Mardi Himal Trek
Mardi Himal Trek is a hidden gem for the dedicated trekkers and backpackers.
Located eastwards of the classic Annapurna Base Camp, this trekking route is yet to witness a large crowd like other commercial treks in Nepal though it officially opened for all in 2012.
The richly diverse terrains of Mardi Himal takes you across the densely forested areas leading to the high rocky mountain trails. Although considered as a short trek, the path of Mardi Himal is well-decorated with stone-built villages, terraced fields, rhododendron forests, along with extraordinary spectacles of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, and Machhapuchhre peaks.
Mardi Himal Trek is an excellent choice for travelers who have limited time to spend but are looking for a quaint trekking experience in Nepal. This trek provides an opportunity to appreciate the solitary walk in the remote trails of Annapurna region. Short and moderate, Mardi Himal Trek is an excellent option for both novice travelers as well as experienced trekkers.
Table of Content
Mardi Himal Trek Facts
|Trip Duration||6 days|
|Maximum Altitude||4,500m at Mardi Himal Base Camp|
|Walking Duration||5-6 hours per day|
|Best Time||Autumn and Spring|
|Group Size||Minimum 1 Person|
Highlights of Mardi Himal Trek
- Remote and less travelled trail in one of the most popular trekking regions in Nepal.
- The magnificent scenes of giant Himalayas — Machhapuchhre, Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, and Dhaulagiri.
- Indulge in the rich cultures of Gurungs and their local hospitality.
- Traverse through the ever-changing landscape with the narrow winding paths, rhododendron forests, high valleys, and rugged Himalayan terrain.
Getting There and Away
Start of the Trek:
There are different alternatives to start this adventure — the most popular ones are from Kande and Landruk.
Kande: You can find plenty of buses from Pokhara to Kande. The drive takes approximately one and a half hours from Pokhara and costs you about US$ 2-3 per person. It is important to remember the roads to Kande get muddy and slippery during the monsoon. Therefore, it may take 4-5 hours for the same road trip during the rainy season.
Landruk: You can find a few buses and jeeps from Pokhara to Landruk. However, it is difficult to find transportation service during the monsoon. A local bus charges about US$ 5 per person, and a jeep travel costs about US$ 9 every individual.
End of the Trek:
The endpoint for Mardi Himal Trek is at Siding. Taking a jeep from Siding village is the only available option to drive to Pokhara. The charge of the vehicle mostly depends on the season, the number of people, and your negotiating skills. It usually costs around US$ 9 to 10 per person for 5 to 9 people.
Alternative Route Options for Mardi Himal Trek
Standard Route (Kande – Siding) – 42 km
Kande to Siding is the most popular route options to trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp. This standard route begins with a short drive to Kande. On the first day, the trekkers either walk to Deurali or Forest Camp.
Traversing through the dense forests, villages, diverse terrains, all the way to Mardi Himal Base Camp, the trek ends at Siding village. You can catch a jeep directly from Siding to Pokhara for about US$ 9 to $10. The entire standard trail covers a total of 42 km with 5-7 hours of walking each day.
Connection Route (Ghandruk/Kyumi – Siding) – 35/31 km
Trekkers who decide to extend their trek after Annapurna Base Camp or Poonhill Trek usually prefer this option. It is possible to start the extension either from Ghandruk or from Kyumi.
Once you diverge from the routes of Annapurna Base Camp, the trail to Mardi Himal connects at Forest Camp. After Forest Camp, you will follow a similar path as the standard route until the end of the trek.
If you start the trek from Ghandruk, the entire trek will cover a total distance of 35 km. However, if you start the trek from Kyumi, the whole length of the trek will be 31 km.
Short Route (Landruk – Siding) – 30.5 km
The route is the shortest possible one to trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp. If you do have a short time but want to trek to Mardi Himal, this is the best route options for you. However, it is essential to remember this is a high altitude trek. Making hasty itinerary is not a sensible decision while trekking in such altitude.
