The ‘Lamjung Himal Trek’ is one of the most recommended trekking routes by travelers; defining it as an easily accessible trek from Kathmandu, but yet equally rewarding with spectacular views of Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Himalchuli and the ranges of Annapurna. Lamjung Himal trek to the non-touristy region offers great opportunities to explore unspoiled wilderness and culture of the ethnic groups. The trek spans over 4,000 meters above the Marshyangdi gorge and truly near the Lamjung Himal. We begin the trek with a bus drive of a few hours to Besisahar, headquarter of the ‘Lamjung’ district. The trek interestingly passes through the traditional Gurung villages of ‘Ghalegaun’, ‘Ghan Pokhara’ and ‘Sikles’, that makes the trek quite enriching culturally.
Lamjung Himal Trek offers an impressive view of north central Himalaya of Nepal. The journey traverses 4000m above the Marshyangdi George and quite near Lamjung Himal. Between Kathmandu and Pokhara there are three major groups of peaks; Ganesh Himal, Manaslu, Himal Chuli. Lamjung Himal Base Camp Trek is suggested by many trekkers which is at a convenient distance from capital city Kathmandu. This trek is famous for village life, Tamang and Gurung culture, lush green forests, terraced farm lands and soaring Lamjung Himal with giant Annapurna Mountains. Manaslu west face and Peak 29 (Ngadi Chuli) adds more attraction on this trek. This beautiful trek commences from Besi Sahar through the beautiful villages of Ghale Gaun, Bhujung, Ghanpokhara, and towards Sikles Village is possible but knowledge of local guides is important.
It usually takes an hour or so to clear the Kathmandu city limits, climbing to cross the rim of the Kathmandu Valley at around 2000 metres elevation and then descending on a switch-back road with views of snow-capped peaks to the north if the conditions are clear. You will have at least one ‘comfort’ stop to stretch your legs and then, after 3 hours or so, you will reach the town of Mugling which is the best place to stop for an early lunch at a roadside restaurant.
This is my first chance to sample the Nepali staple of dal bhat (rice and dal) usually served with spicy vegetable or meat curry. Soon after leaving Mugling, you will reach the small town of Dumre, beside the Marsyangdi River. Here, we will turn north on a smaller road which follows the river and we reach your lodge accommodation at Besisahar after a total of 6 or 7 hours of driving. Besisahar used to be the starting point for the classic Annapurna Circuit trek, but nowadays the jeep road continues much further northwards.
You will set off directly from your lodge, walking away from the river and beginning a steady ascent that will take us most of the morning. You will pass through the outskirts of Besisahar and through an area of picturesque, terraced farmland. To begin with the chief crop is rice, but this will change to millet and barley as we go higher.There will be lots of opportunity to interact with local people, villagers and farmers and schoolchildren – school usually starts around 10am in rural Nepal.
After 45 minutes or so, you will pass a monastery and, looking back, you can see that we are already high up above the river and the views are starting to open out. With one of the Sherpas setting an easy pace, you will continue to your first camping place of the trip on a rough area of grass on a ridge close to the small village of Baglung Pani (1650m).
You should reach this camp by shortly after midday. The Sherpas will set up your tents (if they haven’t already) and the cook crew will provide you with a refreshing juice drink. Lunch will be served in the mess tent and the remainder of the afternoon is free to enjoy the magnificent views of Annapurna South, Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail), the Annapurnas 2 and 4, Lamjung Himal (6983m), Manaslu (8163m), Himal Chuli and Baudha Himal. Baglung Pani is a small ridge-top settlement, with a few shops, a couple of basic lodges, a school and a health post. High up, amongst scattered forest and farmed land, we are already a long way from the regular trekking trails.
This part of Nepal is home to people of the Gurung ethnic group, who are of Tibetan descent and are believed to have migrated into Nepal in the 6th century. Gurkha soldiers serving in the British Army have traditionally been recruited from amongst the Gurung people. The route today mostly follows an undulating jeep track (no traffic) along the ridge, heading northwards and then zig-zagging uphill to reach the larger settlement of Ghalegaun (2030m) which is one of a number of centres for wild honey gathering in Nepal. Diverting onto village paths wherever you can, you are surrounded by quite lush vegetation at times and the walking has a quite ‘jungly’ feel to it.
You will pass through several small hamlets with traditional Gurung houses and local people tending their water buffalo, goats and chickens. After the steady 1-hour ascent to Ghalegaun you will stop for an early lunch, with views of Lamjung Himal, Manaslu, Peak 29, Baudha Himal and Himal Chuli. After lunch, you can have a walk around the village and check out its orderly orange and white-painted houses as well as the local Hindu temple, before continuing our trek along the broad ridge for about an hour to Ghanpokhara (2200m). Here, you will leave the jeep road behind, as it heads down into the valley to the west, to the large Gurung village of Bhujung. You will follow the ridge northwards from here.
Today, you will leave the villages and farmed land behind as you follow the ridge of the Telbrung Danda generally northwards and with the twin summits of Lamjung Himal ahead of you. This is a great day of walking through a landscape that mixes open, scrubby rhododendron forest, with some stands of bigger, old-growth trees and clearings known as kharkas where the local people graze their livestock during the monsoon months.
