Day 1 - 2
Those on the group flight from London will arrive in Kathmandu and will be transferred to The Royal Singi Hotel in the early evening. Those not travelling with the group from London will meet us in the hotel this evening. There will be a full trek briefing this evening.
We leave Kathmandu early in the morning and drive towards Pokhara. After leaving the Kathmandu valley we follow the river to Mugling. We then continue to Besisahar where we begin our trek. From here we walk down to the river and cross to the east side to avoid the new road which is currently under construction. Our trail undulates above the river, continuing northwards up the Marsyangdi Valley with Himalchuli and Peak 29 dominating the horizon. The trail takes us on quiet trails through rice paddies and villages for two hours until we meet the main trail at Bhulebule.
The trail continues up the east bank of the river passing a beautiful waterfall to Ngaddi. Here we cross a suspension bridge and then begin a steady climb through scrub forest finally arriving at Lampatta, a Manangi village with Tibetan style prayer flags. A final short sharp ascent brings us to the village of Bahundanda, perched on a ridge at 1311m. From the ridge we descend to the river at Syange (1136m) where we once more cross the river. The trail then follows the river to Jagat.
An undulating trail leads to Chyamje, after which we cross a suspension bridge and climb through oak forest. The trail then emerges into a level valley where 'Tal', the next village is situated at the foot of a grand waterfall (1700m). Crossing the river a couple of times we reach the village of Dharapani at 1943m.
Beyond this village we continue our climb over a spur to Bagarchap, at 2164m. The name of this village means 'butcher's place' and, although Buddhist, the people of this region do hunt animals. Continuing we follow the trail through forest to Dhanagyu and climb up to Temang, where we have lunch with magnificent views of Manaslu and Peak 29. The trail then descends though fir and pine forests to Koto and Chame (2713m), administrative centre of the Manang district.
We now experience a dramatic change of scenery. Leaving the forests and vegetation of the alpine regions behind we enter the upper district of Manang, known as Nyeshang. At first our trail follows the river closely through a deep canyon before coming to Brathang at 2919m. The trail then follows the steep narrow valley through deep forest from which there are fine views of Annapurna II. We cross the river where the impressive curved rock face of Paungda Danda rises nearly 1500m from the riverbank, and climb to the village of Pisang at 3,185m.
There are 2 options today. The energetic can take the high route to Manang via the villages of Gyaru and Ngawal. This is a wonderful walk with great views across to the Annapurnas. We drop down to the main trail just before Braga and continue on the main trail to Manang. The second option is to take the shorter main trail to Manang which climbs a low pass into the valley below Pisang Peak. As we continue up the valley, it becomes increasingly barren, and eventually we reach Braga, a picturesque village dominated by a large ancient gompa. The Tree Nursery is located here, a project that Exodus has supported for many years. There will be time to pay a visit and see how it is progressing. Passing carved mani walls we arrive at the village of Manang at 3351m. The longer walk takes approximately 8-9 hours and the shorter walk 5-6 hours.
We spend this day around Manang acclimatising to the altitude. Most people climb the hill behind Manang to enjoy the magnificent views of the whole Annapurna range and the enormous icefall that crashes and rumbles down from Gangapurna. This is the part of the trek where we are closest to the mountains. Across the valley the huge bulk of Gangapurna and the Annapurnas tower way above us- the sunset and sunrise over this great amphitheatre is one of the most beautiful mountain views in the country.
Leaving Manang we head towards the base of the Thorong La. We climb out of the Marsyangdi valley and turn northwest up the valley of the Jarsang Khola. We are above the forests now and pass through dry, alpine country, with scrub juniper and occasional clumps of birch. We spend tonight at a lodge in Yak Kharka. We will reach the lodge by lunchtime and in the afternoon we will have an acclimatisation walk onto the surrounding hills. Look out for the Blue Sheep that inhabit this cold, windy spot.
Another short day to aid acclimatisation. The scenery becomes more wild as we continue ascending the valley. At one point we descend to cross the Jarsang Khola, and traverse a scree slope to the lone teahouses at Phedi at the foot of the Thorong La (4,400m).Thorong Phedi can be very cold and windy. In the afternoon we can go for a walk up to Thorong High Camp which is the last lodge and is about an hour above Phedi.
A long day as we leave Phedi very early the next morning for the climb to the pass. The first part of the ascent is very steep, but it eases somewhat as we approach the top, although the altitude still makes the going tough. Eventually, after numerous false summits, we reach the pass itself at 5416m. Ahead there is a magnificent panorama of snow-capped peaks extending northwards into Tibet, and looking back we can see several of the main peaks of Annapurna. Directly in front of us is the great chasm of the Kali Gandaki, 2,500m. It's a very long descent that begins gently and becomes steeper, as we follow a series of switch-backs down to the grassy slopes, before easing off to a gentle descent to Muktinath (3802m).