Finishing the trek in Siding village means you’ll have to hire a jeep to Pokhara. However, the road is rough and bumpy until you reach the Pokhara-Baglung Highway.
Long Route (Ghandruk – Kande) – 52 km
This one is the longest route to Mardi Himal Trek, covering a total distance of 52km. If you don’t have to worry about an extended schedule for the trek, this is the ideal route option to Mardi Himal.
The route provides an opportunity to explore more by avoiding the rough roads of Siding. Although the way from Kande may not be the most comfortable one, it is far better than that of Siding.
6 Days Mardi Himal Trek Outline Itinerary
|Day||Itinerary||Altitude From (Meter)||Altitude To (Meter)||Trek Duration|
|1||Drive from Pokhara to Kande (1,770) and Trek to Deurali||900||2,200||5-6 hours|
|2||Trek from Deurali to Low Camp||2,200||2,900||7 hours|
|3||Trek from Low Camp to High Camp||2,900||3,585||5-6 hours|
|4||Hike to Mardi Himal Base Camp (4,500m) and Trek back to High Camp||3,585||3,585||5-6 hours|
|5||Trek from High Camp to Siding Village||3,585||1,750||6 hours|
|6||Drive from Siding village to Pokhara||1,750||900||2-3 hours|
Mardi Himal Trek Detailed 6 Days Itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Pokhara (900m) to Kande (1,770m) and Trek to Deurali (2,200m)
Your adventure to Mardi Himal Trek begins with an hour-long drive from Pokhara to Kande. Upon reaching Kande, you’ll start trekking uphill towards the beautiful hamlet of Australian Camp. On a clear day, Australian Camp offers a panoramic view of the Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, and Manaslu.
After enjoying your time at the Australian Camp, you walk for another two hours on a pleasant trail to reach Deurali.
Day 2: Trek from Deurali (2,200m) to Low Camp (2,900m)
Today, you leave the crowded trails of Annapurna Sanctuary behind and take a solitary path towards the Forest Camp. The dense forest of rhododendron, maple, oak, and hemlock surrounds the entire trail. It takes about 4 to 5 hours to reach the Forest Camp.
The trail continues through the forest area. However, the vegetation varies as rhododendron trees become densely populated in this area. Ferns, lichens, and moss cover the trees dominantly. You’ll reach Low Camp late in the afternoon.
Day 3: Trek from Low Camp (2,900m) to High Camp (3,585m)
The trek continues gradually uphill into the rhododendron forests towards the Middle Camp, and then to Badal Danda. Badal Danda offers a marvelous sight of Annapurna South, Hiuchuli, Machhapuchhre, and Mardi Himal.
After walking for another hour above Badal Danda, the trail leaves the treeline behind. Mountain view of Annapurna South and Hiunchuli accompanies the path towards the west. The trail keeps on along the ridge covered with grasses and bushes until the High Camp.
There are a few lodges at the High Camp, and the view from the lodge points to Machhapuchhre, Annapurna South, and Hiunchuli visible on a clear day.
Day 4: Hike to Mardi Himal Base Camp (4,500m) and Trek to High Camp (3,585m)
The day begins walking on a steep climb through the ridge towards Mardi Himal Base Camp. Since the trail is rocky, uneven and slippery, this section is the most tricky and challenging part of the trek.
Along the way, the fantastic views of Annapurna, Hiunchuli, and Machhapuchhre start unfolding in the backdrop. The trail passes through the pasture lands, then leads to the narrow ridges before reaching the Upper Viewpoint, and then to the Mardi Himal Base Camp. The mountain scenery from the base camp is exceptional.
After spending some time at the base camp, you retrace your route back to the High Camp.
Day 5: Trek from High Camp (3,585m) to Siding Village (1,750m)
From the High Camp, you’ll retrace the route until Low Camp, then take a different path that leads to Siding village. Most of the trail on this day is gradual downhill under the shades of dense forests.
Siding is a traditional Gurung village with a quiet and ambient atmosphere. The settlement is less busy even during the peak trekking seasons.
