Fly to Kathmandu.
Those on the group flight from London will arrive in Kathmandu and will be transferred to The Royal Singi Hotel in the afternoon. Those not travelling with the group from London will meet us in the hotel. There will be a full trek briefing this evening.
We leave early this morning for the long drive to Sulichaur. We drive out of the Kathmandu Valley and follow the Trisuli River to Mugling. Here we turn south and follow the river to Naryanghat, a large bustling town in the terai. Turning west we drive along the main east-west highway to Butwal and further on to Bhaluban. We will drive as far as possible today and camp somewhere in the terai as close to Bhaluban as possible. 9-10 hours drive.
At Bhaluban we leave the main highway and head north for the last 50 miles to Sulichaur. The road winds up into the hills following the river and passing scenic villages and wonderful terraced farmland. We hope to get to Sulichaur by lunchtime and after lunch the porters will load up and we set off walking. There is a camping place about an hour out of Sulichaur.
3-4 hours drive, 1 hour walk.
A longish but easy walk today as we begin to climb towards the hills ahead. We walk along a wide jeep track gradually up the valley following the Lungri River. A couple of times we leave the rough track and have a steep climb up through farmland to the Are (or Kenganath) Bhanjyang at 1273m. From here we descend a short way and carry on up the valley climbing more gradually now following the Naibang Khola. Towards the end of the afternoon we cross the river on a suspension bridge and leave the jeep track behind. The final 30 minutes brings us to our campsite by the river just below the large village of Jelbang.
6½-7 hours walk.
Today we cross our first pass, the Jaljala (there are two Jaljala Passes on this trek - the second one is higher). It's a long, tough day today as we begin to climb and cross our first pass. We leave camp and cross the river and then begin to climb steeply up above Jelbang. The trail is steep and takes us higher and higher. We pass the villages of Jemthang and Sukulbang and then leave all habitation behind as we continue to climb. The trail gets steeper the higher we go and finally eases off as we pass a large cave called Bhangma Pup (Torch Cave), a large cavern that serves as a shrine. Just beyond here is a new temple at Bujuthan with water taps, where we camp tonight on an open area of grassland. It's half an hour to the actual pass but if you walk up onto the hills around camp there are excellent panoramic views of the Himalaya to the north. On a clear day you can see the Sisne Himal, Pyutha Himal, Churen Himal, Gurje Himal, Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas. Due to its location the area around here served as a training ground for guerrillas.
6½-7 hours walk.
From camp we head past another small temple and some pilgrims and ex Maoist training huts to the top of the Jaljala where the views open out even more. The descent is steep on a well made stone path. We descend for two hours or more to the Gong Khola, which we cross and after a short ascent we descend further past a large finger of land finally descending to the Thawang Khola. We have lunch by the river and then trek into Thawang village (2000m). At the exit to Thawang we are greeted by a huge black and white mural of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Engels and Mao! Thawang is one of the oldest communist centres in this part of Nepal and experienced some heavy fighting in the war. 1½ hours from Thawang is the Ajambari Jana commune, established in 2003 as Nepal's first commune. We head out of Thawang and start climbing through the pretty village of Jhakibang, with beautiful well-kept slate paving stones. Beyond the village we start the climb towards our next pass. The trail takes us high above the cultivated fields into wild pastureland, where we camp, with great views back to the villages below.
6½ hours walk.
We continue climbing to the top of the Shyaubari Pass (Apple Orchard Pass). On a clear day it's worth taking a 5 minute detour to the south of the pass for the views. Mount Sisne is the prominent peak and the valleys all around are magnificent. The ridge is called the Mandune ridge and it divides 2 districts - we leave Rolpa behind and now enter Rukum. Walking through the stone gateway that marks the pass we descend steeply through thick forest to the Ruji Khola. We follow the Ruji Khola downstream until we reach the junction with the Lukum River. We cross it on a log bridge and its then an easy walk into Lukum village. Lukum is populated by Magars and Khamis and Shamanism is still practiced here - between July and August there is an annual gathering of Shamans in the village.
6-6½ hours walk.
A tough climb this morning to the Tila Pass. The trail climbs very steeply out of the village and continues climbing steeply all the way to the top of the pass (it will take us 4-4½ hours to the top). A stone gateway marks the top of the pas and we should see Mount Sisne ahead on a clear day. The descent takes us first through forest to a small stream. From here we have a very short ascent and then a very steep descent on a stony trail, with great views ahead to Taka, down to the village of Uppallo Sera. We may well see the villagers coming down from the forests with huge basket loads of leafs which they use for the animals in winter. We camp near the school by the river. Uppallo Sera was the site of a major encounter between police and Maoist guerrillas in April 2000. If there is time this afternoon we can visit Taka, a large settlement with about 400 closely connected houses. The people in this area are Khams and their villages are very medieval with passageways between dwellings and shared rooftop courtyards. There is also a church in Takam, built by the missionary who lived here for many years before the conflict - he learnt enough of the local Kham language to translate the Bible.
