Annapurna Circuit + Nar Phu Trek - Nepal

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Enjoy some of the Nepal Himalaya's most spectacular trekking along the Annapurna Circuit and into remote Nar Phu valley. The Annapurna region is one of Nepal's first trekking regions and still one of its most sublimely beautiful treks with Himalayan panoramas that are hard to beat. Explore historic Kathmandu's World Heritage sites, relax in balmy, lakeside Pokhara and trek through one of Nepal's most interesting trekking regions in less than three weeks!

The Annapurna Circuit trek starts following the fertile Marsyandi River valley in the Himalayan foothills leading to the Thorung La pass (5416m), with Tibetan prayer flag fluttering in the wind, and perhaps the Himalaya's best views of the Dhaulagiri massif. The eastern Marshyangdi (Marsyangdi) River side of the Annapurna Circuit is culturally diverse, passing through traditional Hindu and Buddhist villages. Water buffaloes wallow in the rivers, colorful, sari-clad women sit and weave by thatched huts, and villagers perform ancient rituals to appease their local deities. The sub-tropical forests come alive with an immense variety of bird life, waterfalls thunder down from steep cliff sides and monkeys chatter from the tree tops.

Trekking higher into the green, terraced hills we wander through ancient, mossy rhododendron forests to reach the cooler Buddhist and animistic middle hills, where Tibetan Buddhist chortens and prayer flags send prayers out to the gods and the Gurung and Magar inhabitants look more Tibetan than Nepali. Terraced fields and tropical fruit trees surround the neat, white-washed Gurung villages of the higher regions, leading the eye to vistas dominated by some of the Himalaya's most majestic peaks.

Nar Phu, an ethnically Tibetan region, was recently opened for trekking and sees fewer trekkers than many of Nepal's trekking routes. The inhabitants of Nar Phu have traded with Tibet for centuries, and have lived an isolated existence at the fringe of Nepal's Himalayan regions. Phu is a fortified village perched on a hilltop at the intersection of starkly beautiful glacial valleys, backed by high Himalayan peaks. Nar is a fascinating, bustling village of slightly more modern 'Bhotias', or Nepali Tibetans, with an interesting rooftop culture. Both Nar and Phu are sublimely beautiful and infinitely interesting villagers with Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, a photographer's dream and an opportunity to immerse oneself in traditional Himalayan village culture.

Manang region, an ethnically Tibetan region, the gateway to Tilicho Lake surrounded by the Annapurna range on the west, climbing peaks such as the Chulus to the east, and cave monasteries in the hills look down to majestic Gangapurna Tal. Once across the snow covered Thorung La pass, we enter the Tibetan region of Lower Mustang, an arid, high altitude desert of sculpted canyons, rocky, saligram filled riverbeds, ancient caves filled with Buddhist murals and welcoming villages. Once past the pilgrimage site of Muktinath, you have the option to fly out of Jomsom or to continue along the traditional Annapurna circuit, finishing the trek with the renown Poon Hill route.  The new road has shortened the route a bit, but made access easier for trekkers and locals, and there are new trails opening up every year, still with much exploration to be done. Not to mention one of Nepal's most spectacular mountain flights through the world's deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki River, which flows between Dhaulagiri and Niligiri.

Royal Treatment | Pokhara + Kathmandu
Treat yourself to a truly luxurious holiday, staying at  Temple Tree Resort + Spa or the Himalayan Front Resort in Pokhara, where you can spend the day at the infinity pool, having massages or indulging in various spa treatments. The Himalayan Front Resort is situated in Sarankot, and features some of the best Himalayan panoramas from the windows of your room. Temple Tree Resort + Spa is on Lakeside in town, close to shopping, paddling and restaurants, bars and cafes. Top of your trip in true style and luxury at Dwarika's heritage hotel in Kathmandu, with options to spend additional days at Dwarika's incredible Dhulikhel Resort.

Customize Your Journey
We are happy to customize your journey to include more days in Kathmandu, Chitwan National Park or Pokhara.

Incredible Nepal!

Trek

Annapurna Circuit + Nar Phu Trek
Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 - Kathmandu | World Heritage Sites
Day 3 - Jeep Dharapani
Day 4 - Trek Koto
Day 5 - Trek Meta
Day 6 - Trek Kyang
Day 7 - Trek Phu
Day 8 - Phu
Day 9 - Trek Nar
Day 10 - Nar
Day 11 - Trek Ngawal (cross Kang La 5305m)
Day 12 - Trek Manang
Day 13 - Manang
Day 14 - Trek Ledar
Day 15 - Trek Thorung Phedi Base Camp or High Camp
Day 16 - Trek Muktinath or Jharkot (cross Thorung La 5415m)
Day 17 - Trek Kagbeni + Jomsom
Day 18 - Trek Marpha or Tukuche
Day 19 - Trek Kalapani
Day 20 - Trek Tatopani
Day 21 - Trek Ghorepani
Day 22 - Trek Tadapani
Day 23 - Trek Gandruk
Day 24 - Trek Naya Pul | Drive Pokhara
Day 25 - Pokhara
Day 26 - Fly Kathmandu
Day 27 - Depart

Pokhara + Chitwan Extension
Day 26 - Drive Chitwan. Afternoon Wildlife Safari
Day 27 - Chitwan Wildlife Safari
Day 28 - Chitwan Morning Wildlife Safari. Fly Kathmandu
Day 29 - Depart

Chitwan, Tharu Villages + Pokhara

Annapurna Circut + Nar Phu Trek (Jomsom)
Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 - Kathmandu | World Heritage Sites
Day 3 - Jeep Dharapani
Day 4 - Trek Koto
Day 5 - Trek Meta
Day 6 - Trek Kyang
Day 7 - Trek Phu
Day 8 - Phu
Day 9 - Trek Nar
Day 10 - Nar
Day 11 - Trek Ngawal (cross Kang La 5305m)
Day 12 - Trek Manang
Day 13 - Manang
Day 14 - Trek Ledar
Day 15 - Trek Thorung Phedi Base Camp or High Camp
Day 16 - Trek Muktinath or Jarkot
Day 17 - Trek Jomsom
Day 18 - Fly Pokhara + Kathmandu
Day 19 - Depart

Pokhara + Chitwan Extension
Day 18 - Fly Pokhara
Day 19 - Drive Chitwan. Afternoon Wildlife Safari
Day 20 - Chitwan Wildlife Safari
Day 21 - Chitwan Morning Wildlife Safari. Fly Kathmandu
Day 22 - Depart

Chitwan National Park | Maruni Sanctuary Lodge
Chitwan + Tharu Villages Wildlife Safari

Add Ons
Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)
Bhaktapur Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$100)
Patan Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$50)
Extra Trek Day Gandruk (+105)
Extra Day Chitwan (+$125)
Everest Sightseeing Flight (+$250)
Extension Shivapuri Heights Cottage (+75 Night Depending on Room)
Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley (+Trip Price)

Nepal Modules
Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip!

Highlights+Reviews

Trip Advisor Reviews

Client Comments
Kim arranged a solo trek for me at very short notice in November 2013 - and did it even whilst most of them were leading another trek in Mustang! They made the complex easy. From a wonderful guide to helping me arrange evacuation when I got sick, I was always in knowledeable, kind, efficient hands. I recommend Kamzang Journeys without reservation and I'll be using them when I return to Nepal in September 2014!
- Nick A (UK), Private Everest Trek 2013

Tsering Sherpa is marvelous, extremely responsible, serious, devoted, very thoughtful, discreet and very pleasant to trek with. He is very helpful, well travelled, speaks good English, is well-mannered and has a good experience as a mountaineer and a climber.  He is very powerful, strong and quick, and smiles a lot! He seems to know everybody on the trail, is active in his community and is respected by other Sherpas. On trek he was a good counsellor on food, and of course respectful of tradition and of the Tibetan Buddhist faith. With him we felt very secure as he knows the trail and all the short cuts.
- Nan & Odette (France), Private Everest Base Camp Trek 2014

Viney was my private guide to trek to Everest base camp in October 2013.  I felt very secure with him the entire time.  He was always attentive to my wellbeing from the time we started in x (kim pls fill in) where we ended up slogging through rainfall and mud due to the cyclone left over from India, all the way through to the end of our trip in Lukla.  I could count on him without a doubt every day of the entire 3 weeks we spent together.  Thanks to Viney for an excellent trek!
- Lori C (USA), Private Everest High Passes Trek 2014

Last May I spent almost three weeks hiking with Mingma in the Khumbu region of Nepal and we explored the Gokyo lakes, Gokyo valley and we climbed Gokyo Ri. Mingma is an experienced mountain-guide, knows all the summits in the region, the Sherpas and routes.  He is responsive of the challenges, strong and kind, but he is very calm in case of difficult situations. While we walked together, he was attentive and he always tried to accommodate my phyisical condition and my spiritual eagerness. We spent wonderful time together and I immensely enjoyed every moment of the trek. I am planning to walk with him again in 2015!
 - Kati K (Hungary), Private Gokyo Lakes Trek 2014

Tashi was the perfect guide for me. I was going solo, and looking mostly for solitude; Tashi's temperament was the perfect match for mine. When he had something to say, it seemed eerily to come right when I was about to ask him a question about the very thing he started to speak about! He has a real passion for the natural world he lives in and for the Sherpa people and their traditions, too. I ended up falling ill with something and here again Tashi was the perfect guide - helpful but not smothering or overly-solicitous. I will be back, and with my family and I'm certain to request that Tashi accompanies us when we return.
- Nick A-H (UK), Private Everest Base Camp Trek 2013

Thanks for looking after my friends Ian & Adam so well! They were really pleased and very impressed with the arrangements made by Kamzang Journeys and particularly pleased with the guide, Karma, who did a wonderful job of looking after them on their trek. Everything went to their satisfaction and it exceeded their expectations. He's now got a taste of Nepal and thinking about doing another trek there sometime!
 - Viv D, friend of Paul & Patrick, Private Annapurna Peaks & Villages, Helambu Trek 2014

