Mardi Himal Trek – Beyond the Trails in Annapurna Base Camp

Where is the Mardi Himal Trek?
Annapurna region is one of the most thought of destination when traveling in Nepal. It’s like the George Clooney of cinema or Roger Federer of sports or Steve Jobs of technology or Andy Warhol of arts. But the catch here is that people get bored if all these people walk on the same line every time. We need difference. The same picture has to be presented with a different perspective. And the same region has to explored through different trails to keep the flame bright, red and up in the air. For the sake of Annapurna region, we present you with trails that go beyond the normal routes.

Mardi Himal Trek

Mardi Himal Trek essentially has always been an off the trail walk. A story goes that photographer Basil Goodfellow gave the first view of the peak to westerners from his slides when he visited Nepal in 1953. Since then this trail has been trying to grow out from the shadow of other mainstream routes as very limited travelers have information about this trail. Things have been taking a quick turn since last decade as the route is getting the attention it’s worth because travelers seem to have gotten exhausted by the touristy trails. More trekkers are opting for this route for a view of Annapurna and Machhapuchhre ranges, to walk through bamboo and rhododendron forest. And the best part is that you can have all this natural beauty without having to deal with large crowds. As this trail is gaining popularity, all season lodges have been operating in the area since 2012.

Traffic Low
Difficulty Medium
Price Moderate
Style Tea-House Trekking
Max Elevation Mardi Himal Base Camp (4,500m)

Where is Mardi Himal?
Mardi Himal Trek is located in the Annapurna Conservation Area. It is named after a small mountain which goes by the name of well, Mardi Himal. This mountain is on one of the ridges of Mount Machhapuchhre and is 5587 m high. This trail can be completed within 6 days (Pokhara to Pokhara). The route is of medium difficulty and the views are simply spectacular. This is a basic itinerary to give you a general idea of length and time each day. The routes can be altered in many ways. While returning you can even exit through Lwang village. (And, yeah, you can do this in reverse order too)

Day 1: Kathmandu-Pokhara
First you have to choose to take bus or flight. Tourist buses start from Rs. 600 – 2500 which varies if you book a bus with wifi and if you want breakfast and lunch. It will take around 6-7 hours to reach Pokhara. The route that the bus takes is Kantipath – Jamal – Tripureshwor – Kalimati – Kalanki (before leaving Kathmandu valley) which means you one can board on these buses from any of these points.
The price for flight varies from USD $100 to USD $126.

Day 2: Pokhara – Phedi – Dhampus
Phedi is around 20 km away from Pokhara. This is the point from where we begin walking. It will take around 4 hours by a bus to reach Phedi. Then normally its take 2 hours of up-hill until Dhampus (1600m).

Day 3: Dhampus to Forest Camp
Forest camp (2550m) is 10 km away from Dhampus. With a good pace you can reach between 3-4 hours.

Day 4: Forest Camp to High Camp
The distance between these points is around 7 km. It is going to take 6 hours to reach high camp (3580m)

Hotels in Lwang village

Day 5: High Camp to Base Camp and back to Low Camp
It is going to take 6 hours to complete this length of 5 km. The highest altitude reached is 4500m.

Day 6: Low Camp to Sidhing/ Lwang
You can either rest overnight at Sidhing which is 7 km or around 3 hours of walk. If you are in a tight schedule then going directly to Lwang is going to take 6-7 hours covering 14 km.

Day 7: Sidhing/Lwang to Pokhara
Buses begin from a place called Kalimati which is 2-3 away from Sidhing. From here you can directly catch a bus to Pokhara. And if you are in Lwang then, just a bus is probably about to reach the village so stand in line to get a seat. In monsoon season due to landslides, muddy roads and chances of tires skidding off, we warn of service not being so fluent as in other seasons.

Day 8: Pokhara to Kathmandu

View from high camp

Why would you go to Mardi Himal?
Why would I want to preach about going to Mardi himal? Well, the specialties of this place are as follows:

1)    Ridge trekking!!
If you look at the route of Mardi Himal Base Camp in google earth then you can see that the whole route is a straight trail done on top of a hill. After reaching Pothana, trekkers never go below the altitude of 2000m. This notable feature of the trail keeps us posted with amazing views of landscapes that lack in other when you dip into valleys.

