Mardi Himal Trek: A Hidden Gem In The Annapurnas

By Jan Bakker

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Mardi Himal Trek: A Hidden Gem In The Annapurnas
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Curious what the Annapurna Circuit was like 30 years ago? Trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp and go back in time on the path less traveled. The route winds through lush, old-grown rhododendron forest and past Gurung mountain villages that are frozen in time. The cherry on the cake is visiting Mardi Himal Base Camp and seeing the stunning mountain Machapuchare from up close.

At Bookatrekking.com the Mardi Himal trek is one of our favorites. We love the fact that the hike is relatively unknown and has kept its true identity. Get in touch with our Nepal Trekking Expert to learn how we can make this special mountain journey happen for you.

Mardi Himal Trek: Escaping The Crowds In The Annapurna Region

Many roads lead to Rome. Well, the same applies to the Annapurna Mountain Range! Looking at the mountainous landscape at a glance, you might think there aren’t many options, other than knowing you can follow the trekking routes to Annapurna Base Camp and around the massif on the Annapurna Circuit. Think again! A vast network of trails connect the different valleys and mountain villages. One of the hidden gems, tucked away between the famous Annapurna routes, is the trek to Mardi Himal.

Most trekking routes in Nepal follow the mountain valleys, as most villages are located near the rivers. The Mardi Himal trekking route is different. From the trailhead at Phedi you start climbing up a mountain ridge and you essentially follow the ridge all the way to Mardi Himal BC. There is hardly any descent on your trek up to 4500 meters above sea level. The great thing about a ridge walk is that there are lots of stunning views throughout! Hiking at an elevated position, you can see the Himalayan giants of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna l. When there isn’t a view it is because you’ll be walking in a magical old-grown rhododendron forest, with mossy branches and if you’re lucky red flowers all around. Views from Mardi Himal Base Camp are breathtaking, with one of the world’s most beautiful mountains Machapuchare right in front of you.

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What Is The Best Trekking Season For The Mardi Himal Trek?

The Annapurna Region, alongside most trekking areas in Nepal, experiences four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The months spanning March to May (pre-monsoon) and October to early December (post-monsoon) are the most favored for embarking on the Mardi Himal trek. Each season presents its unique allure and ambiance, making trekking a possibility throughout the year. Spring and autumn, however, stand out as the primary trekking seasons. The following sections provide detailed insights into the characteristics of each season.

Spring

Spring, running from March to May, marks the pinnacle of the trekking season, attracting enthusiasts from across the globe to the Nepali Himalayas. During this period, the weather is pleasant, precipitation is low, and hiking conditions are optimal. While daytime temperatures along the trail are mild, higher altitudes such as Mardi Himal Base Camp can be pretty cold in the early morning. To prepare for varying conditions, refer to our comprehensive Mardi Himal trek packing list below in this blog post.

Summer

Summer, spanning June, July, and August, brings higher temperatures, making it relatively enjoyable. However, it coincides with the monsoon season, bringing frequent rains and cloudy skies, limiting visibility of the mountains. It is also the time when leeches are most active, and you may experience discomfort from these animals. The trail becomes wet and slippery, with an increased risk of landslides.

Autumn

Autumn in the Annapurna area (September, October, November) is another prime trekking season, akin to spring, featuring favorable conditions. The main distinction lies in the clear air post-monsoon, providing stunning views of the Annapurnas including Machapuchare compared to the occasionally hazy atmosphere in spring.

Winter

Winter, from December to February, is the most challenging period for trekking towards Mardi Himal. The sun remains low and there’s limited daylight. Night temperatures plummet to -10 degrees Celsius in the higher camps, and there may be snowfall. Despite the harsher conditions, our collaboration with top-tier trekking companies ensures safety and comfort, even in winter. Additionally, the trail is likely to be empty, offering a unique and solitary experience.

What Is The Best Trekking Season For The Mardi Himal Trek?

How Difficult Is The Mardi Himal Trek?

