You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the Radisson Hotel. Remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fiberfill jacket. Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all World Expeditions clients arriving today. Drinks and snacks will generally be served from 6:30 pm until 7:15pm, and this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members before heading out to dinner.
This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, Patan or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
This morning we take a flight west to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest town (820 m). On arrival we are greeted with sights of the entire Annapurna Range. The drive to the roadhead at Khare takes around one hour. Our trail then winds uphill through terraced fields and mixed oak and rhododendron forest. There is no need to rush. This is a short day with plenty of time to reach camp. Australia Camp is located on a grassy ridge that affords inspiring views of the huge snowy face of Annapurna South and the sacred peak of Machapuchare. At dusk we can appreciate the lights of Pokhara over a thousand metres below our wilderness camp.
The views from our campsite are excellent, and morning generally offers the best opportunity to view the huge peaks. As we walk, the peaks of the Annapurnas will be visible through the scattered rhododendron forest, offering a sample of the trek to come. As we reach Deroli (2200m) we can get our first views of Dhaulagiri, the world's 6th highest peak. We take lunch at Forest Camp, and after our longer uphill morning session, this afternoon will be a more gradual ascent to our wilderness camp.
We start the day with a gradual ascent, enjoying the impressive views of the distant steep terraced paddy fields and villages that cling to the hillsides. This is followed by a climb through forest to our dramatic campsite, high on a grassy knoll, providing spectacular views of Annapurna and Machapuchare. Overnight wilderness camp.
The mountain views this morning are among the best on earth. We have time to appreciate the enormity of these mountains, with their jagged profiles and huge tumbling glaciers. The views of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli and Machapuchare get better with each step we take upwards through the lush forest of rhododendron and birch. We enter a zone of dwarf rhododendron before breaking into the grass hills above the tree line to our ridge-top wilderness campsite.
We wake this morning to even more spectacular mountain views. We can savour the views in the vicinity, or join a day hike towards Mardi Himal Base Camp. The options are of course weather dependent, but which ever you choose you will be well rewarded with an exceptional day in the mountains. As you climb you get closer to the gigantic face of Machapuchare. If time allows, you may be able to traverse close to the glaciers, or view the giant sanctuary of Annapurna 1 or Annapurna 4. After lunch, we head downhill through forests to return to our wilderness camp at Humaal.
After a glorious mountain sunrise we follow the trail through rhododendron forest before continuing through a series of Gurung villages where lifestyles have not changed substantially over the centuries. It's a long descent today of about 1300m. After lunch we keep descending along a well-marked trail to the prosperous village of Landruk where we camp for the night. Our private eco campsite affords dramatic views of Annapurna South.
Have your trekking poles at the ready today as our descent is approx. 1000m. We pass through interesting villages situated on steep rocky hills and terraces. The villages we pass are mixed communities of predominantly Gurung, Brahmin & Chettri. The final descent into Nayapul is 20 minutes on stone stairs. Here we will have a quick lunch break and then board the bus for Pokhara and our private eco camp. Once settled in we highly recommend you take a stroll down to the lake at Pokhara, there are many stores selling Tibetan wares which are less expensive than Kathmandu. The main street running along the lake is vibrant and an interesting place to sit and watch the world go by.
Trekking along the ridge of Bharmakot Dhanda we gain excellent views of Annapurna South, Machapuchare, Hiunchuli and the Manaslu ranges. Ghibrang was once a thriving small village, but is more quiet these days with many of the locals now living elsewhere. Our private eco campsite offers yet more stunning views in a peaceful terraced setting amidst this pretty village.
The views in the early morning are tremendous, with forested foot hills as a fore ground and some of the world's greatest mountain ranges surrounding us. If you are up early enough, the glow of the rising sun catches Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Annapurna. Our trail takes us through beautiful forests of rhododendrons, fir, pine, cedar and bamboo, there are many small trails through the forest, and we are unlikely to see any other westerners in this section of the trek. Eventually we emerge to open grassland ridges that offer a particularly pleasant trekking experience, before descending to a pretty lunchspot in a narrow valley skirted by multicoloured rhododendron bushes. From here there are three trails; we take the south trail which leads us to our private eco campsite at Swarga.
A short walk brings us to Chitre where we join the old Tibet-Nepal trade route. The walk this morning offers excellent views of the Dhaulagiri range as the trail zigzags until we reach our lunch stop at Ghorepani. This is a sizeable town which is on the main tourist trail. You may wish to wander through the bazaar for a short period following lunch, as there are many Tibetan wares on display, and also a bakery or two. Most trekkers to Ghorepani take a pre dawn 45 minute climb to the summit of Poon Hill (3200m), which is a highlight of trekking in the Annapurnas. We will make the climb in the afternoon, when there are no crowds. From Poon Hill we leave the main trail and traverse on old yak herder trails to a private eco lodge at Upper Phulbari, which is set above the level of Poon Hill. The location affords even more spectacular views which we enjoy from the comfort of our eco lodge and with the luxury of no pre-dawn start, unless of course you chose to photograph the stunning views at sunrise.
We head towards the attractive Gurung village of Ghandruk. This is a long day on the trail with an initial descent of about 300m, before a long climb of around 1300m, much of which is on stone staircases built into the side of the various ridge lines we hike up. After leaving Landruk we descend through rice terraces, crossing a steel bridge that spans the glacial river of the Modi Khola and then commence our long ascent. As we trek up the many staircases, we enjoy the beauty of the Himalaya at a relatively close range and observe the glaciers flowing from them to form the rivers below us. After that our trail meanders uphill through fields and into forest of rhododendron, magnolia and lichen covered fig. We pass by waterfalls that cascade down narrow gullies that provide the perfect home for many small ferns and delicate plants. Tadapani is a small village with limited campsites, and the last stop before we head into the more uninhabited regions of our trek. Overnight eco lodge.
Setting off early today we make our way downward towards the valley floor, eventually entering the old growth forest, surrounded by colourful rhododendron. We glimpse a small settlement lower down at Chistibung, which will be our lunch spot. After a relaxing lunch we will begin our ascent to Kopra. The views here are truly amazing and some of the best in the entire Annapurnas. Dhaulagiri dominates the scene and towers above the deepest gorge in the world, the Kali Gandakhi. Today is a challenging day of trekking and well worth the effort as we relax and take in the views in this very special location.
Leaving the main trekking trail we continue to ascend on a less defined path through old growth forest where we may be fortunate enough to see Himalayan Thar, Hyrax or Rhesus and Langur monkeys. Eventually we rise above the tree line and gain stunning views of the Annapurna Himal, our lunch spot will most likely be a yak pasture at Timuje perched high on the hillside with fantastic views of Annapurna South and Himul Chuli. Following our lunch break we ascend steeply to the ridge where spectacular views of Dhaulagiri and its surrounding peaks unfold before us. This section of the trek is magnificent and we are now well off the main trail. Continuing down the opposite side of the ridge we drop into smaller rhododendron forest and arrive at an eco lodge for the evening.
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our fight to Kathmandu, a spectacular 30 minute mountain flight along the face of the Himalaya. On arrival we transfer to the hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure.
We descend steeply from our camp, following the ridge line towards the Kali Gandaki and pass shrines used by pilgrims on their annual visit to the sacred lakes. There may be shepherds on the trail, as well as villagers going about their daily activities as we descend. There is more activity and signs of settlement, a marked contrast to the trekking we have enjoyed on the high ridges. Overnight at our private eco campsite.
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further arrangements have been made. Those people travelling by aircraft to further destinations will be transferred to the airport.