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Poon Hill and Kopra Ridge

The most popular trek in the entire Himalaya and for good reasons!

Poon Hill and Kopra Ridge

$0 per person

The fantastic mountain views from Poon Hill (note that without Khopra Ridge, this is a Grade 2 trek) attract thousands of trekkers every year and is an ideal introduction to Himalayan trekking. For those who want a closer mountain experience Khopra Ridge (Khopra Danda) and the stunning ridge walk near Bayeli will sate your desire! The Khopra Ridge route is also a complete contrast to the often-crowded trails in and around Poon Hill. Once away from Ghorepani you stay at community-owned teahouses, so you are both enjoying the mountains and helping to improve lives. Lying to the south of the Great Himalaya Range, this region has a typical monsoonal climate: a long rainy season from June/July through to the end of September and then a period of stable weather through to February. Later winter and spring storms frequently obscure the trail until the spring thaw in late March.

Excellent teahouse services line the main trail, but exploring further afield requires full camping kit.

 

Poon Hill has been the most popular mountain trekking viewpoint for over 30 years and it still attracts hundreds of trekkers every day! For extra-close views of the Annapurnas and to escape the crowds, Khopra Ridge adds a wonderful contrast and a touch of cultural authenticity.

 

  • Duration & distance: About 4-7 days total; days not more than 10km per day
  • Gradient: Short steep sections
  • Quality of path: Formed track on natural surface
  • Quality of markings: Signs at beginning, end and at major intersections
  • Experience required: Some walking experience required
  • Walking times: Less than 5½ hours per day
  • Steps: Steps most days
  • Highest point: 3651m
  • Best season: Oct-Jun
  • Accommodation: Camping & teahouses
  • Recommended map: NP107 GHT Series Annapurna, Naar & Phu, Himalayan Map House, 2017
  • Destination
  • Departure
    Kathmandu
  • Dress Code
    Low-altitude alpine clothing and camping equipment required
  • Included
    Poon Hill and Kopra Ridge
  • Not Included
    Special Permits
    Tea Houses Available
    Personal Guide
1
Day 1: Pokhara–Birethanti–Ulleri 4½hrs
A 3-hour taxi or bus ride from Pokhara brings you to Birethanti (1025m) and the beginning of the trek. First cross the metal bridge to the true right bank of the Modi Khola and register at the ACAP checkpost. From the checkpost climb a few steps that wind between the teahouses of Birethanti to the road just above the village. Follow the road west as it follows the Bhurungdi Khola on the true left bank. You must remain on this bank of this river all the way to Tikhedhungga. It is an easy gradient as you ascend to Lamdawali (1160m), Sudame (1340m), Hile (1430m), and on to Tikhedhungga (1540m, 2½hrs). The trail now steepens to well-made stone steps; apparently there are 3280 of them! You should reach the Magar village of Ulleri (1960m) in 2 hours, where there are comfy teahouses and views of Annapurna South and Hiun Chuli.
2
Day 2: Ulleri–Ghorepani 3½hrs
The trail continues to climb from Ulleri, leaving behind the cultivated section of the Bhurungdi Khola and heads into oak and rhododendron forest. In less than an hour you should reach Ban Thanti (2210m) and in another 1½ hours, Nangge Thanti (2430m), both of which now have good teahouses and make ideal rest stops. Continue climbing for another hour along the same track to reach Ghorepani (2860m), a large village with a police checkpost at the entry. There are many teahouses all vying to boast the best views of the Annapurnas, which dominate the skyline. To the west is the huge bulk of Dhaulagiri and the unseeable depths of the Kali Gandaki gorge.
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Day 3: Ghorepani–Poon Hill– Swanta 3½hrs
The panorama of Machhapuchhare and the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges from Poon Hill is one of the classic Himalayan views. It takes about 1¼ hours to reach the top of Poon Hill (3200m) and many trekkers get up early to enjoy the sunrise. There is a wooden viewing tower on the summit but you will need to be early to beat the crowds and get a good vantage point; remember to take water and a snack. The crowds will begin to thin out about an hour after sunrise as people head down to their teahouse for breakfast and prepare for the day’s trek. The Poon Hill–Ghorepani ridge marks a cultural change as well as being a wonderful viewpoint. So far you have been trekking through Gurung communities but now you enter Magar villages. Sometimes, there is a little friction between the two ethnic groups as many of the businesses developed for trekking (teahouse, etc) are controlled by Gurungs. Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Community Trail is exclusively Magar controlled and it is interesting to see how Nepali people are both proud of their heritage and understand that diversity adds flavour and contrast to mountain tourism. From the centre of Ghorepani follow the main trail north as it rapidly heads downhill. In an hour you reach the new dirt road at Chitre where you turn left (west) and in a few minutes come to a corner where a small ACAP sign points towards Khopra Ridge. The trail heads down through scrubby forest and bears left into a tributary gully, which you follow straight down to a bridge over the Ghara Khola (2100m, 30 mins). Cross the river and then a 20-minute climb brings you to the two teahouses in Swanta (2230m), you might need to ask around to find them as road construction has broken some of the old trails. You should check here that the lodges ahead will be open. The morning view of Dhaulagiri from this village is very impressive.
4
Day 4: Swanta–Khopra Ridge 5¾hrs
