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 of year you visit.
(photo: Machhapuchhre along the top ridge on the way to base camp via the Mardi Himal trek )
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)
The Mardi Himal trek is located to the east of the Annapurna Base camp literally under the spectacular Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) mountain in Gandaki province near Pokhara. 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, Nepali farmlands 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.
(photo: Machhapuchhre along the top ridge on the way to base camp via the Mardi Himal trek )
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.
Starting Mardi Himal from Pokhara or Kathmandu?Start from Pokhara - it's lot easier. Yes technically you could take a bus from Kathmandu Gongabu bus park to Phedi but it's a long 6-7 hour local bus ride. From Pokhara it's 45 minutes.
Moreover the vast majority of experienced guides for Mardi Himal come from Pokhara and not Kathmandu as it's in the same region. However, most of the promotion (sales) for trekking is done in Kathmandu so they make out they know the route just as well. Personally, it's a lot nicer to start and finish the trek in Pokhara with a local guide who has known the region all their lives.
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 obtained in Nepal at very low costs and in my own trekking in Nepal guidebook.
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).
Highlights on the Mardi Himal trek include:
- Epic Mountain views after only 3-4 days
- Snow at high camp / base camp (winter, first season)
- Views of Machhapuchhre
- Views over Annapurna Base Camp
- Diverse scenery
- Forest Trails
- Village Trails
- Ridge Trails
- Friendly locals
- Still not overcrowded
- Budget friendly
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 a Trekking Guide to Mardi Himal 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 relatively well marked trail with very easy to find accommodation en route. The most difficult part to navigate are the routes getting to Forest Camp.
Pro's here include complete independence and a 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.
Get a fully qualified local trekking guide
You may also contact me if you wish to have my personal recommendation however it would be appreciated if you first purchase one of my guidebooks.
There is no weather station on Mardi Himal so the nearest weather center is in Pokhara which is accurate.
Mardi Himal Weather by month (Pokhara)
|Precipitation / Rainfall (mm)
Do note that altitude and mountainous terrain play a strong factor in the comparative weather temperatures. In the winter months expect at least 10+ degree lower night time conditions in the higher parts of Mardi Himal than in Pokhara. However, daytime temperatures are similar. Rainfall is also similar with snow being a factor during the winter months on Mardi Himal.
Humidity and Cloud Coverage Monthly Chart for Mardi Himal(Pokhara)
Humidity and Cloud Weather Data Table for Mardi Himal
|Month||Humidity %||Cloud %|
Clouds play a part in any trek. Most cloud over 4,000m does disperse quite quickly. However if there is more cloud around then obviously dispersal has a lower chance. July and August have quite high cloud coverage as it's the monsoon season. One point of note is that some cloud is always good as it offers protection from the sun and creates much nicer photographs (blue sky with fluffy white clouds and dramatic mountains).
Do note that Humidity is also a factor as it makes the temperature feel hotter than it is so you'll need to drink more on the trek.
Months with the best weather to trek Mardi Himal
From the weather charts above you will have noticed that some months are hotter and wetter than other months. You'll also have noticed the warm and clear sky peak seasons. 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 guides 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 (2019) 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 x 1 pair
- A wind cheater style jacket x1
- Long sleeve shirts x3
- Trekking pants x 1
- Shorts x1
- Socks x5
- Rubber sandals x 1 pair
- Underwear x 5
- Water bottles (water purification system) x 2
- Lip Balm
Please note the above is a very basic list. The number of clothing, example shirts x 3, will be up to you in terms of either washing them enroute yourself or not washing them.
Personally, I wash shirts, underwear and socks every afternoon from the days trek. They dry overnight or I strap them to my backpack the next day and they dry in the sun. This way for a five or six day Mardi Himal trek I only need 2 pairs of everything and it keeps the weight down.
You'll definitely need rubber sandals (flip flops) for the bathrooms and letting your feet breath after a trek.
For a fully comprehensive list please see my article on trekking equipment you need for Nepal.What sim card is best for telephone calls and data? NTC but only up to around Forest camp. After that don't expect a signal.
Is there Wi-Fi on the Mardi Himal trek? Up to Forest Camp there is patchy Wi-Fi. After that, don't expect it.
Can I charge my phone, camera or gadgets on the Mardi Himal trek? Again, up to Forest Camp charging is possible. After that mot electricity is solar powered. There is a 200-500 rupees charge per device. However, don't expect charging to work 100% of the time after Forest Camp.
You need two permits for the Mardi Himal Trek.
- Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit (ACAP)
- Trekker Information Management System (TIMS Card)
Both or these permits can be bought in either Pokhara or Kathmandu at the Tourist Information Center. Both offices are open between 10am - 5pm however it is better to arrive an hour or so before closing time. The less crowded office is in Pokhara and getting the permits only takes about 30 minutes if you have everything you need.
Get the Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit (ACAP)An Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP) covers all of the Annapurna National Park.
- Fill out the ACAP form
- Hand over the completed form, your passport and 2 passport photos
- Pay the 3,000 rupees (only payable in Nepali Rupees)
- Get your ACAP permit
Get the Trekker Information Management System Card (TIMS)
The Trekkers Information Management System Card (TIMS) is meant help protect trekkers through registration checkpoints along a trek. The fees also go towards guide and porter insurance.
Right next to the ACAP permit office is the TIMS card office.
- Fill in the TIMS card form
- Have your photograph taken by a member of staff (bring 2 extra passport photos just in case).
- Pay 2000 rupees *
- Get your TIMS Card
Both the ACAP and TIMS card can be used for all applicable treks until they receive an exit stamp. Once either permit have an exit stamp they cannot be used again. Do be careful about this if combining Mardi Himal with another trek. If you get exit stamps and try to enter/leave again there is a hefty 6,000 rupee on the spot fine!
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).
Trekkers climbing up the trail from High Camp to Base Camp
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 on the Mardi Himal Trek for many people is going from high camp to base camp. It's a tough 6 hours over rocky mountain terrain. You can however stop at the half way point which essentially offers the same views.
It's a steep decent back down from low camp to Sidhing 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. Or go back down via Forest camp.
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 Nepali 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.
This is a plate of typical Dal Bhat on the Mardi Himal Trek - rice, lentils, curry, fresh vegetables and soup
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.
This is a plate of fried noodles on the Mardi Himal trek - noodles with some fresh vegetables (eggs can be added)
|Fried eggs (2)||200-250 Rupees|
|Corn Bread||50-100 Rupees|
|Dal Bhat (Meat)||450-900 Rupees|
|Dal Bhat (Veg) Fried Noodles||350-700 Rupees|
|Boiled Potatoes||350-450 Rupees|
|Fried Noodles (Veg)||350-500 Rupees|
|Fried Potatoes with Cheese||450-600 Rupees|
|Pasta with sauce||450-650 Rupees|
|1 liter beer||800+ Rupees|
|Soft Drinks (Coke, Sprite etc)||150-400 Rupees||1 liter tap water (from underground spring or stream)||free|
|1 liter boiled water (for filtering)||100-150 Rupees||1 liter bottled water||50-150 rupees|
Vegetarian food is plentiful on the Mardi Himal trek. Meat is possible throughout the trek in the form of chicken. goat and buff (buffalo) is also available but more costly and will have been frozen in not the best conditions so avoid. Eggs are usually fresh along the Mardi Himal route. Milk is either powdered or fresh buffalo milk (should be boiled). Cheese is also available on the trek however in my experience the bacterial count is quite high and if you have a susceptible stomach best avoided. Vegetables are all produced locally and fresh.
Do note that prices increase the higher up in altitude you go. Here's a graph that helps to show that the higher you go the more items cost on a trek. This is usually down to transportation costs and terrain. The graph also shows that there is less fresh meat and vegetables available the higher you go.
Many people use water filters to help with their budget and reduce waste on the trek. If you are sensitive to stomach complaints do bring adequate water treatments solutions like iodine or other treatments. Bottled water is available.
Treats like chocolate bars can be bought all along the trek route but can cost from 200 rupees upwards. Bringing a block of Yak cheese 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.
Accommodation on the Mardi Himal Trek from Forest Camp to High Camp is quite basic. Expected shared bathrooms and thin mattresses
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.
It's worth noting that in the past few years Mardi Himal has become quite popular with domestic tourists. As such having a guide for this trek will ensure your preferred accommodation is booked in advance.
|Tea House Name||Telephone Number
|Hotel Trekkers Paradise and Restaurant||061-696668 / 9856087625||High Camp|
|Hotel High Camp and Restaurant||061-696839 / 9846284859||High Camp|
|Hotel Fishtail and Restaurant||061-696945 / 9856014765||High Camp|
|Hotel Lucky View and Restaurant||061-620041 / 9866061995||Badal Danda|
|Hotel Machhapuchre Samjhana and Restaurant||061-696875 / 9856631903||Low Camp|
|Hotel Laligurans Garden and Restaurant||061-696883 / 9846087626||Low Camp|
|Hotel Rest Camp and Restaurant||061-696535 / 9856014428||Rest Camp|
|Hotel Forest Camp and Restaurant||9846619146||Forest Camp|
|Hotel Mardi and Restaurant||9806635881||Forest Camp|
|Hotel Green View and Restaurant||9806536904||Forest Camp|
|Hotel Trekker's Home Nepal Himalayan Meditation Center||061-696668 / 9846087625||Lwang / Sidhing|
|Gautum Cottage and Restaurant||061-696883 / 9846087626||Lwang Ghalel|
|Mardi Himal Eco Village||061-696436 / 9856034899||Kalimati
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 difficulty of any trek is relative. It can be defined by the terrain + altitude + weather + fitness. Mardi Himal is generally considered a moderate trek.