Day 6: Drive from Siding Village (1,750m) to Pokhara (900m)
On the final day of the adventure, you’ll hire a jeep and drive to Pokhara. You can also trek to Lumre and then hire a vehicle if you want to hike on the final day.
The road is graveled and rough from Siding until you reach the highway. It takes about 2-3 hours from Siding to reach Pokhara.
Best Time to Travel to Mardi Himal
Unlike most of the treks in Nepal, trekking to Mardi Himal is possible throughout the year. However, Autumn (September to November) and Spring (March to May) are two most favorable seasons to trek to Mardi Himal.
The temperature in Autumn is usually moderate and stable with a clear sky, which means the scenery of the mountains and landscapes is incredible throughout the trek. You also get to relish an exceptional sunrise and sunset during this period. However, the trekking trail is slightly more crowded in Autumn.
Spring is considered the second-best time for trekking in Nepal. The temperature is a bit warmer and stable during this time of the year. However, the sky can be slightly vague and hazy at times, which means the scenery may not be as exceptional as the Autumn.
Winter brings cold and harsh weather, especially at the higher elevations. Most of the time, snow covers the upper reaches of the trail. Therefore, in case of excessive snow, the trails may be more challenging to walk. However, the skies are unclouded and rewarding with magnificent sights. If you’re planning to trek to Mardi Himal during the winter, make sure to pack warm clothes and high-quality sleeping bags.
Monsoon is the least favorable time to go trekking in Mardi Himal. The temperature and weather are far too unstable with wet and slippery trails. Since dense forests dominate this region, the risk of leeches increases extensively. Trekking in monsoon demands proper preparation and packing for the wet weather.
Here’s a table indicating the details of average temperature and rainfall of different places en-route to Mardi Himal Trek:
|Location||Elevation (meters)||Average Minimum Temperature (°C)||Average Maximum Temperature (°C)||Annual Rainfall (mm)|
How Difficult is Mardi Himal Trek?
Mardi Himal Trek is a relatively shorter and moderate trek that does not demand any technical skills. Lush green forests dominate the lower region of the trek while the trail in upper levels becomes slightly rough with naked and rocky terrains.
The most challenging section of this trek is to hike from the High Camp to the Mardi Himal Base Camp. The route becomes much steeper and slippery on this day. However, most of the trek is comfortable for an enjoyable and pleasant walk.
The entire trek covers roughly 50-65km depending upon which itinerary you choose. You can complete the trek from 5 to 8 days averaging 5 to 6 hours of a daily walk. The risk of Acute Mountain Sickness is minimum as the highest elevation point of this trek stands 4,500m at the Mardi Himal Base Camp. However, it is essential to stay hydrated and take the necessary precautions to prevent altitude sickness.
Since the weather conditions of the mountains change quickly, it is vital to pack all the essential gear for the trek. It is better to invest in high-quality waterproof boots and carry all the essentials for cold and wet weather.
Although experienced trekkers consider this Mardi Himal as an easy trek, it demands a certain level of physical fitness. You do not have to be an athlete to trek in this region, but we recommend you to do the necessary preparation, and cardio-related workout.
Mardi Himal Trek is an ideal destination for novice trekkers who are keen to experience the Himalayan adventure.
What Permits are Required for Mardi Himal Trekking?
While trekking to Mardi Himal Base Camp, you will require two different permits — TIMS Card (Trekking Information Management System) and the ACAP permit (Annapurna Conservation Area Project). You do not need any other special authorization to enter this area.
If you’re trekking with an authorized trekking company, they will take care of this hassle for you. However, if you’re planning to travel individually, you can acquire both of these permits from Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu as well as in Pokhara.
To acquire the TIMS Card and ACAP permits, you’ll require your passport, insurance details, four passport size photos, and contact details of a person in Nepal. If you do not have printed photos, you can take one at the office free of charge.
To receive the TIMS Card:
- You must first fill up the form you get from the counter of the Tourist Information Center in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
- Take a photo, if you haven’t brought it with you. You can take a photograph in the office without any charge.
