About the challenge
This magnificent trip, with the ultimate combination of spectacular scenery and fascinating culture, takes place in the Himalayan Annapurnas, home to some of the highest peaks in the world. As we trek among them, we feel dwarfed by the sheer size and proximity of their snow-clad peaks. Our challenge takes us from the frenetic, fascinating city of Kathmandu north to Pokhara and the start of our trek. We pass through thick rhododendron forest and mountainside villages, perched up above picturesque rice terraces, providing a real glimpse of local life. We continue up out of the tree line over 3000m, where awe-inspiring views of the great peaks and glaciers of the Himalayas await us, including the famous ‘fish-tail’ mountain of Machupucchare. This will be a tough challenge, but one where our efforts reward you with some of the most magnificent mountain panoramas in the world!
We also have the chance to visit some of the projects that the Gurkha Welfare Trust are involved in and how their work can change lives.
Day 1: Depart London for Kathmandu
Day 2: Arrive Kathmandu
Transfer to hotel for briefing and dinner. Night hotel.
Day 3: Kathmandu – Pokhara – Chyanglung
Trek approx. 3 hours
An early start sees us heading back to the airport for our spectacular morning flight to Pokhara. On arrival at the small runway, we load the buses and head out for the start of our trek at Kharjung in the Sardi Khola valley (1350m). Today’s walk is a relatively gentle introduction on a good trail, acclimatising us to the trek ahead. Steep steps take us through woodland, winding around the hillsides and passing local settlements and cultivated plots of land. We arrive at our campsite at the small village of Chyanglung. Night camp (1450m).
Day 4: Chyanglung – Ghaleghaon
Trek approx. 6-7 hours
After a civilised tea brought to the tents, we emerge ready for a full day of trekking! Heading out of camp we descend back down into the Sardi Khola valley to our first suspension bridge, then head across farmland on a steady, gradual climb. We follow a clear path in the trees up to a ridge where we look down into the Sardi Valley and across to tonight’s camp. We arrive at the small village of Ghaleghaon, and continue up on a steep path to our campsite, with fantastic views of the Annapurna Range. Time permitting, we can continue over the brow of the hill on a good track to a wide stream, where we can paddle before continuing on a steep hillside wooded with rhododendrons, with great views down to our camp. We return the same way. Night camp (1750m)
Day 5: Ghaleghaon – Tara Top
Trek approx. 6-8 hours
The early morning mountain views from our tents inspires us for the tough day ahead, which takes us higher through alpine meadows and rhododendron forests. The ascent starts as we leave camp, and we walk on steep stone steps which wind upwards along the wooded ridge. Trekking eastwards, the path levels out a little, but then takes us steeply up to the grassy wooded knoll of Tara Top (Starlight Top) where we are rewarded with a 360 view of most of the Annapurna Massif, including the monolithic hulk of Lamjung Himal and the famous fishtail peak of Machupucchare. The Himalayan foothills of central Nepal drop away before us towards the Ganges and the Indian plains. We camp here, enjoying – in clear skies – a sunset like no other. Night camp (2800m).
Day 6: Tara Top – Sikles– Parju
Trek approx. 6-8 hours
Our day starts with the sight of the sun rising over the peaks, illuminating the spectacular views surrounding us. We head off along a trail that roughly follows the 2500m contour, taking us through shady rhododendron forest with overhanging mosses and lichens. Wild orchids hang from branches above us. We trek up to the mountain village of Sikles (2000m), famous for its fighting men, the Gurkhas, which come from this region. The village gives us a wonderful glimpse into life here in the mountains. Our path then takes us to the picturesque Gurung village of Parju, set before a backdrop of snowy peaks. We camp at the edge of the village in a large open area. Night camp (2030m).