2)    Rhododendron Forest
Forests filled with rhododendrons of red, white and pink is a treat on this trail. This is one of the major attraction of the region and has always added that extra reason to trek here. But, keep in mind that these flowers only bloom in spring and may not be so much contrasting in other seasons.

Laligurans in spring

3)    Mt. Machhapuchhre
Mount Machhapuchhre (6993 m) is the mountain that has been giving that spectacular touch to the valley of Pokhara sinces ages. The word “Machhapuchhre” in Nepali means “Fishtail” which is taken from the shape of the mountain. This mountain can be clearly viewed from base camp.

Mount Machhapuchhre as seen from Pokhara

When to visit Mardi Himal?
Mardi Himal can be visited in the following months:
1)      Mid-September  – Early December is the best month because it is the peak season to trek with clear visibility of mountains and to catch amazing landscapes.
2)      January – Mid February have clear blue skies but because of heavy snow the route are closed
3)      March – May brings the spring which colors the landscapes green and brings migratory birds back after a long winter.     .
4)      June- August – This is the running time of monsoon period which is prone to landslides and clouded vistas.

Mountain Finder

Cost layout in Mardi Himal Trek
Cost are dependent on many factors like using a trekking agency or hiring a guide or travelling alone.

Using trekking agency
The price start from USD $490 and varies from one agency to another. The price includes guides, accommodation, permits and meals. You should have a good talk with variety of agencies before going with one in-order to have a good idea. On large  groups the prices get discounted.

Only hiring a Guide
Guide services comes with experience and that is what matters in these trails. So the more you are ready to pay for a guide, more experience you are going to get. A range for hiring is from USD $20 to USD $50 and even more.

Travelling with a group or alone
Here hotels, food, permits and meals are to be handles by yourself as you reach your destination. Here are some outlines:

Food
On season (Dal/Bhat or Rice/ Lentils): Rs. 600
Off season (Dal/Bhat or Rice/ Lentils): Rs. 350

Tea-house with shared bathroom
On season: Rs. 250-400
Off season: Rs. 150

Water (1 litre)
Highest point: Rs. 150
Normal rate: Rs. 40-80
These prices are to be expected to change depending on time of year, whether conditions and political situations.

Mardi himal and

Accommodation on Mardi Himal Trek
Since this is relatively new trekking route, lodges and hotels were not established along the route until very recently. You get good facilities (wifi, hot shower and food) upto forest camp but beyond that facilities are reduced to minimum. Share bathrooms, sleeping on foam mattresses and learning to bathe on buckets of hot water (not running hot water) are some of the skills you will take back after doing this trek.
A list of some of the hotels and their telephone numbers are given below:

Hotel Telephone
Hotel High Camp (High Camp) 9846284859
Hotel Trekkers Paradise and Restaurant (High Camp) 9856087625
Hotel Machhapuchhre (Low Camp) 9854031903
Hotel Laligurans (Low Camp) 9846183583
Green View Hotel (Forest Camp) 9806536903, 9846802009
Hotel Mardi Himal (Forest Camp) 9846802007
Hotel Forest Camp and Resort (Forest Camp) 9846619146

What do you need to go beyond the trails in Annapurna Base Camp

1)      Permits (only for non-nepali passport holders)
Permits are of utmost importance while travelling in Nepal. You need to have Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System). Your guide or the travelling agency can manage these papers for you. Or you can get them by yourself from the following locations:
The Department of Immigration (in Kathmandu)
Kalikasthan, Dillibazar, Kathmandu
Tel: 977 – 1 – 4429659 / 4429660 / 4438862 / 4438868 Fax: 977 – 1 – 4433934 /4433935
Email: mail@nepalimmigration.gov.np
Web: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np

2)      Gears
You should carry some essential gears and equipment. Some are mentioned below:
i)     Good pair of down jacket and shoes
ii)    Sunglasses and sun blocks
iii)   Medicine (for pain, for altitude)
iv)   Light cloths and space for more food
v)    Head Lamp with extra batteries
vi)   Toilet papers

Lwang Village homestay

lwang village

Lwang village has emerged as a rich ground to immerse in the culture with a much more practical approach in experiencing the Nepali village life-style. This village has been popularizing the new ideology of travel known as Community Based Homestay which proposes the tourist to live in small stone-roof house, eat typical Nepali food and  participate in cultural programs. This hub preserves its originality and lets any wanderer feel it without disguising or heightening anything.