- Submit the filled out form along with two passport size photos and NPR. 2000/$18 per person to the counter. Remember they only accept Nepalese Rupees, so make sure to exchange your dollars to NPR.
- Finally, get your TIMS Card.
To receive the ACAP Permit:
- After receiving your TIMS Card, walk to the next door, and get another form.
- Fill the necessary details in the form.
- Submit the filled form, your passport, and two photos with NPR. 3000/$27 per person (payable in Nepalese Rupees only).
- Get your ACAP Permit.
As of 2018, the province of Gandaki announced to charge a levy of US$10 per tourists to enter the area. But, it has not come into effect till now. However, it is handy to keep this in mind as it may be practiced any day.
|Required Permits||For International Countries||For SAARC Countries|
|TIMS Card||For Individual:|
NPR 2000/ US$ 18
NPR 1000/US$ 9
NPR 300/ US$ 2
NPR 600/US$ 4
|ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project)||NPR3000/ US$ 27||NPR 1000/ US$ 9|
Insurance for the Trek
It is essential to have travel insurance while trekking in the high Himalayas. The circumstances at such high elevation are unpredictable. Therefore, we highly recommend you to get the travel insurance for Mardi Himal Trek.
Make sure your insurance comprises all the essential costs like helicopter rescue, medical charges, natural disasters, trip cancelation, and theft. Since there is no reliable insurance company in Nepal, we recommend you to do it from World Nomads.
Guided VS Independent Trek
It is possible to do the Mardi Himal Trek both independently or with a guide. Despite being less commercial trekking route in the Annapurna region, the entire trail to Mardi Himal is well-marked with blue and white stripes. Additionally, the trek is relatively short and less challenging compared to other popular treks.
So, if you’re willing to trek solo in the Himalayas of Nepal, Mardi Himal is an ideal option for you. However, it is essential to have prior experience to do the trek independently. Trekking independently is comparatively cheaper than hiring a guide, but it also means you’ll have to tackle all the hassles by yourself.
Having an experienced guide can come in handy while trekking at high altitudes. Although hiring a guide may add your expense slightly, it is far safer than traveling solo. The guide will assist you throughout the entire trail and provide detailed insights into the place. If you hire a guide, you do not have to worry about the hassles. The guide will take care of the bus, jeep, permits, and hotels for the trip.
Accommodation and Food
Mardi Himal Trek was widely popular among the campers for over a decade. The trek officially opened in 2012 with teahouse services throughout the entire trail.
Teahouses along the Mardi Himal Trek have necessary facilities or minimal amenities and services. Most of the rooms consist of two single beds with thin mattresses and do not provide the attached toilet. The toilets are mostly shared, and running hot water is not available throughout the trek. However, some teahouses offer buckets of warm water with an additional charge. If you like, you can have it.
Although the teahouses do not offer a variety of food choices as other commercial treks do, they provide enough menu to have well. One impressive thing about the food in this trek is that the locals themselves produce the majority of the crops.
Dal Bhat is the most common meal, followed by pancakes, pasta, and chop suey. Since you’ll be burning a lot of calories while trekking, Dal Bhat is healthy and filled with proper calories to keep you going. Chocolate bars and treats are also widely available throughout the route. It is important to remember that the foods are more expensive in the higher reaches of the trek.
For extra amenities like hot showers, boiled water, wifi, and charging services, most of the teahouses charge you an additional amount.
Mardi Himal Trek Cost
Various factors, such as the number of days, mode of transportation, route, and season, will determine the cost of the trek. Mardi Himal is a short trek, so it is relatively cheaper compared to other treks in Nepal. On average, for a 6-day itinerary, the total cost can be around US$ 300-400.
You need to get TIMS Card, and ACAP permits to trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp. The cost of the TIMS Card is US$18 for an individual trekker and US$ 9 for group travelers. Additionally, the value of the ACAP permit is US$ 27 per person.
The price of the teahouses changes according to season. On average, the rooms will cost you approximately US$ 4 to 10 per night with an additional US$ 4 to 6 per meal.
