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Nepal is home to many of the world’s largest mountain peaks and best trekking trails in the world. But don’t think you have to train for months or conquer high altitudes to enjoy Nepal’s mountains – there are plenty of treks to suit any fitness level. The Ghandruk trek is a perfect example!
The Ghandruk trek is the perfect option for anyone looking for a short trek in Nepal, with no difficult ascends/descends. This short but sweet trek takes three to four days, bringing you into the foothills of the Himalayas.
I came to Nepal with the intention to conquer the Everest Base Camp trek, but food poisoning got the best of me (thanks to India) and unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards. Thankfully, I was still able to see some of Nepal’s incredible landscapes on the three days Ghandruk Trek.
What is the Ghandruk Trek?
The Ghandruk Trek is a 3-day trek that takes you into the foothills of the Annapurna Mountain Ranges to the beautiful heritage village of Ghandruk. There are plenty of friendly locals to host you in the villages, as well as a Gurung museum which you can visit to learn more about the Gurung culture.
The Annapurna Region is one of the most beautiful places to go trekking in the world, with plenty of different treks such as the popular Annapurna Circuit. This trek takes almost two weeks, so if you don’t have a lot of time, the Ghandruk trek is a nice way to get a taste of the mountains.
A nice aspect of the Ghandruk trek is that you won’t see many other tourists on the trail. Instead, you will find lush green forests, friendly locals, and beautiful views.
Ghandruk Trek Itinerary
The Ghandruk Trek is typically done in 3-4 days. I did the 4-day trek as part of a one week tour through Nepal with Intrepid Travel. Four days gives you plenty of time to stop to enjoy the scenery, chat with locals, and take your time to explore the picturesque villages.
The first day starts with an hour’s drive from Pokhara to the trailhead of the Ghandruk trek.
We started the trail which went through forests, paddy fields, and stone stairs. The Annapurna mountain ranges should also be visible on this part of the trek, but because it was overcast on the first day of our trek we couldn’t see them during the day.
Although I was disappointed about the lack of mountain ranges in view, the scenery was still beautiful as we passed through many local villages and colorful paddy fields. The clouds added a certain moodiness to the landscape.
It was so interesting to pass by all the beautiful villages and see the local women hard at work. Everyone we passed was friendly and said hello.
The first day of the trek ends at the charming village of Ghandruk. Inhabited by the Gurung community, Ghandruk village is well-serviced with tea houses to stay in. It has stunning views of the Annapurna South mountain range including Annapurna, Hiunchuli and Machapuchare.
On our first night in Ghandruk, the clouds cleared out from the sky and I saw the Himalayas appear before my eyes for the first time. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Although it was freezing, I stood outside and watched them lit by the moon and stars for hours.
The next morning, we woke up early to see the sunrise over the mountains. The way the morning light hits them is incredible. It’s one of the best sunrises I’ve woken up for.
The second day starts with more mountain views for breakfast, then a two-hour descending trek towards the village of Tolka where we stopped for lunch. Afterward, we trekked another three hours up to a village where we spent the night in tea house.
You don’t get bored on the trail as there is so much beauty around. Aside from the majestic mountain landscapes, the paths are full of green forests, red rhododendrons, and friendly faces. Both locals and animals. I encountered so many dogs, cows, and goats on this trail!
So many dogs would come and join me for parts of the trek which was one of my favorite parts about it.
You will also meet lots of friendly locals and fellow trekkers while staying at the tea houses. This was one of my favorite parts about trekking in Nepal, the feeling of community in each of the villages is so special.
On the third day of the trek we took a trail from the village of Dhampus to Hemjakot. It was mostly uphill for the first two hours, then downhill for the rest for a total of six hours of trekking. This section of the trail was fairly remote, we hardly saw any other people. Just a lot of beautiful rhododendron plants, which I never got sick of.
That night we stayed with a local family in their home in Hemjakot. I loved this stay as they had a ton of baby goats we got to play with.
The Ghandruk trek could be done in three days, but we extended it in four. The last day was an easy three-hour descent to Phedi where we caught a bus back to Pokhara in time for a well-deserved lunch.
Food on The Ghandruk Trek
You don’t need to worry about bringing a ton of food or water with you on the Ghandruk trek because you will pass by and stay in so many villages with restaurants. Of course I always recommend bringing snacks while trekking! My favorite is cliff bars.
The food they sell in the tea houses is surprisingly diverse. You can get local Nepali cuisine, as well as Western food like pizza and pasta. It’s not amazing but definitely does the trick. The best part about the restaurants is that they usually come with an amazing view.
