Stroll through the Himalayas….Pokhara, Nepal

Nepal has many options for trekking. We only had about a week before my parents arrived, so we chose a 5 day Poon Hill trek out of Pokhara that promised great views and easy trekking. Easy is a relative term. We found a great guide, Raju through an agency and decided to carry our own equipment rather than get a porter. For complete details on accommodations/food/guides/etc throughout the trek, see below.

We left Pokhara with our guide at 8 am Monday and took a taxi for about an hour and a half to Nayapul (elev. 1070 m / 3510′) .  The trek begins walking through a small town’s dirt road, across a flag engulfed bridge and up a rocky dirt road.  It was initially very hot and we probably brought too much stuff with us.  We climbed up a very steep dirt road for a few hours before stopping for lunch.  After lunch, the road stops and any jeeps that have made it up the steep slopes, load their goods onto donkeys for the rest of the journey along a rocky trail.  There were lots of people, porters and donkeys.  The donkeys carry anything from mattresses to rocks and propane.  The porters pretty much the same.  4 hours after we started, we reached Hille (elev. 1500 m / 4921′) where we stayed overnight at a teahouse.  They have these small lodges along the trail for trekkers.  Most are very simple, with very thin walls, shared bathrooms and luke warm showers.  They are very cheap and range from $3-6 a night per room.  You’d think camping would be cheaper, but its not because you have to hire a porter to carry the tent and any cooking supplies as well as sleeping bags and other gear.  Despite the warmth we encountered during the day, our first night was very cold and we were grateful for the thick blankets provided (though we still slept in two layers of clothes).

After breakfast, including delicious fried bread, we left Hille to climb 3,280+ steps.  And we’re not talking your normal house steps.  Some were tall, some were loose, and some were wet.  It took about 2 hours.  And then there were more steps.  We took it pretty slow though we even passed some groups.  After lunch, which is generally Dal Bhat (rice with lentil soup) we trekked through an oak and rhododendron forest, where it started to rain.  Luckily, we had our rain covers and jackets (though Riki’s leaks).  We took cover during the worst of it and after some more steps and 7.5 hours total, we arrived in Ghorepani (elev. 2874 m / 9429′).

On Wednesday, we left our bags in the teahouse and started climbing Poon Hill at 4:45 am.  It was pitch black, but we had lights and so did the 300 other people climbing up to see the sunrise.  There were more stairs and we arrived about an hour later at the top (elev. 3210 m / 10531′).  The view was incredible and we were luckily that it was very clear.  This was the highest elevation we encountered on our trek and it was frigid.  We each wore three pairs of pants and most of our other clothes.  After taking a ton of pictures, we descended the mountain back to Ghorepani to eat breakfast and pick up our bags.  Our trek continued up a steep ridge that was engulfed in clouds and pretty chilly.  There was a bit of snow too and the whole thing was pretty eerie.  After about 2 hours it starts raining as we trek through incredibly lush forests.  More Dal Bhat for lunch and more rain.  We tried to wait out the rain, but eventually gave up and headed through more forest and along a creek that lead to an incredible waterfall.  The rain let up following a very steep and wet descent through moss  and fern covered forests.  Our day wouldn’t have been complete without more steps and the final segment was a steep uphill out of a valley to Tadapani (elev. 2590 m / 8497′).  Only 6 hours trekking.  Tadapani is mostly just teahouses, not many people besides those running the trekking-related businesses.

The fourth day was a short one.  We began at 9 am and trekked through beautiful rhododendron forests, with light red flaky bark.  It was cool and moist and also covered in moss.  For a change, we went downhill the whole way and arrived 2.5 hours later in Ghandruk (elev. 1940 m / 6364′).  After eating lunch with great views of Annapurna South and Fishtail mountains, we headed to the Gurung Museum to see some local artifacts.  Ghandruk is a much larger town, as it is only an hours walk from the nearest real road.  They even have a small brightly painted monastery.  We played cards that evening with our guide and tried the local liquor made from millet seeds.

Our last day trekking started with a downhill walk out of the forest and into more open rice terraces and scattered houses.  Then we reached the dirt road where there is a bus that we could have taken back to the beginning of the trail.  We opted to walk and had great views of rice terraces and even saw some monkeys playing in an area that had a large landslide last year.  After 6 hours we reached Nayapul (elev. 1070 m / 3510′) where we picked up a car and drove back to Pokhara for 1.5 hours.

We spent Saturday resting our sore muscles (surprisingly we were more sore from the downhill than the uphill) and doing laundry.  The place we sent our laundry managed to lose 6 of our socks.  Notice I don’t say pairs of socks, because that’s not what happened.  When you only each have 4 pairs of socks, losing 6 socks is devastating.  The hotel reimbursed us for the socks (kind of) and now I have one set that just doesn’t match.  Oh well.  So we are down 10 socks so far as Riki left two pairs drying in the bathroom in Hanoi.  Otherwise, we haven’t lost anything else (that we’ve noticed).

Sunday we took the 7 hour tourist bus back to Kathmandu to meet up with my parents for the rest of our Nepal travels.

Check out our pictures below.

Trekking Info:

We had a great guide – Raju – who is based in Pokhara and does longer treks and day trips/tours in Pokhara.  Contact me for his info.  He was very knowledgeable and kept us at a perfect pace throughout our trek.

The teahouses seemed to be pretty similar and the rates were pretty fixed in the Annapurna region.  This is where we stayed:

Hille – Dipak Guest House (thin walls, but decent beds and thick blankets)

Ghorepani – Super View Guesthouse (good view, but gross toilets and very low ceilings)

Tadapani – Himalaya Tourist Guesthouse (pay shower, smoky common area, excellent view in the morning)

Ghandruk – Heaven View Lodge (warmish shower, VERY clean, private bath available)

Pokhara – New Annapurna Guest House ($20, very clean, but if you do laundry make sure they do it in house because if they are busy they send it out and that place is terrible – not clean and lost our socks)

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