Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek - A trek to the lesser-known side of the Annapurna Circuit

  • Sep 22, 2020
  • Suresh Gurung
  • 257

The Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek is a pure wilderness experience that takes you to the unspoiled mystical valleys of Nar and Phu and one of the world’s highest altitude lakes, ‘Tilicho’ (4919 M). The Nar Phu Tilicho Trek lies in the Annapurna Region of Western Nepal sharing many of its parts with the Annapurna Circuit route and includes some of the toughest high altitude passes in Nepal like Mesokanto La Pass (5121 M) and Kang La Pass (5320 M). It is an ideal option for those who are seeking an alternative to the more popular and crowded, Annapurna Circuit.


Despite being very close and inter-related with the classic Annapurna Circuit, it has been just a couple of years that this trek is becoming known to the world of trekking. The Nar Phu valley is a restricted region which was closed for foreigners until 2002. Since then, only a handful of tourists trek the Nar Phu valley region each year and it is rising slowly. And thanks to that, one can have a pristine experience and an opportunity to feel the serenity of these beautiful remote valleys.


But unlike the Nar Phu Valley, the number of visitors in the Tilicho Lake is rapidly increasing as it is becoming a hotspot for domestic tourists, mountain bikers and many of them combine it with the Annapurna Circuit.


The trek to the valleys of Nar and Phu starts from the usual starting place of the Annapurna Circuit Trek, Jagat. After reaching Koto, the trek leaves the Annapurna Circuit trail and heads north to the valleys of Nar and Phu. For the next couple of days, the trail passes through lush forests, beautiful chortens, mani walls, prayer stones, thrilling suspension and wooden bridges, deep gorges, quiet settlements with impressive mountain sceneries and finally reaching the Phu and Nar village. The people in this region practice Tibetan Buddhism as they are closely tied to the Tibetan people culturally and traditionally.


Prior to reaching Phu village, you can see ruins of the settlements of the Khampa people in a place called Chaku. They were rebellions from Kham, Eastern Tibet who escaped from the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. They settled there until the intervention by the Nepalese military in 1975.


From Nar, the trek continues to Ngawal via the crossing of the challenging, Kang La Pass (5240 M) which leads ultimately back to the Annapurna Circuit again. The view of Annapurna 2, Gangapurna, Tilicho Peak, and Manaslu range from the Kang La Pass is simply an amazing treat to the eyes. The trek follows the Annapurna Circuit trail till Manang and takes the left trail to Khangsar a little bit farther. The trek then passes through a steep landslide area to Tilicho Base Camp and then finally to Tilicho Lake (4919 M). From there, you will trek all the way to Jomsom via Mesokanto La Pass and Yak Kharka. Jomsom is the headquarter of Mustang and it is the ending point of the trek. The next morning, you will fly out to Pokhara.

Table of Contents

Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu (1350 M) and transfer to the Hotel
Day 02: Kathmandu Valley sightseeing with a tour guide and trek preparation
Day 03: Drive to Jagat (1300 M) via Besishahar (760 M)
Day 04: Trek to Dharapani (1860 M)
Day 05: Trek to Koto (2600 M)
Day 06: Trek to Meta (3560 M)
Day 07: Trek to Phu (4080 M)
Day 08: Acclimatization day and explore
Day 09: Trek to Nar (4200 M)
Day 10: Trek to Ngawal (3660 M) via Kang La pass (5320 M)
Day 11: Trek to Manang (3540 M)
Day 12: Rest day and explore Manang valley
Day 13: Trek to Tilicho Base Camp (4150 M)
Day 14: Trek to Tilicho High Camp (5020 M)
Day 15: Trek to Yak Kharka (4200 M) via Mesokanto La Pass (5121 M)
Day 16: Trek to Jomsom (2720 M)
Day 17: Fly to Pokhara (825 M)
Day 18: Drive to Kathmandu (1350 M)
Day 19: Final departure

Transportation for the Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek


The trek starts from Jagat. 7-8 hours of Jeep drive from Kathmandu via Besisahar will take you to Jagat.
The trek ends at Jomsom. The next morning, you will fly to Pokhara and then drive to Kathmandu.

