The Nar Phu Trek has only been open for exploration since 2002 and offers an extraordinarily pristine cultural and scenic experience that is all the more remarkable given its proximity to the famous and well-traveled Annapurna circuit. One of Nepal’s true hidden valleys, its rugged landscapes and ancient villages bordering on Tibet have lain in peaceful solitude for years from the outside world, with relatively few trekkers making the journey to one of the last truly untouched regions in the Himalayas.
The trek begins properly at Besisahar and follows the stock route for the Annapurna Circuit through to Koto before branching away eastward towards Nar Phu valley. The trail leads along the Nar Khola River and through a narrow gorge before arriving at the small settlement of Odar (which translates to ‘Cave’), a convenient point for a lunch stop at one of the newly constructed tea houses. From Odar the path heads out through thickets of pine, rhododendrons, and bamboo, with the soothing delights of a hot spring en route to bath in for a refreshing break. From there we head to the picturesque village of Meta and its impressive landscapes and view of the monastery at Nar Phedi in the distance.
The following day’s journey to Phu offers some of the most memorable and unspoiled views on the trek as the trail pass below the daunting slopes of Kangaru Himal and Chyakhu before winding on through the village of Kyang. Phu itself is a remarkable and impressive village that seems as much a bastion against the forces of time as the harsh Himalayan elements, with a known history that dates back to at least the 5th century. The structures are like building blocks set side by side and seemingly one on top of the other along the sloping hill at the heart of the village, creating the semblance of terraced fields of stone. Replete with the obligatory Mani walls, prayer wheels, and its fascinating monastery, the village is a treasure house of Tibetan culture frozen in time that intrigues and beguiles at every turn and stairway, particularly for photographers.
Phu also serves as a gateway to the mountain of Himlung (7126m) and its base camp at an altitude of 4920m. With a rest day set aside for Phu, the opportunity exists to either hike to the base camp and its impressive views and glacial surroundings or simply relax in Phu for the day and use the time to further explore the labyrinthine village and its many charms.
From Phu, the trail heads westward to Nar Phedi and its monastery for a fascinating overnight stay, and on the following day climbs steeply to the impressively sited village of Nar – yes, it’s confusing! The village offers more stunning views of the Himalayas, as well as the culturally rewarding experience of observing the local people engaged in a variety of activities unique to the area. The trek through the valley culminates with the climb up to Kang La pass (5360m) and the steep and rocky descent to Ngawal on the Annapurna Circuit trail. The option exists to continue on the circuit up to and over Thorong La pass, or of heading towards Mesokanto La as an alternative. Otherwise, the trek concludes by hiking back down the trail to Chame and the return drive to Pokhara or Kathmandu.
Nar Phu Trek is undoubtedly one of the premier destinations in the Himalayas for those seeking a glimpse into a region of raw beauty and Tibetan culture that's a throwback to a distant past, one that even Tibet itself has long since forgotten about. Nepal Trekking Experts has the experience and the personnel to make it happen - just drop us a line and discuss the various options with our staff to explore this fascinating valley.