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Dhaulagiri French Pass Trek

Tour Information

Separated from the Annapurna region by the Kali Gandaki, the Dhaulagiri massif includes more than 30 peaks over 6,000 meters with eight of these surpassing 8,000 meters. The area around Tansen is home to the Magar people and was the capital of the early independent kingdoms that were to become part of Nepal.

This less well-known trek takes you to the base camps of Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest mountain in the world (8,167 m). In the 1950s there were several unsuccessful attempts to climb to the top, all from the north side. It was first conquered in May 1960 by a Swiss/Austrian/Nepali expedition. The mountain's name comes from Sanskrit where ‘dhawala’ means dazzling, white, beautiful (‘giri’ means mountain).

From Dhorepatan, the panorama of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges is exceptional and this remote area is home to communities of Tibetan refugees who search the area for minerals and medicinal plants.

Trek Grade: This trek is Grade 4 as it involves trekking up to 5360m and days of 6-7 hours of walking.

Itinerary Overview

DaysActivity
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2 Kathmandu sightseeing: Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Patan
Day 3 Drive to Beni (830m)
Day 4 Trek Beni to Babichaur (1000m, 6 - 7 hrs)
Day 5 Babichaur to Dharapani (1565m, 7 hrs)
Day 6 Dharapani to Muri (1850m, 6 - 7 hrs)
Day 7 Muri to Boghara (2050m, 7- 8 hrs)
Day 8 Boghara to Dhoban (2630m, 6 hrs)
Day 9 Dhoban to Italian Base camp (3500m, 6 - 7 hrs)
Day 10 Acclimatization day
Day 11 Italian Base camp to Glacier camp (4250m, 5 hrs)
Day 12 Dhaulagiri Base camp (4650m): 4 hrs
Day 13 Acclimatization day
Day 14 Dhaulagiri Base Camp to French Col (5360m, 4 hrs)
Day 15 Hidden Valley Camp (5000m)
Day 16 Yak Kharka to Jomsom [2715m, 7 - 8 hrs)
Day 17 Jomsom to Pokhara by flight
Day 18 Fly to Kathmandu
Day 19 Departure

Information

What's Included?
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What's Excluded?
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Trekking: Additional information

Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail cond Read More...

Trekking: Additional information

Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail conditions. The guide in charge of your trip may have to alter the schedule if necessary and any such changes are at the discretion of Royal Mountain Travel and your guide.

 

The trekking day

Your day starts with a wake-up call, followed by breakfast and baggage pickup. You are then driven to the start point of your trek. While trekking, your day starts with breakfast at the tea house where you are staying. You need to pack up your baggage before breakfast as porters usually set off early.

Normally you are on the trail by 8 am and stop for a leisurely lunch around noon, with the chance to stop along the way for short breaks.  Lunchtime usually lasts a couple of hours to give you time to relax or to explore the village where you have stopped. The afternoon walk is shorter and you can expect to arrive around 4 pm to allow time for short excursions to nearby sites, monasteries, exploration of the village or for relaxing with a book or catching up on your diary. Dinner is generally around, 7 pm.

Everyone walks at different speeds and you should always go at the pace that is comfortable for you. The grade of the trek is only an approximate indication of what to expect, based on the altitude and the hours of walking per day. In general, the condition of trails is good as these are the main routes between villages.

 

What you carry?

Each porter carries 15kg so you should pack 7.5 kgs of baggage, sharing one porter between two persons. These things will not be available to you during the day as the porters usually leave early and do not walk with you. Your daypack should contain all that you need during the day. This should consist of warm clothes for when you stop, a water bottle, camera, sunscreen, lip salve and maybe waterproofs depending on when you’re trekking. Your guide will let you know each evening about any extra items you might need for the following day. You should take a comfortable daypack to carry just a few kilograms of things you need along the way.

 

Food and drink

No meals are included in your trek. These are available in tea houses, lodges and bhattis that may sometimes have quite limited menus. There are a lot of tea houses and lodges along the way while you are trekking. Meals are generally simple but filling, but you may wish to stock up on ‘trail munchies’ before leaving Kathmandu or Pokhara. Although mineral water in plastic bottles can be found along the way in many places, you should try to avoid using this. Plastic bottles are a serious problem on the trekking routes as there is no way to dispose of them. Instead, you should use water purification tablets, a water filter or ask for boiled water at the lodges. It is a good idea to bring a heat resistant, a water bottle which can double up as a hot water bottle when you go to bed at night too!

It is not recommended to drink alcohol at altitudes above 3,000m or so, where altitude sickness can start to have an effect.

