Khopra Trek or South of Annapurna region is one of Nepal’s last
Himalayan jewels; a glittering array of panoramas, gigantic peaks and peaceful
nature awaits the adventurous explorer. However, as magnificent as the
mountains are, it is perhaps the people of Nepal that are its greatest asset. Trekkers
visiting South of Annapurnas (Moharedanda, Khopra Ridge, ABC, Poon hill and
Mardi Himal) are sure to be smitten by the mystical cultures, quaint villages,
massive glaciers, mysterious forests and beautiful exciting trails with vistas.
All will leave with a renewed inspiration for life; there is something very
uplifting about exploring some of nature’s most magical areas…
On 24th of May, 2012, three of us, Guide Mahesh Kulung Himalaya Lodge & Restaurant owner of Landruk, Shyam Rai, and I left for Mardi Himal Trek to mark the trail with blue/white colors. We did everything as volunteers. Although the ACAP officers, Mr. Lal Prasad Gurung and Mr. Narendra Lama had promised to pay something for the paint, brushes and our food and accommodation, it seemed to be taking too long to process. As my friend's time was limited, we decided to leave as early as possible and finally decided on the right time for it. We were happy and very dedicated doing it, and I was greatly inspired to do so by Mr. Andrees de Ruiter.
About Mardi Himal Trek.
This is a beautiful and rich nature trail, best thought of as a “Ridge-trail”! because most of the time you hike along the ridge beginning from Kande, one of the best starting points for this trek, situated 36 kms. north of Pokhara. You have to follow this ridge west, until MHBC (Mardi Himal Base Camp) .The altitude starts from 1770m at Kande and reaches 4500m. at the end point ,MHBC.
You hike through just a few villages in the beginning, and at the end of the trek some particularly beautiful villages. On this trek you will have to spend 80% of the whole trip in dense pristine forest! This is a very quiet and peaceful trek – we met only an Italian tourist with a guide during our whole trip. I would like to recommend doing this trek with a minimum of 2 people or taking a Nepali guide, because it’s very peaceful and quiet and far away from access to any village.
This fascinating trip is a mixture, being both adventurous and peaceful and joyful.
Above all, when you reach high camp , at 3900m, or the upper view point at 4450m, the views are breathtaking: the snow- capped peaks include Annapurna I ,8091m, Annapurna South ,7219m, Himchuli ,6441m, Annpurna Fang (Baraha Shikher) ,7647m, Khangshar Kang (rock noir) ,7485m, Gangapurna ,7454m, Mardi Himal 5553m, Machhapuchhre’s (fish tail), both peaks (6997m – 6993m) and the beautiful sloping landscape to the south.
For those who don’t like to walk where many other tourists are hiking, then Mardi Himal Trail is perfect to do, and if you have more than 16 – 18 days for a trekking trip in Nepal, you may also combine it with the Khopra trek, including the hot spring in Jhinu Danda (1750m) at the shore, Modi khola, coming from Annapurnas . It would also be possible to go to other Tatopani (hot springs) in the Kaligandaki valley.
There are many confusing trails into the dense forest: everywhere you can see the small trails walked by yaks and sheep, which look similar to the main trail. An officially some years ago, The Mardi Himal Route was open for the trekkers, but you don’t feel it so when you are in the dense forest of it and some narrower paths above high camp! In my experienced there are many places along the trail need to fix and put more signposts, poles and metal bar etc. Originally it was made for yak and their herders, sheep and their shepherds. Seasonally, lower villagers go up to the forest and up to the sloping grassy lands to take things like bamboo and dhakai, a kind of wild vegetable, wild mushroom and some Himalayan herbs and Yarsa Gumba (cordyceps sinensis) .
I hope our blue/white signs will help you to find the right trails although I’m not sure how long they will last; hopefully the monsoon rain won’t wash them away. In the forest we tried to mark 10 or 20 meters between each, in both directions. I believe marking on the tree will last longer, because there are fewer chances of the signs being washed away by the rain. Below and above High Camp, we marked on the rocks only, some of which were difficult to see, and there are long distances between the signs so you need to look for them carefully.