If you travel by a local bus from Pokhara, it may cost you from US$ 2 to 6 per person depending upon where you want to start your trek (Kande or Landruk). However, if you choose to drive by a jeep, it’ll cost you around US$ 9 to 10.
If you do not want to travel solo, the cost of hiring a licensed guide is $20 to $25 per day. The cost of hiring a porter is $16 to $20. If you want to hire a porter cum guide, they’ll charge you US$ 18 to 20 per day.
|TIMS Card||For Individual: US$ 18|
For Group: US$ 9
|Local Bus||US$ 2-6|
|Trekking Guide||US$ 20-25|
|Porter Cum Guide||US$ 18-22|
Packing Lists for Mardi Himal Trek
Although Mardi Himal Trek is not as demanding as other popular treks in Nepal, you still have to pack the right gears before heading off to the trails. The majority of the packing things depend on when and how you’re planning to trek.
Since Mardi Himal is a relatively comfortable trek, you do not need to hire a porter to carry your things. Traveling solo means you’ll be taking all the stuff by yourself. So, you need to pack your bags lightly yet sufficiently.
Here are some of the essential gears you need to pack while trekking to Mardi Himal:
- Backpack: A 45-65L with a top opening backpack is highly advisable for this trek.
- Trekking Shirt: 3-4 shirts, please balance both long and short shirts.
- Trekking Trousers: Pack 1 trekking trouser and 1 trekking short.
- Base Layer: Pack a pair of wool base layers to keep yourself warm.
- Insulation Layer: Carry a high-quality fleece jacket to protect yourself from the cold.
- Waterproof Shell Jacket: A pair of waterproof jackets to stay protected from the rain.
- Breathable Underwear: It is advisable to pack a couple of pairs of underwear.
- Hiking Boots: Buy waterproof hiking boots with sturdy soles.
- Sandals: It is always handy to carry a pair of slippers to wear around the teahouses.
- Hiking Socks: Pack 2-3 pairs of breathable hiking socks.
- Sun Protection Hat: Do not forget to pack a sun protection hat to protect your face from the harsh sun.
- Beanie: Beanies come in handy during the evenings to keep yourself warm.
Gloves: Pack warm and light gloves as they can be useful when the temperature gets cold.
Although sleeping bags are not an absolute must for Mardi Himal Trek, we recommend you to carry one, especially if you’re trekking in the winter. The lodges provide a small blanket which may not be sufficient during the cold winter nights.
Also, the blankets of the teahouses may not be clean all the time. So, if you carry a sleeping bag, you no longer have to worry about the dirty and smelly blankets!
Other Important Accessories:
- Trekking Poles
- UV Protection Sunglasses
- Water Bottle
- Basic Medical Kits
- Water Purification Tablets
- Hand Sanitizers
- Sunscreen/Lip Balm
- Trekking Towels
- Portable Chargers
When it comes to telecommunication services, both NTC and Ncell works decently in the Mardi Himal Trek. However, the functions may not be available throughout the trail, especially in the higher elevations.
It is important to remember that cell phone services may not be consistent in all parts of the region. You may have to wander around to find decent network coverage in some remote villages.
Mobile internet services are not pretty stable and reliable due to inconsistent network coverage. But when the networks are decent, you can use the 3G services in both NTC and Ncell.
The majority of teahouses also provide WiFi services, but they might charge you a few extra bucks for it. WiFi is the most preferred way to stay connected with your friends and family despite the high number of users. In this case, the connection can get slower.
Useful Tips for Mardi Himal Trek
- Since Mardi Himal Trek is not as commercial as other treks in the Annapurna region, the number of teahouses are very limited. Make sure to pre-book your hotels to avoid the risk of accommodations filled to capacity.
- Although the possibility of altitude sickness is relatively lower in this trek, it is crucial to stay hydrated and stay cautious of the symptoms.
- Buying bottled waters might be slightly expensive and are not advisable as they create more trash in the trekking trail. The best idea is to carry a bottle and fill the water in the teahouses.
