Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#7) Kopra Ridge

I began this list of my top-10 mountain treks in Nepal, on Gokyo Ri. Unsurprisingly, Nepal and the Himalayas appear again, with a little-known and spectacular trail that offers an alternative to the fast-dying Annapurna Circuit.

7. Kopra Ridge (Nepal)

Once up on a time, the Annapurnas used to be de rigueur for trekkers in Nepal. At the start of last decade, it was said that two-thirds of all trekkers in the country went to the Annapurnas, mostly to hike the famed Annapurna Circuit, a walk rivalled in popularity only by the trek to Everest Base Camp.

Now, as roads munch their way through the valleys around the Annapurna massif – some estimates suggest the roads will encircle the Annapurnas by 2017 – the Circuit’s shine is well and truly diminished. But that doesn’t mean that trekking in the region is any less appealing. The Annapurna Sanctuary remains as a destination, and lesser-known treks have blossomed around it. Such as Kopra Ridge.

Kopra1

A trekker near the crest of Kopra Ridge, with Dhaulagiri ahead

Draping down from Annapurna South towards the world’s deepest gorge, Kopra Ridge is a stunning balcony from which to observe the Himalayas. So many trekkers stand atop the popular Poon Hill and gawp across at Kopra Ridge, but few realise they’re doing so. When you do know, it becomes obvious that the ridge is going to offer better views than Poon Hill itself, for it’s both higher and nearer to the finest mountains in the scene.

The route to Kopra Ridge leaves the main hiking trails before Poon Hill, ascending to the ridge and a community trekking lodge poise atop it. Yak herds amble by, and there’s often the surreal view of planes flying below you, through the Kali Gandaki Gorge. At the lodge, there’s a view you rarely have to share, for few trekkers are yet to discover Kopra Ridge. Above is Annapurna South, with Dhaulagiri – the world’s seventh-highest mountain – across the deep and dark Kali Gandaki. The amber cliffs of Fang are like a light trap at dusk.

Kopra2

The lodge on Kopra Ridge, looking over the Kali Gandaki Gorge to Dhaulagiri

Wander up the ridge and you eventually come to the holy Kaire Lake, while the journey down takes you through villages that rarely see trekkers, even sometimes just a few hundred metres from the main trails, which you eventually – and now reluctantly – rejoin.

* Adventure before Avarice trekked to Kopra Ridge with Peregrine Adventures.

7 thoughts on “Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#7) Kopra Ridge

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#6) Nelson Lakes to Lewis Pass | Adventure before Avarice

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Mountain Treks: (#5) Tour du Mont Blanc | Adventure before Avarice

  3. Hi Andrew~ Saw your blog, LOVED the trekking notes & wanted to pick your brain. My husband & I are considering the Khopra trek in April 2016. We were curious if this trek would be comfortable yet steady paced in 6 days? Here is what we had in mind…

    Day #1 Trek to Ghandruk
    Day #2 Trek to Bayeli Kharka
    Day #3 Trek to Khopra Ridge
    Day #4 Trek to Swanta Village
    Day #5 Trek to Ulleri
    Day #6 Trek Naypul and drive to Phokhara

    We are in our early 30s, athletic & live at 1,650 m elevation. Is our plan draft viable? From your experience, how long would those days be? Certainly appreciate any insights, considerations & feedback 🙂

    Jenn

    • Hi Jenn, you’re going to love it. I reckon our day breakdown looks pretty good. Day 1 and 2 will be pretty long – by the time you do the haul up to Ghandruk you’ll be feeling it. Most treks break the walk to Ghandruk into two days, but I think they’re doable in one day – just plan on a big one. My guess would be about 8-9 hour days on your first two days – the slowest part about getting to Bayeli is that you begin to get near 3000m, so you start to feel your breathing more. After that you’ll have shorter days. I remember it being about mid-afternoon by the time I got into Swanta from Kopra. I haven’t hiked out the Nayapul route either time I went up to Kopra, but looking at maps and a guidebook, it looks perfectly feasible in a couple of days. Hope that’s of help, Andrew

  4. Thanks for the response & additional information Andrew! Just secured airfare, guide & getting excited. Have a great holiday 🙂

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