In principle, the Mardi Himal Base Camp trek is not difficult in terms of technical difficulty. The path is well-worn, without any exposure or scrambling. The trail network has been carved out by the Gurung people, who call this place home and it connects the villages in the mountainous terrain of the Annapurna foothills. However, the daily elevation difference is quite big. Almost each day you will ascend around 1000 meters in a relatively short distance. That means it’ll be steep in some places. The Mardi Himal height itself is 5587m and its base camp sits at 4500m. You will visit base camp, but sleep at a maximum altitude of 3580m at High Camp. The descent from High Camp to Sidhing is probably the hardest part, where you drop down nearly 1700 meters in one day to the Mardi river valley. The hike out to the road is easy.

In short, the Mardi Himal trekking is not difficult but you need to be fit and have the stamina to overcome the vertical gain and loss.

How Difficult Is The Mardi Himal Trek?

Machapuchare, the most beautiful mountain on Earth?

There are many lists of the most beautiful mountains on Earth. These lists are as arbitrary as, say a list of favorite bars in Amsterdam. But, certain mountains keep featuring such as Ama Dablam, Alpamayo, Matterhorn and Machapuchare. With a staggering height of 6993 meters, this iconic peak is visible from as far as the city of Pokhara.

Machapuchare is part of the Annapurna Range and is off-limits to climbers. The mountain is sacred in Hindu religion and associated with the God Shiva. In 1957 a British expedition led by Wilfrid Noyce made an attempt. The King of Nepal requested the climbers not to climb all the way to the summit, which they respected. They turned around just 50 meters below the highest point. No permits to climb the mountain have been issued since. Officially no one has set foot on the summit, though it is said that a New Zealand national by the name of Bill Denz climbed Machapuchare illegally.

On the Mardi Himal trek you’ll get a close-up of Machapuchare, in fact, the base camp is effectively on the ridge of the mountain!

Machapuchare, the most beautiful mountain on Earth?

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Mardi Himal Trek with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

An 8-day Itinerary For The Mardi Himal Trek 

Reach Mardi Himal Base Camp at an elevation of 4500 meters on our 8-day tour and see Machapuchare from close-up!
Day
1

Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara

After an early breakfast at your hotel we drive along the Trisuli and Mashyangdi River to reach Pokhara. We will see the beautiful river view and the views of Ganesh Himal and Manaslu as well during the driving. Pokhara itself is a traveller’s paradise full of natural wonders as well as cultural heritage sites such as lakes, caves, temples of Buddhist and Hindus along with mountains. After a 7 hour drive we will arrive in Pokhara and stay overnight at a hotel.

Pokhara

Info
Pokhara
Day
2

Drive to Phedi and trek to Pothana

Duration: 04:00 h
Distance: 7.16 km
Ascent: 1000 m
Descent: 180 m
Early in the morning, we will drive for one hour to reach Phedi and the start our Mardi Himal trek. We will climb the steps from Phedi. The trail ascends all the way to Pothana through rhododendron and pine forests till we reach the Dhampus, a Gurung village known for the magnificent views of Annapurna ranges, including Lamjung Himal and Manaslu. We will continue our ascent until we reach the small village of Pothana, surrounded by forests and exhibiting marvelous mountain views. We will also get TIMS/ACAP card at the check point in Pothana. Overnight in Pothana.

Pothana

Info
Pothana
Day
3

Trek from Pothana to Forest Camp

Distance: 10 km
Ascent: 680 m
Descent: 240 m
After a hearty breakfast, we will start our trek with a steep uphill climb through thick forest along beautiful view points of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges. The forest is home elusive wildlife and we may catch glimpse of some of the rare birds and animals along the way. After walking for around five hours, we will reach the forest camp where we will set up camp for the night.

Forest Camp

Info
Forest Camp
Day
4

Forest Camp to High Camp

Duration: 04:50 h
Distance: 7.63 km
Ascent: 1080 m
The trail from the Forest camp to the high camp follows a steep ascent through the rhododendron and Juniper forest. The pattern for the day is a steeper climbing to get over a hillock, then relatively flat for a while and again start another ascent. Upon reaching the top, we will be highly rewarded with the magnificent, breathtaking views of the Annapurna range and Mount Macchapuchre. Overnight at High Camp.

