Mardi Himal Trek is a short trek in Annapurna region of Nepal. This is new trek route, officially opened in 2012, in Annapurna region and has less trekkers compared to other famous trek, leaving yourself completely immersed into the nature while trekking. Within few days of starting our journey from city, we find ourself in the lap of amazing mountains of Himalayas including Mt. Macchapucchre (Mt. Fishtail), Mt. Annapurna South, Mt. Dhaulagiri – Seventh highest mountain in the world, and many others Himalayan peak.
For the mid-year festival break of October – 2018, we planned a trekking to the Mardi Himal. We chose this trek as our second trek to Himalayas because it lies inside the famous Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), which has world famous trekking routes including Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and Annapurna Circuit Trek. Besides Everest Region, ACAP region is second most visited region in the country. We wanted to be up-close with the beautiful Fishtail Mountain.
Relatively new and lesser known trek in Annapurna region that has few people on the route. Trail provides the panoramic views of the Annapurna region including Mt. Macchapucchre (Mt. Fishtail), Mt. Annapurna South, Mt. Dhaulagiri and villages of Pokhara. The last point of the trek – Mardi Himal Base Camp – is at 4500m (14,800ft), but most people end their trek at the Mardi Himal View Point (4450m).
We took first micro bus for the day to Pokhara from New Buspark at Kathmandu (around 6:00 AM). After we reached Pokhara Bus Park, we reserved a taxi to Dhampus. Dhampus is beautiful hill station in Pokhara which is famous for viewing Annapurna mountain range. We reached Dhampus at around 3:00 PM. We decided to hike furthur more to Pothana (1950m).
We started our hike early after our morning tea at around 6:30 AM. There is a long walk through the forest, it will take some hikers whole day just to cross the forest, some even spent a night in the middle of forest at the place called Forest camp (What a unique name!). There are few teahouse lodges in the Forest Camp – altitude: 2450m. We had a strong team, we reached forest camp early around 11:00 AM. With no stoppage point until we crossed the forest, we decided to have lunch there. After lunch and rest, we continued our journey. After the forest ends, there are few teahouses at Low Camp (2950m). We initially had planned to stay here for the night.
While having tea there, local people and trekking guides encouraged us to reach the High Camp (3550m) as they were impressed by our hiking stamina 😀 . Teahouse owner even told us that he would help us to book a room at the High Camp. High Camp being the last settlement in the trail and only 3 hrs away from our point, we decided to push ourself. After few hours of trekking we reached Badal danda and from that point trees started to disapear and high altitude vegatation started. The trail now goes through high ridges and it significantly reduced our speed. The ridge were small and recently carved and below it were steep gorges, it is very hard for people having fear of extreme heights like me 🙁 It took us more than planned 3 hours to reach High Camp. As promised, we had our rooms there. We enjoyed our evening there and went to the room after dinner.
We started our trek at very early around 5:00 AM so as to reach View Point (4450m) during sunrise. During our conversation at the High Camp yesterday, I had told that ridges were very frightening, the local teahouse owners and guides had warned me that is nothing compared to trail to Upper viewpoint. We continued our trekking with mobile phones light and indeed the trail was very frightening. Yesterday ridges were mostly horizontal with consistent ascent. Now, ridges towards View Point were of steep ascent and some point you have to use your both hands and feets to climb up. I was very much frightened and it still is one of the most frightening memories of my life. It took us more than 2.5 hrs to reach the View Point.
The scene were spectacular. You have the 180 degree view of Annapurna Mountain Range. Mt. Macchpuchre (6993m) feels like it is at touching distance. I was infront of the Mt. Annapurna South (7,219 m) and Mt. Hiunchuli (6441m). In the distance, there were Mt. Dhaulagiri (8,167 m) and many beautiful mountains. We stayed there for about an hour and the panoramic views of mountains were very very beautiful.
We returned from there at around 9:00 AM and reached to the High Camp. We had tea at High Camp and continued our journey of returning back. We were told that there is another way of returning though Sidhing. We planned to use that route as it will make our returing journey much unique than to return the same way where we had come here. Sidhing is a village in Kaski district just like Dhampus. While returning back we had our lunch at Badal Danda and we bought some Yak Cheese there. I think they sold us a normal cheese in the name of Yak Cheese 🙁 We reached Sidhing at 4:00 PM. We reserved a jeep from there to Pokhara. While returning back, we befriended with the driver and he happily arranged a Guest house at Pokhara. We reached Pokhara at around 8:00 PM.
It was a festival season through out Nepal and my group members were from different part of the country. We were 5 people and I was only one to return to Kathmandu. So, with no hurry to return back, I bought a ticket to Kathmandu of a night bus. For the day, I decided to explore the famous three lakes of Pokhara namely Fewa; Begnas and Rupa Lake.