Day 01: Arrive Kathmandu (1,300m/4,264ft)
Upon our arrival in the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, we will be greeted by a representative, who will drop you off at our hotel. After checking in, we take a rest or visit Amazing Nepal's office. We may also stroll in the streets of Thamel, a tourist hub in Kathmandu for some souvenir shopping. In the evening, there will be a welcome dinner hosted by Amazing Nepal. For dinner, you will be served excellent Nepalese cuisine which will introduce you to the country's authentic food culture. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 02: Full day Kathmandu City excursion
After breakfast, you will set out for sightseeing of the culturally and architecturally rich heritage sites of the Valley. Places such as the Pashupatinath, the world famous temple precinct of the Hindus, the Boudhnath and Swaymbhunath, the world famous Buddhist stupa precinct, and Kathmandu Durbar Square will open up completely a new cultural world of Nepali art and architecture to you. You will also be taken to the Kumari Ghar, where resides the Virgin Goddess. We will also discuss the trip, and you will be introduced to your fellow trekkers and our crews.
Day 03: Kathmandu – Arughat (670m/2,198 ft) – Soti Khola (710m/2,330ft), 8-9 hrs drive
A scenic drive west through the middle hills to Malekhu, then a secondary road to Dhading Besi and a 35km dirt road to Arughat on the Budhi Gandaki River. This is a large Newar and Gurung village with many mango orchards. Then another 2 hrs drive upstream to Soti Khola.
Day 04: Soti Khola – Machha Khola (890m/2,920ft), 6-7 hrs
The trail undulates over ridges and passes waterfalls on a steep trail clinging to the side of a cliff. It then drops to pass rice paddies before climbing to the attractive Gurung village of Labubesi. Beyond, the valley opens out and the trail drops onto gravel banks along the river before rising to the village of Machha (Fish) Khola above the river – with good views of the 7,000m/22,950ft Ganesh Himal.
Day 05: Machha Khola – Dobhan (1,000m/3,280ft), 6-7 hrs
The narrow trail follows minor ups and downs, often dropping to the gravel bar before crossing the Thado Khola and following a rocky ravine to Khorlabesi. After more moderate ups and downs there is a small hot spring at Tatopani. The trail then climbs a ridge before crossing the Budhi Gandaki on a suspension bridge. A good staircase leads to a landslide before a final ridge to Dobhan.
Day 06: Dobhan – Philim (1,590m/5,216ft), 6-7 hrs
Today’s trail follows the east bank to a 93m suspension bridge over the Yaru Khola, then climbs stone stairs up and back to the river before climbing to Thado Bharyang. Here it crosses to the west bank of the Budhi Gandaki, climbs a ridge and follows the river gently upwards to the village of Jagat. Walk on to Salleri, via a cliff-side trail – with views of Shringi Himal (7,187m/23,580ft) to the north. Descend to Sirdibas; and the first signs of Buddhist culture. Another suspension bridge leads to the east bank, and a tiring climb up to Philim: a prosperous Gurung village, the Chholing Sandu Gompa and surrounded by fields of maize and millet.
Day 07: Philim – Chumling (2,360m/7,750ft), 6-7 hrs
Traverse north of Philim, through the forest up the narrowing valley to Ekle Bhatti. The trail then drops through a steep gorge under pine trees to a junction at New Bridge which leads to the Larkya La. To the right (east) a well-graded, exposed, zigzag track leads up through pines and rhododendrons, to Lokpa and the narrow lower Tsum Valley.
Then descend through beautiful forest, cross streams and circle under a bluff on the river before climbing steeply on well-made but exposed steps. Later, traverse steeply up through pines and rhododendrons, past a rock fall and later drop to Gumling and the Siyar Khola that drains much of the valley. Cross the wooden bridge and finally ascend the steep, narrow and exposed track to Chumling. The houses are classic Tibetan with barricades of firewood on the roofs: but built with sloping roofs to cope with the abundant rain and snow. They farm maize and potatoes.
Day 08: Chumling – Chhekampar (3,010m/9,850ft), 5-6 hrs
An easier day today! Cross the suspension bridge and new forest growing over a recent landslide. Higher up, pass gompas and superb views of the Ganesh Himal. Beyond Rainjam the trail drops to cross the Sarphu Khola that drains the Syakpa Glacier off Shringi Himal (7,101m/23,298ft) to the north. The trail then climbs, for some 2 and half hours, on well-graded but the exposed track, to the Upper Tsum Valley and the linked villages of Chhokang and Paro, generally known as Chhekampar.
Here the valley broadens but the stone houses nestle under cliffs to make full use of the spacious fields for barley, maize, buckwheat, and potatoes. Herds of tahr frequently graze the wild cliffs to the north, and if not watched can cause havoc in the fields. Himal Chuli (7,893m/25,897ft) can be seen to the west.
Day 09: Chhekampar – Nile (3,480 m/11,415ft) 4-5 hrs
A fairly short day today. First, explore the linked villages and perhaps climb north to a retreat where Lama Kongdhog died after 26 years of meditation: the friendly people speak Tsumba, related to Tibetan, but little Nepali and are unused to visitors.
