Mardi Himal Trek
Day 1 – Pokhara to Deurali (2100m)
We will leave Pokhara around 7am and drive to the trailhead at Kande, arriving there just before 8am and having a coffee before starting to trek. The route from Kande is a good one, for very few trekkers choosing to start from here. The trail begins by going slowly up, then becomes a little steeper as we approach Australian Camp. After an early lunch the trail continues slightly downhill to Pothana (1950m) and the ACAP checkpoint, then up again to Deurali (2100m). We arrive there around 2pm.
Day 2 – Deurali to Forrest Camp (2520m)
We wake in the morning to the stunning views of Machhapuchhre (6993m / 23,000 ft.) and the Annapurna Mountain ranges. In Deurali there is a right turn signposted “Forrest Camp”, and from there the trail passes through dense foliage of birch, rhododendron, hemlock and pines until it reaches undulating terrain at the top of the ridge. Just over half way to Forest Camp, there is a section where the path drops steeply and then slowly regains height as it returns to the open ridge and finally enters Forrest Camp at 2520m. This is a 5 to 6-hour day. There are several lodges in Forrest Camp, and our guide will choose the best one available. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 3 – Forrest Camp to Badal Danda (3268m)
Leaving Forrest Camp, the trail is initially quite steep, but soon levels out as we again reach the ridge. From Forrest Camp to Badal Danda is only a short days’ trek through more trees with occasional glimpses of Annapurna South before getting into camp after around 3 to 4 hours. As we approach camp, captivating views of the northern face of the Fishtail will greet us. About an hour up from Forrest Camp there is a new teahouse called “Rest Camp” which doesn’t as yet appear on any of the trekking maps, but this would make a viable alternative to Forrest Camp if necessary.
Day 4 – Badal Danda to High Camp (3540m)
The trail leaves Badal Danda in thick forest, but the trees soon start to get smaller, and after about one hours’ trekking we break out onto the open ridge once more with spectacular views of Machhapuchhre ahead, and Annapurna South to the left. We can see the Mardi Khola River winding its way through the valley thousands of feet below. The trail then rises and falls, and after about 3 hours we arrive at High Camp (3540m). The lodges here are good, each with comfortable rooms, separate dining room, and a fire.
Day 5 – High Camp to High View Point (4200m) or Mardi Himal Base Camp (4450m), and down to Badal Danda Camp
We have an early breakfast and start climbing to reach High View Point, or for the energetic, Mardi Himal Base Camp at 4450m (14,596 ft.). There will be time to explore or just gaze at the peaks from these high vantage points. If the weather is clear, the views will be stunning. In the early afternoon, we return to High Camp, have lunch, pack up, and descend to Badal Danda Camp. As the day closes, the setting sun turns the hills and mountains of the Himalaya pink, then red and finally purple before the stars take over, and we settle in for an early night.
Day 6 – Badal Danda to Siding Village (1700m)
After breakfast we descend approximately 1568m (5,144 ft.) through the dense forests, which can be slippery when wet, to Siding Camp. A lovely lodge awaits us!
Day 7 – Siding Camp to Lwang Village (1460m)
An easier but long day, with a descent of only 240m, through terraced fields tended by of the local farmers, and the delightful villages of the Gurung people. The day will end with a celebration in the relaxed atmosphere of Lwang Village.
Day 8 – Lwang Village to Khanepani, and drive back to Pokhara.
The trek will end with a short walk to the trailhead at Khanepani, and the drive back to Pokhara, followed by hot showers, clean clothing, and a restaurant meal alongside the lake.
The “basic package” includes the following:
How long is the trek?
The trek can be completed in 7 to 8 days (depending on the ages and the fitness of the group members, and the pace they choose to set), and covers roughly 60 km. Most days involve 4-6 hours trekking.
What is the highest point reached?
At 4,450 m (14,560 ft.), Mardi Himal Base Camp is the highest point on the trail.
What is the highest sleeping point?
The highest sleeping point is High Camp at 3,540 m (11,735 ft.).
How difficult is the trek?
The trek is classified as “moderate to strenuous”. You will need to trek over some rocky areas near High Camp and Mardi Base Camp, but there is no direct climbing involved. The hardest part for many people is going from High Camp to Mardi Base Camp. It’s a tough 6 hours over rocky mountain terrain. You can stop however at the half way point which essentially offers the same views. The trails are not paved, and the forested areas can get slippery if it rains.
How fit do I need to be to do the Mardi Himal trek?
A considerable level of fitness is required. However, many people from all walks of life, ages and fitness levels have done the Mardi Himal trek. As with most treks generally speaking the slower you walk the easier it is.
This is not really a problem as you won’t be at a high altitude for very long.
How cold does it get?
During the normal trekking seasons (April to June / September to November) there’s nothing much to worry about in terms of cold or extreme weather. In the winter Base Camp is usually covered in snow but High Camp should be fine, albeit cold.
What’s accommodation like on the Mardi Himal trek?
Lodge accommodation is basic once you reach Forest Camp. Expect shared bathrooms and thin foam mattresses. However, these are expected to improve as the trek becomes more popular. Running hot water is not available, but buckets of hot water are. Most people either forgo a full wash for two days or make do with a bucket bath. During the winter months fires are commonplace (including fires for under your table) on the coldest of nights.
What’s the food like?
The food is typical Nepalese trekking food, though there won’t be a high range of offerings compared to other trekking routes. Dal Bhat is the staple, followed by pasta, pancakes and chop suey. Granted it won’t be Michelin star quality food, but it will get the job done. One of the beauties of the Mardi Himal trek is that the majority of fresh produce is farmed right there. Try the corn bread in Forest Camp for something special. Trekking staples like Dal Bhat are filling, healthy and filled with good calories to keep you fueled up. Beer, soda, coffee, tea, hot lemon and water are also widely available. But prices go up the closer you get to high camp. Many people use water filters to help with their budget and reduce waste on the trek. Treats like chocolate bars can be bought all along the trekking route.
How long have people been trekking the Mardi Himal route?
Mardi Himal has always been there, but has only recently been opened with lodge accommodation. Over the past four years efforts were put in place to establish “tea houses” (guesthouses) along the trail for those who prefer not to camp. In 2012 the Mardi Himal trek was officially opened with tea houses become available from the start of the trek all the way to High Camp.