The villages usually have a small shop where you can fill up on water and snacks. Nothing was particularly healthy, but it’s good if you need a quick sugar pick me up. One of the best parts about hiking is justifying all the snacks!
Fitness Level Required for the Ghandruk Trek
The Ghandruk trek is relatively easy. Each day is only about five-six hours of walking, so you don’t need to be in amazing shape to do this. That said, there are a lot of stairs so be prepared for that. Unlike many treks in Nepal, you don’t have to worry about altitude sickness on this trail. The trek doesn’t go past 2000 meters of elevation.
How to Book the Ghandruk Trek
You can do this trek as part of a tour with Intrepid, who I recommend as a tour company. Not only do they plan excellent tours, but they are committed to responsible travel. I’ve traveled with them in the past and it’s allowed me to have unique experience and connections with the local community. You will be in good hands with them!
Alternatively, you can book the Ghandruk trek right here through a Nepal travel agency. There are many all along the lakeside in Pokhara. If you are Kathmandu, you will need to get the tourist bus to Pokhara which takes about seven hours.
Permits are required for the trek which you can arrange from tour agencies. A guide is not required for the trail but recommended if you are not a seasoned trekker or not well versed with Napoli language and culture. Not only will the guide help you during the trek with guidance, but they can provide insight into the local culture.
Best time to go on the Ghandruk Trek
The best season to go on the Ghandruk Trek is from Mid-September until May where you find great views around the region. Summer season from June-July is the rainy season and not a good time to go trekking in this region.
Packing List for the Ghandruk Trek
You won’t find hotels but you will find small villages with tea houses to stay in all along the trail. You don’t need to worry about bringing food and water, as supplies can be bought at each village, and there are plenty of tea houses to cook you a meal.
Here is a suggested packing list for the Ghandruk Trek. You can always hire a porter if you don’t want to carry your bag.
- SPF T-Shirts x3
- Hiking Pants X 2
- Underwear X 3
- Comfortable trekking shoes, and sandals to wear at night
- Socks x 3
- Packable Down jacket
- Hat/Scarf/Gloves for night
- Sunscreen/Sun hat/Sunglasses
- Refillable Water bottle – Use Lifestraw and then you can drink the water along the way
- Packable Towel
- Sleeping bag – the teahouses provide blankets but they are lightweight and it can be chilly at night
- Trekking poles – not essential but can be helpful going downhill
- Camera – check my photography guide for the best travel cameras.
Don’t forget travel insurance!
You definitely want travel insurance if you plan to trek in Nepal. Injuries are common on the trails, and in the event that something happens and you have to get air-lifted out via helicopter, this won’t be cheap.
Give yourself peace of mind from this situation by getting travel insurance. I recommend World Nomad’s Travel Insurance as they cover a wide range of adventure activities including trekking and helicopter evacuation.
Other Adventurous Things to do around Pokhara
Pokhara was one of my favorite places in Nepal, there’s a ton of outdoor adventure around the area.
I took my first paragliding flight in Pokhara, which was so much fun and got me hooked on paragliding. It’s one of the top 5 commercial tandem paragliding locations in the world, making it a perfect place to try if it’s your first time paragliding.
River Rafting. I actually got to Pokhara via a 2-day river rafting tour from Kathmandu on the Trishuli River. It was an incredible experience, we rafted for about six hours a day and camped overnight by the side of the river.
Another way to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu that looks pretty epic is this 2-day zip-lining adventure. While Costa Rica will still forever be my favorite place to go zip-lining, this one does look incredible and I’m adding it to my list for the next time I’m in Nepal!
With the Annapurna mountain ranges so close by, there are plenty of other hikes to do in the area including the famous Annapurna Base Camp trek and Annapurna Circuit trek. Another popular trek to do in the area is the 9 Day Ghorepani Poonhill Trekking.
If you’re not up for hiking, there are other ways to enjoy the mountain ranges! You can take a scenic helicopter flight, or a micro-light flight. I did the helicopter flight over Everest and it was incredible.
Chitwan National Park
After Pokhara, I went to Chitwan National Park which is about four hours away. I have mixed feelings about this park. While it’s one of the best places in the world to see the one-horned Rhino, I felt depressed about how the park treated its elephants. There are plenty of other incredible ethical elephant encounters in Asia if you want to see them.
While it wasn’t the epic two week trek I wanted in Nepal, I’m glad that I got to do some trekking in this beautiful part of the world. I loved it and know I’ll plan another Nepal trekking trip soon.
The Ghandruk Trek is perfect for those looking for short treks or an introduction into Nepal’s mountain ranges. It’s full of beauty and few tourists which is all the reason to go.