This classic Himalayan trek, first opened in 1977, is still magnificent and just got better with our updated itinerary. We ascend the Marsyandi Valley, before crossing the wild 5416m Thorong La (pass) and into the Trans Himalayan region, protected from the monsoon by the high passes and mountains to the south. This trek offers incredible cultural and geographical diversity. The trail starts in the lush green foothills of the Annapurna range that are dotted with Hindu villages. Views of the Annapurna range are inspiring right from the start of this trek. There is a dramatic change as we trek north of the Great Himalayan Divide and cross the Thorong La. We are now on the Tibetan Plateau, a stark and rugged landscape, where the culture is predominantly Buddhist. We then trek through the Kali Gandaki Valley, one of the deepest gorges on earth, with Annapurna and Dhaulagiri towering some 5000 metres above, before returning to Pokhara via a spectacular mountain flight from Jomsom.
On a moderate trek physical activity will generally not exceed eight hours in a day, and altitudes generally not exceeding 5,500 metres. On a moderate adventure the physical activity is sustained and travelers should be comfortable with occasional rough terrain. At any stage of a moderate trek you can expect long steep climbs and descents and a wide range of weather conditions. An example of an average day on moderate trek could include several ascents and descents of 500 metres or more, level ground is rare in the mountains. To prepare for a moderate trek you should begin training at least four to five months before your departure. As a guideline, an hour of aerobic exercise three to four times per week would be considered a minimum requirement. The best preparation is bushwalking involving relatively steep ascents and descents. If you can manage a couple of valley floor to ridgeline ascents per bushwalk, albeit with stops along the way, you will cope with a moderately graded trek. Speed is not important, stamina, confidence and continuity are.
Depart Sydney at 10am, arrive in Bangkok at 3:25pm.
Overnight: Airport Hotel
Make your way to the airport for your 10:30am flight to Kathmandu. Upon arrival in Kathmandu at 12:25pm you will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the Radisson hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket.
Overnight: Radisson Hotel
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 2pm. 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.
From Kathmandu we drive along to the Kathmandu to Pokhara highway. We divert off the highway at the bustling town of Dumre and continue for a further 1.5 hours to Besisahar. After lunch we complete the short drive to the roadhead at Bhulbhule (846 metres) in the Marysandi Valley.
An easy start and then a taste of things to come - the climb up to Bahun Danda, a picturesque village at the top of this formidable ridge. Then it's down, across terraces and over small streams, before rejoining the Marsyandi and following it upstream for several km to our camp near the village of Syange.
A wonderful walk today - with such changes in scenery and a range of gradients. From camp we head across the river and ascend steeply to finally reach the ridge top high above. We cross another suspension bridge before a continued ascent up a narrow and beautiful valley where, after rain, many spectacular waterfalls will flow. Just before camp at Tal we come over a small rise and enter a wide, flat valley with a long, silvery waterfall to the right.
Today's trail crosses a broad flat valley followed by a small stream. We then ascend and make our way along a cliff towards a long suspension bridge. We cross and recross the Marsyangdi River a few times through forests of oak and maple before reaching our campsite at Danakyu.
The trail we follow today climbs over three steep forested ridges and crosses the river before reaching the Administrative Headquarters of the Manang District. We pass many mani walls with Mayu Prayer wheels - typical of villages in this region. An easy undulating trail after lunch leads us to our camp.
We continue our walking this morning through a steep and narrow valley after which we have our first view of Paungda Danda rock face. A tremendous curved slab of rock that rises more than 1500 metres from the river. We also gain excellent views of Annapurna 2 to the south and Pisang Peak to the north east. A short, steep start to the day but the reward is an excellent view of the entire Manang Valley with Tilicho Peak at its head. Then we descend to the valley floor and trek across dry grazing land to our campsite for tonight.
From Pisang we leave the main trail leading to Manang and follow a less frequented trail to the north of the Marsyandi Valley. We head to the secluded village of Ghyaru before following an ancient trail lined with mani walls to Ngawal (3600 metres) and a delightful camping site just above the village. After establishing camp we visit the monastery at Ngawal that has close cultural ties with the nearby Nar Phu region.
The trail heads down through conifer forest with commanding views across the valley of the mighty Annapurna range. After re-joining the main trail we head to the historic village of Braga (3450 metres). In the afternoon we have plenty of time to visit some of the outlying monasteries between Braga and Manang that reflect something of the regions rich cultural history and ties with Tibet.
A superb day. From Braga it is only 30 minutes to Manang. After a brief halt we again head off the main trail first to the village of Khansar and then to the tiny Khare monastery (3930 metres). We camp in the vicinity of the monastery savouring remarkable views of the 'Grand Barrier' above the sacred Tilicho Lake while to the east is the unmistakable profile of Manaslu, at 8156 metres, the 7th highest mountain in the world.
From our camp we wind around the contours gaining ever more impressive views of Annapurna III and Gangapurna before we reach the Josang Valley and the campsite at Yak Kharka.
Another short but strenuous day as we continue up the valley and cross the Jorsang Khola on a small cantilevered bridge before edging our way around loose scree slopes to finally reach a couple of ramshackle tea-shops at the foot of the awesome Thorong La. An early night is advised as we have a big day tomorrow.
A long, arduous day rewarded with unsurpassed views. We set out from Phedi before daybreak in order to reach the top of the pass before late morning and avoid the notorious Thorong winds. The first section up the pass is steep and it's slow going. The trail winds around seemingly endless switchbacks with each "false top" leading on to another ridge. Finally we see the massive prayer-flag-covered cairn which marks the top. From here the views back over the entire Annapurna Range and across to Mustang and western Tibet are unbelievable. The cold up here soon has us heading down to Muktinath, a long 1600m descent from the top of the pass. A day of Himalayan highs in every sense of the word!
A spectacular walk from Muktinath to Jomsom, through dramatic and awe inspiring landscapes. The trail first heads west past some ancient villages set amidst the backdrop of the Tibetan plateau, before turning south down the great Kali Gandaki Valley, with Annapurna and Dhaulagiri towering above us, the deepest gorge in the world. Some portions of todays walk are near the newly developed road that now links Jomson with Muktinath, but we will do our best to avoid the vehicles and stay focussed on the dramatic views towards Mustang and the Tibetan plateau to the north.
A spectacular early morning mountain flight from Jomsom to Pokhara over the Annapurna region with magnificent views out either side of the plane. From Pokhara we transfer for our flight to Kathmandu, and then transfer to Radisson Hotel.
Today is at your leisure to shop and explore Kathmandu for one last time.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your 1:55pm flight to Bangkok.
Overnight: Airport Hotel Bangkok
Depart Bangkok at 5:50pm
Arrive in Sydney at 7:10am
Per Person, Twin Share