Trekking to Poon Hill- take 2

After a disastrous Holi Day two years ago which saw me unable to trek and somewhat ruined Niall’s proposal plans, I was extremely careful in Nepal this time round.  That meant no flip flops or sandals, only trekking shoes!

Well I’m happy to report that it paid off. The five day trek through the Annapurna conservation area was spectacular!

We had read beforehand that the need for a guide is debatable. Given our propensity for getting lost on day hikes we decided not to take the chance. As it turns out, we would have been just fine on our own. The tracks are well worn and frequently scattered with villages and teahouses. The freedom to move at our own pace would have been nice too. The only benefits of a guide are that you’re supporting the local community and that your accommodation can be secured earlier in the day.

In an effort to save you from my usual step by step recount I’ve decided to feature a heap of photos in this post. Ok, I’m just being lazy but honestly the photographs speak for themselves. In fact, much of our time was spent wishing we could walk backwards, just so we could keep our eyes fixed on the mesmorising mountain range before us.

Day 1. Stairway to heaven

We set off from the gorgeous lakeside town of Pokhara towards Nayapul (1070 m). After getting our permits checked in Birethanti it was hours of uphill walking, with the final section a gruelling 3280 stone steps to Ulleri (1960 m). That’s like walking up Jacobs Ladder 13.5 times for anyone in Perth. We were very pleased to discover that we were much fitter than we thought and that afternoon we watched a crazy hail storm come in from the comfort of our teahouse. This made way for clear skies and a beautiful glimpse of the mountains.

Note: the picture below is another set of stairs before the real ones started. Yep, stairs were not my friend by day 3.

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Day 2. Jam jam (let’s go)

Today we trekked from Ulleri to Ghorepani (2879 m). It was all uphill and included a walk through a pretty forest where we spotted some monkeys as well as the beautiful red and pink flowers of the national flower, the rhododendron. Ghorepani is a crossroads for a few treks so teahouses are bountiful and well stocked. You could even buy apple pie.

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Day 3. My love hate relationship with trekking

We awoke at 4.30 am to a sky full of stars. With no lights along the trail we could even see the milky way spread out in the sky. It was pretty phenomenal.

As the skies started to lighten we arrived at Poon Hill (3210 m). We were freezing as we sat on the stone ledge admiring the stunning mountains stretched before us, from Gurja Peak on the left, past Dhaulagiru and Annapurna to Machhapuchhre on the right. Words can’t describe the sense of awe we felt gazing at this magnificent showcase of nature.

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We pulled ourselves away though and went back down to Ghorepani, then after a hearty breakfast up to Happy Hill (3165 m) which provided more gorgeous views.

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Then it was down again, up again, down again and up again to finally reach our accommodation in Tadapani (2630 m). I was exhausted and very much starting to question if the views are indeed worth my lungs hating me. Of course, in hindsight from the comfort of home the answer is yes.

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Day 4. What goes up must come down..

Most people hate the decending part of a trek. I’m not most people. Give me downhill over uphill any day. Today we walked through moss covered forest, occasionally passing a herd of goats or mules carrying goods up and down the mountainside. Speaking of carrying things up and down the mountainside, the amount that porters are able to carry is insane. We saw one guy with a refrigerator on his back!

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We stopped for lunch in Ghandruk and then continued on to Syauli Bazzar (1390 m) where we spent our last night and were rewarded with the most amazing warm shower.

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Day 5. Back to Pokhara

In comparison with Salkantay in Peru, the Poon Hill trek was relatively easy,  especially the last day. We followed a flat road back to Nayapul and took a car back to Pokhara where our guide’s wife had generously cooked Dal Baht for us and the family for lunch. A nice way to end our magical experience.

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