Join us on a different journey through Nepal! We start and end the trip in bustling Kathmandu, but in between have time for two completely different hikes, one south and one north of the Annapurna massif and also a couple of nights in peaceful Pokhara. Mustang is located on the border between Nepal and Tibet and due to the high mountain peaks, which create a rain shade, the area is dry and barren. The culture is more reminiscent of Tibet than traditional Nepal and the mountains constantly watch over us. From Mustang we make our way back to the south side of Annapurna and start our trek in the verdant hills. From here we go up above the tree line to Mardi Himal’s viewpoint (4250 m above sea level) and end up in the middle of the mountains! On the way back to the comfortable Pokhara, we stop in a Gurung village that specializes in tea cultivation and always welcomes its guests warmly!
- Day 1: Arrival Kathmandu. City walk in Patan.
- Day 2: Travel to Pokhara by air or bus.
- Day 3: Flight to Jomsom, trek through Marpha and Dhumba lake to Thini (5 hours trek).
- Day 4: Muktinath Temple and Jharkot (2-3 hours trek).
- Day 5: Kagbeni and Upper Mustang (3 hour trek).
- Day 6: Phalyak (4 hour trek).
- Day 7: Windy Pass and Jomsom (5-6 hour trek).
- Day 8: Flight to Pokhara and a quiet evening in Deurali.
- Day 9: Hiking start. Pitam Deurali. (4-5 hour trek).
- Day 10: Forest Camp (6 hour trek).
- Day 11: Badal Danda (5-6 hours trek).
- Day 12: High Camp (3 hour trek).
- Day 13: Mardi Himal Upper Viewpoint and down to Low Camp (7-8 hours trek).
- Day 14: Trek to Sidhing and jeep to Lwang (4 hours trek).
- Day 15: Pokhara.
- Day 16: Tibetan area of Boudha in Kathmandu.
- Day 17: Free day with optional activities.
- Day 18: Departure.
Day 1: Arrival Kathmandu. City walk in Patan.
We meet you at the airport and you get a ride to the pleasant hotel Timila in Patan, which is the southernmost of Kathmandu’s old kingdoms. Here we live right next to the world heritage listed palace square and those who arrive early in the day can join us on a city walk where we see some of the fine architecture; pagoda temple, the palace museum and several beautiful hiti, submerged water places. In the evening we all meet at a nice restaurant next to the hotel where we eat a welcome dinner together. Here, the food is inspired by the different cuisines along the Silk Road.
Day 2: Travel to Pokhara by air or bus.
Option 1: Those choosing flights to and from Pokhara will go to the airport after breakfast with one of Beyond Borders’ skilled guides. We must be at the airport one hour before departure and the flight time is about 25 minutes. There may be delays but there is very little risk that the flight will be cancelled. Once we arrive in Pokhara, Nepal’s scenic tourism capital, we check into our 4* hotel Temple Tree near the Fewa lake in which the Annapurna massif is reflected. The lake dominates the Lakeside district where the main street is lined with pleasant restaurants and craft shops. Our hotel has a nice garden and pool where you can rest before the hike during the day and if you want, you are welcome on a study visit to the Women Skills Development Center. Here, women receive training in textile crafts and the opportunity to earn their own money. Bags, dolls, Christmas tree decorations and a lot of other things are woven, dyed, sewn and sold here, and they are happy to visit. A Nepalese lunch consisting of the national dish dal bhat is taken at the restaurant opposite our hotel. Dal means lentils and bhat means rice, but these basic dishes are also served with a vegetable mash, stir-fried green leaves or/and meat in sauce (most commonly chicken, buffalo or goat). This is a dish we will taste often during the journey.
Option 2: For those who choose to go by bus to Pokhara, it will be an early morning and we will bring breakfast in a package. The journey is by a very comfortable and modern bus but under normal circumstances takes around 8 hours. In Nepal, things can happen in traffic and this can significantly lengthen the bus journey. Lunch is eaten at a restaurant on the way and upon arrival in Pokhara we check into the hotel and have free time for dinner.
