18 days

Annapurna's Holy Lakes & Glaciers

Annapurna's Holy Lakes & Glaciers

Annapurna's Hidden Lake and the holy lake at Kaire

Annapurna South Base Camp

Kathmandu’s hidden old town

Pokhara's lake and panoramic views

Views of Dhaulagiri and 6000-metre-deep Kali Gandaki Gorge from Danda Kharka

The cultural and physical diversity of Nepal's Annapurna region

Trip rating
  • This is an exciting and demanding trek high into the heart of the mighty Annapurna region, exploring some of the wild glacial areas below Annapurna South where few trekkers have gone before. The trek is one of great contrast, encompassing all the features of the area from the terraced village lowlands, through the forests and agricultural areas of the middle hill country, to the glacial basins of the Annapurna mountains. The trek starts from the sub-tropical Pokhara Valley and passes through paddy fields before gradually ascending through terraced hillsides of wheat and barley. At each of the villages along the way we are warmly received by the local Gurung and Magar people. The walking is sensibly paced so we have ample opportunity to experience and absorb local lifestyles that have changed little over centuries. From the start we enjoy ever-changing views of the stunning, snow-covered Annapurna mountains. Halfway through the trek we leave habitation behind and walk through rhododendron and oak forests, alive with exotic birds and beautiful flowers, to finally emerge above the tree line at Kopra Danda. Here we experience the stunning wilderness scenery beneath the towering peaks of Annapurna; to the west lies Dhaulagiri and far below lies the Kali Gandaki River Valley, which is the world’s deepest. As we climb higher above the tree line we enter a fantastic mountain wilderness visited only by local shepherds during the monsoon months. The truly spectacular vista is dominated by Annapurna I (8091m) and Dhaulagiri (8167m), the highest peaks in the region. However this unique trek concentrates on the unexplored wilderness around Annapurna South (7237m), a remote and magnificent area that is rarely visited. An exploration of the rugged area below Annapurna South is sure to be the highlight of our journey. This is an adventure for those truly looking for something exciting.

    Why we love it

    • This is an exciting and demanding trek high into the heart of the mighty Annapurna region, exploring some of the wild glacial areas below Annapurna South where few trekkers have gone before.
    • The trek is one of great contrast, encompassing everything from the terraced village lowlands, through the forests and agricultural areas of the middle hill country, to the glacial basins of the Annapurna mountains.
    • The trek starts from the sub-tropical Pokhara Valley and passes through paddy fields before gradually ascending through terraced hillsides of wheat and barley.
    • At each of the villages along the way you are warmly received by the local Gurung and Magar people.
    • The walking is sensibly paced so we have ample opportunity to experience and absorb local lifestyles that have changed little over centuries.
    • From the start we enjoy ever-changing views of the stunning, snow-covered Annapurna mountains.
    • Halfway through the trek we leave habitation behind and walk through rhododendron and oak forests, alive with exotic birds and beautiful flowers, to finally emerge above the tree line at Kopra Danda.
    • Here you will experience the stunning wilderness scenery beneath the towering peaks of Annapurna; to the west lies Dhaulagiri and far below lies the Kali Gandaki River Valley, which is the world’s deepest.
    • As you climb higher above the tree line you will enter a mountain wilderness visited only by local shepherds during monsoon. The vista is dominated by Annapurna I (8091m) and Dhaulagiri (8167m), the highest peaks in the area.
    • Tthis unique trek concentrates on the unexplored wilderness around Annapurna South (7237m), a remote and magnificent area that is rarely visited. An exploration of this rugged area is sure to be the highlight of your journey.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Kathmandu (1360m)

    • On arrival in Kathmandu, you will be met at the airport by our representative who will be waiting with a Peregrine sign outside the terminal.
    • After you settle into the hotel there’ll be a group briefing with your tour leader in the late afternoon. He will discuss the trek details and co-ordinate any last minute arrangements. The evening is free, but the tour leader will usually organise dinner (optional) at one of Kathmandu’s fine Nepali restaurants.
    Shangri La Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Kathmandu (1360m)

    • This morning you will explore Kathmandu on an organised sightseeing tour which includes Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where you can observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the stupa. You will also visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here you will see Hindu holy men (sadhus) meditating, pilgrims bathing, and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats. The rest of your afternoon in Kathmandu is free for further sightseeing and exploration.
    • In the late afternoon you will be issued with your Trek Pack and departure information for the next morning.
    • Tonight you will partake in a Nepalese banquet with traditional dancing.
    Shangri La Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Shyauli Bazaar (1210m)

    • You will have an early departure from the hotel today for your flight to Pokhara. The flight often boasts spectacular views of the main Himalayan chain to the north.
    • In Pokhara you will be transferred by road (private bus) to the starting point of the trek at Nayapul. Walk through the busy trading post of Nayapul. You will cross a small stream via suspension bridge and continue on a dirt road before crossing the Modi River to reach Birethanti. At Birethanti your trekking permits will be checked at the Annapurna Conservation Check Post. You will continue to hike following the Modi Khola upstream, passing through settlements inhabited by the Chettris and Brahmins. On a clear day looming majestically in the distance, you will see the Machhapucharre (6993m). Soon you will reach the small hamlet of Shyauli Bazaar where you will stop for the day.
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Upper Ghandruk (1950m)

