Now that you are in Nepal, of course you’ll be visiting the lovely city of the lakes, Pokhara, to spend some idyllic days there. Having got a feel of the place, it’s a safe bet that you’ll end up wishing you could actually stay for a longer time, so serene are the surroundings, and so healthful is the environment. Know also that there are quite a few scenic treks from here that are, for the most part, of quite short duration.
One such trek is the one to the beautiful Gurung village of Dhampus that’s around 26 km from Pokhara. A most charming place, it is a gateway to the Annapurna Conservation Area, and on the route of the famous Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek, the most popular trek in Nepal, second only to the renowned ‘must-do-in-a-lifetime’ Everest Base Camp trek.
The trek’s starting point is the village of Phedi, which is a 15-minute drive from Pokhara. The trek as a whole is a moderate one, and suitable for most folks. However, initially, as you start off from Phedi, the trail goes uphill quite steeply for about ten minutes, then it meanders out of the woods, and you find yourself hiking on a narrow path. Gradually, you come to a small village called Chandrakot that’s surrounded by millet fields and rhododendron groves. Since the trek is of short duration, no need to hurry. Walk on at a leisurely place, and take a breather whenever you feel like it beneath the welcoming shade of one tree or the other.
You’ll come across teashops on the way, where you can get light refreshments. The cool and soothing buttermilk is a good recommendation, as are the succulent guavas. If you are trekking in November-December, you will certainly meet many groups out on a picnic in the area. Adds to the cheerful ambience of your experience trekking on such a naturally beautiful locale.
By and by, in about three hours or so, you’ll arrive at Dhampus. It’s considered to be a vantage point from where to view the interesting range of Himalayan peaks on the horizon. These include Tukuche (6,920 m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), the two closest peaks from here. The sight of the magnificent Annapurna range and the massive Macchapucchre (6,900 m) is sure to dazzle your eyes, as well. It’s not just these regal peaks that captivate your eyes, the spectacular view of the Pokhara valley below is just as wonderful.
Dhampus is inhabited mostly by people of the Gurung community. One of the village’s highlights is a lake that offers an excellent reflection of a picture perfect setting of Macchapucchre Himal, popularly known as Fishtail Mountain. Some distance from the village center is a lovely lodge called Tsukinoie, designed in such a way as to provide guests with panoramic views of peaks like Annapurna, Macchapucchre, and Hiunculi from every window, as well as from the terrace.
The lodge is small, with only five rooms, but very well facilitated, offering great food and service, besides comfortable accommodation. It’s a Japanese-style lodge, and you get to soak in an interesting Japanese soaking tub that’s quite heavy, called a ‘goemonburo’. Nothing better to relax in, that’s for sure!
About ten minutes away from the lodge is a view tower that’s worth the steep climb to the top, for the view all around is pretty mesmerizing, with Annapurna South, Annapurna II and IV, Macchapucchre, and Hiunchuli all towering majestically in the distance. The sunrise is bewitching, as you can imagine, so get up before dawn breaks, and make it to the view tower while the stars are still twinkling in the sky. Sunrise is generally around 6-6:30 a.m., with the sun first casting its rays over Macchapucchre, followed by Hiunchuli and the rest. The horizon becomes fiery red for some moments. A most inspiring sight!
There’s another interesting place you could hike to that’s about one hour’s walk from the lodge. It’s called the Australian Camp, a name derived from the fact that sometime in the past (about forty years ago) a group of Aussies had camped there. Simple. Its original name is Thulo Kharka. This hike takes you on a flat trail for some time, before going uphill, going through a forest. From the Camp, the Annapurna range appears to be a bit closer, and you also get to see Manaslu and Peak 29.
All in all, the Pokhara Dhampus trek is ideal for those on a short visit, as also for the less-than-perfectly-fit folks, unlike the more strenuous ones that require loads of stamina and tons of endurance.