When in Pokhara there are plenty of alternatives to the long Annapurna Circuit. Being short on time, we were looking for a one day trek that would bring us, at the end of the day, back to Pokhara before catching our flight home. We also hoped to get a peek at old Nepali architecture and village life off the main roads. The one-day Dhampus Village hike was perfect for our needs. It’s a trek of easy to medium difficulty, mostly leading uphill.
Dhampus is a traditional village located in Kaski District, within the Annapurna Himalayas. Hikes there start early, with a drive to Phedi, about 30 minutes from Pokhara. Right at the beginning we were rewarded by the view of Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Mountain) glowing shades of yellow and orange in a mesmerizing display of sunrise Alpenglow.
Our first stop was at Annapurna Eco Village, for a traditional breakfast in the peaceful café. Even in mid-November it was full of fragrant flowers in bloom. Annapurna Eco Village is a family-run mountain resort and tranquil yoga refuge located on the crest of Astam hill. Astam (which translates as Sunset Village) is at about 1400m, and offers unprecedented views of the surrounding area. We sat outdoors on the terrace, perched right at the edge of a deep valley, and relished the panoramic 360-degree view. As dog lovers, we quickly befriended the playful resident canines of the yard and enjoyed wonderful Nepali barley porridge with tea.
The trek continued with numerous steps uphill. Each passing kilometre brought us closer to the mountains, which appeared larger by the hour. At some point we could choose to either take the easier path with a well-formed wide pathway or the more challenging one. The latter follows the back routes the locals take in between settlements and cultivated terraced rice fields. It leads through some steep, at times muddy and slippery slopes, but it’s well worth the effort. It passes golden barley fields, beautiful red clay homes and offers views of Nepal’s incredibly lush green valleys. We had to, at one point, step far off the track as a Nepali family led their male yak along the same path! Local families, traditionally self-sufficient, were out working diligently to process their harvest for the upcoming winter. Men and women were carrying immense loads of sifted grains in their huge back packs and balanced precariously and skilfully on their foreheads.
Despite the fact that Dhampus attracts plenty of visitors every year it remains relatively unaffected and maintains its pristine character and stunning old architecture. We were made warmly welcome by curious locals, had a hearty portion of dal bhat in a local eatery, and concluded this beautiful day with a downhill trek to meet our transport back to Pokhara.