I went on my first trek in July. I’m going to admit to you right now that trekking is not my favourite hobby in the world. Tourists from all over the world come to Nepal for the opportunity to trek in the Himalayas. Even though we were still recovering from a motorbike accident, it seemed like a waste if we didn’t go on one.
Neil and I were under the impression that we would need a guide and special equipment before we could go trekking. Everywhere we went for information affirmed this notion. When we added up the expenses and the time it would take, we decided it wouldn’t be feasible after all. But we met an English guy called Sam who had just returned from the Annapurna base camp. Sam and his girlfriend didn’t use a guide, in fact he told us that all you need are some good shoes, a map and a raincoat!
The First Day
We’d gone to bed early with the intention of rising early, but we both had difficulty sleeping. Couple our sleep deprivation with how at some point in the night, it had begun to pour rain from the heavens and there was no sign of letting up come morning. We eventually dragged ourselves out of the hotel at noon and got a taxi to Baglung bus station. Our starting point was Nayapul and from there we wanted to reach a village called Ulleri by the evening.
In spite of the rain and our low energy, our enthusiasm was high and we trekked onwards merrily. We learned a valuable lesson about ‘real distance vs. how the map looks’ that day. I don’t know how many times we thought we were ‘almost there’. In reality, we only got half way to Ulleri and we decided to stop in Hille, a small village on top of, yes, a hill. I’m so glad we did stop because the trek up to Ulleri is no joke, but we didn’t know that yet.
Mistakes we made along the way:
Not seeing a clear and visible sign pointing us to a bridge, and instead continuing on to a massive gorge that we chose to walk through, to our own detriment. It was dangerous and we got soaked, but with some teamwork we made it across safely. We had an audience on the other side watching and laughing at us, so that was a bit embarrassing too.
The Second Day
Bright and early we set off from Hille, each remarking that our legs didn’t feel sore from the day before (just wait…). The scenery is glorious! Nepal is truly a beautiful country and I was so overcome by the magnificence of the countryside for the entire trek. The sun came out on our second day and it made our journey a little easier. Sam had mentioned there were a lot of steps but I didn’t grasp his emphasis until that day.
The trek up to Ulleri is 400 meters of death steps! It felt endless and I really thought the rest of the weekend would be an uphill battle. It’s tough going and we couldn’t really converse while doing it so I daydreamed about the Fellowship of the Ring to pass the time.
We made it all the way to Ghorepani on our second day. Someone had told us it would take 7 hours to get there from Hille, we did it in roughly 9 hours. We weren’t pushed to go very fast like everyone else we met and we took a lot of breaks. There were a few occasions where we just wanted to give up and we thought we’d never make it to Ghorepani in the one day. The last 400 meters weren’t as bad as we’d imagined!
Neil was really hungry at about 3pm so we made a pitstop at a lunch place somewhere along the way. There was nobody around except the old lady who ran the place. She seemed annoyed and unfriendly at first but then she tried to force an abundance of food on us, free of charge, that we couldn’t eat. I’ve never seen a bigger plate of rice in my life!
Mistakes we made that day:
Not wearing sun cream in the blistering sunshine. My scalp, shoulders and neck got very sunburnt. Also a hat might’ve been a good idea.
The Third Day
Trekkers go to Ghorepani so that you can wake up at 4am to catch the sunrise from Poonhill, an uphill trek that takes just over an hour. When we woke up at 4am, it was stormy outside and so there was no point leaving. We wouldn’t have seen anything. Later on that morning however, when the weather was clear and the sun was out, we headed up Poonhill to catch a view of the Himalayas. For just a moment there they were! It was amazing and completely worth the effort.
Our legs were definitely feeling it now! Thankfully though, from Poonhill we were only going down so we moved faster and we had the freedom to talk and enjoy it more. Going down is just as difficult as climbing up though, don’t be fooled into thinking the trekkers passing you on the way down, while you’re going up, are having a better time.
The rain really started to pour the further down we got and there was a heavy fog, so we stayed a night in Ulleri. The guesthouse was the nicest we’d been in and the food was delicious.
The Final Day
It rained all day long.
We reached Nayapul by the afternoon and we were forced to get an expensive taxi home to Pokhara because it was a Monday and apparently there were no buses running. Go figure! That’s definitely something we should’ve known beforehand.
Highlights of that day include finally trying a deep fried snickers in Tikedunga, going back to Pokhara, eating at the Freedom Café and getting into bed knowing I don’t have to walk the next day if I don’t want to.
Apparently it had done nothing but rain for the whole four days we were gone. Thankfully the bad weather cleared up the next day and Pokhara came back to life.
That’s our trekking story. I don’t think I’ll ever be as enthusiastic about trekking again in the future. If I ever go back to Nepal, I might give it a shot if it’s not monsoon season. For anyone interested in treks in Nepal, please note that you’ll need permits! We needed a TIMS permit and then a permit for the Annapurna Conservation area. You will also need 3 passport photos. We got our permits at one of the travel agencies in Pokhara and then we had to go to various checkpoints along the trek to have them stamped and recorded.
‘Til next time!