To begin with your walk is gradually uphill for around 3 hours or so until you reach an isolated shepherd’s shelter where the cook crew will prepare lunch. After lunch, there are some steeper sections of walking and you can now, once again, see Manaslu and Himal Chuli away to the north-east. Your overnight camp is at Bhaisi Kharka (2850m), a name which means buffalo pasture. There are a few temporary shepherd’s huts in this clearing in the forest and it makes a great place to camp with views of Himal Chuli and Bhauda Himal. It is evident very few trekkers come this way. There are no tea-houses now, nor any evidence of previous trekking campsites.
After an hour of walking on a shepherds’ trail through forest on the east side of the ridge, you will reach a clearing at a crest where the views open out in all directions. To the north, you can see the ridge-line of the Telbrung Danda which appears to lose itself among a collection of enticing rocky hills that make up the Rambrong Danda, a higher ridge which is orientated east to west. Following the ridge on a switchback trail, you can gain height steadily then more gradually through a forest of tall rhododendrons interspersed with mixed deciduous trees and some bamboo.
Where the forest clears the panorama of peaks extends all the way from Machhapuchhre in the west to Himal Chuli and Bhauda Himal in the east. You are carrying a packed lunch (as there is nowhere with reliable water on today’s route) and you will find a suitably scenic place to stop to eat it. Above the tree-line, the final hour of walking leads to camp at the place we call Rambrong Low Basecamp (3765m). This is a superb camping place on an open ridge with views in all directions. Beyond the deep valley of the Marsyangdi River, the triple peaks of Manaslu, Peak 29 and Himal Chuli are prominent to the east and north-east, whilst ahead of us, to the north, you can see the low summits of the Rambrong Danda, with Lamjung Himal and Annapurna II rising up beyond.
Your next camping place, known as Rambrong Basecamp (3850m) is just a short distance away and to reach it involves following a rocky trail around the head of the valley to the west of the Telbrung Danda. There is evidence in the form of old stone steps that these trails were possibly more often used in the past by pilgrims en route to holy lakes such as Dudh Pokhari near the Namun La. While the trek crew will go directly to camp, you will take a diversion from the head of the valley and up onto the Rambrong Danda.
Taking a picnic lunch and following scant trails, steep in places, you will aim to get to the viewpoint known as Rambrong West Summit (4500m) which looks out across a small mountain lake towards the Annapurnas. The views from here are amazing; extending from Machhapuchhre to Annapurna 2, Annapurna 4, Lamjung Himal, Manaslu and Himal Chuli to name only the most prominent. After spending some time in this remote and rarely-visited spot, you will drop back down to your highest and wildest camping place of the holiday at Rambrong Basecamp. You should reach camp by mid-afternoon.
Walking out from this remote spot you still have 3 great days of trekking before you reach the villages in the valley of the Madi Nadi which flows southwards from Annapurna 2. On this first day, you walk generally downhill through mixed rhododendron, berberis, bamboo and juniper forest. Beyond the open grazing area at Bheda Kharka, you will climb up amongst rhododendrons and other tree species to reach our camp on the ridge of the Karpu Danda. You will reach camp at lunchtime and have the afternoon free to enjoy the great views of Machhapuchhre and the Annapurnas which are particularly impressive as the sun sets. This is the place known as Haju Dobato (3420m).
Another great and not-too-challenging morning’s walk on an undulating ridge. The ridge-top trail takes you through areas where there are rhododendron trees, as well as more open areas. The trail trends downhill to a junction with the Karpu Danda which you will now follow, with great views and photo opportunities in all directions; behind you to the Annapurna Massif and eastwards to Manaslu. You will camp at Deurali (3000m) , a grazing area in the forest.
After a short section along the ridge, you will begin your descent westwards into the deep valley of the Madi Nadi. The upper slopes of the valley are thickly forested and the trail winds its way down, down, down with stone steps in places. After 3 hours or so you will reach the first of the terraced farmland, high above the valley floor, then continue your descent on village trails to the pleasant Gurung village of Tanting (1650m), where you will set up your final camp of the holiday. Lunch at camp and most of the afternoon free to stroll amongst the traditional houses of the village, whilst admiring the views northwards to Lamjung Himal and Annapurna 2.
You will gear up for a final short stage of trekking on a mix of old trail and new jeep track. Walking down to the roadhead, you will pass through rich farmland, with scattered farms and plenty of opportunity to meet the friendly local people. There are still relatively few outside visitors to this part of Nepal and you can expect a warm welcome and a cheerful ‘namaste’ from everyone that you meet.
At Tantingbesi, we say goodbye to your trek crew and board our transport for the short drive to Nepal’s second city of Pokhara. Arriving in Pokhara, you will check in at your comfortable hotel close to Phewa Tal. After a shower and clean-up, we will have some free time to wander by the lake or to sit in the garden of one of the excellent lakeside restaurants and admire the view of the Annapurnas. Compared to Kathmandu, Pokhara is a very laid-back town and is the perfect place to relax at the end of your trek.
It is time to bid farewell to the Pokhara valley and take a bus ride back to the Kathmandu valley. You can enjoy the beautiful landscapes, river valleys and clear sky through the window of the bus before reaching the city.
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