Summary;The Mardi Himal Trek is a beautiful, wild trek, into pure nature- a true gem of the Himalaya, a quiet and peaceful environment. It may be a bit adventurous but it is a more joyful destination for those who like to be away from the hectic rush of civilization.
Pokhara 820m – Kande 1770m (1 hr)
There are two transport options : if you want a cheap drive then you would go to Baglung bus station ( the new bus park) and catch a bus to Kande, which costs around 2 Euro, but it would take more than two hrs, because the bus stops at many places to collect passengers.
The other option is to hire a taxi or car; it would bring you to Kande in 1 hr maximum. Recently it cost around 15 Euro for a single drive.
Kande – Australian Camp 2060m (1.45 – 2 hrs)
Kande is a small town with little tea shops, restaurants and cold stores. In the middle of the town, there are some NATT signs painted with red/white on the stone wall and a wooden electricity pole, which you can easily recognize. When you go by a cab or car, you may ask the driver to drop you right at the starting point for Mardi Himal Trek. It’s easy to find.
You turn to the right hand side and slowly continue further, through small villages and houses; soon you will start ascending and enter the bushes and forests of rhododendron and red sandalwood with beautiful southern views. You will reach Australian Camp, a very beautiful little village. From there you can see the Annapurna mountain range, and a little of Manaslu and the Dhaulagiri range including Fishtail Mount and Pokhara valley in the south.
There are good campsites and four nice lodges. I would prefer to sleep here, but for a first day the trek to Pathana is also nice. Australian Camp is famous around Pokhara for a picnic spot with easy access and a beautiful mountain scene. This place is surrounded by red sandalwood and rhododendron forest.
Australian Camp – Pathana 1950m (20 – 25 min)
The trail begins through a beautiful and pleasant short descent in the red sandalwood forest, and then let’s says, “Nepali flat “to Pathana. Sometimes you will get to see few red/white NATT-signs.
At Pathana, there are 6 nice basic lodges, 2 little bhatties and a big new lodge about to be built. There is an ACAP permit check point + tourist information centre as well. Please make sure that all your necessary permits are arranged in Pokhara beforehand.
Pathana – Pitam Deurali 2100m (45 min).
Pathana to Pitam Deurali is a wonderful hike in the red sandalwood and rhododendron forest and with some little open land between, known as buffalo pasture. After some minutes on the flat there is a slow, gentle climb up and then a bit more uphill until the flat resting place at Pitam Deurali. In between you can see some ACAP signposts and our NATT- logo in red/white. If those signs are taken away, you have to follow the straight direction; do not turn either left or right.
At Pitam Deurali, there are two basic lodges and one bhatti.
Now is the official start of the Mardi Himal Trek. Leaving behind the Trekkers Inn Lodge, there is an ACAP signpost saying Mardi Route (Forest Camp). We did paint on the pole of ACAP signpost and at the corner wall of this lodge; you also clearly see the steps on the wall between the signpost and the lodge’s, behind the side wall. When you go up the steps, you immediately turn to the right and go straight, entering the scrubby forest. Then you can follow the blue/white sign. Most of the time we painted on the tree barks as there were only a few opportunities to mark on rocks. You climb gently and in 15 – 20 minutes, you reach a little area of open land, which is buffalo pasture (you might not recognize it as a pasture for animals) where we made a larger mark on the rock in blue/white color. Coming to this pasture you might get a little confused but if you look carefully, there should be no problem finding it.
After the pasture you enter a dense forest and you will gradually climb up (for 2 to 3 hrs). Then most of the time you hike on Nepali forest” flat “(a little up and down). Finally, after a short, gentle descent you reach the flat at Forest Camp. From some places between Pitam Deurali and Forest Camp, you will have the chance to see vistas of Dhaulagiri and the Manaslu range. If the weather is good , I suggest you to take a packed lunch or something to eat and plenty to drink as there are no lodges, restaurants, villages or water- only dense and very quiet forest.
Between Pitam Deurali and Forest Camp there are more than two signposts showing directions to Lwang village on the other side. Do not turn left or right, just go straight, following the directions of the blue/white colored signs.
