Underrated and unexplored: Khopra Ridge
Khopra, located in Myagdi is slowly becoming a popular trekking destination for international and local tourists alike
-  19 Jul 2018 | nepaltraveller.com
Uncharted territory waiting to be explored, Khopra
As our semester was coming to a close, my friend and I planned on going on a trek. This was not my first time trekking but my friend had way more experience than I did. We thought of attempting a fairly difficult trek but at the same time take a lesser known trekking route. We did a fair amount of research but the idea of Khopra came to us on a notice board.
There were obvious choices like Annapurna Base Camp, Tilicho, Gosainkunda, Langtang et cetera. But the last option was new to us, it read ‘Khopra Ridge (Khayer Lake)’. So, after half an hour on the internet, we agreed on trekking to Khopra Ridge and Khayer Lake.
Khopra Ridge is located in Myagdi District at an altitude of 3660 mt and provides a panoramic view of the Dhaulagiri Range. Khayer Lake is a sacred body of water at 4500 mt. The photos we found on the internet excited us and we could not wait to pack our bags and head to our destination. After finishing off our exams, we scheduled our trek and prepared ourselves. On the first day, we boarded a bus to Pokhara from Kathmandu. We enjoyed the nightlife at Lakeside and stayed overnight. We took a jeep in the morning from Bagar and reached Ghandruk village just in time for lunch. Our trek began in this village but only after the delicious lunch at Gurung Cottage.
From here we trekked to Tadapani (2630 mt) while enjoying the view of Mount Machhapuchhre and Mount Annapurna South we walked four hours to get here. The mountains were supposed to grace us with their magnificence but the unfavourable weather had a mind of its own. However, when we woke up the next day it was sunny and the view was breathtaking. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
The hotel owner at Tadapani told us it would be dangerous to go to Khopra and we should rather go to Muldhai Viewpoint and Poon Hill. We thought it would be wise to take his advice but nonetheless, our next stop would be Dobato. After breakfast we started walking, the off-season meant we would come across many closed teahouses but one old man merrily accommodated us for a break.
We had started to go above 3000 mt and the vegetation was changing. If we had gone a month or so later we would have been able to see thousands of rhododendrons blooming. We reached Isharu and settled in for lunch. We talked to the owner who was about 65 years old and he told us about the time he visited Kathmandu and went to the zoo. Going down memory lane he told us how he paid Rs 2 for the tickets and it got us wondering what we could get for this amount today. We bid farewell to our host and started towards Dobato (3448 mt). There were frozen waterfalls along the way and we knew it would be cold at night. After walking for three hours we reached our destination.
We had decided to head to Muldhai and Poon Hill but ironically, our minds changed at the teahouse in Dobato. We met an Italian trekker returning from Khopra Ridge and Khayer Lake who told us it wouldn’t be difficult for us twenty-somethings to complete the trek. We enjoyed sharing stories over a meal. So, the next day we decided to continue, arriving at the most difficult part of our trek as we descended almost 800 mt before climbing another 1000 mt to reach Khopra Ridge.
From Chistibung it was an almost vertical climb and some of us had lost the will. Our legs were sore and our bags were only getting heavier. We couldn’t have given up, we persisted for an extra hour and then another hour and yet another. We walked for almost nine hours that day but when we reached Khopra we forgot all about it. The sun was setting and at an altitude of over 3500 mt, it was a completely new experience for most of us.
We could see the Dhaulagiri Range consisting of Mount Nilgiri, Dhaulagiri, Hiunchuli and other smaller peaks. We had gotten used to seeing the Annapurna Range throughout the trek and now seeing a new range made it further rewarding. The friendly people running the community lodge gave us all the necessary information for our trek to Khayer Lake. The area also had free Wi-Fi initiated by Mahabir Pun which was really convenient for youngsters like us going live on Instagram and posting stories. We had to get some rest before our climb the next day so we headed off to sleep.
We were woken up by a determined blizzard the next morning, due to which it was impossible to visit Khayer Lake at 4500 mt. There was a possibility we’d be stuck here for days. So, instead of moving upwards or remaining stationary we started to walk down to Tatopani.
It would be our last day of trekking in the wilderness. The hotel owner said it would take three hours to get to Paudwar, which would be our lunch stop. It took us almost five and after lunch, we walked for another three hours to reach Tatopani. We finally got comfortable beds and a hot shower after almost a week in the mountains. The next day we took a bus to Beni Bazaar and then a jeep to Pokhara, from there onwards it was a comfortable drive back home. It was an exhilarating journey and an even better experience than we had hoped for. It had its ups and downs but at the end of the day it gave me a new perspective on how different our lives would be if we weren’t born into our city lives.