On this National Geographic exclusive we trace stunning walking trails to high ridges with unsurpassed views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges to the plains, and Nepal's foremost Chitwan National Park. Our carefully researched itinerary is impressive, as within a few days we gain a sense of serenity as we gradually ascend through small settlements and dense forests to the alpine heights of Kopra Ridge. The views from Kopra are incredible, with the colossal ramparts of Dhaulagiri plunging to the misty depths of the Kali Gandaki - the deepest gorge in the world. A further highlight are the high pastures above Kopra Ridge beneath the awesome Fang Face of Annapurna 1, where ancient pilgrim trails lead to the sacred waters of Khayer Lake. Our route really does offer a broad experience of the Annapurnas today, as we pass through small yet prosperous villages, traverse grassy ridges, pass through old growth Rhododendron forests and camp underneath some of the most awe-inspiring mountain scenery on earth. We combine this trip with an excursion to Chitwan National Park where we will undertake a jeep safari in search of the Asiatic Rhino and Bengal tiger. Our trip concludes with a farewell dinner at Dwarika's, one of Kathmandu's finest restaurants.
You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the Radisson hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 5 pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibre fill jacket. Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all World Expeditions clients arriving today. Drinks and snacks will generally be served from 6:30 pm until 7:15 pm and this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members before heading out to dinner.
This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2 pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Durbar Square, Patan, Swayambhunath or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world. It is possible that the Kathmandu sightseeing tour will take place at the conclusion of your trek instead of at the beginning. If this is to occur with your group, your leader will brief you locally.
This morning we take a flight west to Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest town (820m). In good weather, we are greeted with sights of the entire Annapurna Range. From here we drive for an hour to a pass between two river valleys to the village of Phedi, where we commence our trek. There is no need to rush as this is a short day with plenty of time to reach our overnight stop. The trail ascends for the first hour, following a ridge through fields of bamboo clusters to magnificent rhododendron forest. Villagers greet us with “Namaste”, the traditional Nepalese greeting, as we pass their homes and continue to the ridge top where at the crest the scale of the mountains astounds us. Machapuchare (6993m), Hiunchuli (6441m) and Annapurna South (7219m) can be seen from our immediate viewpoint. Overnight eco lodge.
After a glorious mountain sunrise we follow the trail through rhododendron forest before continuing through a series of Gurung villages where lifestyles have not changed substantially over the centuries. After lunch we follow a well-marked trail to the prosperous village of Landruk where we camp for the night. Our private eco campsite affords dramatic views of Annapurna South.
Our destination today is easily seen across the valley, the attractive Gurung village of Ghandruk. We exit the village and slowly descend through rice terraces, crossing a steel bridge that spans the glacial river of the Modi Khola and commence our ascent. As we trek up the many staircases, we enjoy the beauty of the Himalaya at a relatively close range and observe the glaciers flowing from them to form the rivers below us. It really is a magnificent location and a photographer's delight. Our leisurely approach along these ridges with their fine mountain views ensures proper acclimatisation and the un-hurried opportunity to fully savour this magnificent scenery. Overnight at private eco campsite.
Our trail meanders uphill through fields and into forest of rhododendron, magnolia and lichen covered fig. We pass by waterfalls that cascade down narrow gullies that provide the perfect home for many small ferns and delicate plants such as exotic orchids bursting with colour. Tadapani is a small village with limited campsites, our overnight accommodation will be in an eco lodge. This is the last stop before we head into the more uninhabited regions of our trek.
Leaving the main trekking trail we continue to ascend on a less defined path through old growth forest where we may be fortunate enough to see Himalayan Thar, Hyrax or Ressus and Langur monkeys. Eventually we rise above the tree line and gain stunning views of the Annapurna Himal, our lunch spot will most likely be a yak pasture at Timuje perched high on the hillside with fantastic views of Annapurna South and Himul Chuli. Following our lunch break we ascend steeply to the ridge where spectacular views of Dhaulagiri and it's surrounding peaks unfold before us. This section of the trek is magnificent and we are now well off the main trail. Continuing down the opposite side of the ridge we drop into smaller rhododendron forest and arrive at our remote campsite high on the hillside overlooking the valley.
Setting off early today we make our way downward towards the valley floor, eventually entering the old growth forest, surrounded by colourful rhododendron. We glimpse a small settlement lower down at Chistibung, which will be our lunch spot. After a relaxing lunch we begin our ascent to the stunning location of the eco lodge at Kopra. The views here are truly amazing and some of the best in the entire Annapurnas. Dhaulagiri dominates the scene and towers above the deepest gorge in the world, the Kali Gandaki. Tonight we will have a special banquet dinner at our Lodge.
For those who are feeling fit and motivated for a big day hike, and dependent on weather and route conditions, the trip to the sacred Khayer Lake high above us is well worth the effort. The views are outstanding and you will trekking along an ancient pilgrimage trail to the site of the annual Badau Purnima Festival. The trail contours the steep hillsides and takes us even closer to the impressively sheer cliff face of Annapurna's Fang Face. In the late afternoon, we will descend back to our eco lodge at Kopra. Our staff will accompany you on this hike and you may turn around after a few hours if you choose to, or simply enjoy a rest day in the comfort of our eco lodge.
We descend steeply from our lodge towards a stream and pass through the village of Chistibung. Today's route takes us through heavily forested terrain. Overnight in our private eco campsite in Swantha.
Leaving Sawnta village we walk through villages and fields. We reach at the small river where you can take a look at a local water mill. We cross a suspension bridge, from where the trail leads upward to the village of Chitre. We ascend to Ghorepani and will pass through the beautiful Rhododendron forest and reach Nagethanti village. Continue on to pass through another forest to arrive at Ulleri. From Ulleri we will have an over view of our trek route, as well as views of the Annapurnas at the head of the valley. We over night in an eco lodge in the village of Ulleri.
Have your trekking poles at the ready today as our descent is approx. 1000m. We pass through interesting villages situated on steep rocky hills and terraces. The villages we pass are mixed communities of predominantly Gurung, Brahmin & Chettri. The final descent into Nayapul is 20 minutes on stone stairs. Here we will have a quick lunch break and then board the bus for Pokhara and transfer to our hotel by the Lake. Overnight Altithi Hotel (or similar).
Drive to Chitwan (4-5 hours drive).
We rise early this morning to follow the elephants on their morning forage in the grass lands nearby. The mahouts at this time will cut and collect the grasses needed for the elephants throughout the rest of the day. Mornings are often misty creating a wonderful atmosphere as you watch the elephants move through the long grass. Once the elephants have had their breakfast it will be your turn to indulge in a morning meal followed by spending the remainder of the morning learning how to make kuchis (elephant sandwiches) and watching the elephants interact with each other. In the afternoon you will be treated to a walk in the jungle alongside the elephants allowing a fantastic opportunity to observe their natural behaviors up close. There are many other species of animal in the jungle some of whom you may be lucky enough to spot along the way.
We complete our last activity, and after breakfast transfer by road to Kathmandu. On arrival, we may have some time for last minute shopping before freshening up and heading out to one of Kathmandu's most famous restaurants, Dwarika's, for an 8-course farewell dinner.
Your tour concludes today. You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flights.
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