The Ultimate Guide to the Mardi Himal Trek covers everything you need to know to successfully navigate and fully appreciate Mardi Himal, the hidden gem. The Mardi Himal Trek is one of Nepal's most stunning and increasingly popular treks located in the Annapurna region.
Reaching an elevation of 4,500 meters (14,764 feet), this relatively easy trek offers spectacular views of the Annapurna range including Machhapuchhre, Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, and the Mardi Himal itself. The remote tranquility and cultural insights of the Mardi Himal Trek provide the perfect introduction to teahouse trekking in Nepal in just 4 to 8 days.
The Mardi Himal Trek was opened to foreign tourists only in 2012 and remains a peaceful and less traveled area compared to overcrowded routes like the Annapurna Base Camp trek. The area has remained pristine and offers insights into local Gurung culture along the way in villages where tourism is just developing.
About Mardi Himal - 5,587 meters - 18,330 feet
The height of the mountain Mardi Himal is 5,587 meters which is 18,330 feet. It is a small but beautiful peak located in the Annapurna region. However, it is overshadowed by the prominent and iconic Fishtail Mountain (Machapuchare). The peak promises spellbinding 360-degree vistas of the Annapurna Range, including Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, and the holy Machapuchare itself.
It presents a challenging yet rewarding climb for mountaineers and trekkers alike. The base camp of Mardi Himal is at an altitude of 4,500 meters which is 14,763 feet and it is one of the trending off-the-beaten trek in Nepal. The base camp gives you the most mesmerizing view of 14 different peaks.
The history of Mardi Himal's exploration dates back to the mid-20th century. However, it wasn't until 1957 when the legendary British explorer, Colonel Jimmy Robert first tried to summit the Holy Machapuchare. When they abandoned the climb to the summit of the holy mountain for some reason, they discovered Mardi Himal.
Mardi Himal was then first climbed by Basil Goodfellow, Chief Commander of the British troops in the expedition led by Jimmy Roberts in 1961. So, Jimmy Roberts was the one who first documented Mardi Himal in his trekking guidebooks in 1961. His team achieved the summit via the southwest ridge, marking a significant milestone in the exploration of the Annapurna region. Since then, the mountain has garnered attention from trekkers and climbers seeking new challenges.
Its proximity to Pokhara, the gateway city to the Annapurnas, provides easy access via well-trodden trails, tempting both hardcore alpinists and casual trekkers to take on the rewarding challenge of reaching Mardi Himal's ethereal summits. As climbers inch higher amid the rarefied air, the sensational views and solitude are the payoffs for undertaking the arduous multi-day ascent.
Permits for Mardi Himal Trek:
You will need the standard Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) along with the TIMS permit (Trekking Information Management System). However, the TIMS card isn’t yet mandatory as it was discontinued during and after COVID-19. But plans are on the way to reissue it in 2024, but it's not yet confirmed.
Nevertheless, these two permits are essential to do this trek which are arranged in advance by us. The cost of these permits is around USD 40 or equivalent to NPR 5000. Solo trekking here, male or female, is also possible if you are an experienced backpacker. However, hiring a guide and porter takes the burden of navigating off your shoulders allowing you to enjoy the scenery more
The Mardi Himal Trek Route:
The starting and ending points of Mardi Himal trekking can vary depending on your time and preferences. However, with Nepal Pyramids, the route starts with a scenic drive to Kande at 1770 m/5807 feet. Shortly we trek gently through the beautiful forest setting of Kande towards the Australian Camp at 2165 m/7103 feet. Walking the beautiful untouched terrain, we will get to our overnight camp at Deurali at the height of 2200m/7,218 feet.
From here the route starts ascending steeper and walking the occasional undulating trail we get to Forest Camp at 2550 meters. Leaving Forest Camp via Rest Camp and Low Camp, we further ascend higher to Bandal Danda (The Cloud Hill). As the name suggests Bandal Danda gives you the most amazing view of the landscapes with the clouds.
Both sunrise and sunset from Bandal Danda (The Cloud Hill) are fascinating. As the clouds settle down in the valley, it seems like you are walking in clouds overlooking the endless sea of white clouds. Eventually, we will hike to High Camp at 3700 meters where most trekkers spend two nights to help acclimatization and do day hikes.
