The Mardi Himal trek is a relatively new route located in the Annapurna region. It "officially" opened in 2012 and has yet to command large crowds like other treks in the region.
A richly diverse trek it takes you through beautiful forested areas though to rocky mountain terrain and several base camps which may have snow depending on the time
The Mardi Himal trek can be completed between 4-7 days depending on your requirements. Read on to learn more about this great "hidden trail".
Please note: the maps on this page are not to be used as physical trekking maps, they are here only to show the rough outline and region of a trek. More detailed maps are available in my trekking in Nepal guidebook.
Max Altitude: 4,500 m
Distance: 64.30 km (30 mi)
Mardi Himal is located to the east of the Annapurna Base camp virtually under the spectacular Machhapuchhre (Fishtail). As you trek along the ridge it's nearly possible, but imaginable, to look down at Annapurna Base camp itself.
The trek goes through quiet stone built villages past wonderful rhododendron forests blooming in many different colors. The forest path continues until about 3,300 m. when the trail takes on a rugged mountain setting with spectacular views of Mardi Himal, Machhapuchhre and Annapurna South.
There's a low camp with probably the best views of Machhapuchhre anywhere in Nepal along with accommodation for those all important sunrise and sunset views. Above this at 3580 m is high camp which again offers spectacular views over looking Annapurna Base camp. Further along you can then reach Mardi Himal Base camp itself with views overlooking all of the Annapurna range.
This map shows you the most popular Mardi Himal trekking route.
Please note this map should not be used as a practical trekking map. While the main Mardi Himal route remains the same there are variations depending on side trails, weather conditions, time of year, natural events and physical changes to the trek paths. Detailed trekking maps can be found in my guidebook and can be obtained in Nepal at very low costs.
Facts about the Mardi Himal Trek are becoming more frequent as the trail is frequented by more and more trekkers every year.
Highest point of the Mardi Himal trek
At 4,500 meters (14, 763 ft) Mardi Himal Base Camp marks the highest point of the Mardi Himal Trek.
Highest sleeping point on the Mardi Himal trek
The highest sleeping point along the Mardi Himal trek is at High Camp which is 3,580 meters (11,745 ft). Low camp is 2,990 meters (9,809 ft).
How long have people been trekking the Mardi Himal route?
Mardi Himal has always been there. The Mardi Himal route has been popular with campers for nearly a decade. Over the past five years efforts were put in place to establish tea houses (guesthouse) along the trail for those who didn't want to camp.
In 2011 the Mardi Himal trek officially opened up with tea houses available from the start all the way to high camp.
What mountains can you see from Mardi Himal?
The Annapurna mountain range is on full show from high camp on. At low camp Machhapuchhre is spectacular. The highlights of the entire trek include the impressive peaks of Machhapuchhre (also known as Fishtail (6,993 m), Annapurna South (7,010 m) and Mount Hiunchuli (6,441 m).
Arranging a regular Mardi Himal trek
There are many options here ranging from package tours to independent trekking. As per usual booking online can be significantly more expensive than booking in person when in Nepal.
Package tours bought online:
Package tours bought online generally have a fixed itinerary that is often extended unnecessarily.. e.g. If you want to spend more time trekking yourself, then they'll also charge you more. The thing is you'll be seeing more forest than mountains if you extend this trek.
Package tours also included food, porters, accommodation and permits.
Pro's include that everything is done for you ahead of time. Con's include you don't know who your guide will be and you'll be paying a lot more than getting everything done yourself. Extended Mardi Himal treks don't really offer more or better views.
Package tours bought in Nepal:
If you have a couple of days in Nepal then you can arrange a package trek along the Mardi Himal route yourself. Do shop around and don't get swayed by the typical talk of about places names, mountain names or villages en route.
What's important here is to know what's included, meet your guide before hand and feel comfortable with the agency/guide.
Do make sure that everyone knows what's included in the total price. Accommodation, permits, bus fees, meals etc. There are no flights involved with the Mardi Himal trek unless you are coming from Kathmandu to Pokhara (where the trek starts).
Quite often these package tours are broken up into different categories. High priced categories will included everything, while lower priced package tours might not include accommodation.
