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Dhaulagiri Circuit Camping Trek, 20 Days

The sceneries from the high passes and the base camps beat your imagination, as you come to see more and more of this biggest white mountain of Nepal and its surroundings. Sometimes you may also see mountain sheep and the snow leopard on the way. The starting point of the trek is Beni, the district headquarters of Myagdi District. Initially the trekking trail passes through villages of Gurung, Chhetri, and Magar people, where you get to observe their unique culture and lifestyle. It gradually gets tougher as you move to higher elevations. From Italian Base Camp, absorb extremely beautiful sceneries of Dhaulagiri I, II, III, IV, and V. After spending a day there for acclimatization and exploration of the nearby areas, proceed to Dhaulagiri North Base Camp. The trek then goes over the high passes and descends until Marpha, where it meets Annapurna Circuit Trek. Then you will meet the world’s deepest gorge in Kaligandaki and arrive at Tatopani, where you will relax in the natural hot springs. Eventually you will return to Pokhara and wind up our tour. The Dhaulagiri Circuit is not to be under-estimated; this is an exceptional ‘trek’ through surreal terrain. It is difficult and highly demanding and only suitable for those with prior experience of trekking at high altitudes, with a firm head for heights, and who can handle the challenges posed by often technically difficult terrain. The trail follows the Myagdi Khola, passing through the settlements of Darbang and Muri. Here the country is relatively populated, with scattered villages and farming land. After Muri, the Myagdi Khola swings north and the land around becomes more rugged and sparsely populated. The trail presents a range of tough conditions, ranging from jungle-like flora where the way is poorly defined, difficult and exposed cliff-faces, lose ground underfoot, poorly constructed bridges, boulders and rocky moraine, and finally a glacier on the French Pass (5,360m). Fresh snowfalls can add an extra level of difficulty. Expect to be trekking above the snowline from Italian Base Camp to Yak Kharka. Ropes, an ice-axe and crampons must be at the ready, and the support of a highly experienced Himalayan Mountain guide and a climbing Sherpa is mandatory. These indispensable individuals will closely monitor the effects of altitude amongst group members, particularly on the section between the French (5,300m) and Dhampus (5,250m) passes. There are many snow-capped mountains in this world yet Dhaulagiri (‘white mountain’ in Nepali) is without a doubt the king of them all. Trekking around Dhaulagiri is an exceptional trek that passes through staggering alpine terrain. It is definitely not a standard trek, being tough and demanding and has shocked many trekkers who expected something similar to the Annapurna Circuit or the Everest trek. It is better labeled as an extreme route; extreme, because you need a rope and should also take ice-axe and crampons. Going without a guide is for mountaineers only. With its extended high altitude nature it should only be attempted when snow-free, from late September to December or perhaps May and early June. This means don't go during March or April, these times can be particularly unpredictable and dangerous.

THE WHITE MOUNTAIN (DHAULAGIRI)
Dhaulagiri (8167m), the White Mountain’, was first climbed by Swiss in 1960. The mountain was sighted by British surveyors in India in the early 1800s and was mapped by secret Indian surveyors in 1873, but the region remained largely unknown until a Swiss aerial survey in 1949.The French Annapurna expedition in 1950 had permission to climb either Annapurna or Dhaulagiri but opted for Annapurna after a discouraging reconnaissance of Dhaulagiri. A Swiss party failed in 1953 as did an Argentine group year later. After four more expedition had failed, eight members of a Swiss expedition reached the summit in 1960. The climb followed a circuitous route around the mountain from Tukuche, over Dhampus pass and French Col(name after the French Annapurna expedition), to approach the summit from the Northeast Col. The expedition was supplied by a Swiss Pilatus Porter aircraft, the yeti’, which landed on the Northeast Col at 5977m after skis were fixed to the undercarriage. Near the end of the expedition the plane crashed near Dhampus pass and the pilots, including the famous Email Wick, walked down the mountain to Tukuche. The peak was climbed again by the Japanese in 1970m, the Annapurna in 1973 and the Italians in 1976. Captain Emil Wick airdropped supplies to the expedition from a Pilatus porter aircraft. Among the delicacies he dropped were two bottles of wine and a live chicken. The sherpas would not allow the chicken to be killed on the mountain, so it became the expedition pet. It was carried, snow-blind and crippled with frostbitten feet, to Marpha, where it finally ended up in the checking post. 

