Day 1 - Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal.
You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 18:00. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where and when this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information.
Kathmandu is an awesome mixture of legend and modern development with a rich artistic and cultural heritage. Narrow lanes lead to small squares and courtyards where ornate carved balconies overlook shrines and temples. Buzzing markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life where stalls and small hole-in-the-wall shops sell everything from bangles to Buddhas to beetroot. Kathmandu has been a travellers' centre for many years, reflected in the international flavour of the bright lights and 'Coca Cola culture' of the central Thamel district.
If you arrive early, why not take time to climb to the Swayambhunath Temple. Situated on a hilltop, the instantly recognisable stupa with its Buddha eyes attracts a steady stream of pilgrims and the views out over the valley are superb. Alternatively, check out Durbar Square, home to the palace of the Kumari Devi, considered to be a living goddess.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
Day 2 - Bandipur
Leaving Kathmandu, we head for Bandipur,stopping along the way at Dumre (approx.5 hours). Located high on a ridge (1,000 m) above the road to Pokhara lies this little-known Newari trading village.
At the eastern part of the town is the pagoda-roofed Bindabasini temple which acts as the abode of the goddess Durga, Bandipur's guardian deity. The rich wooden carvings and detailed brass-work that adorn the temple are replicas of those found in the many old pagoda structures of the Kathmandu Valley.
Bandipur is still not in many travellers 'to visit' list, so the likelihood of meeting fellow travellers is still very minimal. The views are stupendous, as is the warm local welcome. There is a terrace opposite the hotel in the main street from where you can view the other side of the valley and watch the goings on of the village - a great place to enjoy an afternoon drink. In front of the guesthouse is a café and bar serving simple, delicious meals from locally sourced organic ingredients.
Be prepared for simple lodgings and food, but more importantly the genuine friendliness of the locals and the simply stunning views of the Annapurna and Manaslu mountain ranges - the hallmark of this region. Bandipur is a basic village but the surrounding countryside makes for great walks and all the locals will want to talk to you and guide you on your way.
Our accommodation for the night is a restored village mansion in the heart of the old bazaar. The rooms here are simple but cosy in traditional style with dim lighting, old wooden doors and thick brick walls. The timber and red brick building with carved beams and staircases has pleasant twin and double rooms in traditional style with separate shared facilities (towels provided, separate ladies'/gents' blocks). The facilities might be simple, but the staff are extremely friendly and helpful and the Nepalese feel of the place has been retained so it's a favourite of many of our travellers.
Day 3 - Pokhara
Leaving the Bandipur behind, we head for the enchanting Nepalese town of Pokhara (approx. 3 hours).
Pokhara enjoys a delightful setting on a lake beneath the snow-capped peaks of the Annapurna range, making it an excellent place to relax and contemplate what lies ahead. This afternoon we have our trek briefing and preparation, but depending on our arrival time, there may be time to hire a small boat for a quick paddle on the lake. There are also plenty of cafes where you can put your feet up and enjoy international cuisine, while the main street is full of shops and stalls selling a wide range of Nepali and Tibetan souvenirs. If you need to hire some extra trekking gear then there are numerous shops available offering everything you could possibly need.
Pokhara is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet.
This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned world-wide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.
Our simple hotel in Pokhara is set 300m back from Fewa Lake and with a back-drop of Machhapuchhare (Fishtail mountain) rising beyond. It has twin-bedded rooms with attached bath and a hot shower facility.
Day 4-13 - Annapurna Ranges
At 8,091m, Annapurna 1 is one of the highest mountains in the world. Its surrounding sister mountains are equally imposing and create magnificent panoramas from any view point. This trek covers a wide variety of terrain, from lowland pastures and peaceful villages to powerful glaciers and stunning mountain views. In the rugged mountain scenery, we stay in mountain communities and meet friendly Nepali hill people as they go about their daily lives. The expedition is not only visually superb but also a chance to learn about local cultures. Along the way we see thundering waterfalls of melted snow, cross icy rivers and reward ourselves with a soak in natural hot springs.
While the trekking is challenging, averaging 6-7 hours' walking a day on steep terrain, our Annapurna Sanctuary expedition into the Himalayas allows you to get up close to the massive Himalayas without major issues associated with high altitude. The highest point on the trek is Annapurna Base Camp at 4130m, which is optional. Those concerned about altitude sickness are welcome to remain in the Machhapuchhre Base Camp (or even lower) for an afternoon of rest.
