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Damodar Saribung Traverse


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Book this tour through our partner: World Expeditions

A challenging traverse through Mustang and the Damodar range to the Annapurna region


Arrive Kathmandu

You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the Radisson hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 4.30-5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. This evening we will head out for dinner, this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members.Overnight: Radisson Hotel

Free day in Kathmandu

Today you have a full day to explore Kathmandu’s bustling streets and significant landmarks. You may wish to start by exploring the city’s two most important World Heritage Listed spiritual sites: Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple and an important cremation site; and Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal and the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet. Alternatively you could wander through the markets and shops of the busy Thamel precinct or explore some more of the city’s significant sites such as Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) or the World Heritage Listed plazas of Patan, Bhaktapur or Durbar Square.

Fly Kathmandu to Pokhara

This morning we take a flight west to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest town. Overnight accommodation is at our private permanent camp site.

Fly to Jomsom (2713m), trek to Kagbeni (2810m), walk approx. 3hrs.

This morning we take a spectacular flight tracing the Kali Ghandaki underneath the massive bulk of Dhaulagiri to Jomsom. Here we will meet our trekking crew and make last minute preparations. A half day walk brings us to Kagbeni, an impressive village that is our gateway to Mustang. To pass beyond this point we have a special Mustang permit. We will meet the crew who will prepare for tomorrow's crossing into Mustang. If the flight is cancelled, the other option would be to drive to Beni which will take 2-3 hours. We will change vehicles as we will be using local jeeps on an off-road trail to Ghasa which will take another 3-4 hours. Then we change to another local jeep and continue to Jomsom via an off-road trail and then finally to Kagbeni which will take us another 3-4 hours approx.

Kagbeni to Chele (3030m), walk approx. 6hrs.

An early start sees us trekking along level ground for and hour or two before the road starts to climb and we gain views of the river. In places the trail is narrow, steep, sandy and mostly loose gravel. We follow the east bank of the river over a series of small ridges. In this area the locals villagers search the riverbeds for the coal black rocks which carry the nautilus shaped fossils which are found for sale throughout the Annapurnas. On the opposite bank of the river we can see the Kang Gompa, a well known center of Nyingmapa sect. Approaching Tangbe we encounter the distinctive black, red and white chortens that typify upper Mustang. The town of white washed houses contains an intriguing pattern of alleyways and is surrounded by fields of wheat, barley and buckwheat, interspersed with small apple orchards. The river bed narrows near Chele and we cross a metal bridge before a steep climb up a rocky gully to Chele where the Tibetan culture of Lo is evident in the architecture and decoration of the houses.

Chele to Geiling (3440m), walk approx. 6-7hrs

A more challenging day ahead with the crossing of three passes. We cross a long suspension bridge hanging over the canyon which is used to access the village of Ghyakar, and climb on a dusty trail to the first pass, Taklam La (3624m) and then Dajori La (3735m). Stopping for a well earned rest and lunch at the village of Bhena. In the afternoon we descend and climb twice to cross two streams before a climb to the next pass which is the Yamda La (3920m). From the pass, we can see Shyangbochen in the distance. We descend on switchbacks, traverse a ridge and then make a final climb to Shyangbochen. The surrounding countryside is picturesque and you may choose to wander around with a camera or just relax under the juniper trees.

Geiling to Tsarang (3490m), walk approx. 7hrs.

We begin the day with a gradual ascent towards the Ngila. We pass a beautifully painted chorten surrounded by flat rocks with Tibetan prayers carved on them, and from this point it is mostly downhill towards Ghemi. After lunch at Ghemi, which has the longest Mani Walls in Mustang, we descend to Qumona Khola, cross a bridge and pass by a Japanese funded hospital. Avenues of poplar trees and fields of barley mark our trail as we head toward Tsarang La (pass). At 3850m this is the highest point of the trek thus far and the southern boundary of Lo. After the pass, it is downhill until you reach Tsarang. Here we visit the red gompa and the abandoned king’s summer palace. This palace was built in 1378AD and once boasted the greatest library in Mustang.

