Adventures / Wild Hikes

Trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp

Trek the hidden alternative to the Annapurna Base Camp trek that boasts first class views of Mt. Machhapuchhre. 11 days.

I'M UP FOR
Wild Hikes
DURATION
10 Nights
DIFFICULTY
Challenging
COMFORT
Basic
LOCATION
Nepal
SEASON
September—April

The Mardi Himal trek is definitely considered a hidden gem as the trail only officially opened to trekkers in 2011. The trek winds through enchanting rhododendron and maple forests before emerging abruptly into the rugged mountain landscape. Here, the views of Mardi Himal, Machhapuchhre, Annapurna I and Hiunchuli are so spectacular, words cannot do them justice.

Your hassle-free adventure includes:

  • 7 days of trekking
  • 6 nights of accommodation along the trek
  • 2 nights accommodation in Kathmandu
  • 2 nights accommodation in Pokhara
  • Local, professional English-speaking guides
  • Assistant leader on 4:1 basis
  • Porter on 2:1 basis to transport luggage
  • Welcome and farewell dinner in Kathmandu
  • Permits and entrance fees
  • All transfers and transport
  • Bus Pokhara to Kathmandu and return
  • Airport transfers

Perfect for:
Keen hikers looking for jaw-dropping views off the beaten track. The ideal trek for those seeking maximum impact in just a few days.

Need To Know

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Meals and drinks while on the trek
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Tips for the guides (optional)
  • Showers and charging while trekking

We do not include meals on the trek as from experience we know that altitude and physical exercise can mean appetites vary hugely. The cost of food rises as we ascend as it is all carried in by porters and yaks and as we get higher up, very little food can be grown. How much you spend per day will vary according to your choice of meal but generally, people spend between $15-$25 per person per day on meals and hot drinks. Below is an approx. breakdown of some items:

  • Dal Baht: $4 to $7C
  • Chow Mein: $2 to $4
  • Eggs: $2 to $4
  • Toast: $1.50 to $3
  • Tea/Hot Chocolate: $1.00 to $3.00
  • Chocolate Bars: $2 to $4

Teahouses will provide cold water free of charge however it needs to be treated to enable you to drink it. Please read the FAQ re our advice here. Other extra costs to be considered:

  • Shower: $2-$4
  • Wifi: $2-5
  • Electricity: $2-5

This trip will run with a maximum of 16.

Sure can! A lot of people do, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Breakfast is usually either hot porridge, muesli or Tibetan bread served with an omelette or boiled eggs. The menus in the teahouses are very similar at every stop and there will usually be a choice of traditional Nepalese dhal bhat (a mixed plate of lentils, rice, vegetables and pickles - delicious and healthy!), Nepalese dumplings (momo’s), mixed noodles, pasta and even pizza. Although meat is available at some teahouses, we suggest you ask your guide for their advice re consumption as it tends to depend on how far it has travelled as to whether it is a safe option.

Absolutely, just make a request when booking.

Although most teahouses have the option to buy bottled water, we advise against it to reduce the use of plastic in the mountains (this ends up being burnt or in landfill out of sight). You will instead be provided with cold water that needs treating. There is a wide range of products available these days which are more effective than traditional purification tablets - some trekkers like to use UV handheld devices such as a Steripen but other options are available (just check the performance in freezing conditions).

Mardi Himal BC is the ideal trek for those who are keen to experience the Himalayas but aren’t quite ready for the longer higher altitude treks. You should have some experience trekking but the trip is designed so that each day has plenty of time factored in for you to take your time and enjoy the incredible views

Still, it is important to note that trekking at altitudes above 3000m/10,000ft is more demanding on the body than walking at low elevations. Some training beforehand will help and we advise doing at least one weekend of back to back days walking. The guide will set the pace and as with all altitude treks, the theme is ‘slowly slowly’ to ensure we adjust to the altitude. So although this trek is rated ‘Challenging’ there are plenty of hours factored into each day to ensure it is completed by all.

When you trek in the mountains, there always the risk of getting altitude sickness, regardless of how old, young, fit or unfit you are. We would expect most trekkers to feel some mild symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, sleeplessness, heavy breathing) when over 3500m. Our guides are trained to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness so if any more serious symptoms are noted, there is a strict procedure regarding extra care or a rapid descent if needed. As this trips spends very little time at high altitude, it is not one where altitude sickness is a regular occurance.

We work with some of the best leaders in the industry. Every single one of them is government licensed and very experienced. In order to ensure guides’ high standard of performance, the host provides them with top-notch in-house training that covers, Leave No Trace (LNT) principles, advanced wilderness first aid, hyperbaric chambers, oxygen system, mountain rescue and incident management.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but the norm in Asian culture means there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

  • Porters: You will have a porter per two people - we suggest US$1-$2 per person, per porter, per day.
  • Assistant Guide: We suggest US$2-$3 per person, per assistant guide per day.
  • Guide: You may also consider tipping your guide for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however, as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

There are 3 different seasons for trekking in Nepal:

Winter (Dec-Feb): Despite being seen as ‘off-season’ this is often the best time to trek in Nepal. The nights can be very cold (down to minus 20ºC) but the trails are quieter and the mountain views are often at their best due to the clear sunny skies.