I have traveled the world and I have never been as cared for as I was in my trek in Nepal.  Karma was beyond attentive and professional. He has become family. The very best of Nepal and mankind can be found in this young man.
 - Dave M, Annapurna Peaks & Villages 2013

Client Highlights
Travelers' Comments

Trip Highlights

  • Kathmandu World Heritage Sites
  • Lower Annapurnas Trek
  • Spectacular Himalayan Panoramas + Traditional Villages
  • Chitwan National Park + Wildlife Safaris
  • Pokhara + Phewa Lake
  • Opportunities for Spa + Massage
  • Optional Everest Sightseeing Flight

Kim Bannister Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Kamzang Journeys | Country + Regional Photos
Kamzang Journeys Photos

Kamzang Journeys Group Photos
Group Photos

Himalayan Photos
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Himalayan Bird Photos

Himalayan Flower Photos

Market + Street Food Photos
Asian Markets + Street Food

Travel Reading | Enhance Your Trip!
Travel Books

Date+Price

Dates
Custom Departures
19 Days (Annapurna Circuit + Nar Phu Trek)
27 Days (Annapurna Circuit Trek)

+ Chitwan Wildlife Safari (22 Days)
+ Chitwan Wildlife Safari (29 Days)

Trek Price
$2980 - 19 Days (Nar Phu + Annapurna Circuit Jomsom Trek)
$3480 - 27 Days (Annapurna Circuit Trek
+ Trek Price Single Trekker 19 Days - $3180
+ Trek Price Single Trekker 27 Days - $3680

+ Hotel Single Supplement - $200
+ Hotel Single Supplement Luxury Hotels - Inquire
+ Pokhara + Chitwan Extension - $595

Chitwan Options
Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages

Other Options
+ Super Deluxe Room Dwarika's (+$1050 Single +$600 Double Per Person)
+ Upgrade Temple Tree Resort + Spa in Pokhara (+$95 Single +$65 Double Per Person)
+ Extra Trek Day Gandruk (+105)
+ Extra Day Chitwan (+$125 Single +$100 Double Per Person)
+ Paragliding in Pokhara (+Inquire)
+ Everest Sightseeing Flight (including transport to + from airport) (+$250 PP)
+ Extension Shivapuri Heights Cottage (+$75 - $150 depending on room + season Per Room)
+ Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley (+Inquire)

Includes

  • Kathmandu Guest House, Kantipur Temple House or Dwarika's in Kathmandu
  • Lake View Resort, Shangri La Resort or Temple Tree Resort in Pokhara
  • Domestic flights on Yeti Airlines
  • Departure tax
  • Airport pick-ups & drops
  • ACAP permit
  • TIMS card
  • Private car to Chitwan
  • Kamzang Lodge Trekking: All meals from lodge menu, herbal teas and French press coffee, double rooms at lodges, small medical kit, porters & Nepali guide

Excludes

  • International flights
  • Travel or travel medical insurance
  • Nepal visa
  • Meals in Kathmandu (while not on trek)
  • Helicopter rescue cost
  • Equipment rental
  • Alcohol & soft drinks
  • Showers & hot water bottles
  • Laundry
  • Tipping & other items of a personal nature

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $200 for meals (while not on trek), shopping & drinks (on trek). We recommend $100-$150 per trekker divided between the staff for tips.

Inquire for extra nights at other hotels which have seasonal rates & specials.

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Kamzang Journeys Contact
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet & India)

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361

Follow Us on Facebook
Kamzang Journeys Facebook

Arrival Hotels
Kathmandu Guest House
Kantipur Temple House
Shangri La
Yak & Yeti

Dwarika's

Kathmandu Guest House Single or Double Upgrades | 2 Nights
Garden Single - $50
Deluxe Single or Double - $200

Kathmandu Guest House Single or Double Upgrades | 3 Nights
Garden Single - $75
Deluxe Single or Double - $300

Kathmandu Guest House Extra Nights
Includes breakfast + 25% taxes
Book with Kamzang Journeys + save on room rates

Kathmandu Guest House | Room Prices
Standard Single - $80
Standard Double - $100
Garden Single - $120
Garden Double - $140
Deluxe Single - $200
Deluxe Double - $220

Kamzang Journeys | Room Prices
Standard Single - $55
Standard Double - $75
Garden Single - $80
Garden Double - $100
Deluxe Single - $160
Deluxe Double - $180

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Kathmandu
Kathmandu Happenings

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home.
Nepal Visa

Health Information
Nepal Health Information
CDC

We also recommend bringing probiotics with you to help prevent infections while on trek. Doctor's recommendation!

Travel Medical Insurance
Required for your own safely. We carry a copy of your insurance with all contact, personal and policy information with us on the trek and our office in Kathmandu keeps a copy. Note that we almost always trek over 4000 meters (13,000+ feet) and that we don't do any technical climbing with ropes, ice axes or crampons.

Global Rescue
We recommend that our trekkers also sign up for Global Rescue, which is rescue services only, as a supplement to your travel medical insurance.
Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Wicis-Sports Wearable Tech | Sports Package
Live personal heath stats via a wearable chest strap heart rate monitor.
Track your vitals (heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation), the weather, GPS locations, altitude, speed, bearing and stream LIVE via a Thuraya satellite hot spot. Partners: OCENS (weather), Global Rescue, Aspect Solar.

"Thuraya Telecom + WiCis Sports offer connectivity to Himalayan treks + expeditions"

"Founded in 2011 by Harvard and Stanford anesthesiologist Dr. Leo Montejo and located in the Lake Tahoe area, the company’s goal is to promote the use of mHealth and tracking devices to make adventure sports safer and engage their followers with real time data that is either private or also available to social medial platforms."

Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Medical
Please bring a supply of all personal medications, have a doctor's check-up before leaving home, and inform us of any medical issues. This is for YOUR OWN safety. DO bring all prescription medications and good rehydration/electrolytes. We advise bringing your own Diamox, Ciprofloxin, Azithromyacin & Augmentin. Your guide will also have a basic medical kit with him with Indian-made drugs.

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Arrival Ktm

Arrival
You will be met at the airport by your hotel representative or our Kamzang Journeys driver. Look for a sign with your name on it AND the Kathmandu Guest House sign. You will be driven to the Kathmandu Guest House (or the hotel of your choice) where your rooms have been booked for you. Someone from Khumbu Adventures, or Kim if she is in Kathamandu, will meet you at the Kathmandu Guest House to go over details and get you settled into Kathmandu.

Arrival Hotels
Kathmandu Guest House
Kantipur Temple House
Shangri La
Yak & Yeti

Dwarika's

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home.
Nepal Visa

Temperatures + Clothing
Kathmandu during trekking season, in the spring and autumn, is usually warm (t-shirt, sandals, light pants or skirts) during the day, and gets chilly (light fleece or windproof top) in the afternoon. Nights can be cold enough for a sweater or light jacket, or warm enough for t-shirts. Summer is hotter and wetter; you’ll need a rain jacket and umbrella. The winter months (November – March) are chilly in the mornings and evenings, cold enough that you might start the day in a down jacket, but often warms up enough to wear a t-shirt by mid-day. Nights get cold enough for a down jacket if you’re sitting outside in the spring and autumn, and much colder in the winter when you won’t leave the hotel without your down jacket. It never snows in Kathmandu, leave your snow boots behind. Keens or lightweight sandals great for wandering around Kathmandu, and for trekking in lower altitudes.

Trekking is a mixed bag of temperatures. LAYERS are the key as hot can change quickly to freezing crossing the passes and snowfalls are common. We often have some rain below 3000 meters in the spring and early autumn, and it can rain hard in the summer. Have a wide range of layer-able trekking clothes for summer to winter temperatures. Keep a lightweight down jacket or synthetic jacket with you at all times, available inexpensively in Kathmandu. A lightweight rain poncho and umbrella for trekking recommended spring and summer. Be prepared! See our GEAR LIST for full details on gear, shoes, clothing, electronics and meds for the trek.

There are lots of real gear shops (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Sherpa Gear) and of course many fake ones in Kathmandu, so if you don't think you have the right gear starting the trip it will be easy to pick-up stuff once in Kathmandu. We have sleeping bags, duffel bags down jackets to rent.

Dress conservatively in Kathmandu and on the trail as a rule. Shorts are okay if they aren't too short, mini skirts aren’t recommended. Sleeveless t-shirts are absolutely fine, but perhaps avoid tank-tops on the trail. Super tight doesn't go over so well with the village elders. Many of the younger generation in Nepal wear modern Indian or Western-influenced clothes, but remember that you haven't signed up for a beach or surf vacation. Use your good judgment, be an ambassador for western tourists! Please ask Kim or your guide if unsure about appropriate clothing.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face style duffel bags with Kamzang Journeys logos for sale (XL, orange). They are (mostly) waterproof, mid to lightweight (lighter than North Face) and good quality. Price 4000 NRP ($40)

Cultural Issues
Nepalis are very open and welcoming, but there are a few issues you should be aware of to make your stay in Nepal more fulfilling. Use your right hand to pass things, shake hands or do most anything. Left hands are somewhat taboo. Nepali's often place their left hand on the right forearm when passing things to others, a sign of respect. Best not to pat kids on heads, or point feet ahead of you at monasteries. Don't walk over someone's legs or feet, but put your hand down in front of you to signal them to pull their legs to the side. Take off shoes and hats when going into Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, don't use flashes inside monasteries or temples in general, be respectful of a puja (prayer ceremony) if attending one. You can talk, all religious are very tolerant, but be aware of your level of voice.

Nepalis don't anger quickly, so try not to raise your voice if exasperated or angry as it only will make a situation worse. Do bargain at shops, with taxis and rickshaws, but don't fleece them. They are poor and making a living, generally.

Give small donations on the streets if you choose, but try not to encourage begging too much. Be aware of who you are giving money to, and please only give small amounts. If you do want to donate to a cause, ask about our Kamzang Fund or other responsible organizations.

