuropeAid supports Bandipur as a unique tourist destination. Now with its glorious 18th-century architecture, pedestrianized bazaar and cafes, it is a very relaxing place to chill out.
As well as Padma Library that is in the heart of Bandipur bazaar, there are several temples in or close to the main bazaar, including the temple of Khadga Devi, one of the most revered in Bandipur. Only open once a year on the day of Phulpati during Dasain, the shrine does not contain any statues of gods or goddesses, but just a Khadga that is a sacred sword wrapped in layers of cloth. Bindhabasini Temple in the middle of the bazaar is constructed in the traditional pagoda style and Chandithan temple can be seen just to the west of the bazaar. Mahalaxmi Temple, to the southeast of the bazaar is medieval and also in the style of a pagoda. Then to the east of the bazaar is Narayan Temple with its statues of the god Harihar and the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Drive from Bandipur to Ramkot
You will explore the hills around Bandipur, hiking to Ramkot. Ramkot is an easy two-hour walk west of Bandipur passing through Muchuk village. Ramkot is a typical Magar village with traditional round houses and is untouched by modern development, offering an opportunity to see the lifestyle of people in rural Nepal. If you want to go further, Chabdi Barahi is another two hours of easy hiking.
Not only are there spectacular views from your hotel, but a short walk to Tundikhel gives an excellent vantage point to the north of Bandipur’s main bazaar where you can see the sun setting over the Himalayan Range including Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Langtang, Manaslu and Ganesh Himal, among others. You should be able to see the legendary Gorkha Palace and Manakamana Peak, and look down to the Marsyangdi Valley, Bimalnagar and Dumre.
After breakfast at your hotel you are driven to Pokhara, about 3 hours away where you will have the rest of the day at leisure. One of the largest cities in Nepal, in area it is Nepal’s biggest, covering an area larger than Kathmandu. At an altitude of around 830m, it is famous for its beautiful lake and the mountains: the Annapurna Range with three of the ten highest mountains in the world — Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu are all easily seen from here. Staying at Lakeside beside Phewa Lake, this is a scenic area where there are plenty of bars, cafes, restaurants and shopping.
Pokhara – Sarangkot – World Peace Pagoda
An early start and you visit the two highest viewpoints over Pokhara and the surrounding mountains. You go first to Sarangkot (1592m) which is on the top of a hill overlooking Phewa Lake on one side and the Himalayas on the other. From here it is possible to go paragliding, flying down to Lakeside. After lunch you go boating on the lake and hike up to the World Peace Pagoda which commands a view over the lake to Sarangkot and the mountains. The pagoda was built in 1996 and is 35m high. Its 37 steps take you to its second tier where there are four Buddha faces that look out in the cardinal directions. A standing Buddha in bronze faces south, while a Sri Lankan Buddha meditates looking to the west, a Thai Buddha faces north and a Japanese Buddha looks eastwards.
Pokhara – leisure
There are lots of things to see and do in Pokhara. There are a few museums, the most notable being the International Mountain Museum (IMM). In addition there is an ethnographical museum, Pokhara Regional Museum and Annapurna Natural History Museum with collections of flora and fauna, and butterflies. There is also the Gurkha Museum featuring the history of the Gurkha soldiers. Gurkha soldiers are still recruited here in Pokhara. You might like to go boating or take the opportunity to try out paragliding. For the fearless, you might want to have a go at Nepal’s second bungee jumping site: Water Touch Bunjee Jumping.Or if you are interested in Tibetan culture, you can take a tour of the Tibetan settlements with a Tibetan guide.
Pokhara - Kathmandu
Flying back to Kathmandu takes only about 35 minutes. On the way from the airport back to your hotel, you will be taken to Pashupatinath, the Hindu temple complex site on the banks on the sacred Bagmati River. A World Heritage site since 1979, it is a collection of over 500 temples, ashrams, sacred images and inscriptions that are within the 264-hectare site. It is the most important Hindu temple in Nepal and one of the most important Shiva temples in the Subcontinent. The area is alive with colour and activity. While non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the main temple, it is possible to visit a vantage point from where there are good views of the temple and the ghats. (Traditional Comfort Hotel)
Kathmandu – free day
You have the rest of the day free. You might like to try out one of the many cooking classes or workshops on offer, go for some more sightseeing or do some last minute shopping.
In the evening we will gather for our farewell dinner at the Krishnarpana Restaurant in the exclusive and luxury Dwarika’s Hotel. Here we will be served a special 6-course Newar dinner. This is a not to be missed experience from the moment you enter the authentic and stylish hall to the moment when you depart, a farewell gift in hand.
You transfer to Tribhuvan Airport to connect with your onward flight. Please note that you should check in three hours prior to your flight time.