Alpine Explore Nepal
Himalayan of Nepal

Remote Nar Phu Manang trek

This trek is designed to fit in with the 'Lost Worlds of Manaslu & Nar Phu'.
We meet the longer trek at Bagarchhap and continue together from there.
For those with more time, consider both treks. Truly an epic journey!

For Himalaya addicts only! The Nar and Phu valleys are newly opened, spectacular regions of ethnically-Tibetan inhabitants for those of you that think you have trekked it all.  This is a trek that combines high peaks and passes, glaciers, remote villages, narrow canyons, lovely forests, amazing rock formations, yaks, gompas and unique Himalayan cultures.

Trekking the standard Annapurna circuit, the bridge leading over the Marshyangdi River to the steep portals of the Nar Phu valley system is easily missed, but although the entrance is narrow and forested, the valley system above opens up to a huge expanse of high snow-peaks, ancient villages and high altitude grazing settlements. Two long days of walking from the border of Tibet, this region was first  explored by Tilman in the 1950s.  Closed to trekkers until late 2002, very few westerners have explored these virtually untouched villages or climbed the many 7000m peaks surrounding it. We will venture into this remote region of upper Manang, camping along the way at the winter settlement of Nar and Phu, and visit some of the most unvisited and most interesting villages in the Tibetan Buddhist world. Buddhist pilgrims from around Nepal might accompany us up to Phu to visit the renowned Tashi Lhakhang Gompa and receive a blessing from Lama Karma Sonam Rimpoche. Along with spending plenty of time at these colorful and timeless villages, we explore the high alpine valleys above Phu (including Himlung Base Camp for those who want to), and then from Nar cross the Kang La to Ngawal on the upper Pisang route leading back into the Annapurna circuit. From here we trek back to Besi Sahar, although we can arrange alternatives.

The itinerary

After exploring the exotic city of Kathmandu, with its many sacred Buddhist stupas and gompas and its sacred Hindu temples, we drive to Besi Sahar at the start of the Annapurna circuit. Here we begin our teahouse trek up to the police checkpost at Qoto Kupar, where we meet the crew and begin the trek (camping style) to remote Phu village. We spend a few days exploring Phu, visiting the gompa, and trekking up to the high altitude grazing settlements and/or Himlung base camp. We continue our trek, camping en route, to scenic Nar, where we will spend a few more days exploring, hiking and visiting the local dwellings, and finally head up and over the spectacular 5300m Kang La (pass) back down to the Manang region. We say goodbye to our Sherpa staff, and trek (teahouse style again) counterclockwise over the Thorung La (5400m) and down to Muktinath and the lower Mustang region. In lower Mustang, we will spend a few days exploring another of Nepal's most interesting regions. We head off the main tourist trail into some of the local Mustangi villages during the day, and finish the trek with a mountain flight from Jomsom back to Pokhara and Kathmandu.

Early arrival
Providing you have sent us your arrival details, you will be meet at the airport and escorted to the Kathmandu city in the heart of Thamel.

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1350m
Arrive in Kathmandu. You’ll be met at the airport by Explore Alpine Staffs a representative from the office, so look out for an Explore Alpine adventure or Alpine Explore Nepal sign. If, for some strange reason, our staff aren't there either contact us or take a taxi to the Thamel where our office is.

Day 2 - Kathmandu 1350m
Today we explore the Kathmandu valley. Options: Climb the many steps to Swoyambhunath (the monkey temple) with its commanding views of Kathmandu, its whitewashed stupas and its unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Visit Hindu Pashupatinath and its sacred temple complex on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and yellow sit serenely meditating - when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. In the midst of traditional gompas, and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, Boudhanath attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the stupa. Durbar Square, one of the old capitals of the Kathmandu valley, is a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist temples, stupas and statues, and is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies.

Day 3 - Drive to Besi Sahar. Trek Khudi 800m
We take a private bus for the 5 hour drive to the end of the road, either at Besi Sahar or a bit farther depending on the road conditions, where we have a quick lunch and hit the trail. We have a couple of hours hot but pleasant walking to the small Gurung village of Khudi, where we spend our first night.