Pampering Yourself in Kathmandu
We’re happy to book your rooms before or after the trek (or upgrade during the trek) at other boutique or luxury hotels in Kathmandu. We recommend Dwarika’s, Shangri-La, Yak & Yeti or Hyatt. We can also direct you to wonderful spa & massage centers in Kathmandu.

Tips for Staff
We recommend at least $200 per person to go into the tip pool for the staff. Please bring Nepali Rupees (NRP) with you on the trek for the tips. It’s nice to buy the staff drinks on the last night. Or any other night that you feel like getting them a bottle of Kukure Rum!

Tips in General
Tips are always appreciated but they don’t need to be extravagant. 100 NRP to carry bags to/from your room is fine. The women who clean your room will be happy with 100-200 NRP when you leave, and 100 NRP is good for drivers to/from the airport. Round up taxi fares. A larger tip would be expected for a daytrip in a car, perhaps 500 NRP. 10% is included in most restaurant and hotel bills in Nepal, and if it’s not included it’s still expected. Check your bills, and still round up at restaurants. Feel free to give out small change to the beggars in the streets (5, 10, 20 NRP) but try not to give it out to the street kids who use it for glue to sniff.

Cash + ATMs
You’ll want some cash with you on the trek for drinks, snacks, beer, sodas, etc. There are often  chances to during the trek, and usually local crafts to buy en route. (You’ll want your tip money in NRP as well). There are ATMs in KTM but they don’t dispense large amounts of cash (usually 10-20,000 NRP) so you’ll be best with currency or TCs to change.

International Medical Center Kathmandu
CIWEC

Kathmandu + Kathmandu Valley Information
Our personalized 'Insider' list of things to do, places to go, what to visit, the most happening restaurants + the best hotels in Kathmandu and the beautiful Kathmandu Valley.
Happenings in Kathmandu

Gear

Travel Photography Gear Guide
The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer

Gear List
This is a guideline, not a bible, for the gear you will need on the trek. Ask if you have questions! One 15 kg (33 lbs) maximum weight limit for the duffel bag.

  • Duffel Bag
  • Day Pack (25-35 L) + Rain Cover
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Down Jacket
  • Hiking Boots
  • Crocs (Evenings)
  • Trekking Pants (2-3)
  • T-Shirts (3)
  • Long-sleeve Trekking Shirt (2)
  • Heavier Trekking Shirt (1)
  • Microfiber | Synthetic Jacket (1)
  • Lightweight Wind + Rain Jacket + Pants
  • Thermal Top + Botton (Evenings)
  • Socks (5)
  • Gloves + Hat
  • Baseball Cap or Wide-brimmed Hat
  • Small Camp Towel
  • Trekking Poles
  • Sunglasses
  • Water Bottles (2)
  • Umbrella (optional)
  • Toiletries, Sunscreen + Lip Balm SPF
  • Camera Batteries + Battery Chargers
  • Head Lamp
  • Water Purifying Tablets, Small Water Filter or SteriPen (optional)
  • Laundry Detergent or Bio-degradable Clothes Soap (optional)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Small Solar Panel (optional, recommended for iPods, iPhones, Kindles)
  • Book
  • Zip-Lock Plastic Bags (for packing)
  • Soft Toilet Paper | Tissues (we supply toilet paper but it's rough)
  • Baby-Wipes | Wet-Wipes (for personal cleaning)
  • Handi-Wipes, J-Cloth or Chux (optional, easy for a quick daytime clean)
  • Snacks
  • Rehydration | Electrolytes
  • Personal Medical Supplies

Medical Supplies
We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.

We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals we meet when trekking.

Comments on Gear
Layers are essential for trekking. Quality is more important than quantity. It’s worth investing in some new, warm, lightweight gear available in all gear shops or online. Nights are chilly to cold so a down jacket and sleeping bag are essential. Days range from steamy hot to cold with snow showers, or wind, if the weather changes. We recommend a down bag of 0F for lower altitude treks. Rentals available.

Trekking poles are not required but strongly recommended, especially for going down passes which can be quite steep and are often icy. Bring gators if you tend to use them but they’re not required if you don't own a pair. Micro-spikes (mini-crampons) or YakTraks are almost always useful (or essential) for high pass crossings. It’s also good (possibly essential) to have a pair of plastic Crocs for washing and the evenings. Tevas take a long time to dry, not recommended. You can bring a pair of light sneakers or running shoes for the afternoons or easy days if you have room in your pack, or if you are used to hiking in them.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential; please bring an extra pair if you tend to lose them! Don’t forget a sun hat or baseball cap and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF! Bring extra large plastic bags or stuff-sacks in case of rain. You can pack electronics in them or stash your sleeping bag and clothes. The weather is very changeable in the Himalaya!

Day Pack
We recommend a 25-35 liter day pack (ask at your gear shop if you’re not sure of the capacity). Most have internal water bladders built in, which are good for ensuring that you stay hydrated. Make sure it fits and is comfortable before purchasing!

In your day pack you will carry your camera, water, snacks, lightweight wind & rain pants, hat, light gloves, sunscreen, electrolytes. hand sanitizer, a pack-cover and sometimes your lightweight down jacket. I carry my Crocs to give feet a break mid-day. Water purifying tablets, filter or SteriPen optional. Go as light as possible with your day pack.

Water
We bring MSF water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, SteriPen or iodine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic or metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house | lodge or camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, milk and green teas, hot chocolate and hot lemon.

Snacks
You body needs snacks hiking at altitude, even if you don't generally snack between meals. We burn more calories at altitude, as well as in the cold, and you will crave certain foods at altitude. Energy or nutrition bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate, dried fruits, nuts and jerky work well for immediate energy. Emergen-C, Nuun and electrolytes are important for daily rehydration.

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10F) for $2.50 per day.

Duffel Bags
We have orange North Face-style duffel bags with Kamzang logos for sale, between L + XL. (+$40)

Packing & Storage
Packing and unpacking is easy from a duffel bag, and easy for a porter to carry.Inexpensive duffel bags are also available in Kathmandu. You can store extra gear in Kathmandu in your hotel's storage room free of charge. You can drop a bag for Pokhara at the hotel before setting off for the trek.

Shopping
Almost all gear is now available in Kathmandu, from real (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Sherpa Gear, Marmot - all in Thamel) to inexpensive knock-offs. The real gear shops take credit cards!

Chitwan

Royal Chitwan National Park

History
Royal Chitwan National Park has long been one of the country’s treasures of natural wonders. The park is situated in south central Nepal, covering 932 square kilometers in the subtropical lowlands of the inner Terai. The area comprising the Tikauli forest, from Rapti river to the foothills of the Mahabharat, extends for an area of 175 square kilometers and was declared Mahendra Mriga Kunj (Mahendra Deer Park) by the late King Mahendra in 1959. In 1963, the area south of Rapti River was demarcated as a rhinoceros sanctuary. The area was gazetted as the country’s first national park in 1973. Recognizing its unique ecosystems of international significance, UNESCO declared RCNP a World Heritage Site in 1984. In 1996, an area of 750 square kilometers surrounding the park was declared a buffer zone which consists of forests and private lands. The park and the local people jointly initiate community development activities and manage natural resources in the buffer zone. The government has made a provision of plowing back 30-50 percent of the park revenue for community development in the buffer zone.

Features
The Chitwan valley consists of tropical and subtropical forests. Sal forests cover 70 percent of the park. Sal leaves are used locally for plates in festivals and religious offerings. Grasslands cover 20 percent of the park. There are more than 50 different types of grasses, including the elephant grass (Saccharum spp.), renowned for its immense height, growing up to 8 meters in height. The shorter grasses (imperata) are used for roof thatching as well as mats, rope and paper making.

A total of 68 species of mammals, 56 species of herpeto fauna and 126 species of fish have been recorded in the park. The park is especially renowned for its protection of one-horned rhinoceros, gaur, royal Bengal tiger, wild elephant, four-horned antelope, pangolin, gangetic dolphin, gharial crocodile, golden monitor lizard and python. The park harbors not only the world’s largest terrestrial mammal (wild elephant) but also the world’s smallest terrestrial mammal (pygmy shrew). A total of 544 species of birds has been recorded so far including 22 globally threatened species including critically endangered Bengal florican, slender-billed vulture, white rumped vulture and red headed vulture.

The park houses a diversity of ecosystems, including the Churia hills, ox-bow lakes, and the flood plains of the Rapti, Reu and Narayani Rivers. The Churia hills rise slowly towards the east from 150 meters to more than 800 meters. The western portion of the park is comprised of the lower but more rugged Someshwor hills. The park shares its eastern boundary with the Parsa Wildlife Reserve.

Tharus are the main indigenous ethnic groups in Chitwan. They are well known for their resistance to malaria. Traditionally they are farmers and practice their own unique tribal culture. A stroll or a ride through the Tharu village will provide an opportunity to see their traditional farming and relics. Traditional Tharu stick dance gives an insight into their culture

Climate
Conditions are subtropical with a summer monsoon from mid-June to late-September, and a relatively dry winter. Mean annual rainfall is 2400mm with about 90% falling in the monsoon from June to September. Monsoon rains cause dramatic floods and changes in the character and courses of rivers. Temperatures are highest (maximum 38°C) during this season and drop to a minimum of 6°C in the post-monsoon period (October to January), when dry northerly winds from the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau are prevalent.

Trip Photos
Chitwan National Park

Annapurnas+Nar Phu

Annapurna Circuit Trek
From the steamy Hindu middle hills of central Nepal to Buddhist high-country dwellers on the border of Tibet, from terraced fields and fruit trees to vistas dominated by 8000 meter peaks, from lush, riverside hot springs to arid, mountainous Mustangi landscapes, from sacred Hindu temple complexes and thatched huts to whitewashed Thakali villages and ancient Manangi Buddhist monasteries, from water buffaloes to yaks, the Annapurna circuit trek in the heart of the Nepal Himalaya is a cultural trek par excellence, without a doubt one of the best treks in Nepal.

