Trekking Mardi Himal
25 Mar 2019 Santosh Gauli
Mardi Himal Trek is a hidden gem and an ideal destination for trekkers looking for a short but magnificent trekking experience in Nepal. This trek offers breathtaking views of several snow-capped mountains such as Mt. Fishtail, Annapurna South, and Hiuchuli, along with picturesque landscapes and verdant forests. The Mardi Himal trek officially began in 2012, but it has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its unique features and less-crowded trails.
Unlike the popular Annapurna Circuit Trek, Everest Base Camp Trek, and Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Mardi Himal Trek is a peaceful and tranquil trek that showcases the cultural diversity, farming communities, terrace fields, and jungle walking of Nepal. Many trekkers are unaware of this hidden treasure, but those who have explored it, have described it as one of the most beautiful treks they have ever done.
Santosh, a seasoned trekker who has completed several treks in Nepal, including Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Region, Manaslu, and Langtang, recommends the Mardi Himal trek for those who seek a safe, peaceful, and short-duration trekking experience. With his personal experience of visiting the region more than five times, Santosh assures that this trek is an achievement in itself, and once you have experienced it, you will treasure the memories forever. So, if you are planning your next trekking adventure in Nepal, make sure to include Mardi Himal Trek in your bucket list.
The first-day trek to Mardi Himal: Pokhara- Phedi than Dhampus
The Mardi Himal trek is a perfect option for those who are short on time but still want to experience the beauty of Nepal. The trek starts from either Hemja, Phedi or Kande, and can be completed within six days. I have done this trek multiple times and each time, it has been a unique and enjoyable experience.
On my first day of the Mardi Himal trek, I joined a group of fellow trekkers. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about joining a group of strangers, but I soon realized it was a great idea for safety and to lower the cost. We started our journey from Phedi, walking steeply for 2 to 3 hours through rice fields, terrace fields, and forests until we reached Dhampus. We decided to spend a night in the lovely big Gurung village of Dhampus, which provided us with stunning views of the paradise valley and snowcapped mountains.
The Mardi Himal trek offers a perfect balance between risk and reward. While trekking with a group of strangers can be challenging, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends and share the experience with like-minded individuals. Throughout the trek, we were able to witness the beauty of the Himalayas up close, including magical views of Mount Fishtail, Annapurna South, and Hiunchuli.
If you are looking for a trekking experience that is peaceful, safe and offers magnificent views of the mountains, then the Mardi Himal trek is highly recommended. It is a relatively new area trek in Nepal, and therefore less crowded than other popular treks such as the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp. So, if you have limited time but still want to explore the natural beauty of Nepal, consider taking the Mardi Himal trek.
The altitude of the Mardi Himal Trek
The Mardi Himal Trek is a moderate trek that takes you to the base camp of Mardi Himal, a peak in the Annapurna region of Nepal. The maximum altitude reached during this trek is 4,500 meters (14,763 feet) at the High Camp, which is the highest point of the trek. However, most of the trekking is done at lower altitudes, with the average altitude ranging from 2,000 to 3,500 meters (6,561 to 11,483 feet). It is important to acclimatize properly and be prepared for altitude changes during the trek to avoid altitude sickness.
Best Time to Trek Mardi Himal
The best time to trek Mardi Himal is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons.
During the spring season, the weather is generally clear, dry, and warm, with blooming flowers, especially rhododendrons, along the trail. The views of the snow-capped mountains are also stunning during this season.
Similarly, during the autumn season, the weather is also clear, with dry and stable conditions, making it the best time for trekking. The mountain views are also exceptional during this season, with the added bonus of clear skies.
Both of these seasons offer stable weather conditions and clear views, making it a perfect time to trek Mardi Himal. However, it’s important to note that weather patterns are unpredictable and can change quickly, so it’s recommended to check the weather forecast and be prepared for possible changes in weather conditions.