Dangers; Rock fall - there is real rock fall danger in two places, and if it has rained recently it will rain rocks in a place that you have to trek under. The danger is extreme, and I don't say that lightly. I was watching the rocks fall while my friend walked the section (too long to run). So I was watching for rocks coming from a 45 degree angle - and one shattered a foot away from me that had fallen vertically. Understand I was watching for rocks, and I still didn't see that missile. In perfect conditions, i.e. dry and fine for a while there is much less rock fall danger, but there is always rock fall in at least one spot.

Snow; Breaking trail though deep snow is arduous but doable, no problem, especially going downhill. However from between Dhampus Pass to near Yak Kharka, the trail is dangerous in snow. First, finding the trail is difficult and it traverses steep ground, second there is real avalanche danger, and third, when the snow is melting, snow-water-ice streams flow and these are extremely dangerous. That "extreme" word again. Getting trapped - if it snows during a trek, usually it is not a problem, and occasionally it may mean waiting a day or two for it to clear. Real snow (25cm+) in Hidden Valley will trap you and breaking trail on either trail out will be very dangerous. Ensure you make the right decisions.

Altitude Preparation; Ascending to Dhaulagiri Base Camps and through the Hidden Valley involves a dangerously sudden rise in altitude. If you aren't previously partially acclimatized you risk serious altitude sickness in an area that is tough to escape from. Many groups have simply trekked clockwise, beginning from Darbang, with only one acclimatization rest day en route to the base camps. In all cases most people were distinctly uncomfortable and some dangerously sick with AMS on reaching Hidden Valley. Being held up a day here by snow or an emergency would probably have killed trekkers. It has killed porters. Also expeditions and groups heading anti-clockwise from Marpha up to Hidden Valley have reported numerous worrying altitude problems. 

Crew Preparation; the reality is this is no place for porters. Even in October night temperatures in Hidden Valley are likely to be -15 to -20C, and in November, -18 to -25C. Porters don't have the equipment to sleep outside or under rocks in these temperatures. Again some companies have killed porters in this way.

Fact of the Trek;
Trek Destination: Dhaulagiri Region
Highest Elevation: 5360m
Best Season: Autumn (Oct-Nov) and Spring (March-April) 
Group Size: 02 to 12pax
Mode of Trek: Tented Camp
Trek Start/End: Beni/Jomsom
Grade: Very Strenuous
Trekking Hour: 6-7 hours
Transportation by: Private Car and domestic flight
Types of trek/tour: Trekking
Culture: Majority of Chhetri, Brahman, Gurung and Thakai
Himalayan Sights: Dhaulagiri Range, Dhampus Peak, Tukuche Peak, Thapa Peak, Gurja Peak, Annapurna Range, Tilicho Peak, Nilgiri and other snowy peaks.

High Lights of the Trek: Stunning view of high Himalayan Range, unobstructed Sunrise & Sunset view, typical lifestyle and culture of Chhetri, Brahman, Gurung and Thakai, scenic and picturesque villages, ancient Monasteries, wildlife, beautiful terraced fields, dense rhododendron forest,  Deepest Kaligandaki Gorge, water fall and glacier.

Itinerary in detail
Note that although we try to follow the itinerary below, at times local trail or weather conditions may make slight changes necessary. The trekking itinerary may also vary slightly depending on our trekkers' acclimatization rates.

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu 1340m,
You'll be met at the airport by our representative from the company, so look out for a office sign/logo with your name when you leave the airport. They will bring you back to the Hotel. Welcome drinks will provide by Hotel and short briefing about your treks and refreshment. Stay overnight in Hotel.