This is a classic tea-house trek run in our unique Kamzang-style. Instead of camping out in the cold, we enjoy the dining-room stoves and famed hospitality of the local people of the Annapurna region, our gear is carried by porters, and we have local guides to explain the various cultures, mountains and sights to us along the way. But don't be fooled into thinking that there are no challenges along the way! We cross one of the highest trekking passes in the Nepal Himalayas, cover many kilometers of both hills and high altitude trekking, and spend three weeks deep in the Himalaya. This trek is one of Nepal's classic treks for good reasons.

Accompanied by views of the Annapurna range, Manaslu, Machapuchare, Tilicho and the Chulu Peaks and Dhaulagiri (to name just a few), we trek up the Marshyangdi river, first passing by Chettri and Gurung villages, followed by a few Tibetan settlements, to the Buddhist region of Manang, where riding on horseback is the normal means of transport, and the villages are interlocked terraces perched below old, Buddhist gompas. Manang is a destination in itself, with ice-lakes, cliff-side monasteries and old villages to explore, not to mention the spectacular sunrise and sunset views. To the west, in the interior of the Annapurna Circuit, is Tilicho Lake. surrounded by snow-peaks. We spend an extra couple of days hiking out to get a view of the lake ...

Following a careful acclimatization program, we trek over the 5400 meter Thorung La Pass and descend steeply down to Muktinath, a sacred Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage site ,and on to lower Mustang. Kagbeni, the entrance to Upper Mustang, Jomsom, the administrative center and airport, scenic Marpha with its whitewashed, colorful houses and old monastery and caves and into the Thakali village of Tukuche, with yet another old Buddhist gompa and cobbled streets. Further south, the scenery becomes more thickly wooded as we follow the famed Kali Gandiki river gorge downstream, and different mountain views emerge, dominated by Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak.

Trekking south, we re-enter Nepal's middle hills, passing wheat and paddy fields, apple and apricot trees of lower the lower Thakali region, stopping to enjoy the famed Tatopani hot springs. Further ups and downs through ancient, open forests bring us to Ghorepani, where we are treated at sunrise to 360 degree mountain panoramas. Back down through the golden, terraced Gurung villages of Gandruk, dominated by Machapuchare, the 'Fish Tailed' mountain, we finally continue on to the end of the circuit at Naya Pul and drive to Pokhara, where we spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing before heading out for a celebratory dinner and a few beers!

Annapurna Foothills Trek | Poon Hill
The beautiful Lower Annapurnas (Annapurna foothills) trek starts just 25 kilometers north of Pohara, and is often referred to as the Poon Hill trek because of the incredible sunrise Himalayan panoramas from this viewpoint above Ghorepani. Macchapuchare (Fish Tail Peak) is the most renown mountain in this region, an unmistakable peak which rises above the clouds. Views from Poon Hill are awe inspiring, and include the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges: Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna II, III, + IV, Dhaulagiri, Lamjung Himal, Gangapurna and Manaslu!

Our Annapurna Peaks & Villages Trek features terraced slopes, green rice paddies, rhododendron forests, local cultures and traditional Gurung and Magar villages, Ghorepani and Gandruk being two of the largest Gurung villages in the Annapurna region. It's a wonderful, shorter low altitude trek in the lower Annapurna region is the perfect introduction to the diversity and excitement of trekking in Nepal. We start the Nepal trek in steamy Hindu villages, where water buffaloes wallow in the rivers, colorful, sari-clad women sit and weave by thatched huts, and villagers perform ancient rituals to appease their local deities. The sub-tropical forests come alive with an immense variety of bird life, waterfalls thunder down from steep cliff sides and monkeys chatter from the tree-tops.

Trekking higher into the green, terraced hills we wander through ancient, mossy rhododendron forests to reach the cooler Buddhist and animistic middle hills, where chortens and prayer flags send prayers out to the gods and the Gurung and Magar inhabitants look more Tibetan than Nepali. Terraced fields and tropical fruit trees surround the neat, white-washed Gurung villages of the higher regions, leading the eye to vistas dominated by some of the Himalaya's most majestic peaks. The Annapurna region is truly the heart of the Nepal Himalaya.

Nar Phu
The Nar Phu valleys combines high peaks and passes, glaciers, remote villages, narrow canyons, lovely forests, amazing rock formations, yaks, gompas and two remote Tibetan villages (Nar & Phu). Two long days of walking from the border of Tibet, this region was first explored by Tillman in the 1950s. Closed to trekkers until late 2002, very few westerners have explored these virtually untouched villages or climbed the many 7000m peaks surrounding it. Along with spending plenty of time at these colorful and timeless villages, we explore the high alpine valleys above Phu (including Himlung Base Camp for those who want to), and then from Nar cross the Kang La to Ngawal on the upper Pisang route leading back into the Annapurna circuit.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1340m
You'll be met at the airport by a representative from your hotel who will have a sign with your name on it. Transfer to your hotel (Kathmandu Guest House, Kantipur Temple Home, Dwarika's, Yak + Yeti, Shangri La) where your rooms have been booked for you.

The Kathmandu Guest House and Kantipur Temple Home are located in the hub of Thamel, a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers. Dwarika's is an oasis of calm near the airport. Relax by the pool, visit the spa and enjoy the historic and serene surroundings, dining at one of their world-class restaurants. Yak & Yeti is just off Durbar Marg, a tree-lined, upscale road of shops and hotels. Shangri La is in Lazimpat, just a few kilometers outside Thamel and features a lovely garden and outdoors cafe.

We'll need your travel medical insurance, a copy of your passport and Nepali visa and one (or more) visa-sized photo, so have them ready to give to your guide please.

Day 2 - Kathmandu
Enjoy a free day to explore Kathmandu's many World Heritage sites, to decompress at your hotel or the spa, to head out shopping or to embark on a tour of the Kathmandu and the beautiful Kathmandu valley, surrounded by Himalayan snow-peaks.

Kathmandu | World Heritage Sites (Optional Tour)
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings for more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. . Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)

Day 3 - Drive Dharapani 1860m
After breakfast you'll have an early start for the long, scenic drive from Kathmandu to Dharpani. The first section of the road to Besi Sahar follows the Trishuli River on the Kathmandu Pokhara highway, soon turning northeast to follow Marsyangdi River to Besi Sahar, (760m), a long, dusty town which used to be the start of the Annapurna Circuit trek. From here we'll have a more adventurous drive up the Marsyangdi on a 4WD road to Jagat, past Chamje and on to Dharapani where you'll spend your first night in one of Nepal's famous lodges, or 'tea-houses'. Showers are solar in the Annapurna region, and it's first-come-first-serve, so wash off the dust from the drive and settle into Nepali village life with a beer. (255 km, 8+ hrs driving)

Day 4 - Trek Koto Qupar 2565m
Continuing to climb through forests of pine and oak, we pass through Danagyu before coming to a thundering waterfall, where we turn left and head up the high trail to Koto. After an hour of lovely, open forests, we reach a clearing at the top of the trail and a charming Tibetan teahouse where we will stop for a break. Pausing for breath, we can look back for views of Manaslu. An hour away is the wonderful Gurung village of Timang, where the villagers might be harvesting their crops of buckwheat or stuffing local sausages. Heading back down to the village of Koto Qupar, our base for the trek up to Nar Phu, we can look straight up at nearby Annapurna ll - a stunning sight convincing us that we are deep in the Himalayan mountains! Many of the villagers are the from Nar Phu valley. Koto is the gateway to their region, and we stay at a lovely lodge for the evening, with time to explore the village. (12 km, 5 hrs)

Day 5 - Trek Meta 3560m
This morning we head out early, a long and somewhat difficult day before us as we head north towards Nar Phu and the border of Tibet. Just past the Koto check post, we cross the river on a long suspension bridge leading to the Nar Phu valley and ascend on a lovely trail through beautiful woods above the Phu Khola (river). Continuing to climb through the forest, we emerge out of the narrow canyon, the trail passing right under a wide waterfall from which point the woods become thinner and the vistas wider. Soon afterwards we trek past several small cave shelters and a dharamsala, or pilgrims' rest house. We might camp at Dharamsala but will most likely continue on and make the steep climb up the valley along a small, scenic trail to high, grazing pastures. This is the kharka of Meta, 3560m, the non-permanent winter settlement of Nar, and we will definitely share the campsite with a few yaks and possibly some villagers. It will be a chilly night, so we'll try to get a fire going to warm up. (8 hrs)

Day 6 - Trek Kyang 3880m
Our hike today is one of the loveliest walks in the Himalayas. The landscape is similar to the Sierra Nevada; white rocks, low shrub and juniper, scattered evergreens, delicate brick-red and orange leafed bushes, crumbling shelves of flat slate, white, sandy trails and gnarled trees. The mountains around us are utterly spectacular, and the Phu Kosi shadows the trail far below. An hour past Meta, Junam is the second semi-permanent settlement, one where 'khampas' from Tibet sometimes sheltered. Above the kharka to the right looms a massive glacier, which falls jaggedly down to the high pastures above us. It's all truly amazing scenery. Across the river, the cliffs contort in swirls and waves, similar to Ladakhi landscapes. The next semi-permanent settlement is Chako, formerly a Khampa settlement, where grass lies tied in bunches to dry on all the rooftops and prayer flags flutter in the breeze. A previous year we saw a massive yak caravan from Phu pass by at Chako on their way down to Manang to re-supply, a scene from old Tibet, Many more ups and downs take us to tonight's campsite at Kyang, the extensive winter settlement of Phu, on a plateau high above the river. Kyang is a flat plateau with an extensive mani wall, about as scenic a campsite as they come with soaring cliff walls surrounding us. (5 hrs)

Day 7 - Trek Phu 4050m
Dropping steeply down to the river, we trek for a while along the river bank and past the 'submarine' rock, passing some small possible campsites along the way. Today we begin to see the unique, ochre and white chortens made of sticks, stone and mud-brick for which Nar and Phu are known. We have to rock-hop carefully across a small glacial stream before reaching a larger one with a bridge only half covered with large slabs of slate. Some large steps do the trick ...