Daily Walking hours and distances for Mardi Himal Trek
The daily walking hours and distances for the Mardi Himal Trek can vary depending on your fitness level, trekking pace, and itinerary. However, here is a general breakdown of the walking hours and distances for each day of the trek:
Day 1: Pokhara to Kande (1,770 m/5,807 ft) – 1-hour drive, then trek for 1-2 hours (3-5 km/1.8-3.1 miles)
Day 2: Kande to Forest Camp (2,550 m/8,366 ft) – 5-6 hours trek (10 km/6.2 miles)
Day 3: Forest Camp to Low Camp (3,035 m/9,957 ft) – 3-4 hours trek (7 km/4.3 miles)
Day 4: Low Camp to High Camp (3,580 m/11,745 ft) – 3-4 hours trek (6 km/3.7 miles)
Day 5: Hike to Mardi Himal Base Camp (4,500 m/14,763 ft) and back to High Camp – 7-8 hours trek (12 km/7.4 miles)
Day 6: High Camp to Siding Village (1,750 m/5,741 ft) – 6-7 hours trek (14 km/8.7 miles)
Day 7: Siding Village to Pokhara – 3-hour drive
Overall, you can expect to walk for 4-8 hours per day, covering distances ranging from 3-14 km (1.8-8.7 miles) depending on the day. It’s important to maintain a steady and comfortable pace, stay hydrated, and take breaks as needed to prevent fatigue and altitude sickness.
Hiking Experience Required for Mardi Himal Trek
The Mardi Himal Trek is a moderate-level trek that requires a moderate level of hiking experience. While it is not as difficult as some of the more strenuous treks in Nepal, it still requires a good level of physical fitness and some prior hiking experience.
Here are some of the factors to consider for the hiking experience required for the Mardi Himal Trek:
- Fitness Level: The Mardi Himal Trek involves hiking for several hours each day, often on steep uphill and downhill terrain. It is important to have a good level of cardiovascular fitness, strength, and endurance to be able to complete the trek comfortably.
- Altitude: The Mardi Himal Trek takes you to an altitude of up to 4,500 meters (14,763 feet) at the Mardi Himal Base Camp. This means that you will be hiking at a high altitude, where the air is thinner and the temperatures are colder. Prior experience with high-altitude trekking can be helpful.
- Terrain: The terrain on the Mardi Himal Trek can be challenging, with steep ascents and descents, rocky paths, and occasional sections with loose gravel or snow. Prior experience with hiking on similar terrain can be helpful.
- Weather: The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature, wind, and precipitation. Prior experience with hiking in different weather conditions can be helpful.
Overall, while prior hiking experience is not a requirement for the Mardi Himal Trek, having a moderate level of hiking experience, good physical fitness, and preparation can greatly enhance your experience and ensure a safe and enjoyable trek.
Mardi Himal is the Best Destination for New Trekkers in Nepal
The Mardi Himal Trek can be a great destination for new trekkers in Nepal who are looking for a moderate and less-crowded trekking experience. Here are some reasons why Mardi Himal can be a good choice for new trekkers:
- Moderate Difficulty Level: The Mardi Himal Trek is considered a moderate trek, with some steep and challenging sections towards the High Camp. However, it’s not as difficult as some of the more popular treks like the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp Trek, making it a good choice for new trekkers who have some prior hiking experience.
- Less Crowded: Compared to other popular treks in Nepal, such as Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp, the Mardi Himal Trek is relatively less crowded, providing a quieter and more peaceful trekking experience.
- Stunning Views: Despite being a lesser-known trek, the Mardi Himal Trek offers stunning views of the Annapurna range, including Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) peak, Dhaulagiri, and Manaslu. Trekkers also get to walk through beautiful forests and traditional villages.
- Accommodation Options: The trek offers basic teahouses and lodges along the trail that provide accommodation and meals to trekkers. This makes it easier for new trekkers who may not be experienced in camping or carrying their own food.
