This popular trek in the Annapurna region offers unparalleled views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges along with the diversity of Nepal. Within a few days we gain a sense of serenity as we gradually ascend through hamlets and pristine forests to the alpine heights of Kobra Ridge. The views are incredible with the sheer walls of the magnificent Dhaulagiri plunging to the misty depths of the Kali Gandakhi – the deepest gorge in the world.
We are further graced with the high pastures above Kobra Ridge beneath the amazing Annapurna South and Bharha Shikha – more commonly known as Annapurna Fang, and where ancient pilgrim trails lead to the sacred waters of Khaire Lake. Our route also offers staggering views of Annapurna South and other surrounding peaks. Cocooned by stunning mountains and peaks and hiking past lakes formed by the glaciers and ice falls of Annapurna South, perception and time subtly shift and one feels like a pioneer on a completely different planet.
At Kathmandu International Airport, you will be met by a Trek Nepal representative and transferred to your hotel. There will be a full tour briefing in the evening.
We drive out of the Kathmandu valley following the Prithvi highway, which descends to the scenic and tranquil town of Pokhara. En route we will have outstanding views of the Ganesh, Manaslu and Annapurna ranges of the Himalayas, along with river valleys, terraced fields and local villages. Pokhara is set on the banks of Phewa Tal (lake) beneath the Annapurna range, which creates a spectacular backdrop for this serene town. On arriving you are free to explore the town, take a boat out on to the lake, walk up to the peace pagoda, or simply relax and soak up the atmosphere by the lake.
Following breakfast we depart for our trek’s starting point Nayapul, a drive of approx. 45 minutes; and then walk up to Syauli Bazaar. The trail then heads steeply up to the attractive Gurung village of Ghandruk taking us along ridges with spectacular views, which allow us to acclimatize within them. At our first teahouse we have views of Annapurna South (7,219m), Machhapuchhre (6,997m) and the Mardi Himal south ridge; and looking across the Modi Valley we see the villages of Landruk and Tolka.
First the trail ascends through the spread-out village of Ghandruk and later climbs through the forest following a watercourse ravine up to Tadapani, which translates to ‘distance waters’. The trail is home to
outstanding flora such as small ferns and exotic orchids. We lunch on the way at Bhaisi Kharka. All around us are magnificent views of the Annapurnas.
The trail takes us gently uphill through the rhododendron and magnolia forest, with daphne bushes and orchids hosted by the bigger trees. After two hours we reach storm-torn trees broken by the winter snows and wind, and after a further two hours we picnic in the little meadow with its tumbling stream. Following lunch the trail goes gently upward through clumps of bamboo before reaching Dobato
For the first hour the trail follows the 3,100m contour then breaks out of the forest onto the grass moorlands. To the west are breathtaking views of the lovely Kali Gandakhi Valley far below, whilst the great massif of Dhaulagiri (8,167m) is above and beyond. The route then leads on upwards to Bhaise Kharka at 3,330m. The trail from here takes us gently downhill to an ideal lunch spot with plenty of shade beside one of the clear streams, which courses its way down to join the holy Kali Gandakhi. For us too, after lunch, it is downwards to Chhistibang.
Just four hours walking today. The trail again breaks through the tree line as we climb uphill to the Kobra Ridge. Today it is necessary to prepare a packed lunch for there is very little water en route for food preparation. Kobra Ridge is incredibly beautiful, for some it is their Shangri-La, it has the most awe- inspiring mountain views our planet offers with Annapurna South (7,219m) and Bharha Shikhar – also known as Annapurna Fang (7,647m), in the foreground, the peaks of the Nilgiri away towards Mustang and westward lies the dominance of the majestic Dhaulagiri (8,167m) as we see her in her entirety, from base to summit, and where later the sun will set.
Dawn, and sunrise has set Dhaulagiri aflame. Complete with packed lunch we head north climbing upwards across high pastures, a stunning wilderness that is home to wild yaks – sometimes grazing in herds, other times lone rogue males, towards the mountains. Initially, the trail ascends gradually then steepens. As we approach High Camp we pass Kalibaraha Lake that is the higher and smaller of two lakes formed by the glaciers and icefalls of Annapurna South that towers above us. Continuing along the trail ahead of us are breathtaking views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna South and Bharha Shikhar, if you look behind there are tremendous views of the lower lying villages. As we advance crossing streams, traversing spurs and passing chautaras and shepherd huts the trail opens up to a large wilderness plain where High Camp is located lying at the base of Annapurna South (7,219m) and Bharha Shikhar (7,467m), which are close enough to touch. In the summertime herders bring their livestock to graze here. There is an optional trek to the sacred Khaire Lake, a place of pilgrimage with its lone stone-piled temple to lord Shiva, which is usually mist-shrouded. Here the wall and summit of Annapurna South is so close it strains the neck muscles as you take in all that is in front of you, and for completeness Bharha Shikhar, Annapurna I’s great southern spur, fills the space beyond. This is a 3 hour round trip. Whatever the decision we return to Kobra Ridge in the same direction we came.
Retracing our steps, we reach Chhistibang and then head due south following the steep trail to the Teuche Khola (1,800m) before climbing to the old Tibet-Nepal trade route which is now the busy trekking trail that passes through Chitre. This is a marked contrast to the last several days of trekking we have enjoyed.
Back now among the ‘guide-book’ trekkers, we climb to Ghorepani the village that sits astride the saddle that takes the trail over and down to the Pokhara Valley. The walk to Ghorepani continues to offer excellent views of the Dhaulagiri. As we commence our return to Pokhara we head down via Ulleri, bracing up the high pummeling steps that lead to our final teahouse at Tikhedhungga.
The trek’s last day takes us down to and over the bridge at Birethanti and a short walk to the road for the journey back to Pokhara.