Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Kathmandu is an incredible mixture of legend and modern development with a rich artistic and cultural heritage. Narrow lanes lead to small squares and courtyards where ornate carved balconies overlook shrines and temples. Buzzing markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life where stalls and small hole-in-the-wall shops sell everything from bangles to Buddhas to beetroot. Kathmandu has been a travellers' centre for many years, reflected in the international flavour of the bright lights and 'Coca Cola culture' of the central Thamel district.
If you arrive early, why not take time to climb to the Swayambhunath Temple. Situated on a hilltop, the instantly recognisable stupa with its Buddha eyes attracts a steady stream of pilgrims and the views out over the valley are superb. Alternatively, check out Durbar Square, home to the palace of the Kumari Devi, considered to be a living goddess.
Leaving Kathmandu behind early this morning, journey to the enchanting Nepalese town of Pokhara by private vehicle (approximately 7 hours). Pokhara enjoys a delightful setting on a lake beneath the snow-capped peaks of the Annapurna range, making it an excellent place to relax and contemplate what lies ahead. 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 world-wide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship.
This afternoon you'll have your trek briefing and preparation, but depending on your arrival time, there may be time to hire a small boat for a quick paddle on the lake. There are also plenty of cafes where you can put your feet up and enjoy international cuisine, while the main street is full of shops and stalls selling a wide range of Nepali and Tibetan souvenirs. If you need to hire some extra trekking gear, then there are numerous shops available offering everything you could possibly need.
3 Nayapul - Ulleri (2080m / 6824ft)
At 8091 metres, Annapurna 1 is one of the highest mountains in the world. Its surrounding sister mountains are equally imposing and create magnificent panoramas from any viewpoint. This trek covers a wide variety of terrain, from lowland pastures and peaceful villages to powerful glaciers and stunning mountain views. In the rugged mountain scenery, you stay in mountain communities and meet friendly Nepali hill people as they go about their daily lives. The expedition is not only visually superb but also a chance to learn about local cultures.
Along the way, see thundering waterfalls of melted snow, cross icy rivers and reward yourself with a soak in natural hot springs. An hour-long drive (remember driving times are always approximate in Asia – patience is your closest friend!) brings you to Nayapul where you commence your trek. Gear up and follow the Bhurungi Khola to Thikhedhunga, trek through farmland before a steep ascent to reach Ulleri.
4 Ghorepani (2750m / 9022ft)
Ascend to Ulleri Village through a pleasant rhododendron forest, much more impressive than the trees your grandmother has in the garden! Stay overnight at Ghorepani.
5 Tadapani (2700m / 8858ft)
Early birds can bounce out of bed to witness the sunrise over Annapurna from nearby Poon Hill (1-hour uphill climb) – you have to do this at least once in your life, right? Then the adventure continues as you continue your trek on to Tadapani.
6 Kimrung Khola - Chomrong (2177m / 7143ft)
This morning you'll descend to Kimrung Khola before climbing again to Chomrong village, at the base of Hiunchuli (6441 metres). There are breathtaking views of Annapurna and Macchhapucchhre from here, plus delicious pizza!
7 Kuldi Ghar - Doban (2670m / 8760ft)
Begin by trekking for approximately 3 hours through the forest to Kuldi Ghar, then down to the banks of the Modi River and up again to Doban.
8 Doban to Machhapuchhre Base Camp (3700m / 12139ft )
Passing through Himalaya Hotel, continue up the narrow valley to Deurali. Sticking to the west bank of the Modi River, enter an open valley near Machhapuchhre Base Camp.
9 Annapurna Base Camp (4130m / 13549ft)
Ascend further from Machhapuchhre Base Camp to Annapurna Base Camp, the highest point of your trek. You can decide how your legs and your lungs are holding up. You may remain at Machhapuchhre Base Camp or stay at Annapurna Base Camp for the night. The views from both base camps are fantastic – all the hard work to get here is worth it!
10 Bamboo (2335m / 7660ft)
Wake up early for the beautiful sunrise view in Base Camp! You're close enough now to (almost!) reach out and touch the peaks of Annapurna 1, Macchapucchhre, Annapurna South, Tent Peak, Gangapurna, Himchuli and Annapurna 3. After watching a sunrise on these snowy peaks, head back down the valley the same way to Bamboo (or further if the knees can handle it). It's a long day but you have plenty of time to get there.
11 Jhinu Danda (1780m / 5839ft)
Passing back through the up and down staircases of Chhomrong, continue the decent to Jhinu Danda. From here it's a 20-minute walk down to a hot spring by the Modi Khola for a well-deserved rest.
12 Landruk - Tolkha - Pothana (1970m / 6463ft)
By now you'll have thighs of steel and will be pretty good at carrying your pack! Trek down to cross the river and continue the ascent to Landruk, Tolkha, Deurali and Pothana.
13 Phedi - Pokhara
This is the final day of the trek and it is a short downhill stretch all the way from Pothana to Phedi (approximately 1.5 hours) via Dhampus village – you made it! After lunch it's only about a 45 minute drive to Pokhara to check into your hotel for a well-earned shower and an end-of-trek celebration to enjoy the good things in life – like cold beer or cocktail!
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 opportunities and internet 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 will 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.