    • Today you will start the climb to Ghandruk. The trail gradually climbs out of Shyauli, and you will cross a steel suspension bridge. From here the trail climbs more steeply up stone steps through settlements of Klieu, Kimche and Chane, where one can see beautiful scenery and village life. From the small village of Chane the trail traverses and then climbs up to the village of Ghandruk, where you will stop for lunch and spend the night.
    • Ghandruk is one of the biggest Gurung villages in the area, the differencee in the Gurungs lifestyle here to that of their neighbours in the lower areas is very apparent. Ghandruk is well known for the number of its men folk who have served in the British Gurkha regiments.
    • From the lodge at Old Ghandruk, you will have spectacular views of Annapurna South (7219m), Hiunchuli (6441m), Machapuchhare (6993m), and Hiunchuli (6434m).
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Tadapani (2300m)

    • Another day ascending, but an easier walk now that you have found your trekking legs! Leaving the terraced hillsides and the village of Ghandruk behind, you will enter oak and rhododendron forest. This is a particularly pretty part of the walk, the forest is alive with the sound of birds and small tumbling waterfalls, and if you visit in spring, (late March to April) the rhododendron will be in full bloom.
    • There are no villages on today’s route, but there will be a few teahouses at Baisi Kharkha providing welcome drinks and a place to rest. There will be fine views of Annapurna II (7937m), Annapurna III (7555m), Annapurna IV (7525m), Annapurna South (7237m), Machhapuchhare (6993m) and Lamjung Himal (6931m) along the way. The lodge at Tadapani is the perfect setting for sunset and sunrise views.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Bayeli Kharka (2900m)

    • You will leave the main trail that leads to Ghorepani and follow a rarely used trail - initially through a thick rhododendron forest - that leads to local water buffalo pastures. The climb is gradual and you will soon emerge above the tree line to superb views of the Annapurna range.
    • You will have lunch by a small stream and then continue to climb gradually though open countryside to reach a small pass, where the trail descends through rhododendron to an open clearing known as Bayeli Kharka, where the lodge is. From the lodge there are great views of Dhaulagiri Himal.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Kopra Ridge (3870m)

    • To reach the ridge at Kopra you will have a steady climb on a small trail that takes you above the tree line. This area is noted for wildlife and you should keep your eyes open for Himalayan tahr and Danfe pheasant. The best way to tackle the climb is to ascend steadily, take your time and rest as often as you wish.
    • You will reach the lodge on Kopra Ridge in time for a late lunch and will be greeted with spectacular views. This extraordinary panorama includes Annapurna South, towering directly above you and only six kilometres away, and Fang and Nilgiri prominent to the north, while across the depths of the Kali Gandakhi Valley, the Dhaulagiri Himal dominates the entire western skyline. The Kopra Community Lodge is the highlight of our work in the region. Profits from this lodge have contributed to developing the secondary schools at Nangi and Swanta.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Kaire Khola (4200m)

    • From Kopra Ridge you will ascend gradually to the stone huts built to shelter pilgrims who attend religious ceremonies at the holy lake. In the monsoon months shepherds move large flocks of sheep into this area to graze on the grassy hillsides. This is a hauntingly beautiful region with the huge peaks of Annapurna South and Fang towering above the campsite. You will rest up in the afternoon, acclimatize to the altitude, and get ready for the next day's excursion to the lake.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Kaire Khola (4200m)

    • To further help with acclimatisation you will remain at Kaire Khola for another day and night. During the day you will take packed lunches and follow a well-defined trail up a stone staircase to a lake known as Pautarko Kaire. This lake is the site of the Badau Purnima Festival, held annually in August and September. Villagers from the surrounding area converge here to pray to Lord Shiva, bathe in the icy-cold waters of the lake and offer sacrifices of sheep. Although not too far from the camp, the walk to this glacial lake will be tiring due to the altitude. Ascending the hill behind the lake is also recommended, as it allows for superb views of Annapurna I. In the afternoon you will retrace your steps back to the camp.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - Celli Kharkha (3850m)

    • From the campsite you will trek into a region only occasionally visited by local shepherds. Apart from our own groups, as far as we know, no other trekkers will have visited this region. The climb out of Tiboche Basin looks virtually impossible from the camp; however, a well-defined trail, marked by stone cairns and prayer flags, winds its way implausibly to the top, where a majestic panorama will greet you. This high altitude plateau affords beautiful views of the fishtail peak of Machhapuchhare and Annapurna South. From the saddle you will traverse across the hillside to camp near a small stream and stone huts at Celli Kharka.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 11 - Hidden Lake (4250m)

    • Today will be a highlight of the trek, as you reach a rarely visited lake set among jagged, rocky spires. The scenery is truly awe-inspiring and is known only to a handful of shepherds and hunters. When researching this area, it took many days to locate the exact position of this lake. Some villagers knew of the area, but had never visited it and this led to many conflicting stories as to where we should look for it. You will camp a short distance from the lake itself and enjoy a full day exploring this remote place where you will undoubtedly find some of the most magnificent scenery in all of Nepal.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 12-13 - Annapurna South Base Camp (3400m)

