The Nar Phu Valley Trek was introduced for trekking purposes in 2003, initially catering only to camping treks. However, in recent years, basic lodging options like tea houses and simple lodges have become available, making it an attractive choice for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience amidst untouched nature and preserved local traditions. The villages of Nar and Phu, located above 4000 meters, retain their traditional architecture and way of life. Unlike popular trekking regions like Annapurna or Everest, the Nar Phu Valley has not yet been overwhelmed by a large number of trekkers, preserving its authentic atmosphere. The area's pristine ambiance is complemented by stunning mountain vistas, with the valley situated north of the main Annapurna range.
The Nar Phu Valley consists of two distinct valleys: Phu, leading north towards Tibet, and Nar, extending west from the Phu trail. Found in the northern part of the Manang district within the Annapurna region, the Nar Phu Valley lies to the north of the main Annapurna circuit trail. After completing the Nar Phu Valley trek, travelers have the choice of driving back through the Budi Gandaki river valley to Besisahar or continuing the trek along the main Annapurna circuit, including the option to cross the Thorong La pass or visit Tilicho Lake.
The Nar Phu Valley is situated within the Manang region, where the primary Annapurna circuit trail also runs. However, it diverges from this trail at a point known as Koto, before reaching Chame village. The journey starts in a narrow river valley, gradually ascending in altitude until reaching the more expansive landscape around Meta. Beginning the trek at a relatively high elevation (above 2600 meters at Koto), the trail gains altitude rapidly, necessitating attention to physical well-being. Depending on one's adjustment to the altitude, an additional day might be needed when ascending towards Phu village (4080m). As the hike progresses towards Phu, primarily along the Nar Khola River, the scenery transitions from lush forests and pastures to drier, rockier terrains reminiscent of the Tibetan plateau. Phu village, an ancient Tibetan settlement, maintains its unique traditional lifestyle, mostly unaffected by external influences. It is recommended to take a rest day in Phu to both rejuvenate and explore the village.
Why Nar Phu Valley Trek?
Are you yearning for an adventure in a distant land adorned with the splendor of the Himalayas and cherished cultural heritage? If so, the Nar Phu Trek is an exceptional and unmissable opportunity. Embark on a journey through the Annapurna Circuit trail, crossing rivers and conquering steep paths to arrive at the captivating Nar Phu valley. This region, only a two-day walk from the Tibetan border, was first explored by Tilman in the 1950s. The trail, unveiled in 2002, has only recently opened up, yet it encapsulates centuries of untouched magnificence.
Beyond its infusion of Tibetan culture, this trek invites you to encounter towering peaks, mountain passes, glaciers, villages, and verdant forests. Immerse yourself in the splendor of pristine wilderness nestled in the far reaches of the northern Annapurna Region. As you traverse the flawless valleys and intricate canyons, breathtaking views of peaks await you, including the Annapurna Ranges, Himlung, Ratna Chuli, and other majestic summits.
Embarking on a demanding ascent through expansive pastures will lead you to the pinnacle of the journey, the Kang La Pass (5,320m). Here, amid the awe-inspiring scenery of white rock formations, juniper trees, towering peaks, and the Nar Phu River below, you'll find a sense of serenity and wonder.
The trail weaves through sacred sites, among them the renowned Tashi Lhakhang Gompa. Bestow upon yourself the blessings of Lama Karma Sonam Rimpoche, an experience that adds a spiritual dimension to your adventure. As you journey through picturesque villages and ascend high alpine valleys above Phu, you'll encounter the renowned wildlife of the Nar Phu Trek, such as the Himalayan Thar and the elusive Snow Leopard.
The route also unveils a treasure trove of biodiversity, including the famed Yarshagumba, a highly valued herbal remedy. Some posit that the Nar Phu Valley trek is part of the Yarshagumpa trail network, influencing biodiversity-centric trekking routes across Nepal. With its captivating features that beckon to those with an exploratory spirit, the Nar Phu Valley Trek offers more than the eye can behold.
This expedition unfolds amidst remote settings and diverse landscapes, stretching ever onward to the Tibetan plateau. The journey takes you through secluded Nar and Phu villages, connecting to both the Annapurna circuit and the lower Annapurna regions. For those seeking an adventure that transcends the ordinary and explores the untouched beauty of nature and culture, the Nar Phu Valley Trek is an unparalleled endeavor.
Best Time for Nar Phu Valley Trek
When deciding to embark on a trek to the Nar Phu Valley, weather plays a pivotal role as nature's whims can't be underestimated. Trekking is pursued year-round, yet each season brings its own set of advantages and challenges. Below, you'll find comprehensive information on the climatic conditions for each quarter of the year.
Regarded as the prime time for exploring the Nar Phu Valley, the spring season spans from early March to late May. During this period, the weather is ideal for both extended and brief treks. Himalayan vistas are particularly stunning as the skies remain clear. A distinctive aspect of this time in Nepal is the opportunity to observe unique bird and animal species.
Autumn, from early September to the end of November, is undeniably one of the optimal times for the Nar Phu trek. This period ensures a lack of cloudy conditions, offering unobstructed views. The majestic mountain ranges are at their best. Additionally, Nepal's major festivals, Dashain and Tihar, occur during this season, providing a chance to experience and celebrate Nepali culture.
Running from early June to the end of August, both summer and the monsoon season coincide. The summer is characterized by high temperatures, while the monsoon rains bring respite from the heat, albeit accompanied by long treks under rain. If you prefer fewer crowds, this period is suitable. Accommodation availability won't pose a challenge. This season offers insight into traditional farming methods as new crops are planted. However, due to heavy rainfall and slippery trails, this season is not recommended for the trek.
