Machhapuchchhre, just 25 km north to Pokhara, is the main southern backbone of the Annapurna Range. The trekking route to Annapurna Range covers a visit to the base camp of Machhapuchchhre as well. Located on the Seti Gandaki, the name Machapuchare has come from its shape which looks like a fishtail. It is an off-limit mountain peak for climbers because of its steep and striking elevation. Also, the government of Nepal does not allow mountaineers to climb, in order to preserve the sentiments of Nepalese people associated with this particular peak.
History of Machhapuchchhre Summit
Also known as ‘Matterhorn of Nepal’, Machhapuchchhre has never been summited. This is because it is a sacred mountain for the Hindu Religion which believes that it is the humble abode of Lord Shiva. It is one of the places where humans beings have never set their foot. Before 1953, it was only known to mountain shepherds. However, in the same year, some British men wanted to make an expedition to the Fishtail Mountain. It was Wilfred Noyce who was closest to summiting the mountain in 1957 but the team turned back when they were instructed by the King Of Nepal to respect the religious sentiments of Nepalese people. There is a book called Climbing the Fish’s Tail which describes the expedition profoundly. It is believed that a New Zealand mountaineer named Bill Denz, had climbed the mountain illegally. Whether he could summit the Machhapuchchhre or not died with him when he died in an avalanche on the Manaslu summit in 1983.
Madri Himal Trek
The Annapurna Base Camp is one of the most popular trekking routes in Nepal and the Machhapuchchhre mountain falls on the route. One only needs to reach Kathmandu and then Pokhara by road.
Day 1: Pokhara → Ghandruk
The trip typically starts from Pokhara where you can drop off your extra baggage, buy mountaineering gear and then head off for Kimche. From here Lower Ghandruk is an one-hour long trekking. From here, you can enjoy the mesmerizing untouched beauty of the Machhapuchchhre peak.
Day 2: Ghandruk → lower Sinuwa
The trek from Gandruk to Lower Sinuwa is a small trek of 5 km. You can even see Machhapuchchhre, Annapurna South, and Hinchuli while you trek through various villages. You will have to descent down 2,500 stone stairs which will lead you to Modi River. You will have to cross a bridge to get to Chhomrong Khola which is a dense forest region and since its the gateway to the Annapurna Sanctuary, you have to take entry permits. Here, you can rest, dine and prepare for your next journey. The trail gets steeper as you trek across the first villages of Sinuwa.
Day 3: Sinuwa → Deurali
As you start off with the preparation for a strenuous day, you will see visible changes in the vegetation from sub-tropical to alpine as you gain altitude. At this level, it is necessary here to allow your body to get accustomed to the altitude and thus, you need to keep hydrated. After an hour of trekking, you will come across the first village, Dovan where you can rest. Here the steep gets higher and the tip of the peak of Machhapuchchhre is visible from here. It takes a whole day to trek this trail but occasional rainfalls may delay the trek.
Day 4: Deurali → Machhapuchchhre Base Camp
The Deurali area is an avalanche or landslide-prone area and this is where you will need to start the climb. Before climbing you can enjoy the scenic beauty here as it has some of the most breathtaking waterfalls due to excessive rainfalls. You will also feel a gradual chill as you start climbing higher. On the way, you will find the Hinku Cave which adds a magical touch to the overall trek. You will again have to cross the River Modi to reach the Machhapuchchhre Base Camp within 30 minutes. The weather here can be extreme and it starts snowing from here, so basically you have show your inner strength and endurance.
Day 5: Machhapuchchhre → Annapurna Base Camp
You should count it as a blessing if the skies are clear because from here steep climbing becomes really hard. When you are at 4,000 m, you will start noticing barren vegetation. As you start getting closer to the camp, you will be able to see the full Annapurna Range with all its surrounding peaks such as Gangapurna, Machhapuchchhre and Gandharvachuli. The glistening mountains against the rising sun rays are a sight to behold in a lifetime. The sight makes all your hard work along the journey worthwhile. Bask in the beauty of these giant mountains before you start preparing for the next journey back home.
Day 6: Machhapuchchhre → Sinuwa
Unfortunately, this is the time for you to retrace your steps back home. On your way back, you get to cross the hanging bridge and then you reach Jhinu Danda. This is a site for natural hot springs and you can relax in the surrounding tea houses for a drink after a dip into the springs. Who would want to miss a grand ‘natural jacuzzi’ after strenuous journey of 6 days? This is the perfect setting to be attuned with nature and also your trek partners and make your last night of the trek memorable.
Day 7: Jhinu Danda → Pokhara
This is the last hike comprising of 6 km from Jhinu Danda to Syauli. From here you will drive back to Pokhara by road. This is where your journey ends but the Madri Himal Trek will surely give you a once in a lifetime experience. Be sure to enter into this challenging trek only if you have no addictions because you will need great inner strength to endure the extreme weather in Machhapuchchhre or else you might acquire altitude sickness.
Make sure you look for an experienced guide for the trek. There is plenty of accommodation and fooding lodges. Also, remember the Annapurna Range is a conversation area. On the banks of Kali Gandaki, it’s a dense forest area that gives shelter to 474 bird species, 22 amphibian species, 39 species of reptiles and 1226 species of flora. While humans have been able to pollute other mountains in the region, Machhupuchchhre remains untouched due to its valid good reasons. You better not try any illegal climbing because it will not only cost you your life, it will also hurt the sentiments of thousands of devotees who consider the mountain sacred and holy. Rest, you are welcome to enjoy the scenic beauty without disrupting the perfect balance between nature and man.