This trek offers fascinating landscape, Bhotia (Tibetan) Buddhist culture mixed with local tradition, high Himalayan pass, panoramic view of Annapurna range, and beautiful villages in Annapurna foothill. We travel by bus to Besishar and follow well-maintained trail through Marsyangdi river valley to Manang. Ascend the steep and often snowy trail that leads to 5335m Thorangla (pass), cross the pass and then descend to Muktinath. The descent continues to Jomsom. Travel to Tatopani (hotspring) and climb the steep trail to Ghorepani. Early morning next day climb Poon hill to see beautiful sunrise view over Dhaulagiri and Annapurna himalayan range. In the last part of the journey we make a gradual descend to Modi khola through thick rhododendron forest and Gurung villages. Instead of taking the trail down along Modi Khola we climb to Naudanda and then to Dhumpus.
Low mountain range and tropical vegetation gradually disappear as you reach higher elevation. As the trek circumnavigates the entire Annapurna massif you come across many villages of different ethnic groups, beautiful waterfall and, panoramic view of entire Annapurna and Dhaulagiri range. People living at higher elevation are Buddhist and at lower region there are Hindus. Major parts of the trail are easy walk except the section from Phedi (Manang) to Thorang pass is quite physically demanding.
Upper section of this trek has Tibet like country and people. The fascinating Kaligandaki gorge, high pass at Thorang La and beautiful villages at the foothill of Annapurna makes this trek one of the most popular and memorable holiday destination. Buddhist monasteries, unique houses and people in this high land gives an ever-lasting impression. From Manang (3520m) entire Annapurna range and its glacier can be seen.
You will circumnavigate entire massif of Annapurna. The journey pass through Marshyangdi valley, high snow covered pass at Thorangla, deep gorge made by Kaligandaki river and foothill of Annapurna. Low mountain range and tropical vegetation slowly disappear as the journey approaches Manang. Depending upon snow and weather condition you will cross Thorang Pass (5335m) and reach Muktinath (3798m) on the other side. This is the arduous section of the entire trek. Descend and walk through Kaligandaki valley. The ancient trade route brings you in contact with traders from Mustang and Tibet and far beyond. The walk along the ridge in the backdrop of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna is a memorable experience. The journey pass through various ethnic communities. Cultural and religions are as varied as the topography and landscape through which you pass in this journey.
Ghorepani (2530m) is the favorite destination of Annapurna foothill trek. It used to be main pass through which traders with Mules from Mustang and Tibet used to pass through to reach Pokhara. Early morning sunrise over Dhaulagiri and Annapurna from Pun hill is very famous. The panoramic view of Annapurna range on the way to Ghandrung village is unforgettable. The other highlight of the trek is Ghandrung.
This is a large Gurung village from where Gorkhas are recruited in the British and Indian army. It is situated above Modi Khola (river) at the elevation of 1951 meter. It is one of the best-known villages in the foothill of Annapurna. The village has an office of Annapurna Conservation. The panoramic view of Annapurna dominates the entire skyline almost throughout the trek. Lodge and teahouse along the trail make this trip affordable and easily accessible.
The trail from Birenthati gradually climb to Tirkhedhunga. After an overnight at Tirkhedhunga we climb the steep trail to Ulleri and continue to ascend through thick oak and rhododendron forests till we reach Ghorepani. Next day climb slightly up the ridge and then descend steeply on a narrow trail through rhododendron forest to Banthati and another up and down hill walk to Tadapani. Then descend gradually to Ghandrung; next day make steep descend to Modi Khola (river) and climb up to Landrung (1646m). The trail from Landrung continue to ascend gradually to Toljka (1892m). We climb to the pass at 2439m and then finally descend to Pothana (1981m); walk further to Dhumpus (1829m) for an overnight camp. Dhumpus is situated at the end of the ridge. On the last day we make steep descent to Phedi through terraced rice field to the floor of Yangri khola (river) and drive to Pokhara.
