Mardi Himal Trekking Guide

s the Mardi Himal Trekking in Nepal on your bucket list? Do you want to know more about this trek? Well, lucky you! This article is jam-packed with all our tips and experiences, covering difficulty level, safety, best time to go, packing list, costs, and of course, the complete route with our accommodations. Get ready to dust off those hiking boots!

  • Duration: 3 – 6 days trekking
  • Difficulty Level: Medium
  • Starting Point: Pokhara or Kathmandu
  • Lowest Point: 1600 meters
  • Highest Point: 4500 meters
  • Best Time to Go: Oct – Nov or Mar – Apr
  • Popular for: Views of 5 iconic peaks
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Mardi Himal is the trek of mountain peaks! In just 4 to 7 days, you’ll climb your way up to 4500 meters to enjoy breathtaking views. At the highest point of your trek, you can spot 5 iconic Himalayan peaks, including Machapuchare, Annapurna South, and Annapurna 1! The Mardi Himal trekking, also known as the Mardi Himal Base Camp Trek, starts off in the sunshine at 1600 meters and ends (if you’re lucky) in the snow at around 4500 meters. It’s tough, involves serious climbing, sweating, and a bit of cursing, but the surroundings, experience, and people make it all worthwhile! An unforgettable hike!

This hike emerged in 2011, making it relatively new. The beauty of the Mardi Himal trekking is that it can be perfectly combined with other treks, like the ABC and Poon Hill. There are various variations and routes, which can also affect the duration of your journey.

In this article

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Mountain Peaks

Embarking on the trek, your eyes will be treated to stunning vistas! Along the way, you’ll be able to marvel at various towering mountain peaks. Here are the prominent mountain peaks you can spot:

  • Annapurna I: 8,091 meters
  • Gangapurna: 7,455 meters
  • Annapurna South: 7,219 meters
  • Fishtail (Machapuchare): 6,993 meters
  • Hiunchuli: 6,441 meters
  • Mardi Himal: 5,587 meters
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Route (3, 4, or 5 Days)

There are those who complete the Mardi Himal trek in as few as 3 or 4 days, but we recommend dedicating at least 5 days to this journey. If you don’t, you might end up ascending too rapidly in a single day, increasing the risk of altitude sickness. Along the way, we encountered several individuals who suffered from altitude sickness on the last day, preventing them from completing the trek. Take it easy, relish the hike, and seize your moments!

Options for Mardi Himal Trek

3-Day Route

  • Day 1: Kande – Forest Camp/Low Camp (2,500/2,900 m)
  • Day 2: High Camp/Mardi Himal Base Camp (3,550 – 4,500 m)
  • Day 3: Sidhing (1,280 m)

4-Day Route

  • Day 1: Kande – Deurali (2,150 m)
  • Day 2: Deurali – Low Camp (3,035 m)
  • Day 3: High Camp/Mardi Himal Base Camp (3,550 – 4,500 m)
  • Day 4: Sidhing (1,280 m)

5-Day Route

  • Day 1: Route 1: Kande – Deurali (2,150 m)
  • Day 2: Forrest/Rest Camp (2,600/2,800 m)
  • Day 3: Badal Danda (3,300 m)
  • Day 4: High Camp/Mardi Himal Base Camp (3,600 – 4,500 m)
  • Day 5: Sidhing (1,280 m)
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Day 1 – Pokhara to Kande/Pedi – Deurali at 2150 meters

Altitude: 700 meters – 1800 – 2150 meters
Duration: 3 – 4 hours
Difficulty: easy
Accommodation: New Laliguransh Guest House and Restaurant

From Pokhara, buses depart to Kande or Pedi. If you want to save time, you can also arrange a taxi to take you to the starting point of your hike. Tip: Don’t forget to sign your permit in Kande or Pedi.

If you start from Kande, you’ll walk through the forest to Australian Camp and then to Deurali, where you’ll make your first stop. It’s also possible to drive to Dhampus by car and start your hike from there. In that case as well, you’ll walk through a wooded area and end your first day in Deurali.

The first day is a relatively easy day of walking with little elevation gain. You walk at a leisurely pace and reach an altitude of 2150 meters.