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.
As you see from the chart above chart based on a 6 day trek the second difficult day is the decent from low camp to Sidhing due to the number of steps involved. Again, difficulty is relative and if you start/end from different locations then the difficulty will obviously change.
Costing 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 rupees in peak season (USD $2-$4.50).
- The cost of one liter of water reaches a maximum of 150 rupees at high camp. It starts at around 40-80 rupees (USD $.50-$1).
- The cost of a plate of Dal Bhat starts at around 350 rupees and climbs to 700 rupees (USD $4-$7.50).
- Charging a battery 200-500 rupees.
- Average cost of guide USD $27 per day.
- Average cost of porter USD $20.
Average 5 day trek cost to Mardi Himal
|Item||Cost USD $|
|Permits (ACAP & TIMS)||40|
|Guide x 5 days||135|
|Accommodation x 5||25|
|Water 4 liters a day||20|
Extras: Don't forget to include a tip for your guide 10%. Any soft drinks, sweets, hot drinks etc you may want to purchase along the way.
Do you need a porter? Charging electronics? Taking private (faster) transport? Add it on to the total.
- Take a steripen or lifestraw or a filtration system instead of buying water - just remember that they are not 100% protective and don't remove microscopic minerals, chemicals or viruses.
- 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. Personally for a trek like Mardi Himal I'd prefer a fully qualified guide as there's lots to see due to the diverse terrain.
- Take public rather than private transport to the trail heads.
However, do note that for a short trek like this the reduction in cost is not that great than taking a package trek with a guide. It may well be better to relax back and enjoy your trek a little more by taking a trek that includes accommodation, meals permits, and a guide.
Don't forget to include your travel insurance in your budget. Please be aware that many policies don't include trekking above 4000 meters so be sure to get one that does include trekking to 4,500 meters!
Here is my recommendation for travel insurance when in Nepal.
Please note prices here for the Mardi Himal trek are based on up to date prices however they do fluctuate depending on the time of year, weather conditions and political situations in Nepal. The above will a good idea on budgeting your trek to Mardi Himal.
There are several trekking routes to Mardi Himal however only one is highly recommended as it covers the entire trek and offers the best scenery. Two other routes are shorter. While one route back should be avoided due to rock fall.
Mardi Himal Trek Route One (Circuit - recommended)Pokhara - Hemji/Phedi - Dhampus - Forest Camp - Low Camp - High Camp - Base Camp - High Camp - Low Camp - Sidhing/Lwang - Pokhara.
This route is by far the best route for trekking Mardi Himal. You'll get the most diverse amount of scenery, landscapes and mountain views. It does not loop back meaning you won't be repeating any trekking routes so everyday will have something new to see and experience. It can be accomplished in 5-6 days on average. Full itinerary is below.
Mardi Himal Trek Route Two (Short route)
Australian Camp - Forest Camp - Low Camp - Saita Ghatta - Pokhara.
This route is one of the shortest and safest routes as it allows for acclimatization. It also allows you to see a diverse amount of scenery and enjoy plenty of mountain views. However the trek will be rushed and you will need to take private transport from Saita Ghatta to Pokhara which is about USD $70. This route can be done in 4 days.
Mardi Himal Trek Route Three (Long route)
Pokhara - Hemji/Phedi -
Dhampus - Australian Camp - Forest Camp - Low Camp - High Camp - Base Camp
- High Camp - Low Camp - Sidhing/Lwang - Pokhara.
This is the longest route for Mardi Himal without encompassing other nearby treks. It is similar to route one but adds in Australian Camp after a night in Dhampus. For those trying to make up their minds between route one and two then do note the views from Australian Camp and Dhampus are nearly the same. This route can be done in 7 days.
Mardi Himal Trek Route Four (Sidhing to Sidhing - Not recommended)
Sidhing/Lwang - Low Camp - High Camp - Base Camp -
High Camp - Low Camp - Sidhing/Lwang - Pokhara.
