DHAULAGIRI CIRCUIT TREKKING (18 NIGHT 19 DAYS)
A round trip to Dhaulagiri massif is only possible when the group is technically well equipped and logistically supported. An itinerary of minimum nineteen days is required for this journey. Flexibility of few extra days is preferable in the event of bad weather or longing for a side trip around Pokhara. The trail goes across the two high altitude passes where no any assistance is available for emergency help. Therefore, a great deal of care must be taken with regards to proper acclimatization and needful equipment. Since the first half of the trek mostly passes thru the unfamiliar trails, the services of experienced local guide are highly recommended. No special permits are required for the Dhaulagiri Circuit but for going to the last part, down the Kali Gandaki, a special ACAP entry permit is necessary.
Beni, the headquarters of Myagdi district is considered the best starting point of this trek. Beni is one of the most easterly parts of the district where the ethnic Magar community is widely populated. This community of hill dwellers are similar in many ways to their Gurung neighbours but are thought to have settled in Nepal some time earlier. Like their Gurung community, the Magars have an inclination of joining the Gurkha regiments in India or else in British Army. Regular bus services are available from Pokhara to Baglung but there are less frequent services to Beni.
The Dhaulagiri trail follows the Myagdi Khola, the stream that goes down the southern side of the Dhaulagiri massif. Passing through the settlements of Darbang and Muri, the countryside is still quite heavily populated with scattered villages and agricultural lands. Beyond Mari, the Myagdi Khola wings to the north and the landscape becomes much more rugged and sparsely populated. The tree line is reached just below the side of the so-called Italian Base Camp. This camp is basically located at the snout of the Chhonbaraan Glacier, which is an ideal place to spend an acclimatization day exploring the hills around.
The next two days are spent on the glacier, the second night being at Dhaulagiri Base Camp, a rugged spot with some spectacular views of the western face of Dhaulagiri.
From here the trail crosses French pass which is the highest point (5360M) of this trek. While descending from the French pass you will enter the forlorn but fascinating wilderness known as Hidden Valley rarely accessed by the trekkers in Nepal. The valley is stretched faraway towards the north eventually narrowing to a rugged gorge that connects to upper Dolpa where one can observe the endangered species of wildlife like the elusive snow leopard. If all the group members are fit in every way then a rest day may be worthwhile to spend in Hidden Valley for exploration.
From Hidden valley, the trail now crosses Dhampus Pass (sometimes known as Thana Pass). While compared to the French Pass, it is roughly 100 meters lower. Dhampus pass has a reputation of bad weather which can create problem during the crossing and subsequent descend. Trekkers must be aware of the health of their group members and staff, especially in between French Pass and Dhampus Pass section. If any of the group members shows the symptoms of AMS then he/she must not be proceed to French Pass but rather taken back down to a lower altitude of Myagdi Khola. The problem gets worse if any group member suffers from AMS in the passes as there is no way to get immediate medical support. After crossing the Dhampus pass, the trail descends into the valley of Kali Gandaki River meeting the main trail either at Marpha or Tukuche. On the way down to the valley there are some spectacular views across the Annapurna and up into the arid and steppe of Mustang.