Api Base Camp Trek is an authentic remote trekking trail in far western Nepal. It’s remote and authentic because it’s not commercialized yet. So, there are no hotels and you’ll be living with the villagers and eating their food with them.
The trek takes you to the base of Mt. Api (7,132m) via villages like Ghusa, Siti and Khayakot.
Api Base Camp Trek is perfect for those who want to visit less touristy destinations and explore the original and local lifestyle in Nepal.
Why Api Base Camp Trek?
- Not Crowded – Vrigin Trek
- Experience the authentic lifestyle of Local People
- Majestic views of mountains like Jethi Bahurani (6,850m), Api (7,132m), Nampa (6,757m), Babai, etc.
- Explore rural villages like Ghusa, Siti and Khayakot
- Experience the harvest of the most expensive herb, Yarsagumba
- Explore and enjoy the life of shepherds
Myths of Api
- Humans can only drink stale milk. Most people of Api are devotees of Lord Shiva (Mahadev). So they keep cows for dairy products. And the fresh milk is offered to Lord Shiva and humans can only drink milk after one day. So if you ask for milk, most of them won’t have, instead you can get plenty of Mohi (Buttermilk) and Curd.
- Women die if they go to Api while they’re on Period.
- Walk on Api without shoes. Just till a decade before, people used to remove their shoes if they had to walk above the Api base camp region. Because they believe gods reside up in the mountains.
- From the start, you’ll be following a fresh water river on your Api Base Camp Trek. The name of the river is Chamelia and it is believed that a plant was found growing at the source of the river (At the bottom of Api Mountain). Thus the river got its name “Chamelia”.
- A Sheep Couple was found dead while mating in the Api region. The Api region is so pious that one cannot have any unwanted activities like having sex and polluting the environment.
Mode of Transportations to Reach Api Base Camp Trek Start Point, Makarigaad
Kathmandu to Gokuleshwor
- On Bus (Most Recommended)
You can get a bus for Darchula from Kathmandu (Gongabu Buspark). They leave everyday.
Buy a ticket for Gokuleshor, Darchula. It’ll take you around 2 days to reach Gokuleshor from Kathmandu.
- Fly and Then on Bus
You can fly to Dhangadhi from Kathmandu Airport (1.15 hours).
Then you’ll have to take a bus to Gokuleshwor from Dhangadhi. It’ll take you around an 8 hrs bus ride to reach Gokuleshwor.
- Private Jeep or Bike (Not Recommended)
From Kathmandu you can also go on your own vehicle (car or bike). But it’ll take longer than a public bus. Because the public buses run day and night as they have multiple drivers and are well known about every turns and conditions.
It can take you around 3-4 days to reach Gokuleshwor from Kathmandu and you will be tired even before starting the walking part (based on my personal experience).
Gokuleshwor to Makarigaad
From Gokuleshwor, you can get 4 wheeler (Mahindras Bolero) to Makarigaad. If you’re a smaller group, you can go on a shared one or you can book a whole vehicle if you have a large group.
It is an off-road drive. So It’ll take you around 3-4 hrs to reach Makarigaad from Gokuleshwor.
In the past people had to walk from Latinath since there was no road from there.
But the construction of new hydro power has extended the road to Makarigaad and is expected to extend further ahead from Makarigaad.
Api Base Camp Trek Itinerary (Most Recommended)
Day 1-2: Kathmandu to Gokuleshwor
As discussed above, there are multiple modes of transportation to reach Gokuleshwor. And it’ll take at least 2 days to reach Gokuleshwor either by plane and then bus or completely on bus.
Day 3: Gokulehshwor to Makarigaad to Ghusa Village
From Gokulshwor, you can reach Makarigaad in 3-4 hours on a 4 wheeler drive (off-road bumpy ride).
You can have lunch at Makarigaad and start your trek to Ghusa. Then you will have to walk on a steep uphill with no villages till Paatu. You will be walking slowly, so start as early as possible.
The trail is narrow and the hills are scary. One slip or misstep can take your life.
Walk slowly and carefully, and try to reach Ghusa village before it gets dark.
If you’re traveling on your own without a guide, then it’s better to inform someone in the village while you’re on Makarigaad. So that they can manage food and a place to stay for you.
There are no commercialized hotels on this whole trail.
(List of Important contacts for Api Base Camp Trek is at the end of this article.)
Day 4: Ghusa Village to Siti Village to Shimar
It’ll be a 6-7 hrs walk (excluding lunch time) to reach Shimar (Day end point).
So, start as early as possible. Have a light breakfast at Ghusa and start your trek. In 2 – 2.5 hrs you’ll reach Siti village (Lunch Point). You’ll probably have the best lunch of the trek. Enjoy your lunch and take a rest for no more than half an hour.
Then continue your trek. In around 40 mins from Siti, you’ll reach the last village of Api, Khayakot.
You can take a tea/water break here and then continue your trek. After crossing the Chamelia River from here, the trail is steep on stairs, narrow in some places as well.
As you climb up, you’ll feel altitude and decrease in temperature as well. On the way you’ll see some waterfalls (icy in winter) and plain pasture lands where shepherds keep their sheep during summer and monsoon.
You can sun bask here for a while. Then continue your trek.
Don’t rush, instead take your steps carefully.
After walking for around 4 hours from Khayakot, you’ll reach Shimar.
This is the place where shepherds stay throughout the year. They have a small hut where you’ll have your lunch and breakfast, a toilet and a separate hut (made of wood) where you’ll spend the night.
Day 5: Shimar to Dhauli Odhaar to Api Base Camp
The total walking hour for today will be around 5.5 hours (excluding lunch time).
Have a good breakfast at Shimar because you’ll be walking steep up for around 3.5 – 4 hours to reach your lunch point, Dhauli Odhaar.
Take a rest, have a good lunch and explore Dhauli Odhaar. It’s a huge flat land surrounded by majestic mountains like Mt. Jethi Buhari. You can get epic photos here.
From Dhauli Odhaar, It can take you around 2-2.5 hours to reach Api Base Camp. So start walking accordingly. But don’t be late.
It’s better to reach there early and go for a hike (above 100-150 mts) so that your body can acclimatize at high altitude.
Day 6: Explore Api Base Camp
Have Tea/Coffee and breakfast at around 7:30 and start walking towards Chamelia Muhan (Emerging point of Chameli River) at around 8:00 A.M.
It will take around 40 mins to 1 hr to reach Chamelia Muhan which is also the base of Mt. Api, walking across a giant flat land. The flat land is as big as 3-4 proper football grounds.
At Chamelia Muhan, there’s also a small temple where you can worship. You can enjoy the mountains so close to you.
So take pictures, explore for sometime, then return to base camp for lunch.
At around 10:00, have lunch, rest for a while and prepare for a hike to Kaali Dhunga Taal (4,200 mts.)
It’ll take around 2-2.5 hrs to reach the Lake. The trail is steep and altitude is high, so it’ll slow down your walking pace. Walk slowly and carefully.
Enjoy the 360 view of mountains from the lake. You’ll also get to see the small avalanches on Babai Himal.
If lucky, you can also see the herds of Blue Sheep in the mountains.
After exploring Kaali Dhunga Lake and enjoying the mountain view, return to base camp.
If you still have some energy left or have some snacks at the basecamp, then you can hike to the summit of a nearby hill for a mesmerizing sunset view in the mountains.
You will get a million dollar view from the top during golden hour.
Day 7: Api Base Camp to Shimar to Siti
Wake up early, have tea and freshen up (go to the toilet and wash your face if need be).
Then have a heavy breakfast at around 8:00 in the morning. Then start walking down to Shimar.
It will take around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Shimar.
At Shimar, you can have lunch.
A tip, Let the people at Shimar know that you’re coming down and tell them to prepare lunch for you. It’ll save your time.
After having lunch at Shimar, rest for 20 mins and then continue walking. Till Khayakot, it’s walking down stairs.
From Khayakot village, you’ll have to climb up a steep hill.
It’ll take you around 3 to 3.5 hours to reach Siti from Shimar.
Once you reach Siti, you can rest and explore the village. Interact with them and party as well.
There you can try sheep meat and vodka made of barley.
In the evening have a great dinner (best food of the trek) with the villagers and sleep tight.
Day 8: Siti to Ghusa to Makarigaad to Gokuleshor
Wake up early in the morning, then have tea and a heavy breakfast. And start walking towards Ghusa.
It’ll take around 2.5 hours to reach Ghusa village. You can either have lunch here or continue walking and have lunch at Makarigaad.
It’ll take you around another 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Makarigaad.
My recommendation is to have lunch at Makarigaad.