Day 4 - Trek to Bahundanda 1310m
Leaving Khudi we trek typical middle hills. After crossing a suspension bridge at Bhulbhule, the trail passes a cascading waterfall and as we traverse the rice terraces the views of Manaslu are magnificent. Following a gentle incline we come to the village of Ngadi with its picturesque shops, cobbled streets and teahouses. From here we climb, steep and hot, to Bahundanda. Bahundanda literally means "hill of the Brahmins" and it is the most northerly Brahmin settlement in the Marshyangdi Valley, situated high up on a ridge. Great sunset views!

Day 5 - Trek to Chamje 1430m
A steep trail descends from Bahundanda through green rice terraces before crossing a stream at the bottom of a small waterfall. It then climbs again and traverses the hillside high above the river before reaching the village of Hani Gaon. Ahead, the Marshyangdi valley forms a steep V-shape, and we follow the winding mountain path down through Syange and along the river for some distance. The trail then climbs steeply and the path is cut into the sheer cliff-face some 200-300m above the riverbed. Eventually we descend to the village of Jagat, situated on a shelf which juts into the precipitous Marshyangdi valley, and then climb steeply up through a forest to a wonderful teahouse just before Chamje, marked by a magnificent waterfall on the opposite bank. Chamje is an atmospheric village of traditional style teahouse, always packed with local horses, also bedding down for the night.

Day 6 - Trek to Bagarchhap 1430m
Getting right into the spirit of the trek this morning, we begin before the sun hits on a two hour hike - straight up. After descending to the river and crossing a suspension bridge, we begin a steep climb to some small teahouses at Sattale. After chai, we continue on an undulating path above the river, climb the switchbacking path to the top of the hill, and are treated to the sight of Tal below us on a wide plain by the river. Though it is enclosed by cliffs, the level area looks reassuring after the harrowing mountain paths on which we have just traveled. Beyond Tal and the checkpost, the valley narrows and the path becomes high and winding, and in several areas is actually hewn from the rock. Beyond the small village of Karte, there is a bit more exposed trail walking before the path drops again to the river. We cross a suspension bridge, and climb the short distance to the stone kani marking the entrance to Dharapani and another checkpost. As we cut through a narrow field from the village, the Dudh Khola, which originates from the south face of Manaslu, enters on the opposite bank. The Marshyangdi then veers to the left, and as Annapurna II (the 16th highest mountain on the planet) becomes visible ahead, we arrive at Bagarchhap, a Tibetan village with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.

*** This is where the 'Remote Nar Phu' & the 'Lost Worlds of Manaslu & Nar Phu' treks meet ***

Day 7 - Trek to Koto Qupar 2600m
Continuing to climb through forests of pine and oak, we pass through Danagyu before coming to a thundering waterfall, where we turn left and head up the high trail to Koto. After an hour of lovely, open forests, we reach a clearing at the top of the trail and a charming Tibetan teahouse where we will stop for a break. Pausing for breath, we can look back for views of Manaslu. An hour away is the wonderful Gurung village of Timang, where the villagers might be harvesting their crops of buckwheat or stuffing local sausages.  Heading back down to the village of Koto Qupar, our base for the trek up to Nar Phu, we can look straight up at nearby Annapurna II - a stunning sight convincing us that we are deep in the Himalayan Mountains!  Koto Qupar. The villagers are mostly from Nar and Phu and this is the gateway to their region.

Day 8 - Trek to Dharamsala 3230m
This morning we head out early, as we have a long and somewhat difficult day before us. Just past the checkpost, we cross the river leading to the Nar Phu valleys, and hike up through beautiful woods above the Phu Khola (river). The route takes us through some beautiful woods and past several small shelters (caves) and a pilgrims' 'dharmasala'. As we emerge out of a narrow canyon, the trail actually passes under a wide waterfall just before the dharmasala, from which point the woods become thinner and the vistas wider. A stunning start for the Nar Phu trek! We camp at the dharamsala, a lovely campsite.

