Few trekkers make their way to the base of spectacular Mardi Himal and the beautiful and imposing Machapuchhre, but this stunning route is quickly gaining popularity. Less challenging than the trek to nearby Annapurna Base Camp yet just as beautiful, this 12-day adventure belongs on the itinerary of anyone looking for a literal off-the-beaten-path trek in Nepal.


  • Kick things off with white-water fun on the Trisuli River
  • Enjoy views of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, and other peaks
  • Trek through blooming rhododendron forests (in March-April)
  • Enjoy a relatively easy trek that many visitors overlook
  • Immerse yourself in Nepali culture with a local homestay in the hills

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Overland to Pokhara via Trishuli River Rafting Pokhara (2713 ft. / 827 m.)
Day 4 Drive to Kande (1 hour); Trek to Pothana (4 hours) Pothana (6233 ft. / 1900 m.)
Day 5 Pothana to Forest Camp (5 hours) Forest Camp (8530 ft. / 2600 m.)
Day 6 Forest Camp to Badal Danda (5 hours) Badal Danda (10,531 ft. / 3210 m.)
Day 7 Trek to High Camp (4 hours) High Camp (11,745 ft. / 3580 m.)
Day 8 Mardi Himal Base Camp and back to Middle Camp (8 hours) Middle Camp
Day 9 Trek to Kalimati (5 hours) Kalimati
Day 10 Trek to Lwang (5 hours) Homestay in Lwang Village
Day 11 Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 12 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal
The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa

As you fly into Kathmandu, you'll have beautiful views over the valley, the Himalaya, and of the terraced fields below. After going through customs, a representative will be waiting to guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets and get you settled into your hotel. Once you've settled in, head out and visit one of Kathmandu's cultural highlights. In the evening, the tourist hub of Thamel is a good place to grab your first meal, with a variety of restaurants to chose from offering both Western and local Nepali dishes.

Day 2: Explore Kathmandu

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal
Boudhanath Stupa

Kathmandu has a special atmosphere during the early morning hours when the city is slowly coming to life yet not too chaotic. It's a great time to walk and explore the streets or have a chai overlooking one of the local courtyards or durbar squares. There are a number of ways you can spend the day given the many incredible sights around the Kathmandu Valley. Later in the evening, head out for dinner at one of the city's great eateries, or your specialist can arrange a home-cooked dinner with a local family.

Day 3: Overland to Pokhara - Trishuli River Rafting

Room with a view in Pokhara
Room with a view in Pokhara

After breakfast, leave the Kathmandu Valley and travel overland to Pokhara. En route, follow the banks of the Trisuli River, past traditional villages and terraced fields. If the weather is good there will be picturesque views of the Himalayan Range.

After a couple of hours, stop to enjoy some rafting! It is not too wild and provides a great introduction to the sport, while still giving some splashes and thrills. Then, enjoy lunch at the Riverside Springs Resort, set on a hillside beside the Trisuli River with outstanding views.

After arriving in Pokhara, check into your hotel and then head out to explore the lakeside and relax over dinner. Pokhara, set on Phewa Lake, is an enchanting city. From there, you can see Mt. Machhapuchhare (22,890 ft. / 6977 m.), also known as Fishtail Peak. The city is the starting point for many treks in Nepal. The valley surrounding Pokhara is home to thick forests, gushing rivers, clear lakes, and world-famous views of the Himalaya.

Day 4: Drive to Kande - Trek to Pothana

Sunset over the Annapurna range
Sunset over the Annapurna range

After breakfast, drive for about an hour from Pokhara to the starting point of the trek. After an unhurried lunch with awesome mountain views at the Australian Camp, descend to Pothana (6397 ft. / 1950 m.). Your first night's accommodation has a wonderful view of Machhapuchare.

Day 5: Pothana to Forest Camp 

Trekking through villages to Forest Camp
Trekking through villages to Forest Camp

Today's trek heads off into the wilderness, leaving tourists, other trekkers, and even villagers behind. Enter an enchanted forest of birch, giant rhododendron, mountain oak, maple, and hemlock. If the weather is clear there will be stunning mountain views while trekking.

Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 6: Forest Camp to Badal Danda (5 hours)

Variety of high-altitude vegetation on display
Variety of high-altitude vegetation on display

As the route climbs, the flora turns to classic ‘cloud forest’ with mosses and lichen, tree ferns, and orchids hosted by the hardier trees. There are natural windows in the woods that look out onto thrilling panoramas, towards Hiunchuli and the knife-sharp traverse towards Annapurna South. Far below, to your left, you will be able to see the Modi Khola Valley leading up into the Annapurna Sanctuary.

Reach camp for lunch—this is our destination for the day, spending the afternoon at altitude for acclimatization. Though still surrounded by forest, there are spectacular northerly views of the ever-closer ‘Fishtail’.

Hiking time: 5 hours

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Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Trek to High Camp

Views from the trek to High Camp
Views from the trek to High Camp

Just a short, steep climb and you are out of the forest. A ridge, grassy and sometimes under snow, leads up to High Camp. Reach by lunchtime and spend the afternoon acclimatizing with awesome views. Annapurna South will seem a stone's throw away, and Machhapuchare close enough to touch.

Hiking time: 4 hours

Day 8: Trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp and back to Middle Camp

Mardi Himal Base Camp
Mardi Himal Base Camp

Have an early breakfast and then set off for Mardi Himal Base Camp. If conditions are favorable you will trek up to 16,404 ft. (5000 m.) where only the crest of Mardi Himal separates you from the south face of Machhapuchare. The great ice fields and blue glaciers of the Sanctuary Wall lie below. Annapurna I, highest of all, is beyond, and the surrounding panorama sweeps from Dhaulagiri to Ganesh Himal.

In the early afternoon, it will be time to descend. Enjoy a warming drink and hot food at your tea house at Middle Camp.  

Hiking time: 8 hours

Day 9: Trek to Kalimati

Trek to Kalimati
Trek to Kalimati

After a relaxed breakfast, trek gently through the shade of the forest and out onto terraced fields, descending 5249 ft. (1600 m.) You will follow a different route down, to the upper Mardi Khola, the torrent that was once the ice and snow of the Mardi Himal. Although remote and still off the beaten ‘tea-house’ trekking routes, your expedition now follows the arm valley and past friendly villages into Kalimati.

Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 10: Trek to Lwang Village

Homestay in Lwang
Homestay in Lwang

The path from Siding gradually follows the contour of the river valley, down between the pastures and through Tamang and Gurung villages. Eventually, you'll arrive at Lwang village, your stop for the night. Here, there are organic tea gardens. In the evening, meet a mothers' group that works to raise money for local projects.

Enjoy an overnight in your unique and authentic homestay.

Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 11: Drive to Pokhara

Village homes in the mountains
Village homes in the mountains

Take an easy walk along an outcrop and back to the road, where you'll meet your transportation back to Pokhara.

Day 12: Depart Kathmandu

Swayambhunath Temple, Nepal
Swayambhunath Temple

Time to say farewell to Nepal. Enjoy your last moments in Kathmandu with breakfast in a café, a city stroll, and/or souvenir shopping. A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home. It's good to be at the airport at least two hours prior to departure.


Map of Mardi Himal Trek  - 12 Days
Map of Mardi Himal Trek - 12 Days