Have lunch and take a rest for a while. At the same time look for the vehicle leaving for Gokuleshwor.
It’ll take another 3-4 hours 4 wheeler bolero of Tata Sumo ride on an off road to reach Gokuleshwor. Stay the night there.
Day 9: Gokuleshwor to Dhangadhi (or Bus to Kathmandu)
From Gokuleshwor, you can either take a bus to Dhangadhi and fly to Kathmandu from Dhangadhi.
Or you can take a direct bus to Kathmandu. In 2 full days and a night bus ride, you’ll reach Kathmandu.
If you decide to fly from Dhangadhi, then you’ll have to take a bus to Dhangadhi (around an 11 hours bus ride). And stay the night there.
Day 10: Dhangadhi to Kathmandu Fly
And fly to Kathmandu from Dhangadhi.
Api Base Camp Trek Map
People of Api
Welcoming, kind, loving, caring, hard working and many more. No words from a dictionary is enough to describe the people of Api. You just need to be there to feel the feelings you get from the words and behavior of the local people.
Majority of people living here belong to Chhetri caste with surnames (last name) like Dhami and Jagari.
They follow Hindu religion and most of them are the devotees of Lord Shiva (Mahadev). Thus, every household keeps cows instead of buffalo for dairy products.
Almost everything produced by cows is holy. Its milk can be offered to Lord shiva, even urine and cow dung is used during auspicious occasions like Pooja or wedding.
But they don’t eat cow meat since it is considered as goddess and Cow is also the national animal of Nepal. So it’s also illegal to kill cows.
People of Api have their own unique language, dress, culture, tradition, music and dance.
Their language is similar to Doteli Language but they say it’s different. Nepali speakers can understand 20-30% but they can understand Nepali Language 100%.
And they also have a unique dance called Deuda, performed during auspicious occasions.
The major source of income for the people of Api region is harvesting Yarsagumba (Cordyceps – Caterpillar Fungus) and other medicinal herbs. Yarsagumba is the most expensive medicinal herb in the world.
From April to June, almost all the family members go up to the Api Base Camp to harvest Yarsagumba.
They make temporary tented camps and stay there for 2-3 months. Just by working a couple of months (harvesting Yarsagumba), they can earn money worth living the rest of the months.
People also harvest and sell other medicinal herbs like Paanch Auley, Seto Chini, etc.
Along with harvesting herbs, some are also involved in sheep farming. And sell sheeps worth $100,000 yearly.
They also use sheep wools to weave socks, sweaters and coats.
Almost everyone (Men and Women) in the village is skilled to make thread out of sheep wool and then weave socks, sweaters, coats and many other clothing items.
The People of Api also grow all the crops and vegetables for themselves and sell when they have access.
They have enough water to irrigate their crops and the cow dung is used as organic fertilizers which helps them to harvest the crop in abundance.
Major crops include corn, wheat, barley, etc. and vegetables like Kidney beans, long beans, spinach, carrots, radish, turnips and many more.
And Everything grown here is organic. They said that they haven’t used any chemicals to grow any crops in this region.
Kitchen at The Top of The House
In the Api Region, Darchula, traditionally built houses are three stories (3 floors). Their walls are built with stones and mud. Doors, windows and pillars are built with wood. And the roof is built with slate stones.
On the top floor they usually have a kitchen, dining area and a small living area. In the middle floor, they usually have sleeping rooms. And at the bottom floor they keep their animals like cows, sheep and goats.
One of the reasons to make the kitchen at the top is to prevent women from entering the kitchen while on period (menstruation period).
Most of the people here follow hindu religion and follow Lord Shiva. And they consider the kitchen as one of the pious places as well.
And the women on her period are considered impure, so they don’t allow women to enter the kitchen.
It is believed if a woman on period touches or goes to sacred places like kitchen or temple, then god will be angry and some bad thing can happen in the family.
And if they made a kitchen on the middle floor and sleeping rooms at the top, then the women on period would have to go through the kitchen to reach the sleeping room which could anger the god.
Scientifically Designed Houses in Api
Another scientific reason could be, women could reach the sleeping rooms easily when it’s in the lower floor rather on the top of the house. It’d be helpful to womens as they feel weakness while on period.
Also at the top floor, there’re lots of holes from where cold air could easily come inside the room and make it colder. Also during the rainy season and in the snowy winter, water could enter inside the house from the stone roof, which could make it difficult to sleep inside the house.
But if the sleeping rooms are in the middle, then they could fix all these problems and it’s also warmer than the top floor.
Thus, this could be the most ingenious designs by the people of the past.
Food and Accommodation on Api Base Camp Trek
If you’re not planning for a camping trek
Unlike other trekking regions like Everest and Annapurna regions, there are no hotels or tea houses for food and accommodation in Api Base Camp trek.
You’ll have to completely depend on villagers. And the villagers are kind and will gladly help you.
Food in Api Base Camp Trek
When you’re having food in the village, for lunch and dinner, you will mostly eat rajma dal (Kidney Beans lentil), Rice and vegetable curry (seasonal vegetables like Potato, Spinach, Barela, etc.) and ghee. Occasionally you could get to eat sheep meat if you get lucky.
To drink you can get plenty of buttermilk (Mohi). You can also get Vodka made of Barley (Only recommended to drink while you return from Basecamp).
For breakfast, you can get roti tarkari (chapati and vegetable curry), puri tarkari, noodle soup, herbal tea, etc.
During the Api Base Camp trek, you will be passing through 3 major villages, Ghusa, Siti and Khayakot.
Khayakot is the last village, from there you’ll have to depend on local shepherds for food. And you can get almost all the food you got in the village.
Accommodation in Api Base Camp Trek
Same as the food options, you’ll be living in the villagers house as long as you’re in the village.
You’ll get a normal bed with a thin mattress and a couple of blankets (which could be smelly sometimes). And most of the time you could have a common bed (giant bed where 4-5 people have to sleep together) and rarely individual beds.
Once you’re away from villages, you’ll be living in a shepherd’s place.
They’re mostly temporary huts built with stone, mud and wood. Most of them have plastic roofs. Kitchen and sleeping place is mostly in the same room (no separation). You’ll have to sleep on the floor, mostly above wooden planks or dry fodder. And then thin matt above it (If lucky), and a few blankets to cover yourself.
So, it’s better to wear your warm jackets while sleeping.
Better if you’ve your own sleeping bag.
On a camping trek
If you’re on a camping trek, then your fooding and accommodation will be managed by the tour/trek operator.
They can provide breakfast, lunch and dinner based on your preferences and available resources.
Individual tents or group tents can be managed, which will include sleeping mattresses and sleeping bags for everyone.
Best Time to Visit Api Base Camp
August to Early November: Lost’s of Festivals
This is the season of festivals in Nepal. Weather is amazing, skies are clear, forests are green and temperature is favorable (not too cold and not too hot).
At this time, people have harvested their crops (mainly rice) and are ready to celebrate the festivals happily.
Those who are living away from home (villages) return home and start making preparations. They clean and paint the houses, clear the bushes from the trails and do maintenance to welcome new guests in their home and villages.
Along with it, families gather together to cook delicious foods, brew wine and visit relatives to take blessings.
Everyone is in a happy mood and would love to invite anyone to celebrate together.
This is the perfect time to experience the authentic local culture and hospitality of Nepal.
March – April: Rhododendron Blooms
When you travel during this season, you’ll see the hills of Nepal covered in the Red Carpet of Rhododendron.
Rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal and blooms during this season. Though the season is dry, the varieties of flowers blooming together makes the trail exciting.
This is also the time where Wild Honey bees collect nectar from the herbs and make Mad Honey.
May to July: During Yarsagumba (Caterpillar Fungus) Harvest
During this season, lots of people will be staying in the Api Base Camp region making it like a bazaar.
People gather to harvest the world’s most expensive herb, Yarsagumba.
So, you will be able to see the harvesting process and trade of it.
Also during this time you’ll see lush green pastures and wild flowers blooming over it. You’ll also get to experience the shepherd’s life with hundreds of sheeps together.
Thus, it is the perfect time for those who love green forests, waterfalls and rural nomadic lifestyle.
Except Winter and Mid Monsoon, you can do Api Base Camp Trek all around the year.
Our Experience from Api Base Camp Trek (with 3 First Time Trekkers)
Kathmandu to Patan
With excitement, we started our journey from Kathmandu on a Motorbike.
We were excited because we had planned for this trek for a long time and finally we were on the road.
Our first stop was Manakamana temple as Gauravs (friend) parents wanted to visit there.
When we reached Manakamana Cable Car, it was around 9:00 in the morning and Uncle and Aunty were waiting for us.