The winter months from late December to February bring cold and dry conditions. Adventurers are drawn to this time for its excellent Himalayan vistas. While some rain might occur, the skies over hills and valleys farther from the high peaks can appear dull due to dust and pollution. In higher altitudes, temperatures often plummet below freezing, with minimal daytime warming. Much of the trail is covered in snow that remains without melting, rendering the trek more challenging. Carrying a walking stick and crampons are advised for easier passage across high passes. Most villagers migrate from Nar to lower altitudes from mid-December to mid-February.
Permits required for Nar Phu Valley Trek
For the Nar Phu Valley Trek, access to its restricted areas mandates the acquisition of two distinct trekking permits. It's mandatory to undertake this journey as part of a group consisting of at least two trekkers, accompanied by an officially registered guide. Organizing these permits falls under the responsibility of a local trekking company, which facilitates your entrance into this enigmatic and secluded realm.
You will need two permits for the Nar Phu Valley Trek:
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Permit: This permit costs $30 per person and is essential for entering the conservation area.
Restricted Area Permit: For the period between September and November, the permit costs $100 per person per week. From December to August, it costs $75 per person per week. These permits grant access to the restricted regions of Nar and Phu.
When applying for these permits, be prepared to provide a copy of your passport, an ID image, and your original passport bearing the visa stamp. Allocating approximately 3-4 hours of your time for the permit process is recommended. The permit office operates from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday through Friday, excluding public holidays. This procedural diligence ensures that you can embark on your Nar Phu Valley adventure fully equipped with the necessary permissions.
Food on Nar Phu Valley Trek
Due to its remote location in Nepal, the cost of food during the Nar Phu Trek tends to be relatively higher compared to the Annapurna Circuit area. The isolated nature of the region also impacts the available menu options, which are more limited due to logistical constraints. As is customary with high-altitude treks in Nepal, the elevation directly affects the cost of food items, given the necessity of transporting supplies by mules, particularly in this rugged terrain.
Budgeting for meals is recommended at approximately $6-7 per meal, with an estimated daily expenditure of $20-25 for three meals. This estimation excludes expenses for soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and desserts. However, it's essential to note that sustaining your energy for trekking requires regular meals, even if you don't feel famished. The cost of drinking water can substantially increase your budget, with a liter of water priced around $2 at lower altitudes and $4 at higher altitudes. To economize, bringing water purification tablets or a filter is advisable.
Anticipate basic food offerings on the menu at each teahouse or homestay. Most vegetables served are sourced from their gardens, ensuring organic quality. Availability of meat (such as chicken, mutton, and pork) varies across settlements, while beef is scarce. Yak meat might be found in some places, but it's crucial to inquire about its freshness, as livestock farming and meat preservation can be challenging in these conditions.
It's important to carry energy bars or chocolates to supplement your sustenance, especially since teahouses aren't readily available whenever hunger strikes. The saying "Dal Bhat power for 24 hours" holds true; this traditional Nepali dish allows you to consume unlimited rice without extra charges, providing a valuable source of carbohydrates essential for trekking.
While hygiene standards are generally maintained, exercising caution when purchasing local food and drinking water is advised. This mindful approach ensures a safe and enjoyable culinary experience amidst the breathtaking terrain of the Nar Phu Valley Trek.
Accommodation on Nar Phu Valley Trek
Accommodation options along the Nar Phu Valley Trek are characterized by their simplicity and authenticity, mirroring the remote and less-developed nature of the region. While not as plentiful as in more frequented trekking areas, suitable lodging choices are available to cater to trekkers' needs. Teahouses and homestays are the primary accommodations, offering basic amenities such as beds, blankets, and communal spaces for dining and relaxation. Expect shared rooms with twin or bunk beds, communal bathrooms that might range from squat toilets to basic Western-style facilities, and the occasional availability of hot showers for an additional fee. Given the altitude's chill, a reliable sleeping bag is advised for warmth. While electricity might be intermittent, charging services may be provided for a fee. Meals are typically included in accommodation, with menus featuring a mix of local Nepali dishes and basic international options. While not luxurious, these lodgings provide a comfortable and convenient haven amid the stunning landscapes of the Nar Phu Valley, fostering connections with fellow trekkers and an authentic experience of the region's charm.
Nar Phu Valley Trek Difficulty
The Nar Phu Valley Trek spans over 10 days and holds a moderate difficulty rating, setting it apart from more challenging high-altitude treks in Nepal. The risk of altitude sickness in this area is relatively lower compared to other similar journeys. Commencing from Koto at an elevation of 2,600 meters, the pinnacle of this trek lies at Kang La Pass, reaching 5,240 meters.
Each day entails approximately 5-6 hours of ascending and descending along the trail, with the longest day of hiking lasting up to 8 hours. Despite the reduced likelihood of altitude sickness during the Nar Phu Valley Trek, we prioritize acclimatization to ensure our trekkers' well-being.
The strategy for mitigating altitude sickness centers on a gradual pace and staying well-hydrated. To this end, our itinerary is meticulously designed to facilitate a leisurely exploration of the higher reaches of the Himalayas, promoting proper acclimatization.
While the trek routes are moderately challenging, the higher elevation and potential snow encounters on the pass introduce a layer of difficulty to the high-Himalayan expedition. However, it's still a comparatively safer option when compared to treks in the Everest Base Camp region. Nonetheless, we advocate for extra caution, urging trekkers to communicate openly with guides and the expedition leader should any discomfort or challenges arise.
At All Nepal Hiking, our unwavering commitment is to offer a captivating and enjoyable experience for our guests while attending to any potential inconveniences. Whether you're an amateur trekker or an enthusiast, our adept and seasoned guides will accompany you, ensuring a comprehensive and delightful exploration of the concealed and preserved valleys of the majestic high Himalayas.