It was one of those first shiny days after it had been raining for a while, and the sky was clear and blue when we started our Annapurna trek. It took us half a day and two buses to get to Besishahar, the starting point. The bus driver requested way too much money from us, but it didn’t really matter. As we were approaching the mountains, we got so excited we couldn’t think of anything else. Finally we arrived to Besishahar where we had a quick lunch and started walking. We did around 2.5h of walking when it already got a bit late, and we searched for the first place to stop. We found a nice and simple guesthouse that we immediately liked. The room was simple, the bathroom was shared, but the whole place was cosy, friendly and, the most important: quiet. We dropped our luggage (I still can’t believe how we managed to pack so few, each of us was carrying only 7 or 8kg) and went straight to the restaurant.
I really like the way everything is organized on the treks. The villages are full of small shops, and almost every single house is a nice and attractive guesthouse. Everything is orientated towards tourism the way that you can find absolutely everything in the middle of the mountains, but at the same time it is all made and done in a way that it doesn’t kill the spirit of the rural local life. People are friendly, greeting you in every corner while doing their things, and the owners of the guesthouses really provide to the trekkers everything they need. But we did notice one thing when arriving in the Annapurna Sanctuary: everything is very, very expensive. And the higher you get, the higher the prices are. The accommodation is still surprisingly cheap, although it is true that the rooms are very basic. Basic, but clean, while the prices of the food are double, somewhere even three times higher than in the cities. Well, it was something we had to deal with, knowing that we were going to eat a lot, needing more energy than usual.
The first day we went to bed early, and we kept this rhythm for the rest of our trek. After sunset, there is not much to do in the mountains, besides, after 4, 5, 6 or even 7h of walking every day you feel tired and going to bed at 8 or 9pm is completely natural, while waking up with the sunrise is a really magical thing.
The next day we already got a bit deeper into the valley and spotted the first snowy mountain peaks. Since the trekking season just started, we barely met other trekkers on the way, and we really enjoyed the beauty of the nature. The snowy mountains soon hid behind the valley, which made us feel even more excited about going further and further. After a few hours of walking, we met an Estonian guy with whom we shared a lunch. It was the first time we got acquaintance with the bad news about the weather forecast: in a few days, it was supposed to start raining and snowing and the temperatures at the highest point would drop to -30 degrees. Somehow we weren’t to worry about it, although the guy seemed very well informed. The heat and the sun kept us going until we arrived to our second stop – a small and lonely village called Jagat. Again, we were too tired to stay awake late in the night, so we went to bed early and got well rested for the next day.
This time when we got up, the sky wasn’t so clear anymore. The clouds started to gather up and after an hour of walking we spotted the first raindrops. We stopped in a teahouse where we met a lovely Israeli girl Komala and her guide Babu with whom we shared a cup of tea. Unfortunately, they confirmed the bad news about the weather: it was snowing higher up in the mountains and people were coming back from Manang, the acclimatisation point before going over the pass, the highest point of the trek on 5400m. We continued walking together, but the last couple of hours the rain started falling harder and harder, and we were already completely drenched when we reached the village of Tal. Despite the rain, the path was amazingly beautiful, leading us through a valley wrapped in thousands of different shades of greens and browns and with a turquoise-coloured river running all the way through it.
Babu knew the owners of the guesthouse very well, and we were lucky they let us into the kitchen to warm up a little bit and dry our clothes. Although we still weren’t so high, about 1700m above sea level, the air was really cold. The whole valley was surrounded by clouds and it didn’t seem like it was going to stop raining any time soon. Babu called some of his friends who were living higher in the mountains, and everyone seemed to be really surprised about the weather conditions. It was snowing and raining heavily and we started to worry. We decided to wait another day, but the next morning it was still raining incessantly. We began to understand that the bad weather meant the end of our trek, because it was way to dangerous to continue. We could see that the mountains around Tal, which don’t even reach 2000m, were already covered with snow. Sad and disappointed, we all decided to go back to Pokhara.
However, we didn’t give up on trekking in Nepal. It was one of the things we were both wanting to experience, and after checking the weather forecast for the following days which were supposed to be shiny and clear, we consulted Babu about which other treks were available around Pokhara. He told us about a beautiful 5-day trek on the other side of the mountains where the weather is much more gentle, and we decided to do it together with him and Komala. We returned to Pokhara after one day of walking, a 3-hour jeep and a 3-hour taxi, got the new trekking permits and started the new trek, the Poon hill trek, the very next day.
We arrived in Nayapul at about 9.30 and immediately started walking. Both of us, Nejc and I, were still disappointed we weren’t able to complete probably one of the most beautiful treks in the world, and the beginning of the new trek didn’t seem promising at all. It was just thousands and thousands of stairs, and in the first two days we made a 1000m of altitude difference each day. Especially the first day was nothing special compared to the Annapurna trek, and we were really wondering why Babu told us the Poon hill trek was his favourite one. However, the second day the things got a bit nicer: the never ending stairs were still leading our way, but soon we could feel we were already deeper in the mountains. It was much more quiet, the vegetation changed and the air was cleaner. After a couple of hours of walking, the path entered into a beautiful jungle, full of trees, surrounded by the smell of the humid moss. Every now and then we spotted a pool of crystal clear green water, and we could observe the beautiful laliguras – the Nepali national flower/tree – along the way. After hours and hours of ascending up the stairs, we finally reached the village of Ghorepani where we were going to spend the night. As we entered the village, we still had to walk a couple of minutes when the path suddenly got us out of the jungle and the whole panorama of the Himalaya suddenly appeared in front of us. The view we saw there was just beyond my words to express. We arrived just on time before the clouds started covering the mountains, so that we were still able to enjoy the most beautiful view in the world over a cup of delicious, but expensive black tea. Soon after us, Komala and Babu arrived, and we spent the rest of the day next to the fireplace and talking to other trekkers. We went to bed very soon since the next day we were planning to climb up to Poon hill to catch the sunrise.
