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  • 1

    Start Kathmandu.

    The group flights arrrive into Kathmandu this afternoon. There will be a full trek briefing this evening.

  • 2

    Drive to Pokhara and on to Naya Pul; short walk to Birethanthi.

    We leave early and drive westwards to Pokhara. This town is set in a beautiful valley and is overlooked by the Annapurnas and Machhapuchhare, one of the most distinctive of the Himalayan peaks. We continue through Pokhara to Naya Pul and from there have a 30-minute walk to the village of Birethanthi, where we stay overnight. Birethanthi is a riverside village at the confluence of the Modi Khola and the Burungdi Khola. If there is time we can bathe in the clear but cold pools of the Burungdi Khola.

  • 3

    Climb to the top of Ulleri/Banthanti.

    We start our trek by following the Burungdi Khola upstream. After a lunch stop in Tirkhedunga (renowned for its variety of local beer called chang) we start the long steep climb up a stone staircase through the neatly terraced hillsides to the top of Ulleri / lower Banthanti.

  • 4

    Ascend through rhododendron forests to Ghorepani/Deurali.

    The trail winds its way onwards and enters rhododendron forest. In spring the forest is ablaze of colour. Trains of mules provide colourful and noisy interludes to the continuous ascent today (there are many stone staircases). Carrying rice and other supplies north to the kingdom of Mustang the trail resounds with the sound of their bells. Finally we emerge from the forests at Ghorepani and suddenly a splendid mountain vista appears before us - Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Hiunchuli, Machhapuchhare, Lamjung and other Himalayan giants. We continue up through Ghorepani to our lodge in Deurali (2858m), usually arriving by lunch time.

  • 5

    Optional early morning ascent of Poon Hill for incredible views of the Annapurnas, Machhapuchhare and Dhaulagiri at sunrise. After breakfast head through rhododendron forests to Chuili.

    This morning there is an optional ascent of Poon Hill (3,210m - about an hour's walk uphill) to see the spectacular sunrise over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Himals. As the sun emerges from behind the mountains the sky glows red and pink in the first rays of the sun and the panorama is surely one of the world's great mountain vistas. Best seen at dawn, the climb is well worth the effort. After breakfast we head east, following a ridge to cross a pass at 3,193m. We pass through more open country then descend again through jungle to a few lodges in a clearing called Ban Thanti at 2,620m. Climbing back to 2,745m, we reach another small pass at Tadapani where we have a superb view of Annapurna South and the peak of Machhapuchhare. From here we descend for a short while to our lodge at Chuili, where we have great views of the mountains from the lovely garden.

  • 6

    Descend to the Kyumnu Khola and climb up into the Modi Khola valley to Chhomrong.

    The trail descends through the forest to the Kyumnu Khola, a tributary of the Modi Khola. From here a steep ascent brings us to Chhomrong, at 2,170m, another Gurung village and the last permanent settlement in the valley. Beyond here we shall see yersas, the shelters used by herdsmen in the summer months. From Chhomrong we have good views again of Annapurna South and from this point onwards the twin-peaked mountain Machhapuchhare ('fishtail') which gives the mountain its name.

  • 7

    Trek up the Modi Khola valley towards the Annapurna Sanctuary; overnight in Dobhan.

    The trail from Chhomrong descends first on a stone staircase to cross the Chhomrong Khola and then climbs on another stone staircase out of this side valley to re-enter the main Modi Khola Valley. We pass through jungle of oak, hemlock and rhododendron trees to Kuldi Ghar (2,540m), previously the site of a sheep breeding project. Beyond here our route undulates through dense bamboo thickets. These are cut extensively to make 'dokos' - the carrying baskets as used by our porters - and woven mats for floors and roofing. We climb up through the bamboo, and then through forests of rhododendrons. In early spring we may encounter snow on the trail from this point onwards. At 2,505m we reach Dobhan, a clearing in the forest where there are several teahouses.

  • 8

    Continue up the valley to Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3700m).

    We continue up through the forest, passing the lodges at Himalaya Hotel and then further on past Hinko Cave, where the first expeditions to the Base Camp used to camp. Crossing a ravine the trail climbs steeply among boulders, leaving the trees behind us. The valley broadens out and the scenery becomes wilder as we approach the gates of the sanctuary. Passing between the heights of Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhare, we reach Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3,700m), where we spend the night. The views are stupendous and the panorama includes Huinchuli, Annapurna 1, Annapurna 3, Gangapurna and Machhapuchhare.

  • 9

    Explore the high alpine wilderness of the Annapurna Sanctuary. Stay at Annapurna Base Camp.

    In the early morning we walk for 2 hours up to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m), surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of some of the highest mountains in the world. Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna Fang, Annapurna 1 and 3, Gangapurna and Machhapuchhare all encircle us with unbroken soaring ramparts but for the route by which we entered. The sunset and sunrise are truly magnificent in this mountain arena. We spend the day in this special place with a chance to watch the sun rise the following morning. There should be time to make an excursion to the ridge overlooking the base camp from which Sir Chris Bonington led the ascent of Annapurna's South Face. (Occasionally there is too much snow to stay at Annapurna Base Camp. In this case we would walk back down to Machhapuchhare Base Camp in the late afternoon).

  • 10

    Descend back down the valley to Bamboo.

    We leave the Sanctuary today and begin a long descent (around 1800m), past Hinko, through the rhododendron jungle and bamboo thickets to Bamboo Lodge.

  • 11

    Ascend and descend stone steps to Chomrong. Descend steeply through terraces to Jhinnudanda.

    We return down the Modi Khola Valley, leaving it to cross the Chomrong Khola. We are back in inhabited country again as we climb the stone steps back up to Chomrong. We then descend very steeply on stone steps through terraces to Jhinnudanda. Close to Jhinnudanda there are some hotsprings that you can visit if you wish; getting there involves descending for twenty minutes or so down to the river, and the climb back up takes a little longer (around 30 mins).

  • 12

    Trek to Birethanti; transfer from Naya Pul to Pokhara.

    A long day as we drop down to the Modi Khola River which we follow all the way back to Birethanthi. In Nayapul, shortly beyond Birethanti we pick up transport for the short drive to Pokhara (around 1.5hrs), arriving late afternoon.

  • 13

    Free day in Pokhara.

    A full day to relax in Pokhara. There are plenty of café's and restaurants along the lakeshore where you can watch paragliders in flight. You may wish to take a rowing boat across Lake Phewa and walk up to the World Peace Pagoda, set on a hill overlooking the lake with fantastic views. There are aso plenty of shops and a traditional bazaar where you can pick up some souvenirs. Alternatively there are several museums to visit, including the International Mountain Museum and the Gurkha Museum.

  • 14

    Fly to Kathmandu.

    We fly to Kathmandu. Weather depending there should be good views of the western end of the Nepal on this flight. The afternoon is free for sightseeing. You may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world at Bodnath, or the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath. Various sightseeing tours can be booked and paid for locally.

  • 15

    End Kathmandu.

    The trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport for the flight back to London. Those not on the group flight will leave us after breakfast.

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