Highlights of Khopra Ridge Trek in Nepal
Have you heard of the Khopra Ridge Trek?
Well! So didn't I. Until now.
I have always wondered about the possibilities of discovering new trekkable routes around the massive Himalayan ranges. There is great potential for new discoveries. That is what drives me to be a part of this exciting adventure field that works days in and days out for not only subsistence but also to fulfill our passion.
So, recently I got this opportunity to explore a new trek in one of the most popular regions of Nepal, the Annapurna Conservation Area. It is known for some of the most legendary treks in this region such as the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek and Poon Hill, which are not only popular in Nepal but also all over the world.
Being curious, I went about to find some other treks which were already organized by the local trek operators. The Annapurna conservation area is a vast region, hence there are bound to be other trekking routes which are hidden gems.
So, one random day I was roaming in the bustling city of Pokhara, one of the major cities of Nepal. Pokhara is the main center to arrange permits, guide, porters, etc for the trek in the Annapurna region. While talking to operators I came to know about a trek named Khopra Ridge, and suddenly I remembered one of my very good friends who is also an avid trekker who did the same trek a few months back. So I straight away I was interested as I knew how happy he was after this particular trek. I didn’t ask much details but he gave me a rough idea about it. But, out of all that he mentioned, there was one specific point that was instilled in my mind and it was the fact that the Khopra Ridge Trek was one of the most unique treks he has ever done.
Forwarding to the day I completed the Khopra Ridge exploration, I realized how right he was. It is indeed the most unique trek overall and the most surprising fact is that it goes so much unnoticed. So, here I am penning down the points which shouldn’t be overlooked as the Khopra Ridge Trek is one of the unrevealed gems I could have ever found in the land of highest mountains in the world, Nepal.
1. The Long Forgotten Trail
A couple of days into the Khopra Ridge trek I came across several surprises. On the third day after crossing the popular hamlet of Ghorepani, the trail became lonely but in a good way.
Why am I saying this?
Stunning trail towards Ghorepani
The Hamlet of Ghorepani is also an optional route for Annapurna Base Camp trek, so one can expect a lot of enthusiastic Trekkers on the trail, but once I was on the trail which specifically led to Khopra, it certainly became a little isolated. However, after sometime abandoned huts start popping out of nowhere before reaching the village of Chitre.
Abandoned huts before Chitre Village
Chitre itself was kind of surprising for me, the way the villagers look at you tells that they are not used to seeing trekkers in that region unlike the other hamlets on the more popular trails of Nepal. This already made it so much interesting for me. The village was inarguably pretty. The front yard of every house had a unique tree unlike any other I had seen before. With a white but smooth bark and light colored leaves, these trees surrounded the village.
The beauty surrounding Chitre is mesmerizing
As I imagined the ancient times of this wonderful country I continued my journey forward. The more I ventured further the scenery got better and better. I came across a few more abandoned huts but there was no village whatsoever near those abandoned huts. It shows that with development people abandoned their houses and moved as close as possible to the road heads to make their life easier. Also, this clearly indicates the forgotten trail which must have been used by the villagers during the old days when life was much simpler. Regarding the trek, this was something I had never come across, personally. This certainly took my curiosity to another level.
2. Enchanting Village of Swanta
I eagerly look forward to Himalayan villages, the way they are crafted on hill slopes, the terrace farming to make sustainable crops. They depend on organic food most of the time. All these factors make an interesting and engaging journey overall.
The trail towards Swanta Village
There is a village named Swanta which comes right on the third day of the trek. Let me elaborate on one very interesting fact about this glorious village. Just before the start of the village, it was difficult for me to understand the scale of it because till the time you enter the main village you will be walking through a very strange looking forest through a steep ascent, so I could hardly make out what is up there when this ascend will finally end.
The views open up vividly as you enter Swanta village
I cannot express in words how awe-struck I was when I finally entered the main village of Swanta. It was massive, spreading out till the top of the hill and the good part was that the huts are not clustered together. This makes it look prettier because you can easily make out the terrace farms all the way till the top. One can easily point out that every hut is separated from one another by a farm of their own. The farms are basically rice and potato fields. It was so green all the way.
Vibrant terrace farms of Swanta
I was surprised to see a Basketball court which is exactly just in the center of the whole village. It is wonderful to roam around and explore the whole village. These charming villages made a good impression on me.
A basketball court in the middle of Swanta village
3. Varied Forest Trails
Some find walking in the forest monotonous unlike me who loves to trek through the forest. I tried to understand this fact by putting myself in someone else's shoes and after a certain period, I thought it really does get boring, certainly not all the way but may be at times. But it was so different in this particular trek. There are only a few treks which can offer a variety of forests and Khopra Ridge is one of them.
