Nar Phu Valley Trek

Nar and Phu village is located in the north-west, within Annapurna Conservation Area Project in Nepal. It is surrendered by unspoiled mountain valleys that feature a mix of raw Himalayan nature and ancient Buddhist culture. The area has an open border connects with Tibet through the high Himalayan passes, so the culture and religion here are practice from the Tibetan lifestyle. Not until 2002 this region was re-opened for foreign trekkers. The valley became popular when local homestays started to accommodate tourist in 2010. Anyone travelling before that had to camp to visit this area.

Despite the area next to Nar Phu valley, Annapurna Circuit is very crowded and too many tourists during each busy season. But Nar Phu valley still considered as one of the best remote and off the beaten trail in Annapurna region. It is indeed true, a number of hikers looking for alternative options to avoid the crude, Nar Phu Valley trek is the ultimate options. In this article, I will provide everything you need to know about Nar Phu Valley Trek. Before reading everything, I would suggest watching this short highlights from Nar Phu Valley Trek. This video might tell you a lot more then what I explained here.

Trek Highlights

⇒ Nar Phu Valley (An indeed hidden gem in the Himalayan wilderness)
⇒ One of the most scenic trails in the world
⇒ 95% of the hiking trail follows off the motor vehicle road
⇒ Opportunity to camp in the Buddhist monasteries and local homestay.
⇒ Explore unspoiled mountain valleys that feature a mix of raw Himalayan nature and ancient Buddhist culture.
⇒ It lies in the rain shadow part of the Himalayas makes, a perfect destination for Monsoon trek in Nepal
⇒ Optional add on, visit "Tilicho Lake" the highest for its size in the world at 4,919m and Annapurna Circuit Trek
⇒ Making a loop crossing a high pass of Kang La (5,240m). It follows the circuit route, means every day is a new day.

Permit and Paper Work

Anyone travelling to Nar Phu valley required to have two different types of trekking permits. As the valley is part of the restricted area, you must be in a group of at least two trekkers accompanied by a registered guide. A local company then will arrange your permit to travel this hidden world of the mysterious land.
 
                                                         Nar Phu Valley Trek Permit Cost  
Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit Cost  NPR 3,000 per person
Nar Phu Valley Restricted Area Permit  USD 90 per person, per week
TIMS (Only if you hike further up Annapurna Circuit) USD 10 Per person 
Total permit cost for one person  USD 130

In order to get the Nar Phu area trek permit, It is required to have the copy of the passport, ID image and original passport with visa stamp. It will take only 3-4 hour to get the permit from Sunday to Friday (10:00 am to 5 pm) Please make sure there is no public holiday. If you don't have a day to spear in Kathmandu for the permit, some company also expedite the permit without an original passport and visa. Please contact your agency or contact us, if you want a trekking permit to be issued in advance.

Guide and Porter

While Nepal has some trekking trails where tourists can trek even without a guide, but this doesn't apply to Nar Phu Trek. It is also required that at least two trekkers should be in one group to get the permit. Or for a single hiker, trek with "Ghost Permit" is also an option. (Paying double the amount of permit cost and travel with real person name) If you are hiking alone, please check with a local company if they can pair you with someone to get the ghost permit. Or contact us.
 
                                                 Guide and Porter Cost For Nar Phu Valley Trek  
Professional Guide with (Training, Licence, and field experience) USD 32 per day
Professional Porter/ Guide with (Training, Licence, field experience) USD 25 per day
Experience Trekking porter USD 20 per day

Hiring a professional guide for Nar Phu is slightly expensive than any other trek in Nepal. On average, the fee is about USD 30 to 35 per day, and this includes the guide's food, accommodation, and insurance. It is all due to the expensive food cost for the guide and tourism here is not fully developed. Unlike other trekking regions, the guide gets some discount on food and accommodation. 