Pro's here include actually meeting the guide before hand, being able to ask questions in person and it's much cheaper than online. Con's include listening to trekking agents talk up a huge amount about the trek that's mostly irrelevant. It's a sales technique in Nepal to make every trek sound technical and like you are about to see the world.
Hiring an Annapurna Guide yourself:
You might want to save on costs a little more and simply hire an independent guide rather than a package tour. Again, the costs come down substantially however you'll be expected to do more.
You'll have to bargain and barter for your own room and order your own meals. This is something that's relatively easy along the Mardi Himal route as most of the tea houses are all next to each other. However, the more friendly you are with the guide the more chance they'll help you out.
Pro's included a much cheaper trek with more independence. Con's include having to bargain and barter for your own rooms (it's not hard) and order your own meals (English menus, not hard).
Independently trekking Mardi Himal yourself:
Finally if you have trekking experience you can do away with the idea of hiring a guide all together. The Mardi Himal trek is a well marked trail with very easy to find accommodation en route.
Pro's here include complete independence and a much lower budget. Con's include having to do everything yourself from permits to lodging. You'll also be more vulnerable to accidents, sickness and being alone in the mountains so prior experience is preferable.
If looking for a guide for the Mardi Himal trek I recommend you read my article on How to find a trekking guide in Nepal.
You may also contact me if you wish to have my personal recommendation however it would be appreciated if you purchase one of my guidebooks that also list my recommendations for guides.
Weather along the Mardi Himal range is subject to change:
There are however peak seasons and the following months have traditionally been used as a guide for preferred times of the year to do the Mardi Himal trek.
Mid Sept-October - November/(early)December: this is Nepal's peak and best time to go trekking.
February-March-April: this is the end of the dry season and the second best time of year to go trekking.
November/December to January/February: the skies are clear but it can get very cold and there is a risk of passes being closed due to snow.
May - June: This is Nepal's hot pre-monsoon season and it can get very warm indeed. The valleys however are starting to bloom with flowers though.
June - Mid September: this is Monsoon season and the least popular time to go trekking in Nepal. The risk of leeches, downpours increases greatly. Due to the early forested areas leeches at this time of year in Mardi Himal are quite active! (wear long trekking trousers tucked in at this time of year)
For more details please see my guide on the best time of year to go trekking in Nepal
If you are on a package tour then your agency will give you a list of things to bring for your trek.
If taking a trip to along the Mardi Himal Range in Nepal you'll need the following:
Trekking permits you need include the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System) available at agents and through the official Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara (trekking guides can usually take care of this for you).
Extra fees* In July 2018 Gandaki (state that the Mardi Himal Trek is in) announced an additional USD $10 tax to "foreigners" entering the area. However, as of now (November 2018) it is not being collected. This is similar to the charge placed on trekkers to Everest last year. This is an ongoing situation that is not supported by many organizations in Nepal. There is also the possibility that the 11 sub-regions within Gandaki may also try to implement similar charges. These "fees" are paid when entering the area. Updates as and when they come will be here. Meanwhile, keep in mind these extra fees and always ask for a receipt.
Equipment depends on the time of year in regards to clothing and equipment. The following are necessities:
- A good pair of hiking boots
- A wind cheater style jacket
- Long sleeve shirts
- Trekking pants
- Rubber sandals
- Water bottles (water purification system)
Please note the above is a very basic list. For a full comprehensive list please see my article on trekking equipment you need for Nepal
A certain level of fitness is required however there is no direct climbing involved. You will need to trek over some rocky areas near high camp and base camp.
I would advise anyone going trekking to see a doctor before they go for a check-up and to talk about dealing with altitude sickness.
For pure trekking along the Mardi Himal trek in Nepal you'll need to consider the amount of days you'll be out trekking to get an idea of how fit your should be. Most days include 4-6 hours of slow hiking. Keep in mind the entire trek is about 5-6 days covering roughly 64 km or 49 km for the shorter route of straight up and down (+20km bus travel to/away from trail head).
If you plan to do the trek in 4 days (which you can), then be prepared for more hours trekking every day.
The hardest point for many people is going from high camp to base camp. It's a tough enough 6 hours over rocky mountain terrain. You can however stop at the half way point which essentially offers the same views.
On the other side it's a steep decent back down which can catch people's knees. If this is a problem, then just extend your trek by a day to break up the long hours going down trekking paths.