In the evening we meet in the hotel lobby and go together to one of Pokhara’s best western restaurants, starting tomorrow it may be a long time before we can eat western food again.
Tonight the trekking bags will be packed. Two travelers share a large bag that you can borrow from Beyond Borders Ethical Adventures, and the maximum weight of personal belongings is 12 kg per person. Sleeping bag and inner sheet can be borrowed free of charge from Beyond Borders Ethical Adventures and carried by your porter. According to the International Porters Protection Group, the maximum weight allowed for a Nepali porter on a low-altitude trek is 30 kg, so Beyond Borders Ethical Adventures always makes sure that no bag is heavier than that. During the trekking days in Mustang, we have a special baggage handler who takes the bags by jeep to the destinations. During the Mardi Himal trek we have porters who carry the pack all the way as there are no roads in the area.
Day 3: Fly to Jomsom, trek through Marpha and Dhumba Lake to Thini (5 hours trek).
Early morning the flight goes to Mustang’s district capital, Jomsom. The flight goes over the Kali Gandaki river in the world’s deepest valley and on our left side we have the Dhaulagiri massif (which with up to 8167 m is the world’s seventh highest mountain) and on its right is the Annapurna massif (which with up to 8091 m is the world’s tenth highest mountain). It is truly an amazing 20 minute flight in a small plane that seats only sixteen passengers! Due to the geography, it is often very windy in Mustang and it happens from time to time that the flights are canceled due to the weather. If this happens we will go by bus to Jomsom, a journey of about 10 hours.
In Jomsom we meet the part of the staff who will join us during both of our hikes. In Mustang we only have one person who is responsible for all the luggage as there is a road to right near most of our accommodation, although we very rarely need to go on it. Our luggage manager will make sure that the bags arrive at our accommodation before us during the day.
If the flight arrives in Jomsom on time, we will go by jeep from the airport to Marpha village. Marpha is a beautiful village with its white houses with wood on the roofs, characteristic of lower Mustang and the Thakali people. We visit the village’s Buddhist monastery Samtenling, from where you get a nice view of the surroundings. Marpha is known for its apple brandy and delicious apricots. We have time for a taste test before we move on.
From Marpha we cross the great Kali Gandaki river and hike uphill towards a stupa and monastery, Kuchup Terenga (2920m), founded in the 17th century. From here we get nice views of the peaks of the Nilgiris, the Tilicho pass and the villages around us. We head back down towards the sacred ice-blue Dhumba Lake and on to the village of Thini (2840m) which is our final destination for the day. Thini is one of the oldest villages in Lägre Mustang and here the villagers work together to run their community homestay. We are placed in different households overnight and eat with the respective families. In the afternoon, the village’s volleyball court is a popular hangout and we are welcome to come there and hang out if we want. Of course, we also take a walk in the village together.
Day 4: Muktinath Temple and Jharkot (2-3 hours trek).
After breakfast we set off on foot towards Jomsom. Here we meet the jeeps that will take us the approximately two hours to Muktinath (3800 m.a.s.l.), one of the most important temples in the Himalayas, especially for Hindus but also for Buddhists. The jeeps go to the last village below the temple, Ranipauwa. From here we take a rather bumpy walk up to the temple along with throngs of pilgrims who every day during the snow-free time of the year hike up to receive a blessing and purify themselves under the 108 cold water spouting gilded faucets. If someone wants to cool down through one or more laps in the glacier water, bring a larger sarong or similar to wear around the body on this occasion.
After a walk around the temple area, we start walking down again. We have lunch at a fine restaurant in Ranipauwa and continue downhill again to the village of Purang. Purang is a more dilapidated village than the others we visit during the trip and is today largely inhabited by guest workers from the poorer districts around Mustang as the original inhabitants have moved closer to the road to run hotels or restaurants. We have a cup of tea with a family who tells their story about why they chose to leave their home and move here.
