Trekking in Nepal offers innumerable adventures, but perhaps the most challenging experience is the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek situated in the Annapurna Region, which takes the trekkers to the base of the world’s seventh-highest peak, Mount Dhaulagiri.
This trekking route offers the feeling of walking through a winter wonderland that includes snow-covered slopes, ice glaciers, and lateral moraines while enjoying scenic views of the majestic Dhaulagiri massif as well as more than 100 peaks that are above 7000m.
Trekking along the Dhaulagiri Circuit passes through high alpine pastures, windswept peaks, unpopulated valleys, forests, and terraced hills. A circuit route around Dhaulagiri provides breathtaking views of the entire range and the world’s deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki.
About the Region
With an elevation of 8,167m, Dhaulagiri was once thought to be the highest mountain in the world until Kanchenjunga took that title 30 years later.
However, as everyone knows, Mount Everest subsequently took that title away! Similarly, in the late 1950s, a French team discovered the Dhaulagiri Circuit route; thus, the French Pass that leads into the Hidden Valley was branded.
During the circuit trail, you will pass through villages, terraced farming lands, rivers and gorges, glaciers, and steep moraines. You will have time to acclimate before crossing the high passes, enjoying the magnificent mountain scenery.
With its remote location and physical demands, Dhaulagiri is best suited to experienced trekkers with a sense of adventure and the necessary fitness level to enjoy the prospect of one of the most spectacular treks in Nepal. In spite of this, trekking can be much more thrilling for first-time trekkers.
Necessary Permits and Accommodations
The entire Dhaulagiri Circuit is included in this permit-free trekking area, so you don’t need a trekker’s permit or guide. However, you’ll need a TIMS card and an ACAP permit, similar to every trekking destination around Annapurna.
Hotels and lodges are available at the start of the Trek, but there are much fewer well-equipped lodges further along. The majority of accommodations along these paths include teahouses and homestays. Furthermore, it would also be highly suggestible to bring along tents to set up tented camps throughout the Trek.
Preparing for the Dhaulagiri Base Camp Trek
During the Dhaulagiri trek, the highest point reaches 5,200 meters in altitude. This may not be much elevation for experienced trekkers, but it is still quite a change for those who have never trekked before. In addition, the Trek is lengthy and requires explorers to walk for a significant amount of time.
In this case, people with lung disease or breathing problems should avoid such activities or consider taking precautions before doing so, as such high altitudes are very difficult to adjust to. Furthermore, those at such high altitudes may suffer from altitude sickness.
Considering the cold, you may experience at Dhaulagiri due to the altitude. We recommend you bring along the following items with you to your Trek. These are the items our group of friends brought along with us on our first trip there and also helped a lot.
- Warm clothes, including jackets, sweaters, and thermal wear
- Water bottles and thermoses
- Portable fire stoves
- Snow Glasses and flashlight
- Well-fitting gloves, socks, and shoes or boots
- Trekking sticks
- First aid kit
- Moisturizers and lip guard
- Energy bars
Although these materials are necessary for this Trek, they are not mandatory. However, due to the popularity of this Trek, many hotels and homestays do offer these materials, though at a higher price.
Itinerary and the Trek itself
The Trek to the Dhaulagiri Base Camp can take from 12 to 20 days, depending on how fast you’re willing to hike each day. If you are not from Nepal, you must first obtain a Nepalese visa and visit Kathmandu. From Kathmandu, you can either book a flight or travel to Pokhara by bus or private vehicle.
Pokhara is the point where you start the Trek, and it takes you along the Myagdi River on its journey past the dramatic landscape of the Kali Gandaki gorge.
After breakfast, we drive to Darbang, a village near the Myagdi River passing through Beni. Following Darbang, we cross a suspension bridge and start climbing to Dharapani, a village where Gurungs and Chettris live. If the weather is clear, we get to see the Dhaulagiri massif to our north.