Another hour and a half of trekking through scenic canyon lands and gorges, and the 'leaning tower of Pisa' monolith guards the steep trail up to the Phu gate, called Pupigyal Kwe. This ancient gate provides us with our first view of the three villages of Phu, as well as an old 'dzong' and the remains of two forts, all now in ruins, but impressively situated atop the flatlands before Phu. Just before the bridge to Phu, a line of wonderful chortens color the landscape and lead the way to the main village of Phu, perched high up on a hill, amphitheater style. We will set up camp on the lower reaches of Phu, formerly called Gomdzong, and head up to the famous Tashi Lhakhang Gompa on a neighboring hillside to pay our respects to Lama Karma Sonam Rimpoche, a trulku who came to Nepal with His Holiness the Dalai Lama back in '59. He is also a renowned amchi, or Tibetan doctor, as well as a thanka painter and father of several children (some trulkus as well as certain lamas are permitted to marry). Later, we might head up to the village to hunt down some chang. (4 hrs)

Day 8 - Phu
Having spent quite a few days getting to Phu, we will spend an extra day in the area to enjoy it, meet the local Phu residents and perhaps do some exploring up the wide valley systems above us. Tibet is two long days away, so a bit far for a visit, but we might walk up the valley to the summer grazing settlement, or 'kharka' at Ngoru, a three hour's walk past the gompa. For those with lots of energy, a hike towards the east through a glacial valley leads to Himlung Himal base camp, a 7125m peak recently opened for climbing. There are often expeditions climbing this peak, as well as nearby Gyanji Kang. The mountain views are tremendous.

For others, a walk west up past Phu towards the chortens on the hillside provides some incredible vistas and views down over Phu and the surrounding fields, forts, valleys and peaks. Phu itself is an incredibly interesting village, and a day is well spent sitting with the villagers as they spin their yak and sheep wool and chat, pound mustard seeds into a paste for oil, or involve themselves in the countless activities that take up a day in Tibetan villages. For photographers, the light is spectacular, and the skies a deep blue, and we may even see some blue sheep on the surrounding hillsides. A wander through the village will probably involve an invitation into someone's home for some authentic Tibetan salt butter tea, or perhaps a small glass of local 'raksi', or rice or barley liquo

Day 9 - Trek Nar 4225m
A long day to reach Nar, worth all the effort once you arrive at this timeless Tibetan village. Back through Phu gate, we descend to the river, and retrace our steps back to Junam kharka (3550m). In 2003 we camped with some Phu residents on their way back up to Phu with huge loads of planks from the nearby forests, and the evening was filled with Tibetan and Manangi songs, smoky shelters and that unique Tibetan laughter. We trek down to the old bridge spanning a deep, contoured and narrow gorge (cameras out for this crossing), and then all the way back up again. Below us sit Gyalbu Kumbum, built in 1650, and Satte gompa, both empty. We finally reach the Nar gates at the top of the hill, and pass by yet another line of wonderfully painted, bamboo-topped chortens and a large tiered chorten before turning the corner and being rewarded with sublime views of Nar, the undulating patterns of the surrounding barley, potato and mustard fields, four old, colorful and traditional gompas and the snow-peaks looming overhead. We arrive early, so will have some lunch in the sun before doing some exploring.

Physically, Nar is not far from the main Annapurna trail, but it feels centuries away and is about as picturesque as they come. Nar is bit more social and lively than Phu, and the village 'square' is full of chatting women with their back-strap looms weaving wool fabric for rugs and blankets, pounding mustard seeds for oil, or spinning the ubiquitous wool while catching up on the news. The children in Nar seem to be always out in the streets, presumably preferring this life to the classroom! Each family in Nar seems to have at least one son or daughter in a gompa, and many live at home or visit frequently, so there is the resonating sound of cymbals, chanting and drums echoing throughout the village. Other Nar villagers may be printing prayer flags, doing some carpentry, collecting wood from the forest and carrying large loads with a head-strap back up to the house, harvesting the crops, tending the yaks, sheep and goats or spinning the prayer wheels in the center of town. Climb the prayer-flag festooned hill above Nar for wonderful views, or sit at our lovely guest house overlooking the whole scene in the sun, sheltered from the chilling and ever-present afternoon winds. It is a good day to try some local buckwheat pancakes or 'dhiro'.

The people of sell their yaks to the Manangis, who in turn sell them to butchers for meat. The yak tails are sold to Hindus, and the skins are kept and used. Locally, they sell butter, dry cheese (churpi) and hand-woven blankets. The traders who go to Kathmandu often trade the butter and cheese for wheat and buckwheat, some of which they again sell in Manang. The blankets are sold for cash. In the winter, the Nar-pa often travel to Kathmandu and the Lamjung villages to sell traditional medicinal herbs and juniper, and lamas sell their services. Once they have cash in hand, they stock up on essentials such as chili for the winter. (7 hrs

Day 10 - Nar
An extra day in wonderful Nar, visiting with the ethnically Tibetan locals, watching the weaving, grinding mustard grain for oil, the planting or harvesting, and the elder locals counting their Buddhist prayer beads as they do their koras of the village. Have a wander down to the village gompas, or up to any of the many viewpoints north of the village, and enjoy the opportunity for some real immersion into this unique Tibetan culture

Day 11 - Trek Ngawal (cross Kang La 5305m)
A spectacular pass day, leaving Nar Phu and crossing the Kang La pass back to the Annapurna circuit, leaving Nar before the sun rises as it's a long day to Ngawal village. The ascent 1000+ meter ascent to the pass is challenging but worth the efforts for the incredible views from the top of the pass; the Annapurna range stretches ahead, a sublime site. The descent is very steep on a switchbacking trail of loose scree, and can be slippery if there is snow on the pass. Once down the initial steep descent, the trail descends more gradually on rolling hills, and soon the airport of Thongde, and then Ngawal, come into view.

Ngawal is a wonderful, old village of cobbled streets, prayer wheels, decorative water-spouts and beautiful architecture, obviously a hub of religious activity in previous times. (8 - 9 hrs)

Day 12 - Trek Manang 3500m
An easy day after yesterday's challenging crossing of the Kang La pass! Leaving Ngawal though the exit chorten, we contour around a hillside as we descend gradually, heading north on a two hour walk through open forest to Braga, an old Tibetan style village of about 150 partially deserted houses. We have time to explore the old village of Braga, with the wonderful Braga Gompa perched colorfully above the stacked houses. The monastery has an elaborate collection of thangkas and statues, and it is worth finding the key-keeper to open the assembly hall and ‘lha khangs’ for us. Braga also has an impressive collection of traditional architectural details, so keep your eyes open for beautifully carved wooden windows and doors. The prayer wheels and chorten at the foot of Braga are particularly brightly painted.

From Braga, continue to hike for 20 minutes, past a series of unique and colorful chortens to Manang, a village of 500 or so flat-roofed houses, the headquarters for the region, and an interesting village packed with trekkers, bakeries and lodges. Manang is dominated by high peaks, towered over by Annapurna lll and Gangapurna with the Gangapurna Glacier across the Marsyangdi. There is an old gompa on the edge of town, many local teahouses, and some atmospheric, winding streets in the village leading out toward the Thorung La. We spend the night at Tashi Ghale + his wife Ongmo's Mountain View Lodge. Tashi is a world renown snow leopard, wildlife and mountain photographer. Visit his website, Tales Beyond the Mountain.

There is a 3 o'clock lecture on altitude by the Himalayan Rescue Association for anyone interested, a worthwhile way to spend the afternoon. (2 - 3 hrs)

Day 13 - Manang
An acclimatization day in wonderful Manang, with many options. Tashi can also offer suggestions as he's explored every meter of this incredible region.
OPTIONS: A long day-hike to the Ice Lake, a visit to the 'Hundred Ruppee Lama' at the cave gompa above Manang, a two-hour hike to Milarepa's cave across the river from Braga, the HRA talk, or a tour of Manang's many bakeries. A hike up 300 meters or so for acclimatization is recommended, but nothing too strenuous is required. The guest house is wonderful, a sunny and warm place to gaze at the peaks in the afternoon.
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Optional Tilicho Lake Trek | 2 - 3 Days

Trek Tilicho Base Camp
Today's trek is about six hours; from Manang, we cross to the east side of the Marsyangdi River and then head into the 'interior' of the Annapurna circuit to Tilicho Base Camp. In the morning, we will take the three hour walk out to Tilicho Lake itself.

Trek to Tilicho Lake. Return to Mid-Camp, Khangsar or Manang
We start early for the three hour walk out to the spectacular Tilicho Lake; it can be cold and windy, so dress warmly. We'll return to 'base camp' for lunch, and then return to either Mid-Camp, Manang or Khangsar from where there is an intersecting trail back to the Annapurna Circuit.
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Day 14 - Trek Ledar 4300m
It's not a long day but we do gain altitude so will hike slowly and enjoy the world-class scenery! En route, we will undoubtedly be passed along the trail by galloping Manangi horses, saddled with wonderful (and expensive) Tibetan wool saddle blankets, and their jubilant Manangi riders, bells jingling as they gallop by. Keep an eye out for herds of blue sheep, actually wild mountain goats, in the craggy hills above the trails. This is also classic snow leopard territory!

Climb past Tengi and Gunsang to Yak Kharka, where you'll stop for lunch at one of the lodges, and then continut another 45 minutes to arrive in tiny Ledar, where you stay at an alpine-style guest house with views to match. Rest up! (11 km, 5 hrs)

Day 15 - Trek Thorung Phedi 4535m or High Camp 4885m
A deceptively challenging hike through increasingly tundra-like landscapes, heading towards Tibetan territory! You're headed to Thorung Phedi (often called Thorung Base Camp) where you'll arrive in time for lunch. Depending on the group's acclimatization rate you may opt to stay lower at Thorung Phedi. If everyone is feeling okay, you can hike the hour and a half (maximum) and 300 meters up to Thorung Phedi High Camp, worth the effort for the spectacular sunsets and easier day tomorrow.