Overall, the Mardi Himal Trek can be a great choice for new trekkers in Nepal who are looking for a moderate and less-crowded trekking experience with stunning views and good accommodation options.
Tea Houses in Mardi Himal Trek
The Mardi Himal Trek is a popular trekking route in the Annapurna region of Nepal, and there are several tea houses and lodges along the trail where trekkers can stay. Tea houses are basic accommodations that provide a place to sleep, food, and drinks for trekkers.
Here are some things to know about tea houses in the Mardi Himal Trek:
Tea houses are the primary form of accommodation on the trek. There are no camping options available on the trail.
Tea houses are basic but comfortable, with clean bedding and shared bathrooms.
The menu at tea houses usually includes a variety of Nepali and western dishes, as well as snacks, hot and cold drinks, and bottled water.
The cost of staying in a tea house is relatively cheap, with prices ranging from around $5 to $15 per night depending on the location and the season.
During the peak trekking season (October to November and March to April), it is recommended to book your tea house accommodation in advance to ensure availability.
Tea houses are located in small villages along the trail, and the distance between them can vary from a few hours to a full day’s hike.
Climate for Mardi Himal Trek
The climate for the Mardi Himal Trek varies depending on the season and the altitude. The Mardi Himal Trek is located in the Annapurna region of Nepal, which has a subtropical to alpine climate. Here is a breakdown of the climate for each season:
Spring (March to May): Spring is one of the best times to do the Mardi Himal Trek. The weather is mild, with clear skies and warm temperatures during the day. The temperature at the base camp ranges from 0°C to 10°C. The rhododendron forests along the trail are in full bloom during this time, making it a beautiful time for the trek.
Summer (June to August): Summer is the monsoon season in Nepal, and the Mardi Himal Trek receives heavy rainfall during this time. The trails can be slippery and muddy, and there is a risk of landslides. However, the mountains and forests are lush and green during this time, and the trek can still be enjoyable with proper rain gear.
Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another popular time for the Mardi Himal Trek. The weather is clear, with mild temperatures during the day and colder temperatures at night. The temperature at the base camp ranges from -5°C to 5°C. The skies are usually clear, providing excellent views of the mountains.
Winter (December to February): Winter is the coldest time of year in Nepal, and the Mardi Himal Trek can be challenging during this time. The temperature at the base camp ranges from -10°C to -5°C. The higher altitudes can be snow-covered, and the trails can be icy and slippery. However, the crowds are lower during this time, and the views can be spectacular on clear days.
Flexibility and Trustworthiness of Trek Teams
Flexibility and trustworthiness are two key factors that are essential in a trek team for a successful and enjoyable trekking experience.
Flexibility is important because the trekking conditions and weather can be unpredictable in the mountains. A good trek team should be able to adjust the itinerary or the route based on the changing conditions to ensure the safety and comfort of the trekkers. They should also be able to accommodate any unexpected situations or changes in the plan that may arise during the trek.
Trustworthiness is also important because you are putting your safety and well-being in the hands of the trek team. A trustworthy team should have experienced and trained guides who can make informed decisions for the group’s safety. They should also have proper equipment, permits, and insurance to ensure a safe and legal trek.
Here are some ways to assess the flexibility and trustworthiness of a trek team:
Look for reviews and recommendations from previous trekkers who have used their services. Check their website or social media pages for reviews, or ask for references from the team.
Ask about their experience and qualifications. A good trek team should have experienced and trained guides who have knowledge of the trek route, the terrain, and the weather conditions.
Ask about their policies for unexpected situations, such as weather changes or medical emergencies. A flexible team should have contingency plans and be able to adjust the itinerary if needed.
Check if they have the necessary permits and insurance. A trustworthy team should have the required permits and insurance to ensure a safe and legal trek.
