The Ghandruk Trek (sometimes also referred to as the Ghandrung Trek) is a great trekking option for those who are in Nepal for a shorter time or want to combine a relatively short trek with other activities in Nepal. The trailhead is located in Phedi, a less than 1-hour drive from Pokhara. The trail takes you through dense rhododendron forests and paddy fields and up steep stone slab steps through picturesque villages of the lower Annapurna region, while snowy mountains are towering over you.
The main attraction of this trek is traversing through the bustling heritage village of Ghandruk, with its relatively prosperous Gurung population. Located 1940 m above sea level, it is the second-largest Gurung village in Nepal and is a confusing cluster of closely-spaced, slate-roofed houses. There are neatly terraced fields situated both above and below the town. It is wonderfully easy to get lost in the network of narrow alleyways while trying to trek through the village. There is a larger handicraft factory at the top of Ghandruk.
Staying in Ghandruk is a wonderful experience, as the village has a friendly vibe to it and offers amazing views of Himalayan giants Annapurna, Hiunchuli, and Machapuchare.
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Who are the Gurungs?
The Gurungs are an ethnic group and are said to have migrated to the central region of Nepal from Mongolia in the 6th century. In their own language, they call themselves “Tamu” (Ta means thunder, mu symbolizes sky). Just like their name, they can bring destruction to their enemy. Gurungs are renowned for their bravery as Gurkha soldiers who serve in the Indian and Nepal armies. The Gurungs are found all across the south slopes of the Annapurna range, and you will find a big settlement of Gurungs in the picturesque village of Ghandruk.
A view of the snow-capped mountains from Ghandruk Village
Nepal is home to many of the world’s largest mountain peaks and best trekking trails in the world. But don’t think you have to train for months or climb high altitudes to enjoy Nepal’s mountains – there are plenty of treks to suit any fitness level. The Ghandruk Trek is a perfect example. This remote mountain village in Nepal comes in the Annapurna Circuit range. Most of the trekkers who go for the Annapurna Circuit Trek spend a night here before moving further. The village is insanely beautiful, and you can enjoy close views of Annapurna, Himchuli, and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) mountains from here. So what are we waiting for? Let’s not miss a tryst with the majestic snow-capped mountains.
How to Reach Ghandruk
Ghandruk is accessible in one day, with a 4-5 hour walk after a short ride from the city, but most people do it as a loop trek where, along with Ghandruk, you get to visit the villages of Landruk, Deurali, and Pothana, thus completing the trek in 3 days.
Ghandruk Trek Route
The first leg of the journey begins in Pokhara from where you can drive your own vehicle or hire one or catch a bus for the initial 55 km trip. The road goes up and down with many switchbacks past notable towns like Hyangja, Phedi, and Naudanda and through a foggy pine-forested highland called Lumle. A curvy road takes you to Nayapul where the hike begins. Nayapul is named after a suspension bridge that was built over the Modi Khola River. The river will give you company for some time and then the trail follows a steep climb towards Birethanti. From here you can see the spectacular views of mountains framed with rhododendron trees. The trees are laden with blooming rhododendrons if you are trekking during autumn. As you keep climbing, you will see mules with colorful ribbons, trinkets, and funny headgear looking extremely cute and plodding along the path. Just like any mountain village, these mules are the only means of bulk transport in the area. You will see them lugging all kinds of goods. From bags of cement, gas cylinders, and sacks filled with groceries, they carry loads that you and I can never even imagine carrying on such terrain.
Terraced paddy fields are seen on the route
You will pass many beautiful villages on the way where you will see locals working in their colourful paddy fields, and every time they look at you, they’ll smile. You will see kids running around and waving at you. Life is simple in the mountains. Meanwhile, with your gain in altitude, the hillside on your left changes to pine and rhododendron forests that stretch all along to the top of the line of hills. The stone steps continue zig-zagging upwards past terraced fields and a handful of houses at intervals. The ever-changing and magnificent mountain landscape is beautifully distracting with the clouds adding certain moodiness to the landscape. After crossing some other villages like Chumurung, Sayuli Bazaar, Kimche, and Chane, you will find your destination “Ghandruk” waiting to offer you the best experience. You’ll witness terraces drop dramatically into a deep gorge carved by the glacier-fed Modi River. Above the fields, the densely forested hill soars high. The most spectacular view, however, is the collection of craggy snow peaks that solemnly gaze down upon you. The mountain peaks of Annapurna III, Hiunchuli, Gangapurna, Annapurna South, and Machapuchare have a hypnotic effect on everyone. Ghandruk Village will make sure that you have a pleasant stay. The pretty lodges and tea houses provide all modern amenities. There are even a plethora of items to choose from on the menu. From European to Chinese to local dishes, you name it and they will serve it. The evenings are reserved for singing and traditional dancing. Spend some time talking to the locals here. They are very friendly and would love to host you. You can also visit the Gurung museum to know more about the Gurung culture. Mornings here are meant to see the sunrise. So even if you are not a morning person, I urge you to get up from that cozy bed and drag yourself out. The way the morning light hits the mountain peaks is incredible. In no time, the entire range is golden. It would be one of the best sunrises of your life. The trek will continue to the village of Pothana and again you’ll cross many villages in between. You don’t get bored on the trail as there is so much beauty around. Aside from the majestic mountain landscapes, the paths are full of green forests, red rhododendrons, and friendly faces.
A lodge in Ghandruk
Best time to Visit
The best time for Ghandruk Trek is between September and May. This time of the year gives the best views and the most favourable environment for trekking.
How to Reach
You can take a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Buses are also easily available. The travel time is about 7 hours from Kathmandu. Nayapul is around 55 km from Pokhara, and you can take a bus or cab to reach there.
This trek is for someone who wants to get close to the mountains, nature, and some lovely people. This trek is for someone who wants to take a break from the humdrum of their lives and want to shriek with excitement on reaching the top. And finally, this trek is for someone who wants to sit back, relax, soak in the views, enjoy authentic Nepali food, have lots of coffee, and maybe read a book in the warmth of the sun.
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