From Muktinath we pass through landscape of bare, eroded hills with a backdrop of snow-capped high peaks. After visiting the temples above Muktinath, we cross the Jhong Khola and climb up to Jhong - a beautiful village. There is a very old monastery here dating back to the 7th or 8th century and the ruins of an old fort. The village has a small lodge where we can get a very simple lunch. Passing wind-eroded cliffs in an array of beautiful colours we continue down the valley arriving at the interesting village of Kagbeni. (This route avoids the newly built road). Please note that in case we are delayed due to bad weather this day will be missed out and we will trek direct from Muktinath to Marpha.
The trail now follows the Kali Gandaki River down to Jomosom, a large administrative centre, at 2713m. As you walk down the rocky riverbed look out for ammonite fossils amongst the pebbles. These are sacred to Hindus who call them 'shaligrams'. After lunch in Jomosom we cross the river to the village of Thini, where there is a small monastery. We cross a wooden bridge to Samley, from where it is about half an hour to Dumba Lake. This very small lake is considered holy by the local Thakali people. A short climb brings us to Dumba Gompa for magnificent views of the Kali Gandaki Valley, Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak. On treks departing in October and November we will drop down through Dumba village to the suspension bridge across the Kali Gandaki to Marpha. From December to May we continue on the same side of the river towards the Tibetan refugee camp. A wooden bridge crossing the Kali Gandaki takes us to the pretty village of Marpha (2667m) with its clean paved streets and white-washed houses. Marpha is famous for its locally-made apple and peach brandy, which you might like to sample to celebrate your crossing of the Thorong La.
Today we follow the Kali Gandaki Valley, a major trade route. We are now in the deepest gorge in the world - to the east Annapurna I rises to 8091m, to the west the peak of Dhaulagiri at 8167m soars above us. Leaving the dry, barren landscapes we walk through pine, cypress and juniper forest, sometimes on the valley floor and other times on a trail high above. From Marpha we cross back over the Kali Gandaki to avoid the road. Walking through fir and pine forests we continue onto Chokhepani. In October and November we must cross the large suspension bridge just before Chokhepani to Tukuche for lunch. From December to May we can continue on to a small wooden bridge which takes us directly into Tukuche. The village is surrounded by apple and apricot orchards and the fruit brandy is famous throughout the area. After lunch we have a short walk to Larjung. In October and November we will stay on the same side of the river. From December to May we cross the river and follow a trail through Sauru village onto Larjung. We stay tonight in a simple lodge. It is definitely worth walking up towards Thasang this evening to see the sunset on Niligiri.
Today we leave the main trail and trek via Titi Tal and Titi Gaon to Kurje Gaon. In October and November we will start with a short walk along the road to the large suspension bridge below Larjung. After crossing the river, the trail climbs up through the forest to Titi Tal, a very small lake. From December to May we can cross the Kali Gandaki using a small wooden bridge to Sirkung from where we have a fairly steep walk through the forest to Nupsang Kharka. From here we get fantastic views of Dhaulagiri, Tukuche and Dhampus peaks. Dropping down through the forest we come to Titi Goan and Titi Tal. Following an easy trail we pass through Taglung to reach Kurje Gaon. We will either carry a packed lunch or have a very simple lunch in a local teahouse at Kurje . We then head towards the Lete Khola and trek on a new trail to Ghasa.
From Ghasa we drop down and cross the river. The trail climbs high above the river through a narrow gorge to Kopchepani. We continue on the same side of the river and follow an ancient trail up to Bhalebas. The trail then undulates and passes a hydro electric project just before Tatopani. A suspension bridge brings us right into Tatopani. We usually have a longer morning today and late lunch in Tatopani, allowing time in the afternoon to enjoy a welcome soak in the hot spring baths here - guaranteed to ease any aching limbs!
Day 18 - 19
The last stage of the trek take us over two ridges to the end of the trek. We begin with a long climb to Ghorepani (2855m), from where we will climb Poon Hill for superb sunrise views over the Annapurnas and Machhapuchhare. The trail then descends steeply to the village of Birethanti by the Modi Khola.
From Birethanti it is a very short walk to Naya Pul. Here we will pick up transport back to Pokhara. We usually arrive by lunchtime and have the afternoon to explore this pretty lakeside town.
We fly to Kathmandu. Weather depending there should be good views of the western end of the Nepal on this flight. (for those who choose not to fly, or if we are unable to fly, we return to Kathmandu by road, arriving in the evening)
Today is free for sightseeing in Kathmandu. You may wish to visit Durbar Square in the heart of the old city where the old Royal Palace, with its intricate woodcarving is located. Outside is Kumari Chowk, home of the Kumari, the young girl who is revered as a living goddess. The whole area is a maze of temples and images. Alternatively you may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world at Bodnath, or the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath. Various sightseeing tours can be booked and paid for locally. For more details of all of these optional activities please refer to the Optional Excursions section.
The trip ends after breakfast. Those not on the group flight will leave us after breakfast.