The 10 day walk
First time hearing about Nepal and trekking at the Kathmandu, I imagined the great Everest, and all that unforgiving landscape, challenging terrain to explore and experience.
The idea of taking a trip there seems kind of intimidating, it makes you think twice before going. But after a lot of reviews and reading from previous traveler experience, it does not sound so scary at all. It began with someone inviting me to join the Nepal trekking adventure and ended up planning for Annapurna base camp in Kathmandu Nepal. It will be a 10 day trek from Pokhara to Annapurna base camp, with people who I have never met, how interesting that would be I wonder. Anyway, most of the cost and planning is handled by our guide there and the ground cost per person is about USD 800, which kind of expensive compared to the blog that I’ve read and such.
Nov 16, Flight to Kathmandu.
My flight late at afternoon and would arrive Nepal around 7pm local time. Unfortunately departure was delayed and thus we landed quite late that night almost 11pm, My visa is USD 40 (1-30 day) If I had stayed for 15 or less the visa would be USD 25 only. For some reason, we had to wait one hour for our luggage crawling on the conveyor belt and the chaos and pushing was a little bit “unpleasant”. Met the other team members for the first time introduced ourselves and from there on we went to our budget hotel that night. Had a very late meal, everyone was hungry, but first experience with local food at a new place is always fun and interesting.
Nov 17, Thamel, shopping.
In the morning, Breakfast at “Hotel Budget Multyplex” and after that, we just walk around the hotel area, Thamel, shopping and looking at trekking equipments, clothes. Definitely lots of imitation stuff. Kathmandu roads are dusty and dry so most of the public wear scarves or surgical mask which can be bought cheep almost everywhere. I just got myself a scarf that’s good to cover my face and used for trekking later on.
Then later in the day, we had the first meeting as a whole group, discussed the things and preparations that is needed for the upcoming treks, to hire or not to hire a porter and all the minute details required and whatever matter that came up. Most of the team members decided to hire porters but I decided later not to as there is not much to bring anyway. In the afternoon, back from visiting a friend at the embassy, we noticed The North Face boutique. Bought a pair of pants and a snow cap for myself. The North Face Tridevi Sadak, 44600, Nepal
Nov 18. From Thamel, Kathmadu, drive to Pokhara
We loaded our bags, up onto a van, and off to Pokhara. 7 hrs drive. Dusty, winding roads along the steep mountain sides. Looking at the gorge outside is sometime scary but our driver confidence in a way is kind of “reassuring”. Stopped for some lunch about 15 minutes for rice and veggie’s stuff. Dhal Bhat (didn’t know what it was called that time but later it seemed that the secret recipe to trekking Nepal Mountains is dhal bhat, a dish that’s energy and carbohydrates loaded). Arrived Pokhara late in the afternoon just few hours before sunset, checked in our hotel “Fewa Holiday” and later went out on foot for dinner again. The Pashmir scarves are nice and soft to hold. Bought 2 for a total of USD16 at a shop named “Love Love Pashmina.” which later I found out, has received some nice reviews in tripadvisor.
Nov 19. Day 01 to Nayapul. Start trek
Morning, Drive from Pokhara(915m) to Nayapul(1050m) is about one and half hour. We picked up the porters as arranged previously on the way. Porter fee is USD 15 per day, 15 kg per person.
Spirits high and all geared up. Our trek starts from Nayapul via Birethanti (1065 m) to Tikhedhunga (1480 m) Five hours or 9 km. Passing through several villages and settlements, crossed 2 hanging bridge and climbed for one and half an hour until Ulleri. I reached the camp quite late, following a friend who’s a little bit slow. We were there about an hour after sunset, first time trekking in Nepal and in the dark but It was quite fun walking at night.
Ulleri is mainly occupied by Magar ethnic people. Overnight at Ulleri (1900 m) End of a very long and tiring day. Basic amenities, sharing bathroom and wifi is still available at this point. I was told that this would soon end as we get further or higher into the mountains as everything would be charged on a different bill.
Nov 20. Day 02 Ulleri to Ghorepani (2850 m.)
The morning after the first day walk. I could feel the strains in my legs and this made me a little bit wary of past injuries, I keep reminding myself that we still have many days to go, and to take things cautiously. Today walk would be around five to six hours or 8 Km. Ascending through Ulleri village (1900 m.) We continued the ascent to Banthati where we enjoy the view of Machhapuchhare or Fish Tail (6993m.), Himchuli (6441m.), and Annapurna south (7219m). Final hours of today’s trail are easier passing through rhododendron, oaks and shadowy trees and gently up to the final camp. “Languor and different species of birds are common things to see” but honestly I was already too tired and feeling beat up. Some of us are fast walkers and some not. Quite separated from the group and pacing at my own speed, this first few days is better to just accustom myself and enjoy the view.
