Amongst the countless beautiful, captivating, and astounding destinations of Nepal, which till this day are still underrated, is the divine village of Dhampus leading up to Australian Camp. Quite shocking as it may seem, only a few hours of walk or drive from the famous lakeside city of Pokhara takes you to a whole different level of civilization and livelihood of the Gurung community. The place, being in a fairly elevated altitude than Pokhara, also presents you with a magnificent and closer view of the snow-caped summits like Mt. Machhapuchchhre (Fishtal), Mt. Annapurna range, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Himchuli, Mt. Manaslu and many more. Alongside, Dhampus welcomes you with the ambience of a typical Nepalese lifestyle. Adding more, the path leading up to the village is moderately easy, and can be considered as one of the easiest hiking trails, yet offering one of the stunning views of the Himalayas whilst passing through the luscious green forest and landscapes.
Getting up to Dhampus village and subsequently Australian Camp can be done is primarily two ways; hike from Kande, which takes a maximum of two hours, or, take a four-wheeler up to Dhampus, and hike for about an hour to Australian Camp. If you are looking to enjoy the best of the views and have an ample time, you can start fresh from Kande. Reaching Kande takes about an hour from Pokhara via any public transport or a private vehicle if you have trouble traveling in a public vehicle (renting a private vehicle, mostly a Scorpio or Taxi charges NRs. 3000 to NRs. 5000 in total, and a public transport will cost NRs. 100 per person). If the weather favors you, or if you are traveling in the Spring season (April – June), you can enjoy the exquisiteness of the Rhododendron flowers, the national flower of Nepal, in majority of the trail.
Along the way, you get to stop by local tea shops for quick bites and buy the necessities for the hike. Also, if you are looking to stop by for lunch in Dhampus, you can find several lunch stations that provide authentic Nepalese lunch sets. While so, don’t be amazed to see the beautiful landscapes with terrace farming and local cheese farms along the trail. The path aligns beautifully through the forest, into the hills, and through traditional Gurung villages, giving you a clear view of the Mt. Machhapuchchhre.
The hike, in general, is quite easy, with the slopes not too steep, so, it gives you the advantage to travel in your own pace, enjoying every bit of the nature the place offers. Also, once you get past the Dhampus village, you have the whole Annapurna range spreading out in right in front of you, all along the trail.
So, this year, instead of getting the usual view of Mt. Machhapuchchhre, touring along the tourist lane, and partying in the city area, why not choose for a unique, beautiful, and natural site? Dhampus-Australian Camp tour more than just a normal hike. You get to familiarize with the lifestyle of the Nepalese people, encounter the wonders of several mountains right in front of your eyes, and experience the panoramic view of the landscapes.
A 45 minute to one-hour hike from Dhampus village welcomes you to the stunning Australian Camp, traditionally called “Thulo Kharka” meaning a big meadow. The name, however comes from a surprisingly amazing story. Few Austrians when visiting and camping in this meadow decades ago, found the place so striking, they eventually happened to camp here for a longer time. The people here, then came up with the idea of naming it “Austrian Camp”, but having difficulty to pronounce the name, ultimately pronounced it as “Australian Camp”.
Australian Camp offers you the convenience of staying overnight in the colorful tents set up on the hillside, allowing you to gaze up to the starry night sky. The place also motions local hotels and guesthouses for your stay, and the window views are equally enthralling with. Sitting out in the lawn, enjoying a warm lunch in the lap of the several might peaks is something you don’t want to miss out on. Additionally, every guesthouse in the Australian Camp offers a bamboo swing, especially wonderous when you’re traveling in the Autumn season (October – November). Swing along the whistling wind humming through your ears with the pleasing view of the locality and looking over the postcard-perfect landscape views.
Besides the panoramic view of the mountains, you ought not to forget to witness the splendid sunrise and sunset as seen from the tented areas. The first sunlight kissing the tip of the Mt. Machhapuchchhre, turning the silhouette of the peak to a tasty reddish orange is not something you see every day. The sunset, likewise, seems to be taking down the view of the mountains along with it, but leaves you with the vibrant view of the underlying Pokhara valley and the reflection of Phewa Lake. You can also enjoy the warm from a campfire amidst the chilling winds in your stay with the night view of the stars and the mountain peaks climaxing from the moonlight. In the morning, you can indulge your taste buds with the popular Gurung breakfast that includes a traditional buckwheat and millet fried bread and locally grown veggies.
While on your way back, make you do make your way through the neighboring Gurung residence and observe the lifestyle. You can then relish your stay in Pokhara, by the lakeside, and take away the not much gained fatigue and tiredness from the hike. Pokhara, as it stands as one of the few places in Nepal that offers multiple forms of entertainment and night life, you can go for a walk around the city, stroll through the local markets for Nepalese souvenirs, and have a bite at a fancy eatery. By the time you are getting ready to return, the local vibes of Dhampus and Australian Camp will surely linger through you, asking you if you could have may be, just maybe, stayed a little more. The whistling wind blowing by your body, the enchanting, peaceful, and charming surrounding of the Dhampus village, the local taste of Gurung delicacies are sure to pull you one more time, at least.