The tour starts at our hotel in Kathmandu. There will be a full trek briefing this evening.
Royal Singi Hotel (or similar)
Drive to Pokhara and on to Naya Pul; short walk to Birethanthi.
We leave early and drive westwards to Pokhara. This town is set in a beautiful valley and is overlooked by the Annapurnas and Machhapuchhare, one of the most distinctive of the Himalayan peaks. We continue through Pokhara to Naya Pul and from there have a 30-minute (2km) walk to the village of Birethanthi, where we stay overnight. Birethanthi is a riverside village at the confluence of the Modi Khola and the Burungdi Khola. If there is time we can bathe in the clear but cold pools of the Burungdi Khola.
Climb to lower Banthanti.
We start our trek by following the Burungdi Khola upstream. After a lunch stop in Tirkhedunga (renowned for its variety of local beer called chang) we start the long steep climb up a stone staircase through the neatly terraced hillsides to the top of Ulleri. Continuing through Ulleri we stop tonight at lower Banthanti.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2,240m)
Ascend through rhododendron forests to Upper Ghorepani.
The trail winds its way onwards and enters rhododendron forest. In spring the forest is ablaze with colour. Trains of mules provide colourful and noisy interludes to the continuous ascent today (there are many stone staircases). Carrying rice and other supplies north to the kingdom of Mustang the trail resounds with the sound of their bells. Finally, we emerge from the forests at Ghorepani and suddenly a splendid mountain vista appears before us - Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Hiunchuli, Machhapuchhare, Lamjung and other Himalayan giants. We continue up through Ghorepani to our lodge in Upper Ghorepani (2,900m), usually arriving by lunchtime.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2,900m)
Optional early morning ascent of Poon Hill for incredible views of the Annapurnas, Machhapuchhare and Dhaulagiri at sunrise. After breakfast head through rhododendron forests to Chuili.
This morning there is an optional ascent of Poon Hill (3,210m - about an hour's walk uphill) to see the spectacular sunrise over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Himals. As the sun emerges from behind the mountains the sky glows red and pink in the first rays of the sun and the panorama is surely one of the world's great mountain vistas. Best seen at dawn, the climb is well worth the effort. After breakfast we head east, following a ridge to cross a pass at 3,150m. We pass through more forest and some tea houses and then the descent becomes steeper as we descend on stone steps through jungle to a few lodges in a clearing called Banthanti at 2,760m, where we have lunch. Descending further to a small stream, we cross a bridge and climb back up to 2,690m at Tadapani where we have a superb view of Annapurna South and the peak of Machhapuchhare. From here we descend for a short while to our lodge at Chuili, where we have great views of the mountains from the lovely garden.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2,290m)
Descend to the Kyumnu Khola and climb up into the Modi Khola valley to Chhomrong.
The trail descends steeply through the forest to the Kyumnu Khola, a tributary of the Modi Khola. From here a steep ascent brings us to Chhomrong, at 2,220m, another Gurung village and the last permanent settlement in the valley. Beyond here we shall see yersas, the shelters used by herdsmen in the summer months. From Chhomrong we have good views again of Annapurna South and from this point onwards the twin-peaked mountain Machhapuchhare ('fishtail') which gives the mountain its name.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2,220m)
Trek up the Modi Khola valley towards the Annapurna Sanctuary; overnight in Dobhan.
The trail from Chhomrong descends first on a stone staircase to cross the Chhomrong Khola and then climbs steeply on another stone staircase out of this side valley to Sinuwa, where we enter the main Modi Khola Valley. From Sinuwa the trail descends on stone steps through dense jungle and then undulates to lunch at Bamboo, a cluster of lodges in a forest clearing. The forest around us is full of bamboo thickets. These are cut extensively to make 'dokos' - the carrying baskets as used by our porters - and woven mats for floors and roofing. Undulating further through the bamboo forest we reach Dobhan at 2,500m, another small clearing in the forest where there are several teahouses.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2,500m)
Continue up the valley to Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3700m).
A tough day today as we walk above 3,000m. The trail continues up through the forest, passing the lodges at Himalaya Hotel. From here the trail gets steeper and rockier as we climb up past Hinko Cave, where the first expeditions to the Base Camp used to camp. Crossing a ravine, the trail continues to climb steeply among boulders, leaving the trees behind us. We have lunch at Deurali and from here the valley broadens out and the scenery becomes wilder as we approach the gates of the sanctuary. From Deurali there are two trails. The one on the left side of the valley is the main trail but especially in spring when there is a lot of snow it is not used and an alternative trail on the right side of the valley is used. Your leader will decide which trail to use. Both trails finally meet for the last 1.5hr climb up between the heights of Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhare, to Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3,700m), where we spend the night. The views are stupendous and the panorama includes Huinchuli, Annapurna 1, Annapurna 3, Gangapurna and Machhapuchhare.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 3,700m)
Explore the high alpine wilderness of the Annapurna Sanctuary. Stay at Annapurna Base Camp.
In the early morning, we walk for 2 hours up to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m), surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of some of the highest mountains in the world. Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna Fang, Annapurna 1 and 3, Gangapurna and Machhapuchhare all encircle us with unbroken soaring ramparts but for the route by which we entered. The sunset and sunrise are truly magnificent in this mountain arena. We spend the day in this special place with a chance to watch the sunrise the following morning. There should be time to make an excursion to the ridge overlooking the base camp from which Sir Chris Bonington led the ascent of Annapurna's South Face. (Occasionally there is too much snow to stay at Annapurna Base Camp. In this case, we would walk back down to Machhapuchhare Base Camp in the late afternoon).
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 4,130m)
Descend back down the valley to Bamboo.
A long and mostly downhill day as we leave the Sanctuary. We follow the same trail back to Machhapuchhare Base Camp and further down to Deurali. Entering the forest, we descend slowly and carefully on a rocky trail through Himalaya and Dobhan back to the lodge at Bamboo.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2,330m)
Ascend and descend stone steps to Chhomrong. Descend steeply through terraces to Jhinnudanda.
A rollercoaster walk today with lots of ups and downs. We start with a climb up to Sinuwa, then we descend to the river and climb back up the stone steps to Chomro. A final steep descent on stone steps brings us to Jhinnudanda. Close to Jhinnudanda, there are some hot springs that you can visit if you wish; getting there involves descending for twenty minutes or so down to the river, and the climb back up takes a little longer (around 30 mins).
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 1,710m)
Trek to Sinwai; transfer from Naya Pul to Pokhara.
The trail today undulates down the Modi River Valley. We follow the valley down to the road head at Sinwai. If the road is in good condition, we will pick up our transport here (sometimes our vehicle cannot get to here) and drive back to Pokhara. If we have to walk to Birethanthi this will add an additional 3 hours/10 km.
Hotel Dahlia (or similar)
Free day in Pokhara.
A full day to relax in Pokhara. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants along the lakeshore where you can watch paragliders in flight. You may wish to take a rowing boat across Lake Phewa and walk up to the World Peace Pagoda, set on a hill overlooking the lake with fantastic views. There are also plenty of shops and a traditional bazaar where you can pick up some souvenirs. Alternatively, there are several museums to visit, including the International Mountain Museum and the Gurkha Museum.
Hotel Dahlia (or similar)
Fly to Kathmandu.
We fly to Kathmandu. Weather depending there should be good views of the western end of Nepal on this flight.
The afternoon is free for sightseeing. You may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world at Boudhanath, or the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath.
Royal Singi Hotel (or similar)
The trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport for the flight back to London. Those not on the group flight will leave us after breakfast.