In our earlier blog, we shared our dream and plans for our seven-day trek in the Himalayas. Below we share the reality.
DAY 1 – NAYA PUL TO TIKHE DHUNGA (1800m) 5 hrs – A TOUGH START
We left our hotel in Pokhara and traveled by car for about one hour and fifteen minutes. It was going to be a four-hour hike upwards at an altitude of about 1495 meters, starting in Naya Pul (meaning new bridge). We crossed the suspension bridge and were on our way. It was an amazingly beautiful experience but very tough. We were walking with an experienced mountain guide and a sherpa (porter) – they were extremely nice and very helpful. At one challenging stage, Marilyn was having difficulty with the uphill and they took her day pack and carried it for her – this made a huge difference and we continued uphill, after a forty-five minute lunch stop. We arrived at our destination at about 2 PM and were ready for a shower, to say the least! The accommodation was very basic but we were not expecting five-star hotels! Having a shower was quite challenging, as we had to choose hot water or cold – they didn’t both work together, so we had to alternate them! We were staying in a village by the name of Tikha Dunga, our finishing point for the day. Just to give you a flavor, we were using down sleeping bags and silk liners on top of the bed frame. We don’t normally travel with towels but for this trip invested in micro fiber towels – they dried in about ten minutes in the afternoon sun. At 4 PM, it was time to put a sweater on, as the temperature was dropping fast. Dinner was very simple.
DAY 2 – TIKHE DHUNGA TO BANTHANTI (2400m) 5 hrs – PONY TO THE RESCUE
Well, day two proved to be so difficult, having to climb in excess of 3500 steep stairs. They have only counted up to 3500 but there was another two hours of stair climbing after that figure, so we imagine that the true figure is more like 4000. The big steps were often twelve to eighteen inches high. Marilyn had enough after about a thousand steps and saw a pony trekking shed and decided to let something with four legs do the hard work! Alf, however, continued uphill with the sherpa ,and the guide helped Marilyn stay on the pony on the steep steps – even the pony needed to stop for several breathers! Our trek was in the Annapurna mountain range and we reached 2400 meters, having started at 1800 meters in the morning. We sat outside, looking at the amazing views of the mountains and the sun was just setting, a true sight to behold! Our trek today took us five hours and we would not like to repeat it. Marilyn’s pony was very uncomfortable, as it did not have a proper saddle, just a rug that kept slipping; however the wonderful beast saved her a lot of huffing and puffing and when she dismounted her bottom and inner thighs were very sore and stiff. However, it was a wonderful experience and another one to chalk up.
The next day was supposed to be a bit easier, as we were walking through the forest and it we were promised would be nice and shady. The temperature here was around 28 degrees Celsius but dropped down to about 10 or 12 in the evening.
DAY 3 – BANTHANTI TO GHOREPANI (2850m) 5 hrs – REACHING THE TOP
Today we left Banthanti at 2400 meters and arrived at Goripani 2800 meters – it took five hours to get up. We saw Annapurna South that stands at 7200 meters. We then saw Fish Tail Mountain (correct name “Himchuli”), at 6,400 meters. It was a very difficult hike up as usual, and at times it felt that maybe we could not go on, as we both had “Delhi Belly” – therefore, we had difficulties to say the least, in more ways than we care to describe! We did not get defeated and it was well worth it in the end. The next day promised to be the real highlight; it is a trek up to Poon Hill, starting at 5 AM to see the sun rise over the Himalayas and back at our accommodation by about 7.30 AM. Marilyn had chosen to opt out, as it is a climb up to 3200 meters in a short time, but Alf was game for it!
On our way up to Ghorepani, we saw many ponies and donkeys being led up the mountain, as they are the only form of transport for both supplies and human transport. We observed women carrying full loads in large wicker baskets tied to their backs.
It was wonderful to see the Rhododendron trees, many of which were in flower, but we were a week too early to see the full show – however, what we saw was pretty lovely.
Nepal is probably the most unusual and amazing place that we have visited, firstly for its natural beauty and of course, for its delightful, happy and friendly people. As you climb the hills, everybody says “Nameste!” which covers “hi, hello, greetings etc”. There are visitors here from every corner of the world and all chanting “Nameste!”