Either way, you will be in bed early after dinner for an early morning start for tomorrow's crossing of the Thorung La pass (5415m). Again, if anyone  has any problems at this altitude it's an easy hike back down to Base Camp, where you stay at a nice lodge to with sun, glass windows and with occasional blue sheep sightings. (7 km BC, 8 km HC, 3 1/2 - 5 hrs)

Day 16 - Trek to Muktinath 3800m (cross Thorung La 5415m) or Jharkot 3535m
Up early for the three or four hour walk to the top of the Thorung La at 5400m, where we are treated with spectacular views over Mustang and the surrounding peaks. The descent is almost as demanding as the ascent to the top of the pass, so a cup of chai and a snack at the local tea house at Chabarbu, at the bottom of the descent, is a required stop. And on to lower Mustang, which we have actually reached just after the pass, and the serene temple complex of Muktinath.

Muktinath is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus situated in a tranquil grove of trees, and contains a wall of 108 waterspouts in the shape of cows heads spouting sacred water, the Jwala Mai temple with a perpetual spouting flame and the pagoda-styled Vishnu Mandir, all of which make up the auspicious combination of earth, fire and water. We stay just five minutes down the trail from Muktinath at Ranipauwa.

NOTE: Generally we suggest continuing half and hour+ down the trail to more scenic Jarkhot as Muktinath can be a bit overwhelming with all the new Hindu pilgrims, who come by road to visit Muktinath. Jharkot is a more traditional Mustangi village, bustling and incredibly beautiful in the evening light. (14-16 km, 7-9 hrs)

Day 17 - Trek Kagbeni 2800m + Jomsom 2720m
Today's lovely trek heads south through traditional Mustangi villages where you'll find local apples in the Autumn and watch the traditional back-loom weaving techniques being practiced by the local women. If you're stopped at Muktinath, half an hour down the trail, Jharkot is an old Mustangi village with a medieval atmosphere, a Shakya gompa which is a traditional medicine center and incredibly photogenic whitewashed houses and streets. Further along the trail at Khingar, we might visit the local school. The scenery is truly wonderful: soft light, patchworks of fields, peaks overhead, villagers out plowing the fields, horses tethered next to the houses, and apple trees providing texture to the landscape.

After a steep descent, we reach the windy Kali Gandaki (called the Thak Khola by the locals) river valley where it intersects the Jhong Khola, and the last village in lower Mustang, the atmospheric oasis of Kagbeni. The mud-packed houses, prayer wheels, narrow, stone streets, covered alleyways, chortens and old brick-hued gompa dominating the village and guarding the river intersections are reminiscent of old Mustang, and those who wanted to venture further can wander across the river to the Mustangi villages officially off limits but easily accessible. At the Trekker's Lodge in the lower section of Jomsom near the airport hot showers await. Stick your heads out of your rooms to see the sunrise on Niligiri before breakfast. Himalayan sunrises and sunsets are one of the many things that remind us of why we've come all this way, and endured these hard, cold trekking days!

NOTE: You have the option to skip Kagbeni and trek directly to Jomsom, or to hire a jeep for any portion of this hike

Day 18 - Trek Marpha 2680m or Tukuche 2590m
We have a nice morning's walk down the Kali Gandaki riverbed, looking for saligrams along the way, to Jomsom, the administrative center for the region. The Kali Gandaki valley gets incredibly windy in the early afternoon, so important to arrive before noon; we'll have lunch in Jomsom, and there is a bank if anyone needs to change money. Then another few hours to Marpha along the same riverbed. Marpha is a white-washed village of cobbled streets, small shops, horses and donkeys, a recently rebuilt gompa and caves above the village, and a wonderful place to stop for the evening.

NOTE: You may opt to continue on to slightly less crowded and equally scenic and interesting Tukuche, about an hour's walk from Marpha (2 - 3 hrs)

Day 19 - Trek to Kalapani 2530m
Back on the trail, and a longer day again today, but a great walk with incredible Himalayan views throughout. Passing the Thakali villages of Kobang and Larjung, where the Kali Gandaki River widens, cross the river on a bridge and continue on a trail on the eastern side of the river and finally cross again to Kalapani (translated as 'cold water'), where you'll stay in a lodge for the night. Note that this section of riverbed is known for its 'heart rocks'. (5 - 7 hrs)

Day 20 - Trek Tatopani 1190m
Another long day, but well worth the effort to get to Tatopani, where the double hot springs are situated scenically next to the riverbed, well-deserved massages are offered by the hot springs, the bakeries are heaven, oranges and lemons fall from the fruit trees and the monkeys play across the river.

Day 21 - Trek Ghorepani 2920m
Get ready for some more hills! Today's walk is a hot one, and quite strenuous as we branch off after an hour of walking from Tatopani from the trail heading to Beni, and take the Ghorepani trail, starting straight up hill. (5 hrs)

Day 22 - Trek Tadapani 2630m
Those who want can hike up Poon Hill for a 360 degree Himalayan panorama; after breakfast, we have a half day's walk to Tadapani, where we'll be treated to spectacular views of Machapuchare. Watch for monkeys on the way up! (4 1/2 hrs)

Day 23 - Trek Gandruk 1940m
We descend through an old, open forest - and it's important to trek in a group today, as this region used to be know for 'dacoits' - to the village of Gandruk, a Gurung village still existing in its traditional state. Again, perfect views; as well, there is a Gurung museum, worth a visit, and several small restaurants serving traditional Gurung fare such as fermented, sour spinach soup. Yum!

Day 24 - Trek Naya Pul  1025m| Drive Pokhara
A golden, scenic last day of trekking through the terraced rice fields below Gandruk on the way to Kimche. We can look back on the way up to Annapurna Base Camp, far above. About four hours should be enough for us to make it to Naya Pul (new bridge), where we check out of the Annapurna Sanctuary Area, cross the bridge, and catch our ride back to Pokhara, just an hour or so down the road. We spend the night in at Lakeview Resort (with the option to upgrade to Temple Tree Resort + Spa), enjoy a hot shower, and perhaps head out for dinner to Moondance Cafe.

Day 25 - Pokhara
There is endless opportunity to spend extra time in Pokhara, so at least one day in this balmy city, Nepal's second largest, is a must post trek. Options including a stroll part way around Phewa Lake, paragliding or zip-lining from Sarankot, paddling on the lake, a morning hike up to Shanti Stupa via a short canoe trip, a cycling trip to the end of the lake (many options) or a day of shopping for the creative locally produced crafts along Lakeside.

Day 26 - Fly Kathmandu
After a bountiful buffet breakfast, you'll board the morning flight back to Kathmandu (with options to stay extra days in Pokhara). You have the afternoon in Kathmandu for shopping, relaxing in the garden of the hotel, last minute shopping or perhaps a visit to Boudhanath for some 'koras' to give thanks for the safe journey in the mountains.

Day 27 - Trip Ends
We send you off to the airport for your flight home. Namaste!

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Short Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1340m
You'll be met at the airport by a representative from your hotel who will have a sign with your name on it. Transfer to your hotel (Kathmandu Guest House, Kantipur Temple Home, Dwarika's, Yak + Yeti, Shangri La) where your rooms have been booked for you.

The Kathmandu Guest House and Kantipur Temple Home are located in the hub of Thamel, a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers. Dwarika's is an oasis of calm near the airport. Relax by the pool, visit the spa and enjoy the historic and serene surroundings, dining at one of their world-class restaurants. Yak & Yeti is just off Durbar Marg, a tree-lined, upscale road of shops and hotels. Shangri La is in Lazimpat, just a few kilometers outside Thamel and features a lovely garden and outdoors cafe.

We'll need your travel medical insurance, a copy of your passport and Nepali visa and one (or more) visa-sized photo, so have them ready to give to your guide please.

Day 2 - Kathmandu
Enjoy a free day to explore Kathmandu's many World Heritage sites, to decompress at your hotel or the spa, to head out shopping or to embark on a tour of the Kathmandu and the beautiful Kathmandu valley, surrounded by Himalayan snow-peaks.

Kathmandu | World Heritage Sites (Optional Tour)
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings for more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. . Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)

Day 3 - Drive Dharapani 1860m
After breakfast you'll have an early start for the long, scenic drive from Kathmandu to Dharpani. The first section of the road to Besi Sahar follows the Trishuli River on the Kathmandu Pokhara highway, soon turning northeast to follow Marsyangdi River to Besi Sahar, (760m), a long, dusty town which used to be the start of the Annapurna Circuit trek. From here we'll have a more adventurous drive up the Marsyangdi on a 4WD road to Jagat, past Chamje and on to Dharapani where you'll spend your first night in one of Nepal's famous lodges, or 'tea-houses'. Showers are solar in the Annapurna region, and it's first-come-first-serve, so wash off the dust from the drive and settle into Nepali village life with a beer. (255 km, 8+ hrs driving)

Day 4 - Trek Koto Qupar 2565m
Continuing to climb through forests of pine and oak, we pass through Danagyu before coming to a thundering waterfall, where we turn left and head up the high trail to Koto. After an hour of lovely, open forests, we reach a clearing at the top of the trail and a charming Tibetan teahouse where we will stop for a break. Pausing for breath, we can look back for views of Manaslu. An hour away is the wonderful Gurung village of Timang, where the villagers might be harvesting their crops of buckwheat or stuffing local sausages. Heading back down to the village of Koto Qupar, our base for the trek up to Nar Phu, we can look straight up at nearby Annapurna ll - a stunning sight convincing us that we are deep in the Himalayan mountains! Many of the villagers are the from Nar Phu valley. Koto is the gateway to their region, and we stay at a lovely lodge for the evening, with time to explore the village. (12 km, 5 hrs)