Day 2: Full day sightseeing tour in Kathmandu Valley,
A free day to explore in the Kathmandu Valley. Our tour guide introduces as following Options: Climb the many steps to Swayambhunath (the monkey temple), with its commanding views of Kathmandu (1420m), its whitewashed Stupas and its unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. In the midst of traditional Gompas, and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, Boudhanath attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (Koras) of the Stupa. Durbar Square, one of the old capitals of the Kathmandu valley, is a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist temples, stupas and statues, and is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies. Hindu Pashupatinath and its sacred temple complex on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating - when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Stay overnight in Hotel.

Day 3:  Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara and drive to Beni by private car
Morning scenic flight to Pokhara with panoramic views of high mountains like as Langtang Himal, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu and Annapurna Massif including Fish Tail and drive to Beni by private car which takes 5 hours, located at the confluence of the Myagdi Khola and the Kali Gandaki and the start point of our trek. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 4: Trek from Beni to Babiyachaur 910m/7 hrs
At this altitude it will probably be hot and humid as the trek follows the western bank of the Mayagdi Khola past the village of Beni Mangalghat to Singa and Tatopani.  On crossing the river, encounter many small villages clustered around the riverbank.   The trail loops back, crossing the river again, and then it’s a gentle walk to our overnight campsite.  Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 5: Trek from Babiyachaur to Dharapani 1,565m/6 hrs
The trail is wide and graveled as far as the village of Darbang.  Using a suspension bridge to cross the Mayagidi Khola, the path heads upwards through rhododendron, pine and oak forest for the next hour or so before exiting onto a ridge back.  A level path leads to the large village of Dharapani, where a warm welcome awaits. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 6: Trek from Dharapani to Muri 1,850m/5 hrs
An initial ascent leads to a ridge where the land flattens out.  Towards lunchtime, there is another suspension bridge crossing.  The trail turns uphill again and our climbing begins anew; we’re surrounded by cliffs on both sides.  The day’s destination is the village of Muri, which is inhabited by Gurung Magar people.  From here there are views to Manapathi peak and the whole Dhaulagiri range, weather permitting. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 7:  Trek from Muri to Baghar 2,080m/7 hrs
A steep decent out of the village and a crossing of a rocky stream lead to the terraced fields by the banks of the Dhora Khola.  The trail then heads up to and through the villages of Ghorban and Gugge.  Upwards again, in earnest, before cutting across the ridge-top.  The Myagdi Khola has carved a dramatic, V-shape valley.  The way forward is steep but well constructed, with a number of zigzag stone step paths.  Care must be taken not to slip into the gorge (the use of ropes may be necessary on this section).  At last, the long climb ends and we descend again into forest, emerging onto a ridge snout where we find our overnight camp. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 8: Trek from Baghar to Dobang 2,520m/7 hrs
Initially the route leads through terraced fields to a small ridge, then forest.  The small village of Jyardan is the most remote permanent settlement on our trail. Afterwards the trail becomes ever increasingly challenging.  A high winding path crosses a rocky area before reaching Lipshe – literally a single hut. Onwards through forest to Lapche Kharka and then the climb to the level area known as Dobang. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 9: Trek from Dobang to Sallaghari 3,110m/5 hrs
After crossing a wooden bridge, the trail ascends through another forested area. Soon the west face of Dhaulagiri I (8,167 meters) becomes visible through clearings in the forest.  After a short, relatively easy period of walking, the path reaches our camping spot surrounded by forest, near the bank of the Myagdi River.  It’s here that ‘dry’ instruction in ‘above-the-snowline’ mountain techniques is given as tomorrow should bring the first of our ‘above-snowline’ conditions. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 10: Trek from Sallaghari to Italian Base Camp 3,660/4 hrs
Today much of the trail dissects forest whilst it will also be necessary to skirt the terminal moraine of the Chhonbarban Glacier. At various points, small, ill-constructed bridges and jungle make the going strenuous and difficult, whilst scrambling over boulders also demands agility and care. There is an open field at Italian Base Camp and two small tea huts. As well, and more importantly, there are breathtaking views of the Dhaulagiri range, including Dhaulagiri II, and Manapathi peak. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 11:  Acclimatization Day 3,660m
A second night is spent at this altitude; a key to acclimatization is the body’s night time adjustment to the same altitude.  It’s also very much a rest day for the ‘big-and-challenging’ days ahead. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 12:  Trek from Italian Base Camp to Japanese/Advance Base Camp 4,440m/5 hrs
This is a particularly tough and challenging day and conditions may again dictate that ropes be used.  The area is also subject to rock falls and avalanches so an early start is the norm in order to minimize risks.  The trail leads into a rocky area and then climbs up the mountainside, narrowing considerably until crossing one glacier and then descending onto another, originating from the west wall of Dhaluagiri.  A climb on the opposite side of the glacier leads to a wide, grassy area in the shallow valley of Pakhaban, also known as Japanese/Advance Base Camp.  This campsite has impressive views of the West wall of Dhaulagiri I, and the huge stone walls of Tsaurabong Peak seem to press in. One gets a feeling of being deep in the heart of the Himalaya. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 13: Trek from Japanese Base Camp to Dhaulagiri Base Camp 4,750m/4 hrs
An exactly, difficult day of glacier hiking at altitude. Following a lateral moraine to a rocky ridge, which finally descends to the glacier again, the valley then bends to the right to Dhaulagiri Base Camp. From here one is looking up at the impressive north face of Dhaulagiri I, whilst to the west are the peaks of Dhaulagiri II, 7,749m and Dhaulagiri III, 7,713m and Dhaulagiri V, 7,616m. Ahead is the impressive icefall that descends from the north east col. Stay overnights at tented camp.

