GHT Annapurna & Mustang Section, Lower Trail
This section offers spectacular and close views of the Annapurna range. Besides, the Dhaulagiri range comes in view as well. You get spectacular mountain views all along the trail. This stretch is mostly populated by the Gurung people, who give you a warm welcome in their homestays. Although the Annapurna Area is the most touristic trekking area of Nepal, most of theLower GHTdoesn’t see many tourists (yet), and you find yourself having the beautiful forests all to yourself at many points still.
- Day 1 Kathmandu-Besisahar (6 hr bus ride) or Pokhara-Besisahar (4 hr bus ride) You can get to Besisahar by bus from Kathmandu (about 6 hrs) or Pokhara (about 4 hrs).Besisahar is the headquarters of Lamjung District and is quite big. It takes about ½ hr to cross the whole town. There are a few guesthouses, most are located at one side of the town (800 m): Hotel Siddhi Binayak (only one at the entrance of the town), Everest Guesthouse, Gangapurna Hotel and Lodge, Hotel M.C. and Lodge, Hotel Super View, Throunch Peak Guesthouse, Thorung La Guesthouse, Hotel Mt Kailash and Mongolian Guesthouse.Besisahar is the gateway for a couple of treks, among which the famous Annapurna Circuit. Another less well known trek, is the homestay trek to Gurung villages like Ghalegaun, Bhujung and Pasgaun, which is also part of the Lower GHT.
- Day 2 Besisahar (810 m)-Ghalegaun (2078 m) 6 hrs The trek starts with a climb to a small pass of 1600 m. From there onwards you have amazing views on the Himalayas, which are suddenly very close.The trail is climbing through agricultural terraces, and offers views to the snowcapped Himalaya on your right. Close to the top, you are entering the forest, with some rhododendrons as well. It is a steep climb for about another hour to the pass at 1600 m, the Ogle Banjyang. Just after the pass you have an amazing view on the Himalayas, among which Lamjung Himal, Manaslu and Himal Chuli.You enter the village of Baglung Pani (1606 m). There are 2 restaurants here, and one also offers simple accommodation; Hilltower Hotel and Restaurant.The trail is flat now and continues on a dirt road through the forest. At your right you have great views to the Himalayas again and at your left you see a beautiful green valley. After 15 min you pass the village of Rapasingh (1624 m) and after another ½ hr the village of Kapurgaon (1600 m). After the village the trail goes up, going through the forest. After about 1 ½ hr you arrive at the village of Ghalegaun (2078 m).Ghaulegaun is a very beautiful Gurung village. There is no hotel, but they established a homestay programme, in which 32 houses participate. The homestays are very nice, mostly in a small separate house, which is nicely decorated and with beds with quite good mattresses, soft pillows and clean sheets. It is a model tourist village, as they call it, and it is very clean. There is no waste lingering around, like you see too many times. Besides of all this, Ghalegaun offers a stunning view to the Himalayas. You can see a large range: in the far west Machapuchhre, Annapurna II, and further to the east Lamjung Himal, Namuna Pass, Manaslu, Himal Chuli, Nadi Chuli (also called Doctor Harko Himal) and Buddha Himal.The homestays are coordinated by one office, Dirga Ghale is the contact person. His mobile nr is: 9846193067. Ghalegaun is part of a homestay trek, in which also the villages Ghan Pokhara, Bhujung, Pasgaun and Siurung participate.
