At the end of our stay in India we travelled to Nepal, where we have spent two weeks. Nepal is a beautiful country with many things to do and see, and therefore these two weeks were too short! You cannot visit Nepal without a trekking through the Himalayas, so we booked a 4-day trek in the Annapurna Region. In this blogpost we take you back on this beautiful (and tough) adventure!
Day 1: A bumpy ride, beautiful views and a bit of Nepali culture (Pokhara – Kimche – Ghandruk)
The first day is an easy one. Our guide picks us up from our hotel by jeep, and we drive out of Pokhara. Many people start their trekking from Nayapul, but as we are not very trained we have arranged a jeep to drive the first part up to Kimche instead of walking for 4 hours. The road from Nayapul to Kimche is not comfortable, as it is very bumpy and dusty, but after more than one hour we arrive at our place of departure: Kimche. The road from Kimche towards Ghandruk is good and quiet, and despite the climbing we enjoy the views, people and animals we encounter on the way. The “best part” of that day is kept for last however, as we have to climb many steep stairs to reach our guesthouse. The stairs are horrible, and little do we know that these are not the last stairs we will encounter during our trekking! 😉
After lunch our guide takes us on a small tour around the village of Ghandruk. It is a lovely place, with many traditional houses, guesthouses, and friendly people. Many trekkers stay in their guesthouse when they arrive here, but it is very nice to walk around and see the village. We first visit a place where we try on traditional Gurung clothing. The Gurung are an ethnic group, who mostly live in the mountain areas around Pokhara. Even though we have not seen many people wearing these clothes, it was very interesting to wear it and get some explanation about it.
After that we walk to a visitor centre where we watch a small documentary about the Annapurna Region. There is also a small Buddhist monastery in the village, which is not inhabited anymore by monks, where we look around. Finally, we visit a small museum where they show a traditional house and explain how everything is being used.
At the end of our tour around the village several big snowy peaks suddenly appear from behind the clouds. It is our first good view on these giants and it is amazing! The 7000m peaks look enormous and we suddenly feel very small. What a beautiful world we live in!
Day 2: Stairs, stairs, stairs… (Ghandruk – Landruk – Tolka)
We wake up at 5.10, and immediately open the curtains to see if the weather is in our favor. And it is! The snowy peaks are clearly visible, so we jump out of bed and walk upon the terrace to enjoy the sunrise. It is quiet around us, and with the sound of birds waking up we wait until the first sunbeams appear. Several minutes later we see a small golden spot on the Annapurna south. Slowly the sunbeam becomes larger and larger, like a ‘golden river’ that floats down the snowy peak. This is magical! We just sit and watch the mountains for an hour, and enjoy everything around us. What a place, what a beauty!
After breakfast we prepare ourselves for the hike. The guide told us on beforehand that it will be a tough day, and he did not lie about that. To describe the hike in one word: stairs! We start in Ghandruk at 1900m, and the first 1.5 hours we walk down to the bottom of the mountain (1400m), where we cross a river and have to climb up the other mountain towards Landruk (1700m). The hike leads us through some beautiful nature, but we do not have much energy left to look around and we curse the stairs many times! At Landruk we finally have some time to relax, have lunch, and enjoy the nature around us. After lunch it is only an easy 30-minute walk to the guesthouse in Tolka, where we take a shower and relax. The guesthouse is simple and there is no internet connectivity, so it feels like going back to basic a little bit! We entertain ourselves with playing cards, reading a book, chatting with other guests, and enjoy the view.
Day 3 – An easy day with a vengeful end (Tolka – Australian Camp)
We wake up with the sounds of heavy rain and thunder – this does not motivate us for our hike today. Thankfully the rain stops after breakfast, so we can walk to Australian Camp in dry clothes. To reach Australian Camp we can choose between a short but heavy route, or a longer but easier route. As the stairs from yesterday gave us a lot of muscle pain, we choose for the latter 😉 The route is nice and relatively relaxing, and there is a cute dog accompanying us. After one hour we have a tea-break at Pothana, from where it is only 30 minutes to Australian Camp. These final 30 minutes are heavy, as it goes uphill again, but we cannot complain because we have the whole afternoon to relax! From Australian Camp you have a view on to several valleys and mountain ranges – a beautiful place to hang out!
Day 4 – Running through the leeches! (Australian Camp – Dhampus – Pokhara)
We wake up early, hoping to see a clear sky so we can witness the beautiful sunrise Australian Camp has to offer. Unfortunately, it is very foggy and we cannot even see more than 50m around us! It has also rained a lot during the night, and our guide warns us for the many leeches that we will encounter during the hike. He advises us to walk fast “so they don’t have much time to climb upon your shoes”, but even though we listen to his advice we have to beat a lot of leeches from our shoes. Because of the leeches, it is not the most comfortable path, but nevertheless the views are amazing! Most fog has disappeared and sometimes the sun shows itself as well. Slowly we descend from the mountain, and we can see the road approaching us. We pas small villages and walk through beautiful green rice fields. After 3 hours we arrive at the road, where a taxi is waiting for us and bring us back to Pokhara.
Although the hike was relatively tough at some points, we very much enjoyed this 4-day trek. It is amazing to walk around in such a beautiful and relatively remote area. Most villages are only accessible by foot or by bad unpaved roads, and most products are being carried here on the backs of people or animals. We cannot imagine living such a life, but the people are not used to anything else. Most money is being earned with agriculture, livestock, and tourism – though after the earthquake tourist numbers have been greatly reduced and are still not back on the old level. We can highly recommend to visit Nepal and explore the Himalayas. There are small treks (2-3 days), but also longer ones (up to 3 weeks). We booked a trip with Mister Happy Trekking in Pokhara, which we can definitely recommend! He arranged the guide, a porter, a car to bring us and pick us up, permits, TIMS cards, guesthouses, and food. However, this whole package is pricey and if you prefer to walk without a guide it is possible as well. Most villages are well indicated and guesthouses can be found everywhere!