- It is essential to pack right gears while trekking to Mardi Himal. However, if you do not want to buy the trekking gear, renting the equipment in Kathmandu or Pokhara is highly advisable.
- If you’re trekking in monsoon or winter, the trails may be wet and slippery. We highly recommend you to buy waterproof hiking boots with sturdy soles for the trek.
- Mardi Himal Trek is relatively not as challenging as other trekking trails in Nepal. However, it does demand a certain level of physical fitness to do the trek. We recommend you to indulge in cardio-oriented activities a month before the trek.
- It is essential to carry enough cash on the trek since the ATMs are not available after Pokhara.
- Get proper travel insurance before trekking to Mardi Himal.
Accommodation in Pokhara
|Budget Hotels||Mid-Range Hotels||Luxury Hotels|
|Hotel K2 Pokhara||Kumari Star Inn||Fish Tail Lodge|
|OYO 224 Danfe Hotel Pvt Ltd||Hotel Tulsi||Temple Tree Resort & Spa|
|Hotel Fishtail Inn||Hotel City Park||Hotel Barahi|
|Harvest Moon Guest House||Pokhara Boutique Hotel||Shangri-La Village Pokhara|
|Hotel Fewa Holiday Inn||Hotel Lake Shore||The Pavilions Himalayas|
Recommended Travel Agencies
There are thousands of trekking agencies in Nepal that operate Mardi Himal Trek. However, make sure you’re traveling with a reliable company while trekking in Nepal.
Some of the best trekking companies in Nepal for Manaslu Circuit Trek are:
Recommended Books and Guidebooks
- Annapurna: A Trekker’s Guide
- Lonely Planet – Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya
- The Rough Guide to Nepal
- The Climb
- Into Thin Air
- High Adventure
1. Can I do the Mardi Himal Trek solo/independently?
Yes, it is possible to trek to Mardi Himal independently. This trek is relatively short and less demanding. The entire trail of Mardi Himal is marked, and most of the time the path is solitary. Therefore, this is an excellent choice for independent trekkers. However, if you’re a novice trekker, we recommend you to hire a guide.
2. Is it safe to drink water in Mardi Himal Trek?
It is not advisable to drink directly from the tap or local streams along the trail. Water from the local sources is not safe to drink. Bottled water is available to buy throughout the trail. However, bottled water is slightly expensive and makes trash in the path. Therefore, we highly suggest you carry water purifiers, tablets, or SteriPen purifiers.
3. Am I at risk of suffering from altitude sickness in Mardi Himal Trek?
Altitude sickness usually occurs above 3,000m from the sea level. Since the maximum elevation of this trek is 4,500m at Mardi Himal Base Camp, you’re always at risk of suffering from altitude sickness. Therefore, it is essential to take safety precautions and stay hydrated while trekking.
4. Do I need travel insurance before trekking to Mardi Himal?
Despite being a moderate trek, we highly recommend you to have travel insurance before trekking to Mardi Himal. It is advisable to get the insurance that covers helicopter evacuation, medical charges, theft, and so forth.
5. What is the standard of accommodation in Mardi Himal Trek?
The teahouses and lodges of Mardi Himal Trek provide basic amenities and services. They offer common rooms with two single beds and the toilets in sharing-basis. The rooms also do not have heating facilities. WiFi, hot shower, boiled water, and charging facilities are available in the teahouses but will cost you extra money.
Mardi Himal is a short and remote trek ideal for trekkers who have limited time in Nepal and prefer to avoid the crowd. The trek is one of the most affordable alternatives to the popular trekking destinations across the country.
Trekking to Mardi Himal is an adventure that takes you through the diverse landscape, remote villages, and enchanting forests. You get to relish the close-up view of Machhapuchhre, Annapurna South, and Hiunchuli.
The trek also provides an excellent opportunity for professional photographers and photo enthusiasts for incredible spectacles of the mountains. On a lucky day, you most probably will get to photograph the night sky and celestial events.
While trekking to Mardi Himal, you’ll also get a more in-depth insight into the lifestyles and cultures of the local people when enjoying their hospitality.