Our Himalayan Adventure: Trekking Mardi Himal - Part 1
Nepal has long been a mecca for mountaineers, trekkers, nature lovers, and anyone looking to experience the great Himalayan mountain range up close and personal. There is a wide variety of treks to choose from in Nepal and there are two main points from where you can start your trekking adventures. The first one is Kathmandu where you’ll have access to the Kathmandu Valley and more isolated treks that require a bit of traveling and even flights (Mt. Everest included). The other starting point is the picturesque lakeside town of Pokhara which is located at the foot of the Annapurna Mountain range with treks like Poonhill, the Royal Trek and the beloved Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).
Pokhara is also the starting point for a newer and less explored route to the magnificent and very underrated Mardi Himal Base Camp. The Mardi Himal trek officially opened in 2012 with teahouses and a clearly marked route all the way to the top, but it has been in use by locals and adventurers for long before that. It is a beautiful 5-7 day trek that takes you up to an altitude of 4,500 meters (14,700 ft.)
We decided to do the Mardi Himal trek because it was said to be less crowded and more scenic than other treks in the area but also because Victoria did the Annapurna Base Camp trek back in 2013. We decided to do it with a guide but it is possible to do it on your own and hire a porter if you need help carrying your belongings.
Day 1 - Pokhara to Pitam Deurali
The first day started early with our trekking guide Dilip and his driver picking us up at our hotel for the one hour drive to the starting point, Kande. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and sunshine, a nice change to the rain that had been terrorizing us for the past 2 weeks. The first part of the trek was mostly steps that lead up to Australia Camp. It took us about 45 minutes and was just enough to warm us up. We took a short break in the camp and enjoyed our first close up encounter with Mardi Himal and the massive Fishtail (Machapuchare). Then we continued on smaller trails through a forest to Pothana where we indulged in the first meal of the trek - Dhal Bhat the classic Nepali plate which consists of dahl (lentil curry), assorted vegetables, and rice. Pothana is also the place where you register your trekking permits.
The last part of the first day was easy and it took us less than one hour to reach Pitam Deurali where we were going to spend our first night. Pitam Deurali is also the only camp on the route that offers running hot water and therefore the only place where you can take a real shower. For the rest of the trek, buckets and baby wipes is what keeps you clean.
Day 2 - Pitam Deurali to Forest Camp
On the morning of day two we woke up to a great view over Annapurna and after a quick breakfast and a couple of pictures of the surroundings we headed out on what would be one of the tougher and longer days of the trek. It took us about 6 hours to walk from Deurali to Forest Camp and there were no tea houses or stops on the way so we had to bring all the water and snacks we needed. It was a beautiful stretch through a dense forest that was much thicker than the one we had walked through the day before and we really enjoyed the peace and quiet.
We arrived at Forest Camp in the early afternoon and just as we sat down for lunch it started raining. Due to the rain and the fact that we were both exhausted after the 6 hours of trekking we decided to cut the day short and spend the night at Forest Camp. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening playing cards and drinking hot lemon tea around the open fire in the dining room.