Day 14: Trek from Dhaulagiri Base Camp to Hidden Valley via French Col 5,010/7 hrs
Getting off the glacier above the base camp often requires rope climbing. Once over the steep moraine walls we reach slightly easier conditions, but then there is another breathless climb to the top of French Col (5,300m) where the views of Hidden Valley open out. Conditions permitting see Mukut Himal (6,328 meters), Tashi Kang (6,386 meters) and Sita Chuchura (6,611 meters), all of which surround the Valley. To the south is Tukche Peak (6,920 meters) and beyond is the massive peak of Dhaulagiri I.  Losing a little altitude as the trail traverses the Valley to Thapa Pass (5,250 meters) between Tukche Peak and Thapa Peak (6,012 meters), there’s then a descent to camp. The broad valley is reminiscent of Tibet and Ladakh and so are the temperatures (at least -20ºC at night). Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 15: Trek from Hidden Valley to Yak Kharka 3,680m, crossing Thapa Pass 5,200m/8 hrs

Descend from Hidden Valley to the Dhampus Pass via avalanche-prone slopes and continue to Yak Kharka. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 16: Trek from Yak Kharka to Marpha 2,667m/4 hrs
More steep descents lead to Marpha. The trail is barren and exposed with next-to-no tree coverage.  En route, see yak and sheep herds. Marpha is a small town mainly inhabited by a mixed community of Buddhist and Hindus.  Around the monastery are prayer flags fluttering in the mountain winds and many walls. With some luck, a hot shower awaits here.  We’ve joined the Annapurna Circuit and rejoined civilization.  This is the end of our camping; tea-house accommodation will be the order of the day for the remainder of the trek. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 17: Trek from Marpha to Jomsom 2750m/2 hrs
The first part of the today’s descent passes through an area covered with pine and rhododendron forest and the area is renowned for bird watching. At this point, if skies are clear, there are views of Mount Nilgiri North (7,061m), Nilgiri Central (6,940m) and Nilgiri South (6,839m), Annapurna I (8,091m), Dhaulagiri I (8,167m) and Tukuche peak (6,920m). We walk on the rough road to Jomsom. We will visit the Mustang Eco Museum at afternoon. Stay overnight at tented camp.