Altitude sickness is not really a problem on the Mardi Himal trek as you won't be at a high altitude for very long. As a precaution do read about altitude sickness in Nepal.
Many people from all walks of life, ages and fitness levels have done the Mardi Himal trek. In the peak season there's nothing much to worry about in terms of cold or extreme weather. In the winter base camp is usually covered in snow but high camp should be fine, albeit cold.
As with most treks, generally speaking, the slower you trek, the easier it is.
The food is typical Nepalese trekking food. Meaning you can get just about anything for a price though there won't be a high range of offerings compared to other trekking routes. Dal Bhat is the staple followed by pasta, pancakes and chop suey. Granted it won't be Michelin star quality food, but it will get the job done.
One of the beauties of the Mardi Himal trek is that the majority of fresh produce is farmed right there. Try the corn bread in Forest Camp for something special.
Do keep in mind that you will be burning a lot of calories and you will need to drink a lot more water. Trekking staples like Dal Bhat are filling, healthy and filled with good calories to keep you fueled up. This is what Dal Bhat looks like when you are out trekking.
Beer, soda, coffee, tea, hot lemon and water are also widely available. But just like food the price goes up the further you get to High Camp.
Many people use water filters to help with their budget and reduce waste on the trek.
Treats like chocolate bars can be bought all along the trek route. Bringing a block of Yak cheese which can really help with adding protein to your diet. Or carry some candy bars for some treats.
To be honest the accommodation is basic once you reach Forest Camp. Expect shared bathrooms and thin foam mattresses. This is expected to improve as the trek becomes more popular.
In Forest Camp there are only three tea houses to stay at. Filling up is rarely a problem but it does show how new this trekking route is. Personally speaking I didn't have a problem with any of the accommodation but I would advise to bring some ear plugs in case you have a noisy neighbor and some baby wipes for the bathroom.
Running hot water is not available from Forest camp onwards. Buckets of hot water are available. Most people either forgo a full wash for two days or make do with a bucket bath.
During the winter months fires are commonplace including fires for under your table on the coldest of nights.
Read more and see what trekking accommodation is like in Nepal.
In terms of terrain there are no ropes needed and no ice picks needed. There is no vertical climbing involved though going from high camp to base camp is quite steep and rocky.
The trails are not paved. It is rough, rocky and gravel strewn after forest camp. The forested part of your trek can get slippy if it rains.
The hardest part of the Mardi Himal trek is going from High Camp to Base Camp. If you have an extra day it's worth taking your time for the return trek and staying a night in low camp before going back down.
Costing for the Mardi Himal trek is subject to many things.
Firstly you will need an Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit which is 3,000 rupees and a TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System) which is USD $20 for solo trekkers or USD 10 if you are with a group. Both available via trekking agents and through the official Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Package tours bought overseas are the most expensive for those looking for a guide. Package tours for Mardi Himal bought within Nepal are next most expensive. Going with just a guide is next. And finally going it alone is the cheapest.
Online package tours of between 5-11 days can cost up to USD$1,300+ pp. Not including water. This does include a guide, accommodation, permits and meals. Personally speaking, I don't think these are good value.
In country package tours for 5-6 days can cost $600-700. This includes a guide, permits, meals and accommodation.
Guide only services can cost from $20 to $50 per day. The more you pay, the more experience your guide should have.
Two or more people traveling together can make things cheaper. You are essentially halving the cost of guide and accommodation. Something to consider if budget is an issue.
Porter fees are roughly half that of guides.
- The cost of an average teahouse with shared bathroom is 150 rupees in the off season and 250-400 in peak.
- The cost of one liter of water reaches a maximum of 150 rupees at high camp. It starts at around 40-80 rupees.
- The cost of a plate of Dal Bhat starts at around 350 rupees and climbs to 700 rupees.
Many people with trekking experience will consider a guide/porter as they are cheaper. It should be noted these are trainee guides and may not have a lot of English.
Don't forget to include your travel insurance in your budget. And be aware that many policies don't include trekking above 4000 meters. Here is my recommendation for travel insurance when in Nepal.
Please note prices here are rough estimates and do fluctuate depending on the time of year, weather conditions and political situations in Nepal. However they should give you a rough idea on budgeting your trek to Mardi Himal.
There are two set routes on the Mardi Himal trek. However due to the treks relatively fixed location there are basically two ways in or out.
