Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu
Welcome to Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel. Relax, and have an evening dinner
Day 2: Explore Kathmandu
Enjoy a half-day guided tour of the ancient cities and UNESCO world heritage
highlights of the Kathmandu Valley. Nepal is a country rich in religious
diversity and today we visit Buddhist and Hindu shrines and temples such as
Swayambunath (the Monkey Temple) and the ancient city of Patan on the
holy Bagmati river. Returning to Kathmandu, we visit Durbar Square,
showcasing centuries of artistry and craftsmanship, a wide variety of
traditional architectural styles, impressive palaces and more. Evening dinner
Day 3: Fly to Pokhara – Trek Begins!
This morning we take a flight to Pokhara, west of Kathmandu, where our trek
begins. The Pokhara Valley offers a spectacular panorama of Nepal’s central
Himalayas with Annapurna South and Machapuchare dominating the
skyline. A short drive to Phedi in the Annapurna foothills leads us to the
rendezvous with our terrific support crew, where our porters load up our
supplies. Our trek starts out with a steady uphill climb and a series of stone
stairways passing through villages and ultimately arriving at Dhampus. Enjoy
close-up views of Machapuchare, ‘The Fish Tail’ (22,885’/6,975m), from our first
night’s camp. All meals are included in our trek, from breakfast on Day 3
through lunch on Day 12, and our cooking crew will strive to surprise and
delight you with their creative menus assembled from locally farmed
produce, grains, meats and more.
Day 4: Hike to Landrung
After an early breakfast, we begin trekking from Dhampus to Landrung.
Today we climb steadily out of chestnut forests to the small village of Potana
and on to Deurali before descending to Bainshikharka and Tolka. In these
small villages, many ethnic Gurung and Magar people make their homes.
Predominantly Buddhist, the Gurung people are descendents of the Tibetans
with a unique language (Gurung) and a rich musical and cultural tradition.
The Magar people, while also descended from the Tibetans, are
predominantly Hindu with three distinct languages and a complex history.
Local people absorb themselves in the demands of agriculture and you’ll find
most people here to be very genuine, friendly and humorous. Our day ends in
Landrung, a Gurung village where we spend the night.
Day 5: Cross the Modi Khola River
As we depart Landrung village, the trail leads downhill, crossing the Modi
Khola on a suspension bridge. The trail ascends to a ridge top, passing
through rhododendron forests and terraced fields. We reach Jinwa Danda
(hot springs) in about three and a half hours before continuing another two
hours to the Gurung village of Chumrung. This village is the gateway to the
Annapurna Sanctuary and, weather permitting, we are treated to fantastic
mountain views including the impressive Annapurna South (23,684’/7,220m).
Day 6: Hike to Dovan
Today the trail descends steeply to the banks of the river Chumrung Khola.
We cross over the river on a suspension bridge, then climb steeply through
bamboo thickets leading to the small village of Sinuwa Danda. Here the trail
levels off and follows a ridge traveling through rhododendron and bamboo
forests, always in view of the mountains. After descending through Khudi and
Bamboo village, we hike for about 1.5 additional hours before arriving at
Dovan for the evening.
Day 7: Machapuchare Base Camp
From Dovan the trail climbs steadily, crossing glaciers and small streams. As
the vegetation changes from forest to shrubs, we emerge into the open
spaces above the tree line and the views only become better. After trekking
for about six hours the trail reaches Machapuchare Base Camp, where we
establish camp for the night. The splendid panoramic views include
Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna I and Machapuchare. Sacred to the
local people and considered to be of great importance to the Hindu god
Shiva, Machapuchare has been declared off-limits by the government of
Nepal and its summit has never been reached.
Day 8: Hike to Annapurna Base Camp
This morning we ascend roughly two hours to Annapurna Base Camp leaving
us with plenty of time in the afternoon to soak in and explore the astounding
beauty of this valley. Situated on a knoll, our camp offers 360° views of soaring
peaks including the South Face of the Annapurna I, III, IV, Annapurna South,
Machapuchare, Singa Chuli, Tent Peak and Hiunchuli. Standing at Annapurna
Base Camp, fans of mountaineering lore may expect to gain a new
appreciation for these beautiful but unforgiving giants.
Day 9: To Bamboo Village
If there was ever a morning warranting an early wake-up this is that morning,
as the sunrise over Annapurna South is well worth missing a little sleep over.
Enjoy the show with a hot drink, then settle in for a hearty breakfast, snap a
few last-minute photographs, then prepare for our return descent from Base
Camp to Bamboo village. Breathing gets noticeably easier today as the air
becomes more oxygen-rich, and the ice-clad walls of the Sanctuary give way
to green vegetation and hillsides once again dotted with small villages.
Day 10: Descend to Chumrung Village
From Bamboo village we retrace our steps along the trail to Sinuwa Danda,
then descend the steep stone staircase leading down to the river Chumrung
Khola and back up to Chumrung village on the opposite bank, where we
spend the night.
Day 11: Hike along the Annapurna foothills
Today we deviate from the route we ascended to enjoy new sights, beginning
our hike on a relatively easy trail for 1.5 hours, passing through small Gurung
villages. After a steady climb uphill, we descend towards the river of Kimrong
Khola. Here we cross a wooden bridge over to the next ridge. From the ridge,
another steady 1.5 hour climb leads us to the top of Komrong Danda where
we’ll break for lunch and enjoy spectacular views of Machapuchare. From
here we can see the village of Ghandruk where we’ll camp tonight after a
further 1.5 hours of downhill hiking. Ghandruk is a truly picturesque
traditional Gurung settlement and is considered a model village within the
Annapurna Conservation Area Project, the first and largest conservation area
established by the National Trust for Nature Conservation in Nepal. Tonight is
the last evening that our outstanding staff will prepare dinner for us, so we’ll
look forward to a memorable farewell celebration with music, dancing, great
food, local drinks and more.
Day 12: Final night in the city
A morning flight returns us to Kathmandu. Our final night’s lodging is in a
hotel in the Thamel district, an ideal location for shopping, dining and
nightlife located in the heart of the city. Relax, shop, explore on your own, or
join us for an optional city tour, which is likely to feature Durbar Square or the
ancient city of Bhaktapur.
Day 13: Farewell
Transfer from your hotel is provided to the airport for flights home, unless
you’re choosing to stay on, or to go on another adventure.