Being at Hidden Valley, a flat area at 5200m without people surrounded by the 6000ers and 8000ers is absolutely like being on the moon. Hidden Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Nepal- Juerg Merz
The absolute isolation behind majestic Dhaulagiri, Hidden Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Nepal. Literally, the trekkers shed tears on seeing the first glimpse of Hidden Valley. There are two trails to reach the Hidden Valley. The trail that stretches from Marpha is a very tough and life-threatening trek, which is not recommended at all. The altitude rise on this trail is so rapid that even the experienced trekkers including guides may suffer altitude sickness lacking proper acclimatization.
The alternate trail to Hidden Valley Trek, which is also known as Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek begins at Beni 830m. Beni, a small mid-hill town tucked between Kali Gandaki River and Myagdi River lies in a Tropical Zone. As the trek begins trekkers’ experience, 3-4 climate zones until they reach the Hidden Valley. Every day, the views in the neighborhood change. The trek winds through terraced paddy fields to low alpine regions and alpine regions to high Himalayan region. French Col. 5445m is the highest point of the trek- the highland pass overlooking the Hidden Valley.
Astoundingly a strenuous trek, the Hidden Valley Trek demands sound physical condition and enduring ability to cope with the raw nature. There are no teahouses on the trail and hence the trek in the region is fully organized Trek. Accommodations are in the tented camps and the Sherpa cooks throughout the trek cook the food. The trek best suits to the trekkers craving to see something uniquely beautiful enduring every challenges of trek throughout Nepal’s one of the least frequented trekking trails.
Juerg Merz spellbind to see the Hidden Valley
Day 1 Fly/Drive to Pokhara and drive to Beni 82km
Day 1,we got to the trek starting point Beni. Driving all the way to Beni from Kathmandu is comfortably possible. It is 282km drive; smooth ride most of times and bumpy ride very rarely. If we prefer to skip the long drive, we can fly to Pokhara and then drive to Beni. However, the bumpy part of the drive cannot be skipped as the road section between Pokhara and Beni has it at some places. On arrival at Beni we checked in to our hotel. We enjoyed a little bit of modern amenities here in Beni as for the next 2 weeks we would be mingling with the rawest form of nature.
Trekking in Nepal crosses the highland villages that has centuries old civilization history
Day 2 Trek to Darbang 1110m
Today we began the trek to Hidden Valley but the first 2-3 hours of the journey, we covered it driving on a local bus. As the bus journey ended, we began the trek. The trek today was short and easy along the bank of Myagdi River. We cross pass diorama of terraced fields, small rural hamlets and almost three hours of introductory walk brought us to Darbang 1110m. Darbang is the last small town on the trail to Hidden Valley with very few modern amenities. We camped in a school playground for the overnight stay.
Trekking harder and getting deeper into No Man’s Land
Day 3 Trek to Muri 1800m Approx 7 hrs walk
The real trek began today. The Hidden Valley Trek today kicked off with an ascending climb over the ridge that brought us to wide hillsides of terraced fields. The open view of Myagdi Khola from the hillside was beautiful and we dropped down towards Myagdi Khola cross passing small villages like Phedi, Dharapani and Takum. The long descend brought us to a narrow footbridge over Dhara Khola- we crossed it. On the other side of the bridge, a steep uphill climb awaited us. Eventually, we climbed up and got to Muri, a traditional Magar village. The uphill climb to Muri catered us the views of several open valleys and the panorama of Dhaulagiri I (8167m) and the Gurja Himal (7193m). Overnight in a tent at Muri.
Day 4 Trek to Bagar 2080m. Walk approx 6 hours
After the breakfast, we resumed the trek. Today we had an effortful trekking day. The Hidden Valley Trek in Nepal today dropped down to Dhola Khola before ascending over a ridge to Gorban Dhara. The view from the pass was excellent- Mt. Ghustang 6465m rises majestically from valley head. Then we descended down to Myagdi River, crossed a bridge over it and began to climb up. Now our trek was along the trail that went up and down to Myagdi River for a couple of times. Traversing through beautiful gorges formed because of narrowed valleys our day’s trek ended at Bagar.
The most amazing structures in nature- few of them can be seen during Hidden Valley Trek to Nepal
Day 5 To Dobang 2520m. Walk approx 7 hours
Today we had a beautiful long day walk that most of the times traversed through the temperate forest. We trekked above Myagdi River and the steep stony trail brought up us to Simal Kharka. Traversing through Hot Springs and Single Hut, we arrived to Lipsaba. Beyond Lipsapa the walk along the temperate forest began. Here onwards, the leeches were the main hurdle of the Hidden Valley Trek. Our trail to Dobang today, winded through the gorge with its many short uphill and downhill climbs. As the trek went closer towards Dhaulagiri, we now began to trek along the trails of low alpine region. Cross passing cascading waterfall, dense rhododendron forest and high pastures, we arrived to Dobang. Dobang in fact is a jungle camp- a beautiful opportunity to camp for the night in the middle of forest. Leeches still were troubling us.
Everyday the landscapes in neighborhood changes during Hidden Valley Trek
Day 6 Trek to Italian Base Camp 3660m
The trek today gained real altitude. Firstly, we crossed a bridge over Myagdi Khola and ascended up steeply towards the glacial moraines and barren terrains that originated from Dhaulagiri. Then, we descended down to cross the bridge over Chaur Ban Khola and began to trek through temperate forest. The descending trail to Chaur Ban Khola offered the excellent view of west wall of Mount Dhaulagiri- a genuine reward for every effort put on day’s trek. Today’s trail towards Hidden Valley winded through the rhododendron and conifer woodland and arrived above the tree line at Italian Base Camp. An open space for camping allowed us to dry our clothes and other trekking logistics. Moreover, the views of the southwest face of Dhaulagiri I looming above flanked by Mt. Manapati (6380m) to the south are exceptionally beautiful. The massive rock forts of Tsaurabong Peak (6395m) and the soaring peaks of Dhaulagiri II Dhaulagiri III and Dhaulagiri V occupy the western sky.