Transportation

Nar Phu Valley trek starts from Koto at Manang. During the hike, the trail follows a circuit route via high pass of Kang La (5,240m). Making a loop the trail ends at the same point you started. To get to the trailhead, you have to travel from Kathmandu to Besishar and then to Hunde. There are a local bus and minibus available between Kathmandu-Besishar-Kathmandu route. But from Besishar you have to share a local jeep to Hunde.
 
                              Transportation cost list for Nar Phu Valley Trek  
Kathmandu to local bus station taxi  USD 5  
Kathmandu to Besishar a local bus USD 10 per person
Kathmandu to Besishar a private car (Up to 3 people and luggage) USD 100-120 
Besishar to Koto a local sharing jeep  USD 25 per person 
A total cost  USD 40 in a local bus (USD 125-150 in a car)

About 175 km between Kathmandu and Besishar via Prithvi Hwt, it is a well-cemented road. However, the 87km the road condition between Besishar to Koto is off-road, muddy and dusty. Due to the poor road condition between Besishar and Koto a total, travel time may take about 10-11 hour to reach Koto from Kathmandu.

Food

Since Nar Phu is one of the remote areas of Nepal, the cost of food it is generally more expensive compear to the Annapurna circuit area. Due to the far proximity of the market place, the menu choices are limited. For those who have been to any other base camp trek in Nepal should be similar to the rule that the cost of food increases as the elevation goes high.  This is because, the higher the altitude, the harder it becomes the food supplies. All supplies are being transported by pure hard work by men and mule. So, you could imagine how much effort goes into each soup you will eat in the region. You may want to budget roughly USD 6-7 per meal. So maybe USD 20 to 25 a day for the 3- times basic food. Of course, this would vary how much appetite you might have in each meal and your beverages. If you have been to Everest Base Camp, the cost is relatively the same or slightly higher. Everest is still more expensive than any other trek in Nepal.

What to expect the food in the Nar Valley?

 Each tea house/homestay offers basic food, which you can choose from the menu. 

 Commonly any vegetables served in tea houses are produced from their garden. The plant and veggies grow in the mountain are organic, so good for your health. 

 Not every camp offers meat (chicken, mutton, and pork). Please note that beef is almost non-existent here.) However, some places Yak meat may be available. If they do, you should check with your guide if this is fresh before you placed the order. Because of the altitude and weather, it is sometimes difficult to raise these animals for consumption. Storing the meat over the winter could also be challenging. Better safe than sorry, please ensure you raise this question with your guide so he can check first.  

 You won't find tea houses anytime you are hungry. So when you need that boost, please bring an energy bar or chocolate for the trip, and it could make a lot of difference.

⇒ "Dal Bhat power for 24 hours" The most common Nepali dish allows you to eat rice as much as you can, with no additional cost. Rice is good as you need carbohydrates for that trek!

 While it is generally clean, please take a lot of caution when buying local food or drinking water.  

Accommodation in Nar Phu Valley Trek 

Basic accommodation is not an issue at all in Nar Phu Valley as tea houses have started to spring up in each camp. For a small group, up to 6 at a time wouldn't be a problem. The cost for one twin sharing room is roughly USD 5 to USD 7 a night. If you are renting one room with twin beds, the bed will count not the person. Meaning you have to pay the double.

What to expect from the accommodation in the Nar Phu region 

Next to food, where exactly would you sleep? Usually, there is a simple homestay for accommodation where the family share the same space. One day at Nar Phedi, you have to sleep in a Buddhist temple sharing space with a monk. But please be reminded of the following:

 Basic private room with shared toilet is mostly available throughout the trek. However, please expect a couple of night where you may need to sleep in very basic accommodation share a room with other trekkers.

 Bring a sleeping bag and Sleeping pad with you. Although beds, blankets, pillows, etc. may be provided, you will not be sure that these are cleaned enough like in city before you use it. Also, the weather could be, so sleeping bags are a must. 
 
