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Mardi Himal Trek: A quest to meet the enchantress in Annapurna Region!

  • 17-Jan-2019
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As an individual born and raised in Nepal, I was always fascinated by the majesty of the snow-clad summits of the lofty Himalayas since my childhood. After my graduation, the dream to witness the soaring mountaintops nearby became ambition, which then turned into an obsession. Determined to gaze at the imposing mountains; I ultimately planned to set off for an escapade to Mardi Himal Base Camp. But for that plan to be successful, I needed travel companions, which I got in the form of my friends, Abishek Timsina and Sulav Pandey.

Mardi Himal Base Camp Trek is a 6-day long journey to the Base Camp of the Mardi Himal (depend upon trekkers) across the sublime terrain of the well-renowned Annapurna Region. Greatly admired as a ‘Hidden Treasure’, this newly opened trekking route sees far less crowd in comparison to its counterpart, the Annapurna Circuit Trek. This off-the-beaten trail provides a window of opportunity to get acquainted with the region’s emerald landscapes. Moreover, trekkers can get a detailed insight into the culture, traditions, and lifestyle of the native communities. I shared these trip facts with my friends and we quickly agreed to go for this adventure during our Dashain vacation in the Nepalese month of Ashwin (October).


Following some preparations; we departed from Kathmandu on our motorbikes to Pokhara on Day 1. On the way, we could observe picturesque landscapes as well as river Trishuli and Marsyandi which were constantly following us. We traveled for about 5 hours to arrive at Pokhara. This lovely city has a never-fading charm of its own. Pokhara is a boon to sightseers, all thanks to lakes and exquisite natural settings. After the overnight stay, we headed to Phedi at the break of the day on Day 2. Phedi (1,130m) is the point from where we commenced our trekking venture. The stone step leading uphill was the first obstacle we needed to pass to continue our trek. Truth is, the four-hour climb was punishing for beginners like us. We finally appear at Dhampus (1,650m). Initially, we had decided to stay at Dhampus but the excitement kept us moving forward. We continue our trek and reached Pothana via Dhampus Deurali (3 hours trek). Beside this segment of the trail, we came across grassland as pretty as a picture. We were somewhat satisfied with our first overnight stay at Pothana (1,950m) as the accommodation was cozy and the food was edible.

On Day 3, we advanced across woodlands to make a steep uphill climb. Afterward, we moved further to end up at Pritam Deurali (2,100m). Here, we got our first real glimpses of my dreams, the snow-capped mountains. In the pursuit of the well-marked trail, we made our way beyond the never-ending forest and overcome some minor ups and downs to Forest Camp (2,520m) succeeding eight hours-long hikes. We were tired and our feet simply gave up. We had some rest as well as lunch at the local restaurant.  The exhaustion alone was not enough to stop us. Our spirits were high and the excitement was rushing within our bodies. So, we forged ahead on the very day and emerged at Rest Camp. A steep climb on the rugged trail beyond the dense forest, the trek to Low Camp was difficult (6-7 hours trek). In addition, the low light at the end of the day made the hike more demanding.  The continuous negotiation with the precipitous path bore the fruit as we ended up at Low Camp (3,150m) in dark. The overnight stay was painful as the owner of the teahouse was grumpy and the food was unpalatable.


Before dawn on Day 4, we climb our way up to Middle Camp as the locals had informed us about the magnificent sunrise. Much more beautiful than the description of the locals, the sunrise was mind-boggling. Accompanied by the awe-inspiring vistas of Annapurna and Machhapuchhre, we pushed forward to High Camp via Badal Danda (3-4 hours trek). The mountain scenery around us was so much heavenly that the words alone are not able to justify its beauty. The cold wind and the steep ascend presented few complications but the surrounding views made us forget all. The High Camp (3,540m) was a pretty amazing place but exposed us to freezing temperatures. But again, the spellbinding mountain vistas warmed the inner core of our soul. The owner of the lodge where we stayed this day was good-natured and cooked us some delicious meal all by himself even if the cooks were present, a typical example of true Nepalese hospitality. At night, we could see the snowy mountains glittering under moonlight complemented with countless stars up above in the sky. On Day 5, to observe the sunrise from the Mardi Himal Viewpoint, we ascend some tough climbs under the cloak of darkness with a flashlight in our hands. After some 3-4 hours of ascent, we set our foot at the viewpoint (4,200m). The close-up outlooks of Mardi Himal (5,587m), Annapurna South (7,219m) and Annapurna I (8,091m), Hiunchuli (6,441m), Tent Peak (5,695m), and Machhapuchhre (6,993) brought the tear of happiness as my fantasy turned into reality in front of my very eyes.


Subsequently, we made our progress to Mardi Himal Base Camp (4,500m); more than three hours of an arduous hike on the stone-strewn pathway. The views were not pleasing as it was at the viewpoint which was a bit disappointing for us. In the end, we retraced our steps back to High Camp via viewpoint. Because of the rapid ascents we made, we were pretty much sure that we were exposed to the dangers of Acute Mountain Sickness. At the altitudes above 4,000m asl, we could see our fingers swell, faced severe problems while breathing and Abishek even hallucinated. We were cautious enough to quickly react to these symptoms and performed a quick descent to lower elevations. For these reasons, we were dead set to try out a new route that would take us directly to Siddhing (1,700m). After a few moments of rest, we advanced on our way downhill. This new route was dangerous but worth the risk as we made steep yet enjoyable descents, passed through verdant woodlands, and few cascading waterfalls. We didn’t find any human settlements in this stretch of trail. Walking for several hours (eight hours to be precise) took us nearby the village as we could hear human noises and see farmlands but Siddhing was far than we ever imagined. We climbed down via stone steps to the suspension bridge over Siddhing Khola and crossed it to enter the village. This utilized an additional an hour. Siddhing offers fine homestay facilities and the natives are quite friendly. We stayed at a home within the community and had a good conversation with the hospitable residents.


On the morning of Day 6, we secured our places in a jeep and stormed our way out on the bumpy track to Pokhara. The same day at 3 p.m., we rode our bikes to Kathmandu. It was about 10 p.m. when we arrived at the capital city of Nepal. This was the trip of our lifetime. The trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp taught us the true meaning of endurance, teamwork, and friendship. It also showcased to us the value of possessing an iron will and the ability to make appropriate decisions at right time. On top of that, personally, the high massifs compelled me to realize that dreams can come true only if we firmly put our faith in them!!!

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