DAY 4 – GHOREPANI – POONHILL (3180m) & RETURN TO GHOREPANI 1.5 hrs – ONE OF THE FINEST VIEWS IN THE WORLD
In the morning, Alf had an early start and made his way, with the guide, up to Poon Hill. They started at 5 AM and it took only 45 minutes to reach their destination, starting at 2800 meters. It was a very steep uphill climb, but once there, the views were spectacular! This included a panoramic view of sunrise over the Himalayas including: Mt. Dhaulagiri I (8167m), Tukuche Nilgiri (6940m), Annapurna I (8091m), Hiunchuli (6441m), Tarke Kang (7193m), Annapurna South, Fishtail, and others.
Marilyn stayed in Goropani and saw the sunrise over the mountains and that too was amazing!
Alf returned at 7.15 AM and felt privileged, exhausted and hungry.
In the afternoon, we both walked the trail that leads up to Poon Hill, without having to go the full distance, as Marilyn had missed the amazing views of the mountains and valleys below.
DAY 5 – GHOREPANI TO TADAPANI (2500m) 6.5 hrs. – STUNNING SCENERY
We left Ghorepani at 7.30 AM and arrived in Tadapani by 3 PM. We were originally scheduled to stay overnight at a guest house that would have broken our journey half way, but the accommodation was so poor that we decided to go on to the next village. The views on our walk were absolutely spectacular, of course. We had the opportunity of viewing the mountains at different times of the day, in varying light, sometimes with the sun over the peaks, or at other times with white cloud giving them a mystical appearance or seeing them snow-covered and shining white – whichever time we viewed them, it was magical! We were pleased to arrive in Tadapani after a challenging trek that consisted of two and a half hours of steep uphill and the rest was a mix of steep down hill and more uphill. We started in Goripani at 2800 meters and after about one hour we reached our highest point of 3,200 meters, at the same level as Poon Hill, and it was from here that we were able to have our finest, most breath-taking views. The valleys below looked bottomless and the flora and fauna were magical. After a long day’s trekking, we were pleased to reach the last lap as it was really quite challenging, to say the least!
DAY 6 – TADAPANI TO GHANDRUK (1950m) 4 hrs – THE KNEES COMPLAINED
We left Tadapani at 8.15 AM and continued our steep descent, lots of ups and downs, some straight track and as usual wonderful views. Today was a shorter walk – only four hours, passing some pretty villages and herds of donkeys and ponies, as well as observing the rural Nepalese life. We stopped for photo shots and natural breaks and arrived at our accommodation at around 12.15 PM.
The next day was our final day on this amazing trek and we would be continuing our descent, dropping down 1000 meters and it was expected to take around six to seven hours.
DAY 7 – GHANDRUK TO POKHARA (910m) 6 hrs – SHEER DELIGHT
We left our overnight accommodation at 7.15 AM to continue our steep descent. There was about two hours of uphill and then downhill to follow for most of the remainder. We walked through the forest that opened up to the amazing view of Fish Tail Mountain and glowing in the early morning sunshine. We observed the local villagers going about their daily routines, cleaning, washing, fetching water, ploughing fields, leading their animals to work, donkeys, buffalo and cows, with infants being placed in baskets on their mothers’ back. All of these wonderful true life experiences ease the pain of downhill trekking! We were heading for Birethanti. Here we would eat a fresh fish lunch and this was our encouragement to go a bit faster! The scenery was spectacular, contrasting from snow-capped mountain peaks to rice terraces and rhododendrons to donkey bells sounding and birds chanting. We arrived in Birethanti after five hours and were rewarded with a delicious fresh fish from the river – fish curry and beers all round, for our guide, our Sherpa and of course for us! We did after all have cause for celebration, that against all odds, we had completed this amazing and magnificent seven-day trek, with our two Nepalese helpers who did a grand job in helping with our achievement. We shall always remember Arjon, our guide, and Humal, our sherpa. After lunch, we had only an hour’s walking left before meeting up with our driver at our starting point – the car took us through to Pokera, an hours drive away.
We arrived at our hotel mid-afternoon and after a short rest, went and had a relaxing drink and did some window shopping. Pokhara is very touristic and therefore prices are higher, so we decided to leave the real shopping for elsewhere.
The following day we did a Pokhara city tour which included the Mountain Museum, water falls and caves.
We returned to Kathmandu by small aircraft, it was only a twenty-minute flight but was very scenic – flying over the Himalaya Mountains was the “wow factor”!
In case you are tempted, we booked our trek through the Kathmandu based Nepal Hiking Team, whom we would recommend for trekking.
We will spend two days in Kathmandu, before moving on to a week in Tibet, China, hopefully truly reaching the highlight of the trip, visiting Everest Base Camp at 5,200 meters.
Watch this space..