Himalayan Hikes

Trip Start Nov 03, 2009
Trip End Jul 15, 2010

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In lots of cold lodges

Flag of Nepal  , Himalayan Region,
Sunday, November 22, 2009

DAY 1 - Nayapul - Ghandruk
So we decided to start our 9 day / 8 night Annapurna Base Camp (A.B.C) trek on a Sunday of all days, leaving Pokhara around 10am to get to Nayapul for around midday. Kit wise we were pretty set with lots of layers but some frantic North Fake purchases in town the previous day had to be made, especially for Sof as she gets so cold even at sea level.

6 hours walking to Ghandruk commenced up the foothills of the Himalayas. We had guide/porter called Hari who was really easy going and extremely knowledgeable about Annapurna and the mountains in general.

Ghandruk is about 1940 metres up so the route is pretty much uphill all the way with a few downhill deviations, but the scenery was lush and it was a beautiful sunny day so all was good and it was a nice start to a fairly long trek into the mountains.

DAY 2 - Ghandruk - Chhomrong

Ghandruk I thought was like a Ewok Village of sorts with the 2 other villages linking the one we stayed in overnight. In the previous evening they were all lit up across the valley and the view was great. Awoke at 7am after going to bed at 7pm (this is apparently the norm when trekking) so ready for Day 2 which involved heading up (and down) the valley to the next village, Chhomrong (2170 mt). It was a fairly easy day, lots of steps and around 7 hours walking time in total. Along the way there were excellent views of Annapurna South, Mardi Himal and the ever present 'Fish Tail' mountain Machhapuchhre. We also met two great Aussie guys (Nigel & Jim) at Chhomrong on a father and son trip to Nepal to trek to A.B.C as we were. Had a couple of beers with them and a steak dinner and it was off to bed again at the ridiculous hour of 8pm.

DAY 3 - Chhomrong - Himalaya
A hard day for me. Sofie found it the easiest bizarrely. Go figure. Lots of uphill slog and plummeting temperatures the further you went up. The route took us along the Modi Khola through Bamboo, Oak & Rhodendron forest. It was quite dark at points as the cloud normally rolls in around 1pm blocking out the sun in the process. After around 6 hours walking and lunch at Dobhan (Dovan) we arrived at our next lodge Himalaya.

Himalaya is nearly 3000 mt up and only has two lodges so luckily Hari our guide/porter had booked ahead as we later found out all the other rooms were booked up by large South Korean and French organised trek parties. It was extremely cold even at 3pm and the whole place was covered by thick cloud. We went into our sleeping bags to keep warm until it was a realistic time to eat dinner. And what a dinner that was.
The South Koreans were a funny bunch I have to say. Impeccably organised to the point of actually bringing all their own food with them as well as kitchen utensils, UV water purifiers and Jasmine Tea. 14 people. 10 days. Lots and lots of suffering porters sadly, but money in their pockets I guess. 

We sat down at a small corner of the dining table and ordered from the menu, then the doors swung open and plates and plates of freshly cooked Korean food came piling in closely followed by the people about to eat it. It was all gone in 7 minutes flat and they all filled out again to go to their rooms to get drunk on whiskey. It was a funny scene to witness and when so many different cultures and people converge on a Nepal mountain to climb/walk there seems to be a steady stream of quirks that occur along the way.

DAY 4 - Himalaya - Annapurna Base Camp

My easiest day and Sofie's hardest! We still haven't worked this one out yet. I guess I was pretty excited about reaching base camp, who knows.

The pressure dropped massively the higher you went and the risk of experiencing altitude sickness of some kind kept increasing with each metre climbed. But A.B.C was in sight so we both kept going even though it was becoming noticeably more difficult to walk straight and breath normally.
We had lunch at Machhapuchhre Base Camp (M.B.C) which is slightly misleading as it is forbidden to climb Machhapuchhre due to religious reasons.

DAY 5 - Annapurna Base Camp - Sinuwa
Two days and no shower in -10 conditions come the evening, our non stinky tops must work as we are trekking and sleeping in them continuously. My hair looked like someone poured a bottle of oil on it and James had a small moan before he pulled him self together again- the cold does get you sometimes.
Our guide wanted to stay at 2600 at Dovan which isn't that far from A.B.C and would've meant arriving sometime just after 1pm, we both wanted to come back down as far as we could in a day and in the process cut our trek down by a day, tentative discussions with Hari ensued and he agreed for us to head straight down to Sinuwa so we had a really hard 8 hour walk down from base camp.

