NEPAL: TREKKING GHOREPANI POON HILL

Back in October 2014, I embarked on a five-day hike in Nepal’s Annapurna mountain range. Little did I expect it to become one of the most illuminating experiences of my life—from the kindred locals I met to the incredible scenery I enjoyed alng the way.

For outdoor-loving travelers, Nepal is an easy choice, being home to some of the world’s most spectacular trekking routes. Picking a suitable route, however, is a challenge. Some factors worth considering include: The number of days you have to spare, the level of trekking difficulty you’re up for, the season in which you want to trek in, and your budget. All these could vastly affect your experience, especially if you’re new to the idea of multi-day treks.

Seasoned trekkers looking to challenge their stamina could go for the 12-day Everest Base Camp trek, whose winding route blesses one with the majestic landscapes of peaks such as Nuptse, Lhotse, and Mount Everest itself. Another popular route among travelers is the 13 to 15-day Annapurna Circuit Trek, which features the world’s widest pass—the Thorong La Pass at 5,416 meters.

If you have lesser days available, the Annapurna Base Camp trek is manageable at between 9 to 11 days. Considered a moderate trek, this one brings you face-to-face with the world’s 10th highest peak, the Annapurna Massif.

Back then, I chose to embark on the 4 to 7 days-long Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek, a short but wonderful introduction to the scenic Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. Being my first multi-day trekking experience, the trek’s level of difficulty was moderate on most days and challenging when it rained. Despite being categorised as an “easy” trek on most adventure travel sites, the trek will have you work up a sweat on its steep uphill slopes.

Aside from the pleasure of seeing the Himalayan peaks through the distant clouds, the most rewarding part of this trek had to be the local sights and sounds I encountered along the way. Occasionally, the dirt paths brought us through villages where children played. Now and then, we also passed lovely natural pools that were practically begging for us to jump in.

A bustling town square in Kathmandu, the base at which I spent 2 nights prior to my trek.
A common sight: Colourful Tibetan prayer flags found strung along trails and peaks in the Himalayas.
Aside from porters, donkeys were the main (and sometimes only) mode of transportation in the mountain ranges. Which explains why food and beverages get exorbitantly pricier the higher up you go!
Taking a moment or two to admire how far we’ve come and how much more we have to go.
The winding trek took us through Ghandruk, a culturally rich local village.
Sun-drenched laundry, a stark contrast to the dull brick walls.
Playful guardians of the path. We soon learn that these children sometimes trek for up for 4 hours a day just to get to school.
As night falls, the mountain ranges become progressively colder. That’s why everyone huddles around the fire and sips raksi (a traditional distilled alcoholic beverage).
A little one all bundled up for warmth.
We were warned not to feed the monkeys and some silly traveler ahead of us did.
Sunrise atop Poonhill—where we were rewarded with panoramic views of the Himalayas.
The day we headed back to Kathmandu and were thankful for flat ground.
Domes and intricate stupas are a staple of Nepali architecture.
A rickshaw puller glances as I pull out my film camera.
Sweet innocence.

Between busy traffic and uphill slopes, I choose the later.

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