We woke up at 5am, wrapped ourselves in all possible clothes we were carrying with us and started walking. As we looked out the window of our room, we could see that the sky was completely clear, and the light of the full moon was reflected in snowy mountains, which seemed even more majestic in the night. It took us a bit more than half an hour to reach the top of Poon hill on 3200m when the sun just started to rise. We pulled out our cameras and started taking photos of the mountains and the sky in every shade of different colours of the sunrise. It was freezing cold and the wind was blowing, but the view was just the most amazing thing in the world. We spent there about an hour and then descended back to the guesthouse to have breakfast. Nejc and I packed our things quickly and started walking still early in the morning yet we decided to walk quite a long distance that day. We said good bye to Komala and Babu who were going to spend another day in Ghorepani, and headed towards Tadapani.
We thought the goal of the trek was going to be the Poon hill, and despite the amazing view we still didn’t feel we got repaid with the choice of another trek. We consulted Babu and other guides which places to visit on our way down, but we weren’t expecting to see much. Anyhow, as soon as we started walking after leaving Ghorepani, we started to realize the real trek had just begun.
Yet again, there were stairs and stairs, which never seemed to end. We ascended about 500m and reached a beautiful Deurali pass – the highest point of the trek on 3300m above sea level. The path was dangerous and slippery; it was covered with snow, and finally I was able to use the simple crampons I bought back in Pokhara which turned out to be very useful. When we arrived on the top of the pass, we couldn’t believe what we saw. On our left, the scenic panorama of the Himalayan mountains shone in front of our eyes, with the bright background of the blue sky, offering us a real “Hollywood” picture of the 7 and 8000m high mountains: Daulagiri, Annapurna I, Annapurna South, Himchuli, Machhapuchhre (Fish tail) and others. Walking up the stairs can sometimes be too tough and too frustrating, but once you reach your goal the view is so rewarding you forget about the thousands of steps you needed to climb to get there. However, the Deurali pass was just the beginning of our trek of that day, and our goal was still another few thousand of stairs away. As we walked further, we made a steep descend right to the bottom of the valley, but the path was amazingly beautiful. It led us through a snowy forest, which reminded us of our beloved Slovenia, and once the snow ended, we entered again into a jungle area. We had lunch at the deepest point of the valley, and after having descended about 800m (on stairs, of course), we started to climb up again. Another deep and steep descend came after about a 500m climb, and at the end the final and the most cruel climb that took us to our destination of the day. It was probably the worst and the toughest day of our trek, and I was just about to shoot myself in the middle of the stairs when we finally reached Tadapani.
The room we got in Tadapani wasn’t the nicest, but the guesthouse had something we had never come across before: a small, indoor dining hall with the fireplace in the middle of it. The place was so warm and pleasant we spent the rest of the day right next to the fire. In the late afternoon rain and hail started falling, and the night was cold and humid. But the next morning we witnessed another spectacular view. We woke up with the sunrise, and the snowy Annapurnas, reflecting the yellow light of the raising sun, greeted us with their magnificence. The laliguras covering the whole forest around Tadapani made the view even more beautiful. We were feeling incredibly relaxed and happy to find out that our trek was getting better and better each day, and we were eager to find out what was waiting for us next.
After a delicious breakfast we headed on, first descending down the stairs through the forest, and then walking up and down on the slope until we reached Chhomrong, a starting point of the Annapurna base camp trek. It was already a bit cloudy when we got there, but we could still see the peaks of Machhapuchhre and Annapurna South peeking through the clouds. But it was only the next morning we could see both mountains standing right in front of us. Chhomrong is the village where you get the best close-up view of the mountains, and it was the first time we could really experience how it feels to have one of the highest mountains in the world right in front of your eyes.
We continued part of our trek with Emanuele, an Italian guy we met in Chhomrong. The path was again very beautiful, but steep, and in about 5h we made it to Tolka, our last stop. We met a lovely Australian guy there with his lovely guide Deepak, so the next day we finished the trek together. We stopped in Australian camp to have lunch, and yet again we could see the whole panorama of the mountains, this time from another perspective. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I felt a bit upset, knowing that our trek was just about to finish and that we were going back to the loud and dusty city of Pokhara.
In Pokhara, we spent another week, re-selling the extra equipment we bought for the trek, resting and doing some extra hiking. We finally made it to the World Peace Pagoda, although the visibility wasn’t the best that day. However, it was a nice and interesting trek, especially the part when we were trying to find the way up which wasn’t easy at all.
On our last day in Pokhara, we climbed up to Sarangkot Mountain – a gathering point of paragliders and another beautiful viewpoint. The climb wasn’t easy at all, and we were a bit too curious going back, trying to find another way down which at the end turned out to be way longer. But it was fun loosing us through the forest.
We were feeling like we got a bit stuck in Pokhara and we were really looking forward to move somewhere else. We heard of another beautiful lake 1h drive from there, so we decided to check it out.
Begnas tal, a beautiful remote lake really charmed us and we spent three days in a place that only few tourists know. It’s a small village with just over a dozen houses surrounded with peaceful and quiet atmosphere with a beautiful view over the lake. We were feeling sorry we didn’t come before and spend some more time there, but we had to move on to explore the Nepali grand city of Kathmandu.