The great mountains of Nepal used to be the preserve of tough walkers who were prepared to camp in somewhat harsh conditions. However, with the construction of four lodges in the Annapurna foothills above Pokhara, the legendary adventure company, Ker & Downey, has entirely changed the concept of Himalayan trekking. Only on foot can you really discover the entrancing personality of this mountainous kingdom, and now you can enjoy a warm bed and hot shower at the end of each day.
Each lodge is located within five hours of each other in an area of outstanding natural beauty within the Annapurna Conservation Area, and treks follow strict conservation guidelines. Trekking itineraries are entirely flexible and can include just one or a combination of mountain lodges. All treks allow time to visit local villages, photograph the scenery and absorb the spirit of the country, aided by the presence of the indomitable Ghurkhas who are the backbone of Ker & Downey's team, and keen to share their intimate understanding of Nepalese hill culture and tradition.
London – Delhi – Kathmandu
Your adventure begins in Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu, where you will be staying in a beautiful hotel overlooking the fertile Kathmandu Valley and the snow-clad Himalaya beyond. In this city of temples, monasteries and elaborate courtyards you will discover a rich and varied cultural legacy.
On a private tour you will visit Pashupatinah, home to a Hindu temple dedicated to Pashupati. Peering through the huge entrance doors, you’ll be able to see the large gold Nandi statue in the forecourt. The tour continues to the nearby Boudhanath Stupa, considered the centre of Nepal’s Tibetan community, before heading east to the medieval town of Bhaktapur. Thanks to its cultural heritage, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork, it has earned UNESCO World Heritage status.
Stay: Two nights in a mountain view room at the Summit Hotel
Pokhara/Trek to Sanctuary Lodge, Birethanti
Today you will begin your 6-day Ker and Downey Lodge Trek! First, you will fly 30 minutes to the lakeside town of Pokhara, and then drive over to Lumle where your trek starts. You’ll follow a trail up to the village of Chandrakot, before dropping down to cross the Modi Khola River via the Lamaket suspension bridge. You’ll come to your first stopover just a few minutes’ walk downstream from the bridge. The afternoon can be spent relaxing at the lodge, or alternatively, visiting the nearby village of Birenthanti.
Stay: One night at Sanctuary Lodge (1,100m)
Trek to Himalaya Lodge, Ghandruk
Today you’ll be making an altitude gain of some 3,000 feet, but the trail is good and you will get to enjoy spectacular scenery along the way. You follow the river north to Kimche – stopping on route for a picnic – before climbing through terraced fields to the prosperous village of Ghandruk. Easily one of the region’s most picturesque settlements, here you will be rewarded with sensational views of the Annapurna Himal.
You will have the following day free to explore the delights of this pretty mountain village. The headquarters of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project are located here and makes for an interesting visit, but you can also just wander around, soaking up the splendid scenery and watching as local women weave traditional Nepalese rugs. For those who like a challenge, make the 3.5 hour trek up to the village of Tadapani (8,600 feet) where you can pick up a souvenir from the selection of curios displayed by the locals. Though steep, the walk is particularly beautiful and takes you through rhododendron forest to sweeping views of the Annapurnas.
Stay: Two nights at Himalaya Lodge
Trek to Gurung Lodge, Majhguan
On the seventh day you will say goodbye to Ghandruk and continue on your trek. Walking along the traditional route to the Annapurna base camp, you’re likely to pass by mountaineering expeditions in addition to smiling children and villagers carrying bundles of firewood and produce. Every now and then you may have to make way for a donkey or mule train carrying goods to and from the surrounding settlements.
After about 2 – 3 hours you’ll reach Shauli Bazaar where you will stop for a riverside picnic. After lunch, the descent continues for 2 hours – on both well-paved steps and switch-backs – down to Majguan and your lodge for the night.
Stay: One night at Gurung Lodge (1450m)
Trek to Basanta Lodge, Dhampus
The trek to Dhampus takes you through sub-tropical forests and the Gurung villages of Patlekhet and Majgaun. After enjoying a picnic lunch, you will make the lengthy but scenic journey through rhododendron forest to the crest of the ridge, followed by an hour walk down to Basanta Lodge. The view you have of Annapurna, Machapuchare and Manaslu Himal from the lodge is nothing short of spectacular.
With fine panoramic views of the Phedi and Mardi Valleys also on offer, the photo opportunities in and around the area are endless. Be sure to rise early the next morning to witness a sensational sunrise. You’ll also be able to take nature walks through forests of bamboo, conifer and rhododendron and along steep hillside terraces.
Stay: One night at Basanta Lodge (1,500m)
Today you will complete the final segment in your trekking adventure. From Dhampus, you will make a 2-hour descent down to Phedi where a vehicle will be waiting to take you back to Pokhara. You’ll be spending two nights at the Fishtail Lodge which is within easy reach of the airport. The hotel is located on a peninsular, sandwiched between the Fewa Tal Lake and a forested hill.
The next day you will have free to relax, explore the surrounding area and drink in the fabulous mountain scenery. There are some good shops to browse around, in addition to a handful of wonderful restaurants.
Stay: Two nights in a garden terrace room at Fishtail Lodge
Today you will head back to Kathmandu on a thirty-minute flight and be taken to your hotel. An afternoon sightseeing tour of Patan – a place known for its arts and architecture – will show you the Durbar Square, Royal Baths, Krishna Mandir, Mahaboudha and Golden Temple. The newly established Patan Museum is also worth a visit. It occupies the former Malla residential palace, and houses an impressive collection of metalwork sculptures spanning much of Nepal’s cultural history. Then, if time permits, you will observe the fascinating carpet weaving operation at Jawalakhel’s Tibetan Refugee Camp.
Stay: One night in a mountain view room at the Summit Hotel
Early morning transfer to the airport to meet your connecting flight in Delhi. You’ll arrive back in London in the evening.