After the tea break, we continue walking through the fields and the grassy hills to the final destination of the day, Jharkot (3270 m). Here we stay with a local family who are also descendants of the old king and thus also own Jharkot’s palace, which we thus get a chance to take a closer look at. The sunset from the roof of the palace is absolutely amazing!
Day 5: Kagbeni and Upper Mustang (3 hours trek).
Jharkot’s greatest pride is undoubtedly the over 500-year-old Red Buddhist Monastery and we start the morning with a visit there. They have, in addition to a temple, a school that teaches Tibetan medicine. From Jharkot we continue through beautiful scenery and grassy hills, past a small pond and some traditional houses to the road where jeeps pick us up to drive us to Kagbeni, a place known for its mystery! The houses here are built in an ingenious way on top of each other because all the inhabitants have to fit inside the city wall which protects against evil spirits and ghosts. Today, however, there are many hotels and houses outside the walls, but our fine hotel is located in the middle of the old part of the city in an over 300-year-old historic house that was formerly part of a monastery.
After lunch in Kagbeni, we make an excursion into “The Forbidden Kingdom”, Upper Mustang. Hiking here requires an expensive special permit, but the village of Tiri (2,800 masl), which is only 45 minutes from Kagbeni, has fought to be exempted from this permit and has been granted the right. However, there are still few visitors who come to the village and the Tiri are in constant conflict with the Kagbeni who they believe are stopping the tourists from going further there. In Tiri we meet one of the village’s strong women who can explain what life is like here, we drink tea at her house and see the village and the apple orchards.
From Tiri we return to Kagbeni for an exciting walk through the old part of the city, under the low entrances and through the narrow passages. We also see the city’s large, beautiful Buddhist monastery.
Day 6: Phalyak (4 hours trek).
We start our hike downstream with the river after breakfast and after an hour or so we cross the long suspension bridge over the river and continue up the rugged mountain. Today we come to the friendliest and most untouched part of the hike, the village of Phalyak (3090 m.a.s.l.). Here, life lives as it pleases without the motorway and modernities. We once again spread out in different houses in the village as there are neither hotels nor registered homestays, but the inhabitants of the village simply only rent rooms to us. Some will probably end up in very basic accommodation while others will be more fortunate. From Phalyak we have a fantastic view and we enjoy the afternoon just walking around the village. Phalyak and Dhagarjong are the last villages in Mustang before entering the high district of Dolpo and the architecture changes a bit here. Windows are painted with colorful snow lions and shells, compared to, for example, Kagbeni and Jharkot where the windows are mostly carved.
Day 7: Windy Pass and Jomsom (5-6 hour trek).
We start early in the morning with a walk through the traditional village of Dhagarjong (3250 m) to Windy Pass (3580 m). The name has come about for a reason and although the view of the mountains is amazing, it gets terribly windy if you start too late, often over 50 m/s. Generally in Mustang you can say that it starts to wind after lunch and sometimes it becomes almost unbearable! Therefore, not only today but every day, we try to get out early in the morning. We go back to the suspension bridge we crossed yesterday and from there take a jeep to Jomsom. We check in at a comfortable guesthouse opposite the popular Himalayan Java cafe chain’s Mustang section, where espresso and café latte are served, something we probably haven’t seen since Pokhara.
We have dinner at the hotel and go to bed in time to be able to get up for the flight early tomorrow morning.
Day 8: Flight to Pokhara and quiet evening in Deurali.
We are hoping for a clear and windless morning to maximize the chances of the flight leaving on time, so around seven o’clock. Our vehicle picks us up at the Pokhara airport, we drive past the main hang-out point for paragliding in Pokhara and also a great lookout point, Sarangkot, further up towards Annapurna. Here on the south side of the massif we can see a marked difference in nature and environment, everything is lush and verdant compared to the barren Mustang. Today we stay at the hotel ES Club Resort, which offers a wonderful view of the mountains, good food and nice rooms to rest in before the start of the hike tomorrow. Anyone who wants can take a walk in the villages around the hotel, but otherwise you can spend your day in the restaurant with the view and a good book.