This is the old "permit free route". Back when Mardi Himal was just a developing trekking route trekkers who did not want to pay for an ACAP permit took this route to avoid paying for any permits at all. The problem with this route is that you'll spend most of your trek going up and down a days worth of steps and the tea house owners now keep logs that the permit officers check. It also has the added danger of a "avoid at all costs" route back via an unmarked trail be high camp which has cost the lives of several trekkers in recent years.
Mardi Himal Trek Route Five (Annapurna/Poon Hill Extension)
Ghandruk - Forest
Camp - Low Camp - High Camp - Base Camp - High Camp -
Low Camp - Sidhing/Lwang - Pokhara.
Finally for those looking to extend their Annapurna Circuit trek, Annapurna Base Camp trek or their Poon Hill trek they can add on Mardi Himal by staring from Ghandruk and making their way to Forest Camp. Due to the Annapurna Circuit route and the shortening of the traditional trek this option has now become a favored way to extending their Annapurna trek that was first written about in my Nepal Guidebook.
Route 1 (circuit) Overall the best route for scenery & experience
Route 2 (short) A tough rush but you'll get to the top!
Route 3 (long) If you want to see it all!
Route 4 (Sidhing) You'll miss out
Annapurna Extension - if you are looking to extend your trek
Online trekking route confusion to Mardi HimalIf you are doing some research to Mardi Himal then you might have noticed a bevy of slightly different route names and indeed different routes. The reasons for this are two fold. 1) Since the dawn of trekking in Nepal trekking agents have been trying to "create" their own special treks by using different village names or slightly different starting points. 2) People simply get the names wrong due to local spelling abbreviations.
Mardi Himal Trail MarkingsIf you've never trekked in Nepal before then you might be surprised to learn that the trail markings are not so great. Simple wooden boards, the odd tree and stone have blue and white stripes painted on to them. As you can imagine these trail markings don't last very long after the winter and monsoon seasons.
Andrées de Ruiter, a trekking enthusiast from Belgium, began painting the markers several years ago. Coupled with the odd Nepali enthusiasts they are redone every few years. You may well read some online accounts saying the trail is well marked - most likely because they just passed through when they were painted. The train itself is fairly easy from Forest Camp to High Camp. However the lower routes are not easy to follow and again there is a dangerous route back from high camp which is randomly marked (unofficially) which should be avoided.
If you've never trekked in Nepal before, it's recommended you either learn how to hire trekking a guide or find a trekking guide.
All routes basically converge at low camp and follow the same trail to high camp and on to base camp. The same route brings you back to low camp.
Take the safe route back: From base 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 steps through a pristine forested area.
The most popular route to Mardi Himal (route one) 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.
|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|
* Reduce a day If you are fit and stuck for time then you can reduce a day here. It is possible to trek from Base Camp to High camp to Sidhing. However it is a long day.
** 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.
Here are fully detailed daily itineraries of the Mardi Himal Base Camp Trek
- 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
All treks start from what are known as a trail heads. You usually reach a trail head for Mardi Himal by taking public transport or private transport.
- Ghandruk (Kimche)
Phedi: Buses to Phedi from/to Pokhara are about 100 rupees for the 1 hour journey. They depart from Baglung bus park and the Old Bus Park.
Sidhing: There are no buses from Sidhing so you'll need to hire a car to/from Pokhara which can cost 1000-1200 rupees. If you want to take a bus, continue on to the village of Lwang where you can get a bus for around 200 rupees for the 1.5 hour trip. You can also hire a car if you miss the bus.
Kande (start/finish at Australian camp): Buses from Pokhara take 1.5 hours and cost around 250 rupees. A private car will charge 1,200 rupees. During monsoon season the road near Kande can become very muddy and delays can occur by up to 5 hours.
Landruk/Tolka: Trekkers that want to continue on to Annapurna Base camp often come to Landruk hoping for a bus. Do be warned the road is in bad condition. Quite often the bus can only make it to Tolka, a village before Landruk. In monsoon season the road is often blocked. It should only be used if necessary. Buses randomly depart when full.
Ghandruk (Kimche): If you plan to start or end your Mardi Himal trek from Ghandruk then you'll either have come from Poon Hill or the Annapurna Circuit by trekking or wanting to continue on by foot. However for those wanting to take a bus to/from Pokhara to Ghandruk then buses leave Pokhara's Baglung bus park for the 3-5 hour journey to Kimche - from there you trek 1.5 hours to Ghandruk. Delays usually occur in Nayapul. A faster option is to take a bus from Baglung to Nayapul (1.5 hours) and then hire a jeep to Kimche or even closer to Ghandruk if the driver is willing (1 hour).
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.
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