 Extra blankets are provided in each camp at no additional cost. Except for the night in a monastery in Nar Phedi, sheets are limited. You may want to bring your sleeping bag or a sleeping mat.

 Only in a few camps, warm heater or bonfire will be provided in the communal area. It is only during dinner time. Enjoy the time here to mingle with local Nepalis and fellow travellers. Apart from this time, tea houses/ homestay do not have heaters in rooms or a communal area.

 The toilets are very basic (mostly squat toilet), and they usually are outside building. Please make sure if you are using toile at night bring someone with you. Could be your guide or a trekking partner. Especially if the camp is near the jungle, there might be wildlife. Also, bring enough wipes or toilet paper with you (these are also available for purchase tea houses if you run out). 

 Do not bargain in fix price such as the cost of the food which is written on the menu. 
 Do not enter into their kitchen without permission. 
 Tea houses usually charge additional for hot water for bathing or for charging mobile phones, camera etc. You may want to bring a power bank with you or some solar battery.  

Drinking water

The drinking water in the mountain relatively cleaned. It is not as polluted as in the city, and usually, it is drinkable. You will see locals and your guide drinking this water with no issues. However, to be safe, please make sure you use water purification drop. Or drink bottled water. Bottled water is available to buy in each camp (roughly NPR 200 (USD 2) in the lower elevation and NPR 400 (USD 4) in the higher altitude). Majority of trekkers use water purification drop or tablet or water filter to save money. (Any hikers book the trip through NEST Adventure, will provide an empty bottle and water purification tablet. If you ever become our customer, please do not forget to ask when you visit our office.)

During the day, you don't need to carry more than one litre of extra water. Typically, the water source is available every one to two hours of walking distance where you can refill water.

Drinks 

The cost of tea and coffee are relatively the same as in other mountain region but slightly cheaper than in Everest Base Camp.  

A cup of tea - USD 1.5- 4 
A cup of coffee - USD 2 - 4 
A bottle of beer - USD 2 - 5
A bottle of water / soda - USD 0.5 - 4 

 Bottled water is available to buy in each camp (roughly NPR 200 (USD 2) in the lower elevation and NPR 400 (USD 4) in the higher altitude) 

⇒ Majority of trekkers use water purification drop or tablet or water filter to save money. Water purification drop or pill is the best in practice.

 You don't need to carry more than two litres of water during the day. Usually, the water source is available every one to two hours of walking distance where you can refill water. Please ask your guide daily water sources are available along the way. 

 Carry at least one water bottle which is suitable for hot and cold water. 

 Your body needs plenty of water at this elevation. It is recommended to intake at least 5 litres per day. So please drink as much as you can and stay away from dehydration. It also helps for the blood circulation meaning better acclimatisation.

How difficult is Nar Phu Trek? 

It is a moderate trek in the Himalayas. The itinerary above brings you to Koto (2,600m) on the first day from Kathmandu (1,300m). Which is lower altitude gain in one day compared to Lukla (2,860m) from Kathmandu?  During my tenure as a trekking guide in the Himalayas, I never saw people becoming sick at Namche Bazar (3,440m) in the Everest region. If I had to compear this with the elevation of Namche, you would gain this much altitude in 5 days. Indeed it is one of the high pass treks, but the sickness rate here is lower compear to the other trekking region in Nepal. This comparison tells me, Nar Phu region is much safer compared to EBC trek in the Khumbu region. However, altitude sickness also depends on the hiker's fitness and previous experience. If you are a decent hiker, even with no prior experience in the high altitude, this trek following the given itinerary is reasonable.

Itinerary

Day 1 Drive from Kathmandu via Besisahar to Koto   2,600m; approx. 10 hours

Day 2 Trek to Meta   3,560m; approx. 7 hours

Day 3 Trek to Phu   4,080m; approx. 7 hours

Day 4 Acclimatization day in Phu; side trip to Himlung Base Camp (4,80

Day 5 Trek to Nar Phedi, overnight stay in monastery   3,490m; approx. 6 hours.