But the queue to get into the cable car was exhausting. I had not seen any long queues in my lifetime.
It took us around 5 hours standing in line before taking a cable car ride to Manakamana.
Then in the temple I met my friend’s dad who is also the pujari, so I didn’t have to get in line again to get into the temple.
After completing the puja at Manakamana temple, we had to again get into line to get down to the highway. It took us another 3 hours.
Finally at 8:00 at night we reached the cable car station on the highway, then had our dinner.
Then Gaurav’s parents took a bus to Butwal and we went on a bike.
Though our plan was to reach Butwal, we decided to stop at Narayangadh as it was dark and the condition of the road was not too good beyond Narayangadh to Butwal.
At around 9:30, we started looking for a place to sleep.
While searching for a good budget hotel, we met a brother who was from my village. So, he gave a room with a discount and stayed there.
Bike Ride in Terai
The next morning, we woke up early and had a cup of coffee and continued our journey.
Our plan for today was to reach Nepalgunj anyway.
As we moved ahead from Narayangadh, the road started getting worse.
It was probably the worst highway of Nepal. We felt it as we were on a Motorbike.
But the construction work was at a good pace. So I think in a year or two the highway will be bigger and all the construction work will be completed.
Hope this wish will be transferred into reality soon.
After crossing Butwal, the road started getting better and we also took a short break on the way.
We wanted to eat some local food as we were fed up with the modern foods like Pizza, Burger, Chowmein, etc.
We were looking for a place where we could get local delicacies like Samosa, Pakauda, Nimkin, tea, etc.
But unfortunately we couldn’t find any, all the restaurants were selling rich kids food.
This made us think how rich Nepali have become, eating international western cuisine and leaving our local cuisine to disappear.
Luckily after a long ride we saw a small shop and stopped there.
Then there we served us local chaat. But even it was mordenized. He had added chowmein on chaat.
ANyway a new delicacy, hybrid of local and modern.
Then we continued our journey to the Far West.
On the way we stopped for another break, where we had local fish from the Rapti river. It was really delicious.
After taking a short break, we continued our journey.
The sun was about to set so we had to move fast as we had to cross Banke National Park. And the fear of Tiger was huge in the west. After the tiger ate peoples on Bardiya National Park.
So we moved fast while there was sunlight.
Finally, in the evening we reached Nepalgunj. It was already dark.
We stopped at a bike washing center and gave the bike to clean and waited for our friends.
They’re coming to pick us up.
After a while Bibash and Bibek came and we went to Bibashs House.
I Got changed and went to a cafe for a coffee talk.
And planned for our trek.
We’re going after a day’s rest.
Then we went home and had dinner and slept as we were tired.
The next day we went for some snacks shopping that we were supposed to take on a trek.
Then in the evening, we left Nepalgun and moved towards Gularia, Bardia, Gaurav’s house.
There we met Sagar who was waiting for us and also going to Api Base Camp Trek with us.
In the evening we bought some clothes and a bag for Sagar, then planned for the next day.
We also met Prabin and went to eat the famous Leg Piece at Khairapur.
It was really delicious. THe spices were amazing.
Then, at home we had dinner and Sagar also brought his trekking things at Gauravs house so that we can start our journey together and early.
And Bibash had decided to Come early in the morning.
Bardia to Darchula
The next morning, we woke up early as we had planned to start our journey to Darchula. It was a long and new road for us.
But Bibash arrived at 9 in the morning, then we started our journey at around 10:00.
As it was late, we decided to go via a shortcut which we had heard a day earlier.
But the road was bad. It was a gravel road full of dust.
First we reached Attaria, refueled our bike and moved towards Dadeldhura.
At Budhi Tola, Kailali, we stopped for a short break. There, we decided to have Noodle Soup and also bought some bananas and oranges, then continued our journey.
Our plan was to reach Gokuleshwor, Darchula but we started late so we may have to stop somewhere closer.
After some time, then the sun was about to set and we started to see the first glimpse of the Api-Saipal Mountain range.
A little bit ahead we found a place where we could stop.
The place was famous for Kheer (Pudding).
Many people stopped for the pudding.
We ordered tea and enjoyed the majestic view of the mountain range.
Then we continued our journey as it was getting dark.
Now, it started getting cold as it got dark.
Now, we had to ride blindly on the road.
Finally at around 8:00 at night we reached Paatan, Baitadi and decided to stay the night there.
We asked the police about the place to stay. He showed us the way and we started getting there.
After looking at a couple of hotels, we decided to stay in one of them.
Then we booked the room and ordered our dinner.
For dinner, we had chicken curry and dal bhat.
Then we went to sleep as we had another long day tomorrow.
We had to ride half a day and hike another half day.
Patan to Gokuleshwor to Makarigaad to Ghusa Village
We woke up at around 6:20 in the morning and then freshen up. While others were waking up, I went to the roof of the hotel to explore the view of the place we were staying at.
Because yesterday we had arrived at night, so we had no clue about the city, village and surrounding view.
When I looked behind the hotel from the roof, I found out the reason behind the name of the place, Patan.
In the local language, Patan means vast flat land.
And surprisingly, there was vast flat agricultural lands with villages, just behind the city area.
So I wanted to take a picture of that place and went to the room to bring my camera.
And came back to the roof along with Gaurav.
We took a few pictures of Patan, looked around the city and came back to the room and told other friends about the view.
Then we packed our bags and came to the dining area for breakfast.
For breakfast, we ordered plain roti chapati with vegetable curry before going to sleep, yesterday.
But unfortunately, the vegetable shops were not open that early, so we told them to improvise with a plain omelet instead of curry. And also ordered coffee for all of us.
At around 7:15, everyone came into the dining hall, then our breakfast also arrived at 7:30.
After having breakfast, we paid our bills and got ready to start our journey to Darchula.
At around 8:25, we left Patan, Baitadi and moved towards Gokuleshwor.
The road was quite good, though it was a hilly road with lots of turns. Some places where the roads were shady, a thin layer of ice was formed due to the cold and lack of sun. It made the roads slippery.
So we had to drive slowly and carefully in such places.
Darchula, Last District of Nepal
At last, at around 10:30 we reached Gokuleshwor, Darchula.
There, we decided to have a small tea break.
While we were ordering something to eat at a small tea shop, some locals gathered near us. Some were curious to see our bikes and some really excited to see tourism getting better in Far Western Nepal.
They talked with us for a while, shared their experiences and also thanked us for visiting Api.
Then we had milk tea and fried local river fish.
We left Gokuleshwor at around 11:00. According to locals, it’d take us around 3 hours to get to Makari Gad. And they also said that the road condition was fine and it should not be a difficult ride.
So, keeping the time in our mind, we moved towards Makari Gaad. Because we also had to start trekking the same day.
After moving around 200 mts from Gokuleshwor city, we left the highway and took a right turn towards Makari Gaad.
Now, the off road begins.
Though it was off road, it was not so bad.
Following the Chamelia river and driving over potholes filled with water, we reached Latinath at around 12:30.
Latinath is famous for the temple of Lord Shiva.
Most of the people in this region are devotees of Shiva (Mahadev). And to worship in this temple, devotees from India and Nepal visit here.
After crossing Latinath, the road started getting worse. It seemed like the road had been recently constructed.
There were lots of rocks and it was slippery due to small pebbles and water flowing in the road.
Couple of times we had to get off the bike, just to push it ahead.
With struggles, we reached Makari Gaad at around 1:40 P.M.
There we did not want to waste much time as we had to walk to reach the destination, Ghusa, on an unknown terrain.
So, first we asked for the place where we could keep our bikes and also ordered lunch.
After keeping a bike in a nearby shop, we freshen up and changed clothes then waited for our lunch.
At around 2:00, we had our lunch prepared by local hotel owner, Mahesh Dhami (Contact Detail is at the end of this page).
For lunch we had Raajma Dal (Kidney Beans lentil), Bhaat (Rice) and vegetable curry.
After lunch, we paid the bills, left some clothes and bike gears at the hotel, then asked for directions to Ghusa and Left Makari Gaad at 2:40 P.M.
Bike Rests, We Walk
According to his direction, we started our walk to Ghusa Village.
First, we crossed the first suspension bridge. Everyone was excited and started taking pictures and videos as it was the official start of “Api Base Camp Trek”.
As soon as we crossed the bridge, we had to climb a steep hill. The inclination was almost 80 degrees.
It was really difficult for our first time trekker friends.
Later our friend Bibash told us that he had a thought of quitting the trek and returning home.
But we slowly continued walking on trails.
While climbing the hill, we also met some people from nearby Khandeshwori village. Some of them were carrying oranges on their backs.