Rest Day - Tsarang

Tsarang is the second largest town in Upper Mustang and a former capital. Once the region's most important town, this Himalayan kingdom used to be a hub linking Tibet to the rest of the world. You may wish to take an optional walk to see the homes and temples in the area or simply enjoy the day relaxing and resting.

Tsarang to Yara (3650m), walk approx. 7-8hrs

We follow the main trail for approximately 2 hours. We turn right and head downhill for another 2 hours and reach our lunch camp at Dhi. After lunch we cross a suspension bridge which is above the Kali Gandaki River. We arrive in Surkhang and then follow a narrow valley to Yara village. This is a unique area where we find ancient caves set into stone walls.

To Luri Gompa (4005m), walk approx. 2-3hrs

From Yara, it is a short trek to Luri Gompa which is built into the rock. There are two monasteries; one is situated below Luri cave monastery accessed by a steep climb. This is the oldest and most famous cave monastery in the Mustang region, constructed in the 15th Century. It is situated at an elevation of 4005m. Inside the caves, we can see a big chorten and many images and statues of protectors and deities. There is also a highly sacred religious text however access to this is not permitted. Luri Gompa is a lunch camp. Rest of the afternoon is at leisure to rest and relax.

Luri Gompa to Ghuma Thanti (4600m), walk approx. 7-8hrs

Today we will carry a packed lunch as there are no rest stops suitable for cooking. Today is a challenging day as we have to go through three high points. After a 5100m pass crossing we follow a ridge line with views of the Tibetan plateau. We are now leaving “classical” Mustang and entering the vast, wild valley of the Namta River. We follow a route used by Pilgrims with spectacular views of Dhaulagiri. We walk downhill for about 45 minutes before we reach our camp. The trail on this stage comprises of a lot of loose gravel stones.

Ghuma Thanti to Parse Khola, walk approx. 4-5 hrs.

We follow an undulating trail near a stream for 30 minutes before climbing uphill for 3 hours till we reach Kyumupani Danda. An hour of downhill will reach our camp at Parse Khola. This is our lunch camp since we have a big and hard day ahead of us tomorrow.

Parse Khola to Lakes of Damodar (4890m), walk approx. 7 hrs

We follow an undulating trail to our next pass crossing at an altitude of 5600m which takes us to the high plateaus of the Damodar Kunda. Conditions here can be harsh with extreme cold and wind however it is also a very beautiful place. The lakes are sacred to the Hindu people and many perform a pilgrimage to this place, where it is believed that those who take a dip in the lake’s water will be freed from all sins. We are high in the rain-shadow area of the Himalayas, north of the famous Annapurna range of the Upper Mustang region. From here, the views are spectacular, and we can see the Tibetan Plateau and Damodar Himal to the north, and the massive Annapurna in the south. There are 65 peaks in the himal range including Damodar Himal, Muktinath Himal (6706m) and Bhrikuti Peak (6364m). We continue to Namta Khola after passing the lakes, today as we do on most trek days, we travel with a packed lunch.

Damodar Kunda to Base Camp (4950m), walk approx. 3-4 hrs

From today, there is usually no well defined route due to snow. It is a gradual walk as we continue along the Namta Khola valley. Our camp tonight is stunning and surrounded by wild mountain terrain, a truly remote wilderness location.

Base Camp to High Camp (5600m), walk approx. 4-5 hrs

Today we reach and cross over the Namta River. It is a river of ice which leads from the heart of Damodar Himal to De Hults Pass and eventually forges south to become the valley of Phu. It is an uphill climb along glaciers and ice hills. We may use a rope and harness to travel roped up. This region was for a long time inaccessible and mysterious, and today still receives a small limited number of visiting trekkers.

