Mardi Himal Trek : A classic short trek in the Annapurna Region

— By Troy D. Kelly

Mardi Himal Base Camp Trek is one of Nepal’s newly explored and least popular trekking trails. The trail was explored and developed after the construction of roads shortened existing trekking trails in the Annapurna Region, including the world-famous Annapurna Base Camp Trek and Annapurna Circuit Trek.

The trail is gradually gaining popularity among trekkers, both domestic and international. It offers an alternative to the famous and crowded Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit trek and an opportunity to visit the unexplored areas in the Annapurna Conservation Area. The trail passes through several beautiful villages of Kaski, allowing trekkers to experience the culture and tradition of the local people.

The itineraries for the Mardi Base Camp trek vary from 5-to 14 days. The trek that begins from Kande along the Pokhara-Baglung Highway reaches up to the Mardi Himal Base Camp before returning to Pokhara. It offers trekkers an opportunity to explore traditional villages, incredible scenery, diversity of culture, spectacular mountains, and tempting views of snow-fed rivers. This trek takes you into one of the most untouched areas in the Himalayas. The trek comes from Mardi Himal – the triangular-shaped ridge and summit that form the westerly lower slope of Mt Machhapuchre, popular among foreign tourists as Fishtail.

Mardi Himal Trek : A classic short trek in the Annapurna Region
Mardi Himal Trek: A classic short trek in the Annapurna Region

The trail takes you away from the ‘Annapurna crowd’ to the closest possible point of the Fishtail or Machhapuchre (6997m) that stands as sentinel in front of the Annapurna range. As the fair settlements along the lower part of the treks have yet to get crowded, Mardi Himal Treks offers you an opportunity to experience the region’s warmth, hospitality, culture, and tradition. The trek also offers breathtaking views of mountain peaks like Dhaulagiri (8167m), Annapurna (8091m), Annapurna II (7937m), Annapurna III (7555m), Annapurna IV (7525m), Annapurna South (7219m) and Himchuli (6441m). The trail passes through the birch, rhododendrons, hemlock, and pine forests.

Mardi Himal Trekking

Mardi Himal Trekking

10 Days Moderate
US$ 950

First Day in Mardi Himal Base Camp Trek

The trek begins with a drive to Kande (1710m) from Pokhara. From Kande, it continues toward Australian Camp (2060 m) and Pothana before reaching Pitam Deurali – the first day’s destination. The first pit stop of the day, Australian Camp, offers a mesmerizing view of the dense forest below, picturesque Pokhara valley, Fewa Lake, and the adjacent hills in the south and the famous Annapurna Range to the north. The Camp is also a popular hiking destination because of its proximity to Pokhara.

It is popular among visitors because of the mesmerizing views it offers. Before reaching Pitam Deurali, the trek from the Australian Camp passes through Pothana. This small village has few houses, and visitors here can experience the homestay facilities that the village provides. From Pothana, the trail climbs through a dense forest. It takes three hours to reach Pitam Deurali from Pothana. The view of the sunrise from Pitam Deurali is a thing not to miss.

Second Day of the Trek

The destination for the second day is Mardi Viewpoint. Trekking on this day takes to various places along the trail. The first place is Forest Camp (2600m) which can be reached after a trek of about five hours from Pitam Deurali, passing through a dense forest. The forest along the way gets so denser at some places that it looks completely dark. The view of sun rays piercing through the dense forest makes the trip even more soothing. Forest Camp can be an ideal place for lunch. The Camp is surrounded by dense jungle with few lodges and volleyball ground.

After lunch and a brief rest, the trail leads to Low Camp. It takes around three hours to reach Low Camp from Forest Camp. Mountain ranges become visible again from Low Camp.  Mardi Himal and the famous Mt. Machapuchhre can be seen close by. After catching a beautiful view of the mountains, the trail further continues toward Viewpoint (2090 m). It is an ideal location for a night stop. There is only a lodge evenly. A lodge is more than twenty people at a time. Sceneries from the Viewpoint are fantastic. Annapurna and Machchhapuchhre can be seen at close distance, and the view of the mountains in the clear night sky is mesmerizing. Like its name, Machapuchhre gives the view of a fishtail, and if the sky is clear, the mountains resemble shining pearls because of moonlight.

The Viewpoint also offers a mesmerizing view of sunrise. The first rays of sunlight on the mountains bring out the golden shades of the mountain. Watching the change in colors of the mountain here can be equally eye-catching.

The third day

From here, the trek continues to Badal Danda (3100 m.). It takes about four hours to reach there. The trek to Badal Danda offers breathtaking views of Ghandruk, Chhomrong, Landrung, and Ghorepani villages. We can see Modi Khola Valley leading up into the Annapurna Base Camp. From Badal Danda, the forests along the way are left-back, and the only things visible are surrounding hills and rocky boulders. A walk of around two hours from Badal Danda will take us to High Camp (3550 m). During the walk, the dense forests transform into hills with mosses and lichens, tree ferns, and orchids. Dancing clouds, Pokhara valley at a far distance, and the view of mountain ranges from here are equally rewarding.

The fourth day

The fourth day of the trek takes us to the Mardi View Point (4200 m) after an uphill walk of around two hours. The Viewpoint offers an astonishing view of the Mardi Himal and other adjoining peaks. From here, the trek continues toward the Mardi Himal Base Camp (4510m). The views along the trails are equally fantastic. Annapurna South and Machchhapuchhre seem so close that they can be touched. The base camp offers a fantastic view of Mardi Himal and other peaks adjoining Mardi Himal. The day can be spent exploring the Mardi Himal Base Camp. As there are no lodging facilities, you will have to return. It takes three hours to reach the high Camp and another two hours to reach Badal Danda. The lodge’s availability and proper food are best to reach Badal Danda on the day.

On the fifth day, the trek passes through the Viewpoint and Low Camp, following the newly built trail descending to Siding (1800 m). Siding is a beautiful village with excellent homestay facilities. You can spend a night here and experience local culture and hospitality or take a two-hour drive to nearby Lwang village.

Lwang village also has a 150-meter waterfall which is popular among canyoneers. Lwang is a Gurung settlement and is one of few places in the area; where you can see a tea garden. Almond and coffee are also grown here. The village also provides a home stay facility, and you can experience local culture and hospitality.

From Lwang village, it takes around two hours to reach Pokhara City. If you think trekking to the famous Annapurna region is too mainstream and want to get away from the crowded and commercialized place, trekking to the Mardi Base Camp can be a perfect alternative for the highly regarded Annapurna trek.