Popular months for Mardi Himal Trek
The Mardi Himal Trek is a relatively new trekking route in Nepal, and it is gaining popularity among trekkers who want to experience the beauty of the Annapurna region without the crowds of other popular treks like the Annapurna Base Camp Trek or the Everest Base Camp Trek. The best time to do the Mardi Himal Trek is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons when the weather is mild, and the skies are clear. These months are considered the most popular for the Mardi Himal Trek.
- During the spring season, the rhododendron forests along the trail are in full bloom, making for a beautiful and colorful trekking experience. The weather is mild, with clear skies and warm temperatures during the day, and the nights can be chilly.
- During the autumn season, the weather is also mild, with clear skies and mild temperatures during the day. The nights can be colder, but the views of the mountains are spectacular. The autumn season is also the time when many festivals are celebrated in Nepal, such as the Dashain and Tihar festivals, adding to the cultural experience of the trek.
- While it is possible to do the Mardi Himal Trek during the winter (December to February) and summer (June to August) seasons, these months are less popular due to the weather conditions.
- The winter season can be extremely cold, with snow and ice on the trails, while the summer season can be wet and muddy due to monsoon rains. However, if you are prepared for these conditions, you can still enjoy the trek during these months with fewer crowds.
Cultural Treks in Annapurna Region
The Mardi Himal Trek is a cultural trek in the Annapurna region of Nepal that takes you through traditional villages and offers insights into the local culture and lifestyle. Here are some cultural highlights of the trek:
Traditional Villages: The Mardi Himal Trek takes you through several traditional Gurung and Magar villages such as Landruk, Siding, and Lwang. These villages are known for their unique culture, traditional houses, and friendly locals who are always eager to welcome visitors.
Local Cuisine: During the trek, you get to try local Nepalese cuisine, which includes traditional dishes like Dal Bhat (rice, lentil soup, and vegetables), momos (dumplings), and Thukpa (noodle soup). You can also try local homemade honey, tea, and alcohol.
Religious Sites: The trek also takes you through several religious sites, including the Buddhist monastery at Siding and the Hindu temple at Kalimati. These sites offer a glimpse into the local religious practices and beliefs.
Festivals and Celebrations: If you’re lucky, you may get to experience local festivals and celebrations during the trek. The locals celebrate festivals such as Dashain, Tihar, and Lhosar with colorful decorations, music, and dance performances.
Overall, the Mardi Himal Trek is a great cultural trek in the Annapurna region of Nepal that offers insights into the local culture and lifestyle through traditional villages, local cuisine, religious sites, and festivals.
Trekking with a group or Alone?
From April 1, 2023, hiring a professional guide will be mandatory for trekking in Nepal. As someone who loves trekking in Nepal, I always hire a professional freelance guide. Not only do I prefer trekking with locals who can provide better insights about the region, but I also believe that hiring a local guide is a way of contributing to their livelihoods. The money paid to them goes directly to their families, rather than to big agencies.
Trekking with a guide is not only beneficial for the local community but also for the trekker’s safety. I have always felt safe and secure while trekking with a guide. It’s always better to be with someone who knows the region and its people well. I usually trek at the beginning or end of the season as it is less crowded and easier to get better accommodations. Spring is my favorite season to trek in the Mardi Himal or Annapurna region as the blooming flowers make the scenery more stunning.
If you are a budget traveler and prefer trekking with a group, it’s a good option too. However, if you want more freedom and flexibility, I would recommend trekking with an experienced guide who can help you customize your itinerary and ensure that you have the best experience.
If you plan to trek without a guide or porter, you must obtain an Annapurna permit and TIMS card. It’s also essential to bring a guidebook, map, and a cell phone as there are many trails, and you might get lost in the forest. Sometimes there are no houses along the last few settlements, so it’s crucial to be prepared before you begin your Mardi Himal trek. With these precautions and hiring a professional guide, your trekking experience in Nepal will be safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable.
How much do I need for Mardi Himal Trek?
