Planning a short holiday in Nepal? Or do you feel the adrenaline rush for a real mountain thrill?? I’ve the perfect travel destination for you that is not just a surprise but also a place that makes you feel like HOME , the ‘HIMALAYAN-MARDI TREK!!’
MARDI TREK, opened up for travelers from 2012. It is a new trail around ANNAPURANA. It’s a great travelling experience, with comfortable lodgings, an amalgam of Rhododendron forests, high hills and amazing mountain views. So, here I share the 4 days and 5 nights travel journey with my colleagues and a wonderful moment of my life, the “hidden trail treasure”.
The journey to Mardi started on a bus from the Baglung Bus Park, Pokhara towards Lumle, through the beautiful paddy fields of Hemja, the speedy turns, high bumpers and riversides. High up in the hills is Kade, the place with recorded the most rainfall in a year. Few hotels serve hot tea made from their own produce and cookies to warm up before the beginning of the trail. This is where the foot trail starts.
After an hour walk through the tropical jungle, villages, steep paths, we reach the Australian Base Camp. The paved ways, the beautiful Marigolds in front of the houses, and hospitality of the people were are few reasons to pause our hike and relax our fatigued limbs.
The destination ahead , Pothana offered the easy walk with stone stairs for about 1 and half hour in the forest with some rest stops on the way.
With a Tourist information center, hotels with delicious menu and friendly locals to interact with, we got some few trekking questions answered and a motive to walk with adventure in our heads.
Getting the relevant maps and few tips and tricks for the trek, we resumed our hike towards the next village, Deurali. It is a junction that connects and separates the path to ABC and MBC. The place was homely and offered solitude. After filling our bellies with traditional food at TREKKERS INN, we rested after an hour walk. Some make night camps here, as many people stay here and exchange travelling thoughts, vibes and friendship.
Signing off from the junction of two routes to our trekking destination, its a 3 ½ hours hike to our 1st day destination. The trail from here changes remarkably with narrow and slippery roads, dust and leaves covering our footprint through the dense forest and bushes. As we were travelling in early winter and sun usually setting after 5:30, it was a psychologically monsterous hike to reach KOKAR before the darkness set in. The pressure was increasing and the thought of being lost in the wild with no food, finding the way/trail with just the help of “white and blue” color symbol painted in the trunks was overwhelming. Nevertheless, we stopped to view the pleasant scenario on open grounds because they were just irresistible to ignore. The footsteps of buffalo’s and the sounds of the bells on their necks were the ultimate guide for us. But we toughened up and made it to Kokar at 5:45.
We rested till 7 and filled our tummies with divine dinner cooked on firewood. We started chatting with the hotel owner Sita Didi and found out she lives alone, runs the hotel and gets the grass for her buffaloes by herself. With such a difficult life and great cooking skills, it was inspiring and we grew a sense of respect towards her. After dinner, all the trekkers gathered around the home made oven with local wines in their hands and started to sing. Sita Didi amused us again with her melodious voice and singing. It was a wonderful end of the 1st day of trek.
After a night spent very well, the next morning , we had an energetic breakfast, combo of the buffalo milk and some chapatti with butter. After some blessing of great weather Sita Didi, we resumed our journey.
The trail got tougher than before, but the energy and spirit was higher than ever to beat the obstacles with the profound desire to feel the Himalaya. Forests in these areas are dense with Rhododendrons everywhere. The climate was foggy and blocking the sight of the Himalaya. Chanting along the way, listening to the birds chirping, we paused many times to devour view in 3 hours until we finally reached Low Camp. Although a bit far from nearby village with only two tea-houses to stay , they offered a variety of food courses in affordable prices. After having lunch, we grabbed our backpacks and headed towards the last stop, High Camp, nearly a 3 hours hike.
The forest got denser than before until the hilltop, the road steeper while some NEPATHYA songs kept our spirits alive while the fogs made it difficult to see the path ahead. We reached Baadali Dada, a place with only hotel with the great owner operating.
Though it was the hotel’s policy, due to the anxiety and the breathing problems with rise in altitude, their offer to say was a pleasant gesture. The place offered by far the most beautiful Mountain view of the whole Annapurna Range up-close among the whole trail we had gone through till now, but we were not that lucky as the weather turned from bad to worse.
After taking a breather, we finally departed for the High Camp. Walking along the hilltops, fogs on either sides, faintly visible mountains, enjoying the outstanding views, we felt like we were taking a walk in heaven. This is best part about travelling, although you might not always find what you expected, nature will compensate you with something you never anticipated.
The 2 hour walk to High Camp was not much for our limbs compared to the profound joy of being there, but still had to witness the glamour of the Himalayas. Though the weather was intolerably cold, limbs going numb and our heads feeling drowsy, we still sat on the wooden planks dining and shared the experiences of the heavenly Himalaya with other trekkers.
Until 8, the cloud were barely moving but soon afterward the sky cleared up surprisingly fast and the sight was clear. Temperature was down to zero, my whole body was shivering but I got up, got out of the hotel to witness my love, the Himalayas. Astonished and mesmerized, Mt. Machapuchhre , Annapurna south and Himchuli were so close that for a moment if felt like I could touch them if I stretched my hands. This was surely an amazing feeling. The numerous twinkling stars and a spark of bloody moon added up to the magnificence like a bride.
