Day 1 – Pokhara – Jomsom
(approx 20min flight)
Jomsom – Kagbeni (2.5hrs approx.) (O/N Annapurna Lodge). Start of trek to Kagbeni (2800m) – a green oasis in the middle of a desert-like landscape, an erstwhile junction on the ancient Trans-Himalayan trade route and the gateway to the restricted region of Upper Mustang. Relatively gentle walking along the broad Kali Gandaki riverbed though strong winds often picks up in strength around noon. See beautiful and strange rock formations on the way. Wandering around Kagbeni, one looses oneself in a fascinating labyrinth of lanes lined by mud-walled houses with ground floor stables and red-bordered windows. The lanes are interspersed with ‘chortens’ and prayer wheels. This is an ancient place, brimming with life: residents and their children, visitors, and pack animals and horses filling the lanes. Later in the day, gain an insight into one form of Tibetan Buddism, Sakyapa, through the first-hand accounts of resident monks at the local monastery. (D)
Day 2 – Day Hikes from Kagbeni
(O/N Annapurna Lodge)
The day offers two options: a long, full-day trek to Muktinath (3,800m), the highest point of the trek, or a more leisurely trek to the village of Jharkot, located about halfway to Muktinath.
The trail to Jharkot, 3,550m, (3.5 hrs approx.) ascends initially through barren yet picturesque terrain. Jharkot is a quiet, medieval village with narrow alleys lined by ancient, crumbling houses. A large ‘chorten’ stands in the middle of the settlement, with a ruined 16th century citadel nearby. Simply put, the village oozes history.
Muktinath is a further 2hrs on. The trail rises sharply through farmlands and clusters of poplar trees all the way to Muktinath. Later in the day, you can infuse yourself with some spiritual energy by visiting the impressive Muktinath Temple, one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Nepal for Buddhists and Hindus alike. If you’re brave, and wish to supposedly cleanse yourself of all your sins, duck your head under each of the icy-cold 108 water spouts behind the main temple! Another hike up beyond the temple offers some stunning views of the mountain. Return to Kagbeni by a locally chartered jeep. (BLD)
Day 3 - To Larjung via Jomsom with a detour to Lupra
(O/N Thasang Village Lodge)
Return along the trail to Jomsom. At the halfway point (1.5hr approx), veer eastwards off the main trail. A small wooden bridge crosses the Panda Khola stream, and then follows the river course to the village of Lupra (1hr approx), one of the most ancient settlements of the region with its old-world charm still intact. Highlight of the day is a visit to the Lupra monastery, which was founded in the 12th century by Lupragpa, a famous Bon master. Bon is an ancient shamanist faith which was once prevalent in Tibet and the adjoining Himalayan territory. Later it was largely incorporated into mainstream Tibetan Buddhism.
Lupra (2,790m) is an interesting offbeat side-trip; few trekkers make it here but the village, with its adobe houses and traditionally clad inhabitants is certainly worth a visit.
Rejoin the main trail (1hr approx.) and continue your trek to Larjung, passing via Jomsom, Marpha, Tukuche and Kobang (3.5hrs approx.). A longer but less-frequented and very scenic route is also available for those interested. This route passes through Thini, without crossing over Kali Gandaki river to Jomsom. It passes by the holy Dumba Lake to Chhairo and Chokhepani. (BLD)
Day 4 – Day Hikes from Larjung
(O/N Thasang Village Lodge)
You’ll be spoilt for choice today. The options are:
- Hike to Titi Lake and Kunju village (5-6hrs approx.)
- Hike to Guru Sangpo Cave (5hrs approx.)
- Hike to Bhuchharchho & Syokong Lake (5-6hrs)
Day 5 – Return to Jomsom (O/N Om’s Lodge)
A return trek along the Kali Gandaki River, visiting along the way the villages of Tukuche and Marpha to take in and admire their delightful colours and characters. (BLD)
Day 6 – Early morning flight Jomson to Pokhara. (B)