The High Camp has a spectacular mountain panorama from Annapurna South to the Fishtail Peak. From here you can hike further to Mardi Himal Base Camp at 4,500 m or the lower View Point at 4250 meters before descending. We conclude our trip with a beautiful stay at Pokhara city, the lake city. Pokhara is one of the most stunning city in Nepal.
Accommodation and Food at Mardi Trek:
The building of teahouses in the Mardi Himal region started a few years back around 2016/17. Besides, COVID-19 and a few other factors hindered the teahouse progress in the region. However, now there are ample teahouses along the way as well as in the High Camp area so carrying camping gear is not necessary.
Most teahouses offer twin or dormitory accommodation facilities with shared toilets. So far these teahouse lodges are in great condition and very hygienic. They provide you with extra blankets without even asking so a sleeping bag wouldn’t be a necessity.
These Basic teahouses offer fabulous food items. Besides, meals like local Dal Bhat (lentil soup and rice) and Momos, they provide a variety of items like local, Chinese, continental, etc. Food items like Momo, Pasta, steak, French fries, sandwiches, etc. are also available. Since the area is not as commercial as Everest or Annapurna, Mardi Himal provides you with freshly cooked and hygienic meals.
Most of the lodges until High Camp have a greenhouse, so to say, trekkers have the privilege of tasting fresh local vegetables. Local salad would be a great item to try. Besides food, they also sell alcohol both local and imported, and a variety of snacks like Mars bars, pringles, fizzy drinks, etc.
Why Do the Mardi Himal Trek?
For those seeking a peaceful teahouse trek that offers Annapurna views away from crowds, Mardi Himal is a perfect medium-difficulty Himalayan adventure. The cultural interactions combined with shorter itineraries also make it ideal for those with a limited time frame.
So, if you’re eager to get a taste of Nepal’s Himalayan magic without huge crowds, consider adding this newer trekking destination to your bucket list. the Mardi Himal trek has an incredible atmospheric charm that makes every step well worth the effort. The friendly locals combined with jaw-dropping mountain scenery make this an unforgettable adventure that won’t break the budget.
So, escape the tourist crowds, catch awesome mountain sunrises and sunsets devoid of crowds, and experience authentic connections with the locals. The Mardi Himal trek might just end up being the highlight of your visit to Nepal.
How far is Mardi from Pokhara?
From Pokhara, it is approximately 45 minutes to 2-3 hours drive to the trailhead for the Mardi Himal trek. This depends on the itinerary you so choose. This would likely be around 50-80km depending on the specific trailhead location.
As we start trekking, it would most probably take 3-4 days to reach the foot of Mardi Himal at over 4,500 meters elevation.
The total distance of a regular Mardi Himal Trek is around 40 km which is 24.8 miles.
When is the Best Time to Trek to Mardi Himal?
The clearest weather on the Mardi Himal trek occurs during the Spring season which starts from March until May and the Autumn season which starts from late September until November. Spring and Autumn have always been an ideal time for trekking in Nepal.
During the winter months from December to February, snowfall becomes more common in the higher settlements. However, due to the change in the climate, these days people prefer to trek in the winter when the weather is clear and less crowded. So, Winter Mardi Himal Trek is getting quite popular these days.
The Mardi Himal trek can easily be completed in December. Trekking to Mardi Himal over the Christmas holiday period has grown increasingly popular in recent years. Despite January and February bringing peak winter conditions to Nepal and lower temperatures, many trekkers now opt to visit the Mardi region during these months.
For those prepared to withstand cooler weather, the Mardi Trek in winter provides spectacular unobstructed mountain vistas without large crowds. During peak season time this unhindered views and serene experience will be a privilege.
The monsoon hits Nepal from early June till August making trails muddy and visibility of mountain views less reliable. However, June does offer the advantage of seeing blooming rhododendrons if you don’t mind the rain. Nevertheless, monsoon isn’t recommended for trekking to Mardi Himal due uncertainty of landslides and slippery trails.