Pre-Monsoon / Spring (March-May): Temperatures rise significantly in Spring and flowers are in full bloom in the lower lands. Although it can still drop below freezing at night, the daytime temperatures tend to sit between 10-15ºC.

Post-Monsoon / Autumn (Sept-Nov): This is the most popular time to trek in Nepal with sunny and mild days generally. It can get cold and windy at higher altitudes however skies are usually clear.

Of course, mountain weather is notoriously hard to predict and snow can be expected on any trip so come prepared.

All of our trips include a porter per every two trekkers. They will carry up to 15kg of kit so your overnight bags and spare clothes will be transported for you (7.5kg per person). You will only need to carry a ‘day pack’ with essentials in (extra layer, snacks, water, suncream, camera etc).

Your host recommends packing the following:

  • 1 rucksack/duffle bag for the porters to carry with your overnight kit (duffel can be purchased in Kathmandu for approx. $20)
  • 1 day pack as above (approx 30ltr) with waterproof cover
  • 1 waterproof jacket
  • 1 pair waterproof trousers
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 pair lightweight trekking trousers
  • 1 set of thermals (merino is ideal)
  • 2 trekking t-shirts/shirts (shoulders covered)
  • 1 mid layer (fleece or similar)
  • 1 pair trekking boots (must be worn in)
  • 1 pair lightweight trainers for evenings
  • 1 pair waterproof thick gloves
  • 3 pairs thick walking socks / 3 pairs lighter walking socks
  • 1 warm wool hat
  • 1 buff or similar
  • 1 sunhat or similar
  • Spare underwear

Kit - 3 or 4 season down sleeping bag (dependent on season) - Sleeping bag liner - Trekking poles if needed - Travel towel - Sunglasses - Personal medication and first aid kit - Hand gel - 2 x 1ltr water bottles - 1 x headtorch - Suncream - Water purification tablets/system - Small biodegradable bags to take toilet tissue off the mountain/to camp each day - 2 x passport photos for trek permits

You can hire a down jacket and sleeping bag in Kathmandu for the below approx. prices. Please ask your host if this is needed so they can assist you with how to arrange the hire.

4-Season Sleeping Bag Rent: Approx $2 per day Deposit: $80

Down Jacket Rent: Approx $1.5 per day Deposit: $50

On some trekking days/acclimatisation days there will be some downtime at the teahouses. A pack of cards and a book may come in handy here. A metal SIG bottle can also be useful to fill with hot water before bed and used as a hot water bottle.

Please remove all unnecessary packing before you leave home and ensure you take all plastic off the mountain to be disposed of in Kathmandu.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical treatment, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here. For trips to Nepal please ensure that your insurance covers trekking at altitude and includes helicopter evacuation.

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal so check with your embassy before leaving - there is usually the option of obtaining before or upon arrival. All nationalities also require a passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay.

We’ve sourced some great optional activities for you to do in and around Kathmandu should you wish to explore that little bit further. Please discuss these directly with your host who will be able to book them for you.

Cook Like a Local: This short cooking workshop (approx. 3 hours) teaches you how to cook popular Nepali dishes like MoMo and Dal Bhat. You’ll meet your teacher and accompany them shopping, then head to the kitchen and learn to cook alongside them. Price: Pay what you think the workshop is worth!

Shop Local: A 2/3 hour guided exploration of the markets of Kathmandu. Prepare to learn about the vendors that line the crowded narrow alleyways and to witness everything you could ever imagine being sold, haggled and bargained for. A great experience to learn about the melting pot of cultures that exist in Kathmandu. Price: $9-$50pp depending on the group size

Master the of Arts: Patan Durbar Square is popular for its Fine Arts and this trip will explore the local factories where handicrafts are made. We’ll visit 2-3 factories and learn about traditional processes and see art being produced. Price: $14-$59pp depending on the group size.

Introduction to Shamanism: Shamanism, which is believed to heal many diseases, is not practiced widely these days however this trip enables you to meet a practising Guru and learn all about this age-old tradition. We’ll visit a small house to have an introduction, followed by lunch and a drumming session where we’ll learn the importance of rhythm pattern to healing. Price: $90-$150 depending on group size

Location

View map

Kathmandu is famed for its World Heritage sights with include of the holiest Hindu temples and one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world. Despite the 2015 earthquake which brought devastation to parts of the city, the heart of Kathmandu is as intoxicating and exciting as ever.

The Mardi Himal trek is located just East of the Annapurna Base Camp trek. It is spectacularly situated at the base of Mardi Himal (5587m) and Machhapuchhre (6993m).