DAY 6 - Sinuwa - Tadapani
Really heavy days walk snaking round the hills and valley's from Sinuwa/Chhomrong on our way to Ghorepani (last village before heading back to the start at Nayapul), especially after the previous days effort from A.B.C. By lunchtime we were both shattered, but had to go through what Sof called 'The Troll Forest' before we arrived at Tadapani to rest - pretty amazing forest I have to say, some of the trees were clearly hundreds of years old and you could hear deer kicking about somewhere in there. 
That's the good thing about the trek we did, you were never bored by the landscape or surrounding nature, as some treks can get somewhat 'samey' from the stories we heard along the way. A.B.C has constantly shifting terrain, views and environment which makes for a very interesting journey there and back.
Ate lots of Nepalese food when we arrived at our lodgings but i was unable to have the Tibetan dish Chicken Mo:Mo (one of my faves) as somebody else needed to order Chicken in order for the chef to justify the slaughter of our feathered friend. 
Talk about a 'wipe it's arse and stick it on the plate' scenario

DAY 7 - Tadapani - Ghorepani
Set off with a Swiss friend on this penultimate section, more forestry, hills and paddy fields.
We technically did the Ghadruk-Ghorepani trek as well as the A.B.C, as our final day trekking would involve getting up at silly o clock (4am) and watching the sunrise at Poon Hill, a short walk from Ghorepani.
You can tell you are nearing more civilised and even capable manors the lower you go. The cloud set in quite early but we made it to Ghorepani in good time, last day tomorrow. 
Ghorepani is a fairly big village that clearly sees a lot of trekking and has many places to stay. We opted for a great Lodge that unfortunately 7 years ago burnt down and was still re-building it's business stature in the town, seemed like a good option to help the smaller lodge in light of what happened to them previously. Great open fire in an oil drum in the dining room too!

DAY 8 - Ghorepani (via Poon Hill) - Nayapul
Last day, sense of relief, sadness, happiness and many other feelings all rolled into one. Really cold night though (the relief bit) Not much sleep as the walls are made from more or less cardboard and it was two blokes next door listening to "The mighty boosh" on the i-pod laughing and talking. We woke up at 4am, as we were really cold but got up and layered up with extra clothing to keep warm. At 5am we were off to Poon hill for the morning sunrise at 6am. Hundreds of people were walking up the hill in the dark with head torches, hernias and gasping due to lack of oxygen. It was a fantastic view but very "touristic" and in our opinion not a patch on the Annapurna Sanctuary for being right up with the mountains, but worth the hike and the sunrise was a good one.

After getting back from Poon Hill, a bowl of porridge and some eggs for James, we started the walk down to our final destination. Hari, James, myself and Natalie went singing down the hill until our knees started to ache. A bit tired from the 4am start and it sounds easy going down hill, but 4000 steps of stone Im not too sure if it is harder to go down or up hill!

8 hours later later and back to base! Hello Naypul! Luckily we had a cab waiting with a set price as there was a petrol shortage in the area and the prices was shooting up! Some fella's we met on the way refused to pay the price and had to sit on top of the local bus roof to get back! Once we returned to Pokhara we grabbed hot showers, ate lots of steak with our mate Natalie and then went straight to bed for a long kip. Great trek, i would say if you ever get a chance to do it then do, you don't get to see all this nature anywhere else in the world. A very humble and amazing experience for the both us.

*******Video takes ages to upload here and we've taken a lot in HD format so i've sized them down to iphone proportions and upped on to youtube - have a look here if interested*******

Annapurna Base Camp Panorama - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGh9P3WtD34

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Glenys on

Great pictures and write up's Sofie & James looks like your having a great time, oh to be young again!! Lauren & I have just got back from NYC had a wicked time loved it and /! am also off to bed at 7.15pm been up for 33 hours now and I'm knackered. Love to you both xx

Nick Michael on

Looks like you're having a laugh. I tried to do the Annapurna circuit years ago but quite after 2 days due to it raining leeches. You picked the right time of year I think.

Ryan on

Great stuff, very entertaining writing. Nice photos too! ;0)

mr 'dex' brown on

trek looks amazing.... i am so jealous. think i may do it next year....

Agneta on

Fantastiska bilder ...och säkerheten är garanterad,det fanns ju räcke iallafall.Skämt åtsido, fantastisk natur och resa!!!! Pussar o kramar Mamma o pappa.

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