Day 6 Trek to Nar Village   4,110m; approx. 3 hours

Day 7 Trek via Kang La Pass (5,240m) to Ngawal   3,650m; approx. 8 hours

Day 8 Ngawal to Manang Via Bharata Gomba and Overnight in Manang

Day 9 Rest day in Manang Visit Manag village and hike to Gangapurna Glacier lake 3,500m Approx 7-8 hour

Day 10 Manang to Tilicho Base Camp 4700m approx 8-9 hour hike

Day 11 Tilicho base camp to Tilicho Lake and walk back to Yak Kharka 4900m

Day 12 Yak Kharka to High camp 4800m approx 5-6 hour

Day 13 High Camp to Throng pass 5416m and Muktinath 3800m approx. 8-9 hour

Day 14 Muktinath to Jomsom Beni Pokhara via Jeep

Telecommunications

There are many communication booths availabilities in case of emergency. Inhabited by Tibet origin Nepali people, Nar Phu valley is a remote area in Nepal. Telecommunications (a local phone) works partially while each village has VHF phone for the emergency contact. A local guide would be able to contact numbers for any emergency.

Trek essentials (What to pack for Nar Phu Trek) 

No climbing Ropes needed

No Ice axe required

No Goretex needed or expedition jacket 

Climbing shoe or crampon may require If the trail has thick ice.

What you need are:

Hiking boot (high ankle boot recommended)

Sleeping bag 

Sleeping mat

Down Jacket

Pair of the thermal sweater to keep you warm inside

Pair of comfortable dry hiking pants

⇒ Hiking socks (woollen socks are recommended)

⇒ Hiking bag (minimum 50l+10)

Additionally, you could consider taking, warm hat/ head cover, scarf, sunglass, lip guard, sun cream, trekking pole, headlamp, windproof gloves, water bottle, water purification drop, camera accessory, first aid kit etc. Detailed trekking essential list will be provided upon request. Please email us. 

Other miscellaneous

It is widely known that if something requires extra effort, then please do not expect it to be cheap. You will be charged additionally in the mountain. For any trek in Nepal, the following are additional costs you may want to also factor into your budget: 

A. Charging your electronic gadgets; such as Camera, iPod, mobile phone or anything would definitely cost you a few dollars at a time. The extra cost needs to be paid due to the high investment for the small local hydropower station. As you will be on the mountain for many days and will definitely be requiring to charge at least your phone or camera (as you would want to capture the sceneries for sure!!). You might as well invest in a portable solar battery charger or a portable power bank. Extra batteries for your camera will help as well.

B. Bucket shower (i.e. using a pail of water) heated by gas, firewood might cost you a few dollars at a time. In the mountain, please don't expect that you will have your full bath or shower every day. Yes, as much as we want to do that, it is just not practical and economical. So you should be prepared to smell the same as yesterday for several days. Instead of bucket water, another option would be to pack some wipes with you and use that instead in the interim, or a small towel that you could use to freshen yourself in the morning or before going to bed.

C. Donation; If you visit, monasteries, gumba or stupa, although it is not mandatory, they do expect some small contributions for the maintenance of the area. Costs here could vary.

D. Tips for the support staff; After each trek, your guide and porter also expect some tips from you. Of course, this usually reflects your experience during the trek. Usually, USD 80-100 is on average for ten days trek. USD 5 to 7 per day. 

Total expenses and trekking cost

If you make a deal with a local agency based in Kathmandu, the tentative price for this trek would be USD 55 - 65 per person per day in a small group. That also includes a licensed guide, a porter, basic food and accommodation, permit and local jeep/Local bus to and from Kathmandu. Depending on the group size and the agency you choose, the cost may vary slightly. However, the same package with an international agency or commission-based third party agency may go up to USD 100-150 per day per person.