- Day 3 Ghalegaun (2078 m)-Pasgaun (1650 m) 6 hrs This is another beautiful day with great mountain views and nice Gurung villages.You leave Galegaun via the dirt road leading westwards. After 15 min you pass the village of Nayun (2047 m), part of Ghan Pokhara VDC. Shortly after, you start descending slowly; easy walking through the forest. Later the trail becomes Nepali flat, sometimes going up and sometimes going down. You have a beautiful view over a “sea of hills”; green hills stretching out in front of you like waves of a sea. After another ½ hr the trail starts descending via stone stairs to the gate of Bhujung (1800 m; 10 min).Bhujung (1641 m) is another Gurung village, and is part of the homestay trek mentioned above. Bhujung is a bit bigger than Ghalegaun, but has fewer households participating in the homestay programme: 25 households offer homestay facilities. The coordinator of the homestay programme here is Tul Bahadur Gurung, 9846089997, 993661311.You follow the trail down through the village, and continue going down on stone stairs, all the way to a suspension bridge at 1343 m over the Midim Khola ( ½ hr). Next to the suspension bridge is a community owned micro hydro plant, which provides energy to 340 households.The trail climbs up slightly and then goes down for a while. Soon after crossing a small wooden bridge (1314 m), the climb to the pass (at 2082 m) starts. At first you walk through fields, passing the village of Komagaon (1675 m). You can see Bhujung high on the slope at the other side of the river. After about 1 hr you enter a beautiful rhododendron forest. It is still one more hour to the pass at 2082 m. From the pass you have a beautiful view to the Himalaya, among which the Manaslu, Himal Chuli and Nadi Chuli.The trail goes down again and after about 1 hr you reach the entrance of Pasgaun (1690 m). Pasgaun is also participating in the homestay programme. Contact Tul Bahadur Gurung from Bhujung, 9846089997, 993661311. There is a nice Buddhist monastery in Pasgaun, Karma Thugje Chhyoling Buddha Gompa.
- Day 4 Pasgaun (1650 m)-Yangjakot (1450 m) 9 hrs The route described here is different than the GHT trail indicated on the map of Himalaya Maphouse. On that route there are no villages along the way, so this is only possible with a fully organized camping trek. If you want to stay and eat in a guesthouse, the route described here is a good alternative.It is possible to get to Siklis in 2 days. The first day is a very long day however, with a total distance of over 22 km and a total ascend of 2339 m. You can choose to stay in Bhachok or Warchok earlier on the route.In Pasgaun you follow the trail going down in the village. You pass the gate of Pasgaun and go down steeply towards the Rudi Khola (river) which you can already see far below you. Again you have a beautiful view over a “sea of green hills”, stretching out in front of you one after another. After 1 to 1 ½ hr you reach a small bridge (822 m) over a tributary of the Rudi Khola. After crossing you take a trail going flat and arrive at the small settlement of Bagaincha (815 m). You are walking on a flat trail through the fields now (follow the signboard to Thumsikot), but after about 10 minutes the trail starts to climb on a stone stairs. After about ½ hr you pass the first houses of Rabaidada (1003 m). The trail is slowly going up, going through the fields. About ½ hr after Rabaidada you reach at a big tree with a resting place. From here the trail is mostly (Nepali) flat, going through the forest. After about 1 hr you arrive at the village of Nagidhar (1232 m).Nagidhar is a small Gurung village. There is one restaurant and 6 homestays. The owner of the restaurant is also the coordinator of the homestays: Prem Bahadur Gurung, 9846355706.From Nagidhar you go down to the Bardi Khola (973 m; 30 min). After about 10 min you arrive at a tiny settlement, Sundar Besi (976 m). The trail starts climbing now, at first slowly, but soon quite steeply via stone steps. The trail enters the forest and brings you to the gate of Bhachok, another Gurung village (1314 m). Follow the trail going up through the village. After the village the trail enters the forest again and is going Nepali flat at first and then climbs via stone steps. After about 45 min you arrive at a stupa (1407 m) and big tree with a resting place. You are walking Nepali flat in the forest, high on a slope. After about ½ hr you reach another Gurung village, Warchowk (1363 m).After Warchowk, the trail is going down and soon enters a beautiful forest again. You cross a small suspension bridge (1029 m) over the Bhujung Khola and climb up steeply via stone stairs for about 45 min, and then more gradually, leading to the Gurung village of Yangjakot (1450 m).Yangjakot is quite spread out. At the beginning there is one small lodge, Rock on Restaurent and Lodge. 10 min beyond is another small guesthouse, without a name. Besides there is a community owned campsite in Thumakodanda, close to Yangjakot.