Day 9: Start of hiking. Pitam Deurali. (4-5 hour hike).
Today starts the second hike of the trip! We go with our bus to Khande (1700 m.a.s.l.) from where many hikes south of Annapurna start, but the hike we set out on has as its goal the upper lookout point of the Mardi Himal (4250 m.a.s.l.). In Khande our staff is once again waiting for us, both the assistant guides who have been with us in the Mustang but also our porters. From here there is no road and all our luggage has to be carried up, but just like in Mustang, we ourselves only carry the things we need during today’s hike and our luggage is waiting at the tea house when we arrive.
We start with a couple of hours of rather steep uphill to Australian Camp (2100 m above sea level) where once again we get a fantastic mountain view. From here we have half an hour to Pothana where we have lunch and then continue another two hours uphill to Pitam Deurali. Here we stay overnight at the village’s only large tea house.
Day 10: Forest Camp (6 hours trek).
Today we have quite a long day’s hike to Forest camp. We meet no villages today, maybe a few shepherds with animals and a small building where our lunch is prepared and eaten. Otherwise, we walk in nature through rhododendron forest and over hills. The first three hours we walk in a long uphill, then it becomes what we call “Nepali flat”, i.e. a little up and a little down until our destination, Forest Camp or Kokar as it is called locally. There is basically nothing here but a couple of teahouses and we get a quiet evening after a long day of hiking.
Day 11: Badal Danda (5-6 hours trek).
Today we continue through the forest and see how it thins the higher we go. The hike we do goes up to quite a high altitude in a few days, which means that we go uphill most of the time the first days and then almost only downhill the last. We have about four hours to Low Camp where we have lunch with the rhododendron forest all around us, then continue uphill to Badal Danda, or cloud hill, where we stay overnight with a stunning view.
Day 12: High Camp (3 hours of hiking).
Today we get above the tree line and a large grass plain opens up in front of us. Sometimes there are steep and narrow paths and sometimes we walk across grassy plains. We also hike on a hunting trail on a ridge with amazing mountain views! From here we see Annapurna, Machhapuchhre and the green landscape far below us. We pass hunting herders and grazing areas and the vegetation consists mainly of bushes and grass. Today we arrive at High Camp and probably spend the evening by the stove in the dining room, at this height it gets really cold!
Day 13: Mardi Himal Upper Viewpoint and down to Low Camp (7-8 hours trek.
Today will be the most exhausting day of the trip but those who can endure will also be richly rewarded! If you feel that you don’t want to go up to the Mardi Himal Upper viewpoint, there is the option of staying at the hotel and taking a nap, but it is not recommended at all because the views from the lookout point are incomparable! We start from the hotel in the dark with headlamps and walk slowly upwards. The road can be a bit difficult with glaciers and rocks, but anyone who has made it this far can handle this too. From the lookout point we see Annapurna I 8091m, Annapurna south 7219m, Himchuli 6441m, Baraha Shikhar (Fang) 7647m, Tent peak 5695m, Singachuli 6501m, Gangapurna 7454m, Gandarvachuli 6248m, part of Annapurna III 7555m, both peaks of Machhapuchre (Mt. fish tail ) 6993m and Mardi Himal 5553m, MBC (Machhapuchre Base Camp), as well as the villages of Deurali, Dovan, Sinuwa, Chhomrong, Ghandruk and the southern green slopes.
We go back to High Camp for lunch and start hiking down the same road we came to Low Camp where we stay for the night. Tonight we are having a farewell party because tomorrow we are parting ways with the staff who have walked with us for up to 10 days. It will probably be a rather early evening because we had an extremely long day.