Mardi Himal Trek in August and early September is not recommended basically due to leeches and too much rain. Besides this section of Annapurna including Pokhara receives the highest amount of rainfall in the monsoon.
NOTE: Teahouses in the region are open all through the year till High Camp.
How Difficult is Mardi Himal Trek?
Despite the high elevation reached within a short period, the Mardi Himal Trek is still considered relatively MODERATE. It is considered Moderate mainly due to the gradual ascent which is not physically draining. The trail to Mardi Himal is fairly new and not many tourists trekked into the region until 2015. There were hardly any shelters for the trekkers because of which the trek to Mardi Himal then was all camping trips.
After the coming of teahouses in many short camps, now trekkers have the privilege to rest for a quick tea, have lunch, or stay overnight. Though the trail is very new and ascends and descends through the most luxurious dramatic forest setting, it is achievable for anyone of any age with sound fitness.
The descending parts of the trek contain loose rock and lots of steps which can be hard on the knees so bringing hiking poles is highly recommended. Proper layered clothing and waterproof gear are also key since rain and snow storms can come in quickly at these altitudes.
Several routes can be taken which are broken down below from shortest to longest.
The trek can be done in short 4-5 days itineraries, Medium 7-8 days, and longer 10-11 days. You can further extend your Mardi Himal itinerary with other Annapurna Treks depending on your time and level of fitness.
The shortest route is best suited for very fit trekkers already adapted to being at higher altitudes. The longer routes include extra acclimatization days to help adjust.
Take your fitness levels and any previous experience with altitude into account when deciding.
Shortest Route to Mardi Himal (4-5 days):
- Day 1 - Kande to Forest Camp (2,700m elevation gain approx 1000m).
- Day 2 – Forest Camp to High Camp (1,200 m elevation gain).
- Day 3 – Trek to Mardi Himal Base Camp and back to Forest Camp (1,700m elevation gain).
- Day 4 - Descend to Sidhing and Drive to Pokhara.
Medium Mardi Himal Trek Route (7-8 days)
- Day 1 - Kande to Deurali
- Day 2 - Deurali to Forest Camp
- Day 3 – Forest Camp to Bandal Danda
- Day 4 – Bandal Danda to High Camp
- Day 5 – High Camp – Mardi Himal Base Camp and back to Bandal Danda
- Day 6 – Trek to Kalimati
- Day 7 – Trek to Lwang
- Day 8 – Lwang to Pokhara Drive
Long Mardi Himal Trek Route (10-11 days)
- Day 01 - Kande to Deurali
- Day 02 - Deurali to Forest Camp
- Day 03 – Forest Camp to Bandal Danda
- Day 04 – Bandal Danda to High Camp
- Day 05 – High Camp – Mardi Himal Base Camp and back to Bandal Danda
- Day 06 – Bandal Danda to Landruk
- Day 07 – Landruk to Ghandruk
- Day 08 – Ghandruk to Tadapani
- Day 09 – Tadapani to Ghorepani
- Day 10 Ghorepain to Mohare Danda
- Day 11 Mohare Danda to Ulleri and Drive to Pokhara
What other Trip can you combine with Mardi Himal Trek?
Other trips that you can combine with Mardi Himal Trek are:
What to Expect and Things to Do:
The villages at the foothills of Mardi Himal offer insights into the culture of the Gurung people, one of the main ethnic groups in Nepal. Porters here commonly use woven baskets called Doko (Bamboo Baskets) to haul supplies along the trails strung across their forehead.
You’ll notice women dressed in vibrant red and blue outfits weaving cloth inside village homes. The sound of workers chipping slate into ornate roof tiles also echoes in settlements along the way transporting supplies from higher quarries.
The thick rhododendron forests shelter an abundance of birdlife including the national bird - the colourful Danphe (impeyan) pheasant. Other avian species to spot include the Spiny Babbler, Whistling Thrush, Green-tailed Sunbird, Eurasian Blackbird, and Rufous Sibia.
From the high camp sunset views overlooking the gently rising Fishtail massif are phenomenal while golden dawn light illuminates Annapurna South and Gangapurna. A day hike towards Mardi Peak at over 4,500 meters provides a 360-degree panorama from the Annapurna range to Machhapuchhre and Manaslu regions.
