From the beautiful Annapurna Mountains to the rich ethnic Rai and Limbu culture. The Mardi Himal Trek via Poon Hill is the best short trek of the Annapurna region. The Mardi Himal lies east of the Annapurnas Base camp. It presents the best features and regional attributes of the remote zone of the Annapurna. This trek is a beautiful balance between a commercial trekking hub and isolated areas. This hike takes a different approach to the regular trekking journey. Correspondingly, it takes trekkers to the famous vantage point of Poon Hill. The panoramic views of the majestic mountains from Poon Hill are simply magnificent.
The Mardi Himal Trek is a new route that has only been open to international travellers since 2012. This trek offers you the majestic and stunning views of the Annapurna Ranges without the crowds of the people. This is an unforgettable adventure that takes you through verdant jungles, across swiftly flowing rivers of glacial melt water, and through pastoral settlements populated by diverse groups of people representing Nepal’s many different ethnicities. The trail criss-crosses its way beneath the unmistakable fishtail- shaped summit of Machhapuchhre as it ascends to high pastures, marvellous mountain vantage points and quiet guesthouses catering to travellers seeking the path less travelled. This combination of accessibility, natural grandeur and cultural authenticity makes the Mardi Himal trek a true hidden gem that’s just waiting to be discovered.
Similarly, another major highlight of the trek is the ethnic village of Ghorepani. As such, Poon Hill has earned its fame as one of the best vantage points in the country because it presents panoramic views of the entire Annapurna massif. Moreover, the view of the rising sun from Poon Hill amidst the mountains is a phenomenon indescribable in words. It is something that should not be missed. Similarly, along with the pristine natural beauty, this adventure also presents a myriad of villages occupied by the ethnic Rai, Magar and Limbu people. It is a great way to experience the diverse culture of the Himalayan people. Mani stone walls, chortens and colorful prayer flags line the trekking path. Furthermore, mountain peaks like the Machhapuchhre, Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna range contrast the natural beauty of the Himalayan foothills and green hemlocks.
Additionally, the Mardi Himal trek via Poonhill begins from the tourist hub of the country- Pokhara city. At the city, trekkers can enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the beautiful Phewa Lake as well. This is a moderate trekking journey. To boot, trekkers do not need prior experience to do the adventure. The adventure of Mardi Himal Trek via Poon Hill is a journey that will forever stay in the minds for years.
The journey starts from the Kathmandu valley from where the bus ride of about 5 to 6 hours will take you to the beautiful city of Pokhara. Through this ride travellers can enjoy the scenic views of beautiful river valleys, alongside terraced fields of barley and rice and over green hills blanketed with lush vegetation. When you arrive at the Pokhara valley there you will witness the beautiful lakes, hills and mountain ranges. The travellers will enjoy the evening here and stay here for a night.
The travellers will begin their day with the ride from Pokhara to Nayapul. After a short walk along the banks of the Modi Khola, you will reach Birethanti, a large village with many shops and teahouses. From here, the trail continues through the village and follows the north bank of the Bhurungdi Khola. The path climbs steadily up the side of the valley to Hille at 1495 metres and after a short climb you will reach Tikhedhunga at 1570 metres. This trek is relatively short and easy, a prelude to the trekking experience in the Annapurna region.
From Tikhedhunga the trail crosses a stream on a suspension bridge near the campsite at Tikhedhunga. The trail ascends a steep stone staircase (which has about 3300 steps) to the large Magar village of Ulleri at 2080m. Above the village, the trail climbs gently through pastures and cultivated fields. The trail crosses two beautiful and clear streams before making a short and final climb to the Nangethanti. Thanthi is the Nepali word meaning ”rest house”. During the winter season you can experience the trail covered with the white and soft snow. From Nangethanti you will continue your climb towards the Ghorepani at 2850 metres from here you can indulge yourself in the spectacular panoramic views of Dhaulagiri I, Nilgiri, Annapurna I, Himchuli and more.
The trek starts early in the morning and you will continue to hike towards the Poon Hill 3210 metres. From here you will see a superb view of the sunrise and panoramic view of the Himalaya, including Mt Dhaulagiri, Mt Annapurna South, Mt Fishtail and others. Further, you will continue to descend to Ghorepani and trek towards the Tadapani.
From Tadapani, the trekking trail zig-zags its way through thick rhododendron woodlands and oak and maple trees. It is here that the regular trekking trail is discarded and instead a less-trodden rail is taken up. The vegetation becomes very verdant and the environment very peaceful and isolated. All the while, the Annapurna Mountains loom down against the skyline. Eventually, you will reach Ghandruk. From here, another small village is passed, called Phedi, and crossing the Modi River, the small village of Landruk is finally reached.
From Landruk, it is a steady ascent through hamlets of pine and juniper to Forest Camp. The views of the mountain peaks become more prominent along the journey. Forest camp has a sparse scattering of basic lodges and is very peaceful and isolated.
From Forest camp, you will follow the trekking trail along moss and lichen covered woods to Low Camp. The terrain is mostly filled with rhododendron bushes and the horizon is decorated with awe-inspiring views of the Annapurna, Machhapuchhre and Dhaulagiri Mountain Peaks. Like Forest Camp, Low Camp also has few basic lodges, and the panoramic view of the Himalayan valley accompanies the scene.
An hour or so above Low Camp, the trail breaks out above the treeline. Towards the west- there is a good view of the Annapurna South and the Hiunchuli Himal. The trail continues along the Mardi Himal ridge, ornamented with isolated rhododendron bushes along the way. You can look out for the colorful Danphe pheasants along the trail. The lodge at High Camp is larger than lodges at Low Camp and Forest Camp; the view from the lodge is also very breath-taking, as the Annapurna South, Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) looms overhead.
After an early breakfast, you will walk up the ridge towards Mardi Himal. There is a well-established trail through the grass with a couple of steeper sections. It is a bit difficult, however, overall, it is not too challenging. Here, dzos (yak/ cow cross breeds) tend to graze in the beautiful pastures. In the summer, the sheep and goats from lower villages are brought up to graze in this area, so you will likely pass a number of herder’s huts along the way. After three hours, you should reach the Upper View point at 4,200m; this is where one can look into the Annapurna Sanctuary. The panoramic view is spectacular; the south face of Annapurna and all of the peaks in the Sanctuary as well as Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) stand magnificently looking down on the sanctuary.
On the return trek, you will take a different route, thus completing a circuit. From Low Camp, there is a trail that goes down to the siding village, and we shall take this path rather than going back down to Kokar. Siding is a traditional Nepalese village and still is very isolated and hidden away from the busier tourist treks. It is likely you will stay at a home in Siding owned by the person who runs one of the lodges at Low Camp.
From Siding, you will walk out to the road head at Lumre; on the way from Siding you will pass the villages of Kalimati and Ghalel. Kalimati is mainly a Brahmin village, while Ghalel and Siding both being a mix of Brahmin and Gurung. At Lumre, you will meet your jeep organized by your travel agency in advance to drive you back to Pokhara.
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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