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 and equipment check this evening.
We leave Kathmandu early in the morning and drive towards Pokhara. After leaving the Kathmandu valley the road snakes its way westwards along the Trisuli Valley. We get superb views of the mountains, particularly the Ganesh Himal and Manaslu as we follow the river to Mugling. We then turn off the main road and continue to Besisahar where we begin our trek (sometimes we may be able to drive further than Besisahar). From Besisahar 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 at 1311m. From the ridge we descend to the river at Syange (1136m). The trail then follows the track to Jagat.
An undulating trail leads to Chyamje, after which we cross a suspension bridge and climb through oak forest. The river disappears from view as we climb over a ridge. 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 again the path ascends the narrowing valley, descending to cross the river to the village of Dharapani at 1943m.
Our walk continues as we 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, passing a number of waterfalls on the other side of the river 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 away from the noise of the water to the village of Pisang at 3,185m. Today is only a short day and there will be time in the afternoon for an acclimatisation hike to Upper Pisang village for great views of the Annapurnas ahead.
We have an acclimatisation walk on the high trail through Gyaru to Ngawal (3,657m). This is a trail with amazing views across the valley towards the Annapurnas. Both Gyaru and Ngawal are traditional Tibetan style villages where the pace of life has not changed for centuries. We have the afternoon to explore Ngawal village withfurther time for acclimatisation.
We now leave the main trail and descend from Ngawal to Julu village, a small Tibetan style village. The trail follows the river up the valley passing herder's huts to a small campsite below a frozen waterfall (3,962m)
A fairly hard day as we gain altitude and climb steeply up the valley to our base camp at approximately 4,600m. The trail climbs endlessly uphill to the crags high above where we establish our base camp.
A short day to high camp (5,300m), where there will be a full gear check and some practice for the climb. We will practice ice axe and crampon techniques, walking roped up and the use of the jumar and abseil device. From high camp expect views of the Annapurnas with an incredible sunset and sunrise.
Summit day will start very early (usually around 2/3am in the dark). From high camp we have a steep climb up to a col at 5,500m. We can see the wonderful summit ridge ahead. From the col we will walk roped up and as the trail gets steeper our climbing sherpas will fix ropes on the steeper sections. The hard work is rewarded by incredible views from the top - in front of us is Gangapurna, the Annapurnas and Herzog's 'Great Barrier', to our left is Manaslu and behind us lies Tibet. We descend carefully past the high camp all the way to base camp.
Today we retrace our steps down the hillside past the Yak Kharka camp and further down to Julu village. Please not that in case of bad weatheron summit day this day will be used as a buffer day.
We say goodbye to some of our porters and cook as we trek back to the main trail again. An easier half day today as we descend to the Manang Valley and follow the main trail to Manang. We can visit the small village of Braga on the way with its ancient monastery towering high above the village. Braga is also home to a small tree nursery which is a project we have been supporting for the last 10 years. A short walk from Braga brings us to Manang where we stay in a tea house.
Leaving Manang we head to 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 stay tonight at Yak Kharka.
The trail climbs further up the valley and at one point descends to cross the Jarsang Khola.Look out for herds of Blue Sheep. A traverse across a scree slope brings us to the lone teahouses at Thorong Phedi which is surrounded by high cliffs at the foot of the Thorong La (4,400m.). We should be there by lunchtime and those feeling energetic can take a walk up to the Thorong High Camp, about an hour from Thorong Phedi.
A long day as we leave Phedi very early for the climb to the pass. The first part of the ascent is very steep, but it becomes easier 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. below. The long descent starts gently but becomes steeper before easing off to a gentle descent to Muktinath (3802m).
From Muktinath we pass through a landscape of bare, eroded hills with a backdrop of snow-capped high peaks. After visiting the temples above Muktinath, we follow the main trail down the valley through a magnificent landscape of wind-eroded cliffs in an array of beautiful colours. A final descent brings us to the Kali Gandaki Valley at Eklabatti, from where an easy trail brings us to the end of our trek at Jomsom.
The flights from Jomsom to Pokhara are usually in the early morning due to the high winds which blow up the Kali Gandaki Valley later in the day. The short but very spectacular flight takes us all the way down the Kali Gandaki Valley with great views of Niligiri and Dhaulagiri. We fly to Pokhara, where we transfer on to another flight back to Kathmandu.
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. Sightseeing tours can be booked locally. For more details of 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.