Day 9 - Trek to Kayang 3740m
A steep climb up the valley along a small, scenic river brings us finally to high pastures on a 3,200m plateau. We pass by the scenic kharka of Meta, 3560m,  a non-permanent winter settlement of Nar, where we will probably share the trail with a few yaks! This morning is one of the loveliest walks in the Himalayas. The landscape is similar to the Sierra Nevada; white rocks, low shrub and juniper, scattered evergreens, delicate brick-red and orange leafed bushes, crumbling shelves of flat slate, white, sandy trails and knarled trees. The mountains around us are utterly spectacular, and the Phu Koshi shadows the trail far below. An hour past Meta, Junam is the second semi-permanent settlement, one where "khampas" from Tibet sometimes sheltered. Above the kharka to the right looms a massive glacier, which falls jaggedly down to the high pastures above us. It's all truly amazing scenery. Across the river, the cliffs contort in swirls and waves, similar to Ladakhi landscapes. The next semi-permanent settlement is Chako, formerly a Khampa settlement, where grass lies tied in bunches to dry on all the rooftops and prayer flags flutter in the breeze. Last year we saw a massive yak caravan from Phu pass by at Chako on their way down to Manang to re-supply. A scene from old Tibet! Many more ups and downs take us to tonight's campsite at Kyang, the extensive winter settlement of Phu, on a plateau high above the river.

Day 10 - Trek to Phu 4050m
Dropping steeply down to the river, we trek for a while along the river bank and past the "submarine" rock, passing some small possible campsites along the way. Today, we really start to see some of the unique, colorful chortens for which Nar and Phu are justly famous. We have to rock-hop carefully across a small glacial stream before reaching a larger one with a bridge only half covered with large slabs of slate. Some large steps do the trick! Another hour and a half of trekking through scenic canyonlands and gorges, and the "leaning tower of Pisa" monolith guards the steep trail up to the Phu gate, called Pupigyal Kwe. This ancient gate provides us with our first view of the three villages of Phu, as well as an old "dzong" and the remains of two forts, all now in ruins, but impressively situated atop the flatlands before Phu. Just before the bridge to Phu, a line of wonderful chortens color the landscape and lead the way to the main village of Phu, perched high up on a hill, amphitheater style. We will set up camp on the lower reaches of Phu, formerly called Gomdzong, and head up to the famous Tashi Lhakhang Gompa on a neighboring hillside to pay our respects to Lama Karma Sonam Rimpoche, a "trulku" who came to Nepal with HH the Dalai Lama back in '59. He is also a renowned "amchi" or Tibetan doctor, as well as a thanka painter and father of several children (some "trukus" as well as certain lamas are permitted to marry). Later, we might head up to the village to hunt down some chang.

Day 11 - Phu
Having spent quite a few days getting to Phu, we will spend a few days in the area to enjoy it, meet the local Phu residents and do some exploring up the wide valley systems above us. Tibet is two long days away, so a bit far for a visit, but we might walk up the valley to the summer grazing settlement, or "kharka" at Ngoru, a three hour's walk past the gompa. Phu itself is an incredibly interesting village, and a day is well spent sitting with the villagers as they spin their yak and sheep wool and chat, pound mustard seeds into a paste for oil, or involve themselves in the countless activities that take up a day in Tibetan villages. For photographers, the light is spectacular, and the skies a deep blue, and we may even see some blue sheep on the surrounding hillsides.

Day 12 - Phu
For those with lots of energy, a hike towards the east through a glacial valley leads to Himlung Himal base camp, a 7125m peak recently opened for climbing. There are usually a few expeditions climbing this peak, as well as nearby Gyanji Kang. The mountain views are tremendous! For others, a walk west up past Phu towards the chortens on the hillside provides some incredible vistas and views down over Phu and the surrounding fields, forts, valleys and peaks. A wander through the village will probably involve an invitation into someone's home for some authentic Tibetan salt butter tea, or perhaps a small glass of local 'raksi'.

