Until then, I was not a traveler. I mostly stayed at home or strolled around the city but never went too far. I did not care for travel really as I was unaware of its perks. Nor did I know which places were worth visiting and where all the travelers were going. Despite being in a country that is a travel destination for the world, I was ignorant and naïve about what my homeland possessed.
But one day, while in college, my friends began planning a trekking expedition. Indeed, I was not the one to pitch in the idea; however, I told them that I would join them. I thought that it is time I travel somewhere and see for myself. After all, I was 21 and had never gone to trekking or any form of recreational travel.
So, after a lengthy discussion, it was decided that we will be attempting the Mardi Himal Trek. I had only heard of the trek, and it had been receiving quite a popularity over the years. As I had never done trekking, I was unsure about the number of clothes to bring. Naturally, I overpacked quite a bit.
Day 1: Pokhara to Forest Camp
Our trekking began on the 3rd of December, right in this beautiful city of Pokhara. After shopping for the clothes and snacks in Mahendrapul, we got on a local bus in Harichowk that would take us to Kande. At one o’clock in the afternoon, we began our trek from Kande.
It was mostly a path of stone-stairway. These kinds of trails are ubiquitous around the hilly region of Nepal, and a lot of them are several centuries old. Walking along the lush forest and small villages here and there, I felt that rural life has so much to offer — no sounds of vehicles or humming of people. No smokes from industries that pollute the air. And no sight of unmanaged waste and bustling crowd. The only sounds that you hear are your footsteps’, the chirping of the birds, and the whistling of the wind. The only air that you breathe is fresh and smells of life. And the sight that you see are of the green vegetation, the diverse wildlife, and the beautiful people smiling at you as you pass them.
After about an hour of walk, we reached the Australian Camp. The place is a popular hiking spot in itself as it sits on a ridge. You can see some magnificent views of the mountains and the valley from the Camp. We just glanced at the place and continued. After a while, we arrived at another village of Pothana. It was already 3 o’clock by then, and we were aiming to reach Forest Camp before nightfall. So, we asked a local woman how many hours it takes to reach Forest Camp. She convinced us that we could reach there if we keep a good pace.
A Race Against Time
So, we set off, determined to reach our destination at any cost and do so before the day ends. We were now walking through a deep forest with no human settlement at all. It was getting darker, and we did not know how far away was the Camp. As it was winter, it got dark quickly, and we had to use the flashlight from our mobile phones to see the way.
At around 7:30, we saw some lights in the distance. Increasing our pace, we rushed to see if it was the Camp. It was indeed the Forest Camp, and the glow was coming from the teahouses. Feeling tired and cold, we rushed into one of the teahouses and went to the dining room.
There was a fireplace in the room, and we sat beside it warming ourselves. There were also other trekkers in the room sitting by the fire. We started talking to a group of trekkers from Germany who shared their experience in Nepal. They said that it was their first time doing the Mardi Himal Trek. Then we had our dinner, which was a typical Nepali dish of Bhat, Dal, and Tarkari. The food tasted good except for the lentil, which was too thin for my liking. After dinner, we stayed for a while by the fire and then went to bed.
Day 2: Forest Camp to High Camp
We did not see the area until the morning. I got out of the room and found out there were only a few houses in the area. Most of these houses were lodges providing food and accommodation to travelers. There was also a beautiful horse on the lawn in front. We clicked some photos with the horse before going to have breakfast. After having pancakes and tea, we began our hiking.
We ascended uphill from Forest Camp and through a dense forest. To make the ascent more comfortable, we each made a sort of trekking sticks from a fallen tree. Then, we continued our climb. We could not see any view of the mountains or hills; however, the forest itself was quite beautiful. After an ascent of about three hours, we arrived at Low Camp.
Houses were even sparse in Low Camp. There were only a few lodges and tea houses. However, the view of Machhapuchhre from here was quite stunning. We clicked some photos of the mountain and sat down to have tea in the lodge. After having some tea and biscuits and resting for a while, we continued our ascent.
It was a similar scenario like the one between Forest Camp and Low Camp. The trail was through a dense forest of pine, oak and rhododendron trees. After an hour of ascent, we came out of the woods and into the open at Badal Danda.
Grasping the Beauty of Mardi
It was quite a magnificent sight, as now the mountains and hills were visible. Badal Danda is also called Mid-Camp, and there are a few tea houses there. We could see Machhapuchhre very clearly nearby. After hiking further and reaching the ridge of the hill, I understood why Mardi Himal Trek is so famous. The snow-clad Annapurna South and Machhapuchhre were so close and so stunning.
We were now walking along a grassland on top of the hill. Moreover, clouds were brewing over the valley below us. It was quite a surreal sight as we were hard-pressed to find the horizon amongst the clouds. There were not many vegetations as this location frequently experiences snowfall. After walking along the ridge for an hour, we finally arrived at High Camp. There were only a few lodges, and we went to the one that was the farthest.
There were few trekkers in the lodge, so there was no problem for us to find a room. It was only about 5 p.m., so we went outside and clicked some photos with a stunning view. Machhapuchhre stood right in front of us and the massive Annapurna South on our left. To our right, we could see the valley entirely covered by clouds.
As it was getting cold, we went inside and stayed in the dining hall. Then we had dinner. It was quite delicious and even better than the food we had at Forest Camp. After having our meals, we went to bed.
Day 3: High Camp to Pokhara (Last day of Mardi Himal Trek)
We woke up early at 5:00 a.m. and began our hike towards the Mardi Himal Base Camp. It was the hardest climb of our trek as the trail from High Camp to Base Camp goes steeply uphill. Moreover, we were already tired from the hike we did on the last two days. However, the magnificent view of the colossal mountains kept us going. Passing through the Viewpoints, we finally reached the Base Camp after 3 hours. We were even closer to the mountains there. After spending some time at the base camp, we traced our steps back to the High Camp.
We had planned to return to Pokhara on the same day. So, after having a meal at the High Camp, we began our hiking. We continued the same way back to Low Camp, which took about 2 hours. From there, we changed our trail and headed downwards to Sidhing.
It was an extremely steep descent to Sidhing. We climbed downhill through the forest for about two hours to reach there. It was a small settlement of not many houses with all the facilities available. We waited for about an hour before the Jeep arrived. Then, we got on the Jeep and rode back to Pokhara on a dusty road which took about 2 hours.
Looking back on that trek, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was my first expedition in trekking, but I made sure that it wasn’t my last. Also, I’m glad that the first trek that I did was one of the most beautiful trekking adventures in Nepal.
So, if you’re thinking of doing the Mardi Himal Trek, I can assure you that you will enjoy it very much. Just make sure that you’re there at the right time. I did the trek in December which entailed hiking on a frigid climate. However, you’ll get an unobstructed and picturesque view of the mountains. On the other hand, you can try the months of spring; March and April, when the climate is pleasant. You may also enjoy slight snowfall during these months.
You can find a detailed itinerary for this trek here.
About the Author
Rabin Lamsal is a passionate travel blogger and content writer who enjoys writing in all sorts of subjects. His hobbies include music, traveling, and writing, among others.