6½ hours walk.
A fairly long but wonderful walk today. From Uppallo Sera the trail climbs up the valley following the river. We pass through the remote villages of Lower and Upper Damchan and pass fields of wheat and millet. Across the valley is Ghumilibang, where there is an isolated church built by a missionary who lived for many years in Taka. We are close to the banks of the Uttar Ganga River and in March and April locals fish here for trout. Climbing all morning we finally arrive at the small settlement of Kore Dharamsala, where we stop for lunch, as this is the only water available today. In the afternoon we enter a magnificent isolated forest and follow a trail high above the river as it undulates all afternoon through the fir and pine trees, finally descending to our camp at Niseldhor.
6½-7 hours walk.
An easy day after the exertions of the last few days crossing passes. We descend to cross the beautifully clear Uttar Ganga River and an easy trail undulates to Masa with some wonderful apple orchards. We continue on an easy trail following the river all morning passing through a couple more villages before the valley opens out into a wide plain. We pass the National Park office and enter the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, passing Syal Pake before we reach Dhorpatan itself. We will camp either in Dhorpatan or an hour further on at Chhentung, a Tibetan settlement, where there is a Bon monastery and a traditional Tibetan medicine school.
5 hours walk.
Today we start with an easy walk following the Uttar Ganga River upstream. We are now walking through a spectacular valley, carpeted by flowers in the monsoon. Parts have been scorched by fire and we walk through an eerie landscape of burnt trees. Continuing through extensive areas of pasture we pass through Gurjaghat, where we may have to make a detour upstream to cross a side stream by bridge. We then start to climb towards the pass. The long climb is worth it for the fantastic views from the top. We camp at the very top of the pass if there is water - if not we camp half an hour below the pass at Lower Jaljala (3333m). In the monsoon these beautiful meadows are occupied by shepherds as they bring their herds of animals to graze on the succulent grass. This evening it's worth taking the half hour walk to the top of the pass for the magnificent sunset. We can see the Gurja Himal, Dhaulagiri, Niligiri, Gangapurna, Annapurna 1 and 3, Annapurna Fang, Annapurna South and Machhapuchhare.
7 hours walk.
It's a long fairly steep descent through the forest to the terraced fields of Moreni from where we descend steeply to the river. A short climb brings us to Lumsumg village, from where we descend past a waterfall to the Dar Khola. A short easy climb brings us to the large village of Phalegaon where we camp tonight. There are many villages in this area and all are self sufficient farming communities living off the land.
6 hours walk.
An easy day today with an optional walk up to Mattikhanna en route. From Phalegoan we climb easily out of the Dar Khola Valley to Machhim (1977m). The trail that leads north from here heads towards the round Dhaulagiri trek. We follow an easy trail which descends to Sibung. From here it's and easy half hour walk to camp at Takam. The optional climb to Mattikhanna hill is well worth the effort. A steep 1½ - 2 hour climb brings us to a small temple on Mattikhanna hill. Due to its strategic location it was the headquarters of the Maoist regional command for years during the war. It's now famous for its stunning mountain views - Annapurna 1 and 3, Annapurna Fang, Annapurna South, Dhaulagiri and the Gurja Himal rise majestically ahead of us. We descend through Kopal Danda to our camp at Takam.
3 hours walk (6 hours including Mattikhanna).
A long walk today but it's mostly downhill. After a magnificent sunrise from camp we descend easily to the village of Dharapani. From here the trail descends steeply to the Dang Khola. Passing a smallnettle cloth factory we say goodbyes to the mountains and descend to Darbang (1112m), a village which lies on the confluence of two river valleys. It's a commercial trading village between Myagdi, Dolpo, Baglung and Rukum. A jeep track now reaches here and it is now a busy village. We continue down the valley through scenic villages. The next significant village is Babichaur. During the war the Maoists controlled much of the area west of here. We continue following the Myagdi River to our camp near Tarahet.
7 hours walk.
We have a short 2½-3 hour walk past the hot springs at Tatopani to the town of Beni, where we meet our transport for the drive back to Pokhara, where we should arrive late afternoon. There should be time to explore the pretty lakeside resort and we can have dinner in one of the many lakeside restaurants.
2½-3 hours walk, 5 hours by bus.
We will have some time this morning to explore Pokhara and we take a late morning or afternoon flight to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free.
The trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport for the flight back to London. Those not on the group flight will leave us after breakfast.