If you are planning to go on a Mardi Himal trek, you can choose from two options for the trip cost. The first option is a package trek where you pay a total amount to your guide or agency, and they will take care of everything you need during your trek. This is a stress-free and luxurious way to explore the region.
The second option is to hire a guide for your Mardi Himal trek. If you choose this option, the cost will depend on the number of days you want to spend on the trek. For a 6-day trek, the approximate cost is <strong>550 USD per person, which includes the permit, transportation, guide salary, hotel in Pokhara & Kathmandu, and food during the trek.
If you decide to hire a guide for a day, the cost is about 30 USD per day. However, if you choose to trek without a guide, don’t forget to get an Annapurna permit and TIMS card, which are the entry permits for the Annapurna Conservation Area. Also, make sure to bring a guidebook, map, and cell phone for your safety, as there are many trails, and it’s easy to get lost in the forest, especially in the last few settlements where there are no houses around.
Mardi Himal trek itinerary:
Day 01: Arrival Kathmandu-30 minute drive to your hotel.
Upon your arrival at the Kathmandu airport, I will be there waiting for you with your name displayed on a paper or board, making it easy for you to spot me. From there, I will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. Once you have refreshed and settled in at your hotel, I will meet with you again for a trip briefing and preparation. During this meeting, I will provide you with all the necessary information about your upcoming trip and answer any questions you may have. This will ensure that you are well-prepared and ready for an enjoyable and hassle-free journey.
Day 02: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara- 7 hrs drive
After having breakfast, we will take a taxi or rickshaw (3-wheel cycle) to reach Kantipath, Jamal. From there, we will catch a bus that leaves at 7 am and travels to Pokhara. During the journey, we will make two stops for food. The first one will be at Malekhu, and the second one will be at Ghasikuwa. Finally, we will reach the Pokhara tourist bus station at Lakeside. The drive will be very smooth and relaxing, offering scenic views and beautiful landscapes.
Day 03: Drive to Kande and trek to Australian Camp-3 hrs Walk
In the morning, you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast at your accommodation before we head out. We’ll then take a 40-minute drive to Kande, followed by a 2 to 3-hour trek to Australian Camp (2060m). We’ll spend the night at Australian Camp, which is situated over 2000m high and offers breathtaking views of the Annapurna mountain range.
Day 04: Trek to Forest Camp (2500m).
After having breakfast at Australian Camp, we will ascend through the trail towards Forest Camp (2,500m). During the trek, we will enjoy the majestic view of Annapurna and Fishtail mountain. The trail mostly consists of stone-made steps in the forest area, passing through Deurali and continuing to Forest Camp. It will be a perfect walking distance with amazing views throughout the journey. We will spend the night at Forest Camp.
Day 05: Trek from forest camp to High camp (2990m) – 3hrs walking
From Forest Camp, the trail continues to ascend towards High Camp (3,580m). The trek becomes more challenging as the altitude increases, and the air becomes thinner. The trail is steep, and there are rocky sections that require a careful footing. However, the views of the mountains become more breathtaking with every step. You will walk through dense forests, and as you emerge above the treeline, you will see the majestic peaks of the Annapurna Range and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) towering above. Finally, you will reach High Camp, where you will spend the night and prepare for the ultimate challenge of the Mardi Himal Trek – the ascent to Mardi Himal Base Camp.
Day 06: Trekking from High Camp to Mardi Himal West Base Camp/Upper Viewpoint (4,450m),
The trek from High Camp to Mardi Himal West Base Camp/Upper Viewpoint (4,450m) is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the Mardi Himal trek. The trail starts with a steep ascent through rocky terrain, which can be difficult at times due to the altitude. The view of the snow-capped peaks of Annapurna South and Hiunchuli is simply breathtaking.
As we climb higher, we enter a beautiful rhododendron forest, which provides a welcome relief from the harsh rocky terrain. The trail winds through the forest, and at times, it can be quite narrow and steep. However, the reward for your efforts is the stunning view of Mardi Himal and the surrounding peaks.
