Be it the new trails in Mardi Himal and Machapuchhre or in Nagi and Narchyang, these new trails are expected to offer something new to trekkers.
Annapurna Region lying in north-western part of the country is one of the popular destinations for trekkers visiting the country. The trail that passes through beautiful villages, high passes and rugged landscape is regarded as one of the best trekking trails in the world. It offers some of the best views of mountain peaks in Annapurna Range. The region is also rich in terms of unique culture, tradition and lifestyle of people.
Trek to Annapurna Region has remained one of the most popular activities for trekkers across the globe for the past many decades. But the trail is gradually shortening with the advent of motorable roads and other physical infrastructures. It is because of this very fact that alternatives trails are being identified, explored and promoted in the region. Be it the new trails in Mardi Himal and Machapuchhre or in Nagi and Narchyang, these new trails are expected to offer something new to trekkers.
Trail to Nagi from Banskharka
The Nagi-Narchyang begins from Galeshwar of Parbat and passes through Nagi, Narchyang and Tatopani before ending at Beni of Myagdi. It is a community based trekking trail that has been developed as per the eco-friendly concept. It begins from Galeshwar that can be reached after a short drive from Beni – the district headquarters of Myagdi. Galeshwar is a village with great religious and cultural significance. The temple of Galeshwar Mahadev is one of the important attractions here. Besides, it is a popular stopover for trekkers for lunch or breakfast.
Trekkers spend their first night of this trek at Banskharka village in Parbat district. It is a beautiful village with excellent home stay facilities. Dinner, however, is served at community-run dining hall. The local management committee looks after dinner and accommodation of visitors. Situated at an altitude of 1,526 meters above sea level, Banskharka is a village of about 1,500 people with Magars as the largest ethnic group. Pine, rhododendron, Chilaune, Katus make up major vegetation in the village, while owls, Himali Kokale, Nyauli, Dundul, Syal Pothari, Lam Puchhre and Rani Chari are some of the bird species found here. Similarly, deer, Blue Sheep, fox and leopard are some of the mammals found in forests near this village. The village is also famous for orange farming.
Nagi village situated at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level in Myagdi district is the most popular attraction on this trail. Trekkers can reach Nagi for lunch after enjoying breakfast at Dandakateri of Parbat district. The village is renowned across the country as ‘Internet Village’ and the major identity of this place is the old settlement and unique culture and tradition of Magars. Wireless Internet service started in the initiation of Ramon Magsaysay Award Winner Mahabir Pun is the main attraction of this village. Locals have arranged community-based home stay facility or community-run lodges developed as per eco-friendly concept in all the villages along this route. There is a community lodge in Nagi. This beautiful village lying in Ramche VDC offers magnificent views of Dhaulagiri I, II, III, IV and V, Gurja Peak, Annapurna South, Baraha Himal and Nilgiri Himal among others. Baraha temple, organic farming and handmade paper production facility are the other attractions in Nagi. There is also a forest nursery in Nagi. The saplings produced in this nursery are planted in different community forests during June-July. Trekkers can also take part in the plantation. Nagi and Tikot villages are also famous for the traditional Sorathi dance of Pun Magars. Locals can present Sorathi dance if tourists are interested.
Community Lodge at Nagi
Mohare Danda is another important attraction in the trek. It can be reached after hiking through dense forests of Pinus Wallichiana, Abies Pindrow and Rhododendron from Nagi. It is one of the important places in the route for mountain views. The place situated at an altitude of 3,300 meters above sea level offers stunning views of sunrise and sunset along with more than 28 peaks in Annapurna and Gauri Shankar range. Mohare Danda also links this new trail with the Annapurna Region. Trekkers can enter Annapurna Region via Pun Hill from Mohara Danda.
Locals have built a community lodge and dining hall in Mohare Danda to cater to trekkers visiting this place. Proceeds from the community lodge and dining hall is used to finance operation of Himanchal Higher Secondary School. The school is also operating a Cross Breeding Project of yaks to generate income to finance its activities. Wireless internet service is the other attraction in Mohare Danda. Deer, leopard, hyena are the major mammals found in forests in and around Mohare Danda.
Dhaulagiri Range seen from Mohare Danda
Tikot is another important village along this trail. It can be reached after a day-long hike from Mohare Danda via Dandakharka. The temple of Pyari Baraha is the major attraction in Danda Kharka. Locals have also built a community-run lodge to accommodate trekkers. Tikot is the village of Pun Magars. Situated at an altitude of 2,260 meters, Tikot offers magnificent views of Mt Dhaulagiri.
Khiwang in Ghar VDC and Swat of Shikh VDC are other important settlements along this route. Both these VDCs lie in the Annapurna Conservation Area. Khiwang is a beautiful village of around 800 people with Pun Magars as the dominant population. Agriculture is the main occupation for people in this village. Farmers here grow 100% organic farm products. Swat, with about 52 houses, is another beautiful village along this trail. The village offers beautiful views of Dhaulagiri, Gurja, Tukche and Sita Chuchura peaks.
Khopra Danda situated at an altitude of 3,660 meters is another attractive destination on this route. Khopra can be reached after a steep climb from Swant via Dhandkharka. Khopra is a popular viewpoint along the trail as it offers magnificent views of most of the mountain peaks in western development region to far-western development regions. It also offers magnificent view of Andha gorge, the deepest gorge in the world, and Dana Valley. Khopra village is the gateway to Barahi Tal situated at an altitude of 4,600 meters. The place wears a festive look during Janai Poornima festival.
Himanchal Primary School in Nagi and Paudwar Primary School in Paudwar have jointly operated yak farm in Khopra. At present, there are around 180 yak cows in this farm. These two schools have also operated a community lodge capable of accommodating 20 persons per night. A shot trek from Khopra takes trekkers to Paudwar village. Paudwar Primary School operates a cheese factory here to generate fund for financing its activities. One can reach Pokhara from Paudwar via Gharkhola.
Situated at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level, Narchyang is the largest VDC in Myagdi district. Magars are the dominant population in this village of around 2,500 persons. This village lies in Annapurna Conservation Area and is rich in terms of biodiversity. Rhododendron and pine make up major vegetation in the village. Musk deer and different species of pheasants are the other attractions in Narchyang.
A hike of less than two hours from Narchyang takes trekkers to Tatopani. The natural hot springs lying on the banks of Kali Gandaki River is the major attraction in Tatopani. The place is frequented by both domestic and foreign tourists as it is believed that one can get rid of various skin and neuro diseases by taking dips in the hot springs.
Tatopani is the final destination of this trek. Beni can be reached after a drive of three hours from Tatopani. From Beni, trekkers have the option of returning to Pokhara or starting treks to Dhorpatan or Dhaulagiri Base Camp.
The major attraction of this trek is community-run home stay and lodges. There is a community lodge in Nagi, while home stay facilities have been arranged in Baskharka, Dandakateri, Tikot and Khiwang among other villages. Community-run tourism activities are not only offering better facilities to trekkers, but have also become a source of income generation for locals. Natural beauty, rich culture and tradition and warm hospitality of local people encourage trekkers to visit the area again and again.