- Day 5 Yangjakot (1450 m)-Sikles (1945 m) 6 hrs From Yangjakot you go down at first and then Nepali flat going for a while through the forest.You pass the village of Kusku (1070 m; 1 ¼ hr), after which the trail goes down steeply via stairs, passing the village of Jyaudu (886 m; 20 min). Just after the village you cross a suspension bridge (870 m) and then it is easy flat walking. After about 15 min you arrive at the small village of Sabi and the ACAP check post (876 m). Here you have to present your ACAP entree fee (NPR 2000 to be bought in Kathmandu or Pokhara, at the entrance you have to pay double fee).You cross the small suspension bridge (885 m) just next to the office and follow the Madi Nadi (Madi River) upstream, which is at your right. After about ½ hour the trail continues on the river beach. In front of you, you can see the Lamjung Himal (6983 m) and Annapurna II (7937 m) to the left of it. The trail continues on the river beach most of the time till Sondha (1054 m; 1 ½ hr). In Sondha are 2 small restaurants, which serve dahl bath.After Sondha the trail continues for a short while on the river beach, before going back into the fields. After about 20 min you pass the settlement of Sikles Phedi (1108 m). You cross a suspension bridge (1143 m) over a tributary of the Madi Nadi River, after which the trail starts to climb steeply via stone stairs. Soon you see the Madi Nadi far below you. It is about 1 ½ to 2 hrs climbing to Sikles (1945 m).Sikles is one of the biggest Gurung villages, with a population of about 2500. From Sikles you have a beautiful view of Lamjung Himal (6983 m) and Annapurna II (7937 m). It is stil off the beaten trek: while the whole Annapurna Area gets more than 80,000 international tourists per year, Sikles gets about 700. There are a couple of guesthouses in Sikles: Namasté Guesthouse, New Sikles Hotel and Guesthouse, Home’s Home, Dudh Pokhari Guesthouse, Hotel Chautari. Besides, there are a few homestays and camping possibilities.
- Day 6 Sikles (1945 m)- Ghalekharka (1674 m) 6 hrs This is a beautiful walk over small trails, all the way through the forest, which is mostly rhododendron forest. In springtime, when the rhododendrons are blooming, it is even more beautiful. There are no villages or shops along the way, so bring a lunch pack and plenty (at least 2 liter) of water.You walk out the village passing a basketball field, following the dirt road for a few minutes, till you see a small trail going up at the right side of the road. You enter a beautiful forest. After a while you arrive at some meadows and if you look back, you have a stunning view of the Lamjung Himal and Sikles below you.You enter the forest again, and you are surrounded by the sound of birds. The trail is mostly climbing gradually through the forest. Some trees are huge, and they are all covered with mosses, which gives the forest a mystical appearance.You follow the signboards for Nyauli Karkha. After about 2 hours, you reach a deserted campsite (called ecofriendly campsite), this is Nyauli Karkha (2498 m). You follow the trail behind the main building, climbing up away from the building. The trail keeps on climbing (follow the signboards for Ghalekharka). After about 1 ½ hr, when you have reached an altitude of about 2650 m, the trail starts descending again. Most of the descend is very steep, over stone stairs. After about 1 ½ hrs you reach a campsite, above Ghalekharka, which you can see far below you. It is still another ½ hr descending to the Tamang village of Ghalekharka.In Ghalekharka is one (cozy) guesthouse, Samjana Cottage (tel. 9746041693, 9806762723). It has 4 guestrooms (10 beds), a dining and a small shop, including small souvenirs.
- Day 7 Ghalekharka (1674 m)- Lwang (1440 m) 5 hrs Again the itinerary described here is diverting a bit from the GHT route indicated on the map of Himalaya Maphouse (as mentioned before, there is not yet one official GHT (lower) route, as the GHT is a network of trails): from Lahachok the route goes northwards, and where the GHT on the map goes to the west, the route described here continues going north, up till Lwang, close to Ghalel. From here (the following day) it goes to Landruk and Ghandruk and then continues to Ghorepani next day. This is a more interesting route than the indicated route on the map, as both Landruk and Ghandruk are very nice villages.This day is quite an easy day, with a lot of flat walking. At the end you enter the forest and climb steeply to Lwang.You leave Ghalekharka following the trail towards a white stupa in western direction. After the stupa, you continue on the same trail (now a dirt road). It is easy walking, flat and gradually descending, through forest and fields. After about an hour, you reach at the Gurung village of Khadarjung (1333 m) from which you go down steeple to the village of Bujung Khola (1223 m). There are a couple of shops here, where you can restock your snacks. At the end of the village, there is an ACAP check post, where you have to show your ACAP entree permit, and you get an exit stamp, as you are exiting the ACAP area.You go right at the ACAP office and via some grass fields you arrive at a small trail, following the Seti Nadi downstream. You cross the Seti Nadi via a suspension bridge (1120 m) and walk through the fields to the small, spread out town of Balabhot (1127 m). It is easy flat walking again, with the Mardi Khola to your left. You pass Lahachok (1103 m). After aboug ½ hr you pass a small restaurant, next to the Mardi Khola Bridge (1040 m), which is a good place for lunch.You cross the Mardi Khola Bridge and go right/up, following the Mardi Khola upstream, walking through the fields. After about 1 ½ hr you reach Lwang Ghalel / Khoramukh (1067 m). You go left here, on stairs, and soon you are walking in the forest again. After about 40 min you reach the Gurung village of Lwang (1441 m; 40 min).Lwang is a beautiful Gurung village with a splendid view over the Mardi Khola and with the Machhapuchhre (6997 m) raising up behind it. It has a homestay programma as well, the homestays can accommodate 40-50 people all together. Contact persons are: Him R. Gurung: 9846382738 and Dev Raj Gurung: 9846048993.