At Forest Camp (Kokar), there are three nice basic lodges. The menus (daal bhat, noodles, soup, potatoes, chapatti –tarkari, beer, coke, canned juices, teas and coffee) are good, and the food clean and fresh. Rooms and toilets are neat. This little village is surrounded by beautiful green forest. They have nice campsites as well. From here there is also a trail going down via Sidding, Lwang and Pokhara. On the western side you can see Ghandruk and surrounding villages and Modi valley.
The lodges of Forest Camp are open the whole year round; you may give them a call before you go there.
a)Hotel Forest Camp & Restaurant at Forest Camp (Kokar)
Mobile No: 9804141348 or 9846169320
b)Hotel Mardi and Restaurant Forest Camp (Kokar)
Mobile No: 9806635881
c)Hotel Green View & Restaurant Forest Camp (Kokar)
The trail goes through the courtyard of Hotel Forest Camp and Restaurant. At the corner wall of toilet we painted and put a little arrow. You follow the blue/white mark on the tree bark. The hike is an easy uphill start from right behind the Hotel Forest Camp. After 7 to 10 minutes, you will turn right and walk straight, going gently up and down. Finally you will climb up and you will reach Rest Camp. There is a basic teahouse there with a few bedrooms to sleep in; they also have the same menu as Forest Camp, although I think they are able to prepare less food. They have beer, coke, teas and coffees as well.
Rest Camp – Low Camp (Humal) 3000m (2 ½ to 3 hrs approx).
The trail starts from the end of the right corner of the teahouse and soon you can see the blue/white marks on the tree bark. Most of the time it is a gradient ascent, after just a few meters , turn right and continue straight; there is some uphill and “Nepali flat” then later there are mostly gradual trails, ascending into the dense rhododendron forest. Before 15 – 20 minutes; you reach a flat trail; finally you’re at Low Camp. There are two basic teahouses with restaurants with similar menus to Forest Camp. This is a very beautiful place with a beautiful campsite as well. It is surrounded by a beautiful rhododendron forest, a very quiet and peaceful environment, with a view of Machhapuchre and Mardi Himal, when the weather is clear.
The teahouses are closed from mid May – end of July, but if you make a phone call a few days earlier, they will open the restaurant and rooms for you at any time.
From here (Low Camp) a trail goes down to Sidding and further villages as well.
Low Camp (Humal) – High Camp (Kew) 3900m (4 or 5 hrs max)
You still follow the blue/white sign, entering the scrubby rhododendron forest by a gentle ascent of 10 – 20 minutes, and then start going up the trail in the dense forest till reaching the lower viewpoint (3289m). This will take 1 ½ – 2.00 hrs. Now begins a grassy slope. From here you can also see many wonderful mountain views, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Now, you continue further up to High Camp, hiking mostly on the grassy slope, up steep and some narrow paths and into some little rhododendron forests. Sometimes you may find difficulty in seeing our signs, because it was very difficult for us to find good rocks at the right distances. Sometimes we also had to use small rocks to paint on so when the grass grows higher those signs may be hidden.
If the weather is good, this hike is also one of the nicest, because you have the chance to walk along the yak beaten trail on an open ridge with great mountain views: the Annapurna range , Machhapuchre,and the southern green landscape; below, can be seen the very deep Modi river valley, including Ghandruk, Chhomrong, Sinuwa and Dovan .
At High Camp, there is only one teahouse at present (though another teahouse is about to be built soon), named Hotel Trekkers Paradise & Restaurant (mobile phone; 9846087624 or 9846087625 or 9806691496 to Mr. Sudip Gautam, who has been playing an important role in promoting the Mardi Route). It has nice basic rooms and can sleep a total of 24 people at once. It also has a wide and beautiful campsite. There is a good dining hall, an Indian sharing toilet and bathroom. They have a menu: available are noodles, macaroni, chapatti, Tibetan bread, soups, daal bhat and vegetable curry, egg items, tea and coffee.
This place itself is a natural viewpoint tower! In all directions you can see breathtaking views, including Machhapuchre, Mardi Himal, Annapurna I, Annapurna South, Baraha Shikhar, Himchuli and the southern slope including Pokhara valley! This place is also very suitable for yak and sheep-you can see many yaks around. Oh, Madhav Gautam, the yak herder, gave us fresh milk! Fantastic Himalayan milk!! There are a couple of yak shelters as well.
