Mardi Himal Trek Review

So what is the best short trek in Nepal? Now I’m talking less than 7 days in and out of Kathmandu if you are super pressed for time, Mardi Himal Trek is my recommendation. 

In this blog I’m reviewing the Mardi Himal Trek which I believe is the best short treks in nepal. In my opinion it’s miles ahead of Nepal’s most popular short trek which is Poon Hill. In comparison Mardi Himal offers less crowds, more variety and arguably better views so that’s why I think it deserves the title.

You can watch the video below which covers my pros and cons as well as giving you some basic information that would be handy if you wanted to do this or perhaps another trek in Nepal. I’ve also added the script underneath the video if you prefer to read. 

Mardi Hamel Trek Pro’s – What I love about this trek!

#1 Perfect if you are short on time 
It’s the perfect trek if you’re new to trekking, you’re short on time and you want to see what the Himalayas are all about without wasting time commuting to the start of the trek. Some areas in Nepal can take multiple days of travel by jeep or bus to even get to the start, so keep that in mind.

The reduced travel time to get to the start of the Mardi Hamel trek is primarily due to its proximity to Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city. They are building a new international airport in Pokhara, so my prediction is that this trek will get significantly more popular once that airport is built. I mean this thing is going to get some serious traffic.

So that’s 1 reason why I chose this trek.


#2  It’s all about the ridge.
I’m the type of person that picks adventures solely based on the view I’m going to get. I love photography and videography and so I always take that into account when I’m choosing my adventures. When I looked at the map of this area and discovered that this trek follows a relatively narrow ridge the entire time, I was very excited because ridge hiking means you’re likely to get great views on either side of you not to mentioned that wonderful feeling of exposure.

#3 Views of Machapuchare
I also chose Mardi Himal trek because of the incredible close up views it provides of Machapuchare. This incredible peak is often called fishtail mountain because of the shape of the summit. It is one of the most famous mountains in Nepal and it is also incredibly sacred. Fun fact about this mountain is that it is so sacred that climbing to it’s summit is banned, meaning it has never been climbed.

Personally I just love that concept, that I’m looking at a place in the world where no one person has stood, and hopefully never will. There’s definitely something special about that and without exposing myself as too much of a hippie you can definitely feel some significant energy around this mountain, I mean, it is imposing on the landscape.

I also love:

  • Short and sweet 4-7 days, perfect if you’re a beginner or short on time
  • It’s also a very social trek, there’s few options to stay, so you generally run into the same people.
  • As a solo trekker this is great because you have the chance to form relationships with like minded people which is really what travelling is all about!
  • Very predictable weather patterns – clear mornings – but long boring afternoons
  • Very easily accessible No 12 hour bus rides, no mountain flights needed and only an hours bus ride from Nepal’s second largest city, Pokhara.
  • You can do this trek independently

Mardi Himal Trek Cons – what I don’t like 

#1 Lack of Culture in Area
Mardi Himal does have a kind of manufactured feel. I get the feeling that no one really lives here before it became a trek, so I think that’s a big part of why I noted a distinct lack of culture in this area. Which is what almost always happens when people settle in an area that only exists for tourism, it ends up feeling tacky.

There’s not really any villages per say only small groups of tea houses along the way-  which is fine if your familiar with Nepal already but if this is the only trek you ever do in Nepal you’ll be missing out on some really special stuff in terms of culture.

For example there’s a distinct lack of those great little trailside stores that somehow seem to sell everything but also nothing at the same time, it gives you a chance to have some small but genuine interaction with a local person.


Every tea house, at least one ones that I visited, were all part of large governing body. You’ll find the same menu in every tea house and you’ll also find that the prices and fixed across the board in each town which is kind of suspicious.

As usual in a Nepal, the higher you ascend in altitude the higher the price gets, which is fine, I understand the economics of that but for me coming from a western world where price fixing is highly illegal,

I kind of got a weird vibe.

And it’s not a bit deal, part of travelling is accepting those cultural differences, and honestly I found it hard to find anything I didn’t like about this trek so I had to come up with something right?

Mardi Himal Tea house

Mardi Himal Trek Itinerary

Now if you’re still reading you’re probably interested in the details like how to get there and what to expect along the way so let’s get into it.

Firstly, if you’re planning on doing this independently you can catch a public bus from the Pokhara Baglung Bus Park – it’s very cheap, perhaps only 150 rupees or so, and it’s only 1 hour drive to the start of the trek which is generally Kande at around 1500m.

From here you trek until you reach a little place called Australian Camp, obviously being an Australian I was super interested to check this place out. But since the late morning cloud moved in by the time I arrived I decided to grab a coffee (this will be your last chance to grab an espresso coffee for a few days – but these guys hiked a 60 kilogram espresso machine up to this spot so you might as well take advantage of it!)

From here you’ll most likely head to Bhichok (2100m) for the night, but I was feeling pretty fit at the time so I continued all the way for Forest Camp 2550m. Just as a side note if you’re looking to get as fit as possible then check out my training plans!

Training in advance can be especially helpful as the lower terrain offers some interesting challenges, like high steps, slippery root systems in the undergrowth of this amazing rhododendron, bamboo and oak forests that makes for quite spectacular jungle trekking.