 

Accommodation

Accommodation is in lodges and teahouses and is of a basic standard. Rooms may be twin or multi-share with basic shared toilet facilities. Hot showers are available in some places for a small charge. It is a good idea to pack wet-wipes to freshen up, especially useful when you reach high altitudes where the water can be very cold. It is not recommended to wash your hair when you are at higher altitudes and where the outside air is cold, as you run the risk of getting a chill when your wet hair takes a long time to dry.

Lodges usually have a common room where later in the day, when people start to arrive from their day’s trek there might be a stove that is lit to keep warm. Bedrooms, however, are not heated. The lodges provide clean bedding, but you may want to pack a sheet sleeping bag for peace of mind.

 

Transportation

The main means of transport are on foot, or in some cases by horse, with mules or donkeys sometimes carrying baggage. On most trekking routes, your baggage will be carried by the porters. You should ensure that anything you might need during the day is in your day pack as you will not see the baggage that is being carried again until the end of each day.

 

Trekking staff

You will be provided with government licensed, experienced trek guided assisted by the porters who transport your baggage with one porter for every two trekkers. The guide is in overall charge of the trek and looks after you. This is the person you should go to with any problems, concerns or questions. Our guides are highly trained in all aspects of trekking, conservation, high altitude medicine, first-aid and emergency procedures. They are professionals selected for their knowledge and passion for Nepal and its peoples. However, you should remember that they are local guides and their English may sometimes be quite basic and limited to trek related topics. Usually, porters will have a more basic understanding of English. Please try to speak slowly and clearly to make communication easier.

 

Trek grading and preparation

It is impossible to have a ‘foolproof’ grading system as everyone has different expectations and perceptions of their own fitness level. Remember that no trek in the Himalaya is a stroll as all involve going up and down, often at altitude. Altitude affects everyone differently, and even if it has not affected you much before, each time can be quite different in how it affects you.

Regardless of age or fitness, preparation, before you arrive, is a good idea. Aerobic activity, swimming, cycling or brisk walking is recommended or, at the very least, walking up and down stairs in your trekking boots to be sure that they fit well and are comfortable. Try to use hiking boots that you have already broken in to avoid blisters. Remember that the trek should be fun and you should go at your own pace.

 

Money

It is best to bring cash in major currencies such as the US, Canadian or Australian dollars, Euros, or Pounds. Ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations. Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide, we suggest about USD 8 – 10 per meal in Kathmandu and Pokhara and USD 30 – 35 per day whilst trekking. If you drink or smoke you need to allow a bit more.

You should exchange enough money into Nepalese Rupees to last the entire time of your trek before leaving Kathmandu. You can find the money exchange counters near your hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara but there are no exchange facilities in villages along the way.

 

Communication: mobile phones and internet

Please note, as you will be often trekking through valleys and will not always be close to mobile towers, mobile phone reception can be very patchy. NCELL, the local mobile company has quite good coverage, but sometimes the signal can be very weak. Usually, lodges have powerpoint’s to recharge your mobile, although this sometimes can be at an extra charge.

 

Tipping

Tipping is a personal and voluntary matter and is not included in the trip price. If you wish to reward the efforts of those who have worked to make your trek the best they can, we suggest the following: USD 4 per day for groups of 8+, USD 5 per day for smaller groups which will be shared amongst the whole staff, including porters.

 

Insurance

Travel insurance is not included in the trip price. It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation (including helicopter evacuation) and personal liability. We also recommend that it covers cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Be careful to check the small print of your insurance regarding altitude as some policies only provide cover up to 2000m.

 

Health

There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal. Your health condition must be sound as you will be climbing to above 4000m. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Nepal. Be aware that some drugs, including anti-malarial, have side effects at altitude. Please discuss this carefully with your doctor.

Please be aware that you will be in remote areas and away from medical facilities for some time during this trip. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses)

 

Altitude

AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. The way to reduce the effects of altitude is to ascend slowly, 300 meters per day above 3,000 meters until you have acclimatized. Poor acclimatization can result in headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing and swelling of fingers and glands. The only cure for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude and your guide’s decision on this matter is final. There is a possibility of AMS in any trek that passes through altitudes above 4000 meters.

Although our routes are carefully planned to allow proper acclimatization you may feel some effects of altitude for the first few days or at higher altitudes. Breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease as your body adjusts. Maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.

 

Climate

Variation of climate is directly proportional to the altitude. For this trekking, trekking routes are often passed through a range of altitudes from 850m upwards. Between, about 2700m and 3000m a cool temperate climate prevails, and you should expect a cool summer and very cold temperatures in the winter. Above 3000m, even if the daytime is sunny and quite warm, the temperature will drop sharply as soon as the sun goes down.