The trail passes through small villages and a local school, then rises to a ridge with chortens before passing through Lamagaon (3,020m/9,909ft). From here the huge courtyard of the Rachen Gompa nunnery is visible across the river. This is the female equivalent of the main Kathmandu Dopan Monastery.
Beyond the village of Burji a trail to the north leads to Milarepa’s Cave (Piren Phu – Pigeon Cave): one of the many places where the bringer of Buddhism to Tibet is reputed to have meditated.
Later, the trail crosses the Siyar Khola to join the trail from Rachen Gompa to Nile. There is an unusual round stupa before the impressive entrance gate to the large village of Chhule: where the children wear chubas and yaks abound. Further upstream, a bridge leads to the final climb to Nile.
Day 10: Exploration day: Nile – Mu Gompa (3,709m/12,169ft) – Chhekampar (3,010m/9,870ft), 6-7 hrs
Make an early start for the walk up to Mu Gompa, through dry Tibetan countryside – with rows of Chortens and broadening mountain vistas. The ancient monastery houses over 100 monks. On three sides are tantalizing views of the Tibetan border – with three passes frequently used for trade by the Tsumbas just out of sight. There are extensive seasonal yak pastures, the Lungdang Glacier to the east and high peaks in all directions. If time, include a visit to the Dephyu Doma Nunnery (4,000m/13,100ft) to the west.
On the return route trek, it is possible to visit the Rachen Gompa (the older sections are the most interesting) from Phurba and rejoin the trail to Chhekampar at Ngakyu Leru.
Day 11: Chhekampar – Gumba Lungdang (3,200m/10,496ft), 5-6 hrs
Retrace the trail to the small gompa at Gho, then drop south to a wooden bridge over the river and continue to Dumje: which has a Tibetan herbal medicine clinic and school. The track then leads up steeply, through pines and rhododendrons to a mani wall, after which it traverses along an exposed route, before zigzagging up through huge silver pines to the gompa perched on a ridge. The mountain views in all directions are fantastic: this is likely to be a highlight of the trek.
This small gompa with 40 nuns: who each stay in a small cell, has an intense and engrossing puja from 18.00-19.30 each night. Visitors are invited to attend and permission may be obtained to camp in the gompa forecourt and use their kitchen and ablution facilities.
Day 12: Exploration day: Gumba Lungdang – Ganesh Himal BC (4,200m/13,780ft) – return, 7-8 hrs
Circle from the gompa past the nuns’ housing, and zigzag down to a lower indistinct track: follow it through the forest and cross the wooden Lungdang Khola bridge. Climb steeply through pines and rhododendrons and across a Kharka up to a ridge. Continue up a birch-lined creek-bed and emerge onto grassy flats east of the Torogumba Glacier’s lateral moraine. Continue past yak huts to a track up the moraine wall that gives superb views of the Cirque of mountains. The Ganesh Himal Base Camp (4,200m/13,780ft) is about here (~4hrs). Return to Gumba Lungdang in time for the evening puja.
Day 13: Gumba Lungdang – Ripchet (2,470m/8,100ft) – Lokpa (2,240m/7,348ft), 7-8 hrs
Descend the trail to Dumje, cross the Lungdang Khola and take the south bank trail down the Siyar Khola that climbs over deep gorges and cantilever bridges to the high fertile valley of Ripchet. Several Chortens adorn barley and buckwheat fields that have been cut from surrounding pine forests. Steep stairs lead down to Gumling on the river before the trail climbs through temperate forest to Lokpa.
Day 14: Lokpa – Sirdibas (1,430m/4,690ft), 5-6 hrs
After breakfast, our trail returns to Philim for lunch. Continue downhill to the suspension bridge and river bank trail to Sirdibas while enjoying the reverse views.
Day 15: Sirdibas – Khorlabesi (970m/3,182ft), 5-6 hrs
Our trail now descends from the alpine Buddhist region back to the greener subtropical biome via Jagat, Yaruphant, Dobhan, Tatopani and then undulates to Khorlabesi – with time to linger along the way.
Day 16: Khorlabesi – Soti Khola (710m/2,330ft), 5-6 hrs
The trail crosses the Tharo Khola flowing in its rocky ravine. Drop down to the river and traverse to the village of Machha Khola. Walk along the Budhi Gandaki Nadi to reach the Gurung village of Labubesi. Pass the two waterfalls on the steep cliffside trail to Khursane. Then follow the ridge above the Budhi Gandaki, through Sal forests to the bridge before Soti Khola.
Day 17: Soti Khola – Arughat – Kathmandu (1,300m/4,264ft), 8-9hrs
From here we drive, down the Budhi Gandaki Valley to Arughat and on to Kathmandu, lunch on the way. Transfer to your Hotel, and a free afternoon.
Day 18: Final departure
Transfer to Tribhuvan International Airport for your onward flight to your next destination.