The trek members meet in Kathmandu, the capital of the Kingdom of Nepal. We are greeted at the airport by our Kathmandu representatives, who whisk you through the thriving city to your hotel.
Once everybody has arrived we have a team meeting where introductions and the trip outline are completed. You will be briefed on the trip preparations and we can sort out any queries or questions you have. Your guide will advise you on good shopping and the better restaurants to visit while you are in the city. After an optional sight-seeing tour and familiarisation with the layout of Kathmandu, you are free to look around. There are plenty of shops and entertainment to suit all tastes. From excellent bookshops to mountain bike hire to souvenir shopping and bars, Kathmandu’s retail fraternity is waiting to meet you!
We use a full day in Kathmandu completing gear checks to ensure you are adequately outfitted but there is no need to worry if you have forgotten anything, there are plenty of good outdoor shops in Kathmandu.
Early the next morning, we fly to Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city. From Pokhara, we drive to the trail head at Khara. Here we establish the first of our camp sites right next to the Myagdi Khola River that we will follow over the course of our trek until we cross the range to descend abruptly into the Kali Gandaki River.
The trek itself lasts for 11 days from our departure from Khara until we return to civilisation when we descend into the delightful township of Marpha in the Kali Gandaki Valley. Trekkers will stay in high-quality mountain tents on a twin share basis. Delicious breakfast and dinners will be served in our well-appointed dining tent that is adorned with tables and comfortable chairs. Cooked lunches will be served at an allocated stopping point each day to ensure you are well nourished and energised for the rigours of the hike each day.
The trail at the outset follows the steep sides of the Myagdi Khola River, often zigzagging up to narrow paths with precipitous exposure. While the trails are well formed and are suitable for mules to transport local produce, this would be considered to be an advanced trekking route due to the exposed nature of the route. We advise that previous trekking experience and a head for heights is essential.
The trekking days are moderately strenuous in nature. The trek up to Dhaulagiri Base Camp will involve walking around six hours each day, but there will be a couple of long days towards the end and during the ascent of Dhampus Peak at the high point of the trek.
We have scheduled two days for rest and acclimatisation at Dhaulagiri base camp which sits at 4,700 metres above sea level. Expedition teams from around the world will be in residence at base camp where they will utilise the camp to stage their climbs and rest up between rotations on the mountain. We will spend our time here taking short acclimatisation hikes and maximising rest and recuperation to prepare us for the adventures ahead.
Feeling the benefits of the rest from our nights at base camp we embark on the ascent to French Pass at 5,360 metres. We trek across glacial moraine towards the head of the valley then make the long climb to the apex of the pass that delivers spectacular views of the Dhaulagiri massif. We then drop down the other side into the `Hidden Valley’ where we establish camp at 5,140m. The next day we rise early to make the climb up snow slopes to Dhampus Pass (5,240m) that is the final high point on the trek before we descend abruptly into the Kali Gandaki Valley. For those with the resolve who want to stand on the summit of a Himalayan peak, we make the ascent of Dhampus Peak (6,012m) that sits directly above the pass. From atop you gain spectacular views of the Annapurna’s across the valley and the peaks of the Dhaulagiri Range. The journey now involves a long descent to the green pastures of Yak Kharka (4,430m) and the following morning to the delightful whitewashed township of Marpha. Marpha sports paved streets through narrow alleyways, cute shops and hotels. It is a picturesque scene due to the beautifully cultivated fields of apricot trees and cropping grains that surround this small hamlet.
We drive the next day down the Kali Gandaki River back to Pokhara where we spend a night enjoying this thriving tourist town on the shores of Fewa Lake. Next day we return to Kathmandu for a final celebration before saying good bye to our fellow trekkers.
We place a lot of emphasis on maintaining good health to ensure we get the most from our trekking experience. A trek of this nature involves exposure to the effects of high altitude which we prepare for by use of a trekking program that encourages healthy acclimatisation. In general, a fit and healthy person will adapt to the altitudes encountered on this trek and our guides are experienced in the techniques required to enhance acclimatisation and address any altitude issues should they arise.
Our itinerary includes rest days at the relevant elevations to allow our bodies to adjust to the thin air and we carry sufficient medication to deal with most altitude related problems. Experience has shown us that good hydration, rest days at significant elevations and good base fitness help avoid any significant problems during this trek.