High Camp – Upper View Point 4450m – High Camp (7 – 8 hrs)
Today you should start earlier, but do not start in the dark if you don’t know the trail. You still see blue/white signals till Upper View point. After you have hiked 20 to 30 minutes, further on to the trekker’s paradise of High Camp, there is a trail junction at the bottom of a high hill. Though it seems the real trail goes directly up through the dangerous steep hill, (and yes, some crazy trekkers and local people would take it because of the shortcut), I would never recommend you to do so, for then you would put your life at risk!
Immediately from this junction you can turn to the right and you should look for the blue/white marks on the rocks. I hope they will last, even though we were not able to find the most suitable and best rocks. When you have just turned right, as I said above, you will see a flat, wide place, looking like a little dried up pond and you should walk through it. Further along you can see more marks and then continue straight for 15 – 20 minutes. After that, turn left, going steeply upwards. In another 15 – 20 minutes, you will reach a little pasture, then turn towards the left hand side and trek continually and gradually up the grassy slopes. In 15 – 20 minutes, you will join the trail junction coming up through the dangerous path. Then you follow the blue/white marks, before reaching the Upper View Point; for some hundred meters the path is very narrow. When it is covered by snow, it will be especially difficult and slippery, because both sides are very steep and you hike just along the ridge. But if the weather is good, you get a great chance to view the Annapurna I 8091m, Annapurna south 7219m, Himchuli 6441m, Baraha Shikhar (Fang) 7647m, Tent peak 5695m, Singachuli 6501m, Gangapurna 7454m, Gandarvachuli 6248m, little summit of Annapurna III 7555m, both peaks of Machhapuchre (Mt. fishtail) 6993m – 9997m and Mardi Himal 5553m, MBC (Machhapuchre Base Camp), Deurali, Dovan, Sinuwa, Chhomrong, Ghandruk and the southern slope, including Pokhara valley and
MHBCW (Mardi Himal Base Camp W) 4500m, to go from the upper view point Mardi Himal Base Camp will take about 30 minutes only.
Coming down to High Camp Hotel would take 3 – 4 hrs maximum. Except for some hundred meters of narrow path, it is not that difficult, as long as there is no snow on the way.
This day trip is quite adventurous, beautiful, joyful and definitely worth it.
After 5 – 8 minutes you hiked on the same trail you came up before. There is a trail junction where we marked the big tree’s bark in blue/white color, showing Pathana as straight on and Landruk to the right, going down.
After you descend for about 15 – 20 minutes, there is a steep and narrow path for about four to five hundred meters, and then you still keep descending.
I felt as though I were walking in the dense forest to take things for animals or felt I was a shepherd. When you go further down, you feel it to be a very quiet and peaceful and nice trail in the forest. Then soon you see the village of Landruk just below you and again there are very steep steps. You drop down the little stream, cross it and continue further on for 3 -5 minutes, turn left and follow the stairs down to enter the village of Landruk, soon you reach at a trail junction between the Annapurna camping ground and the Hotel Peaceful guest house, where we painted with blue/white signs, with arrows showing three directions: Mardi H. Trek, Pokhara, and Ghandruk. With this final act, we had finished our Mardi Himal Trek, Chapter: May/2012, of the NATT-trails.
We hope our NATT-signs will help you finding your trail and enjoy it. And please let us (Mr. Andrees de Ruiter www.nepal-dia.de and Prem Rai www.trekwithpremrai.blogspot.com ) know if you would like any further information, on any aspect and we will try our best for you.
“My special thanks to Mrs. Chris Panks, London/Italy, she who helped to revise my English.”
Day 01: Pokhara 820m to Pathana 1950m (3. 25 – 4 hrs approx.)
Day 02: Pathana to Forest Camp (Kokar) 2550m (5 – 6 hrs approx.)
Day 03: Forest Camp (Kokar) to Low Camp (Humal) 3000m (4 – 5 hrs maximum)
Day 04: Low Camp (Humal) to High Camp (Kew) 3900m (4 – 5 hrs).
