Annapurna Panorama & Mardi Himal Trek
- 21 days trip, airport to airport
- 11 days on trek, moderate difficult trek
- Maximum altitude 4100 metres
- 2 days rafting on Trisuli River
- 2 nights and 3 days in Chitwan Jungle Safari
- 4 nights in Kathmandu, 3 nights in Pokhara
Less than fifteen miles north of Pokhara, as the crow flies, Mardi Himal is the most southerly small peak of the Annapurna range: from some viewpoints it seems little more than an outlier on the south-west flank of Machhapuchhre.
Although the route to the summit was tackled and introduced over five decades ago, the trekking trail itself was introduced only recently. Mardi Himal (5,587m), is the triangular-shaped mountain which rises from the long ridge along the southern slope of Machhapuchhre, from where the superlative views, including a fine vista of the picturesque Pokhara valley, encompassing many of the world’s highest peaks, namely Annapurna I (8091m), Annapurna II (7937m), Annapurna III (7555m), Annapurna IV (7525m), Annapurna South (7219m), Dhaulagiri (8167m), Manaslu (8163m), Nilgiri (7041m), Machhapuchhre (6998m), Hiunchuli (6441m), Glacier Dome (7193m), Gangapurna (7454m) and Lamjung Himal (6986m). This unique trek is sure to provide outstanding views of many of these giants, particularly Machhapuchhre, which dominates the trail throughout, primarily because of its position as the southernmost mountain in the whole Annapurna range, thereby appearing unbelievably close.
Even though these huge and often familiar-shaped peaks are nearby, there is still an essence of exploration on this beautiful trail, which leaves behind the more popular trekking routes and affords the opportunity to walk high on the ridge for the most part, looking down on scenery often only appreciated from afar or below. Beyond the mountain vistas, the dramatic scenery of the Mardi Himal trek is unforgettable, with its incredible landscape of rocks, hills and forests, colourful with rhododendrons in the Spring, and always home to many species of flora and fauna. Trekking through dense forests and discovering high alpine pastures adds to the sense of exploration; the sparsely scattered Gurung and Magar settlements at the beginning and end of the trail retain much of their traditional charm, receiving few visitors, apart from the shepherds and other animal herders who pass by on their way to summer pastures, as they have done from time immemorial. Exploration of the unique blend of culture, rituals and lifestyles of the various ethnic groups is a rare opportunity, as is the chance to discover as yet unexplored features of the area. The entire Mardi Himal trek is dominated by a sense of remoteness, yet accompanied throughout by the sounds of both well-known and unfamiliar birds, and sometimes of silence – always with the ever-present Machhapuchhre.
The ten-year celebration of North Lewisham Scout expeditions to Nepal starts with the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and exciting visits to various world heritage sites in the Valley. There will be an exhilarating although short flight to Pokhara, during which there should be an almost unending vista of snowy peaks.
Superb views of Annapurnas and Dhaulagiris will be enjoyed throughout the trek, which begins at Nayapul, a short road journey from Pokhara. The early part of the trek is dominated by dense forests of Rhododendron, Oak, Magnolia, Pine and Bamboo, rich with birds, butterflies and many mammals, including Muntjac and Musk deer, also Rhesus Macaque and Grey Langur monkeys: even an outside chance of spotting the endangered Red Panda or Black Bear!
The up–and-down trail passes through narrow gorges, alongside mountain streams and rushing rivers, traversing high ridges and deep valleys, with Gurung and Brahman villages to be visited and enjoyed along the way, providing a unique cultural experience of some of the Nepalese ethnic groups living in the Annapurna foothills.
Another aspect of the trek is the ascent of Pun Hill, the famed site of a 360 degree panoramic view of the Annapurna range, from a completely different viewpoint to that from the Mardi Himal ridge. To enjoy the spectacular panorama at its best, dawn is the ultimate time to see the mountains, as the golden sun rises above them.
The last few days of the trek will see a reunion with the Mardi Himal Summit Team, and back to Pokhara together, where there will be a couple of days’ rest and relaxation, including optional activities, such as Nepalese Cookery Experience, Paragliding, Mountain biking, Pony trekking, Zip Ride, or enjoying peaceful boat excursions on Lake Phewa. Then follows a resurgence of physical activity – white water rafting on the Trisuli River, en route to Chitwan National Park for jungle experience including elephant riding, dug out canoe and bullock cart rides, before driving back to Kathmandu.
- Day 1
- Arrive in Kathmandu and transport to Hotel
- Day 2
- Kathmandu: half-day world heritage sightseeing (Monkey temple and Patan/Bhaktapur), and preparing for trek
- Day 3
- Morning flight to Pokhara (820m) and drive to Nayapul (1070m) via Kande (1770m), and trek to Tirkhedunga (1540m)
- Day 4
- Trek to Ghodepani Deurali (2870m)
- Day 5
- Ascend to Pun Hill (3210m) and trek to Tadapani (2520m)
- Day 6
- Trek to Chomrong (2170m)
- Day 7
- Trek to Landruk (1565m) via Jhinu Danda (1780m) - visit Hot Spring (tatopani)
- Day 8
- Trek to Kokar (Forest Camp, 2510m)
- Day 9
- Trek to Kumai (Low Camp, 3050m)
- Day 10
- Trek to Khorchon (High Camp, 3900m)
- Day 11
- Exploration day, trek to Upper Viewpoint (4100m) and return to High Camp (3900m)
- Day 12
- Trek to Sidhing (1700m)
- Day 13
- Trek to Lumre (1200m) and drive to Pokhara
- Day 14
- Pokhara: relax and leisure time, possible Nepalese Kitchen Experience (DIY Dinner)
- Day 15
- Pokhara: leisure time with optional extra activities
- Day 16
- Early morning drive to Charaudi and start rafting on Trisuli river, overnight camp on beach
- Day 17
- Rafting to Gaighat and drive to Chitwan
- Day 18
- Chitwan jungle activities: Elephant Safari and Bathing; other activities
- Day 19
- Finishing off final activities, and mid-morning drive back to Kathmandu