When asked, they told us that there was a program on the next day at the VDC office, and they were taking food for that function. They also invited us to visit their village.
And we parted our ways once we climbed the steep trail.
Now, we had to walk on a less steep trail which was full of dust and stones as the construction was going for the road.
Almost Returned Home
Walking was really difficult for Bibash. We could see in his eyes.
He used to take breaks frequently, sometimes change clothes, fix shoes and socks.
And we used to motivate him by taking smaller breaks and drinking water quite often.
On the way we also met a few women carrying parts of big steel pipes. We asked curiously about the thing they were carrying on their backs, and they told us that it was an electricity pole for their village, Khandeshwori.
We talked with them on the trail and walked slowly towards our destination.
I felt how strong they were compared to us who were having difficulty moving their body with a small backpack. Whereas they were carrying 2-3 times heavier than us.
Huge respect to all the people living in these areas.
Later we had to cross the camellia river and walk on another hill to reach Ghusa and the women had to go on the same hill to reach Khandeshwori. So, we parted ways from there.
After crossing the river, a steep climb started on a narrow trail.
The walk on the trail started getting scarier as we climbed up.
Because the hill was naked, no trees and very very steep. One misstep could take our life.
So, we started climbing slowly and carefully.
We took many small water breaks.
The walk was difficult for our friends as they were used to living in Terai cities (flat lands).
We also had no other option than walking until we reached Ghusa Village. There are no hotels, shops on the way.
On the way we met a few villagers resting on the trail. We also took a break there and talked with them for some time.
They’re also back from Makari Gaad after buying rice. And told us that they can grow corn, millet, wheat, buckwheat and vegetables in the village, but not the rice.
So to buy the rice they go to Makari Gaad 2-3 times a month.
With them there were some kids as well, so we shared some chocolate/toffees with them.
They also told us that they were from a nearby village called Paatu (village before Ghusa).
So, we started walking together on the trail.
Ready to Marry, If agree to Carry
On the way they also told us about their lifestyle in the Village.
They were also teasing Bibash as he was having difficulty walking. Though their language was different, we could understand their meaning.
After walking together for a while, few parted ways to their village before Paatu village.
There we also filled our water bottles as there was a small spring water tap. And continued our journey.
Later, Bibash told us that he was feeling so tired and difficult to walk on that section that he would happily marry and make his wife if any girl had offered to carry his backpack.
By this, you imagine how hard the climb was.
Walking slowly and carefully we reached Paatu Village at around 5:40 in the evening.
Then we parted ways with the rest of the villagers and continued as fast as we could towards Ghusa.
Because the sun was already set and it was getting dark and cold.
According to the villagers it was not that far from Paatu.
Dark and Scared
By now we had also contacted the local Guide of Ghusa and also told us about our arrival. So he had managed a place to have dinner and sleep.
In the dark, we started walking slowly towards Ghusa.
Bibash was in last, Gaurav in the middle and Sagar and I were in front. We planned to reach there as quickly as possible so that we could find out about our arrangements and also could call the villagers if we needed help.
Finally at around 6:25 we reached the first house of Ghusa village where we had to spend the night.
It was a small shop or ex-village representative. They showed us the room where we were sleeping.
By now Gaurav and Bibash also arrived. Then we went to the room, changed our clothes and came to the water tap to freshen up.
The facility was very minimal. The room had a big bed (2 beds joined together), with a thin mattress and a couple of blankets.
There is no electricity beyond Ghusa. And mobile networks also rarely work. (No chance of Wifi or Data internet).
The local guide had also managed food for us.
We were so hungry and tired that we just wanted to have food and sleep.
At around 8:40, we had our dinner, Raajma Dal, Bhat and Vegetable curry of Aaloo and Barela.
First Official Information of The Api Trails
Their Bibash wanted to have Khukri Rum as he was feeling too tired.
But the shop did not have that rum, instead they had Virgin rum. So he brought that and we had a small peg of it with the Local Guide, Harish Dhami.
As we were having dinner and discussing our plans with the locals. Harish told us that everyone from Api Base Camp and Dhauli Odhar has returned to the village. So we would need to take someone to manage fooding and a place to stay for us.
He also told us that there were no sign boards on the trail, so we could get lost as well.
And suggested we take some locals or him as a guide.
He told us about his fees and also told us to make a decision before sleeping as he also had to make preparations for the trek.
So, after dinner, we went to our rooms and four of us decided to take him as our guide but will need to help us in case of any need.
We told him our decision and our budget. He accepted our proposal and invited us for breakfast the next morning.
Then he went to his house, and we also went to sleep without any delay.
Ghusa to Siti Village (Lunch) to Shimar
At around 6:00, I woke up after hearing the bell rings and donkeys walking outside. Then I went to the toilet and brushed my teeth as well.
While I was brushing my teeth, a shopkeeper also arrived. When I saw him going to the kitchen I asked whether he could make tea for us.
Then he told us he would happily make herbal tea and prepare warm water for us. This shopkeeper is also the present representative of the V.D.C. (Village Development Committee).
Soon another shopkeeper also arrived and told us that he was also going with us.
And told us he is the owner of a hotel at the Api Base Camp.
Later we found out he was the ex-representative (ex woda Adhyachhya) and agreed to go with us when he found out that we were planning to stay 2 nights at the base camp. Otherwise he wouldn’t go if we’re not staying at least 2 days.
After meeting them, I went to the room and woke everyone up.
Then they came down and our tea and warm water also arrived.
So we had a good herbal tea at Ghusa at around 7:00 in the morning.
After everyone was ready, we called Harish and started walking towards his house.
Real Lifestyle and Hospitality of Api
When we reached there, he was cooking breakfast for us.
Harish’s house was almost at the top of the village. From there we could see the whole village and Khandeshwori village across the Chameli river.
We met Harish’s parents and children at his house. They’re really happy to see us.
His house was traditionally built as a 3 storey house, with kitchen at the top, sleeping rooms in the middle and cow/goat shed at the bottom.
At 8:30 after breakfast was ready, Harish invited us inside the house.
There was roti (chapati) made of corn flour, potato fry curry and buttermilk (mohi) for our breakfast.
It was simple but too delicious. We enjoyed it a lot.
After having breakfast, we asked for the price of the breakfast. In return he told us to pay any amount we feel okay. Because they didn’t have a rate for the food.
So, we decided to pay for breakfast and his salary at the end of the trek.
Then we left Ghusa at around 9:00 and walked towards Siti Village.
The trail started getting steep after we left Ghusa.
Very Strong People
On the way we met locals on their daily chores like bringing fodders, firewood and working in the fields. They’re so strong, kind and curious.
Whenever we met someone, we used to greet each other with Namaste. Then they would reply and ask where we were from and where we were going.
We used to reply that we were from Kathmandu and exploring Api.
Then they would say that it’s cold up there so don’t go.
They’re telling us not to go because they cared for us. They said it because the cold could make us sick. With mixed feelings, like why they are telling us to not go and their love for us, we continued our journey slowly and carefully.
Electrolyte = Energy Drink
At 9:15 we reached Naali village, where we took a water break.
Still Bibash had difficulty in walking the trails. So, Harish gave him Jeevanjal (electrolyte) which could give him strength to walk.
After a short break we continued our journey.
On the way I asked Harish about the lifestyle of the people of Api.
And he told us that the primary income of people living in Api was harvesting Yarsagumba and other medicinal herbs like Paanch Auley and Seto Chini.
They also kept sheeps in huge numbers which are sold in Pokhara and Kathmandu during festivals.
Similarly the people of Api are skilled in making clothes from sheep’s wool.
And they grow everything organically. And they can grow almost every crop like corn, wheat, barley, millet, kidney beans, spinach, etc. except rice.
It was really exciting to learn about the people of Api.
Eating Chook with Locals
On the way we also met a group of villagers who were resting at the top of the hill. They were eating some snacks.
We also went there and talked with them and took a short break.
As I was curious to know what they were eating, I pointed and asked about it.
They told me it was a Chook. I was amazed because it was white in color like condensed Sugar (Mishri).
For us Chook meant condensed lemon juice.
We usually make Chook after taking juice out of lemon and boiling it. It condenses and becomes black in color. That way we could keep lemon juice for a long time. And use it as a lemon whenever we need it for sour taste.
But here, Chook was in white color.
Then one grandma gave some to me.
When it came to my hand, I smiled foolishly because it was lemon flesh mixed with sugar.
So, here they used to call Chook to Lemon where we call Amilo.
So, it was just a difference in language.
We also gave them some chocolates and we continued our journey to Siti village.
