High altitude, the world’s tallest peaks, steeped in history and Sherpa culture – this is the trek you that epitomizes trekking in Nepal.
Just west from the Annapurna Circuit lies the Dhaulagiri Circuit, one of Nepal’s most challenging treks available to the common trekker in Nepal.
Challenging because you spend three days at over 5000m on a snow field susceptible to white outs. Rewarding, given its diversity of landscape, carving a route beneath sheer cliff walls along Dhaulagiri’s western flank before ascending two 5000m+ passes for unobstructed views of the entire Annapurna Range.
Although a guide is optional for this trek, it’s highly recommended that you have prior mountaineering experience and to bring along crampons, ice-axes and rope (available in Kathmandu) incase needed during the glacier crossing. If you go with a trekking agency or local guide, check that they have a good reputation.
No doubt this trek is more challenging than the rest and not for everyone, but it ranks high on our list and is a respected favourite amongst local Nepali guides.
Dhaulagiri comes under the Western division of Nepal and is one of the fourteen zones of Nepal. The name Dhaulagiri is derived from the Sanskrit word which means “White Mountain”. The Dhaulagiri range is made up of some of the world’s most impressive peaks. Baglung is the headquarters of this zone. Royal Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, the only hunting reserve in Nepal is spread over Baglung and Myagdi districts of this Zone. Geographically, the Dhaulagiri region is a land of dramatic contrast, from the near tropical Pokhara valley to steep slope climb to snow capped Himalayan giant. This region is considered to be one of the most remote places of the kingdom of Nepal, abundance of Himalayan peaks, hidden valleys, high passes and sweeping vistas. Dhaulagiri is separated from the Annapurna region by Kali Gandaki Gorge (deepest in the world) and includes some fifteen magnificent peaks above 7000 metre. Mt. Dhaulagiri I, the sixth highest peak of Nepal and world’s seventh towers high above the well- trekked Muktinath pilgrim trail up to the Kali Gandaki Valley. The foothills of the Dhaulagiri region are marked with spectacular views of both majestic Himalayan peaks and white-water rivers. This region was remained largely unknown until a Swiss aerial survey in 1949. Best Trekking Season is from mid-September to November and February to May. Dhaulagiri region has four pyramid-like peaks, in addition to the main summit, and all of them rise more than 25,000 feet altitude. High passes and sweeping snow-clad vistas seem to challenge the trekkers who would love to go on an off-beat trek. Trekking in the Dhaulagiri region amid the serene and tranquil; surroundings will energize and refresh you.
CLIMATE, FLORA AND FAUNA:
The difference in the climatic conditions in this region is responsible for its varied flora and fauna. The Dhaulagiri region possesses a variety of flora and fauna. The vast massif covers Dolpo to its north west, following river up stream, ferns and forest of oak and other deciduous trees and juniper forest. Mountain sides filled with rhododendrons are blaze with color during springtime. Many species of flowers are abundantly found on the trail, even in the high mountain passes above the tree line, tiny alpine flowers can be found dotting the windswept ground. This Trans-Himalayan region is quite, peaceful and full of this area is relatively surrounded with nature full of peace and tranquility. Sparse vegetation is found up to 4,500 metre. Some of the Nepal’s most beautiful animal and plant-life are also found here. There are reports of many endangered species residing in this area including the elusive snow leopard. Although rare, the snow leopard and Danphe bird are much talked-about sights amongst the visitors. This place is one of the few true wilderness areas accessible to trekkers in Nepal.
PEOPLE AND PLACES:
The people in this region produce and sell cheese besides working as mountain-guides and porters. Many also trade Tibet and across the boarder to sell their goods. These areas are inhabited by several ethnic minorities such as Magars, Thakalis and Gurungs who speak their own languages and still adhere to local customs. The trekking starts at the small village of Baglung where one will begin the ascent along the banks of the powerful Kali Gandaki River. From here, one will travel northwards deep into the territory of the Magars; amiable and unique group of people that still have minimal contact with the outside world. After crossing higher then 3000 metre Jaljala Pass, the trail winds west into the forests of Dhorpatan, an ancient hunting reserve of the Rana Dynasty. Slowly one will begin the descent south into the Myagdi River drainage on trails that offer excellent views of the entire Annapurna range. A natural hot spring awaits at Tatopani, providing a bit of relaxation near the end of the journey. The area around Tansen is home to the Magar people and capital of the independent kingdoms to become part of Nepal. From Dhorepatan the panorama of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges is exceptional and this remote area is home to communities of Tibetan refugees who search the area for minerals and medicinal plants.
Dhaulagiri is derived from a Sanskrit which means “White Mountain”. It is an enormous Himalayan massif, located in north central Nepal. It is the highest mountain located entirely within Nepal. On the altitude scale it is the seventh highest mountain in the world. Dhaulagiri (White Mountain), separated from the Annapurna region by Kali Gandaki Forge (deepest in the world) includes some fifteen peaks above 7000 metre. There are few mountains which translate ‘White Mountain’; this is the biggest one in the world. In 1960, the Swiss/Austrian expedition first reached the summit. Dhaulagiri’s crest stretches for thirty miles, lending structure to an otherwise tangled topography of twisting ridges, glaciers, and ice falls. Along the main crest, several pyramid-shaped peaks rise. Four of these summits, numbered from east to west, rise above 25,000 feet.