Stunningly pretty forests
At the beginning of the trek, the trail takes us through a valley covered under dense oak trees which doesn’t repeat again. Once we move closer to the popular Ghorepani, it takes you through one of the densest Rhododendron forests ever. So in a span of just two days, you get two different types of forests. Rhododendron trees are one of the highest altitude trees and mostly found in the eastern part of the Himalayas, if the season is right you will get to witness the extremely pretty Rhodo flowers making the forest red in color due to it’s blooming season.
Rhododendron laden forest trail
The Next change of forest follows once you leave behind the village of Swanta. This time the trail goes through dense green oak trees that are relatively different than Brown oak. It continues till the point you cross a hamlet named Sistibung, a halt just before the remarkable Khopra Ridge.
The variety in trail keeps you engrossed throughout the trek
4. The Ridge Walk
Isn’t it exciting to knowing that the major portion of the Khopra Ridge trek is a ridge walk?
The astounding ridge walk experience with unparalleled views of the snow-capped peaks
So was I when I finally got to experience this. This whole trek was named after the famous ridge walk itself. However, this trek doesn’t straight away take you on a ridge. To reach the starting point of the ridge, it takes a good amount of height gain. The initial days of the trek are through a beautiful valley but once you leave behind the valley you are on a continuous ascent to reach the ridge. This might sound strenuous but once you are done with the ascending, you will realize that all the effort and pain was worth it as it all opens up to a giant ridge with unobstructed views of the majestic peaks. It then stays for a good amount of time with some intervals which cut through slopes.
Khopra ridge viewpoint
There are some notable stretches of ridge such as the Khopra Ridge itself, followed by when you leave Bayeli you will be walking on ridges for hours. Then there is a walk on a ridge to the top of Muldai viewpoint. So overall it is unique to have all these features in one single trek, all the milestones which I have mentioned are special for all different reasons which I may elaborate in different sections to avoid diverting the focus from the ridge walk.
5. The Numerous Milestones
Rarely treks can offer more than one milestone. Take for example a popular trek named Phulara ridge which is situated in the state of Uttarakhand in India which is once again named after a ridge. I am not denying the fact that there must be other factors and highlights which made Phulara ridge one of the most engaging treks but having more than one milestone is pretty much rare to find. So there are not one or two but three milestones throughout the Khopra Ridge trek which is something to look forward to.
Poon Hill viewpoint
The first one is Poon Hill, also considered as one of the easiest treks in this region but the view from the poon hilltop is spectacular with a 180 degree view of Snow capped Himalayan ranges such as Mt Dhaulagiri, Mt Machhapuchre (ideally considered as the most beautiful Mountain in the world along with the mighty Mt. Amadablam), Mt Annapurna south, Mt Himchuli and many more. Reaching poon hill is not strenuous, in fact, within just two days you can visit the top. So imagine the reward one can get with only a minimum effort.
Mighty Annapurna as seen from the Khopra Ridge viewpoint
The second one is, of course, the Khopra Ridge, which is definitely the best point of this trek. The best part of this place is that it is independent of the early morning views which are the case in most treks if you want to experience spectacular views of the major snow-capped peaks. But at Khopra Ridge at the time of sunset also I got one to cherish one of the most memorable moments of my life.
View of the gorgeous Mt. Dhaulagiri from Khopra Ridge
From this particular place, there are not only one or two peaks which are visible but a total of 23 peaks can be spotted. Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Annapurna south, Mt. Annapurna north, and many more but the best of them is the unblocked view of Mt. Dhaulagiri which is also an 8000M+ peak, simply magnificent. Reaching Khopra ridge is a totally different experience through beautiful bushes and a zigzag trail all the way with an unnamed snowcapped peak shaped like a giant ocean wave to the right.
Impressive views from the Khopra Ridge teahouse
Before elaborating the last point let me mention other honorable points, like the ever-changing landscape, whether it's a meadow or diverse forests, there are no dull moments at any point in the trek. Tea houses are so pretty with splendid views of the snowclad mountains from the window itself which is really difficult to find in other tea house treks. This trek can be a wonderful trek for any novice trekker. This trek can be done all year round except for the monsoon months of July, August till mid-September. The beauty of the landscape changes as per the weather and seasons.
Jaw-dropping views on the trail with a peak shaped like a giant ocean wave (right)
Hopefully, I was able to emphasize on why this particular trek stands out. The Khopra Ridge trek is indeed one of the most underrated treks in Nepal. Surprisingly, with all due respect to other big treks in this area, once I completed this exploration and with some research, I found out that at all the operators nearby have hardly mentioned this trek but on the contrary the Khopra Ridge trek is one of the best treks I have done in terms of moderate level treks in Nepal.
The world needs to know there is something known as Khopra Ridge in the world of Trekking. It is so scintillating and scenic.
Putting down my observation was actually very easy, not because for the moderate level of the trek, but it was due to the impact this trek had on me with its charm and unpredictability.