At around 10:20, we reached Arukhod village. From there, Siti village could be seen and looked nearby.
But in reality it took us another hour to reach Siti.
On the way, we heard some music being played with traditional drums in Siti village. So, I asked Harish about it. And he said that there’s a wedding ceremony in 3 days. So the music is for that celebration.
I also got to know that they usually have a party for 5 days during the wedding.
It was really amazing to know that, because in major cities usually the party lasts just for a day or two.
They’re pretty rich, culturally and by heart.
The Best Food of Api Base Camp Trek
Finally, at around 11:10 we reached Siti village. Just before reaching the village, there’s a steep climb which was tiring.
At Siti we decided to have lunch at Devendra’s House (a local villager).
He started preparing food for us. At that time we sun basked on the courtyard.
Devendra’s mother also brought us the walnuts they grew.
So we started breaking it and snacking on it. It was really tasty as it was organic and we were hungry as well.
While we were there, we met other villagers as well. Most of them were going/coming from work. And most of them have something on their back.
When I asked what it was. He showed it to me. It was a giant knife they used for everything, for cutting firewood, cutting fodders or for cutting meat.
It was really unique which I had never seen anywhere else.
True Meaning of Community
I talked with him for a while. And later found out that he was going to bring firewood for the family which was having a wedding ceremony as a help.
This culture was similar to my village, where every family in the village brings firewood to the family on occasion. Because during such festivals they have to cook lots of food for the whole village. And everything is cooked on firewood.
Thus, this little help becomes a huge help to the family organizing the event.
This is the system you can see in almost all the rural villages in Nepal.
This made me feel how close we were though we live miles apart.
Finally at around 12:30, Devendra invited us inside for Lunch.
For lunch, he had prepared Rice, rajma daal, Saag (Spinach), Bhaang achaar, mula gajar salad (organic Radish and Carrot), mohi (buttermilk) and special meat of sheep. He also poured the ghee over the rice.
It was too delicious, probably the best meal of the whole trek.
We were so full that we had to rest for another 20 minutes before we hit the trail.
Before leaving the village, we asked for the bill (price of our food) and surprisingly it’s cheaper than we thought. For the whole meal he charged Rs. 350 per person. Rs. 250 for the Organic vegetable Dal – Bhat and Rs. 100 for Sheep meat.
He also said, if we feel expensive then we could pay as per our own price.
But for full Organic food in such a remote place, that price is reasonable. And we should support local people like them instead of fancy restaurants where a cup of coffee could cost more.
He also invited us to stay there to experience the wedding ceremony of rural Siti village while returning from Api Base Camp.
We thanked him for the invitation and wished him good luck on continuing homestay service, then left Siti at around 1:10.
From Siti village we had to descend. And it was really steep down. For now it was easier to walk, but when we thought of returning it made us cry inside. Because, it would be tiring steep uphill while we return.
At around 1:40 we reached the last village, Khayakot.
There we rested for a while and basked in the sun.
But we still had to walk a long way before we reached our day end point, Shimar. So, we continued walking after we filled our water bottle.
There we had to cross the Chamelia river over a bridge.
Then we started ascending (climbing up) on a newly built trail.
In Search of Work
Now, we had to climb up the trails through the forest. On the way we met people working on building trails. We used to greet each other and ask where they’re from.
Surprisingly, they used to be from nearby villages of Kathmandu. They had come far from home just for work.
And they used to live in temporary sheds like caves or tents. And each one was getting paid Rs. 800 per day to build those stairs.
Some of the places were really dangerous, it’s narrow, slippery and covered in ice.
Thanks to these hard working people. Most of the narrow and dangerous places were constructed and proper stone/concrete stairs were built.
Hope this whole trail will be built soon. Because still there are places which are dangerous as they’re destroyed by landslides and floods.
On the trails, Sagar, Gaurav and I walked ahead, and Bibash was accompanied by Harish.
We took multiple water breaks on the trails. Whenever we felt energyless, we used to eat coconut biscuits and some chocolates and drink water.
There was no scarcity of drinking water. We just used to fill our bottle with spring water. It’s normal to us, Nepalese.
At one point we did not know where to go. There’s no sign and two ways.
So, we believed in our gut instincts and took the left way which took us via a jungle on the banks of Chameli river.
On the river we could even see a wooden bridge and a small trail across the river. But it didn’t seem the right way. So, we started climbing up through the forest and reached the previous path.
There was a giant flat grassland and we could even see the top of Mount Api from there.
On the trails there we even saw the footprint of human activities i.e. bottles of Red Bull and wrappers of chips and chocolates. Then we said this must be the correct way because that rubbish must be thrown by the people (tourists) traveling Api (not by locals).
How sad it was to see the rubbish thrown that way. It was such a pious and pure place, but the people so called civilized and educated have started leaving their bad prints over there.
“So, if you’re visiting anywhere, let it be as it was. If you can, clean it but don’t ruin it.”
There we laid down on the grassland for a while, sunbasked and enjoyed the view of mount Api.
After a while we decided to move on.
While we were walking, we heard a faint whistling sound but couldn’t see anyone.
So we thought it might just be random noise in the forest and kept walking. But again I heard the whistling sound. This time it was louder than before.
So we stopped and looked back, there we saw Bibash and Harish in the distance.
We waited for them and rested for a while and continued our walk.
Still we had to travel for around 2.5-3 hours more to reach Shimar.
Will we reach on time?
So, Sagar and I decided to walk a little bit faster as Bibash was walking slowly and they also rested for a while with trail makers, having coffee.
As we were walking, we passed through forests, small rivers and groups of people working on trails.
Now, the sun was setting. We could only see the sunlight on the Mountains.
Slowly it started getting darker and colder.
So we increased our pace of walking. If we could before getting dark, then we could order food and check out our resting place more carefully, that’s why we left Gaurav and Bibash with Harish and we moved ahead.
It was dark and cold. In the distance we saw fire, so we moved towards it.
There was a shepherd’s hut and a couple of people were around the fire, talking and drinking tea.
Finally, at around 5:45, we reached Shimar.
Then we asked for our rooms, and he showed us the way to the newly built wooden hut.
We moved towards it. It was a 2 room wooden hut.
1 room was for us. And inside there was just a thin black mat and a couple of blankets.
Seeing that I said “This Nights going to be long” to myself.
Then we kept our bags in one corner, changed our clothes, wore warm jackets and went to the fireplace.
There we had hot water and tea first and started talking with the locals.
They asked about us and our journey. And asked where our remaining friends were. We told them they were on the way and will be there soon.
At around 6:30, Bibash, Gaurav and Harish also arrived and joined us at the fireplace after keeping their bags in our hut.
After everyone had 2-3 cups of tea and warm water, we were called to have dinner at around 7:00.
We were starving from our walk, so we went inside the kitchen.
For Dinner, the shepherd’s family prepared Rajma Dal, Rice and Veg Curry made of Potato and Cabbage.
The food felt really tasty, we ate it well except for Bibash. As he was preparing to drink barley wine.
After having dinner, we went to the fireplace to warm up before sleep.
We drank some warm water, filled our bottle with hot water and went to bed at around 8:00.
As we were aware of the sleeping condition, we wore all the warm clothes and laid on the wooden floor with a thin mat. Then pulled 2 thin blankets to keep the rest of our body warm.
After a while Bibash and Harish came inside the room. As soon as Bibash came inside the room he was shocked.
He was shocked because there was nothing on the floor except a thin mat.
But what could we do, this is the way of life people are living here. And we need to adapt according to the situation.
So I told him to wear all the warm clothes and sleep.
He did the same and slept quite well.
Shimar to Dhauli Odhaar to Api Base Camp
Luckily, We were alive.
I woke up at around 7:20 in the morning. Since the hut did not have windows, we didn’t know whether it was the time to wake up or not.
After waking up, the first thing to do was to go to the toilet. And the water was completely frozen, so we were forced to use toilet paper now.
Anyway, everyone started waking up and freshening up.
Then we went straight to the fireplace to warm us up. We had a couple of cups of hot water and tea there, and waited for our breakfast.
At around 8:15, our breakfast, roti (chapati) and vegetable curry was ready.
It was fresh and delicious. And we also needed the energy to reach our lunch spot, Dhauli Odhaar.
In between there is no one or no place to stop for tea or any food.
Even at Dhauli Odhaar, a porter whom we met here in Shimar was going with us to cook lunch for us.
So, after having breakfast, we went to the room and packed our bags and got ready to continue our journey.
Finally at around 9:20, we left Shimar.
By now, porter dai (brother) had already moved towards Dhauli Odhaar before us.