As we near the Upper Viewpoint, the trail becomes steeper and more challenging. The altitude can also make breathing difficult. However, as we reach the top, the panoramic view of the Himalayan range is awe-inspiring. From here, we can see the majestic peaks of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail).
After spending some time at the Upper Viewpoint, we will descend back to High Camp, where we will spend the night. The descent can be quite steep, so it is important to take it slow and steady. Overall, this part of the trek is physically demanding, but the views and sense of accomplishment make it all worthwhile.
Day 07: Trekking to Siding Village (1,885m) from High Camp.
The trek from High Camp to Sidding Village is a downhill journey that takes about 6-7 hours. The trek starts with a steep descent through the forest, with a beautiful view of Mardi Himal and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) peak in the background.
As you descend, you will come across a few clearings and grazing pastures. The trail then enters into the forest again, and you will need to be careful as it can be slippery at times. After about 3 hours of descent, you will reach Low Camp, where you can take a break and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.
After Low Camp, the trail continues through the forest, and you will cross a few streams and small waterfalls. The trail can be quite steep at times, so it’s important to be careful and take your time.
After around 3-4 hours of trekking, you will reach Sidding Village, a small Gurung village with traditional houses and terraced fields. The village is located at an altitude of 1,700m and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
In Sidding Village, you can relax and enjoy the local hospitality. You can stay in a homestay or a guesthouse and experience the traditional Gurung culture and lifestyle. The trek from High Camp to Sidding Village is a beautiful and rewarding journey that offers a unique insight into the local culture and natural beauty of the region.
Day 08: Sidding to Pokhara on Jeep
From Sidding village, we will take a jeep to Pokhara. The jeep ride will take approximately 4-5 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic. The road from Sidding to Pokhara is mostly off-road, passing through small villages and scenic countryside. Along the way, we will cross several streams and rivers, and pass through lush forests and terraced fields. The journey can be bumpy at times, but the stunning views of the Himalayan range and the surrounding landscape make it a worthwhile experience. The jeep will drop us off at Lakeside, Pokhara, where we can rest and enjoy the beautiful lakefront area.
Day 09: Drive to Kathmandu in the morning.
The drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu covers approximately 200 kilometers and takes around 6-7 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. The route follows the Prithvi Highway and offers scenic views of the Himalayan mountain range, as well as small villages and towns along the way. It is recommended to take breaks during the journey to rest and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mardi Himal Trek
What is the Mardi Himal Trek?
The Mardi Himal Trek is a moderate trek in the Annapurna region of Nepal that takes you to the base camp of Mardi Himal, a peak located to the east of the famous Annapurna massif.
How long is the Mardi Himal Trek?
The Mardi Himal Trek usually takes 5-7 days to complete, depending on the starting point and pace of the trek.
What is the maximum altitude reached during the Mardi Himal Trek?
The maximum altitude reached during the Mardi Himal Trek is 4,500 meters (14,763 feet) at the High Camp.
When is the best time to trek Mardi Himal?
The best time to trek Mardi Himal is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons.
Is a permit required for the Mardi Himal Trek?
Yes, a permit is required for the Mardi Himal Trek. Trekkers need to obtain the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) and the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card before starting the trek.
What is the difficulty level of the Mardi Himal Trek?
The Mardi Himal Trek is considered a moderate trek, with some steep and challenging sections, especially towards the High Camp. Some prior trekking experience and a reasonable level of fitness are recommended.
What are the accommodation options during the Mardi Himal Trek?
There are basic teahouses and lodges along the trail that provide accommodation and meals to trekkers. It’s recommended to carry some cash as credit cards and ATMs may not be available in some places.
What are the highlights of the Mardi Himal Trek?
The highlights of the Mardi Himal Trek include stunning views of the Annapurna range, traditional villages, rhododendron forests, alpine meadows, and the base camp of Mardi Himal.