Day 05: Day trip to Upper View Point 4450m (7 – 8 hrs approx.)
Day 06: High Camp (Kew) to Forest Camp (Kokar) 2550m (5 – 6 hrs)
Day 07: Forest Camp (Kokar) to Landruk 1560m (5 – 7 hrs)
Day 08: Landruk to Jhinudanda (Hotspring) 1750m (3 – 4 hrs maximum).
Day 09: Jhinudanda (Hotspring) to Sewai 1300m (4 hrs approx.). From there you can
drive to Nayapul or directly to Pokhra by jeep (2 – 3 hrs in maximum)
Day 10: An extra reserved day.
Day 01: Pokhara 820m to Pathana 1950m (3.25 – 4 hrs approx.)
Day 02: Pathana to Forest Camp (Kokar) 2550m (5 – 6 hrs approx.)
Day 03: Forest Camp (Kokar) to Low Camp (Humal) 3000m (4 – 5 hrs maximum)
Day 04: Low Camp (Humal) to High Camp (Kew) 3900m (4 – 5 hrs).
Day 05: Day trip to Upper View Point 4450m (7 – 8 hrs approx.)
Day 06: High Camp (Kew) to Forest Camp (Kokar) 2550m (5 – 6 hrs)
Day 07: Forest Camp (Kokar) to Pathana 1950m (4 - 5 hrs)
Day 08: Pathana – Kande and get a cab or bus and ride to Pokhara (3 hrs approx.)
Day 09: An extra reserved day.
Prem Rai P. O. Box No: 328 Lakeside 6, Pokhara Nepal.
(Below given times are including a short breaks during the hike on the way)
Kathmandu – Arughat Bazaar 608m (8 Hrs/approx)
On 7th of November 2011, there were nine members including Dr. Claudia we left for Manaslu trek. It was good idea to leave Kathmandu early to avoid the traffic gridlock and (all being well) arrive at Dhadingbesi (580m) by lunch time. It is roughly a 4 hour bus trip. Dhadingbesi is a big city and it is headquarter of the district. After having lunch here, we continued driving to Arughat (608m) of Gorkha. We arrived there by late evening, because of the bumpy rough road. At Arughat, there are many campsites and lodges to stay overnight. We did set our tents in middle part of the town, which is after the bridge over Budigandaki. Mainly Newars and Gurung people live in this town as both sides of the river. You can view west face of Ganesh Himal Range. There is a police check point as well.
Arughat – Lapubesi 885m (6 -7 Hrs/approx)
For Lapubesi we did hire a jeep to drive till Sotikhola (700m), it took us (1 hr and 40 minutes), between we mainly crossed Arkhet (620m) and Kurepani (820m), and both villages are beautiful with its farming terraces, green scrubby hills around.
After getting off the jeep, we officially began hiking to Khorsanebari (750m, 1 hour), had lunch here and then continued to Lapubesi, took us almost (4 hours) including some little break. Lapubesi is a beautiful Gurung village with farming slope terraces. Where there are few basic teahouses and nice campsites, health post and telephone service are available.
Lapubesi – Tatopani 990m (7 – 8 Hrs/approx)
All the way to Tatopani trail goes along the west bank of Budigandaki, its pleasant hike just above the river through the scrubby forest and villages sometimes, between the villages of Khanibesi (970m) and Machhakhola (869m) and Khorlabesi are also good place to stop, at those places have some basic teahouses and nice campsites. We did stop at Machhakhola for lunch, from where you can view the north east Ganesh Himal.
Tatopnai means; hot spring, there are no pools made yet, only spouts good to wash things and take shower. At Tatopani there are two basic teahouses and nice campsite right above the River of Budigandaki.
Tatopani – Salleri 1353m (6 – 7 Hrs/approx)
The trail from Tatopani to Salleri is through a dramatic gorge with many water-falls and few landslides. At the end of the Tatopani village, cross a suspension bridge to the east bank of the river and continue sometimes dense forest to Dobhan 1070m (1 hours and 30 minutes), still keep hiking along east bank of the river to Yaruphant 1170m (1 hour and 20 minutes), where there are few tea shops and nice campsite at the shore of the river, we had lunch there. Few hundred meters climbing after Yaruphant you reach at the confluence of the Yara Khola (1 hour and 30 minutes) vertical cliffs rise on both sides of the valley as the trail continues on eastern bank for 15 minutes to a bridge, after a short climb and descent of 20 minutes you reach a flat area, where there are few tea shops and campsites.