And with Us, the ex representative from Ghusa was going to Api Base Camp. Because he was the one who was going to take care of our Fooding and Lodging at the Api Base Camp.
Only he had the hut, during this time. Everyone else only keeps a temporary hut around Api Base Camp during the harvesting of Yarsagumba.
The Temple Where Two Rivers Meet
After walking for around half an hour on the trails through forests, icy waters, we reached Dumala Temple.
In the language spoken by people of Api, Dumala means a place where two rivers meet. And the temple is also located on the meeting point of two rivers (one river is Api and forgot the name of the other one).
It is believed that, anyones wish will be fulfilled by the god. But you will have to come to this temple with a sheep once your wish is fulfilled.
We rested there for a while and worshiped the god Duamala, without asking for any wishes.
Then we continued our journey.
As the trail was steep at an altitude above 3,000 m, the walk was really tiring.
Along the way we had to take short breaks, energize ourselves by drinking water, eating coconut biscuits and toffees.
Slowly but continuously we walked along the Chamelia river.
Bibash was coming slowly with Harish and the owner of the hotel at Api Base Camp.
Finally, after a tiring uphill walk we reached Dhauli Odhaar at around 12:40.
There, our porter dai, who had already arrived, was cooking lunch for us.
As the wind was blowing strongly outside the hut, we stayed inside even though it was smoky.
With fire, it was warmer inside. And we also drank some tea and warm water, while the food was being prepared.
Soon, the rest of our friends also arrived. Bibash looked exhausted and went outside to sleep in the sun.
At around 1:00, our lunch was also ready. As we were starving, we got ready as soon as cooking was finished.
Three, we ate Raajma Dal (Kidney Beans Lentil) and Bhat (Rice) for lunch.
Though it was not the best food, we ate a lot.
After lunch, we went to explore the flat lands of Dhauli Odhaar.
In Search of Reflections
We were surprised to see such a huge flat land at this altitude.
The whole flat land was almost the size of 3-4 football grounds.
Our Guide, Harish, took us to the spot where we could get the cool shots of Mountains reflection in the water.
We took pictures there with the background of Mt. Jethi Bahurani.
The view from there was really spectacular.
You could see high mountains all around you.
And just imagine, how this place would look like with hundreds of people living here during the harvesting season of Yarsagumba.
It’d look like a bazaar.
In some places we could also see the remnants of the temporary huts.
After exploring Dhauli Odhaar, we went to the hut where we had lunch, then paid for the food and said thanks to dai for coming with us and cooking food for us.
For our Dal Bhat, we paid Nrs. 300 per person.
Then we continued our journey to Api Base Camp at around 2:20
From Dhauli Odhaar, it’s not that far to base camp, the trail is really steep and the high altitude also makes it difficult to breathe and walk.
So, we continued our journey slowly.
As Bibash was slow, he was with Harish but Sagar, Gaurav and I went in front after asking for the direction of our hut.
We followed the path on the banks of Chamelia river. Then climbed the hill, crossed a small thin tower which seemed like a weather station, and arrived in the middle of another giant flat land at Api Base Camp.
We were almost at the end of the trail. From there we could only climb the mountains. Yet we didn’t see any hut.
So we decided to wait there for a while.
After some time, we felt like we heard the sound of a whistle. So I decided to climb a nearby rock and look for the sound.
I saw Harish calling us. The sound was not so clear as we were far and the sound of wind was also making it unclear to hear.
After talking louder for several minutes, we found out that we had crossed the hut and we had to return back to him.
We did the same. So we had come around 15 mins away from our resting hut.
In the hut, the hut owner had already started a fire and tea was being made.
So we put our bag inside the hut and sat near the fire at around 4:00 P.M.
As usual, it was a small hut having walls of stone and mud, and a roof of Jasta (Steel plate).
Inside the hut was nothing much, a room with a kitchen and sleeping area together.
Sleeping area had a wooden floor and some dried grass was over it. That’s it.
While we were enjoying the warmth of the fire, our tea was ready.
The Acclimatization Hike
After having tea, I decided to hike on a nearby hill.
Because we’re at a high altitude (around 3,900m), we need to acclimatize our body at that height (if possible 150-200m above the resting place). And also to see the sunset view of the Himalayas.
Along with me, Sagar also decided to go on a hike. Rest of the friends stayed there.
At around 4:50, we left the hut and started hiking towards the hill.
As we were climbing higher, the sun was setting and getting darker.
But the golden rays of light in white mountains were really out of this world view.
After climbing around 150m, we decided to stay there and enjoy the view.
If we had started hiking half an hour we could have hiked to the top, but it was already dark, so we planned to hike to the top the next day.
From there, the view was surreal.
Almost around 270 degrees you could see golden mountains.
We enjoyed the view and also captured some in our cameras and started climbing down.
At around 6:00 P.M, we reached our hut at Api Base Camp.
Our dinner was being prepared and others were enjoying the fire.
While enjoying the fire, we had a couple of cups of hot water and tea. Bibash and Harish decided to have a local wine they brought from Siti.
I had a couple of sips and also told them not to drink much as we were at high altitude. Along with high altitude, dehydration also can make you sick.
Our hut owner also cooked some sheep meat that he bought at Khayakot village and gave it to us.
Then at around 8:00, our dinner was ready. For dinner we had Rajma Dal, Bhat, Vegetable Curry (Potato, Spinach and Barela) and some Sheep Meat as well.
After dinner we stayed near the fire and decided to sleep at around 9:15.
In such remote places, you can’t stay longer even if you want to because there is not electricity, no internet or network and no other people to talk to.
So, you go to sleep early.
As a bed, we had wooden planks, with some dried grass over it and a couple of blankets to keep us warm.
So, we put on all our warm clothes to keep us warm and went to bed. And also advised Bibash not to drink alcohol much but drink as much water as possible. Because alcohol causes dehydration which might make you sick (and get altitude sickness) at high altitude.
Then, we tried to sleep.
After a bit, at around 10:00 P.M. Bibash joined at the edge of the bed. And before sleeping, he ordered the owner of the shed to put off the fire as it was making him uneasy to breathe because of the smoke.
In a while he put off the fire and went to sleep.
Experiencing High Altitude
In the Middle of the night, Bibash started mumbling. He was saying that he was freezing because of the bad blankets and bed.
He asked for another blanket with the shed owner. So, he gave him what he was using.
Still he was feeling cold and started saying “Have we come here to enjoy or to die? Let me live tonight, tomorrow I’ll go down anyway.”
He also scolded us as we were just sleeping without complaining. And he thought that we were comfortable with the available facilities and sleeping well, letting him freeze.
But he didn’t know that we’re feeling similar, we just didn’t complain because there was no other option.
Complaining wouldn’t make us warm or give us good beds and rooms like a hotel or our own house. Before coming to this trek we were prepared with this mindset.
Another thing that might have made Bibash difficult to sleep was high altitude and drinking alcohol at that height.
So we told him to go near the fire and stay there for a while.
Thus, he went to wake up the shed owner and asked him to make fire again.
Angrily, the shed owner woke up and told “Earlier you told me to put it off and now you’re asking me to make fire in the middle of the night.”
Anyway, he made the fire and gave him some tea with herbs and stayed there for a while. And then the owner told him to go back to sleep as it was the middle of the night. But Bibash was not willing to.
So, the owner gave him the last blanket he had and sent him to bed.
Only then, he slept.
It’s really a long night.
Api Base Camp to Chameli Muhan to Kaali Dhunga Taal to Shimar
After a long night, I woke up at around 7:20 in the morning. By this time our shed/hotel owner had already woken up and had brought water from a nearby spring. And was kneading flour to make breakfast.
He offered me some warm water and herbal tea.
Then I came out, the mountains were shining like a diamond in the sky. I was mesmerized by the view for a while.
Then went to the hills in search of a toilet.
There’s no toilet at the base camp, so we had to go outside. Hope they’ll make some permanent toilets this year.
After some time, other friends started to wake up as well.
Then at around 8:20 our breakfast was ready. For breakfast we ate Puri (Fried Bread) and Vegetable curry.
Kaali Dhunga Lake or Chameli Muhan?
While having breakfast we discussed where to go first; Kaali Dhunga lake or Chamelia Muhan.
At last, we decided to go to Chameli Muhaan first, then have lunch and walk to Kaali Dhunga Lake.
Bibash was the last one to wake up.
So we waited for him. While he was having breakfast, we played volleyball for a minute.
It’s difficult to run or jump at that altitude.
After Bibash was ready, we started to walk towards Chameli Muhan at around 9:45.
First, we had to walk across the vast flat land.
It looked near, but it took us around 40 minutes to cross it.