Flight and Transportation Cost

Kathmandu to Beshisahar private Jeep cost- 150 Car-jeep 170
Kathmandu to Beshisahar local bus cost per person -8 USD per person
Beshisahar to Jagat local Jeep cost- 90 USD
Jomsom to Pokhara flight cost per person-125USD
Pokhara to Kathmandu private Jeep cost- 150USD

Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek Guide and Porter Cost

French Guide cost per day- 35 to 50USD
English Guide cost per day- 25 to 35USD
Porter cost per day- 20 USD

Permits and paperwork for the Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek

The Nar Phu valley region is restricted, so you will need to get a restricted area permit from the Department of Immigration. To get to permit, there must be at least two-person and a government certified trekking agency. You will need a 1-week restricted area permit. You will need the ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) permit as well. For Tilicho Lake, just the ACAP permit will do all the work. The trekking agency that is providing the service to you will do all the permits and paper works.

Permit cost

The restricted area permit for Nar Phu valley cost varies according to the seasons. From September to November-100USD per person for 1 week. Then 15USD for each additional day per person.
From December to August-75USD per person for 1 week. Then 15USD for each additional day. Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit costs NPR 2000 per person.

Food and Accommodation on the Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek

The Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek has become a full-on teahouse trek recently. Teahouses and lodges are available in limited numbers along the route providing all the food and accommodation services. The services are mostly basic. Construction of new lodges and teahouses are going on. Still, we recommend a group size maximum of 12 people and two nights camping in Tilicho High Camp and Yak Kharka for a better experience.

On the day of the crossing of the Kang La Pass and Mesokanto La Pass, packed lunch should be taken as there are no teahouses in the way. The places which are also the parts of the Annapurna Circuit as well and Jomsom have plenty of food and accommodation services.
Toilets are mostly squat down types located indoor and shared but are located outside as well in many places. Few places have a western-style toilet or sitting toilet as well.
Hot shower is easily available which costs around 2-4USD per person. Except in the Nar Phu Valley and Tilicho region, most of the hotels have attached rooms with a hot shower which is free.

Drinking-Water on the Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek

Tap water and other natural sources are available along the routes which you can drink by using a water purifier, filter, or pills. Mineral water is available in plastic bottles and can be bought in hotels, teahouses, and lodges. However, we encourage you to buy less plastic bottled mineral water and use more of the natural and tap sourced water for environmental concern.

Electricity, Telephone, and Internet on the Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek

Electricity is available throughout the whole region except Tilicho Base Camp, High Camp, Yak Kharka and Phu village. So, we recommend you to bring solar chargers with you.

The phone network works in most of the places except in Phu Village and Tilicho High Camp. We recommend you to buy an NTC sim card as it has better coverage in higher areas.

Wi-Fi service is available in the entire region except for Phu village, Tilicho High Camp, and Yak Kharka. Wi-Fi in the higher regions is expected to break down often during harsh weather.

Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek Difficulty

The Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek is a physically demanding trek that consists of tough and challenging passes like Kang La and Mesokanto La. After crossing Mesokanto La Pass, if there is a lot of snow a fixed rope will be needed while going down. There is a possibility of getting high altitude sickness in altitudes like this. If you have already done treks like Everest Base Camp, Manaslu Circuit, or any other high altitude treks, then it will not be a problem.

For people with no previous experience of trekking, taking cardio exercises like cycling, running, swimming, hiking, etc. for at least a month prior to trekking in Nepal is highly recommended.

While on the trek, you will do the acclimatization process where you will learn to acclimatize with the increasing altitudes day by day.

Know more about altitude sickness

Best time to do the Nar Phu Tilicho Lake Trek

The ideal time to do the trek in this region is in the Autumn (September-November) and Spring (March-May) season. The weather is moderate during these times. The number of trekkers is also high in this period of time.

During the autumn, the skies are clear providing crystal clear mountain sceneries. Festivals like Dashain and Tihar are celebrated in these periods of time adding extra uniqueness to the trek.

In the springtime, trails are decorated with colorful Rhododendron forests. The number of trekkers is a little less compared to the Autumn season. The Nepalese New Year falls at this time. The skies are not as clear as during Autumn and rainfall can be expected sometimes.

If you would like to avoid the crowd, you can trek in the monsoon and winter season.

During the monsoon, trails look beautiful with lush green forests. But the roads and trails are slippery with leeches. Mountain sceneries will be difficult to see as the skies are covered with clouds most of the time.

Trekking in the winter provides beautiful mountain sceneries. However, the heavy amount of snowfall can make it impossible to trek in higher places and passes. You may need to return back from halfway or cancel the trek for safety concerns. And lodges and teahouses are closed down due to extreme cold.

Have any more questions about the Nar Phu Tilicho Trek? Please let us know. We will be very happy to answer all of your questions.

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