Nov 21. Day 03 Top Poon Hill. Then from Ghorepani to Tadapani
Morning hike to the top of Poon Hill (3210 m) for the best view of sunrise on Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167 m) Tukuche Peak (6920 m) Nilgiri (6940m)Varaha Shikhar (7847 m) Annapurna South (7219 m) Annapurna III (7555 m) Machhapuchhare (6993 m) Annapurna IV (7525 m) Annapurna II (7939 m) Lamjung Himal (6939 m) and other numerous snow capped mountains.
After the past two days lugging my deuter 40 Lt backpack, that morning walk with just my camera bag felt so easy, But the 45 minutes constant climb up the stairs at freezing cold temperature is not to be taken lightly. At the top of Poon Hill, we enjoyed the sunrise view and took some photos, and then I descended back to our guesthouse in Ghorepani for breakfast. Temperature was freezing cold already and at some part of the stairs ice formation was present. After having breakfast, we continued another five-hour arduous journey to Tadapani (2650 m) 8 Km total. Overnight stay in Tadapani.
Nov 22. Day 04 Trek from Tadapani (2650m.) to Chomrong(2170m)
Five hours and 11 Km.The day trek is very easy by mostly descending gently all the way through Rhododendron, Oak and Sal’s dense forests. Kimrung Khola area is richly habited by different species of birds. Ascend steeply and walk at a level for 45 minutes and then mostly flat trail with gentle descend. We walk down the mountains, crossed hanging bridges and climbed up again, soon descend again to what seems to be an endless walk. Passing village houses, farms, donkeys and even playing children. Overnight in Chomrong (2170 m).
Nov 23-Day 05: From Chomrong to Himalaya (2900m),
It takes around 8 hours and total 10 Km. The trail descends by a stone staircase for first 45 minutes crosses the Chomrong Khola via suspension bridge. High above the west bank of Modi Khola, the trail passes through the forests of Bamboo, Rhododendron and Oaks. Climbing further on a rocky trail and reach at Sinuwa, (2350 m) through the forest and descend a long steep stone staircase till Bamboo. Ascending inside the forest around one hour to reach Dovan and from Dovan another 2 hours to Himalaya (2900 m). Overnight stay in Himalaya.
Nov 24-Day 06: Trek from Himalaya to Annapurna base camp
Takes about six hours and around 8 Km. There is debris of avalanches during winter season, the trail is steep ascent up to Hinko Cave (3160 m) This is named as a huge overhanging rock provides some protection against rain and avalanches then you will reach MBC (3700 m). From MBC takes 2 hours to Annapurna Base Camp (4130 m) The valley widens and becomes less steep and you can see the gates to the sanctuary from here. We could see Mount Hiuchuli (6441 m), Annapurna South (7219 m) Annapurna I (8091 m) Annapurna III (7555 m) Gangapurna (7454 m) and Machhapuchhare or Fish Tail (6993 m) Overnight stay in ABC (4130 m).
As the sun sets and we await for our dinner, I could feel the cold winds biting getting too uncomfortable and unbearable. An effort to capture a long exposure of the landscape with a table and my hands holding the shutter button for 90 second was really interesting but the results was nothing admirable. There was another Japanese guy doing the same thing but I was just too cold to care and compare how our res was.
Nov 25-Day 07: Anapurna to bamboo.
The morning in Anapurna base camp, watched the sunrise, it wasn’t that grand, in fact I think Poon Hill sunrise was better. After some photos, had our breakfast in ABC with panorama view of Himalaya. Other trekkers with us at the same table but we didn’t talked much maybe overwhelmed by exhaustion. After breakfast, we spent a couple of hours taking group photos and the landscape. Trek to Bamboo (2310 m) takes about six hours and around 11 Km. It’s much easier going down. Overnight stay in Bamboo.
Nov 26-Day 08: Trek from Bamboo to Jhinu danda(1780m)
Trek back to Chomrong, Fishtail Guesthouse, pick up some stuff that we had left behind earlier to reduce weight. Regrouped and had lunch, before we continued descent to Chhumrong Khola, following the stone staircase to the last part of the trail, then steeply down to Jhinu danda. To the next guest house where we will be staying for the night, Hostel Namaste.
