PART 2: Higher Altitude up to 4,500m & beyond

ANNAPURNA & DHAULAGIRI –
11 Days.  Max. Altitude 4,750m. 
Fully Supported Tented Trekking with guides and porters. 
Pre-trek Briefing:  HE Base Camp (Pokhara) 5 pm on day prior to Day 1.

The scene, somewhere between Heaven and Earth, is simple enough; the World’s deepest gorge formed by two 8,000m peaks – of which there are only 14 on the planet.

Annapurna I (8,090m) standing right over you.  The valley of the Kali Gandaki an eternal free fall below.  Beyond it to the west the great white hulk of Dhaulagiri (8,167m), as if by metamorphosis, via sunset pink turning to star-escorted midnight blue. 

DAY TO DAY PLAN –
Day 1: Pokhara to Pothana 
(O/nt Altitude 1,890mm/5hrs approx. )  Early morning rendezvous at Himalayan Encounters Pokhara Base Camp for breakfast.  Drive to drop-off point and set off on foot.  We climb from Phedi steeply up to the main trail along the ridge to Dhampus.  Here there are wonderful views of Machhapuchare and the Pokhara Valley.  After lunch the trail leads gently up to Pothana, our first night’s camp.  (B,L,D)

Day 2:  To Ghandruk
  (O/nt Altitude 1,940m/6 hrs approx. )
After an early breakfast, we start walking. The trail passes through rhododendron forest up to Dhampus Deurali then heads steeply down to the Modi Khola before climbing back up again to Ghandruk. Our campsite tonight has views of Annapurna South, Machhapuchare and the Mardi Himal south ridge, and looks across the Modi Khola Valley to the villages of Landruk & Tolka. (B,L,D)

Day 3:  To Tadapani
 (O/nt Altitude 2,590m/4-5hrs approx.)  First the trail ascends through the village of Ghandruk and later climbs through the forest, following a water course, up to Tadapani.  Around us are magnificent views of the Annapurnas. (B,L,D)

Day 4  To Dobato  
(O/nt Altitude 3,460m/5-6hrs approx.)  The trail takes us gently uphill through the rhododendron and magnolia forest, with daphne bushes and orchids hosted by the bigger trees. We see storm-torn trees broken by the winter snows and wind before breaking into a meadow with a small stream. Here we lunch then rejoin the trail, climbing upward through clumps of bamboo to reach Dobato.  (B,L,D)

Day 5  To Chhistibang
(O/nt Altitude 3,100m/5½ hours approx)  For the first hour the trail follows a 3,100m high contour then breaks out of the forest onto a grassy moor land.  To the west and far below are breathtaking views of the lovely Kali Gandaki.Valley and above and beyond the great massif of Dhaulagiri. The route then leads on upwards to Bhaise Kharka at 3,330m.

(Here too there is a fine campsite - a useful alternative to that at Dobato.)   A gradual climb down brings us to an ideal, shady lunch spot beside a clear stream.  Afterwards we continue on down to Chhistibang Camp.  (B,L,D)

Day 6  To Khobra Ridge
(O/nt Altitude 3,650m/4hrs approx.)  A relatively short day of hiking; the trail again breaking the tree-line and climbing uphill to the Kobra Ridge.  A packed lunch is prepared for this day for there is very little water en route for food preparation. Unbelievably beautiful, Kobra Ridge - somewhere between Heaven and Earth – is known to have some of the most awe-inspiring mountain views on offer:  Annapurna South (7,219m), Baraha Shikhar (7,647m.), Nilgiri away towards Mustang and westward to the hulk of Dhaulagiri.  (B,L,D) 

Day 7  To High Camp
(O/nt Altitude 4,240m/6-7hrs approx.) Sunset and sunrise has set Dhaulagiri aflame. Upwards for 3½ hours across high pastures that are home to wild yaks, sometimes grazing in herds and sometimes lone rogue males.  High Camp is established and we relax and acclimatise. (B,L,D) 

Day 8  to Khairbaraha Lake
(4750m) then down to Khobra Ridge (O/nt Altitude 3,650m/5-6hrs approx.)   Complete with packed lunch we climb to Khairbaraha Lake (2½ hrs) which is the higher and smaller of two lakes formed by the glaciers and icefalls of Annapurna South.  This place of pilgrimage with its lone stone-piled, usually mist-shrouded, temple to lord Shiva with the wall and summit of Annapurna South so very close and with Baraha Shikhar, Annapurna I’s great southern spur, filling the space beyond.  We return back down to Khobra Ridge for our overnight camp.  (B,L,D)

Day 9  To Chitre 
(O/nt Altitude 2,390m/6hrs approx)  Retracing our steps, we reach Chhistibang and then head due south and down steeply to the Teuche Khola (1,800m.) before climbing to the busy trekking trail that passes through Chitre.  (B,L,D)

Day 10  To Tirkhedhunga
(O/nt Altitude 1,540m/5hrs approx.) Back now among the ‘guide-book’ trekkers, we climb to Ghorepani, the village that sits astride the saddle that takes the trail over and down to the Pokhara Valley. Thus on down via Ulleri and the thigh-pummelling steps to our overnight camp at Tirkedhunga. (B,L,D) 

Day 11  To Pokhara via Naya Pul
(950m) (3½ hrs approx.)  The final morning of our trek takes us down to and over the bridge at Birethanti and up to the rendezvous with the transport for the short journey back to our Base Camp at Pokhara and an end of trek celebratory dinner.  End of Expedition. (B,D)

MEAL CODES:  (B=breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

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