Day 14: Trek to Sidhing and jeep to Lwang (4 hours trek).
Today we turn off from the path we previously walked on and go in a southeasterly direction towards the village of Sidhing. We still walk downhill and pass some shepherds’ huts and nice families who think it’s fun to visit. In Sidhing, jeeps are waiting for us to take us to Lwang village. From here most of our staff continue to Pokhara but we stay overnight. Lwang is a very traditional Gurung village, both culturally and architecturally. The Gurung are a Tibetan-Buddhist ethnic group that lives in the Annapurna region. The people of Lwang live on agriculture and tea cultivation. The women in the village also run a community homestay where the proceeds go to their association. Many of the houses in the village have a room set aside for guests and the food is prepared by the women and eaten together in the village assembly hall. If we have time and energy, we take a walk up to the village’s large tea plantations. Otherwise, we have time for this tomorrow morning.
Dag 15: Pokhara
After breakfast, the jeeps come and pick us up and take us to Pokhara where we once again check into our very nice 4* hotel. We eat a (probably long-awaited by many) western lunch near the hotel and leave the rest of the day free for rest or other own activities.
Day 16: Tibetan area Boudha in Kathmandu.
Today we have the same choice as day 2, flight or bus to Kathmandu. This time we are staying in a nice hotel with a small garden and cafe in the Tibetan area of Boudha in the eastern part of the city. Boudha is dominated by the great stupa and we live right next door. Those who flew get a guided tour of the area and those who arrive later by bus also get the chance to see the stupa and the area first in the evening when we have dinner with a view of the stupa, but also tomorrow morning when a visit to the stupa and the nearby monasteries absolutely recommended. Quiet evening or maybe a beer at the hotel?
Day 17: Free day with optional activities.
Morning is the time when the locals walk around the stupa, praying and chanting mantras. Monks, nuns and believers walk around the stupa in the same direction, always clockwise.
Since we at Beyond Borders know that several of our travelers have already been with us in Kathmandu, we have today left the day off, but put together three different package options for those who want.
- Kathmandu World Heritage
We walk through the local market to Kathmandu’s Palace Square where we take a walk through the square and see the old buildings. From here we are picked up by our vehicle and go to Swayambhustupan where we walk the 365 steps up to the stupa. From here we proceed to the hotel for some rest before making our way to Pashupatinath and watch the evening ceremony performed every night with music and dance.
Maybe just what you need after two weeks in rural Nepal? We go to the nearby 5* hotel Hyatt Regency. Here there are many different treatments, a large swimming pool and an outdoor jacuzzi. The price of the package depends on which treatments you choose. Contact us for more information.
- Social projects
One of Beyond Borders’ cornerstones is our social projects that we support. Today you get the opportunity to visit three of “our” favorite projects in Kathmandu. BAS Nepal runs a shelter for people from rural Nepal who come to Kathmandu for medical treatments. HRDC is a hospital and rehabilitation center for children with disabilities. Chhori is an organization that works against trafficking and with outreach and rehabilitation of girls who work in dance bars and with prostitution in Kathmandu. Chhori and BAS have Swedish organizations as some of their biggest sponsors, while HRDC is a much larger organization that is run mostly with American funds. Lunch at a restaurant run by trafficking survivors.
Tonight we have a farewell dinner together at the home of a local family.
Day 18: Departure.
Today you get a ride to the airport according to your flight time, or you can continue your journey further in Nepal. We hope to see you again soon!
Dates & Cost
Share in double rooms in 3-4* hotels in the cities and simple guesthouse/homestay during the hikes (as far as possible with own toilet w/c in the places where it is offered)
All meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner) except two.
Guiding in Swedish
Porters and assistant guides during the hike
Domestic flight tickets (according to program)
All ground transport
All trekking permits
International flight tickets
Visa to Nepal
5 meals (lunch/dinner)
Mineral water and other drinks
Otherwise not mentioned in the program