Today’s trek was not very far about 8 km and just 4 hours walk descent, so we had a lot of time to spare. From the guesthouse we walk down for 20 minutes to reach the hot spring at the bank of the Modi Khola. Soaked in the with other travellers for an hour before heading back to our guesthouse and dinner. The best hot bath that I had in days.
Nov 27-Day 09: From Jhinu danda to Australian camp (1900m.)
At this part of the walk, I felt it was more to sight seeing. It seems that the route half circled a mountain, down the valley, crossed a river and we ascent up again to another mountain to half circle it at the other side. It is a seven hour trek and total 12 Km. From the itenary given, the first part of the trek is descent and then flat land until Himal Pani. The trail ascends gently crossing numerous streams and terraces. After short trek, Landruk (1640 m) A village inhabited by mixed community of Gurung, Magar, Cheetri and Brahmin. Now the trail gently ascends to Tolka (1700 m) then goes steeply up to Deurali (2100 m) with a view of different mountain peaks and again trail gradually descends to Pothana passing through different forests.
The surroundings are quite different from the dusty rocky trails that we went through past few days. Green grass, moist humid soil and cool atmosphere conditions. Pothana is a small town resided and from there is another half an hour to reach Australian camp, We should have enjoyed wonderful views of various mountains from here but it was too cloudy to really get a breathtaking view, just a glimpse of the majestic landscape. Our overnight stay in Australian camp.
Nov 28-Day 10: Trek from Australian camp to Dhampus Phedi. End of trek.
It takes about three hours to reach Phedi and 5 Km. The Trekking trail is gentle descend up to Dhampus, a village mostly inherited by Gurung Cheetri and Brahmin communities.Then trek through the flat land for several moments and steep downhill stairs.
Soon enough, the sounds of diesel engine vehicles and smell of smoke is noticeable, I knew we were nearing to the end of this walk and trek. A mixed of feelings, was imminent, the great sense of relief that all is over and at the same time one of the most awesome trek that I’ve had will end soon. But I guess the overall feeling of achievement that we all managed to finish this journey was priceless. Trekking ends at Dhampus Phedi and from there, Arranged vehicle picked us back to Pokhara. Our lunch will be in Pokhara. We checked in at Hotel “Fewa Holiday” again, and do what ever we could to relax. Went out late the afternoon and dragged till night sight-seeing shops and the streets of Pokhara.
Nov 29- Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Breakfast and Packed everything and another 6 hour on the road with all the bumps and dusts. Nothing much to do but sit and wait and watching traffic pass by. I realised that we were entering Kathmandu when we passed through several police check points and at one point the driver pays a fee/toll. Don’t quite get what they are looking for or if they could ever find it with the amount of vehicles and movement happening.
Nov 30, Around Thamel, Kathmandu.
Half of the team members that have scheduled flights for today went to the Tribhuvan International. We said our goodbye and farewell, who knows when we will meet again. The rest that stayed back, basically took the time to walk around until night and sight-seeing the surrounding area. Night life at Thamel ends as all shops closes about 10pm.
Dec 01. Thamel, Kathmandu streets and shopping again.
Few of us still left behind wandered the streets and did some shopping for souvenirs and equipments probably for the next coming trip. I visited Swambunanth, entry fee NPR200, viewed Durbar square, did not enter as they requested NPR750 (applicable to tourist or foreigners only) and finally back to hotel and said good bye to two of our friends as their flights coming soon.
Dec 2. Last day, going home.
In the morning, I hang out at Himalayan Java cafe at Tridevi Marg Road, above the new TNF shop, nice place, cool, cheap quality coffee… Had cake and one great tasting macchiato for just NPR350! Had I have known sooner, I’d definitely visited every day. We went early to the airport at 11am. My flight scheduled at 3 pm
From the moment that we left the vehicle and entered the airport terminal building, the number of people was tremendously unbelievable. It was a shock to see so many people lining up for check-in, hundreds of passenger lining to one counter for the flight as it seems the airlines operator are only allowed to open two check in counter at the departure lobby… I was surprised how they could even arrange to fly all the passengers in time.
I boarded my flight amidst all the chaos and uncomfortable waiting, but in the end arrived and landed safely. Nepal’s Anapurna base camp trek was an amazing experience overall. An Interesting, challenging experience. But with new friends going together, it just made the journey unforgettable.
*All information on location names, spelling and elevation are taken from notes and literary handed out by our guide. Any inaccuracy is regrettable.