The Nar-Phu and Tilicho trek has been opened to tourists since 2003. This trek is considered to be one of the best trekking routes for admiring the northern majestic flanks of the Annapurna range and satellite peaks such as Pisang, Chulu(s) and Tilicho peak. It is a very interesting but challenging alternative to the classic trek around the Annapurnas. It goes through a variety of landscapes: lovely forests, narrow canyons, remote villages, amazing rock formations, glaciers, high summits and finally across rugged passes. Being in the high country, you will witness the serene Buddhist Himalayan culture and encounter superb monasteries (gompas), mani walls, chortens and yak herds.
From Besisahar to Koto, the trek takes the same route as the classic Annapurna Circuit. In Koto, we leave the main route and enter the very deep, hemmed-in, narrow valley leading to Nar and Phu. The trail goes through beautiful bamboo and pine forest along the Nar Kola, which it crosses several times. It passes old Khampa settlements like Meta, Chyk and Kyang, sometimes through juniper bushes. After Kyang we follow the Phu Khola canyon to the very remote village of Phu. It takes about three walking days from Koto to Phu. Phu is a beautiful medieval village, where the lifestyle of the Bhote communities can be observed. High above the Phu citadel outcrop is Tashi monastery, with a fabulous panoramic view of Kang Guru and the northern trail to Damodar.
Following the same trail, we go back to the confluence of the Phu Kola and Nabse Khola rivers, where we head steeply up towards Nar, another very remote village, dominated by Pisang peak. From Nar, we walk through yak pastures before starting the ascent of the Kang La (approx.5200m), a rugged pass that offers a breathtaking view of the Annapurnas. After a long descent, we reach Ngawal and then Manang, the valley’s biggest and most touristy village dominated by the peak of Gangapurna.
On the route to Tilicho Lake we can see a number of fabulous mountains, such as Manaslu (8156m), Himalchuli range, Annapurna II (7937m) and IV (7525m), Gangapurna (7455m) and Khangsar Kang (7485m). Tilicho Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world (approx. 4920m) and offers an out-of-this-world view, nestling below the ‘Grand Barrier’ as described by the French expedition led by Maurice Herzog in 1950.
After a night spent near the lake, we start very early in the morning on a long day’s trek, during which we will cross either the northern ‘Donkey’ (also called Mandala) pass (5200m) or the Mesokanto La (5120m), from which we have a superb view of the Mustang region before dropping down to Jomsom. From Jomsom, it is possible to fly to Pokhara or to continue the trek on the classic Annapurna Circuit via Tatopani and its natural hot springs. It is also possible to go to Ghorepani and Poon Hill (3210m), perhaps the best viewpoint of the Annapurna range. Then we descend to Naya Pul before returning to Pokhara and Kathmandu.