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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit - 4 day Ghorepani/Poon Hill

NEPAL | Tuesday, 19 April 2011 | Views [10852]

Nepal – Pokhara – 4 day 50 km - Ghorepani/Poon Hill Loop Trek

After coming to an “arrangement” whereby Luiza stayed down in Pokhara doing a nice all inclusive Yoga & Meditation course, I decided that someone in the family has to at least do some form of trekking.  I mean how would it look coming to Nepal and not doing any trekking??  Based on length and ease of trek I decided to do the 4 day/3 night Ghorepani Loop trek.  It’s classed as easy to medium in terms of difficulty and maximum altitude reached is only 3200m.  I had experienced some problems with altitude in Darjeeling (2000 metres) so decided to take it easy.

DAY 1 – Pokhara to Nayapul (trail head) 1080 metres to Ulleri (well nearly…) 1800 metres – 7:30am to 3:30pm trekking

After paying nearly $45 for a TIMS Trekking Permit and an ACAP Permit and nearly $70 for a guide for 4 days, I meet my guide at the hotel at 7:30 for a quick transfer to take the local bus to the trail head.  Two hours later we arrive at Nayapul our starting point.  A quick hike down to the Modi River bank and then along the river to where the real trekking starts.   Steep stone steps one after the other start to take their toll on this little (unfit) bunny!   Increasing altitude combined with the strenuous climbing lead to some very heavy breathing and frequent stops.  My guide decides to just fuck off ahead and leave me struggling on my own.  He seems more interested in foreign female trekkers (preferably trekking solo)!! Not impressed.  He also tells me he was a Maoist Guerilla for 6 years but not sure how true that is…

We stop for lunch and I decide to eat my pizza and Kit Kat I had brought not knowing how bad the food would be on the way.  My guide looked pissed off and I discovered later that wherever they take you to eat, they get free lunch/dinner etc.  Had just opened my chockie and a little boy literally appeared from nowhere so gave him a piece and he looked like I’d given him an Xbox.  Shared some pizza with a dog who sidled up to me from behind and gave me a nudge sort of saying – hey there new best friend, how about a wee bit??

Anyway we head off again and eventually arrive at Tikhedunga – 1540 metres.  This was supposed to be our first overnight stay but it was only 1:30pm and I thought what the f%^k am I going to do for the rest of the day??   I ask about the next day and he shows me the mountain we have to trek up and I suggest we keep on going to make tomorrow easier.  So on over a suspension bridge and then we start the real business of trekking.  After about two hours, my heart is threatening to pound its way out of my chest so we call it quits about a half hour short of Ulleri – 1960 metres near the top.  Stay in a really basic guest house which had hot water and a really bad Dhal Bhaat? (rice, dal, greens and pickles).  Exhausted, I crawl into my sleeping bag and wait for sleep.  Heart’s pounding so take some blood pressure medication a doctor had given me in Darjeeling (but I’d not taken at that time as I was sure my problem was lack of oxygen due to the altitude there).  Bloody doc was right – half an hour later feeling much better, time for sleep.

DAY 2  – Near Ulleri - 1800 metres to Ghorepani – 2874 metres – 6:30am to 3:30pm trekking

Pay the bill in the morning (100 rupees/$1.50 for the room) but bill was 700 rupees/$10 – charged for the hot shower and dinner and Fanta exorbitantly!!  That’s how it seems to work – room is always about $1.50 but food and drink is extortionate.  Off we go and I take another BP pill and am feeling much better than yesterday.  But no slow start today!  Straight out of guest house onto steep trail and after about 30 minutes we reach Ulleri where I should have slept last night.  Looking down at Tikhedunga way down below, I was very happy we pushed on yesterday.  Anyway continue up to summit and then around the hill for an uneventful but tiring trek to Ghorepani – 2874 metres.  

Check in at our hotel (100 rupees again but you know the rest…).  Have possibly the best cup of noodles I have ever had in my life (the ones I brought with me!!).   Have some fried noodles for dinner and then pinch a book to read (bloody Ipod battery has run out already!!).   About 6:00pm a hailstorm starts up and it’s really full on.  Anyway crash ready for great views and an early start in the morning.  

DAY 3 - Ghorepani – 2874 metres to Ghandruk – 1940 metres – 6:30am to 3:00pm trekking

I wake up at about 5:00am next morning and take some photos outside, it’s quite cloudy though and to be honest the view was better down in Pokhara (bit pissed off ‘bout that).  So decide not to hike up to Poon Hill observatory 3200 metres and guide says we should head off due to the worsening weather and that on the way we will have views as good as Poon Hill.   Quick brekkie and then off again.  Easy downhill to start with then a very steep uphill up a muddy trail up to same height as Poon Hill but on other side of valley.  The weather suddenly turns nasty and a booming sound of the wind comes racing up the hill and the guide says “hurry, very danger!!!” so we get a move on.  Black clouds all around with lightning and thunder and now we get the gift of rain & light hail and the temperature plummets to around 3-4 degrees.  It’s now so cold the hail from last night is still lying around everywhere.  My best mate (not!!) guide decides to piss off again as he doesn’t have a waterproof jacket (smart huh??) and races off ahead leaving me to brave the muddy not so obvious track around the hill.  Make a quick movie (Blair Witch style) for Luiza in case something happens.  Sounds melodramatic but anyone who was up there would know what I mean.  All of a sudden you realize how suddenly a nice mild trek for a tourist can turn into a bit of an adventure.

Anyway, all my best expectations of going downhill for the rest of the trek are dashed by the slimy, muddy, slippery stone steps and muddy trail.  Very beautiful trail around the mountain though!  Don’t get me wrong I was having a great time – feeling much fitter after the first day and starting to get into the solitude and the whole nature thing…   After a lunch break at Tadapani – 2595 metres, we are almost at our destination Ghandruk – 1940 metres, when it starts pissing down!!  The guide wants to stay in this little shithole but I insist we wait a bit and sure enough ten minutes later the sun’s out again and we push on for our final overnight destination.   Ghandruk is quite a big place and has amazing views of the Annapurnas.  Our guesthouse was really nice and the Dhal Bhaat was great, I even had seconds!!  Had a chat with some guests and then retired for the night with my stolen (borrowed) book.

DAY 4 - Ghandruk – 1940 metres to Nayapul and then back to Pokhara – 7:00am to 11:30am trekking

Wake up early, cup of coffee and then have to light a fire under the guide to get him going.  At this stage I just want to get back, see my baby and have a nice big steak, some scotch on ice and a ciggie (decided to go smoke and booze free for the duration) back in Pokhara.  Anyway, I’m pretty fit by this stage and I charge off down the steep stone steps for about 2 hours well ahead of our group.  Stop about 9:00 for breakfast to wait for the guide and another group.  After waiting about 35 minutes and nada, get fed up and head off again.  Feeling great and flying up and down steps until one group of Nepali teen trekkers stop me and say my guide is very worried and can’t find me and is asking everyone if they’ve seen me.   So now he gives a shit huh?? 

Eventually I come across him waiting for me at a roadside café and we head off again.  Long day’s walking (about 15 kms) but the last half is flat walking alongside the Modi River.  We finally arrive at Nayapul and take the bus back to Pokhara (2 hours) and when I get back to hotel there’s my lovely babe waiting for me with a bottle of single malt whiskey and later that night we go out for a great steak!!

Great experience and happy I did it but glad to be back home…

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