Day 18: Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara & afternoon flight back to Kathmandu,
Sadly, it's time to leave the magical Kingdom of Mustang and head back to Kathmandu. We board an early morning mountain flight from Jomsom, switching planes in Pokhara for a Kathmandu flight and transfer to Hotel.

Day 19: Kathmandu
Back in bustling, colorful Kathmandu! We have scheduled an extra day in Kathmandu in case our flight from Jomsom or Pokhara is delayed. If not, everyone is free to enjoy our favorite Asian city.

Day 20: Final Departure to International Airport
After breakfast we send you off to the airport for your flight home.

Our Package Inclusive
# Int’l/Dom Airport/Hotel/Airport picks up and transfers by private car/van on arrival and departure.
# 4 nights accommodations in twin bed sharing basis with breakfast at Standard Hotel in Kathmandu.
# Sightseeing Tour as per above mentioned itinerary and all kind of entry fees.
# Round Trip domestic flight tickets cost and airport tax.
# Tented Camp accommodation during the camping trek.
# 1 Experienced, helpful, friendly and well trained English speaking guide, 1 trekking cook, kitchen helper and necessary porters for camping trek, porters (1 porter for 2 peoples) during the trek and their food, accommodation, equipments, salary and insurance.
# All Equipments for Camping Treks (Tents, Dinning Tents, Kitchen Tents, Toilet Tents, Mattresses, Tables, Chairs and Kitchen Utensils for cooking etc.).
# All ground transportation by private vehicle.
# Annapurna Conservation Area Permit.
# All necessary permits.
# Tourist Service Charge.
# Office Service Charge.
# All government tax.
# First Aid Medical Kit box.

Our Package Exclusive
# Any meals (Lunch and Dinner) in Kathmandu and Pokhara other than breakfast.
# International Airfare to and from Nepal.
# Travel Insurance.
# Nepal Tourist Visa Fees.
# Items and expenses of personal nature.
# All kind of alcoholic drinks (beer, wine, whisky), cold drink (mineral water, coke, fanta, sprite, juice), laundry service, postage, phone calls, internet, donations, museum entry fees etc during the trip.
# Personal Trekking Equipments such as sleeping bags, walking poles, down jackets, walking boots. (It can be hired/bought in Kathmandu and Pokhara).
# Emergency Evacuation (Medical Insurance and Helicopter Rescue in case of accident and can be paid either insurance company or clients themselves).
# Any cost arises due to a change of the program/itinerary, because of landslides, political disturbance, strike and some accidental problems.
# Horse/Pony renting and additional porters due to natural calamities during the trek.
# Any other costs whatsoever, that is not mentioned in the cost inclusive.
# Tipping Tips for guide, porters, drivers and horse man.

Tipping is expected but it is not mandatory and can be treated end of the trip if satisfied.
N. B. This is a general itinerary, which can always individually be “tailor-made”. The package itinerary can be redesigned or changed due to trekker’s fitness and time frame of holiday. Similarly hotel can be upgraded or downgraded depend on your budget. Please email to us at mystiquenepaltreks@yahoo.com for more details and discussions for suitably programs.

P.S. In case of Emergency Evacuation during the trip, Helicopter Rescue will be arranged by Mystique Nepal Himalayan Trekking & Expedition (P) Ltd within 1-2 hours in first call. The cost of the rescue must be paid by the clients themselves or insurance company.

TREKKING/TOUR CANCELLATION PROCEDURES:
There will be a cancellation fee of 30% for any cancellation unforeseen problems shown one month prior to Trekking/Tour departure date, a cancellation fee of 50% two weeks prior to Trekking/Tour departure date and no refund thereafter. No refund for no shows & delay arrivals whatsoever reason.
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CONTACT INFO

Mystique Nepal Himalayan Trekking and Expedition Pvt. Ltd.
Kathmandu, Nepal

Tel : +977-9849193453
Email : mystiquenepaltreks@yahoo.com

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