Trekking in Annapurna Area, Nepal Part III
Difficulty: C (light medium)
Number of days: 11
Elevation (max.): 4,000 m.
See Tourists: Mustang trek
According to weddinginfashion, Mustang is also known as the forgotten kingdom, which for many years was completely closed to tourists, and which today can still only be towed with a special permit.
The trek starts in the “capital” of the Mustang region, Jomsom, and goes through a wide river valley to the town of Kagbeni, which is the border with the Upper Mustang. Here, trekkers are registered before they are allowed to cross the border into the forbidden country. The trail enters dry, Tibetan highlands with eroded cliffs, through several smaller villages, where Mustang’s classic red, white and black chortenens mark the villages’ sacred sites.
Mustang is a large, dry desert country with small scattered villages that get smaller and simpler the deeper you move into the old kingdom. Along the way you see how culture and traditions change from village to village; in some places you see classic white-painted houses, in other places you notice the “demon traps” in the form of sheep horns hanging over the doors of the houses.
Along the way, there are obvious visits to small monasteries and tea houses. One of the most beautiful monasteries on the route can be found in Tsarang, after passing a several hundred long prayer wall.
From Tsarang, the path meanders over the Lo La mountain pass, from where you can see the Mustang walled capital, Lo Manthang, which can be open from the north side. Modern Nepal in the form of administration, school, medical center and police station is located outside the white-painted city wall, which is 300 meters long and 150 meters wide and over time has protected the city from both wind and weather and external attacks. Lo Manthang was founded around the year 1450 by the legendary Ame Pal, who conquered and united the many small kingdoms of the Upper Mustang. The city has never been expanded, and various archaeologists find it as evidence that Lo with its approx. 1,200 inhabitants have largely not changed in the last 500 years.
From Lo Manthang, the path goes west down towards Ghemi, and along the way, the highest point of the trip, Marang La, is crossed at an altitude of 4,230 meters, from where there is a fantastic view of Annapurna. This is followed by crossing two more elevation passes of approx. 4,000 meters, before the route dives down, back to Kagbeni. From Kagbeni the trek is to Jomsom, where the trek ends.
Nar & Phu
Difficulty: D (average +)
Number of days: 15
Elevation (max.): 5,320 m.
See Tourists: Nar & Phu trek
The Nar and Phu valleys lie north of the classic route around Annapurna, and here only a few trekkers move. However, the area, which was first opened to tourists in 2002, is evolving and its popularity is rising. If you want to experience Nar and Phu as the unknown Himalayan country it is today, it is therefore best not to wait too long.
The trek starts and ends in Jagat, which is northeast of Pokhara, and goes through rocky valleys and forests, over rivers and bridges and past villages and large waterfalls for five days before reaching Nar-Phu land.
The entrance to Phu is stunning and the landscape stands quite untouched here 12-14 kilometers from the border with Tibet. The culture is distinctly High Tibetan with classic two-story stone houses with a courtyard in the middle. There are only a few tea houses, but the small village with less than 200 inhabitants, all of Tibetan vote, is in development.
From Phu, the route goes south with a two-day hike to Nar, which is slightly larger than Phu. The houses are the same style, but some of them are painted white, and the town offers some fine monasteries. In Nar you are very close to the classic route around Annapurna, but still not an eye comes here and the area bears no trace of tourism.
From Nar, it rises above the Kang La Pass at an altitude of 5,320 meters, which must be one of the most beautiful in the Himalayas with stunning views and steep mountain edges on both sides. From here, the trail meanders slowly downhill for the next few days until the end of the trek at Jagat.
Difficulty: B (easy)
Number of days: 6
Height (max.): 3,080 m.
Se Tourists: Poon Hill trek
The short and relatively easy Poon Hill trek is the country’s most popular with as many as 70,000 trekkers annually. Like other treks in the Annapurna area, it starts out not far from Pokhara, in this case from the small village of Naya Pul. The trek follows the first part of the classic Annapurna Base Camp trek, which goes around green fields and cultivated land and through the most beautiful rhododendron forests, which are in full bloom during the spring high season.
Throughout the trek, the highest white mountain peaks of the Himalayas tower in the background, and at times there are full panoramic views of several 8,000s at once. The route reaches its highest point at the top of Poon Hill, which is the area’s best vantage point and, just like on the Annapurna Base Camp trek, the best place to experience a sunrise over the Himalayas. From the top there is a full view to Dhaulagiri, which with its 8,167 meters is the world’s 7th highest mountain, the very aesthetic Fiskehalebjerg, Manaslu and of course the Annapurna mountains.
From Poon Hill, the trek continues through some of the area’s most charming villages. The beautiful Fiskehalebjerg reigns along the route most of the way, as it goes down towards more open areas.
The move ends in Naya Pul.