Start point

Kathmandu Airport - anytime

Your adventure begins at Kathmandu Airport (KTM) with your private airport transfer. Private transfers are included, so you’re free to book any flight. Your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area and will take you to your hotel. You’ll meet your trek leader and fellow adventurers for dinner later that evening.

Finish point

Kathmandu Airport - anytime

At the end of your adventure, you will be dropped back at Kathmandu Airport in time to meet your return flight. You’re free to book any flight and a transfer will be arranged from your hotel.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu

Once you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), your host will pick you up via private vehicle and drop you at your hotel. After checking in we’ll have a pre-departure meeting with our guides to run through the final plans and arrangements for the trek. We’ll finish the day with a group dinner to get to know your team.

Day 2: Kathmandu To Pokhara

An early start today as we board the bus to Pokhara (7 hours). We’ll be driven through beautiful landscapes, passing by rivers, terrace farming settlements and waterfalls, with the mountains as a constant backdrop.

Once we arrive in the beautiful lakeside city of Pokhara, we’ll be taken to our accommodation by the lake to make final preparations for the trek. Soak in the peaceful tranquillity of the landscape and relax in this trekking gateway.

Day 3: Pokhara to Pothana via Phedi

We’ll start the say with a short transfer to the start of the trek. It’s a pretty steady uphill start as we pass through smallholdings and agricultural plots.

We’ll follow the main trail along the ridge to Dhampus and spend our first nights in a tea house facing Mount Machhapuchhre. Sunset from here is spectacular and easily viewed from just behind the teahouse.

4 hours of hiking

Day 4: Pothana to Forest Camp

You’ll be woken at dawn with a magnificent sunrise over Fishtail Mountain. Today the ‘secret trail’ starts, taking us away from tourists, trekkers, and even other villagers.

This intimate trail leads you into an enchanted forest of birch, rhododendrons and maples. We’ll spend the night in a teahouse on the edge of the forest with views across the valley.

5 hours of hiking

Day 5: Forest Camp to Badal Danda

We’ll start today trekking through the forest looking through natural windows in the woods that show the breathtaking panoramas that surround you. The trek today will finish at Badal Danda, which will give you enough time to acclimatise to the altitude and enjoy the broad panoramic views.

5 hours of hiking

Day 6: Badal Danda to High Camp

We’ll traverse along the ridge which leads up to High Camp this morning. We’ll reach there by lunch time and the rest of the afternoon will be spent acclimatising and admiring the views of Annapurna South and Mardi Himal.

3 hours of hiking

Day 7: High Camp to Base Camp and back to High Camp

Today’s the day! We’ll start with a very early breakfast so we can start walking before dawn. If clear the stars will occupy our thoughts and we slowly make our way up. Being on the track as the sun comes up and hits the mountains is a once in a lifetime experience.

We’ll follow the top ridge along to the Mardi Himal Base Camp and soak up the incredible views before heading back down to High Camp for lunch. The rest of the day is spent resting.

6 hours of hiking

Day 8: High Camp to Kalimati

After breakfast at High Camp, we’ll begin our descent through the forest and out onto the terraced fields. The day will be spent trekking along the banks of the Mardi Khola through the traditional villages. This route is about as idyllic as Nepali countryside can get.

7 hours hiking

Day 9: Kalimati to Pokhara

Our final day will be spent trekking through pastures and Gurung villages until we reach the road where a transfer vehicle will drive us back to Pokhara.

We’ll have one night in Pokhara, so be sure to sit back with a beer and enjoy yourself!

3 hours hiking

Day 10: Pokhara to Kathmandu

An early start this morning as we’ll be transferred to the Pokhara bus station at approx. 7am. We’ll be taking a tourist bus to Kathmandu that takes approx. 7 hours.

Day 11: Departure from Kathmandu

Enjoy a lie and breakfast at your hotel. You can spend your last day exploring the city or take the transfer back to the airport, and back to reality.

Note: *The actual itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, weather conditions and forecasts, special events, etc. In unforseen situations such as natural disasters, political demonstrations and flight cancellations, there may be extra expenses payable by you that can be claimed on your insurance.

Accommodation

Generally, most adventures to Nepal are based in remote areas where the accommodation will be basic. On the trek you will stay in ‘teahouses’ - these are mountain lodges that tend to have a communal dining area and basic toilets. The bedrooms are almost all twin-share however there may be the odd night where a triple room will be used in peak season. The rooms are sorted by gender however if there is an odd number in the group, there may be the odd occasion that the gender will be mixed while in the mountains. There’s no heating so your warm sleeping bag is needed. Wifi is often available for a small cost, and many places offer hot showers for a small surcharge. There is usually the option to also pay a small amount to charge your goods so pack an adaptor if needed.

In Kathmandu, you’ll stay in a centrally located tourist hotel so can expect an en-suite room with air-con and wifi included. The hotel is located in the heart of Thamel, close to the main shopping area and the heritage sites.

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