- Day 8 Lwang (1440 m)-Ghandruk (2040 m) 7 hrs This is a day with lots of beautiful views of the Annapurna range. You are entering the popular tourist trail, which is quite a difference! Suddenly there are many lodges and shops, well stocked with all kind of snacks and necessities.In Lwang you walk towards a pipal tree with a small temple and water tap, where you take the stairs at your right, climbing up through the forest. After about ½ hour you arrive at a grassy area with a resting place (1655 m). From here you have an amazing view over the Annapurna range. You can see the Annapurna South (7219 m), Annapurna I (8091 m), Hiunchuli (6441 m), Machhapuchhre (Fishtail; 6997 m), Annapurna IV (7525 m), Annapurna II (7937 m) and Lamjung Himal (6983 m) and all from quite close.The trail enters the forest again and is going up gradually at first and then steeply for a while on stairs. The stairs become a small jungle trail, gradually going up again. The trail is not often used, and the jungle is sometimes closing in a bit. After a bit over an hour you reach at a meadow with may be even a better view over the Annapurnas than at the previous viewpoint. You can see the same mountains as on the previous one, but here especially the Annapurna II stands out.The trail enters the forest again, at first going down, but a bit later it starts to climb again. After about 1 hr you arrive at Pitam Deurali (2106 m). Pitam Deurali is on the tourist trail, and it is almost a culture shock, after the walk on the small deserted trails through the jungle. But it is nice to take a break with a mars or snickers bar and a cold soft drink! From now on there are lodges which serve food and drinks and provide accommodation about every half hour (on average), so you can choose where you want to have lunch and where you want to stay.From Pitam Deurali you have a beautiful view of the Annapurna South, with the Annapurna I behind it, and the Hiunchuli. The trail is going down through the forest to Bichuk (1814 m; 40 min) and continues descending gradually to Tolka (1760 m). It is about 45 min to Landruk (1628 m), a big Gurung village. All along the way you have great views of the Annapurna South and Hiunchuli.At the end of the village, stairs lead you down steeply to the Modi Khola (1320 m; ½ hr). Just after the bridge is the small settlement of Kyumi (1333 m) with 2 lodges. The trail climbs up, as steeply as it just went down, to Ghandruk. After about a bit over an hour you reach the gate of Ghandruk (1874 m). Ghandruk (1874-2050 m) is a very big Gurung village, and has plenty of guesthouses. There is an ACAP information centre, a Buddhist monastery and a Gurung Museum, which are all worth a visit. But even a bigger attraction are the Annapurna views; Annapurna South and Hiunchuli are up and close. Besides you can see Machhapuchhre, Gangapurna, Annapurna III, and a bit of Annapurna II and IV.