Mardi Himal High Camp

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Mardi Himal High Camp
Day
5

High Camp to Mardi Himal BC and back to High Camp

Duration: 07:30 h
Distance: 11 km
Ascent: 920 m
Descent: 920 m
After having breakfast at lodge, we trek to the view point at Mardi Himal Base Camp to have an amazing view of the Himalayas including Mardi Himal (5587m), Annapurna I (8091m), Annapurna south (7219m), Hiunchuli (6441m), Baraha Shikhar (Mt. Fang) (7647m), Tent Peak (5695m), Singhachuli (6501m), Machapuchahre (6993m) and many other mountains. We return the same way to High Camp where we spend another night.

Mardi Himal High Camp

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Mardi Himal High Camp
Day
6

High Camp to Sidhing Village

Duration: 04:20 h
Distance: 8.4 km
Descent: 1670 m
After having breakfast at lodge, you start your trek and you will take a different route from high camp that will take you to the Sidhing village and the trekking through this trail different for other common trails and overnight at lodge.

Sidhing

Info
Sidhing
Day
7

Trek to Saidighatta and drive to Pokhara

Duration: 01:50 h
Distance: 3.93 km
Ascent: 90 m
Descent: 380 m
After a hearty breakfast, we will start our easy descent to Lumre. The trail follows the contour of the Mardi river valley and gradually descends down the pastures through beautiful Tamang and Gurung Villages. Our transport will wait for us at Lumre for a one hour drive to Pokhara. Overnight at Pokhara.

Pokhara

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Pokhara
Day
8

Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu

We take a tourist bus at 7 AM to drive to Kathmandu and the driving will be fantastic along with many towns and we are able to see the settlements, rivers, terraces and landscapes, after 7 hours driving we will arrive Kathmandu and overnight at your hotel.
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Mardi Himal trek map

This Komoot map gives you an idea of the Mardi Himal route.

The Tea Houses On The Mardi Himal Trek

Experiencing a stay in the traditional villages along the trekking routes of Nepal is an amazing and essential element of trekking in this region. Especially on a forgotten trekking route such as Mardi Himal it is the perfect combination of rugged mountain landscapes with the distinctive Gurung mountain culture. Staying in these mountain villages offers an authentic insight into life along the Mardi Himal route.

Each village provides lodging in a tea house, which is the local term for a guesthouse. While trekking in Nepal, the tea houses are an incentive in their own right to reach the next destination early. Why? Because experiencing the peace and simplicity of life in these mountain villages is a true delight. Sipping on a cup of tea, you can fully immerse yourself in the everyday rhythm of life in the Himalayas. Some villages may boast monasteries, and fortunate trekkers might chance upon one of the Buddhist festivals. The tea houses themselves on the Mardi Himal trek are generally basic. Some may have upgrades, with facilities like flush toilets, warm water, and even WiFi but don’t count on it. Thankfully, the delightful dhal bat, a staple in Nepalese trekking cuisine, continues to be a highlight on every tea house menu. Immerse yourself in the mountain culture of Nepal on your Mardi Himal trekking trip!

The Tea Houses On The Mardi Himal Trek

Packing List for the Mardi Himal Trek

Trekking in Nepal requires decent gear. Especially the basics like an 80-90 L backpack and quality trekking socks. Read an extensive blog here about what to bring with you.
  • Documents

  • Sleep

  • Footwear

  • Clothing

  • Accessories

What Permits Do I need For The Mardi Himal Trek? 

When preparing for a trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp, it is essential to secure the following permits

TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System):

For any trekker planning to explore Nepal, whether heading to the Everest Base Camp or Langtang Valley, obtaining the TIMS permit is crucial. It is a mandatory requirement for all trekking routes, and the fee is NRS 2000 per person, approximately 17 USD or 15 EUR.

Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Permit

An ACAP Permit is necessary for those intending to trek through the routes within the Annapurna region. Administered by the National Trust for Nature, its primary goal is to safeguard and preserve the wildlife and natural environment of the region. The funds collected from this permit are allocated to conservation initiatives.

For each individual embarking on a single-entry trek, the cost of an ACAP Permit is Rs. 3000 (roughly USD 25), regardless of the duration of the stay. These permits can be obtained in either Kathmandu or Pokhara, and specific checkpoints along the trail ensure the maintenance of trekking records.

Where Can I Book the Mardi Himal Trek?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book this trek and many others. Our guided options come with experts on the ground, and offer you a convenient, stress-free, safe, and educational way to explore the outdoors. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is this not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our blog posts:

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