Consisting almost completely of the famous and wonderful Himalayas and their foothills, Nepal offers never-ending hiking opportunities, every single one of them with an incomparable quality. You can go your own way with selecting one, but if you want varying grounds and pristine cultural richness, all within a reasonable time frame, there’s no better option than the six-to-seven day hike to Siklis, in an unexplored region of the Annapurna Sanctuary.
The Annapurna region, situated at the west of Nepal, is very well known for being home to the Annapurna Circuit; a popular and much-frequented tea-house path. However, the Siklis trek should not be mistaken with this; while the Annapurna Circuit is an 11-day long trail, the hike to Siklis is a six-day adventure, based in part of the Annapurna Sanctuary, protected by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and closed to hikers until late 90s. Besides, instead of tea-house stops, the Siklis trek includes camping, allowing access to more remote areas.
The Machhapuchhare peak
The natural highlight of the journey to Siklis is the sacred peak of Machhapuchhare, also known as Fish Tail Mountain. With its 6997 meters, it’s not even close to most of Nepal peaks, which rise over 8 thousand meters, but it is the most sacred. In fact, it’s so sacred that climbing it is banned. If you look at the peak from certain angles, you’ll notice how the twin rocks at the top resemble a fishtail, giving it its distinctive name.
Starting your trek, you will encounter a series of shaky and wobbly bamboo bridges you’ll have to cross, skirting the east bank of the Seti River and its rushing fast waters. The path then zigzags up to the Ghachok village, a small town perfect to set up camp under the flanks of Machhapuchhare as the peak turns a reddish color with the sunset. When the sun goes down, the temperature in the village soon drops alongside it, but an abundant three-course dinner is the perfect warming option, lifting up your spirit for the hike that awaits you.
An Advantage for Early Risers
Waking up before dawn is an essential part of the Himalayan adventure. The change in altitude will surely disturb your sleep, so before you start your trip, make sure you look up the best ways to beat altitude sickness and stay healthy even at high elevation. However, the traditional hot cup of tea the chef serves you will calm the harshness of waking up so early and altitude symptoms. Lastly, Nepal specializes in wonderful sunrises, and watching the impressive spectacle makes the early awakening totally worth it.
The path slowly guides you upwards, passing nomadic herders, strong girls carrying large and almost unrealistic loads of firewood, and the random gathering of playful monkeys that brighten your mood. Once you get to the cobblestone streets of Chaur and Ghalegaon, you will meet the villages’ Gurung tribe, hard-working people barely making a living out of basic and primitive agriculture.
A Flowery Frame
After a couple of hard climbing days, when you get higher, the trail passes through a wonderful rhododendron forest, the pretty and colorful flowers framing the lingering Machhapuchhare peak. It then breaks out through open hills to get to Siklis. With its 1980 meters, the village is not incredibly high but the astonishing scenery it holds, including Lamjung Himal with its 6986 meters and Annapurna II, makes the height completely unnecessary. The hike is not like climbing the famous Everest, but the feeling the Himalayas give you stays the same.
Going back is just as overwhelmingly beautiful as going up; following the white calm waters of the Madi River and passing through villages where refreshing mandarins and the traditional Lhassi, a buffalo yogurt, is offered to you without even asking, to restore the energies lost in the long trail. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: both the Annapurna circuit and the Siklis trek have the best food.
A Hike for Everyone
Finally, you’ll get to camp at an old stone-built village, Bhagowatitar; there you can enjoy a chef’s cake and sing and dance all night, to end your trek in the best way possible. Nepal gets the awards when it comes to high mountains and snow, but the Annapurna Sanctuary is so charming and pleasant, you won’t need to be a professional climber or hiker to be absorbed by the beauty of the Himalayas.
When to go
From June to September, Nepal’s Monsoon is at its peak, which means it rains almost every day with occasional thunderstorms at evenings. Around March to April, the rhododendron forests bloom, but with the still-wet weather, some leeches may bother you when you get to lower grounds. To get the best weather, pleasant temperatures, and clear skies, October should be your first option to do your Annapurna trip.
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