Weekend gateway from Pokhara: Australian Camp hiking
Pokhara- one of the world’s most scenic valleys, has myriads of options for everyone to enjoy a wonderful holiday. The only problem could be your time!.
I’m pretty sure, even someone who has lived his all life in Pokhara is yet to experience everything in and around Pokhara. You might have the most but there still are few pieces always missing.
For those who want to truly experience Pokhara and are bound by their travel schedule, here’s the best way to make the most of Pokhara – an overnight stay at ThulKharka or better known as Australian Camp.
This is a perfect place for short hike and can be done in a day. Its almost an hour and half drive from Pokhara. The place is located at a hill top that needs a decent walk for 2 hours. There are multiple hotels (tea houses) and homestays. The best thing to do would be to rent out a tent available. The area is managed by a local committee so prices for stay and food are same on the trail.
Why Australian Camp?
This is an easy hike. Its not as crowded as Poonhill or Ghandruk. Its very easy to get there. The views you get are no different than that from Ghorepani or Mardi Himal trek. The best part is its very close to Pokhara (~3hrs).
How to get there ( Australian Camp) from Pokhara?
You can either start the walk from Kande or Phedi. The route from Phedi passes through Dhampus, which itself is a very popular village for tourists. It’s the most pictured place around Pokhara. The best way to experience the trip would be the start from Kande.
If you are staying at Lake Side in Pokhara, take a local bus to Prithvi Chowk. It takes around 20minutes to get to Prithvi Chowk. From Prithvi Chowk, get on a bus to Hari Chowk and it takes around 20minutes to get there. From Hari Chowk, you’ll find buses to Kande every 15 minutes in the day. Its over an hour ride along the Pokhara-Beni highway. You’ll pass through Hemja, which is very popular for Potatos. The Zip Line as well as the Water Touch bungy lies on the same route.
Once you get off the bus, there are road signs indicating the trail. You’ll pass through small villages and rice fields. The uphill climb is almost 2hours.
Australian camp is a small settlement with few teahouses and camping sites. It used to be a site for grazing cows before some Australian folks camped around and then giving it a new name. s
You can return next morning after breakfast or even have your breakfast at the Australian camp. The downhill walk to Phedi via Dhampus takes a little over 2 hours. The trail passes through dense Rhododendron forests. Breathtaking views of Mt. Macchapuchre (fishtail) is something that stays with you until you get to Phedi.
Dhampus is another popular destination. A lot of people just go to Dhampus as its easy to get there. There are regular buses from Hari Chowk to Dhampus. Its very common from people around Pokhara to go on a Picnic at Dhampus. There are lots of hotels/homestay options at Dhampus.
Things to do in Australian Camp
The views of sunrise over the Pokhara Valley and sunset over the magnificent Himalayas is something you can never see anywhere.
Sleep under millions of stars
Barbeque and campfire
Try the typical Nepali bamboo swing (Linge Ping)
Wrap yourself on a warm blanket and set your camera for a perfect view of Sunrise over the Annapurna Range
Take not just the pictures but make memories.
Things to keep in mind while hiking/trekking in Australian Camp
Don’t rush, take your time to enjoy the trip. It’s a good climb uphill (~2100m from sea level).
Respect the locals, buy and eat local. Ask before you take their pictures.
Don’t litter around. Dispose your trash at designated bins.
Pack some warm clothes even during summer.
Time and Cost to do Australian Camp Trekking
Bus – Lake Side to Prithvi Chowk – 20mins, NRs.15/person
Bus – Prithvi Chowk to Hari Chowk – 20mins, NRs.15/person
Bus – Hari Chowk to Kande – 1hr, NRs. 65/person
Uphill walk – Kande to Australian Camp-2hrs
Downhill walk – Kande to Phedi – 3 hrs
Bus – Phedi to Prithvi Chowk – 1 hr, NRs. 30
You can always hire a taxi, but for a local experience, take a bus.
Level of difficulty: Easy
Best Time to Visit Australian Camp
The place is accessible all round the year but try to avoid the rainy days during June/July). It does snow during January.
My friends from US were in Nepal, staying in Pokhara for their vacation. I took a bus from Kathmandu in the afternoon and reached Pokhara around 7PM. I stayed at their AirBnB for the night and then we started our trip late afternoon on Saturday. We left Hari Bus park at around 3pm and reached Kande at around 5Pm. We walked pass the small villages, talked to the locals on the way uphill. We reached Australian Camp at round 6:45PM. It was almost around sunset, we booked a tent at Sunrise Tent and Resort. WE were mesmerized by the breathtaking views of Mt. Machhapuchre from the hill top. After the beautiful sunset, we ordered dinner. My friend tried the local rakshi (rice beer) and hukka. We met a group of teenager Nepalese who were camping there. We bought some firewood and joined them for an evening of Nepali songs and dancing. We slept around 11PM under millions of stars. It was a no moon night so it was an amazing night for stargazing. Woke up around 5am to the beautiful views of lakes in Pokhara and waited for the sunrise. After the sunrise, we started our trip back to Pokhara. We stopped at Pothana for a refreshing tea break. After over an hour walk, we reached Dhampus. We had a local Thakali Dal-bhat set for the lunch and got to Phedi at around noon. We then took a bus to get to Pokhara.
Here’s what we paid at Australian Camp. Since the whole trail is managed by local community, every resort/homestay follows the same menu and price.
Tent @ Australian Camp NRs.800
Dal Bhat NRs.650
Milk Tea NRs.100
Lemon Tea @ Pothana NRs.50
Daal Bhat @ Dhampus NRs.400 for foreigners, NRs.150 for Nepalese
Coffee @ Dhampus NRs.150
Hotel, Lodges around Australian Camp
Sunrise Tent Resort and Restaurant
Australian Camp, Phhanechu
Green View Lodge and Restaurant,
Buddhi Man Gurung,
Hotel Yama Sakura