Dhampus peak 6012 metre is situated in the heart of the Dhaulagiri region. This peak is also known as a Thapa peak which is generally covered with snow but not alpine in nature i.e. no bergshrund or crevasses. It is a conical peak on the northern side of Thapa (Dhampus) Pass. In terms of climbing technicalities, it is easy mountain to ascend. The overwhelming altitude differences between the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges make Dhampus peak a very vantage spot to observe the mountains with Tukuche peak (6920 metre) and Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167 metre) spectacularly close. This peak provides more than thirty mountain views and as well as Dhaulagiri glacier and deepest gorge of the world.
This magnificent mountain is situated in Dhaulagiri range next to the Churen, Putha Himal, Konaban and Dhaulagiri IV. Gurja Himal is named after the near by Gurja village in mid west Nepal which offers an interesting climbing experience. The approach to the base camp follows the Myagdi Khola (River) which drains from Dhaulagiri I and then climbs over the 4590 metre high pass of Bhujunge Bara to enter the stunning Kafe Khola Valley. The climbing route is on the North side of the Gurja Himal following the Kafe Khola glacier and over the north east ride which leads to the summit. The climb offers grade IV rock climbing on some places and some interesting ice and snow slopes. Once on the North ridge – great views of Myagdi valley in the South and spectacular view of Dhaulagiries in the north; and Api, Saipal are feast for the eyes through out the climb.
Churen Himal with the height of 7371 metre is situated north west from Beni. Mt. Churen Himal lies in western Nepal. This peak belongs to the western Dhaulagiri range. Churen Himal, west of Dhaulagiri, rears it’s sharp-cut crest, as deep shadows play over the nearer range. Churen Himal has been explored by a Japanese group. From Pokhara to Beni Bazaar, the way leads to the foot of Churen Himal Base Camp. In trek towards Churen Himal, one will have a chance to trek into the mass of the Dhorpatan hills at about 3000-4300 metre. This area is full of rivers and fast glacial streams, lots of forest and animals. Our route crosses very pleasing Chhetri, Magar and Chhantyal villages, especially Gurja gaun which is very good majority of Chhantyal people.
The Dhaulagiri range is made up of some of the world’s most impressive peaks. In this range, to the west of Annapurna South of Ganesh Himal, lies a long ridge at the end of which stands the serene Putha Hiunchuli. This mountain is the last 7000 metre marking the end of the snow-capped range. Though the climb is technically challenging there are many possible routes that may be explored. Putha Hiunchuli’s south slopes present easy access to the different summit’s base camps but the ascents route is technically difficult due to the many ridges and seracs. The route on the North Slope was rediscovered four years back, which crosses extremely remote and wild terrain. The landscape during the approach walk is as enchanting as it is unique: a mineral world made of high cliffs and deep canyons.
TREKKING AROUND DHAULAGIRI:
This remote and challenging trek for the more adventurous walker circles Dhaulagiri, the seventh Highest Mountain in the world. Its name means “white Mountain”: towering in solitary splendor, this magnificent peak rises as a giant shoulder of shining ice and snow. Around Dhaulagiri trek is long an arduous trek where one will encounter simple lifestyle and magnificent scenery of Nepal. The valleys and villages surrounding it are unspoiled and unchanged as the route is less frequented by the trekkers due to its challenging two passes, French Pass (5430 metre) and Thapa Pass (5365 metre). There is a long difficult trek around Dhaulagiri (8167 metre) that starts from Beni on the Kali Gandaki and follows the Myagdi Khola westwards to Darbang before turning north along a tiny trail. Much of the route is over snow and glaciers, crossing the base camp; we come to the high point of our trek, the traverse of French Pass (5,360 metre). Once over the pass we descend into Hidden Valley and Dhampus Pass (5182 metre), a high level route which brings us back to the upper Kali Gandaki Valley in Jomsom. Crossing the French pass and the Dhampus Pass offers the most awesome view of the Dhaulagiri range, the Annapurna range, Nilgiri and a look at the deepest gorge in the world of the Kaligandaki Gorge. Around Dhaulagiri, just west of Annapurna is the 40 mile wide Dhaulagiri Himal. Dhaulagiri I, the sixth-tallest peak in the world, towers high above the well-trekked Muktinath pilgrim trail up the Kali Gandaki Valley. The vast massif screens the hidden lands of Dolpo to its north, and to the west of it are Nepal’s far western hills. Only to the east along the Kali Gandaki Valley one can easily view the mountain close up, massive Dhaulagiri with its symmetrical peak and four major outliners which remains an enigma along much of its perimeter.
DHAULAGIRI FRENCH PASS:
The way to French Pass from Dhaulagiri base camp is long and steep. Much of the route is on snow and glacier as it crosses French Pass and descends into Hidden Valley and cross Thapa (Dhampus) Pass.
CHUREN HIMAL TREK:
This is one of the superb trekking destinations. This trek will take one out of the beaten track inside a region, reaching the Churen Himal base camp. This trekking is for the person who love the beauty of nature, the wild valleys, Himalayan scenery. Churen Himal is a peak belonging to the western Dhaulagiri range or behind Dhaulagiri and Gurja Himal lies in North East. This route crosses the Magar villages; near the hunting reserve of Dhorpatan. The trekking start from Beni and ending will the same place where we drive back to Pokhara and Kathmandu. Churen Himal Trekking is completely apart from the beaten paths; this trekking is for the person who love the beauty of nature, the wild valleys, Himalayan scenery. As Churen Himal trek is non touristy area, one will get chance to explore the new trekking experience in Nepal. Be-part from Beni, it will lead one to the foot of Churen Himal. Walk across Myagdi Khola until Sibang to cross Jalja la (3430 metre) Dhorpatan and of the hunting preserve Gurja Gaon and Beni drunk of return to Katmandu.