Conquering the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek

25, Aug 2023 |

The journey unveiled diverse landscapes, from charming villages and sculpted farmlands to meandering rivers, deep gorges, and icy glacier

Embarking on the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek was no small feat. This journey led me through high alpine pastures, desolate valleys, formidable windswept passes, lush forests, and meticulously terraced hills. With two challenging passes to cross—the French Pass at a breathtaking 5,360 meters and the Dhampus Pass at 5,200 meters—and a stop at the Dhaulagiri Base Camp at 4,740 meters, this trek demanded an impressive level of fitness. Armed with determination, stamina, and some basic mountaineering skills, I delved into this adventure, rewarded with awe-inspiring vistas of Tukuche Peak and Dhaulagiri I, II, III, and V.

Dhaulagiri, standing tall at 8,167 meters, reigns above the world's deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki. The trail generously bestowed panoramic views of the entire Dhaulagiri range. Initially thought to be the world's tallest peak, Dhaulagiri lost its title three decades later to Kanchenjunga and, subsequently, Mount Everest. In the 1950s, a French expedition unveiled the Dhaulagiri Circuit route, including the renowned French Pass that leads to the isolated Hidden Valley.

The journey unveiled diverse landscapes, from charming villages and sculpted farmlands to meandering rivers, deep gorges, and icy glaciers. The itinerary offered acclimatization breaks, allowing me to absorb the grandeur of the mountains at my own pace.

Day 1: A Drive to Beni

The adventure began with a picturesque drive from Kathmandu to Beni, lasting around 9 hours. After a comfortable bus ride to Pokhara and another leg to Beni, I settled in, eager to commence the trek the following day.

Day 2: From Beni to Babiachaur

A 5-hour trek saw me following the Myagdi Khola, crossing suspension bridges, and traversing terraced fields. The trail gifted me insights into local life and allowed me ample time to explore villages along the way.

Day 3: Trekking to Dharapani

A 6- to 7-hour journey brought me to Dharapani, leaving terraced fields behind and venturing into rougher terrain. The day concluded in the cozy embrace of this charming village surrounded by fields.


Day 4: Reaching Muri

Trekking for 5 hours, I passed through more villages and reached Muri, a settlement inhabited by the Magar people. The trail led through forests, offering glimpses of Dhaulagiri I and Gurja Himal in the distance.

Day 5: Boghara Beckons

A 5-hour trek led me over a low pass, revealing stunning views of Mt. Ghustung South. The trail zigzagged through pine and oak forests, finally arriving in Boghara, where Dhaulagiri I and Gurja Himal commanded the skyline.

Day 6: Dobang Awaits

The altitude began to rise as I embarked on a 5-hour trek to Dobang. Still below the tree line, I witnessed farming communities and terraced fields. Passing through Jyardhan, a remote settlement, I reached Dobang for a well-deserved rest.

Day 7: Crossing to Choriban Khola

A 5-hour hike took me through forests along the Myagdi Khola until I reached the banks of the Choriban Khola, where I set up camp for the night.


Day 8: Reaching the Italian Base Camp

Embarking on a 5-hour journey, I encountered glaciers for the first time. Hiking alongside Chhonbarban Glacier, the Himalayas' grandeur enveloped me. The Italian Camp revealed breathtaking views of Dhaulagiri Massif and Tukuchen, a perfect start to the day.

Day 9: Taking a Breath at the Italian Base Camp

Given the increasing altitude, an acclimatization day at the Italian Base Camp was essential. I reveled in exploring the surroundings, bonding with fellow trekkers, and simply marveling at the majestic peaks.

Day 10: Advancing to Glacier Camp

A more challenging day awaited, marked by steep ascents and descents on a rocky trail. Glaciers and narrow canyons tested my mettle, leading to the satisfying destination of Glacier Camp.

Day 11: Reaching Dhaulagiri Base Camp

This 7-hour trek was a true spectacle, granting breathtaking views of Dhaulagiri I and II. The campsite, nestled beneath these majestic peaks, left me in awe.


Day 12: Reflecting at Dhaulagiri Base Camp

A day of acclimatization at Dhaulagiri Base Camp allowed for further adjustment to the altitude. Surrounded by the Dhaulagiri range's splendor, I cherished the moments of tranquility and clicked away at captivating vistas.

Day 13: Conquering the French Pass

The day's challenge was the French Pass at 5,200 meters, a feat that rewarded me with a mesmerizing panorama of peaks like Tukuche Peak and Dhaulagiri I. Descending to Hidden Valley, I reveled in the isolated beauty.

Day 14: Overcoming the Dhampus Pass

Descending from the Hidden Valley to Dhampus Pass, I soaked in breathtaking views of lakes, glaciers, and encompassing mountains. A 7-hour trek concluded in Yak Kharka, where I rested in a tented camp.

Day 15: Venturing to Marpha

Descending to lower altitudes, I reveled in forests of pines and rhododendrons during the 5-hour trek to Marpha. The town's whitewashed elegance and apple orchards charmed me, and Marpha brandy was a delightful discovery.


Day 16: Returning to Pokhara

The trek ended, and I returned to Pokhara, relishing the contrast between the town's bustling atmosphere and the serene mountains.

Day 17: Farewell to the Himalayas

As I bid farewell to Fishtail Mountain and the Himalayan wonders, I cherished the memories of the past two weeks. The Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek had been a journey of discovery, a testament to my endurance, and a celebration of the earth's majestic beauty.

The Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek etched an indelible mark on my soul. The trail's trials and triumphs amplified my connection with nature's splendor and my own resilience. Amidst alpine pastures and daunting passes, the journey mirrored life's highs and lows. Facing thin air and rugged terrain, I uncovered an unyielding strength. Acclimatization days revealed the mountains' silent power. As the trek concluded, Fishtail Mountain's silhouette marked both an end and a beginning. This adventure, a fusion of exploration and growth, reinforced that life's most profound moments blossom beyond comfort zones. The trek was a testament to nature's grandeur and human potential.

photo credit: alpineholidaysnepal, magicalnepal

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