10 – 15 minutes further, you enter Jagat 1340m. There are basic tea houses, telephone services, nice campsites; police check post and MCAP information center + you’re an officially entered to Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP).
Jagat is traditional tax collection point for trade to and from Tibet. From here you can view the Shringi Himal.
Beyond the village is the Pangaur khola about 20 minutes, cross using stepping stones and Log Bridge and in next 20 – 25 minutes you reach to Salleri, there are couple of campsites in the village.
Salleri – Deng 1875m (6 – 7 Hrs/approx)
The trail now climbs an easy gradient to the resting place (50 minutes), good view of Shringi Himal. Descend to Sirdibas 1420m (35 – 45 minutes), continue via Ghatte khola to a long and high suspension bridge over the Budigandaki (there is police check post before crossing the bridge) and climb steeply 200m and reach to Philim 1570m (40 minutes).
At Philim, there are some basic tea houses, campsites, telephone services, Chhyoling Sandu gompa, nice Gurung village and a beautiful Shringi Himal view etc.
In (45 – 1 hour) you come at Eklebhatti 1600m, where, we had lunch, during food preparation time, we did collect some mountain paper from the tree. We did also collect fresh wild nettle leaves and cooked soup for lunch!
Next 45 minutes from here, 5 minutes before the bridge, there is a trail junction right hand trail goes to Tsum Valley and the left hand trail (Manaslu trail) descends to the river, where the trail begins a gradual climb as the valley turns westwards, keep following the main trail, soon you come at Nyakphedi 1660m. Another bridge across the Budigandaki is reach in (45 minutes), in the next 15 – 20 minutes, you cross back the same river using wooden suspension bridge and then you reach to Pewa 1700m (30 – 40 minutes). Next 50 minutes to 1 hour to Deng is good to stay overnight, there are couple of basic tea houses and good campsites with Shringi Himal views. Gurung people live in this village.
Deng – Namrung 2630m (6 -7 Hrs/approx)
The trail descends to a suspension bridge over Budigandaki , and then climbs roughly 110m to Rana village 1910m (45 minutes), now you climb up gently, some Nepali flat and come at Bhiphedi 1990m (45 – 50 minutes, keep continue further hiking through sparse pine trees and hamlets (1 hour), we had lunch at Sallaghari and then hiked to Ghap 2200m (1 hour and 30 minutes), there are couple of tea shops.
The valley now narrows and you pass through pine broad leaf forest to a spectacular canyon carved by the river (1 hour), which you re-cross in another 20 – 30 minutes on a large bridge. From the second bridge, you climb more steeply for almost 1 hour and 40 minutes to Namrung 2630m, where there are some tea houses, good campsites, permit check, hydropower + you can view Shringi and Ganesh Himal.
Namrung – Shyala 3500m (6 – 7 Hrs/approx)
Leave Namrung by crossing Therang khola along an easy hike and you reach the scattered village of Barchham (30 minutes). The trail now climbs about 290m, on an easy gradient to Lihi 2920m (1 hour and 10 minutes), there are some tea shops and campsites are available. Descend and cross the Hinan khola and ascend an easy trail to Shyo 2880m (1 hour). Now, its an easy uphill to Lho 3180m (1 hour and 30 minutes), where there are few tea houses and campsites. Its quiet a big settlement with the views of massive Manaslu and other peaks. If you have time, explore the village’s maniwalls, Ribung gompa, which situated on a hill above the village. Then the trail descends to Thusang khola and climbs a steady gradient for 300m to Shyala 3500m (1 hour and 45 minutes). At Shyala, there are some tea houses and nice campsites. For mountain views Shyala is wonderful place.
Shyala – Samdo 3875m (4 Hrs/approx)
The trail dips through the Numlakhola before descending slightly and then becoming flat all the way to Sama 3520m (1 hour and 30 minutes). Where, there are many basic tea houses, nice campsites, many big maniwalls, chhortens with beautiful Manaslu, Naike peak, Larke and Samdo. There is police station as well.