Annapurna foothill region is the focus of the article “Honey Hunters of Nepal”, written by Eric Valli and Diane Summers and another article “Annapurna Sanctuary for the Himalaya” written and photographed by Galen Rowell. Both articles were published in National Geography magazine. It has been subject of writers, photographers and climbers since Mourice Herzog first ascent to 8000 m peak Annapurna 1 back in 1950s
The glacial basin of Annapurna Sanctuary is formed by the circle of Annapurna Himalaya range, Gangapurna and Machapuchre. We start our trek at Dhumpus and walk the beautiful trail that opens up the entire Machapuchere peak and the vista of Annapunra to Chumro as you travel from Chumro towards the Sanctuary the trail pass through narrow valley which is prone to avalanche in winter and early spring. You follow Modi Khola (river) through thick bamboo and rhododendron forests into the center of lateral moraine and base camp of Annapurna to view the spectacular Annapurna range all around. Stop at Ghorepani to see beautiful sunrise view over Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. The Gurung villages and frequent stops at tea-shop dotted along the way gives unique cultural experience. Like the Sherpa in Everest, Gurung are in Annapurna and Limbus in Kanchanjunga.
As a matter of fact the Machapuchere and Annapurna base camp were summer pasture land of the Gurung ethnic community living in Armaula, Dampus and Ghandrung long before the Annapurna region was reconnaissance by the British around 1925. Despite the lower height Machapuchere peak always attracted the attention of the visitors. The sanctuary is surrounded by the four highest peak in the Annapurna massif which are all above 7500 meter; the British survey team gave them the name Annapurna 1, 2, 3 and 4 - Annapurna 1 is the highest (8091m). It was climbed by the French expedition lead by Maurice Herzog in 1950. Instead of Dhaulagiri they climbed Annapurna 1 instead of the British who had set to climb the peak but went to the wrong place to set their camp. Ever since the route to the sanctuary was traced by Col. Robert around 1964 the trekkers have found their holy-land in the mystery that engulf them there. The land is also holy for the local Gurung who have been living there since human habitation started.
The home of Sherpa community of Nepal is known as Solu-Khumbu. All famous mountaineers from Sherpa Tenging Norgey to 10th time summiter Ang Rita came from Thame in Khumbu region. Sherpa belongs to Nyingma-pa Tibetan Buddhist sect. They practice their own Buddhist tradition and custom, which their ancestors brought from East of Tibet. The area above Jorsale, about 113 sq. km is under the protection of National Park. There are blue pine, fir, and juniper forest in the lower elevation and, birch and rhododendron forest in between 3300m to 4000m. Musk deer, Himalayan Thar and serow are commonly found. There is panoramic view of the Himalayan range all the way from Gaurishanker to Mt. Makalu. The view of Amadablam is photogenic.
You follow classic route used by all Everest expedition that starts from Lukla to the base camp of Mt. Everest. Continue the journey to Phakding and enter into the home of Sherpa perched in the nook and corner of the valleys in Khumbu. Stop at Namchebazar and Syangboche. Visit Khunde and Khumjung. You get to see great view of Mt. Everest and Amadablam. Amadablam may be the most photograhphic peaks anywhere. It is beautiful and imposing right in front of you. Descend back to Dudh Koshi and stop overnight at Mongo. Travel onward to Lukla. Fly to Kathmandu.
Namche Bazaar is the commercial center of Khumbu region. It is important stop for trekkers and mountaineers on way to base camp of Everest and many other mountains in that area. It is home of Sherpa ethnic group. Their traditional occupation used to be yak herders and traders. Now due to change in geopolitical condition they have changed their occupation to tourism. They are well known as trekking and mountaineering guides and widely used as high altitude porters by expedition teams. Their religion is Buddhist.
The trek to Everest is incomplete without being influenced by the culture of Sherpa people of the Khumbu region. Ever since the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest (8848m) by Sir Edmund Hillary the whole community benefited from the influx of tourist who come to enjoy the unique landscape of the high mountain that has been the subject of many books and research. Named it, all famous explorers and mountaineers have traded the path. Ever since the peak XV was spotted as the highest point on earth the whole region came into international focus. Though the mountain is named Sagarmatha by the Nepalese and Chomolongma by the Tibetan (Chinese) yet the name of Sir George Everest after whom the name was given has become synonymous with the peak itself and the region. After the British Swiss made 2 serious attempt to reach the summit; in 1952 Raymond Lambert with Tenzing reached 8500 meter in their second attempt. As a result they prepared unwittingly Teng Sherpa for the British expedition to help them summit the peak of Everest in 1953 for the first time in the history of human being. Since then the attention on Everest have kept on increasing every year.
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