High Camp (5600m) to Glacier Camp (5000m), walk approx. 7-8 hrs.

Today we make our traverse over the Saribung Pass (6042m) and descend steeply on a snowy trail. The whole walk today is on snow trail and ascends steeply until we reach an easy walk over a small pass. We can see the magnificent backdrop of Bhrikuti and Chaku Himal. Surrounding us is a magnificent amphitheatre of snow covered mountains where only a handful of people has passed before us. We are now very close to the Tibetan border.

Descend To Glacier Camp and to Phu, walk approx. 8 hrs

A tough day as we must cross the glacier and ascend to our next camp. Initially we descend the lateral moraines to cross the rubble strewn glacier and then follow the valley until we reach Phu Gaon. There is usually no trail due to snow and so crossing the glacier can be slow, however the scenery is absolutely stunning and more than makes up for the effort. We view the Bhrikuti Himal’s southern face and say our goodbyes to the Saribung Himal. Following a small stream until we reach the deserted village of Nagoru Kharka where we rest for lunch. We are now in one of the most unique, hidden valleys where the cultures, natural diversity and religion of ethnic groups like Lama, Gurung and Ghale can be found. The people are dependent on subsistence agriculture, animal breeding and seasonal migrations.

Phugaon (3980m) To Meta (3500m), walk approx. 6 hrs

The walk from Phu to Meta is one of the most exciting of our trek. Passing through the Mani gate at the end of the village we drop down from the Tibetan Plateau into the valley. The descent is a spectacular trail of switchbacks into a narrow valley which appears to be blocked by an impressive rock pillar. With spectacular views of Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal, the trail immediately follows a spectacular route carved into the cliffs. We cross through the canyon floor and a small water crossing where some rock hopping is required. The trail mainly contours around the hillsides and the scenery is in stark contrast to that of the Annapurna range. There are a series of small passes and we pass through open valleys at Chakku (3560m) and Jhunam (3580m). We are surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery of the northern slopes of Kangaru Himal.

Meta (3500m) To Koto (2600m), walk approx. 6 hrs

Today our walk is mostly through the jungles. We will cross and recross the Nar Khola (river). We will see waterfalls during our walk. Our walk today is mostly downhill.

Koto (2600m) to Tal (1700m). Walk approx. 7hrs

An early start is imperative to gain magnificent views of the Annapurna Range as well as the panorama of peaks to the immediate north and east. We descend across scree slopes before heading down to our camp in an open meadow close to the village of Tal.

To Chamche (1136m), walk approx. 2-3 hrs. Drive to Besisahar (800m, approx. 2-3 hrs)

A short stage today and the final day of this magnificent traverse which has taken us on a journey through some of the most remote and untrodden trails in the Nepal Himalaya. We trek to Chamche which takes around 2-3 hours walk and after that we drive to Besisahar for approx. 2-3 hours via local transportation on an off-road trail.

Drive to Kathmandu (approx. 5-6 hrs)

From Besisahar we drive to Kathmandu which takes approx. 5-6 hours, thus we arrive mid afternoon. On arrival to Kathmandu, we transfer to the Radisson Hotel for our overnight accommodation.

Trip concludes Kathmandu

After breakfast arrangements cease unless further ones have been made. Those people departing by aircraft will be transferred to the airport.

Additional Information

Situated to the north of Mustang is a region of Nepal seldom visited by westerners - Damodar is one of the last frontiers close to the Tibetan border, where rugged landscapes and ancient culture merge in a land forgotten by time. On this remote and stunning traverse through Mustang and the Damodar Range we cross numerous high passes including Saribung Pass (6042m), and finally emerge into the Annapurna region. Tibetan culture thrives in the small villages and dramatic landscapes we pass through on this truly adventurous trek. It is a must for someone wishing to experience rugged Himalayan trekking and keen photographers will appreciate the scale and grandeur of the high plateaus and solitude this region has to offer.

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