“ It is always good idea to stay one or two more day at Sama; exploring the village and some of the surrounding view points as part of an acclimatization program. You also may visit the gompas of Sama + hike up to Birendra Lake 3640m (45 – 1 hour) to see the reflection of the Manaslu and Naike in the lake!
Another very popular place to visit is; the Pung Gyen gompa beneath the east face of Manaslu. To get there, you go back on the Shyala trail to a junction before the Numlakhola, where you should turn right and continue a long and sometimes steep climb for 3 hours.
For the gompa donation is expected, so you may donate as you wished. Still higher above is cave gompa and hotspring, but relaxing in the grassy land near the gompa and enjoying the view of Manaslu is popular pastime before returing to Sama (1 hour 45 minutes)”.
Because of our tight schedule; we continued towards Samdo 3875m, following an easy trail that runs parallel to the Budigandaki. After 45 – 60 minutes cross the outflow from Birendra Lake to summer herding area of Kermo Yak Kharka, where there is an excellent view of Manaslu from the impressive maniwall. An easy gradient trail continues for (1 hour) to a bridge over the river and climb towards up to Samdo 3875m (40 minutes).
At Samdo there are two basic tea houses and many beautiful campsites, there are big chhortens and a gompa as well. Comparatively the people of Samdo are poor.
It is good idea to add one more day to your itinerary for well acclimatization. Consider climbing up the slopes to the north of Samdo for some great view of whole Manaslu range.
Samdo – Dharamshala 4460m (3 Hrs & 30 Minutes)
From Samdo the trail continues to a bridge across the Gyala Khola, climb the trail on the far side to a large pile of mani stones (50 minutes). Now you climb an easy gradient with the views of Naike, Larke and the north face of Manaslu for 2 hrs and 40 minutes to Dharamshala 4460m, where there is a large emergency shelter, recently set up a couple of large Chinese tents to sleep in.
Dharamshala – Bhimtang 3720m (8 – 9 Hrs/approx)
We did start at 5am, before sunrise and climb an ablation valley to view of Cheo ridge. Some prayer flags on the top of the valley 4690m (1 hour and 45 minutes), but still to get to the Pass, trail crosses through rough moraine (1 hour and 20 minutes to the another shelter 4905m. From here the trail begins to climb more steeply to the top of the Larkya La 5160m (1 hour and 45 minutes). On the top of Larkya La is a roofless shelter you can see and many prayer flags.
In the south, right in front of you is standing a huge massive white wall of the Larkya Himal range and in the north Cheo and Pawar (Cheo) Himal range.
After 15 -20 minutes’ descent; a magnificent view of Himlung, Kang Guru, Gyagi, Menjung, Annapurna II and IV.
Now, you descend on the steep slope, which is covered by snow or icy in winter and spring season (and may require a hand line) for 1 ½ hrs. But in Oct/Nov. season is very dry and normally no snow or ice over the pass of steeply slope down, though I would carry 20 – 30 meters rope with me. Beneath you are three glaciers spotted with several turquoises lakes; head for the ablation valley to the left of all the glaciers.
And rough gradient leads down to campsite of Bhimtang 3720m (3 hrs) belong to 6 tea shops including newly built.
Bhimtang – Yak Kharka 3020m (2 Hrs & 30 Minutes)
As I’ve seen many people take an extra day to have relax at Bhimtang after many day tough hiked via Larkya La, well Bhimtang is a bit windy place, so we made a decision to descend down to Yak Kharka, which decision was perfect. It took us 2 hrs and 30 minutes exactly without any break.
“After 15 – 20 minutes you hiked from Bhimtang will reach a moraine with fantastic views of Manaslu west face and Ngadi Chuli (Peak 29) in the south east, Himlung and Cheo Himal in the north.
Now, you cross a branch of glacial melt and then turn left, cross some more moraines before crossing the main stream of glacial melt and then climbing ridge of lateral moraine topped by few prayer flags (15 – 20 minutes).
