The tour starts at the hotel in Kathmandu. The group flights arrive into Kathmandu today, and those travelling on them will be met and transferred to the hotel. Free arrival transfers are available for any flight, provided you have supplied Exodus with your flight details in advance and have requested a transfer. There are no planned activities today so if making your own travel arrangements you may arrive at any time - however, bear in mind that tomorrow is a long drive so it's better not to arrive too late.
Upon arrival to the hotel please look out for an Exodus noticeboard with details of where and when the welcome/trek briefing will be held this evening.
Hotel Royal Singi (or similar)
Drive to Arket Bazaar; trek to Soti Khola
We have an early start for the long drive to Arket Bazaar (approx 7hrs). We drive out of the Kathmandu Valley and head west following the Trisuli River towards Pokhara. At Dading we turn off the main road and drive into the hills through Dading Besi and Arughat in the Buri Gandaki Valley. From Arughat we continue on a rough road to Arkhet Bazaar (be prepared for an adventure). From here we start walking and have a short (approx. 2hr) walk to Soti Khola.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude approx. 720m)
Trek through forest and fields to Lapu Besi and on to Machha Khola
The first few days of this trek are quite long in terms of hours walked due to the lower altitudes and availability of decent lodges. It can, therefore, be very hot, especially in the spring trekking season. Our route begins by following the Buri Gandaki Valley north. There is a road being blasted out of the hillsides and we try to avoid it where possible. From Soti Khola we drop to the river and cross to the other side of the valley where the trail climbs up steeply for a while through some forested areas and small villages and then undulates through farmland and finally drops to cross the river again to lunch at Lapu Besi. From Lapu Besi, we follow the undulating jeep track to Machha Khola
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 875m)
Follow the Buri Gandaki River to Jagat
Another quite long day as the trail undulates throughout, sometimes by the river and sometimes high above the river, passing several small hamlets and farms. The valley narrows and there are some spectacular waterfalls. We start off with a short climb followed by a descent to Khorla Besi. From here we follow the wide track to Tatopani (which means 'hot water'). The water from the natural hot springs here is funnelled through a few taps in the centre of the village. Crossing the river by bridge, the trail wiggles its way to Dovan, where we stop for lunch. We continue heading north and after an hour we pass through Shyauli from where there are more ups and downs (some quite steep sections) until we drop to the river at Yaruphant. The trail levels out for a while and then we cross a suspension bridge after which the trail undulates to Jagat, a well-kept paved village, where we start to see the first signs of Tibetan Buddhism.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 1725m)
Ascend through small villages to Philim; climb to Deng (1,870m)
A long day due to the lack of decent lodges. From Jagat the trail continues up the valley through the villages of Salleri, Sirdabas and Ghate Khola, offering great views of the Shringi Himal ahead. We then drop down to the river, cross a long suspension bridge and climb steeply up to lunch at Philim (1565m). From Philim the trail undulates spectacularly with impressive waterfalls on either side of the valley. Passing the small settlements of Chisapani and Eklabatti we descend a little and cross the river by bridge. At the bridge the trail splits, the trail on the right-hand side of the valley leads to the remote Tsum Valley. We cross to the left and continue following the Buri Gandaki, climbing up at first as the trail rounds the valley, which becomes narrower. We cross the river twice more as we undulate up the valley through forest to Phewa, and further on to the small village of Deng.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 1870m)
Cross the river and ascend via a magnificent valley to Ghap (2,110m)
A shorter day today. From Deng, we descend to the river and cross by bridge. After the river, our route climbs, steeply in places, up onto a spectacular trail. We pass through some small settlements as we ascend the impressive valley. We will see mani stones (prayer stones) carved into wayside rocks, a sign that we are now in a Buddhist area. We pass through the small settlements of Rana and Bihi Phedi. The trail continues ascending (sometimes steeply) but at one point descends to cross the river. We will get to Ghap by lunchtime and in the afternoon, there is an optional walk up the hill behind the lodge for spectacular views across to Prok and of the whole valley.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2110m)
Continue to Lho (3,170m), offering fantastic views of Manaslu
Today is quite a strenuous day with a lot of ascent. The valley now becomes wider and there is extensive farmland all around where we may see the occasional look-out platform, built to ward off bears. From Ghap we cross the river three times and have a long steady climb through the forest (look out for langur monkeys), to Namrung. A short descent followed by another climb brings us to Lihi, where we will have a simple lunch. Another descent to the river and climb brings us to Sho, after which we climb further to Lho. We are now passing through Tibetan style villages and we start to see the magnificent mountain views all around. From Lho we get our first view of Manaslu, Naike and Larkya Peak.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 3170m)
Climb to Samagaon (3,530m)
A short but magnificent walk as we continue up the valley and gain altitude. The trail climbs out of Lho to the monastery, which we can visit. We then follow the valley with great views of Manaslu ahead. The trail climbs for a couple of hours to Shyaula village, from where we are surrounded by amazing views. Manaslu is ahead and we can also see Himalchuli, Peak 29, Maike and Larkya Peaks. Soon we reach the fields and stone houses of Samagaon (3,530m), where we stay for the night. From the lodge, there are magnificent views of Manaslu. We should arrive at Samagaon by lunchtime so there will be time to explore the village and visit the monastery in the afternoon.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 3530m)
Trek to Samdo (3,860m)
The trail crosses grazing areas and gradually climbs the valley. We have fantastic views of the mountains especially Himalchuli behind us. We can also see Baudha and Ngaddi Peaks and as we reach our destination Samdo Peak rears up behind us. It’s an easy half-day walk to Samdo, the last permanent settlement in the valley. This remote village is only a day's walk from the Tibetan border. In the afternoon, there will be time for an acclimatisation walk and time to explore the village. (Please note the lodges in Samdo are basic).