The weather in the mountains is notoriously changeable, so always be prepared for a change in conditions and note that if severe or dangerous weather conditions occur your guide’s decision on any course of action is final.

 

Permits

Trekking permits are required for almost all treks and will be obtained by Royal Mountain Travel. The Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) is essential for the record of Nepal Tourism Board keeping in mind about probable hazards to occur. You need to provide your full name, nationality, home address, passport number, sex, date of birth and 2 photographs for each permit.  Royal Mountain Travel also pays any fees required for entry to national parks, conservation areas or restricted areas.

 

Packing for your trek

You will need to bring a comfortable medium sized daypack to carry the things you will need during the day. This should have a waist strap or (better) a padded waist belt.

  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Water bottle – minimum 1 litre, aluminium or Nalgene polypropylene are best.
  • Snacks for along the way: nuts, trail mix, chocolate.
  • Gloves/hat
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Small first aid kit: band-aid, aspirin.

You should limit your baggage to about 7kg. You will find the following items useful.

  • Walking boots – lightweight, waterproof and well worn in.
  • Socks: thick wool/blend and thin cotton to be worn in combination – ensure boots fit such combinations.
  • Running shoes or sandals for morning/evening
  • Lightweight wool sweater/fleece sweater (thin layers are more effective than one thick pullover)
  • Fleece jacket
  • T-shirts – 4 or 5
  • Shirt – long-sleeved
  • Pants – lightweight long trousers (jeans are unsuitable)
  • Hats – with ear flaps or balaclava for nights (winter)
  • Gloves – wool or fleece (winter)
  • Scarf
  • Underwear (thermal underwear for winter)
  • Sarong – a multitude of uses
  • Bag liners – large, thick garbage bags to the line and water/dust proof your duffle bag.
  • Money belt
  • Toiletries
  • Towel – lightweight or camping towel
  • Torch/flashlight – head torch is ideal
  • Lighter – for burning toilet paper and rubbish

 

 

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About Us

Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.

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1

Day 1

Arrival in Kathmandu

Your first impression of arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport is an experience in itself. But don’t be worried by the apparent confusion as your airport representative will be waiting to welcome you with your name written on a placard. Depending on traffic, you will be at your hotel within 20 minutes or so. 

2

Day 2

Kathmandu sightseeing: Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Patan

The day is spent visiting some of the major World Heritage Sites of Kathmandu. More…

You will have plenty of time in the afternoon to prepare for your trek and check that you have everything you need. You might want to visit Thamel, the tourist hub of Nepal where you can easily find all you need for trekking. Or if you just want to relax, there are many cafes and bakeries serving excellent local tea and coffee. It is best to avoid the street food, however, unless you have a very strong stomach. It is recommended that you have an early night as you will have an early start in the morning.

3

Day 3

Drive to Beni (830m)

You can either fly to Pokhara and then drive to Beni (82 km from Pokhara) or drive 8-9 hours to Beni from Kathmandu via Pokhara. The drive from Pokhara to Beni takes around 4 hours and offers good scenic views. Beni is at the confluence of the Myagdi Khola and the Kali Gandaki and as it is district’s headquarters, there is a police check post where your trekking permits will be examined.

4

Day 4

Trek Beni to Babichaur (1000m, 6 - 7 hrs)

Starting by trekking beside the Kali Gandaki River, you head towards Myagdi Khola. You cross the suspension bridges along the way to pass the villages of Mangalghat, Singa, and Tatopani to finally reach Babichaur.

5

Day 5

Babichaur to Dharapani (1565m, 7 hrs)

The trail crosses terraced hillsides. You pass Shahashadhara village, cross Dudh Khola, and pass Ratorunga village before reaching Dharapani. This village is mainly Gurung and Chhetri. Here you catch sight of your first view of Dhaulagiri to the north.

6

Day 6

Dharapani to Muri (1850m, 6 - 7 hrs)

From Dharapani you pass through Takum and Sibang, two prosperous villages that have terraced fields growing rice and wheat. Many of the men in this area now work overseas or in British and Indian Ghurka armies.  You can see Gurja Himal and Puta Hiunchuli to the west. Once you cross Dhara Khola on a suspension bridge you climb up to Muri where the Mt. Dhaulagiri and other mountains can be seen clearly.

7

Day 7

Muri to Boghara (2050m, 7- 8 hrs)

From Muri, the trail is easy and descends for few hours to the bridge crossing over the Muri Khola. After passing dense bamboo, the trail crosses a number of fields and there are a few farmhouses. As you go further north, the valley steepens and the trail is quite exposed in places.

