Situated just east of the Annapurna Base Camp trek,, the Mardi Himal trek is a hidden gem, as few trekkers make their way to Mardi Himal’s Base Camp, spectacularly situated at the base of Mardi Himal and the beautiful and imposing Machapuchhre or Fishtail. The trail winds along small paths through ancient rhododendron forests, until you climb out at around 3,300 m. Here, the landscape changes quite abruptly with amazing views of Mardi Himal, Machapuchhre, Annapurna South and Hiunchuli.
Mardi Himal trek visits a far quieter area in Annapurna region of Nepal where you will see few other trekkers and meet friendly locals along the way. A number of new basic lodges and homestays have been built along Mardi Himal ridge therefore it is now possible to do this as a lodge based trek rather than having to bring in a camping crew. Mardi Himal trek contains all of the elements of a classic Nepal trekking experience including villages, wildlife, panoramic mountain views and range of landscape from forest to high alpine. The mountain views from Mardi Himal are superb including Annapurna South, Mount Machhapuchhre (also known as Fishtail) and Mount Hiunchuli.
The trek is not a technically difficult undertaking. However, the high altitudes involved during the trek (upto 4200 meters) and the cold of Himalayas, the temperature will go below freezing after sunset. You will be advised by the UFO guide to rest and keep your body hydrated as much as possible on the first day of arrival. Your oxygen levels will be monitored from time to time to check on the level of acclimatization. There is a fair walking to be done every day, and we would encourage you to do a bit of walking/running and breathing exercises. A good level of fitness will be required to enjoy this trek.
Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be met by a UFO representative and transferred you to the hotel. The drive from the airport to the hotel is around 20-25 minutes. After your check in the group leader will set a time for your trek briefing to discuss in regards to the trek. The evening is free but your trek leader will organize a welcome dinner at a fine local restaurant.
We take an early morning flight to Pokhara. There are spectacular views of the main Himalayan chain to the north, including the 8000 meter peaks of Manaslu and Annapurna during this short flight. After arriving in Pokhara you are transferred by private transport to Phedi and start your trek to Pothana where you stay in a teahouse lodge for the first night. Enjoy the stunning views from Pothana. Evening is at leisure.
Today you walk up to a place called Pitam Deurali where you will turn off the main Annapurna Sanctuary trek and continue along a quiet trail through a dense forest of oak, maple, hemlock and rhododendron. Tonight we stay at one of the lodges in a clearing of the forest at Forest Camp or also known by the locals as Kokar. The lodges at Kokar are quite basic and there is no dining room so you will probably have meals in kitchen with the owner, so in some ways this is more like a home stay and is a good opportunity to get to know this friendly family from Siding village.
From Forest Camp to Low Camp the trail continues through the forest however as we ascend the vegetation starts to change with more rhododendron and the trees are covered with moss, lichen and tree ferns. At Low Camp there are two basic lodges one with a dining room with open fire. The view from Low Camp is superb with Mount Machhapuchhre visible up the valley.
An hour or so above Low Camp the trail breaks out above tree line and towards the west there is a good view to Annapurna South and Hiunchuli. The trail continues along the Mardi Himal ridge mainly on grass with some isolated rhododendron bushes along the way. Look out for the colorful Danphe pheasant on this section of the trail. The lodge at High Camp is larger than lodges at Low Camp and Forest Camp, this one has eight rooms and a separate dining room with heater. The view from the lodge is superb to Annapurna South, Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail).
The plan for today is to wake early for sunrise view of the mountains then after an early breakfast walk up the ridge towards Mardi Himal. There is a well established trail through the grass with a couple of steeper sections however overall not too challenging. Look out for the dzopkyo (yak/ cow crossbreds) grazing up here as well as Danphe pheasant (national bird). In the summer the sheep and goats from lower villages are brought up to graze in this area so you will pass a number of herders' huts along the way. After three hours you should reach Upper View point at 4200m. This is where one can look into the Annapurna Sanctuary and the panorama view is spectacular looking at south face of Annapurna and all of the peaks in the Sanctuary as well as Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail).
On the return trek we take a different route so completing a circuit. From Low Camp, we take a trail that goes down to Siding village rather than going back down Mardi Himal back to Kokar. Siding is a traditional Nepalese village and still very much away from the busier tourist treks and it is likely you will stay at a homestay in Siding owned by the person who runs one of the lodges at Low Camp. It is a wonderful cultural experience finding out more about village life with the family in their kitchen.
From Siding you 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 with Ghalel and Siding mixed Brahmin and Gurung. At Lumre you will meet your jeep organized by us in advance to drive you back to Pokhara. Evenings can be spent exploring the easy town of Pokhara.
We take the morning flight back to Kathmandu for our journey onwards. If you want to arrange accommodation for the night or extend your stay in Nepal, please contact UFO office.