Best Season

September - November and March-May is the best season in Nepal for trekking. The temperature is mildly warm in the lowland and moderate in the high altitude. Interestingly this trek lies in the rain shadow part of the Himalayas and is one of the best monsoon treks in Nepal. Between June to August, this trek can be done without any problem.

What to expect from the guide

There are hundreds of local company in the market, and we are one of them. NEST Adventure is unique and specialised for remote area trek in Nepal. In case if you like to compear us with another company, here is what we offer.

 Majority of the professional guides from NEST Adventure are born and raised in the mountain region and specialises for restricted trekking area in Nepal (GHT Trail) such as Manaslu, Tsum Valley, Upper Mustang, Kanchenjunga and Nar Phu. So they know their way very well in these mountains. 

 All our guides have been to Nar Phu at least 2 to 3 times every year so you can be sure of their experience in this terrain in this area.  

 Most of our guide is young but very experienced and well educated. They can converse in English very well, and in some cases, in other languages too.

 Apart from safety, we want to make sure you will enjoy your time with NEST Adventure. All our guides have been received 5 out of a scale of 5 ratings from our previous clients. Please review here. 

⇒ Each of our guides really has a good relationship with locals and teahouse owners along the way. So there is not an issue with communication with tea houses or finding accommodation.

⇒ To make sure you would have a good rapport with our guide, we arrange for meetings with a guide before the departure or even on the phone before you confirm trek with us. You can make a question to him and test his knowledge and experience. If for some reason, you are not satisfied, we would be happy to provide another guide that will match your requirements. Please, do hesitate to contact us, if you are looking for someone like I just described (email: nestadventure@gmail.com)

Conclusion

Indeed,  Nar Phu valley might be an excellent alternative trail if you follow the itinerary above. The motorable roads in between help you skip the less scenic part and bring you straight to the best part of the trail. It will indeed be an exhausting experience to and from Kathmandu as the road condition is not so smooth, but when you reach your destination, it is worth all the effort. Our clients who experienced this trail have nothing but positive feedback. For most of them who had also been to Everest Base Camp aka EBC or Annapurna Base Camp aka ABC, Nar Phu is much better.

If you enjoy reading this article share with your friends and family who's been missing this exclusive information about Annapurna Circuit with Nar Phu Valley. We would also appreciate if you could give us a rating on the side pooping box. If you have any queries about this trail, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to answer all of your questions.

About Rajendra Khanal (Raj)

Rajendra Khanal (Raj) Born and raised in Gorkha, Nepal, I am proud to call the Manaslu region my home! I have been in the travel business for over a decade from being assistance guide to being a guide/leader to being a manager and finally a founder of NEST Adventure. So you could say, I know my way well enough in the Himalayas especially in some of the off-the-beaten trails in Nepal like Manaslu, Kanchenjunga or Mustang

I am passionate about travelling and I strongly believe that seeing the world shouldn't break the bank (at least not too much!).  I have backpacked to over 15 countries in Asia, Central Americas USA and Canada, one-third of Europe, Caribbean Island and  Latin America.

I studied in the UK and moved to the United States. During that period, I had an opportunity working with multinational companies which taught me, how to deliver quality customer service in the business? As a world travelling backpacker myself, and travel expert of Nepal Himalayas, I started writing about my own country.  Incase, If you required free information about Nepal, please do not hesitate to visit my office in Thamel. We are located in the centre of Kathmandu Thamel. I am happy to share a cup of Nepali tea and free information.  Our team at NEST has earned 5/5 star ratings on TripAdvisor from about 200 satisfied customers. Don't forget to visit our customer feedback page on TripAdvisor.
If you believe our expert team can be helpful in planning your next trip to Nepal, then please do not hesitate to contact me. at nestadventure@gmail.com. I am also available 24x7 on WhatsApp  +977- 9851052042. If you are interested to know more about my travel journey follow me on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  
 
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