Traffic Low
Difficulty Very easy
Price Moderate
Style Home-stay
Max. Elevation Lwang village (1,550m)

Where is Lwang village?
Lwang village is approximately 2 hours from Pokhara in the Annapurna Conservation Area. The village is easily reachable by bus from Pokhara. You could take many routes to Lwang village. People can reach Lwang from Dhampus or Pothana and many visit it while returning back from Mardi Himal trek. One of the easiest route is covered below which goes directly to Lwang village.

On the way toLwang

Pokhara – Hemja –Khoramukh – Lwang village


To arrive at Lwang village you first need to take a bus from Baglung bus park (Pokhara) to Lwang. It will take around 2 hours to arrive here. If you don’t find a bus directly to Lwang then you will have to reach Hemja (about half an hour) and then change to a bus to Lwang. If you’d like to trek then you can get off at Khoramukh (foothill of Lwang village) and then trek to the village. These buses go up to Kalimati (1950m). During rainy season, the road gets tough but nonetheless the drivers reel on.

Why would you visit Lwang village?
Homestays
Lwang village is famous for their easily integrating home stays. You get the chance to wear a nepali dress (sari, cholo or patuki) and do chores like grinding wheat or go out to cut grass with a Doko (nepali basket) and Hasiya (Nepali blade) or participate in a cultural programs to learn some Nepali dance moves. These foreign ladies dance like hipster while trying to match high and low swings of a Nepali dance moves. Then you get farewell with a “Tika- rice colored in red” on forehead and “Mala- ring of inter-sewed marigold flower” which are given as signs of blessings.

Organic Tea Gardens
Another element villagers of Lwang pride on is their organic Himalayan tea. We pass by beautiful landscapes of tea farming on the way and get to taste them once you enter the village. The organic tea here is exported to Germany in Europe.

Eco-Tourism
This idea is directed towards exposing and conserving the natural and exotic elements found in a particular environment and utilizing them without disrupting their natural state. Eco-tourism is practiced in Lwang village so that development, people and nature can co-exist together without disrupting the balance and maintaining sustainability.

homestays in lwang

Canyoning
There is a waterfall near Lwang village when the Kudi River falls down from a height of 107m. This sport here is done under the supervision of trained professionals who have gained a level of proficiency.

Mountain Finder

When to visit Lwang village?
1)   Mid-September  – Early December is the best month because it is the peak season to trek with clear visibility of mountains and to catch amazing landscapes.
2)   January – Mid February have clear blue skies but temperatures get cold so decide on you own.
3)   March – May brings the spring time when everything is coming back to life in green.     .
4)   June- August – This is the running time of monsoon period which is prone to landslides and clouded vistas.

Cost Layout
You don’t need the help of a trekking agency or guide to reach Lwang village. With proper guiding material, you can do this by yourself.
Hotels
On season: Rs. 1200    
Off season: Rs. 600

Canyoning
Nepali: Rs. 4500
Foreigner: Rs. 6000

Organic Tea
Per Kg: Rs. 100 and Rs. 150

Accommodation in Lwang village
In Lwang village many houses run home-stays and they are all a member of a centralized governing body known as “Lwang Home-Stays”. So, all homestays do not have their own broadcasting name but are collectively known. Rooms and environment here are typically Nepali and people get an original picture of how a Nepali lifestyle flows.
Some information about hotels and their contact address are as follows:

Lwang Home-Stay Telephone
Raj Gurung 9846048993
Laxmi Gurung 9846468414

What do you need to go beyond the trails in Annapurna Base Camp

1)      Permits (only for non-nepali passport holders)
Permits are of utmost importance while travelling in Nepal. You need to have Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System). Your guide or the travelling agency can manage these papers for you. Or you can get them by yourself from the following locations:

The Department of Immigration (in Kathmandu)
Kalikasthan, Dillibazar, Kathmandu
Tel: 977 – 1 – 4429659 / 4429660 / 4438862 / 4438868 Fax: 977 – 1 – 4433934 /4433935
Email: mail@nepalimmigration.gov.np
Web: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np

 

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