You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the Radisson hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 4.30-5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. This evening we will head out for dinner, this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members.
Overnight: Radisson Hotel
Today you have a full day to explore Kathmandu’s bustling streets and significant landmarks. You may wish to start by exploring the city’s two most important World Heritage Listed spiritual sites: Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple and an important cremation site; and Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal and the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet. Alternatively you could wander through the markets and shops of the busy Thamel precinct or explore some more of the city’s significant sites such as Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) or the World Heritage Listed plazas of Patan, Bhaktapur or Durbar Square.
This morning we take a flight west to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest town (820m) and make our way to our first night's camp. On arrival we are greeted with sights of the entire Annapurna Range. We drive through pitch road until Beni and then off road after that. We make our way to Darbang (1110m) for the night; today's journey takes approx. 6-7 hours.
It is initially an easy walk as we follow the valley upstream but then we take a steeper route in the afternoon from the village of Phedi. The trail winds through conifer forests and then levels out as we head in to Dharapani. At this busy Magar village time can be taken to explore while camp is set in the schoolyard on the far side of the town. Dhaulagiri dominates to the northeast, while the Gurga Himal is to the northwest.
An ascent of the ridge initially brings us out on to broad hillsides of cultivated fields and an open view of the Myagdi Khola. We traverse down towards it, crossing the Dhara Khola and climbing steeply to Muri, a traditional Mager village. As we approach Miri, numerous valleys open before us to provide vistas of Dhaulagiri I (8167m) and the Gurja Himal (7193m).
A solid day of walking. Dropping first to the Dhola Khola, we climb a ridge to Gorban Dhara. The view from the pass is excellent and Ghustang (6465m) rises from the valley head. We descend to the Myagdi, ascend steeply and descend again to the river as the valley narrows to form a spectacular gorge.
Another excellent walk as we traverse through the gorge with its many short up and downs, the result of parts of the trail regularly being washed away by the monsoonal rains. The trail leads through temperate forests to the beautiful setting of Dobang. There are few villages now and we trek in dense rhododendron forest and across high pastures.
Some steeper climbing today as we head up towards the moraine and barren terrain of the glaciers which originate from Dhaulagiri. Firstly we descend to cross the Choriban Khola and trek through temperate forest. As we descend we enjoy glimpses of the west wall of Dhaulagiri, an inspiration for our efforts so far. We cross the Myagdi Khola and trek high above the river to Chartare.
Our route takes us through the rhododendron and conifer forest and above the tree line. This is a short and very pleasant day's walk. The southwest face of Dhaulagiri I looms above us and the snow-covered flanks of Manapati (6380m) rise to the south. The huge rock parapets of Tsaurabong Peak (6395m) are to our west and the huge peaks of Dhaulagiri II (7751m), Dhaulagiri III (7715m) and Dhaulagiri V (7618m) fill the western sky.
We ascend and cross the glacier to our camp in the moraine. It is quite steep in places and it will be necessary to travel together to ensure a safe and steady passage across. It is a spectacular camp with Manapati, Dhaulagiri and Tsaurabang Peaks surrounding us. The past few days' walk have been short to allow full appreciation of the spectacular views, and to acclimatise well for the tough day ahead.
A very solid day of walking as we trek across the glacier and up towards the pass. The day commences with a gentle walk across lateral moraine to the head of the Myagdi Khola and then on to the Chonbarban Glacier. As we round the bend of the valley, Tukuche Peak West is revealed for the first time. Our camp is spectacularly situated at the end of the glacier with views of Dhaulagiri I, II, III, V, Tukuche Peaks and the imposing icefall that cascades from the north east col of Dhaulagiri I.
Our route leads off the glacier and ascends rocky scree to the pass. French pass is named after a French reconnaissance expedition in the 1950s which set out to climb an 8,000 metre peak. Dhaulagiri was chosen but found to be too difficult. Maurice Herzog and his team then attempted Annapurna I. Being the first to reach the summit of an 8,000m peak they achieved international acclaim. It was not without a high price though, as retold by Herzog in his book Annapurna I. As we approach the pass the terrain becomes steeper and it may be necessary to fix ropes for a small section, (approx 100m) depending on snow conditions. It will take at least half a day across undulating terrain to reach the pass from the Base Camp. As we reach our goal the mountains surround us; Sita Chuchura and Tukuche Peak West flank us, Dhaulagiri I is behind, and Mukut Himal and Tashi Kang are to the north. As we descend into Hidden Valley the landscape changes to stark, dry lands with snowy peaks. There is a true sense of isolation here and it is quite possible we might sight the elusive blue sheep.
Another long day, depending on conditions, to our camp just below Thapa (or Dhumpus) Pass (5250m). It is a short climb to the pass (approx. an hour), followed by a long traverse and descent upon loose scree to our camp amongst vegetation once again. Now on the other side of the pass, we can enjoy frontal views of the Nilgiri range and the broad valley of the Kali Gandaki.
Descending towards the Kali Gandaki Valley, the trail through forest is well defined and makes a pleasant change from the high alpine terrain we have been in for the last few days. We descend steeply all day and enter the main trail for trekkers of the Annapurna Circuit. Marpha is a substantial town of the valley and a good stopping off point for trekkers/pilgrims and traders between Muktinath/Jomoson and Pokhara. The paved, winding footway and closely built terrace-like housing makes the town very picturesque. Many apples are grown in the area, there is a good chance we may have apple pie tonight! Continuing north we reach Jomsom and our lodge for the night.
We board the early morning flight to Pokhara savouring magnificent views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. On arrival at Pokhara airport we will have a couple of hours before the onward flight to Kathmandu. On arrival we transfer you to your hotel.
Arrangements cease after breakfast unless further arrangements have been made. Those traveling by aircraft to further destinations will be transferred to the airport.