Now, we’re getting closer to the mountains and it looked giant as we were near.
Then we crossed the small Chameli river over a wooden stilt.
And we reached the source of the Chameli River. The water was coming from the base of Mt. Api.
People have also created small temples to worship.
Then we took pictures there and sun basked on the flat lands.
We explored the Chameli Muhaan and took lots of pictures. We also found a Blue Sheep.
Then at around 11:14 we started walking towards the base camp.
And at around 11:40 we reached the base camp.
To Go or Not To Go
There, our hotel owner was cooking lunch for us.
So, we drank hot tea and started discussing whether to stay the night at base camp or go down to Shimar.
After a while we decided to go to Kaali Dhunga lake and if we get time then go to Shimar, else stay there.
Now, Bibash was hesitating to go up to Kaali Dhunga Lake (4,200m) as he was having difficulty in breathing.
So, we told him to rest for a while and if he felt better then continue with us.
We also told him that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be there because next time we may or may not come to Api.
Later he decided to go to Kaali Dhunga Lake even if it took a long time.
Then we had lunch.
For Lunch we had Raajma Dal, Bhat and Aaloo barela Veg Curry.
Then at around 12:40, we started walking towards Kaali Dhunga Lake.
First we crossed the Chameli river then started climbing a steep hill.
At that altitude, it was not easy to continue on steep terrain.
We took multiple short breaks on the way.
While we were moving slowly, we saw a group of Blue Sheep on a far hill.
Along with us was a dog. We tried to show them to him and chase them.
But he did not see it, instead started running in another direction.
Most Surreal View of Mountains and Kaali Dhunga Lake
While we were there, we decided to take pictures on a nearby hill which was covered in snow.
The 360 view of the mountains was surreal. So, we took as many photos as possible.
While we took pictures, Harish was already at the Kaali Dhunga lake and started calling us there.
So, we got down from that hill and started walking towards him.
At around 2:00 P.M. we reached the Lake. It was starting to freeze. And Harish told us that it’ll be completely frozen in a month.
While we were there, we constantly heard the sounds or small avalanches at Mt. Bobay and other nearby mountains.
Here also we took as many pictures as possible for the memory and decided to return to Base Camp.
At around 3:15 P.M. We started walking down from Kaali Dhunga Lake.
And it took us around 40-45 mins to reach our shed at Base Camp from Kaali Dhunga Lake.
Then as planned earlier, we decided to leave the base camp and stay the night at Shimar.
So, we packed our bags, had noodle soup and tea, and took pictures with the owner of the hotel at the Base Camp.
Then paid the bills and left Api Base Camp at around 4:45.
Worst Decision Ever
Now, the sun was ready to set. And it would take us around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Shimar.
So, we had to walk as fast as possible and safely.
We reached Dhauli Odhaar at 5:10 and continued walking down quickly.
Sagar, Harish and I were in the front, Gaurav and Bibash were chasing us.
After we crossed the jungle and reached the flat land, it started getting dark.
So, we rested there for a moment. And when everyone was together, we decided that Harish would come slowly with Gaurav and Bibash, and Sagar and I would go ahead faster, so that we could order our dinner before the people at Shimar Sleep.
Since we were supposed to stay the night at Base Camp, the people at Shimar were not expecting us.
And there was no other way to contact them, since there was no mobile network and no other people except us.
So, we had to walk as fast as possible.
As we entered the forest section, it started getting dark.
We had to walk on narrow and slippery roads without lights.
We were putting our foot in front without knowing what’s in front of us.
After some time, we couldn’t see anything. It was pitch black.
Sagars phone was dead and my phone was almost dead.
But we couldn’t move forward without light, so I turned on the flash of my phone and continued walking towards Shimar.
I didn’t think Shimar was too far from Base Camp.
But we walked and walked tirelessly in the dark, yet we couldn’t see a sign of Sheep shed at Shimar.
Finally, at around 6:50 we reached Shimar.
We put our bags in the hut we slept the previous day and headed to the kitchen.
People there already had dinner and were getting ready to sleep.
When we reached there, they were surprised to see us.
Then we requested them to cook food for all of us as well. Then we sat in front of the fireplace having tea.
After half an hour, the rest of us also arrived safely.
While sitting near the fire, we remembered our way back down to Shimar from Base Camp.
It was the worst decision ever.
Only Saved by The Shoes
We thought of all the things that could go wrong.
What if any of us lost the way or slipped on the narrow path and broke their ankle/leg or if any wild animal attacked us. There would be no one to help us.
There was no village on the way, and no one was walking during that season.
And there was no mobile network to call for help. Not any other mode of transportation either.
So, if any of us had a serious injury, there was zero chance of survival during that time (late night).
Thankfully our shoes were good, honestly they have saved our lives because we have been walking blindly at that time.
It’s scary even today if we think about this day.
So, we don’t encourage anyone else to take such a risk.
Please take safety first very seriously. And always wear good shoes.
Now, finally at around 7:45 we had our dinner. For dinner we had Rajma Dal and Bhat, then went to bed.
It’s a long and tiring day.
Shimar to Makarigaad
After having a good night, we woke up at around 6:30, then went to freshen up.
And ordered tea while we were packing our bags.
Today we decided to start as early as possible and have breakfast on the way.
So, we just had tea at Shimar then paid the bills and started our walk towards Khayakot at around 7:50.
It was chilly in the morning. In some places streams were frozen. So we walked carefully on the streams and on the stairs.
Found The Missing Thing
On the way we used to meet people constructing the trails, we used to greet them and continue our walk.
We also met a group of youths who were going to the base camp to put the sign boards.
It’s really necessary and we also felt the lack of it.
First to show the direction and second to take a picture at the base camp with the board.
Without the board displaying “Api Base Camp”, people wouldn’t know where we took the picture when they don’t know about the virgin trek like this one.
So, we thanked them and also suggested they put dustbins on the way next time and continued our walk.
And at around 10:10, we reached Khayakot.
Refueling Before The Ascend
As soon as we reached there, we inquired about the available breakfast options.
On options we either could have chapati and veg curry or noodle soup.
So, we decided to go with Roti Tarkari (Chapati and Veg Curry).
Since they said it would take some time, we rested on the warmth of the sun and also ordered tea.
Once our breakfast was ready, we went inside and had our chapati and veg curry.
We also asked whether they had Mohi (buttermilk) or not.
Luckily, they had the buttermilk.
Now, our breakfast was better than any other star hotels in the city.
After having breakfast, we paid the bills and started our journey to Ghusa village.
For Chapati, Veg Curry and Buttermilk, we paid NRS 120 per person and for tea NRS 15 per cup. (Chapati was more than enough. Could eat until you are full).
Then we started walking up the hills. From Khayaot until we reach Siti Village, the trail is really steep.
That’s the reason we decided to have breakfast at Khayakot, not at Shimar.
If we had breakfast at Shimar, our energy would have been wasted and it could be difficult for us to walk up the trails.
When having breakfast at Khayakot, we also had enough rest and full energy to walk till Ghusa.
We left Khayakot at around 11:36 A.M.
Then walked slowly at our own pace, and finally reached Siti village at around 12:15 P.M.
And decided to take a water break there.
So I went to a nearby house and asked whether we could drink water from the tap.
They happily let us drink from the tap, then we also asked whether they had buttermilk.
Luckily they had the buttermilk and brought some for us.
We drank 2 glasses each and thanked her for giving us such a delicacy which we couldn’t even buy in cities. Then gave her some money though she didn’t ask for and was not accepting as well.
But we told her to keep it and give it to her children while they go to school and left Siti village at around 12:30.
The Invitation We Couldn’t Accept
On the way to Ghusa from Siti village, we met lots of people who were returning from the bride’s house taking the bride to the village.
They used to tell us to stay in their village and attend the marriage ceremony and celebrate with them together. It was so kind of them to invite us whom they never knew and we would love to attend the event but we had to reach Makarigaad anyhow.
Because Sagars leg was hurting due to yesterday’s long, tiring and dangerous walk, Bibash also wanted to continue.
So we thanked everyone for inviting us but couldn’t join and continued our journey to Ghusa.
As we continued our walk we met more people and almost everyone told us to stay and join.
And they also told us to help them to promote tourism in this area. They asked if anyone had misbehaved with us, and told us to spread the good things of Api and excuse if any bad things have happened there.
But honestly, people were too kind and caring, nothing bad would happen from the local people of Api intentionally.
Finally at around 2:50, we reached Ghusa. At Harishs house our lunch was ready.
We too a rest for a while, then went to the kitchen to have our food.