Day 7: Parju – Tanting
Trek approx. 5-7 hours
Our destination today is the small village of Tanting, taking us back to the lower pastures. We start the day with a tough, long descent along a steep track that drops into the valley on steps and passes through forest – we lose almost 700m in altitude and it can be hard on the legs! We cross the river on a suspension bridge and come to terraced fields, where we stop for lunch at a lovely spot with great views of the mountains. If the weather is clear we can enjoy breathtaking views of Annapurna II with its huge icefall and glacier marking the origin of the Mardi Khola. The afternoon sees us gently ascending through more fields and contouring the side of the mountain over grassy paths and more steps. We cross a bridge to the village of Tanting and come to our camp just outside the village. Night camp (1600m).
Day 8: Tanting – Pokhara
Trek approx. 3-4 hours; Drive approx. 1.5 hours
The last part of our trek takes us steeply down out of the village, losing 300m in a short space of time. We then descend more gradually through fields, with an occasional steep section thrown into the mix! We continue down a rutted track, passing several tea-houses and crossing small streams. There are amazing views back to the mountains. We reach the end of the trail by late morning where we are greeted by an early lunch and vehicles ready to transfer us back to Pokhara for a well-deserved shower and a night in a hotel. Tonight we can mark our achievements with a celebration meal and a cold beer! Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Free day in Pokhara with visits to charity projects to see how their work can change lives.
Day 10: Pokhara – Kathmandu
We leave Pokhara, taking the short, scenic flight back to Kathmandu. Here you are free to enjoy some of the sights, sounds and smells of this incredible city, visiting areas like the central Durbar Square, packed with stupas and palaces. If you have time you can visit the atmospheric Buddhist temples of Boudhanath and Swayambunath (also known as the ‘Monkey-Temple’) and the riverside Hindu temple complex of Pashupatinath. In the evening you can haggle for your souvenirs at the many shops and markets. Night hotel. (Lunch and dinner not included)
Day 11: Return to UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes all accommodation included as well as all flights and transfers; internal air tax; all meals except three as specified in the itinerary; camping equipment (except sleeping bag) and any permits and entry fees to any regions and sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of local guides, porters and cooks.
The tour cost does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, entry visa, three meals as specified or tip for local crew. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. You can buy drinks, snacks and personal items in the villages we trek through, but be warned that the further up the trail we are, the more expensive items become. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights) and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Jet Airways, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
Accommodation comprises of 5 nights camping & 3 nights in 2-3* hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara. The hotels are comfortable with ensuite facilities and hot water. Please do not expect the same standards as you would of a tourist hotel in the UK!
All food is included except for three meals as specified in the itinerary. The food is great, will provide you with plenty of energy, and there is plenty of it.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities, when you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers, porters and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers, cooks and porters do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! See ‘Costs in Nepal’ above for a guideline amount; your leader will let you know if there is any change to this guideline. Our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in Nepal is below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Vehicles take us to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. All luggage, food, water and camping equipment is carried by porters. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Your kitbag MUST NOT weigh more than 8kg on the actual trek. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already.
You should also bring a daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The terrain is very varied as the route passes through valleys, forest and bare mountain slopes above the tree line; paths on the whole are good but are very steep in places and with many steps to both walk up and down. Terrain can be slippery in wet conditions. You should have a good level of fitness to enjoy the trek to the utmost. Although we do not trek higher than 2850m, some people may find they experience shortness of breath due to the altitude. Because of the varied terrain and lack of accurate maps, it’s impossible to give accurate daily distances. It’s also much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for, and the terrain involved, rather than the actual distance! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through remote mountains where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Nepal’s rainy season, or monsoon, is from mid-June to September. Weather in spring and autumn is clear and dry. In the mountains temperature is influenced heavily by the altitude.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from Nepal. There are visa requirements for UK citizens; currently all visas are obtained at the airport upon entry in Kathmandu and will require US$25 in notes; we also recommend you have at least two passport-sized photos with you. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. There is malaria in Nepal; you should not need prophylactics as it rarely occurs in elevations as high as Kathmandu, but it is always best to refer to your GP and travel clinic. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Toursim
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.