    • From the lake you will gradually climb up to a small pass that leads to a steep descent to Annapurna South Base Camp. The scene is breathtaking, with tumbling glaciers and huge moraine walls. You will set up camp at Annapurna South Base Camp and may even meet a climbing expedition, as your arrival usually coincides with the climbing season. You will have a full day of exploration at Base Camp, where you will have a chance to head up to the main glacier of this magnificent peak.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 14 - Chhomrong (3120m)

    • In the morning there is one last chance to take spectacular photographs before you follow the Kymrong Khola down a narrow gorge and out of this small sanctuary. The climb out of the valley is fairly steep, but once you reach the rim the return route to Pokhara comes into view.
    • A steep, but short descent then leads you to Baisi Kharkha - your lunch stop. In the afternoon you will bear east and follow a contouring trail that then gradually descends to Chhomrong. After spending nearly a week in the wilderness where you are unlikely to see any other trekkers, you will now join the main trail to Annapurna Sanctuary and spend the night in one of the fine lodges in the village.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 15 - Shyauli Bazaar (1210m)

    • This morning you will descend into Modi Khola Valley and to the hot springs at Jhinudanda. The return route then follows the river past a small cluster of lodges at New Bridge before a very picturesque trail takes you to Kalchane and on to a suspension bridge that leads steeply up to the village of Ghandruk. You will have lunch and in the afternoon continue to follow the river to Kilyu, where you will rejoin the main trail for the short walk to our lodge at Shyauli Bazaar.
    • You’ll spend the night amidst the fields of rice and wheat and relax with perhaps a few beers, celebrating the completion of your brilliant off-the-beaten-track experience.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 16 - Pokhara (850m)

    • It is a short walk to Birethanti, on the banks of the Modi Khola River, where you will be picked up by a coach and transferred back to Pokhara. This drive takes just over an hour and a half.
    • At Pokhara you will stay at the Hotel Barahi, which is located close to the lakeside. This hotel has a swimming pool, so you may wish to bring your swimming costume. After a welcomed shower, you will have the rest of the day free to relax or do some exploring. It is well worth hiring a boat for a row out on the lake (Phewa Tal), which is the second largest in Nepal. Pokhara has an interesting old area as well as an elaborate Hindu temple and a Buddhist monastery. The lakeside area has great shopping and Internet cafés. In the evening there is the option to dine out at one of the many lakeside restaurants (cost not included).
    Barahi Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 17 - Kathmandu (1360m

    • After breakfast you will be transferred back to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu. On arrival in Kathmandu you will be met and transferred back to the starting hotel. The rest of the day is free for souvenir shopping or further sightseeing.
    • Your final night in Kathmandu offers you the chance to go out on the town and enjoy a final dinner (optional) with your travelling companions and new found friends.
    Shangri La Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 18 - Kathmandu (1360m)

    • Your trip will end today after breakfast. Your leader will be on hand to advise and assist with your onward travel arrangements.
    • A departure transfer to the airport is not included and Kathmandu has so much to offer, we recommend that you consider booking pre-tour or post-tour accommodation and a departure transfer before you commence your travels.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local tour leader
    • Local guides
    • Porterage on trek
    • Airport transfer
    • Transport
    • All meals on trek
    • Sightseeing and entrance fees (as indicated)

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Meals not listed including lunches and dinners in Kathmandu and Pokhara
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Camera fees
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Showers on trek (if available)
    • Tips or gratuities
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Annapurna's Holy Lakes & Glaciers

    Bill - Australia, 18 Mar, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    We had a fantastic trek and this was made all the more satisfying because of excellent leadership from our Sherpa (Lhakpa Tshiring. One of the key issues we had on this tek was a change from the originak iteneray which required a 9 hr day from Chainabatthi to Ghandruk, this is far too long a day. We in fact did the trek the reverse to the original itenary and this was a much better way. I would suggest that in future trfeks the itenary that we took should be adopted, that is travel to from Kopra Ridge back to Annapurna south base camp. This then allows for contingencies if snow is blocking the pass as it did in our case. Our Sherpa gave us the best opportunity to see as much as we could without doubling back on tracks already walked. If we had taken tht trek as proposed we would have seen half of what we saw. I would discuss this itenary with Lhakpa for a better explanation of our trekking adventure.

    Annapurna's Holy Lakes & Glaciers

    alison - New Zealand, 18 Mar, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    great trip could not fault it great tour leader Lhapa Tshiring fantastic great knowledge of country polotics culture and flauna and flora very friendly great sense of humour! head guide Cousin very polite frienly and careful withus cook Teko (?spelling) great wonderful food, ready to do another similar trip.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PHAP
Group size 4 - 14
Start City: Kathmandu
End City: Kathmandu
Style: Small Group

What to know

An excellent level of fitness and health is required. You will be trekking in hilly terrain, generally on well-defined paths but in remote areas, walking anywhere between 2-7 hours per day, on average at least 4 hours a day. Altitude may exceed 4700 metres.

 

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