Once great thing is that you really have a lot of freedom of choice of how much hiking you do every day, for instance from Forest Camp you can choose to walk to low camp or perhaps middle camp which is what I chose to do. My advice is you just listen to your body and go slowly so you can acclimatise.

(If you’re unsure how to acclimatise watch my video on the 3 golden rules of altitude sickness)

You’ll probably start to really feel it once you reach middle camp around 3000 metres. And I can highly recommend staying put for an extra night here if you don’t feel so good.

It’s a great place to stay for an extra night because it is here that you reach the tree line where the forest begins to give way to an open Ridgeline – In fact, even if you look behind you to look back down the ridge where you can from you’re going to see amazing views so it’s pretty much 360 extravaganza at this point.

Also once you’re past the tree line the weather is generally a lot clearer, especially in the early mornings. You remain on this increasingly narrow ridge that faces the epic Macchapucchre. The trail takes you through the final village on the ridge which is called high camp at 3580m (some maps incorrectly state 3900m) which is for most people is the highest altitude at which they will sleep on the trek.

Once you’ve spent the night here it’s common to get up early and head to the real highlight of the trek which is simple called Upper View Point.

From the upper view point you can choose to continue up higher to Mardi Himal Base Camp at 4500m which is 100% worth it, as the ridge becomes increasingly finer and more dramatic as long as you trek along the ridge.

If you choose to do this though just be aware that there’s not a lot there, just a lean to tea shop which is basically just a guy huddled under a tarp who’s sole purpose is to make tea for passes by.

Maybe take a packed lunch for the day! You can buy some snacks from high camp the night before.

Now if  you start doing the trek to Base Camp and the clouds are coming in rapidly I would probably turn around, because in limited visibility it can be dangerous and the views will soon disappear.

Only 3 days before I arrived, a solo Russian trekker went missing past Base Camp and there’s been no sign of her since. And that’s not the first time trekkers have gone missing here you’ll see the missing posters in the tea houses as you ascend.

Do you need a guide for Mardi Himal Trek?

The main question I received was do I need a guide and honestly the answer no, you don’t need one. If you are an experienced hiker it’s totally possible to do this trek as a solo hiker unguided. Just get a map and follow the well marked trail. Having said that, hiring a guide will certainly save you from any potentially terrible decisions but it’s also just nice to have a guide to get a cultural insight, to have a translator, and to make sure everything goes smoothly.

If you’re looking to budget for this trip, you’re looking at about an average of about $350 per person for a 6 day itinerary. So it’s pretty cheap right? That generally includes everything except alcohol, wifi and battery charging.

If you do choose to go solo then you’ll have to make a few difficult choices along the way about whether you return via the same route you came up or you descend to the Valley either to the east or to the west. I chose the valley to the east in putting me in Sidhing and got a Jeep back to Pokhara from there. It’s quite well signed and it’s pretty easy to manage for someone who has a bit of hiking experience and a map.

Just a word of warning when I did the trek I descended from High Camp to Sidhing, which was pretty brutal on the knees so I wouldn’t recommend that to the average person – maybe spend a night in Low Camp.

Your other option, is to return to Pokhara via the east, or if you had the time you could link up the Annapurna Base Camp Trek which in my opinion would make for one of the best trekking experiences available.

Mardi Himal Base Camp

Best time to trek Mardi Himal

The best time to do the Mardi Himal trek is probably from October to January, with the winter months offering spectacular views and less crowds. Post monsoon like September can be problematic if the monsoon remains a little longer than expected like it did when I was there. But as long as you get up early you should still get some views.

Spring time like March & April would also be an excellent choice as the rhododendrons will be flowering at this time making the trails extra beautiful however this is peak season and you’re likely to encounter some crowds and potentially you’ll have to sleep in a tent.

But hey you’re here for an adventure aren’t you?

 

Mardi Himal trek cost

BUDGET:
TIMS Permit – 2000 rupees ($20 USD)
ANCAP Entry Fee – 1000 rupees ($10 USD)

Accommodation – This will be more expensive as you ascend in altitude. It will also depend on seasonal price fluctuations and whether or not you share the room. For me as a solo trekker in a private room/tent – roughly 250-1000 rupees per night ($5-10 USD)
Total accommodation costs for me: $34 USD

Food:
This will also be more expensive as you ascend in altitude.

I spent the following:
Aus Camp – Lunch & Coffee $8
Forest Camp – D, B, – $20
Middle Camp – L, D, B – $25
High Camp – L, D, B L – $45
Siding – D, B – $20

Transport:
Bus to Kande: 150 rupees ($1.5 USD)
Shared Jeep Siding – Pokhara 3500 Rupees ($35)

My Total: $213 USD

If you have any questions about Mardi Himal or trekking in general go over to Trekking FAQs facebook group.

What about training?
Test out your fitness with our Mountain Fitness Test
Recommended Program – Trek Starter (30 days beginner)  Trail Explorer (10 week program)

Written by Chase Tucker
Founder, Base Camp Training
Specialist Strength & Conditioning Coach, Mountaineer, Expedition Leader.

Qualified Personal Trainer with Certificate III & IV in Fitness
Qualified Altitude Trainer from Altitude Training Systems
Qualified Strength & Conditioning Coach with ASCA 7+ years experience in functional training systems.
17+ years experience in the mountains.

Connect with Chase via
youtube: chase_mountains
Instagram: chase_mountains
Facebook: chase j tucker

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