How Much will it Cost for Nepali to trek Mardi Himal?
The cost of Mardi Himal Trek for Nepali depends on your preference of transportation. Local Buses would cost you around NPR 800 to 1000 per person one way. Tourist buses will cost about NPR 1400 to 2500 per person one way, which depends on the mode of luxury you so choose. Food on the way to Pokhara while driving can be around 1000 to 1500 NPR.
The flight would cost around NPR 4200 to 5000 per person one way. Hotel Accommodation at Pokhara again depends on the mode of luxury that would range from NPR 2500 to 15000 twin bed sharing including breakfast. In bigger groups, Pokhara also has an option for a Hostel facility that may range from NPR 500 to 1500 per person.
Dinner at Pokhara 800 to 1000 per person. Transportation to the starting point of the Mardi Himal trek will range from NPR 5000 to 10000. While on the trek per day, expenses can range from 1500 to 2500 per person including accommodation and 3 meals with a few cups of tea. Alcohol and fizzy drinks will be an added cost.
Is Mardi Himal Trek risky?
No Mardi Himal Trek is not risky.
- First, Altitude Sickness: The highest elevation you will get to is 4500m / 14,763 feet which is Mardi Himal Base Camp. The sleeping elevation on this trip is 3550 m/11,646 feet which is Mardi Himal High Camp. Most importantly the ascent is gradual and you will have enough time for acclimatization. Starting from Pokhara @ 820m/2690 feet and sleeping at 2000m/7000 feet for a few nights will surely craft enough ground to adapt to the new mountain environment. Even if someone develops a mild AMS they can easily descend to the tree line area in a very short time. However, there has been no record of Altitude sickness in the Mardi Himal Trek to date.
- Second, Bad Weather: Yes, there are chances of bad weather, like snowstorms, rain, or whiteouts. Nevertheless, on the way to Mardi Himal, there are ample teahouse Lodges and teashops with basic accommodation facilities in every short distance walk that can provide you with shelter and food. In winter when there are high chances of snowfall we provide Yaktrax to everyone including porters. If you are well equipped with a local Guide, rain and snow gear including Yaktrax, and warm clothing, there is less chance that you will get stuck in the region.
- Third, The Trail: The trail to Mardi Trek is very NEW and was opened only after 2012, unit then Mardi Himal was a hidden gem yet to be explored. The trail is generally undulating and mostly through the lush forested area. So, this untouched trekking trial receives very little sun and can be very muddy and slippery in the monsoon and early September with leeches. But with caution and careful study of the trail before embarking will surely contribute to safe travel.
- Finally, Food Poisoning: Though Mardi Himal Trek is very new and teahouse trekking started around 2016 the quality of food and hygiene and great. All teahouse lodges in the region are family-oriented lodges that always tend to cook fresh meals. The region isn’t as commercial as Everest or Annapurna, so the level of cleanliness is very high despite teahouses being basic. The chances of getting Food Poisoning in the region are more or less zero. However, we ask all travelers to look for expiry dates if they are buying something like biscuits, mars bars, fizzy drinks, etc.
As already mentioned the Mardi Himal trek is not risky still Risk Assessment is very crucial. Travelers are to be cautious and do the risk assessment because there are chances of mishaps and trekking nightmares even while doing the easiest trek like Poon Hill Ghorepani Trek.
Do Climbing Mardi Himal require Climbing Permits?
No, to climb Mardi Himal you don’t require a climbing permit. However, you need a TIMS (Trekkers' Information Management System) card and Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit.
Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit:
- Costs NPR 3000 for foreign nationals.
- Issued by the Nepal Tourism Board in Pokhara or Kathmandu.
- Valid for a single entry for 90 days from the issue date.
- It costs NPR 2000.
- Issued by the Nepal Tourism Board or trekking agencies.
NOTE: The TIMS card has not been enforced in all the trekking destinations since it was put on hold during and after COVID-19. However, arrangements are being made to enforce it again from this year, 2024 but still it's not yet confirmed.