During our trekking, we found an excellent place to stay at the New Laliguransh Guest House and Restaurant. This accommodation offers rooms with private bathrooms and was absolutely our favorite spot during the trek. There’s also a pleasant terrace where you can relax; in the evening, a fire is lit, creating a cozy atmosphere.

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Day 2 – Deurali – Forest Camp/Rest Camp – 2600/2800 meters

Altitude: 2150 – 2970 meters
Duration: 3 – 5 hours
Difficulty: moderate
Accommodation: Hotel Rest Camp & Restaurant

We start the day with a cup of coffee and a breathtaking sunrise, gazing at the magnificent mountain peaks of the Himalayas, including the unique Fishtail. After a hearty breakfast, we are ready to set off. We walk mainly through the forest, occasionally catching glimpses of the mountain summits. Whenever possible, we sit down on a bench and relish the view. Despite being doable, today’s hike wasn’t an easy journey. It involved a lot of climbing, climbing, and more climbing. After 3 hours of walking, we reach Forest Camp. You could potentially continue hiking to Rest Camp (or even to Low Camp), which is about another half hour away, but we were content with our progress.

The following day, we decided to stay another night at Rest Camp due to Leroy falling quite ill. At Rest Camp, there’s only one lodging option, but it’s a really nice one: Hotel Rest Camp & Restaurant. The mountain view is stunning, and the bedrooms are very comfortable. If you’re still up for hiking, I definitely recommend skipping Forest Camp and staying at Hotel Rest Camp & Restaurant instead.

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Day 3 – Rest Camp to Badal Danda at 3300 meters

Altitude: 2800 – 3300 meters
Duration: 3 – 5 hours
Difficulty: medium
Accommodation: Hotel 360

Many people choose to climb to High Camp on this day. However, this leads to rapid altitude gain, which increases the risk of altitude sickness. We met several individuals who ultimately didn’t reach the summit because they suffered from altitude sickness at High Camp. Quite unfortunate! That’s why we recommend simply adding an extra day.

We hike upward through the forest, and the ascent is occasionally quite challenging. Upon reaching Low Camp, the forest gives way to snow and mountain peaks. A beautiful moment to take a break and already savor all this beauty.
By now, we’re putting on our jackets as it’s getting colder. We leave Low Camp and in no time, we’re standing with our feet in the snow. We also spot the first yaks. The surroundings become more and more stunning. After about 4 hours of hiking and pushing ourselves, we arrive at Badal Danda. WHAT A VIEW! We can already see Mardi Himal lying there. It seems soooo close!
We’re staying here at Hotel 360. Honestly, it’s a dreadful place, but there aren’t many choices, so we’ll make do.

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Day 4 – High Camp at 3600 meters

Altitude: 3300 – 3600 meters
Duration: 2 – 3 hours
Difficulty: medium
Accommodation: Hotel Peaceful

Today is a short stretch but one of the most beautiful hikes of this trek. We walk amidst the mountain peaks towards High Camp. It’s a delight to enjoy the fantastic view, with more and more mountain tops revealing themselves. We decide to walk to the last accommodation, which saves us a bit of climbing at night.
After a drink, we go for a short hike to acclimate a bit. We don’t see much, as clouds roll in every evening. We hit the hay early because the alarm will go off at 3 in the morning.

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Day 5 – Mardi Himal Base Camp – Sidhing/Pokhara

Altitude: 3600 – 4500 – 1200 meters
Duration: 7 – 10 hours
Difficulty: medium/heavy

At 3 in the morning, headlamps are switched on and crampons are put on. Today, we hike to the summit, from 3600 meters to around 4500 meters. A significant ascent indeed! Not only is there a substantial elevation gain, but with a tremendous amount of snow around, it’s quite a challenge. We set off at 3:00 AM because we aim to reach the top at sunrise. And yes, we make it! The hike is manageable, although the final stretch is tough. It’s quite steep, slippery, and the altitude doesn’t make it any easier. There’s a fair bit of cursing (mostly by me, Lis is practically running uphill), but we’re doing it! Once at the top, all the struggle fades away. What a view! It’s so beautiful. With a small group, we stand here, utterly exhausted yet enjoying every moment. We take about a million photos, try to absorb as much as we can, laugh, dance on the mountain, and relish the experience immensely. We’re overwhelmed and secretly quite proud that we’ve achieved this.