Day 5 - Trek Meta 3560m
This morning we head out early, a long and somewhat difficult day before us as we head north towards Nar Phu and the border of Tibet. Just past the Koto check post, we cross the river on a long suspension bridge leading to the Nar Phu valley and ascend on a lovely trail through beautiful woods above the Phu Khola (river). Continuing to climb through the forest, we emerge out of the narrow canyon, the trail passing right under a wide waterfall from which point the woods become thinner and the vistas wider. Soon afterwards we trek past several small cave shelters and a dharamsala, or pilgrims' rest house. We might camp at Dharamsala but will most likely continue on and make the steep climb up the valley along a small, scenic trail to high, grazing pastures. This is the kharka of Meta, 3560m, the non-permanent winter settlement of Nar, and we will definitely share the campsite with a few yaks and possibly some villagers. It will be a chilly night, so we'll try to get a fire going to warm up. (8 hrs)

Day 6 - Trek Kyang 3880m
Our hike today is one of the loveliest walks in the Himalayas. The landscape is similar to the Sierra Nevada; white rocks, low shrub and juniper, scattered evergreens, delicate brick-red and orange leafed bushes, crumbling shelves of flat slate, white, sandy trails and gnarled trees. The mountains around us are utterly spectacular, and the Phu Kosi shadows the trail far below. An hour past Meta, Junam is the second semi-permanent settlement, one where 'khampas' from Tibet sometimes sheltered. Above the kharka to the right looms a massive glacier, which falls jaggedly down to the high pastures above us. It's all truly amazing scenery. Across the river, the cliffs contort in swirls and waves, similar to Ladakhi landscapes. The next semi-permanent settlement is Chako, formerly a Khampa settlement, where grass lies tied in bunches to dry on all the rooftops and prayer flags flutter in the breeze. A previous year we saw a massive yak caravan from Phu pass by at Chako on their way down to Manang to re-supply, a scene from old Tibet, Many more ups and downs take us to tonight's campsite at Kyang, the extensive winter settlement of Phu, on a plateau high above the river. Kyang is a flat plateau with an extensive mani wall, about as scenic a campsite as they come with soaring cliff walls surrounding us. (5 hrs)

Day 7 - Trek Phu 4050m
Dropping steeply down to the river, we trek for a while along the river bank and past the 'submarine' rock, passing some small possible campsites along the way. Today we begin to see the unique, ochre and white chortens made of sticks, stone and mud-brick for which Nar and Phu are known. We have to rock-hop carefully across a small glacial stream before reaching a larger one with a bridge only half covered with large slabs of slate. Some large steps do the trick ...

Another hour and a half of trekking through scenic canyon lands and gorges, and the 'leaning tower of Pisa' monolith guards the steep trail up to the Phu gate, called Pupigyal Kwe. This ancient gate provides us with our first view of the three villages of Phu, as well as an old 'dzong' and the remains of two forts, all now in ruins, but impressively situated atop the flatlands before Phu. Just before the bridge to Phu, a line of wonderful chortens color the landscape and lead the way to the main village of Phu, perched high up on a hill, amphitheater style. We will set up camp on the lower reaches of Phu, formerly called Gomdzong, and head up to the famous Tashi Lhakhang Gompa on a neighboring hillside to pay our respects to Lama Karma Sonam Rimpoche, a trulku who came to Nepal with His Holiness the Dalai Lama back in '59. He is also a renowned amchi, or Tibetan doctor, as well as a thanka painter and father of several children (some trulkus as well as certain lamas are permitted to marry). Later, we might head up to the village to hunt down some chang. (4 hrs)

Day 8 - Phu
Having spent quite a few days getting to Phu, we will spend an extra day in the area to enjoy it, meet the local Phu residents and perhaps do some exploring up the wide valley systems above us. Tibet is two long days away, so a bit far for a visit, but we might walk up the valley to the summer grazing settlement, or 'kharka' at Ngoru, a three hour's walk past the gompa. For those with lots of energy, a hike towards the east through a glacial valley leads to Himlung Himal base camp, a 7125m peak recently opened for climbing. There are often expeditions climbing this peak, as well as nearby Gyanji Kang. The mountain views are tremendous.

For others, a walk west up past Phu towards the chortens on the hillside provides some incredible vistas and views down over Phu and the surrounding fields, forts, valleys and peaks. Phu itself is an incredibly interesting village, and a day is well spent sitting with the villagers as they spin their yak and sheep wool and chat, pound mustard seeds into a paste for oil, or involve themselves in the countless activities that take up a day in Tibetan villages. For photographers, the light is spectacular, and the skies a deep blue, and we may even see some blue sheep on the surrounding hillsides. A wander through the village will probably involve an invitation into someone's home for some authentic Tibetan salt butter tea, or perhaps a small glass of local 'raksi', or rice or barley liquo

Day 9 - Trek Nar 4225m
A long day to reach Nar, worth all the effort once you arrive at this timeless Tibetan village. Back through Phu gate, we descend to the river, and retrace our steps back to Junam kharka (3550m). In 2003 we camped with some Phu residents on their way back up to Phu with huge loads of planks from the nearby forests, and the evening was filled with Tibetan and Manangi songs, smoky shelters and that unique Tibetan laughter. We trek down to the old bridge spanning a deep, contoured and narrow gorge (cameras out for this crossing), and then all the way back up again. Below us sit Gyalbu Kumbum, built in 1650, and Satte gompa, both empty. We finally reach the Nar gates at the top of the hill, and pass by yet another line of wonderfully painted, bamboo-topped chortens and a large tiered chorten before turning the corner and being rewarded with sublime views of Nar, the undulating patterns of the surrounding barley, potato and mustard fields, four old, colorful and traditional gompas and the snow-peaks looming overhead. We arrive early, so will have some lunch in the sun before doing some exploring.

Physically, Nar is not far from the main Annapurna trail, but it feels centuries away and is about as picturesque as they come. Nar is bit more social and lively than Phu, and the village 'square' is full of chatting women with their back-strap looms weaving wool fabric for rugs and blankets, pounding mustard seeds for oil, or spinning the ubiquitous wool while catching up on the news. The children in Nar seem to be always out in the streets, presumably preferring this life to the classroom! Each family in Nar seems to have at least one son or daughter in a gompa, and many live at home or visit frequently, so there is the resonating sound of cymbals, chanting and drums echoing throughout the village. Other Nar villagers may be printing prayer flags, doing some carpentry, collecting wood from the forest and carrying large loads with a head-strap back up to the house, harvesting the crops, tending the yaks, sheep and goats or spinning the prayer wheels in the center of town. Climb the prayer-flag festooned hill above Nar for wonderful views, or sit at our lovely guest house overlooking the whole scene in the sun, sheltered from the chilling and ever-present afternoon winds. It is a good day to try some local buckwheat pancakes or 'dhiro'.

The people of sell their yaks to the Manangis, who in turn sell them to butchers for meat. The yak tails are sold to Hindus, and the skins are kept and used. Locally, they sell butter, dry cheese (churpi) and hand-woven blankets. The traders who go to Kathmandu often trade the butter and cheese for wheat and buckwheat, some of which they again sell in Manang. The blankets are sold for cash. In the winter, the Nar-pa often travel to Kathmandu and the Lamjung villages to sell traditional medicinal herbs and juniper, and lamas sell their services. Once they have cash in hand, they stock up on essentials such as chili for the winter. (7 hrs

Day 10 - Nar
An extra day in wonderful Nar, visiting with the ethnically Tibetan locals, watching the weaving, grinding mustard grain for oil, the planting or harvesting, and the elder locals counting their Buddhist prayer beads as they do their koras of the village. Have a wander down to the village gompas, or up to any of the many viewpoints north of the village, and enjoy the opportunity for some real immersion into this unique Tibetan culture

Day 11 - Trek Ngawal (cross Kang La 5305m)
A spectacular pass day, leaving Nar Phu and crossing the Kang La pass back to the Annapurna circuit, leaving Nar before the sun rises as it's a long day to Ngawal village. The ascent 1000+ meter ascent to the pass is challenging but worth the efforts for the incredible views from the top of the pass; the Annapurna range stretches ahead, a sublime site. The descent is very steep on a switchbacking trail of loose scree, and can be slippery if there is snow on the pass. Once down the initial steep descent, the trail descends more gradually on rolling hills, and soon the airport of Thongde, and then Ngawal, come into view.

Ngawal is a wonderful, old village of cobbled streets, prayer wheels, decorative water-spouts and beautiful architecture, obviously a hub of religious activity in previous times. (8 - 9 hrs)

Day 12 - Trek Manang 3500m
An easy day after yesterday's challenging crossing of the Kang La pass! Leaving Ngawal though the exit chorten, we contour around a hillside as we descend gradually, heading north on a two hour walk through open forest to Braga, an old Tibetan style village of about 150 partially deserted houses. We have time to explore the old village of Braga, with the wonderful Braga Gompa perched colorfully above the stacked houses. The monastery has an elaborate collection of thangkas and statues, and it is worth finding the key-keeper to open the assembly hall and ‘lha khangs’ for us. Braga also has an impressive collection of traditional architectural details, so keep your eyes open for beautifully carved wooden windows and doors. The prayer wheels and chorten at the foot of Braga are particularly brightly painted.

From Braga, continue to hike for 20 minutes, past a series of unique and colorful chortens to Manang, a village of 500 or so flat-roofed houses, the headquarters for the region, and an interesting village packed with trekkers, bakeries and lodges. Manang is dominated by high peaks, towered over by Annapurna lll and Gangapurna with the Gangapurna Glacier across the Marsyangdi. There is an old gompa on the edge of town, many local teahouses, and some atmospheric, winding streets in the village leading out toward the Thorung La. We spend the night at Tashi Ghale + his wife Ongmo's Mountain View Lodge. Tashi is a world renown snow leopard, wildlife and mountain photographer. Visit his website, Tales Beyond the Mountain.