Day 13 - Trek to Junam 3550m
Back through Phu gate, we descend to the river, and retrace our steps back to Junam karka, a lovely spot as any for our campsite for the evening. In 2003 we camped with some Phu residents (all but one women) on their way back up to Phu with huge loads of planks from the nearby forests, and the evening was filled with Tibetan, or Manangi songs, smoky shelters and that unique Tibetan laughter.

Day 14 - Trek to Nar 4150m
Another classic Himalayan trekking day, as we trek down to the old bridge spanning a deep, contoured and narrow gorge (cameras out for this crossing!), and then all the way back up again. It's a good thing the scenery is so stunning ... Below us sit Gyalbu Kumbu, built in 1650, and Satte gompa, both empty. We finally reach the Nar gates at the top of the hill, and pass by yet another line of wonderfully painted, bamboo-topped chortens and a large tiered chorten before turning the corner and being rewarded with sublime views of Nar, the undulating patterns of the surrounding barley and mustard fields, four old, colorful and traditional gompas and the snow-peaks looming overhead. We arrive early, so will have some lunch in the sun before doing some exploring. And what exploring there is to do...

Day 15 - Nar
Physically, Nar is not far from the main Annapurna trail, but it feels centuries away, is rarely visited by trekkers and is about as picturesque as they come. Nar is bit more social and lively than Phu, and the village 'square' is full of chatting women with their back-strap looms weaving wool fabric for rugs and blankets, pounding mustard seeds for oil, or spinning the ubiquitous wool while catching up on the news. The children in Nar seem to be always out in the streets, presumably preferring this life to the classroom! Each family in Nar seems to have at least one son or daughter in a gompa, and many live at home or visit frequently, so there is the resonating sound of cymbals, chanting and drums echoing throughout the village. Other Nar villagers may be printing prayer flags, doing some carpentry, collecting wood from the forest and carrying large loads with a head-strap back up to the house, harvesting the crops, tending the yaks, sheep and goats or spinning the prayer wheels in the center of town.

Day 16 - Nar
A free day to do some wandering up towards the north and other base camps, visit some of the gompas, climb the prayer-flag festooned hill above Nar for wonderful views, or sit at our lovely guest house overlooking the whole scene in the sun, sheltered from the chilling and ever-present afternoon winds. It is a good day to try some local buckwheat pancakes or 'diro'. Depending on the condition of the group, we will either spend the night at Nar, or leave early afternoon for a two hour easy walk up the valley towards the pass, and camp just below the access trail to the pass by the river.

Day 17 - Trek to Ngawal 3650m
The Kang La is not a difficult pass, but it could be a long day if there is snow on the pass or the altitude is taking its toll. The Kang La, at 5240m, is an absolutely spectacular pass looking over Annapurna II, Gangapurna, Tilicho peak, the peaks surrounding Tilicho and the airport at Hongde. The trail down initially is steep, and scree jumping seems to be the easiest option for the descent.

Ngawal, on the upper Pisang route of the Annapurna circuit (off the main Annapurna circuit), can be reached in as little as two hours from the pass, but the walk down is so nice that we will take it easy and enjoy the views. Just before Ngawal is an unusual grouping of chortens and prayer flags, and marks a meditation cave far up in the hills. Ngawal is a wonderful, old village of cobbled streets, prayer wheels and beautiful architecture, obviously a hub of religious activity in previous times.

Day 18 - Trek to Chame 1430m
Leaving Ngawal, we trek southwards along the 'Upper Pisang' route, a wonderful trail passing through the isolated village of Ghyaru, 3670m, and upper Pisang, 3300m, with amazing views of the Annapurnas, and descend down to the main Annapurna trail at Pisang. After lunch, we continue through some lovely woods past several small settlements and finally arrive at the atmospheric Chame, the district headquarters of Manang, where we set up camp for the evening. Chame is a virtual 'city' in the Manang region and a good place to re-fortify!