The trail descends a little steeply through pine and rhododendron forest for 20 minutes and soon you meet to a gentle downhill gradient and keep continue towards the Dudh Khola through beautiful forest and you arrive at Yak Kharka, there is a large tea shop and very nice campsite area surrounding by green forest with the view of the north Manaslu and west part of Larka Himal.
From here the trail condition is a bit difficult to follow across some big landslides and through scrubby forest to the scattered settlement of Kharche 2700m (1 hour and 30 minutes).The trail now climbs strenuously ridge that just into the center of the valley before a long descent to Goa village 2515m (1 hour and 45 minutes), where there are couple of tea houses. It is now an easy downhill to the large Gurung village called Tilje 2300m (1 hour), we did lunch break here.
And then you cross a bridge and pass a school, after 20 – 30 minutes we came to join the new broad dirt track and we continually followed it till to the suspension bridge, crossed it and reached to Thonche village 1930m (55 minutes). At the center of this village, you bit turn to left and descend to the suspension bridge over Marsyangdi River, in 10 minutes you come to joint to the main Annapurna circuit NATT trail at Dharapani 1925m. Where there is a police check point, so you’re checking out of Manaslu and checking into Annapurna (ACAP).
In Dharapani, there are several lodges to stay. We descent through this long village till end and cross back the Marsyangdi river using the suspension bridge and followed the left bank trail of the river, finally we reached to Karte Manang 1850m (30 minutes). The school’s ground was provided us to us as campsite; well you should pay the fee as school asked. It is situated just above the Marsyangdi River. At Karte, there are few numbers of tea houses.
Karte Manang – Jagat 1300m (5 – 6 Hrs/approx)
After 1 hour you hiked on the broad dirt road without any single traffic, and then cross a suspension bridge (to avoid the road) over the Marsyangdi River and passing narrower carved cliff trail through the deep gorge with beautiful waterfall views, and descent at the river bank and continue a head to Siran Tal 1730m (30 minutes). After 5 minutes, you get to hike through the cliff carved trail and descent at the main Tall village 1700m (20 minutes). Where there are several lodges, police station, telephone services, and safe drinking water station and at the far end of the village is Nepal Army post, right from here the trail descends to Lower Tal (30 minutes), entering to scrubby forest and you come at Sattale 1640m (45 – 50 minutes). Still you have to descend down to another suspension bridge is rough + steeply and scrubby forest trail, cross the bridge and ascend to join the road at Chamje 1430m (45 – 60 minutes). Where there are some lodges. We did stop for lunch break. Now we took walk all the way to Jagat 1300m (1 hour) on the broad dirt road without any single traffic. Jagat is beautiful place to stop as overnight. Where there are several tea houses and nice campsites. It would be good idea to book it earlier, before you arrived here, because good campsite would be occupied by others.
It was our last night of this trip + also was one of our client’s “Birth Day!” Our Chef Bak Dhoj Rai made a delicious cake! All staffs wanted to have alcohol and everyone had it and finally we all danced and sang many beautiful songs and we all enjoyed it very much!
Jagat – Besishahar – Kathmandu 1300m (8 Hrs)
We hired a jeep to Besishahar, took us 3 hrs actual driving and then we did change a car for Kathmandu took another 5 hrs, transferred to Hotel.
Thus our wonderful Manaslu trek was over safely and in good health!
Day 01:Nov.07/2011: Kathmandu – Arughat Bazaar 608m (8 Hrs/approx)
NATT*** (New Annapurna Trekking Trail) Painting Mission 2011 My partner Andrees de Ruiter and I left for Besishahar on 9 th of August 2011...
Prem Rai was born at a beautiful little hamlet called Sintup 7, Tamku of Sankhuwasabha. It is located in the area of Makalu Barun National Park the most remote north part of East Nepal. He is self employed Trekking guide since 1999. He has over decade of experienced about trekking and tour organizing in Nepal through the Himalaya. On 26 Feb, 2004, he had received an “A” grade Trekking Guide License by His Majesty’s Government of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal. “Feel open to contact him, whether you have any interest about Nepal and all related activities in tourism and adventures. He can help you arrange any treks and tours or itineraries in Nepal. You can make any of these trips longer or shorter to fit your stay in Nepal.".” With warm regards – namaste!