Annapurna is the most famous region for trekking in Nepal and its popularity is well deserved. Not many regions are capable of offering the array of trekking options that this region does. Many renowned trails such as Annapurna Base Camp (4,100 m), Machhapuchhre Base Camp (3700 m), Poon Hill (3,190 m), Muktinath (3,760 m), Tilicho Base Camp (4,100 m), and Thorung La (5,416 m), lie clustered in this scenic region.
However, there is a newly-developed trekking trail that not many people know of just yetâ€”the Mardi Himal Trek. Located just east of the Annapurna Base Camp in the lap of the Mardi Himal (5,588m)â€”which forms the south westerly slope of Machhapucchreâ€”this new trail is a hidden gem.
Only a few trekkers have made their way up this secluded trail, which traces its way along slender snaky paths through a magical rhododendron forest that opens eventually into a rugged landscape at an elevation of 3580 m. The Mardi Himal Trek offers everything a classic Nepali trek doesâ€”cultural experience, beautiful forests along with rocky mountain terrain, and panoramic viewsâ€”but what sets it apart is the unadulterated solitude that you are seeking. During the trek, we barely came across tourists other than the group we were travelling with.
Mardi Himal trek offers spectacular up-close view of mountains like Annapurna I, Dhaulagiri, Hiunchuli, and Machhapuchhre. With the campsites located four to five hours apartâ€”Kokar (2,550 m), Low Camp (3,050 m), and High Camp (3,900 m)â€”we can get to the ridge top in just a couple of days and complete the whole trek in a weekâ€™s time.
The Mardi Himal Trek is doable as an independent trekker, and a good choice if you are travelling on limited time and budget. Here are glimpses from my trek.
Text and Photos: Merit Maharjan