Day 19 - Trek to Tal 1700m
Passing the many mani walls of Chame on the cobbled trail out of town, we pass Koto, the entrance to Nar Phu, and continue back down the trail to Bagarchhap, Dharapani and Tal, where we camp in a wonderful spot looking up towards the Tal falls. Tal means lake, and the area here was formed when the valley was blocked by a landslide and a dam formed behind. The lake has long gone and now the village of Tal sits on the river flats.

Day 20 - Trek to Ngadi 930m
We lose 800 meters in altitude today as we drop back down the steep hillside and over the river to Chamje, past Jagat into rice paddy realm again, and then down again from Bahundanda to Ngadi at 930 meters. Back to the lush, semi-tropical middle hills of Nepal! The campsite tonight is truly lovely, nestled amongst fruit trees next to a friendly lodge.

Day 21 - Trek to Besi Sahar 760m, drive to Kathmandu
The last day of the trek. It is a relatively short (and hot) walk back to Bhulbhule and Khudi, where we will meet our transport back to Kathmandu if the road is passable. If not, we continue back to Besi Sahar and start the drive from there. It is a different world back in the Nepali hills, and the gentle light sends us on our way back to Kathmandu.

Day 22 - Kathmandu
A much needed rest/free day in Kathmandu,

Day 23 - Depart
We take you to the airport for your Namaste flight home.

We hope you've had a fantastic trek into the lost worlds of Nar and Phu! See you again in the Himalayas soon.

 The following information will allow you to better plan your budget for tours or treks. A range of costs is given. These costs are dependant on:
  • The mix of Touring and/or general Trekking,
  • The remoteness of the areas visited,
  • The number of guides or porters required,
  • The standard of accommodation required (if there is a choice), 
  • The type of ground transport used,
  • The length of your visit, and
  • The size of your group.

Depending on group size the costs of treks and tours range from:
1 to 3 pax     US$ 88 to 163  P/p per night.
4 to 8 pax     US$ 78 to 148  P/p per night
9 to 14 pax.  US$ 75 to 135 P/p per night.
15 to 20 and above US$ 60 to 110 P/p per night
Single supplement US$ 40 to 70 per night.

Note: The itinerary and cost for Peak climbing, Mountaineering, Tibet, Bhutan and India tours and trek are conditional apply.

Notwithstanding the costs shown above, we can tailor tours to suit almost any budget. Feel free to email us for more information.
 
Note: One tour leader will be free of cost for tours with 15 or more paying guests only. 

Children's bellow three years is free if sharing with their parents. And need to pay if they are participating on the trekking, and above three to nine year children half of the price.

Cost Includes: Accommodation in 3 to 4 star hotels in the cites as your choice, basic accommodation in a lodge or tea house or camping (depending on your itinerary and choice) during treks, guides and porters on treks, all land transfers by private vehicle, 3 meals a day on treks, all jungle safaris, all sightseeing tours as per itinerary and all necessary entry fees, permits and airport transfers.
 
Cost Excludes: Personal expenses, domestic air tickets, airport tax, drinks (soft drink, mineral water and alcoholic beverages and hot-shower on the trek), personal insurance, and extra cost due to natural calamities or accidents outside of our control.

Remarks: The cost of the trip determines with the services included during the trip so that it might be varies with the services, hotel and transfer of your wish.

Please note that our guides speak the following English languages and if required we will provide your language spiking guide on extra cost.

Note: Please contact exploretrek@wlink.com.np for more information and prices

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Contact Information:

Alpine Explore Nepal
P.O. Box: 4546, Kathmandu, Nepal
+977 1 4700714 / 4700175 / 4701974
Fax: +977 -1 - 4700970
Email: alpinetravel@wlink.com.np
          exploretrek@wlink.com.np
Skype Address: explore.alpine
MSN Messanger: explorealpine
Yahoo Messanger:explorealpine

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Our Guest Says

SteveAnyon-Smith
18 April 2000

This was my third trek in Nepal, having visited the Annapurna Region in 1995 and with Bharat and Dave in the beautiful and wildlife-filled Langstang Valley in1998. Bharat's company "Explore Alpine Adventure"....
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