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 3860)
Ascend to Dharamsala (4,480m)
Leaving the village, we cross a stream (the last time we see the Buri Gandaki) and climb steadily to the deserted Larkya Bazaar. Years ago, this village thrived off trade with Tibet. Behind we can see Samdo Peak and as we climb Manaslu comes into view to our left and we can see the whole spectacular climbing route to the summit. Climbing all the time with a few steep sections, we reach a very basic lodge at Dharamsala at 4,480m, which is the last place to stay before the pass. Look out for Blue Sheep which often come down to the small stream near the lodge. In the afternoon, the energetic can climb a hill behind the lodge for even better views of the surrounding mountains.
(Please note that the accommodation at Dharamsala is extremely basic. There are three-person prefab huts. Mattresses are provided in the huts and there is a basic dining room and basic toilets).
Three-person Huts (sleeping altitude 4480m)
Cross the Larkya La (5,130m); descend to Bimthang (3,700m)
An early start (usually in the dark). Today is a long day and if there is any snow it can take us a long time to cross the pass, especially the descent. The trail leaves Dharamsala and climbs steeply at first but then more gradually by the side of the moraine of the glacier with great views of Larkya Peak. The ascent is gradual most of the way and is easy if there is no snow (if there is snow or ice it will take us much longer). As dawn nears Hindu Peak glows orange with the first rays of the sun. It’s a long and rocky ascent on the moraine with some short steeper sections all the way to the top of the Larkya Pass (5,130m). The first area of prayer flags at 5,130m is the official Larkya La from where the views are outstanding - a wonderful panorama of peaks including Larkya Peak, Cheo Himal and Hindu Peak and in the distance, we can see the tip of Annapurna 2. From the top, there is a 10 minute almost level walk to the second summit (which is a little higher and is also marked with a few prayer flags). From here the long very steep descent starts. We need to take care as the path is steep and narrow. It is a sandy scree trail when there is no snow but if there is snow and ice we need to take care on the descent. There is a landslide which we must cross carefully. The steep part of the trail eventually eases off onto a path which takes us down to the glacial moraine. The views are superb as we descend, and we can just spot Pongkar Lake, a brilliant blue glacial lake amidst the three glaciers below us. We stop for a well-deserved rest at the bottom of the steep part of the descent surrounded by immense snow-capped peaks. The descent now becomes a bit easier, but no less spectacular, as we descend the valley to Bimthang, where we stay tonight at 3,700m. If it’s clear, we can just see the summit of Manaslu high above.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 3700m)
Daywalk to Pongkar Lake or spare day as required
A spare day to be used as and when required - if the weather is good and everything runs to schedule then we will spend the day exploring the area around Bimthang and resting after the pass. There is a half-day walk to a beautiful glacial lake, Pongkar Lake, which we can do in the morning, then return to the lodge for lunch and have a free afternoon to rest.
If however there has been a delay earlier in the trek, the group needs more acclimatisation or rest before the pass, or if there is poor weather, your leader may decide to use the spare day earlier in the trek. Also if the weather is bad at Bimthang your leader may suggest trekking down the valley earlier. This is at the leader's discretion.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 3700m)
Spectacular walk to Tilje (2,240m)
From Bimthang we cross high pasture land and have a magnificent walk down into the valley of the Burdin Khola. The walk from Bimthang is one of the most spectacular of the trek as a wall of mountains lies behind us and in front of us. We pass the terminal moraine of the Cheo Himal and cross a small wooden bridge. Ahead we have our last magnificent views of Manaslu. We now descend into rhododendron forest and follow a trail through a narrow valley to Karche and the Soti Khola. A short climb past terraced fields brings us to the Karche La from where we will be in sight of the Marsyangdi River below. Descending through forest we come to Tilje, where we spend the night.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 2,240m)
Trek to the remote Nache; descend to the main Annapurna Circuit trail
From Tilje we walk through the village and cross the river by bridge. A small footpath then leads away from the main trail and we follow this uphill through the forest. A higher path takes us to a small monastery set amongst pine forests. We get great views of Dharapani below and Annapurna 2 above. We then descend past terraces to a suspension bridge which we cross The trail then climbs up to Nache village (1940m). This beautiful old village rarely sees trekkers and has beautiful traditional Gurung houses. We can also see Manaslu and Himalchuli. We then descend quite steeply to the main Annapurna trail at Korto. Staying on the same side of the river we follow the old trail which climbs high above the river and undulates until we descend to Tal for the night.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 1700m)
Descend to Chyamje and Jagat; from Syange climb to Bauhundanda
A short climb out of Tal brings us to a long descent to cross the Marsyangdi by bridge followed by a short climb to Chyamje. From Chyamje to Jagat we can climb above the road and follow the old trekking trail through the forest to Jagat. From Jagat to Syange we have to walk on the jeep track for a short while. After Syange we cross the river to Germu and have a final climb up to Bauhundanda for our last night of the trek.
Teahouse (sleeping altitude 1290m)
Walk to Ngaddi; transfer to Kathmandu
Leaving early, we have an easy 5.8km walk downhill to Ngaddi, from where we meet our bus for the long drive to Kathmandu (approx. 6/7hrs). We should arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon.
Hotel Royal Singi (or similar)
Free day in Kathmandu
Today is free for sightseeing in Kathmandu. You may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambunath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world at Boudhanath, or the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath. We offer a full range of sightseeing tours, which can be booked and paid for locally. Please see the Optional Excursions section of the Trip Notes or the Exodus notice board in the hotel in Kathmandu.
Hotel Royal Singi (or similar)
The trip ends after breakfast. A group departure transfer to Kathmandu airport is included for flight-inclusive passengers. Free departure transfers are available for any flight, provided you have supplied Exodus with your flight details in advance and have requested a transfer.