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Located on the north of Annapurna, the valley of Nar & Phu have remained virtually lost in the lap of Himalayas for centuries until 2002 when it was opened for trekkers all over the world to explore this ancient world. The Buddhist culture and belief systems are still sublime in this region. The majority are the herders of yak; so it makes sense that yak husbandry is what they have been doing for so long.
The Narphu valley trek hits the beginning from Syange. For a while, the trail is same as of Annapurna Circuit but soon it diverges from Dharapani. Along the trail, you come across several waterfalls, Chortens, and canyons, but the scene becomes wilder when all the usual green scene becomes overlapped by the dryness of Nar and Phu valley. People there are amazing. Although they don’t share English, their smile and welcoming nature are enough to have an interesting conversation. Tibetan culture is still alive in the hearts of these people. For more detailed information what you see along the trek, please go through the detailed itinerary section. Such a region is hard to find. So, hurry up to pack your bags and leave your eyes astonished in the Himalayan grandeur of Nepal.
Peeking through the window of the airplane is one of the best ways to relish the beauty of Nepal. As you arrive at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, one of our airport representatives will greet you and escort you towards your hotel.
If you have time then, you may go to see Kathmandu Durbar Square, which is not too far from Thamel area. You may purchase trekking gears in the market of Thamel (if applicable).
Kathmandu is lavished with arts and architectures. With 7 architectural marvels listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the valley, this city is simply amazing to wander around. On this day, you will go to visit some of the sites that are incredible in its own way: Pashupatinath Temple (Golden Statue), Swayambhunath Temple (vantage point of Kathmandu valley), Boudhanath Stupa (massive mandala), and Patan Durbar Square (ancient royal palace of Malla Kings). These structures are admired by thousands of spectators. Now, it is your turn.
Drive from Kathmandu to Syange follows a scenic route via Besisahar, which is the starting point for most of the trekking in Annapurnas. Probably, this is from where the road starts to get dusty and bumpy. As you drive ahead from Besisahar along the gushing river of Marshyangdi underneath the road, your body sways along the windy trail and sometimes up and down: occasionally hitting your head up on the roof of vehicle. But good news is that the scene of lush green hills looks so enticing that the pain on the vehicle fades away. Or even if it doesn’t, stick to one slogan “No pain, no gain.”
Syange to Dharapani is considered to be the most beautiful walk in the Annapurnas. The trail tracks your way sometimes up and sometimes down along the fair rugged trail parallel to the lush scenery around. As you leave Syange, you will cross a bridge. There is the place where the wider lane for jeeps and walking path merge.
After a steep climb from syange, you come to Jagat, which is one of the stations for trekkers trekking in Annapurna Circuit. But you will keep moving until you reach Dharapani via a beautiful village named Tal (literally translates to Lake).
Today, you make a head start towards a beautiful village of Bagarchhap embracing the pine and fir forests throughout the trail. Soon you would see the lush valleys turning colorful and vibrant if you are travelling in the monsoon. From somewhere in the middle of the trek, you will have a glimpse of Mt. Manaslu and subsequently after walking a while, Mt. Annapurna-II stands shining with the sunlight. Continuing with few ascends and descends along the Danaque and Timang, the trail pokes few waterfalls amidst green cliffs that is beautiful to stumble across. Soon after, you will come to a beautiful village of Koto where you spend your night.
You will hit the road as soon as the sun lights up above the high mountains or perhaps before that as there is a long way to go today. Crossing the river along the trail, you will enter the majestic valley of Nar & Phu. Here is when the real adventure begins.
Contrary to the sophistication in Annapurnas, this region is not quite developed because of its less exposure to modern world. But that makes this valley unique to others. You will pass through beautiful forests, cave shelters, and waterfalls emerging from a grand canyon while on the way to Meta. As you gain the altitude the air gets thinner and the forests get sparse, but the scene grows more vivid and lively. After a long walk of about 8 hours, you come to Meta for the stay.
Once you leave Meta, the colorful Chortens begin to appear in sight inkling the beauty what Phu has to offer at the end of the day. Crossing a suspension bridge hanging over a stream, you would see no houses, but remnants of the ones left by Khampas (Tibetan refugees who illegally settled in this region). Blue sheep dazzle your eyes time and again along the rocky trail to Phu.
As you step into the sphere of Phu world (the lost valley for the centuries), a new beauty charges the milieu. A line of chortens coloring the landscape and beautiful Tashi Lhakhang Gompa (one of the biggest monasteries in the world) comes into view. This monastery was built by Karmapa Rinpoche who came to Nepal with Dalai Lama in late 1950s.
Because of the high altitude, it is better to acclimatize in the valley of Phu. Also, you will have a chance to explore the lives of villagers in greater complexity and depth: what they eat for meals and how do they prepare ingredients.
To paint a picture in mind, Phu is a small rural settlement, where the total population of the village is less than 500. They highly depend on yak husbandry. Narrow alleys take you to different regions of the Phu valley. For an extra exertion, you may hike up to the Himlung himal.
Today’s trail wants you to retrace your steps back up to the Nar phedi monastery and diverge your way towards a village of Nar. Some trekkers also stop-over at Nar phedi in the monastery, which is the only place to stay overnight there. But you forward our steps towards another hidden world (Nar).
Following the windy trail, you come across several colorful chortens along the rugged pave way. Soon after a while, you will get yourself lost in the beauty of Nar, which in itself was lost for many years. You will stay overnight in one of the lodges in the Nar.
Nar is certainly a best place to explore around. Unlike what you saw in Phu, Nar valley is quite lively and full of people. People are dressed in like a perfect Himalayans. Women are found weaving clothes and blankets. Every kid is happy to share a smile and Namaste at least without expectation of any financial reward. Recently, new tea houses are being built. This village is perfect to experience the ancient lifestyle.
It is going to be a long walk today so, hitting the trail earlier than the sun wakes up would be a best option. Long walk certainly doesn’t infer to difficulty as crossing the Kang la pass is easy. But the altitude may be a problem. More you sour up on to the top, the air gets thinner and thinner and every steps feels like a running in Marathon. As you beat the highest point of this trek (5320 m), Annapurna II, Gangapurna, and Tilicho Peak come into view. Everything looks incredible from the top. To be typical, it is heavenly there.
Then, you descend towards Ngawal. The more you fall, the more you feel good to go. As you reach Ngawal, the environment feels completely different. Adorned with modern amenities such as wifi, and extended menus in the hotels, this place feels like time travelling from ancient world to modern earth.
As you descend to Chame, the trail grows broader and broader, and forest area starts fattening up. At first few stops, you will be able to witness the gorgeous Annapurna and Chortens standing stiff and colorful on the way. At times, gorges appear with a beautiful stream flowing amidst the rocky cliffs. But that slowly disappears when you come close to Chame. Crossing Ghyaru, Pisang and Bhratang, you will arrive at your destination, where you stay for the night.
As you come to Chame, the trail becomes quite better. You go through few settlements to mark your destination to Tal.
From Tal, you will hit the road to Besisahar via Jagat. If you wish, you can take a drive because this is the same route you went through to embark on a journey to the Nar Phu valley.
Besisahar to Kathmandu is the same route you followed on the third day. It shows the end of the trek and again coming to the bustling capital.
After a long trek, it is time to get back home and share your memories in blogs and with friends and families. Say goodbye to all the amazing people, culture and mountains until you revisit Nepal.