8

Day 8

Boghara to Dhoban (2630m, 6 hrs)

Today, the path is quite difficult and sometimes we will need the help of the ropes. It can be slippery as this is a very wet area where you can expect some rain in the afternoons. The sub-tropical forest is very lush in the Myagdi valley right up to Sallighari camp. Passing Lipshe (2080m) you continue walking in the forest until arriving at a clearing and the small village of Dobang.

9

Day 9

Dhoban to Italian Base camp (3500m, 6 - 7 hrs)

The trail continues through dense, lush vegetation of ferns, bamboo and rhododendrons. Crossing over to the east bank of the Myagdi Khola on a new cantilever bridge you reach Sallaghari. Continuing through a forest of pine trees, rhododendron and birch, you emerge above the tree line to heather, juniper and azaleas. The trail crosses through more forest, climbing to a grassy area on lateral moraine where Italian Base Camp is located. Looking up, you can see the impressive west face of Dhaulagiri. Tsaurabong Peak is visible on the other side of the valley.

10

Day 10

Acclimatization day

You spend the day here to acclimatize to the altitude. There is not much to do here other than rest and admire the beautiful scenery.

11

Day 11

Italian Base camp to Glacier camp (4250m, 5 hrs)

From Italian Base Camp, the trail goes down steeply on the lateral moraine. To get onto the glacier, ropes are fixed to help you and you cross the glacier to traverse along the moraine on the left side of the Chonbarden gorge.  You walk along this impressive narrow gorge to the snout of the Chonbarden glacier, going for about another hour to Glacier camp. There are several ledges levelled out in the ice of the glacier for us to pitch camp.

12

Day 12

Dhaulagiri Base camp (4650m): 4 hrs

Today you reach the Dhaulagiri Base Camp. Not long after leaving your camp the rough rubble gives way to smooth ice. You climb steadily to reach the spectacular Dhaulagiri Base Camp. As you climb, you are accompanied by views of the magnificent north face of Dhaulagiri I, Tukuche Peak and Little Eiger. Further to the west lies Dhaulagiri II (7,751m) and IV (7,618m). In season there are likely to be expeditions camped on the moraine at Base Camp.

13

Day 13

Acclimatization day

As you are constantly at an altitude of 5000 – 6000m in the next few days, this day is essential. Even when you are acclimatizing, the experts recommend you should stay active and keep moving during the rest day, rather than sitting around being idle.

14

Day 14

Dhaulagiri Base Camp to French Col (5360m, 4 hrs)

After an early breakfast, you leave Base Camp along the moraine strip and cross to the left side of the Chonbarden glacier. You can see a high lateral moraine ridge further up the valley which you reach from a steep trail across the screen. Once you get on the lateral moraine ridge there are superb views back down the valley to Dhaulagiri I and Tukuche Peak. At a cairn on the ridge, you turn to make the final ascent to French pass along the easy angled snow slopes. From the top, you see Sita Chuchura, the peaks of the Mukut Himal, Tashi Kang, Tukuche Peak and Dhaulagiri.

15

Day 15

Hidden Valley Camp (5000m)

Descending from French Col on moderate snow slopes you enter the Hidden Valley. After a long descent, you arrive at camp near the river not far from the base of Dhampus Peak. The vegetation is sparse with isolated patches of moss and grass as you are now in the rain shadow of Dhaulagiri.

You have a few options for day walks around Hidden Valley, one of the best being a walk up on a ridge on the western side where you have spectacular views of Dhaulagiri, Nilgiris, the Annapurnas, and down the Hidden Valley.

16

Day 16

Yak Kharka to Jomsom [2715m, 7 - 8 hrs)

Today, you have your last long, steep descent to reach Marpha that is in the Kali Gandaki valley. Look out for the Marpha apple brandy that is famous here. Marpha village has a Buddhist monastery, Tibetan whitewashed houses and attractive stone paved streets. Reaching Jomsom you stay at one of the lodges located near the airport.

17

Day 17

Jomsom to Pokhara by flight

After breakfast, you check in at the tiny airport to fly the 25 minutes back to Pokhara. This flight through the gorge between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri is breathtaking. On arrival at Pokhara airport, your guide will take you to your hotel.

18

Day 18

Fly to Kathmandu

Flying back to Kathmandu takes only about 35 minutes.  You have the rest of the day free. You might like to try out one of the many cooking classes or workshops on offer, go for some more sightseeing or do some last minute shopping. 

19

Day 19

Departure

You transfer to Tribhuvan Airport to connect with your onward flight. Please note that you should check in three hours prior to your flight time.

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