The Trek today takes us through the villages of Takum and Sibang. These are prosperous areas with much-terraced land, which grows rice and wheat. We will see many traditional villages framed by mountain views during the hike.
Next, we continue our journey to the village of Muri after crossing the suspension bridge over the Dhara Khola, which is home to mostly Magars. Finally, we rest for the night in Muri.
We walk from Muri to the bridge crossing over the Muri Khola. We walk through forest clearings, fields, and farmhouses along the way. A little further north, the hill slopes steeply, and some sections of the trail are steep. Then, we camp at the Boghara village.
From Boghara, the trail follows the west shore of Myagdi Khola. We hike through a forest along an undulating trail. Watch out for large bee nests where the locals collect honey above the trail. After lunch, we walk in the forest until we can see several teahouses and campsites in a clearing at Dobang.
From Dobang, we hike through dense, lush vegetation, passing through ferns, bamboo, and rhododendrons. Finally, we travel over a cantilever bridge to the east bank of the Myagdi Khola, where we camp in a clearing called Sallaghari. The fifth day consists of about five hours of total hike.
After leaving Sallaghari, we walk through a forest of pine trees, rhododendrons, and birch trees. Above the tree line, we see heather, juniper, and azaleas before ascending to Italian Base Camp.
From the high above camp, you can see the impressive west face of Dhaulagiri. To the east is Tsaurabong Peak. At 3,660 meters of elevation, the altitude might get to you. So, we suggest you take a day off to acclimatize and adapt to the area.
The hike descends steeply from Italian Base Camp to the glacier, where in the past, we would set up a rope for the group and trek crew, although the trail has recently been improved.
We reach the glacier camp at 4,200 meters on the eighth day of the Trek. Due to this altitude difference, we need to take the ninth day off to acclimatize.
After climbing up a rough trail along the moraine-covered glacier, we reach Dhaulagiri Base Camp. The view from the base camp is impressive, with Dhaulagiri I, Tukuche Peak, and Little Eiger. Further to the west, we get to see the stunning Dhaulagiri II (7651m) and IV (7620m). In spring, good numbers of mountaineers are likely to climb Dhaulagiri.
As we ascend to high altitude at a slow pace, we allow time for the body to adjust for another extra day. Your group must acclimate to camping at Hidden Valley at 5,000 meters.
Leaving Base Camp, we walk along the moraine strip, crossing the upper Chonbarden glacier on our left. Then, we follow a moraine ridge towards French Pass. From here, we can see Dhaulagiri I and Tukuche peak.
As you descend from the pass, we descend the steep snow slopes into Hidden Valley. Finally, after a long descent, we arrive at the camp beside the river not far from Dhampus Peak.
Around Hidden Valley, several options for day hikes are available. One of the best options is hiking up the ridge on the northwestern side of the valley. At the highest point on the ridge, you can see the amazing mountain views, including Dhaulagiri, the Nilgiris, and the Annapurnas.
The fourteenth day of the Trek is going to be a tough one. We hike for nearly nine hours to descend to Alu Bari. First, however, we enjoy a fine afternoon near the Dhampus pass.
Today, there is a long walk down to the village of Marpha located within the Kali Gandaki valley. Marpha is famous for its Buddhist monasteries, whitewashed houses, and paved streets. While there, one can enjoy a drink of apple juice in one of the lodges and get to Jomsom at the end of the day. We will stay at a lodge near the airport in Jomsom.
The itinerary mentioned above is the general plan arranged by Pokhara Info. The above itinerary is only a guideline; it might change due to the availability of lodging and campsites, fluctuating weather conditions, unforeseen political, trail, and environmental, or any other factors beyond our control. After consulting with the group, your trek leader will decide the best way to reach a final decision if this occurs.
If the itinerary is unsuitable for you, please let us know, and we will customize it. We will be able to make changes to the itinerary if clients want to do so. Finally, we will fly back from Jomsom to Pokhara before returning home. During the Trek and once you are home, make sure to cherish the memories you make along the trip.