We sat there for hours capturing her photogenic beauty, We had to leave for after the owner suggested it was dangerous to stay outdoors at night. Through the glass windows of my bedroom, I stared at the glowing Mountains till my eyelids shut. It was 4 am, when I woke up.
I cleaned the dew covered windows and discovered the clouds were back, as if they were waiting for the mountains to be awake. I woke up my friends, grabbed some chocolates, water bottles and started off to Mardi Base Camp as we planned to reach there befor sunrise. With only a mini torch and cell phone flash, we walked through the steep and slippery uphill.
As my fellow Ghumante, RISHAV said, “What the hell am I doing here?”“this is so my last trek if I ****ing return back safely”. And then a thought comes back knocking; It’s better to look back on life and say, “I cant believe I did that” than to look back and say; “I wish I did that”. The best adventure one could get was there, climbing the top, the mental pressure, walking with all your senses at peak attention. One slip and you fall directly down the Modi river and Mardi river with no chance of surviving. This is no place for the faint heart people. But for me, it was simple, “heaven doesn’t come the easy way.”
With the sun just nearing the horizon, increasing visibility, the wait was almost over and the climax was about to begin. The first rays of the sun started shining on her face, making the darling mountains more majestic than even. She was solemn, beautiful, grand and irresistible, more than that I had ever imagined. With the fresh sunlight caressing her, she looked like a pure gold mountain able to destroy anyone’s ‘self oriented thoughts. It was simply the feeling of being home at the Mountains just as I had dreamed of since I was a boy.
With clouds like white bed sheets, the Himalayas in front, and the beautiful blue sky with amazing cloud patterns, the trek was a success, this was exactly what I was here for. Being there with her, was like listening to thousands of beautiful lines of poetry, the love and beauty she held, my heart could hear it without any sound. I stand by my belief, “You will find something greater in the Mountains than in books, they teach you that you can never learn from the masters!!”.
Luck was on our side as we got a glimpse of the Munals flying nearby, just not enough to capture them in camear. I am in love with this place. After climbing many high hills, roaming through those dense forest, sailing among these floating clouds, feeling the sting of the frosts, the fury in the winds and there she was, waiting for me to come as always with her beauty and joy.
The Mountains makes your heart gentle; you become one with it, no place for greed or anger, and let’s you be who you are. I was having best time of my life.
But the joy didn’t last long. Soon, there was an unpleasant fog, that blocked our sight when we were on our way back home. Along the way, I turned back to see her time and again, it seemed like she was playing hide and seek with me. With my heart full of please and some wonderful memories, I’m in love that will last forever. I promise to ”To haunt her time and again!” and will be coming, when she “calls.”
We took a different route on our way back, departing from the side of Low camp and camped there for the night. After dinner, the campfire turned lively with Nepali songs from the locals and warm conversations.
This tour not just offers natural beauty but also a chance to learn the culture and life of communities in these regions.
The final day of trek, we headed towards Lwang, famous for the Gurung Communities and their tea gardens. The trail was easier as the altitude was decreasing. It offered some spectacular scenery with wonderful Machhapuchre in the north, wonderful people, Mardi river and the villages nearby.
Walking through the villages, streams, chatting with locals and sharing some chocolates to the children we met on the way, the best thing the locals offered us was their smile which was simply mesmerizing and unforgettable.
After the 3 hours walk, we took rest on the river side Lumre where they had some hotels and Asala fish as their main menu. Our adventure was not over yet, we ordered our lunch and made our way towards the nearby waterfall famous for canoeing.
The waterfall was high and the pool offered us a relaxing bath. Watching the water fall fully relaxed on the pool and sunbathing, I can’t describe the feeling in words. The cannoning season was off, but if you get here in the right time, you will enjoy the thrill and adventure of a lifetime. After having delicious lunch with the Asala fish (very resonable price), we resumed our trek. We hiked for about an hour before we reached our next destination, LWANG.
We wrapped up our trek for the day with whisky bottles and local chicken on our plates while villagers arranged some folk singing and dancing program. This was simply an awesome way to end a day’s trip.
The next morning, we woke up before the sunrise , we decided to take a walk around the village accompanied by fellow traveler Sangharsha. The people are kind and decent. Every houses that we passed through, we were offered to have some tea. After viewing a beautiful sunrise, we stayed at one of the most beautiful houses in the village, Home stay No-11.
After the combo breakfast of SelRoti, cereals curry and home made tea, we hiked towards the upper belts of the hill, where villagers grew the Tea. We spent some time there and learned a few things about tea plantation, a remarkable experience.
Finally we were ready to roll back to our homes, but the ending still had some twists. Villagers bade us farewell with tika and garlands of marigold, which simply showed their affection and respect towards the travelers. Such hospitality and love rejuvenate the feeling and kindle spirit of travelling. Afte an hours ride in a Jeep, we were back in Milan Chowk, Hemja.
The 4 nights and 5 days trek was simply one of the best days of my life. I summarize this trekking in five words for all travelers, “A MUST GO TREKKING DESTINATION!!”. So stop procrastinating or feel jealous reading travel stories, make your own!!. Grab your backpack, “dream, dwell and discover.” Because once you grow old, if you don’t travel now, you will not have enough stories and life experience to share with your grand children!!
Jay Ghumante. Know the world better.