There is a 3 o'clock lecture on altitude by the Himalayan Rescue Association for anyone interested, a worthwhile way to spend the afternoon. (2 - 3 hrs)

Day 13 - Manang
An acclimatization day in wonderful Manang, with many options. Tashi can also offer suggestions as he's explored every meter of this incredible region.
OPTIONS: A long day-hike to the Ice Lake, a visit to the 'Hundred Ruppee Lama' at the cave gompa above Manang, a two-hour hike to Milarepa's cave across the river from Braga, the HRA talk, or a tour of Manang's many bakeries. A hike up 300 meters or so for acclimatization is recommended, but nothing too strenuous is required. The guest house is wonderful, a sunny and warm place to gaze at the peaks in the afternoon.
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Optional Tilicho Lake Trek | 2 - 3 Days

Trek Tilicho Base Camp
Today's trek is about six hours; from Manang, we cross to the east side of the Marsyangdi River and then head into the 'interior' of the Annapurna circuit to Tilicho Base Camp. In the morning, we will take the three hour walk out to Tilicho Lake itself.

Trek to Tilicho Lake. Return to Mid-Camp, Khangsar or Manang
We start early for the three hour walk out to the spectacular Tilicho Lake; it can be cold and windy, so dress warmly. We'll return to 'base camp' for lunch, and then return to either Mid-Camp, Manang or Khangsar from where there is an intersecting trail back to the Annapurna Circuit.
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Day 14 - Trek Ledar 4300m
It's not a long day but we do gain altitude so will hike slowly and enjoy the world-class scenery! En route, we will undoubtedly be passed along the trail by galloping Manangi horses, saddled with wonderful (and expensive) Tibetan wool saddle blankets, and their jubilant Manangi riders, bells jingling as they gallop by. Keep an eye out for herds of blue sheep, actually wild mountain goats, in the craggy hills above the trails. This is also classic snow leopard territory!

Climb past Tengi and Gunsang to Yak Kharka, where you'll stop for lunch at one of the lodges, and then continut another 45 minutes to arrive in tiny Ledar, where you stay at an alpine-style guest house with views to match. Rest up! (11 km, 5 hrs)

Day 15 - Trek Thorung Phedi 4535m or High Camp 4885m
A deceptively challenging hike through increasingly tundra-like landscapes, heading towards Tibetan territory! You're headed to Thorung Phedi (often called Thorung Base Camp) where you'll arrive in time for lunch. Depending on the group's acclimatization rate you may opt to stay lower at Thorung Phedi. If everyone is feeling okay, you can hike the hour and a half (maximum) and 300 meters up to Thorung Phedi High Camp, worth the effort for the spectacular sunsets and easier day tomorrow.

Either way, you will be in bed early after dinner for an early morning start for tomorrow's crossing of the Thorung La pass (5415m). Again, if anyone  has any problems at this altitude it's an easy hike back down to Base Camp, where you stay at a nice lodge to with sun, glass windows and with occasional blue sheep sightings. (7 km BC, 8 km HC, 3 1/2 - 5 hrs)

Day 16 - Trek to Muktinath 3800m (cross Thorung La 5415m) or Jharkot 3535m
Up early for the three or four hour walk to the top of the Thorung La at 5400m, where we are treated with spectacular views over Mustang and the surrounding peaks. The descent is almost as demanding as the ascent to the top of the pass, so a cup of chai and a snack at the local tea house at Chabarbu, at the bottom of the descent, is a required stop. And on to lower Mustang, which we have actually reached just after the pass, and the serene temple complex of Muktinath.

Muktinath is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus situated in a tranquil grove of trees, and contains a wall of 108 waterspouts in the shape of cows heads spouting sacred water, the Jwala Mai temple with a perpetual spouting flame and the pagoda-styled Vishnu Mandir, all of which make up the auspicious combination of earth, fire and water. We stay just five minutes down the trail from Muktinath at Ranipauwa.

NOTE: Generally we suggest continuing half and hour+ down the trail to more scenic Jarkhot as Muktinath can be a bit overwhelming with all the new Hindu pilgrims, who come by road to visit Muktinath. Jharkot is a more traditional Mustangi village, bustling and incredibly beautiful in the evening light. (14-16 km, 7-9 hrs)

Day 17 - Trek Kagbeni 2800m + Jomsom 2720m
Today's lovely trek heads south through traditional Mustangi villages where you'll find local apples in the Autumn and watch the traditional back-loom weaving techniques being practiced by the local women. If you're stopped at Muktinath, half an hour down the trail, Jharkot is an old Mustangi village with a medieval atmosphere, a Shakya gompa which is a traditional medicine center and incredibly photogenic whitewashed houses and streets. Further along the trail at Khingar, we might visit the local school. The scenery is truly wonderful: soft light, patchworks of fields, peaks overhead, villagers out plowing the fields, horses tethered next to the houses, and apple trees providing texture to the landscape.

After a steep descent, we reach the windy Kali Gandaki (called the Thak Khola by the locals) river valley where it intersects the Jhong Khola, and the last village in lower Mustang, the atmospheric oasis of Kagbeni. The mud-packed houses, prayer wheels, narrow, stone streets, covered alleyways, chortens and old brick-hued gompa dominating the village and guarding the river intersections are reminiscent of old Mustang, and those who wanted to venture further can wander across the river to the Mustangi villages officially off limits but easily accessible. At the Trekker's Lodge in the lower section of Jomsom near the airport hot showers await. Stick your heads out of your rooms to see the sunrise on Niligiri before breakfast. Himalayan sunrises and sunsets are one of the many things that remind us of why we've come all this way, and endured these hard, cold trekking days!

NOTE: You have the option to skip Kagbeni and trek directly to Jomsom, or to hire a jeep for any portion of this hike

Day 18 - Fly Pokhara + Kathmandu
The end of an amazing trek, and an equally impressive exit as we fly by Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna range to reach Pokhara, where we transfer to a flight to Kathmandu. Back in Kathmandu, our rooms are waiting for us at the Kathmandu Guest House, hot showers being the first order of the afternoon!

NOTE: In the case of flight cancellation out of Jomsom, we'll pay for the rooms and everyone will be responsible for their own meals as if in Kathmandu.

Day 19 - Trip Ends
We send you off to the airport for your flight home.

NOTE: Unless you have flexible flights we strongly suggest you add at least one, and perhaps two days in Kathmandu at the end of the trek that allow for possible flight delays in getting out of Jomsom.

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Extensions

Poon Hill + Gandruk Trek
Accompanied by views of Annapurna South, Machhapuchhre, Hiunchuli and Lamjung Himal, we trek in the heart of the Annapurna circuit. From Deurali, the amazing mountain views begin, and we contour through traditional villages to reach the bustling Gurung villages of Landruk and Gandruk. At Poon Hill, near Ghorepani, we are treated to a 360-degree sunrise Himalayan panorama. Back down through golden, terraced villages dominated by Machhapuchhre, the 'Fish Tailed' mountain, we continue to hike through Ulleri to the end of the circuit at Naya Pul and drive to Pokhara.

This is a classic tea-house trek run in our special Kamzang-style; instead of camping out in the cold, we enjoy the dining-room stoves and famed hospitality of the local people of the Annapurna region, our gear is carried by porters, and we have local guides to explain the various cultures, mountains and sights to us along the way.

Finishing back in Kathmandu, it's been a wonderful journey through diverse regions and landscapes of one of the most spectacular regions of the Himalaya!
Annapurna Peaks + Villages Trek | Poon Hill - Nepal

Chitwan National Park | Wildlife Safari Extension
Optional Trip from Pokhara
Enjoy a visit to Chitwan National Park, staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge, owned and operated by the Kathmandu Guest House. Chitwan is home to the Bengal Tiger and Asian one-horned Rhino as well as a large variety of rare bird and wildlife, and a lovely national park surrounded by traditional Tharu villages. If you have an extra day on hand we will adjust so that you have time to sit on the breezy deck with a book, rent bikes to explore the traditional thatched hut Tharu villages, where water buffaloes laze under tropical skies. Or to continue with the river paddles, spotting more varieties of Kingfishers.
Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages

Kathmandu | Optional Sightseeing Tour Bhaktapur
One more day in Kathmandu, with a sightseeing excursion by private vehicle to Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur which translates as 'Place of Devotees’ and is also known as Bhadgaon, is an ancient Newar city approximately 15 kilometers east of the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is one of three ancient capitals of the Kathmandu valley, the capital of the Newar Kingdom and a city of artisans and craftspeople famous for its art and architecture: intricate carvings, sculptures, paintings, thankas, pottery, statues and temples, or pagodas. Bhaktapur has a well-preserved ‘durbar square’, or palace square, and has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO because of its incredible temples, pagodas, wood carvings, stone carvings and metalwork. Bhaktapur is also famous for its yogurt, called curd in Asia, a taste which hasn’t been duplicated anywhere.

Spend a full day exploring Bhaktapur and its rich cultural heritage, where a majority of enthnic Newaris live in traditional ways, and life seems to stand still. There are many great restaurants and cafes to rejuvenate, and it's possibly the best spot in Kathmandu for purchasing a thanka after watching the technique, as well as shopping for endless other locally produced crafts. Bhaktapur is home to countless local festivals, so if you are lucky and arrive on a festival day, enjoy the timeless and colorful events unfold.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Bhaktapur (+$100)

Kathmandu | Optional Patan Sightseeing Tour
Visit the third of Kathmandu's ancient capitals, known as 'The City of Fine Arts', best if you have an extra day in hand as Patan is also rich in cultural heritage, has many lovely roof-top cafes for lunch and world-class museums. Some of the highlights of Patan are its Durbar Square, the Krishna Temple within the palace complex of Patan (entirely made of stone, with 21 distinctive spires), and Hiranya Varna Mahavir, or the Golden Buddha Temple.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Patan (+$50)

Option | Everest Sightseeing Flight
An hour long extravaganza of the world's 8000 meter peaks, including airport transfers. (+$270)

Option | Extra Days at Shivapuri Heights Cottages
A wonderful get away 20 km north of Kathmandu, Shivapuri Heights Cottages are stylishly designed and personal cottages built around a 'common house', where you can breakfast overlooking the stunningly beautiful Kathmandu valley. Massages available on request. (+$)

Option | Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley
Many options for day trips, or extended trips, in the Kathmandu Valley. We can customize a cycling trip for you in partnership with one of our knowledgeable partners in Kathmandu. (+$)

Namaste & Tashi Delek!

© Kim Bannister

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