Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Please arrive by 2 pm today as there will be an important group briefing. Kathmandu, the colourful capital of Nepal, is a fascinating blend of traditional architecture and symbols of the 20th century. Its rich artistic and cultural heritage is evident where ornately carved balconies mingle with beautiful shrines and temples. If you arrive early, why not check out Durbar Square with its temples, markets and busy atmosphere. It is also worth the climb to visit the Swayambhunath – the 'monkey temple'. Explore the network of street markets and alley bazaars and Pashupatinath. For those with a few extra days in Kathmandu, the neighbouring towns of Patan and Bhaktapur are also well worth a visit.
This morning, drive to Besisahar (approximately 5.5 hours) to immediately immerse yourself in the spectacular mountain wilderness that encompasses the Annapurna Range. After lunch you'll begin your trek straight away, heading to Ngadi. Hit the trail that takes you through Besisahar bazaar leading downstream, followed by a climb up the rocky steps. There are several ups and downs as the trail makes its way through sub-tropical forests and rice paddies of Sera. Further along, traverse a suspension bridge across Khudi Khola and arrive at Bhulbule. Resume on the trail that passes the Marshyangdi River on a long suspension bridge as Bhulbule is left behind.
Once the Ngadi River is crossed, the trail gently leads upwards through scrub forests and across landslides for a short distance, which then leads to few teashops and cold-drink stalls located opposite the rice paddies of Lampata, eventually leading to Bahundanda (hill of the Brahmins) – a charming village in the saddle of a long ridge. At 8091 m, Annapurna I is one of the highest mountains in the world. Its surrounding sister mountains are equally imposing, creating magnificent panoramas from any viewpoint. Throughout this trip's trekking you'll come across isolated mountain communities, each with different ancestral customs and traditions, meaning a visually and culturally memorable expedition. You'll meet warm and welcoming locals herding yaks and goats on the grassy pastures and visit their monasteries and temples, pass waterfalls of melted snow, cross icy rivers, walk along broad plains and hike up high mountain passes. Driving duration: Approximately 5 hours Trek duration: Approximately 3.5 hours Elevation: 1400 metres
3 Chamje (1430m / 4691ft)
Keep an eye out for dazzling cascades en route as the trail makes its way through a deep wooded canyon with a few stretches of steep climbing. Wander through rice paddies, follow winding trails through sub-tropical forest, cross suspension bridges swaying over raging rivers, pass waterfalls of melted snow and climb steep mountain passes. Over the next ten days you'll come across isolated mountain communities, each with different ancestral customs and traditions. Be prepared to be inspired, mesmerised, challenged and delighted. Trek duration: Approximately 6 hours
4 Dharapani (2100m / 6889ft)
Today's trek continues through the deep wooded canyon embellished by stunning waterfalls. You'll be venturing into the Manang district of the mountain range, with much of the trail ascending throughout the day. Trek duration: Approximately 7 hours
5 Chame (2710m / 8891ft)
Marking the end of the great Marsyangdi Gorge, make a steep climb to Timang, then the trail settles into gentler slopes as the vegetation transforms from dense pine forests to drier slopes. The district headquarters of Manang, Chame, is the largest settlement after Besisahar. Trek duration: Approximately 6 hours
6 Pisang (3300m / 10826ft)
A slew of breathtaking scenery is on the cards today as the trail goes through a deep gorge, then past the great sweeping slope of Paungi Danda. Today is mostly an easy walk with few ascending stretches of trail dotted throughout the day. Trek duration: Approximately 5 hours
7 Manang (3540m / 11614ft)
Trek the northern trail via upper Pisang and Ghyaru – an area renowned for its spectacular views. It is now drier and you are sure to come across local farmers herding yaks. Here's a hot tip – Tibetan yaks take a special interest in people wearing red, so choose your gear carefully today! Trek duration: Approximately 6 hours
8 Manang (3540m / 11614ft)
Spend a day here to acclimatise by doing some high climbing, then return to the lower altitude of Manang for the night. Manang, a village of about 500 flat-roofed houses, offers excellent views of Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Gangapurna and Chulu East.
9 Yak Kharka (4018m / 13182ft)
Covering approximately 7 kilometres, today will be a steadily uphill climb into the alpine region of the mountain range. You'll arrive at Yak Kharka, ready for an easier day of trekking tomorrow to acclimatise to the high altitude. Trek distance: 7 kilometres Trek duration: Approximately 5 hours
10 Phedi (4450m / 14599ft)
Due to the altitude, feel free to take the next section of the climb at a leisurely pace, meaning you'll have time to admire the magnificent views from this part of the route. Once at Phedi, there will be plenty of time to rest and acclimatise to the higher elevations ready for the next part of the climb where you will encounter the Thorung La Pass – the highest point on this Annapurna Explorer. Trek duration: Approximately 5 hours
11 Muktinath (3800m / 12467ft)
Setting off very early to cross the Thorung La Pass (5416 m), the trail is steep but easy to follow. After between 4 to 6 hours climbing, reach the Pass's peak, adorned with prayer flags, a traditional stupa (chorten) and stone cairns built by travellers. Stop to admire the stunning views and marvel at how far you've climbed. Further along, the trail descends steeply proceeding towards Chabarbu. From here on, the trail crosses meadows, drops into a deep ravine, climbs out and follows a wide trail into Muktinath – a pilgrimage site held in great reverence by both Hindu and Buddhist populations. Trek duration: Approximately 8-9 hours
12 Jomsom (2800m / 9186ft)
Veer off the main trekking trail to make a side trip to an ancient village of Purang. Further up from the village, continue to take the less frequented route going past another village with a medieval feel to it – Jhong. From Jhong, descend to the Jhing Khola (river), following the course which you emerge on to Kagbeni. From Kagbeni we will hop on a public bus back to Jomsom. Trek duration: Approximately 5 hours
Take an early morning flight to Pokhara (approximately 20 minutes). Pokhara is a peaceful lakeside location which rests beneath the snow-capped peaks of the Annapurna Range. Pokhara is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.
Take time to wander around the town and get to know its friendly residents. You might like to sip on a cold brew and gaze up at the dramatic pass that you have just conquered. There are plenty of lakeside cafes where you can enjoy international cuisine, while the main street is full of shops and stalls selling a wide range of Nepali and Tibetan souvenirs. Your simple hotel in Pokhara is set 100 m back from Phewa Lake and with a back-drop of Machhapuchhare rising beyond. It has twin-bedded rooms with attached bath and hot shower facilities.
Enjoy a free day in Pokhara to unwind, relax, and give those muscles a rest after all that trekking. Your leader can advise you of sightseeing opportunities. It is worth taking a boat for a row out on the lake, especially if the weather's fine. The lakeside area has great shopping and cafes. Pokhara has an interesting old area as well as an elaborate Hindu temple and a Buddhist monastery. Perhaps visit the Peace Pagoda, where spectacular views of the mountains await. You can see the Annapurnas from here, and the famous fishtail peak, Machhapuchhare, and back across to Pokhara. You can also visit the fascinating International Mountain Museum to learn some amazing tales of past climbing expeditions.
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave at any time. Pokhara is a stunning and peaceful lakeside haven, so if you would like to spend more time here, we'll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability). If you'd like to treat yourself to plusher accommodation, a rejuvenating spa-treatment, a paddle boat ride around Phewa Lake, and a local guide to show you around Pokhara check out our Comfort-style Pokhara Escape trip by entering code HNAP on our website.