Rarest view during trekking in Nepal- the remains of crashed helicopter
Day 7 Rest day at Italian Base Camp 3660m
Today we had a day rest at Italian Base Camp before heading towards the elevated Dhaulagiri Base Camp the other day. Acclimatization while trekking to altitude above 5000m is essential. Therefore, we can dry our clothes and trekking logistics and explore around the Italian Base Camp for day’s activity.
Day 8 Trek to Dhaulagiri Base Camp 4740m
Today as we began the trek, the trail gently climbed up to cross the glacial moraine. The trail today was relatively steeper at places during this part of Hidden Valley Trek. After a gradual ascend we arrived to Japanese Base Camp 3890m. The camp demonstrates least activities however; the views of Manapati, Dhaulagiri and Tsaurabang Peaks surrounding the camp were excellent. The trek demanded extra effort as we trekked across the glacier and continued hiking up towards a pass. Beyond the moraine the trail headed towards the origin of Myagdi Khola and then on to the Chonbarban Glacier. On taking a swift bend of the valley, Mt. Tukuche came into our sight, which was exceptionally wonderful to watch. Finally, we arrived to Dhaulagiri Base Camp. The camp spectacularly nestles at the end of the glacier. The views of Dhaulagiri I, II, III, V, Tukuche Peaks and the baronial icefall cascading from the north east Col of Dhaulagiri is great watch from Dhaulagiri Base Camp. Unlike the base camps of other mountains, we literally touched Mt. Dhaulagiri at its base which was so far one of the most incredible experiences of the Hidden Valley Trek. Overnight in a camp at Dhaulagiri Base Camp
Touching the lower part of gigantic Dhaulagiri- Camps at Dhaulagiri Base Camp
Day 9 Trek to Hidden Valley 5150m via French Pass 5360m
This was the most challenging day of the Hidden Valley Trek and at the same time the day, that catered the biggest reward of the trek. Initially, the trail led us the way out of glacier to the steeply ascending rocky scree to French Pass- the pass named after French reconnaissance expedition in the 1950s to Dhaulagiri. French Pass, a steep terrain demanded the rope climb for a section of almost 100m. Almost a half day of effort across drifting terrains brought us to the top of the French Pass 5360m. Our heads were leveled with mountains in every direction at this point. Mt. Sita Chuchura and Tukuche Peak West flank the pass, majestic Dhaulagiri I soars behind them, and Mukut Himal and Tashi Kang dominate the northern sky. Below the pass the Hidden Valley lies. The view of Hidden Valley from the pass is so perfect and beautiful that some trekkers shed tears to witness the isolated beauty. Now we began to descend towards the Hidden Valley. As we descend the landscape in the vicinity changed to extreme arid lands with snowy peaks. Overnight in a tent at Hidden Valley
Camping at the foothills of towering Himalayan Peaks- Nothing feels special than this
Day 10-11 Explore around Hidden Valley
Hidden Valley is truly a hidden beauty. A day or 2 days of exploration around the valley was never too much. A valley encircled by Himalayan peaks in all direction is a paradise. We explored around the valley’s untouched regions. The valley also is an ideal home for elusive Blue sheep hence; we had several sightings of rare Himalayan species, Blue Sheep at Hidden Valley. We savored the alpine beauty that spilled over in every corner of the Hidden Valley.
Day 12-14 Climbing Dhampus Peak 6012m
On day 12, we trekked to the Dhampus Pass, which is an hour-long climb. Then we involved ourselves to achieve the goal of this trek- summit of Dhampus Peak. A small peak, which does not, demand much of technical expertise was an easy climb. While trekking so far in the middle of nowhere we had planned earlier to summit this beautiful peak. Hence, we had permits for climbing the peak and we climbed the peak successfully. The summit raised a noteworthy amount of money for the orphans living in one of the orphan homes in Kathmandu. After all traveling responsibly is the main motto for modern day travelers like us.
The real adventure- a tortoise pace towards Dhampus Peak
Day 15 Trek to Yak Kharka via Dhampus Pass 5244m
From the top of the pass, the trail dropped down for quite a while against the loose scree amidst the vegetation. The trail down towards Yak Kharka from the peak of Dhampus Pass caters the magnificent frontal panorama of Nilgiri Range and downwards the wonderful Kali Gandaki Valley expands. At the end of the day we arrived at Yak Kharka and settled down in the camps for the overnight stay.
Day 16 Trek to Jomsom via Marpha
Today the trek dropped down throughout the day. The pleasant forests manifested that we have now entered the low alpine region and soon we entered the classic trail of Annapurna Circuit. At the end of the day, we arrived at Marpha, which is a major town of the Kali Gandaki Valley and for travelers, traders and pilgrims. The stone paved trails, the closely built terrace-like houses and the windy weather condition make Marpha a fascinating town. This is also a region of Apple Orchard in Nepal. After 2 weeks of exhausting trek it was a very good experience to enjoy the night in a warm tea house with the people other than our crew.
Photo Courtesy: Juerg Merz (Switzerland)
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