After our moment on the mountain, we decide to hike back to High Camp, where Leroy awaits us with a big smile. He’s doing a bit better, but he’s been throwing up for three days, not eating anything, yet still doing a hike every day. Even though we were supposed to continue to the ABC trek, we all agree it’s wiser to head back to Pokhara first to recover.
However, this means we have to descend from 4500 meters to 800 meters in a single day! Luckily, we manage to find a jeep in Siding to take us straight to Pokhara. We can’t go on anymore. Our legs are done. Walking uphill is a breeze compared to the descent. We arrive in Pokhara at 7:00 PM. What a day! What a trek!

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How Difficult is the Mardi Himal Trek?

The Mardi Himal trek is often described as a short and relatively easy hike that can be done by anyone. While it’s true that the trek is suitable for all levels, having a good basic fitness level is truly necessary. Additionally, you should not underestimate the altitude of 4500 meters.
Personally, I found the trek to be more challenging than expected. This was because almost every day involves climbing, and the route is quite steep. There are few flatter sections for leisurely walking, as you might find on the Annapurna Circuit, for example. Due to the amount of climbing required, the hiking days are relatively short.

The last day, in particular, is quite demanding. It includes many slippery and steep sections, and both the ascent and descent are quite long.

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Best Time for Mardi Himal Trek

The Mardi Himal Trek is best undertaken in October, November, March, or April. During these months, the temperatures are pleasant, and there’s less chance of rain and snow. October and November are the busiest periods because the skies are clearer as a result of the rain that falls in the preceding months.
When we did the trek in April, we faced issues with small fires, leading to a lot of smog. As a result, the mountain peaks weren’t always visible, and we experienced several days of rain.

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Cost of Mardi Himal Trek

The exact amounts can vary based on your preferences and the time you’re traveling to Nepal. Below is a rough cost estimate for the trek. Keep in mind that as you go higher in altitude, the cost of food and drinks tends to increase.

  • Guide for 5 days: 125 – 150 euros
  • Accommodation per night: 5 – 10 euros
  • Local meals (Bahl Dath / Curry / Mom’s / Omelet): 1 – 3 euros
  • Snickers: 3 euros
  • Tea/Coffee: 1 euro

Cost breakdown for a 5-day Mardi Himal trek for 2 people:

  • Accommodation, food, and drinks: 150 – 200 euros
  • Taxi/bus/jeep: 50 euros
  • Guide: 150 euros
  • Permits: 50 euros

Total cost of Mardi Himal Trek: 450 euros for 2 people (approximately 45 euros per person per day)

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Safety, Guides & Permits

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can occur when you ascend rapidly to high altitudes without giving your body enough time to acclimatize. To prevent altitude sickness, it’s wise not to gain more than 500 meters in altitude per day. For example, if you slept at 3000 meters, it’s recommended not to go higher than 3500 meters the next day or to stay at a lower altitude. This approach allows your body to adjust to the elevation. Altitude sickness can affect anyone and is not related to your health or fitness level. The risk of altitude sickness starts to increase above 2500 meters.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Take sufficient rest, stay hydrated, and take it easy. If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, it’s important to stop ascending immediately.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to monitor weather conditions closely. Especially on the last day, it’s essential to set out only in favorable weather conditions, as the trail might not be well marked. Dangerous situations can arise, particularly in the presence of snow.