We stay overnight in small basic tea-houses along the track. These remote tea houses are operated by the mountain Nepalese to cater for trekkers, and they provide simple but delicious hot food.
Details for the trek are as follows. (Please note, however, that the exact itinerary can vary due to unforeseen circumstances including weather conditions or strikes called by the political parties.) All trekking times are approximate.
Day 4 - Pokhara to Ulleri (2,080m/approx. 5 hours trekking, 1 hour vehicle).
An hour long drive (remember driving times are always approximate in Asia - patience is your closest friend!) brings us to Nayapul where we commence our trek. We gear up and follow the Bhurungi Khola until we reach Ulleri.
Day 5 - Ulleri to Ghorepani (2,750m/approx. 6 hours).
We ascend to Ulleri Village through a pleasant rhododendron forest, much more impressive than the trees your grandmother has in the garden! We stay overnight at Ghorepani (check out the local disco - but don't get your hopes up in case it's closed!).
Day 6 - Ghorepani to Tadapani (2,700m/approx. 5 hours).
Early birds can bounce out of bed to witness the sunrise over Annapurna from nearby Poon Hill (1 hour uphill climb) - you have to do this at least once in your life, right? Then the adventure continues as we trek on to Tadapani.
Day 7 - Tadapani to Sinuwa (2,340m/approx. 6 hours).
We descend to Kimrung Khola before climbing again to Chhomrong village, at the base of Hiunchuli (6441m). There are breathtaking views of Annapurna and Macchhapucchhre from here, plus delicious pizza!
Please note the walk on days 8-12 is flexible according to weather conditions and how the group is coping.
Day 8 - Sinuwa to Doban (3,140m/approx. 6.5 hours).
On to Kuldi Ghar for about 3 hours' walking, then down to the banks of the Modi River and up again to Doban.
Day 9 - Doban to Deurali (3,700m/approx. 4 hours).
Passing through Himalaya Hotel, we continue up the narrow valley to Deurali.
Day 10 - Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m/approx. 4.5 hours).
Sticking to the west bank of the Modi River, we enter an open valley near Machhapuchhre Base Camp. This is where you can decide how your legs and your lungs are holding up. You may decide to remain here or press on to the Annapurna Base Camp for the night. The views from both base camps are fantastic - all the hard work to get here is worth it!
Day 11 - Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo (2,335m/approx. 7 hours)
After seeing the sunrise on the snowy peaks around us we head back down the valley the same way to Bamboo (or further if the knees can handle it).
Day 12 - Bamboo to Jhinu Danda (1,780m/approx. 5.5 hours).
Passing back through the up and down staircases of Chhomrong we continue on down to Jhinu Danda. From here it's a 20 minute walk down to a hot spring by the Modi Khola for a well-deserved rest.
Day 13 - Jhinu Danda to Pothana (1,970m/approx. 7 hours).
By now we have thighs of steel and are pretty good at carrying our packs. It's down to cross the river and an ascent to Landruk, Tolkha, Deurali and Pothana.
Note - This is a trek that requires a very good level of fitness as there are plenty of ascents and descents (in fact there's hardly anything flat!) and the walking is strenuous. The weather can be harsh in December and January with snow and frosts. Our expedition is led by an experienced local guide who speaks English.
Our accommodation along the way is at local lodges, better known as teahouses, which are comfortable without being luxurious, toilets and washing facilities are shared and rudimentary, and the food is plain and filling. In a teahouse, we are provided with small private rooms with twin beds, mattresses and pillows. At times, in high seasons, and in places where there are a limited number of teahouses, we may have some nights in dormitories. In some places, teahouses don't have access to electricity and depend on solar powered lighting. In remoter regions, teahouses don't have running water and toilets can mean just a hole in the ground. Hot shower facilities are available in the majority of the teahouses for a price although in most of the places, a hot shower just means a bucket of hot water!
Day 14 - Pokhara
This is the final day of the trek and it is a short downhill stretch all the way from Pothana to Phedi (approx 1.5 hours) via Dhampus village... yes, we made it! After lunch it's only about 45 mins (driving!) to Pokhara to check into our hotel for a well-earned shower and an end-of-trek celebration to enjoy the good things in life - like cold beer and a steak, or vegetarian lasagne!
Day 15-16 - Kathmandu
Drive back to Kathmandu (6-7hrs approx) and enjoy an optional final dinner with your group to celebrate your Nepal trekking holiday.
Day 16 is the final day of your trip. There are no activities planned and you can depart at any time. If you wish to continue exploring this amazing city you can pre book additional accommodation with your travel agent.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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