Travel Journal: Nar Phu Valley – 5 Things to Expect

If you’re reading this, you’re probably are planning to give Nar Phu Valley a visit. Hidden snug in between its more popular neighbours, the Nar Phu Valley (specifically Koto to Phu) is one of the rarely-visited and less established treks in Nepal. Independent travellers consider it a hidden gem as it gives them the opportunity to truly see the Himalayan wilderness in its true, untouched state.

Splitting off from the more-popular Annapurna Circuit, we were welcomed by a mixture of unspoiled valleys and Tibetan-influenced architecture. Unpolluted treks, charming locals and no access to wi-fi, we felt as if we had been transported back in time. Nar Phu Valley was definitely one of the most memorable treks we’ve been to yet, and we would recommend you to pay it a visit before it becomes too popular.

Here are 5 handy things you can (and should) expect while embarking on the Nar Phu Valley Trek.

1. Be Prepared to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

The Koto to Phu trek is definitely not for those who wish to remain within their comfort zone. Unlike more established circuits, you won’t be expecting any apple pie tea houses or wi-fi along the trek. Simple tea houses are sparse, therefore sometimes you may have to camp in tents to rest for the night. This isn’t such a bad idea, though, given that you get to sleep under a breathtaking view of the night sky.


camping nar phu valley
Camping Overnight at Chako Village

2. Experience Heaven on Earth

Since you’d be sharing the same trail with your engines of transportation of goods (aka donkeys and yaks), do expect a lot of animal dung along the trails. Rest assured, you will also be rewarded with the beautiful views of majestic mountains that Nar Phu Valley has to offer to you every single day. We can safely bet that you will be so busy admiring the stunning landscapes to even notice the dung overtime. When you are really this close in proximity to nature, your physical pains and complaints become insignificant in comparison. It is just Heavenly.

hiking nar phu valley
A typical day on the trek with an atypical view of the Himalayas

3. It’s Longer and Harder Than You Think

The Nar Phu Valley trek can be physically demanding for those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle. The climbs are steep and just as you think you have finished one killer climb, there’s always another one waiting for you around the next corner.

We would recommend that you train for the trek at least 2-3 months before your hike. Do circuits training up and down staircases or mountains, do loads of squats & lunges, and don’t forget your cardio for at least twice a week. During the real trek, remember to pace yourself and be aware of your limits. Continue to breathe and take one step at a time.

challenging hike nar phu valley
Multiple switchbacks along your hike

Having said that, the locals of Nar Phu Valley are used to walking the terrain and altitude. So if the locals tell you it is one hour away, you most probably need 2 or 3. Trust your body that with each climb, you are getting stronger day by day, step by step. Mind over matter, stay strong, young Padawan.

locals nar phu valley
The locals are already physically accustomed to the treks

4. Risking Traveller’s Diarrhoea 

It goes without saying that sanitation would be less than satisfactory during the hike. Imagine, walking through animal dungs, you tie your shoelace and you don’t shower every day. Never forget to use hand sanitiser before eating.

Having come from Singapore where filtered water runs through our taps, we are not accustomed to drinking unfiltered water. Boiled water for drinking is not cheap as you get higher up the trek, but it will be worth the buck since you won’t have to worry about problem tummies later on. Boiling water costs money as it requires wood and kerosene, which have to be carried up the mountains. Put your health first, and you get to support the locals whilst at it!


resting point nar phu valley
We only consumed boiled water stored in our thermal flasks

5. Watch Out for Signs of Dehydration

One simple rule of thumb, if you don’t wake up to pee 3 times a night, that means you have not drunk enough water. We understand that it can be a pain to wake up in the cold to pee, but this is a good natural indicator whether you have been drinking enough water or not. As the air is dry, you tend to lose a lot of water while trekking but you would barely feel it as the weather is cool. Dehydration will occur if you are not consciously drinking.  Drink water, drink tea, drink soup.  Drink while trekking, drink before you sleep. Just drink. It will also help with the acclimatisation of altitude and your body will thank you the next day.

water bottle hike
We refilled our water bottles every morning before our hike!

6. It is really ok not to bathe.

With the freezing cold around you, it might be a little too uncomfortable to shower. The cost of hot water to bathe can, in fact, cost you up to USD5 for just one small bucket for a quick rinse. Under such circumstance, it is okay not to bathe every day. In fact, you will be amazed how your body gets used to things. Besides, your natural oils will prevent your skin from cracking in the dry weather. Shower only when the temperatures are warmer. In the meantime, to keep your basic personal hygiene, brushing your teeth and using wet wipes would more than suffice until your next shower.

From its breathtaking sceneries to kind Sherpa people, to experiences of a lifetime, the Nar Phu Valley had been nothing but generous and hospitable to its visitors.

If you would like to learn more about our 9D8N trek to Nar Phu Valley, we will be holding a sharing session on Friday, 25th May 2018 at our retail store. Click here for more information.


Seng Teong

I am a late bloomer. 60 is the new 20.