- Day 9 Ghandruk (2040 m)-Ghorepani (2885 m) 6 ½ hrs It is a bit long from Ghandruk to Ghorepani, but the trail is not very difficult. It is a beautiful trail indeed; you are walking in rhododendron forests most of the time, and along the way you have great views on the Annapurna range. In March/early April the trail is even more beautiful, as at this time the rhododendrons are blooming.You leave Ghandruk in western direction, climbing up gradually through the rhododendron forest. You follow a small stream most of the way. It is about 1 ½ hour to Bhaisikharka (2497 m), which has 2 lodges. The trail continues going up through the forest. From Bhaisikharka it is about 45 min to Tadapani (2660 m), from which you have a beautiful view to Annapurna South, Hiunchuli and Machhapucchre. Tadapani is quite big and has many lodges.After Tadapani the trail is going down for about ½ hour till a bridge over the stream at 2490 m, after which it climbs again. After another ½ hour you reach Banthanti (2666 m), where are a few lodges.The trail keeps on climbing alongside the stream. The scenery is beautiful, with steep high rocks, huge pine trees and rhododendrons. After about 1 hr you reach the first lodges of Deurali (3040 m) and a few more (3098 m) 15 min later.From Deurali it takes about 50 min till Gurung Hill (3152 m), a viewpoint with breathtaking views over the Annapurna range and the impressive Dhaulagiri I. Gurung Hill is not as popular as Poon Hill, but offers the same kind of views.20 min after Gurung Hill viewpoint there is a resting place, from which 2 stairs are going down, take the stairs to the right. After about 20 min descending through the forest you pass a gate, which is the entrance to Ghorepani (3006 m). Shortly after you arrive at the lodges and shops of Ghorepani (2885 m).
- Day 10 Ghorepani (2885 m)-Poonhill (3193)- Tikot (2278 m) 1 ½ + 3 hrs Watching the sunrise over the Annapurna and Dhaulaghiri range from Poonhill (3193 m) is the attraction of Ghorepani. Each early morning around 5 am trekkers walk up the hill to admire the six, seven and eight-thousanders, and how the first rays of the sun are shining on them. It takes about 45 min to climb to Poonhill. There is a view tower, and a small shop that serves hot drinks.From Ghorepani you go down into the rhododendron forest; a beautiful walk, on a small trail through the forest. You see many small bushes with small white or pink flowers, this is the loktha plant; from the branches Nepali paper is made.The trail goes sometimes up for a while, but is mostly descending. Sometimes you see a signpost for Tikot, which you obviously follow. You pass a small pond, Braha Tal (2642 m).Sometimes the forest opens up, offering amazing views on the Annapurna and Dhaulaghiri range (with good weather).The trail goes on the top of a ridge, and far below you in the distance, you can see the Aul Khola. It enters the forest again, going down steeply via stairs. You arrive at some fields, at the border of Tikut.Tikot (2278 m) is a very charming village, inhabited by Magar people, who are Hindu’s with lots of animistic touches. All special features in nature (as the spring of a river) are holy to them and most of the times you will see a small temple here. From the village you have amazing views over the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri range.Tikot has a homestay programme as well (9 houses, 20 beds). The homestays are very good, with nice rooms with good mattresses, clean bed linen, and clean toilets. This time you don’t eat in the house of the host family, but all together in the hostel of the school of the village. The homestay programme is part of a 5-8 day itinerary where you stay in homestays and community lodges. More info you can find on www.himanchal.org or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . Or contact Pradeeb Pun, the coordinator of the programme in Tikot: email@example.com mobile: 9857622790.
- Day 11 Tikot (2278 m)-Beni (850 m) 4 hrs, and bus to Pokhara (4 hrs) It’s just a half day walk from Tikot to Beni. You leave Tikot, following the dirt road that arrives at the square of the school. Soon steps lead away from the road. About an hour after leaving Tikot you arrive at the tiny settlement of Tikot Besi (1634 m). You are mostly walking through the fields. It is another hour till a suspension bridge over the Kali Kandaki (970 m), which brings you to the dirt road between Beni and Jomsom. After a few minutes you pass a few teashops (Baisari 967 m), which make a good tea break, to give your knees some rest after the steep descend!It is more or less 2 more hours walking to Beni, following the dirt road alongside the Kali Kandaki. Kali Kandaki is a first class river for rafting and kayaking, but for the courageous as the rapids are quite difficult!After about 1 ¼ hour you reach Galeshwar/Galeshor (874 m). You walk through the town and continue on the dirt road for about ½ hour till you reach Beni (850 m).Beni is a busy bazaar town and headquarters of Magdi district. There are plenty of hotels here, along the road and more inside the town. Besides you find lots of shops in Beni to restock your supplies for your trek. In case you want to end your trek here; buses to Pokhara take 3-4 hours.