As promised here an update on my last few days.
So on Thursday I left KTM and took a bus to Pokhara with my trekking guide Bijay. On the way, we stopped in the little town of Muggling where I started a 3 hour rafting trip up to Dumre, on the trisuli river. The Trisuli river is just amazing, with lots of little deserted beaches, wooden bridges and waterfalls. The river was partly quiet and partly not, which was fine for me since it was my first rafting experience.
I continued my trip to Pokhara on a local bus as our tourist bus got a flat tyre. Local buses have got a bad reputation here, but I do like them for the more real experience they give. I was the only non nepali on the bus and all the passengers were singing and dancing bolywood style. I thought I was about to die a couple of times (local bus drivers are known for being a bit mental) but overall it was a great experience.
The next morning we left early to get my trekking permit and start the journey in the annapurna.The trek I decided to go for is called Poon Hill. It is one of the short treks (4 days) that passes through little villages and gives amazing views of the annapurna range in a short period of time. Perfect for people who are rushed by their visa ending, like me. The trail is Naya Pul - Ghorepani - Poon Hill - Ghorepani - Ghandruk - Naya Pul
Day 1 (Friday):
We walked from Nayapul (1070m) to Tikhedungga (1520m). On the way we stopped for lunch in birethanti, in one of the many little tea houses you can find on the way. It took us a 3h walk (excl. lunch) for the day and looking at the map we walked nearly half way to Poon Hill (the view point). On the way that afternoon my camera broke down (for those who remember my G9 is like my life so I was pretty gutted esp. coz its only 6 months old). A guide of another group of trekker lended me his for the trek for 2500rs (about 22 pounds) - lots of money for him (over half his monthly salary) but i really wanted to take pictures so here I am with a G5.
I was by the end of the day feeling a bit tired but the trail was maybe 30% flat and I was feeling confident that we can walk to Poon Hill in 3h the next day. In Tikhedhungga I feel that I well deserve a beer and share one with my guide. But exhaustion, altitude and beer don't mix up very well and I started to feel really weird - went to bed at 6pm. Thumbs up....
Day 2 - Saturday:
I am still not feeling at my best so we leave the guest house at about 9am, which is quite late. Bijay reckons we can still walk up in about 4 hours. The next stop is Ulleri (2020m) and on my trekking map there is an indication that there are some "stone steps" to walk up there. Well thanks, it was 3303 stairs in one go! Don't know if you realise how much it is!! And that's only for the main stairs, there are about another 2000 stairs spread out on the way. I am walking up the stairs under a very hot sunshine and I am feeling exhausted. The views are incredible though - you can see the middle hills, which are basically green and yellow footpaths and terraced fields. I am though starting to think that this is a very hard trek, but I keep going. Arrived in Ulleri we stop for tea and I meet an dutch couple on their way down - the girl is literally crying. They walked up to Poon Hill and instead of completing the full trek (that is walk then to Ghandruk and back to Naya Pul), they decided to go back the same way and go straight to Pokhara. She freaks me out telling me that the worst is to come for me and I should be mentally prepared to suffer....rhhhmm rhhmmm
We continue our walk and well she was sort of right that dutch girl. It feels like the trail has no end! It is amazingly gorgeous though, and I think everything has a price. It starts to feel colder and the landscape has changed too as we walk through the jungle. We meet two guys from Thailand who started walking at 7 (I'm thinking I am not that slow :P) and are looking like they're about to have a heart attack. I'll meet them later on too.
An hour from Ghorepani it is really freezing and foggy. The jungle has now disappeared and we walk through bare and abandonned villages (perfect scenery for an horror movie). We can't really see anything as we walk which slows us down too...
We finally get to the Snowland guest house in Ghorepani (2860m), at about 6pm. I am exhausted and frozen but glad I made it up there. The guest house is just heaven, with a fireplace and some trekking guides sitting around singing nepali songs. At about 7 most trekkers go to bed and I stay with the guides (joining on a debate on whether Shakira or Bob Marley is the best singer....I still don't get it....). It's a really weird evening, a bit sureal. I finally go to bed at about 9 (I was the last one) and my knees are aching so much that I can't sleep and literally stay awake all night....
Day 3- Sunday
Bijay knocks on my door at 4:30 AM - It is time to walk up to Poon Hill to see the sunrise over the annapurna. I am exhausted and frozen but here I am, with my fleece gloves, fleece hat and head torch climbing the "few thousands" steps to the top. Well there were about 150 of us, coming from different guest houses in Ghorepani, making a chain of head torches in the dark. Again, I can hear people crying on the way from exhaustion.
Here I am - Poon Hill (3210 m) - 5:30 AM - minus 18 degrees. I have never been that cold in my life but the sun rising over the annapurna is just spectacular. I have one request from my readers - dont laugh when you see the pictures of me up there - the weather conditions were really extreme :P
Talking to a few people on the top quite a lot are deciding to go down the same way we came and not complete the trek. I talk to Bijay about it (my knee is still killing me at that point) and he admits that what I have done in 2 days quite a few people do it in 3...! and that he felt I was capable to do it in 2 and stretch my fitness levels. I guess he stretched it pretty far....
The two Thai guys decide to go down the same way too and so did I. Poon Hill is the main point of interest of the trek and Ghandruk is apparently just one village that is similar to the ones I saw while going up. Looking at the map too it is written that the trail between Ghorepani and Ghandruk is "steep" If they only put "stone stairs" for what was 3303 of them I can't imagine what "steep trail" really means....!
Also, trekking was for me more of an "extra" than something I really wanted to do. My priority remains cycling everywhere as much as I can and I need to keep my knee in good condition.
We then walk back to Hille where we spent the night. I met lots of people going down that way which made me feel less guilty and we all have diner talking about our adventures.
Day 4 - Sunday
The easiest day of all, a 3 hours walk take us back to Naya Pull. It is hot and sunny and we relax by the river. I am in heaven.
We take a taxi back to Pokhara - I can barely walk up the stairs that take me to my hotel room. But I am happy I have lived such an amazing experience.
Since then I have been chilling out in Pokhara, spending time trying to find a place to repair my camera. It will cost me 100 pounds to get it fixed (providing they can) so I can't go paraglading as planned. I have been for a trekkers massage in a traditional nepali place and it was just the best massage I have ever had. Today I will go a boat trip on the lake and chill, and probably rent a bike.
Tomorrow at 6am I am leaving to go on a 8 hours bus journey to Lumbini where I will be chilling for 3 days. I am really looking forward to go there.
Gaelle - aka call me superwoman