The first route goes from Damphus to Forest Camp. The second route adds in Australian camp. The second route is nice if you have an extra day.
Both routes then merge and you continue on to low camp.
On the way back, some guides will take you back the same way you came. This is fine if you enjoyed it. However, the actual Mardi Himal route returns from low camp to Sidhing and allows you to see more.
Take the safe route back: From high camp it is safer to go from high camp to low camp the same way you came up. From low camp you can then either go back the way you came via Forest Camp or you can go back via Sidhing which involves a steep trek down a forested area.
The most popular route to Mardi Himal encompasses going to Forest Camp on to low camp then up to high camp, back to low camp and on to Sidhing. Thereby you enter the trek through one location, exit through another and get to see more.
Here is a typical Mardi Himal trek route:
|Day||Route||Distance (km)||Highest Altitude|
|1||Pokhara to Hemja/Phedi to Dhampus||20 km (bus/trek) (4/2 hours avg)||1,600 m|
|2||Dhampus to Forest Camp||10 km (3+ hours avg)||2,550 m|
|3||Forest Camp to High Camp||7 km (6 hours avg)||3,580 m|
|4||High Camp - Base Camp - Low Camp||5 km (6 hours avg)||4,500 / 2,990m|
|5||Low Camp to to Sidhing/Lwang||7/14 km (3/6 hours avg)||1,885 m|
|6||Sidhing/Lwang to Pokhara*||20 km (bus/trek) (4/ 2-4hours)||1,885 m|
* Additional hours/days Many people extend their trek here. Local villages, farmlands, rice terraces are the most popular sights from Lwang to Hyangjakot to Banskot where you take a bus/jeep back to Pokhara. However do note that these extensions take you through villages and you won't get to see anything you haven't see already.
Do be aware of some trekking/tour companies starting this trek from Kathmandu. It's a long arduous bus journey to Phedi from Kathmandu. The best place to start this trek is in Pokhara.
Mardi Himal can be shortened by going straight from high camp/ base camp to Sidhing/ Lwang in one day. Or you could equally go back from High Camp to Dhampus in a day if pushed shortening the trek to 3 nights (but it will be very tough). At best for a short trek Mardi Himal can be done in 4 nights.
If you just arrived at this page then here is the full list of the Mardi Himal Base Camp Trek details:
- Day one on the Mardi Himal Trek
- Day two on the Mardi Himal Trek
- Day three on the Mardi Himal Trek
- Day four on the Mardi Himal Trek
- Day five / six on the Mardi Himal Trek
- Do check out my online guide to the Mardi Himal Trek (this page)
- For more treks here's a list of Treks in Nepal
Mardi Himal is just one of many treks in Nepal. It's a relatively new trek that avoids the crowds offering a peaceful nature filled experience with spectacular mountain views once you reach low camp.
For alternative treks do read my list of treks in Nepal which is continually being added to based on popularity or request.If looking for a trekking guide I recommend you read my article on How to find a trekking guide in Nepal.
You may also contact me if you wish to have my personal recommendation however I'd prefer it if you bought one of my guidebooks to Nepal which list my trekking guide recommendations from the area. Or if looking to book online check out my list of trekking tours to Nepal.
Here, you can read through my own day by day trek along the Mardi Himal.
On the following pages below I've compiled detailed articles on the specifics of trekking in Nepal that may be of use to you.
You will find them to be a great place to research your whole trekking trip to Nepal - be sure to bookmark them so you don't forget!
|You might find my following free guides helpful:|
My guide on trekking in Nepal
|Check out my guide on equipment & gear needed for trekking in Nepal|
|Check out my list of treks to do in Nepal complete with maps||Check out my guide on how to travel overland into Tibet for a lot more!|
|How to choose a trekking guide in Nepal||My Day by day account of trekking to Everest Base Camp in the off season (winter)|
|Check out my How to travel overland into Nepal guide||Check out my country Guide to Nepal|
Liked this page? You'll love my trekking book! It's a hands on trekking guidebook that's better than the rest. Yes, really!
In the book I cover all the popular treks in Nepal with step-by-step accuracy using scalable maps, photographs and travel tested up-to-date trekking information.
Just like my other guidebooks to Nepal it's an interactive & printable guidebook like no other.
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