Harishs mother had cooked Rajma dal, Rice, Veg Curry (Potato and Spinach), and then she added ghee on top. And I also gave the buttermilk, it was so delicious.
After having food, we took pictures with all the family members and paid for the Harish’s Guide Fee, Breakfast on the first day and Lunch.
We also gave a small money for his sons Bratabanda function which was going to be held on next day.
He was telling us to stay there and also experience the ritual. But we couldn’t.
So we said goodbye to all and told if by chance got an opportunity we would come back for sure.
Then we left Ghusa at around 4:00 P.M.
Now, the trail was not supposed to be difficult.
We had to walk on a flat trail and then descend steeply down.
After we crossed Paatu village, we met some people returning from daily chores (herding sheeps/goats and collecting firewood).
Surprisingly we met one of the sisters whom we met on the first day to Ghusa.
We said goodbye to all and continued walking down. Though it was not as difficult as climbing up, we needed to be more careful because it was really steep and the trail was slippery because of the rocks and pebbles on the path.
One slip from there is more than enough to take a life.
So, we walked down slowly. By now, the sun was also setting so it started getting dark. Finally after descending down, we crossed the chameli river, then had to climb up.
Are we lost?
Now, it was getting pitch black, so we turned the flash of our phones and continued climbing up.
Because of the climbing part instead of walking down, Bibash had a doubt whether we missed the trail.
But no, it was the right trail.
Unlike other trails where you climb while going and walk down while returning, you’ll feel like you’re always climbing whether you’re going or coming.
Finally at around 6:25 P.M. We reached Makarigaad and asked for the room where we had lunch on the first day and kept our bike.
He said he will manage the room for us, then we also ordered our dinner there.
In a while they managed the room for us and we went to the room, put our bags and came down to the shop.
We washed our hands, feet and face, then rested for a while.
And decided to end the trek with a peg of rum.
Sagar and Gaurav had hot lemont.
Then at around 9:00, we had our dinner.
For dinner we had Rajma Dal, Bhat, Chicken Curry and Pickle.
After having dinner, we went to our room. Then we slept at around 10:30.
Makarigaad to Attariya
We woke up at around 7:40 though we had planned to wake up as early as possible and start our bike journey.
It was Bibash, who told us that it was foggy and visibility was not good in the morning.
Then we had to queue for the toilet since it was communal for all the people staying in that hotel.
Then we had tea, checked our bikes, packed our bags, paid the bills and started our motorbike journey.
It was around 9:40 when we left Makari Gaad.
At around 11:35, we reached Giokuleshwor. There we washed our bikes and went to have breakfast.
For breakfast, we had tea, samosa and curry, and a vegetable pakoda.
Then we left Gokuleshwor at around 12:45.
Then we reached Patan at around 2:45 P.M. where we had our lunch/snacks break.
We also decided to refuel our bikes as it was a long journey.
But there was no petrol pump, so we had to ask locals for the place to get the fuel.
After refueling we went to the nearby restaurant and had Coca Cola, Momo and Chowmein and continued our journey.
It was 2:30 when we left Patan, Baitadi.
Slowly, we reached Khopde at around 4:30 and then Dadeldhura at 5:30 P.M.
At Dadheldhura, we decided to take a tea break.
There we asked for a place where we could have some milk tea.
Finally we found one and had tea.
Then we left Dadeldhura at around 5:55 P.M.
On the way we felt like Bibash’s bike was having some problems.
The air was leaking from the tyre. So we had to stop multiple times and air from the workshops.
After we left Dadeldhura, we again stopped for another tea break on the way. There we had some chicken curry as well and continued our journey.
Almost around 10 KM before we reached Attariya, the bike started showing serious problems, so Sagar and I had to switch the bike as he was lighter.
Then we continued till Attariya.
When we reached Attariya, it was around 10:00, all the hotels and shops were ready to close.
We looked for hotels but most of them were not so good.
But we had to spend the night anyway since we couldn’t move any further.
So we compromised to stay in one of the nearby hotels and ordered dinner.
Then in search of Sekuwa, Sagar and I walked on the streets, but unfortunately after 10:00 police had closed all the shops.
While returning we saw a shop which was closed but the light was lit inside. So we knocked and asked whether they could cook Sekuwa for us.
They agreed and let us in and cooked some Sekuwa (skewer barbeque meat).
Then we returned to the hotel and had our lunch.
For lunch we had Dal, Bhat, Chicken Curry and Some Vegetables.
But not so good.
Then we talked for a while and went to sleep.
Attariya to Dhangadhi to Bardiya
We woke up at around 8:00 and then freshen up and decided to meet friends at Dhangadhi.
So, we dressed up, packed our bags and left the room and moved towards Dhangadhi.
There we met Prakash Joshi and Surya.
We talked with them at a cafe while Bibash’s bike was getting repaired.
Then Surya took us to have the delicacy of Dhangadhi.
It was almost 5-6 KM away from the main city.
The hotel was run by an indigenous Chaudhary people.
It was their delicacy that we’re going to try.
Our food was ordered before we went there. So, it was ready when we reached there.
It takes time because they prepare it only after it’s ordered.
They brought a pot full of chicken curry cooked in Chaudhary style.
It was really hot and spicy. But we couldn’t leave it even though our mouth was on fire.
It was too good and I’ll only get its taste there. I’m pretty sure about it.
I won’t get this taste somewhere else.
Though We knew we’re going to get stomach aches and difficulty pooping, we ordered once more.
Then we had some beer and rice with the gravy and left the place with a really good taste and memories.
Though our friends asked us to stay there at least one day, we promised him to come next time and left Dhangadhi at around 3:00 and went to Attariya to get our bags.
Then continued our journey to Bardia to explore some wildlife actions and Tharu cuisine. (On Next Article)
Api Made me rethink the definition of Poor
Just In case if covid lockdown happens again for a year and the internet doesn’t work. Then the life of people living in cities or mega cities or developed countries will be devastated.
But for the people of Api, it won’t affect them a bit. Because they have life skills.
People here grow their own food and organically.
They keep animals (sheep and cow) for calcium (milk), fat (ghee), protein (meat), raw material for clothes (sheep wool), fertilizer (cow dung), transport (donkeys and horses), etc.
Weave clothes out of wool and plant (Allo). They make socks, sweaters, coats, quilts and mattresses out of sheep wool and skin.
They harvest and trade the world’s most expensive medicinal herb, Yarsagumba.
And just by working 2-3 months, they earn a year’s income and sustain for a year.
Similar to gym workout, they carry woods, fodders and work on fields.
They breathe the most clean air and drink the most pure mineral water.
Their wedding party lasts for 5-6 days. And not only the bride-groom’s family, but whole 2 to 3 villages celebrate together.
And still we call them poor.
Important Contacts for Api Base Camp Trek
Mahesh Dhami (Makarigaad Hotel)
Man Singh Dhami (Ghusa and Api Base Camp Hotel)
Ram Dhami (Ghusa – Woda Adhyachhya)
Harish Dhami (Ghusa)
Devendra Jagari (Siti Homestay)
Jhalak Singh Lothyal (Khayakot Hotel)
Shimar Sauji (Shimar)
Things You Must Remember While on Api Base Camp Trek
- There is no electricity and not so good mobile networks
- Keep in touch with the Locals
- There are no commercialized hotels
- Always be careful on trails
Api Base Camp Trek FAQ
Mount Api lies in the Darchula district of Far West Nepal. It is the highest mountain in far western Nepal.
Mt. Api is 7,132m from Sea Level.
Api Base Camp is at an altitude of 3,860m above sea level.
The total number of actual trekking days is 5 but it’ll take 2 days to reach the trek start point from Kathmandu and another 2 days to return. So, in total it’ll take around 9 days to complete Api Base Camp Trek.
Api Base Camp is a moderate trekking trail with lots of steep climbs on a narrow trail. Only the lack of proper fooding and accommodation makes it a bit uneasy for those who are not used to rough and tough travel.
There is no electricity and no internet throughout the trekking days. Mobile networks rarely work. There are no proper hotels, a couple of tea houses with basic things. So, the Api Base Camp trek is really remote.
For Budget Trekkers: Excluding travel expenses to the trek start point, Nrs. 2,500 per day, per person can cover your lunch (dal-bhat), dinner (dal-bhat) and breakfast (roti-tarkari). In most places, they won’t charge bed fees.
If you take a guide then you’ll have to pay Nrs. 2,000 per day.
Camping Trek will cost more.
Api Base Camp Trek can be done all around the year except mid monsoon and winter. Best Time is August to Early November: Lost’s of Festivals, March – April: Rhododendron Blooms and May to July: During Yarsagumba (Caterpillar Fungus) Harvest.