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To Have a Guide or Not

Since April 1, 2023, it’s officially mandatory to enter the mountains in Nepal with a guide. You can arrange for a guide for the Mardi Himal trek at various places, both in Pokhara and in Kathmandu. There are complete trekking shops as well as freelance guides available. It’s a good idea to seek advice through Nepalese or Annapurna Facebook groups or ask fellow travelers on-site if they have good recommendations. Often, you can arrange for a guide a few days in advance.
The costs for a guide usually range between 20 and 30 euros per day. For a porter, the payment is often between 15 and 20 euros per day.
In 2017, we visited Nepal and chose to do the Annapurna Circuit without a guide, which was an amazing experience with ultimate freedom. Although our guide Kumar during the Mardi Himal trek was very friendly, we felt that we had less control over our hike. Of course, this depends on personal preference, but I prefer to hike without a guide. Unfortunately, this is no longer officially allowed, but the rules are still somewhat unclear. In some places, it still seems possible to hike without a guide.
Therefore, it’s wise to gather information on-site.

In addition to a guide, you can also choose to hire a porter, someone who carries your backpack. Porters often come from remote villages, and this provides them with a source of income. Carrying heavy baggage places a significant physical strain on them. Personally, I’m not comfortable with this and prefer to carry my own belongings. If you do decide to hire a porter, still be mindful of the contents of your backpack. Only bring items that you would carry yourself, as it’s unreasonable to burden a porter with excessively heavy loads.

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Permits

Before embarking on the Mardi Himal Trekking in Nepal, you’ll need 2 permits: the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) and the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) Card. If you’re traveling with a guide, they can often arrange this for you. However, you can also arrange it yourself at the Tourist Service Centre in Kathmandu or Pokhara. The TIMS Card costs around 15 euros, and the ACAP is approximately 30 euros.

You’ll need the following information:

  • Your arrival and departure dates for Nepal
  • Entry and exit points of your trekking route
  • A detailed trekking route plan
  • A local emergency contact number (can be your tour operator)
  • An emergency contact number in your home country
  • Your travel insurance policy number (you cannot trek without travel insurance)

You’ll also need to provide the following documents:

  • A copy of your passport
  • Two passport-style photographs
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Accommodations

During your Mardi Himal trekking, you will be staying at simple homestays and guesthouses. These accommodations typically consist of basic rooms and shared bathrooms. Private bathrooms and warm water are quite scarce. However, most places do have Western-style toilets, except for Badal Danda’s Hotel 360, where the sanitation facilities were really poor.
Mardi Himal is a relatively new trekking route, and the villages/houses you’ll encounter were often developed because of the route’s establishment in 2011. As a result, the trekking experience may lack some of the charm and comfort you might find in more established routes like ABC, Poon Hill, or the Annapurna Circuit.

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Packing List

Every kilogram feels ten times heavier during a trek – and no, that’s not an exaggeration. So, pack light! Aim to keep your backpack between 5 and 10 kilograms. Here’s what we packed:

  • Good hiking boots: preferably waterproof hiking boots
  • Flip-flops or slippers
  • Hiking poles
  • 2 pairs of hiking socks
  • 1 pair of hiking shorts or leggings
  • 1 pair of long hiking pants or leggings
  • 1 pair of regular pants for the evening
  • 3 short-sleeve shirts
  • 1 thick sweater
  • 1 waterproof softshell jacket
  • Beanie/hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves (thin gloves worked fine for me)
  • Headlamp
  • Shampoo bar
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Sleeping bag (it was quite cold during our trek)
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm (don’t forget this, thank me later)
  • Crampons: We encountered a lot of snow, and crampons were necessary.
  • Blister plasters
  • Power bank
  • Charger
  • Altitude sickness pills
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Paracetamol
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Our Experience

Mardi Himal is stunning and offers an incredible opportunity to spot mountain giants. I found it to be a fantastic experience and a beautifully scenic hike. This trek can be wonderfully combined with other hikes, making Mardi Himal even more exciting. Moreover, I’ve rarely witnessed such breathtaking views as I did at Mardi Himal Base Camp. Was there nothing negative about it? Of course, there’s always something to nitpick about ;p During the trek, I missed the charm of authentic villages, like the ones we encountered during the Annapurna Circuit. Additionally, Mardi Himal places more emphasis on reaching the summit and somewhat less on the journey itself. It involved a lot of climbing and shorter hiking days. Personally, I lean towards longer hiking days with less intense climbing.
If you combine Mardi Himal with ABC or Poon Hill, you can get a taste of both worlds. This is something I would recommend to everyone.

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