Head through the village school, which is partially funded through a community tourism project, see Annapurna–Dhaulagiri Community Trail box p000. The trail gradually climbs north-east into the Dhasta Khore Khola, with occasional loose sections but nothing difficult. Blue and white painted trail markers are obvious along the whole trail and in 1½ hours come to a waterfall beside a small bridge (2348m) over the Khola. Locals claim that they sometimes see tigers drinking here! A short climb brings you to a lovely ‘Rest Cottage’ (2501m, 15 mins), which makes an excellent snack or lunch stop. It is now a long climb through rhododendron forest to Chhistibang (aka Dhankharka, 2995m, 1½hrs) where a couple of teahouses can provide lunch. It is worth checking with the locals in Swanta before you leave, just to make sure someone is here! If you want to break the climb into two days, this is the only place to stop. Continue climbing through rhododendron forest to a major trail junction at 3474m (1½hrs). You will return here tomorrow, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the trail options. To reach Khopra Ridge you turn left (west) passing between some boulders before climbing across grassy hillside to a ridge. Stay on an obvious trail, which follows the ridge to the teahouses at Khopra Ridge (3651m, 1hr). There is normally only one teahouse operating, and again it is worth checking in Swanta that it is open. The views of Annapurna, Annapurna South and Dhaulagiri are fantastic in both evening and morning light! Note: Two trail options from Khopra Ridge require camping equipment. The most popular route is to Khayer Barah Kund, a small lake nestled on the north side of the Annapurna South ridge (1 long day). Another lake, on the south side of the ridge takes 2 days to reach and you will need a local guide to then find a rough trail to Chhomrong. There is also a trail heading north and downhill from Khopra Ridge to Narchyang (where there are teahouses, 1510m) beside the Kali Gandaki Nadi (1 long day).   Direct route to Ghandruk avoiding Khopra Ridge Trekking from Ghorepani to Tadapani takes 4 hours and thus reduces the Poon Hill trek to 4 days. From Ghorepani take the main trail that heads due east from the centre of the village. The trail remains high on a forested ridge, which offers excellent views of Machhapuchhare, Annapurna and Hiun Chuli, especially when you crest a small pass with teashops, which is called Ban Thanti on many maps, after 1½ hours. From here the trail drops steeply through rhododendron forest covered in Spanish moss to a stream, before climbing to a deserted quarry now occupied by teahouses. The trail now traverses to the hamlet of Liui Kharka before heading out on to a broad hillside above the Kimrong Khola and the teahouses of the pretty village, Tadapani (2630m, 2½hrs). You then follow the last day of this itinerary, see day 7.
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Day 5: Khopra Ridge–Bayeli 5hrs
After enjoying the great views over breakfast, retrace your steps to yesterday’s trail junction (45 mins) and take the trail to Bayeli. This is a small, undulating trail and feels a little exposed at times. There is a very good chance of spotting Bharal (Blue sheep) along this trail as well as many Daphne pheasant. After a long hill-side traverse, you reach a small stream and then climb though rhododendron forest to Bayeli (3405m, 4hrs). The sense of peace and stunning views from the dining room of the pretty teahouse make it hard to believe you are in the most popular trekking region in the Himalaya!   Annapurna–Dhaulagiri Community Trail The viewpoint of Khopra Ridge, to the north of Poon Hill, was first researched and developed by Mick Chapman in 1978. Over the course of the last ten years the 
community-trail concept has evolved and is strongly promoted by social entrepreneur, Mahabir Pun. The result is an interesting combination of homestay, community-owned lodges and commercial teahouses. Each community in the region maintains the community facilities and donates profits to specific schools and health posts. There is no doubt that the system has potential to help development of what are comparatively poor villages when compared to the successful neighbouring Gurung areas. However, a lack of commercial understanding and often competing community interests are hampering further investment. The project needs trekkers to survive and grow, otherwise there is a risk that stronger commercial interests will buy up the key sites and the project could then collapse. The amazing views from Khopra and Bayeli are more than enough reason to trek this route, and knowing that you are helping education and healthcare in the region provides the icing on the cake!
6
Day 6: Bayeli–Tadapani 5½hrs
Today begins with a short climb to the ridge above Bayeli and then a truly fantastic ridge walk. Wildlife is common along this trail so take your time, enjoy the views and spot as many birds and wild sheep as you can! Dobato has a few teahouses (3376m, 2½hrs) and makes a good lunch stop if you have taken your time. You now trek through pristine forest to Isharu (3087m, 1½hrs) where there are a few teahouses. The trail becomes easier as you descend about 250m before following an undulating trail through mixed forest. There are a couple of small teahouses being built along this trail and they should be finished in 2014. Entering the extensive village of Tadapani (2655m, 1½hrs) feels like returning to civilisation!
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Day 7: Tadapani–Ghandruk–Pokhara 3½hrs
From Tadapani the trail winds through beautiful oak forest with great views of Annapurna South and Machhapuchhare all the way to the large village of Ghandruk (1940m, 2½hrs), where there are plenty of teahouses. Follow a stone paved trail south out of the village towards Kimche (1640m, 1hr) where you can hire a taxi to Pokhara. The walk along the road to Birethanti takes about 4 hours, where there are buses and public vehicles.