My friends and I embarked on a 4-day trekking mission in Nepal last October (2014) envisioning ourselves standing atop the 3210m high Poon Hill, astounded at the captivating beauty of the Himalayan mountain ranges – Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, to name a few. Himalayan Mountain Trek is an iconic activity you have to do in Nepal.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Annapurna.
October is a perfect season with clear skies and crisp air. There may be intermittent rainshower but it is a generally wonderful weather. The trek requires a moderate level of fitness, only if you’re nothing like us – a bunch of physically unfits. A month of prior training would make a huge difference.
It was an awesome journey. Allow me to take you through it featuring the fascinating views, the freshly-prepared local meals, the decently-organized accommodations, and of course the everyday trekking adventures.
Related Article: DIY 6 days Trekking in Nepal
Day 1: Nayapul – Hile (5 hours)
The charming little town of Pokhara is the closest main entry point to the Annapurna Himalayan region, which is a 7-hour bus ride from Kathmandu. We were picked up from the hostel at 8am and drove for a little over an hour to Nayapul where the trekking proper commences.
The first day was quite easy but with our poor speed and stamina, it took us 5 hours to reach the village of Hile, where we spent our first night. We hiked through gravel-filled terrain with moderate slopes in between. Amidst all that are the breath-taking mountain views and the refreshingly gushing sound from the nearby streams and waterfalls.
We decided to have a late lunch in Hile to catch up with our schedule, skipping the small house restaurants that we saw on the way.
We stayed in Mamata Guesthouse. It was nothing luxurious but we’ve got all we need – a decent toilet and shower, a comfortable bed, and delicious meals from its restaurant. Their Mixed Pizza is to-die for.
Day 2: Hile – Ghorepani (9 hours)
We woke up at 4:30am for prepping and breakfast and started hiking at 6:55am. The first couple of minutes were nice and easy, and then the terrain shifted to some torturous, never-ending, rocky upward steps. It was a complete physical bout. BUT, the view of the valleys and hills was absolutely life-giving. Especially when we first caught a glimpse of the Himalayan peaks. It reminded us of why we where there.
We stopped a number of times as we were extremely exhausted. But the sight of happy and determined like-minded trekkers posed as a great inspiration, let alone the incredible picturesque sceneries. We had our lunch in the village of Mangethanti and stayed for an hour. Ghorepani was still an hour and half away and the thought of it was excruciating enough.
We continued hiking and a rainshower welcomed us in Ghorepani. When we finally reached our lodge – Mountain View Inn – the face of the Himalayas was right in front of me, I could cry. It was utterly stunning.
The triple room I shared with my friends has a front view of the Annapurna peak, I peered through the window and was totally blown away! The dining area was a good place to meet and greet the other adventure-seekers and where there was an improvised fireplace. My friends and I stayed there to keep warm and chatted the night away. Blissful!
Day 3: Poon Hill – Tadapani (13 hours)
The ideal take-off time from Ghorepani to Poon Hill is at 4:30am and it takes an hour and a half to ascend it by our standard (slow paced). The magic that transpires during the crack of dawn – the first sun beam kissing the tip of the white mountains – is what Poon Hill is all about. A genuine masterpiece!
It was necessary to summit the hill as this was the highlight of the trek. It does provide a perfect vantage view of the Himalayas. What it takes is only an ample of labor and toil to get there. I have not recovered from the battering and yet we had to hike up again. For what it’s worth, I was determined to give it everything I got. The enthralling beauty of these magnificent creations was unspeakable. God is truly amazing in all its glory!
We went back to our Inn for breakfast before we carried on for the day’s journey. We were halfway of the circuit by now but it was still a long way to go.
We ascended more hills and mountains and trod on more plains, forests, and cliffs. In between all that are the ubiquitous waterfalls with a sound that ironically creates a sense of stillness, peace, and silence. It felt so good.
The village of Tadapani was really cold. We were supposed to spend the night in the next village, but it was almost dark and we were beyond exhaustion already. Thankfully, our guide managed to secure a room despite that most of the lodges were already filled.
The dining area is a perfect venue to get to know fellow travellers and it’s where we spent most of our evening before curling up under the covers.
Day 4: Tadapani – Kewli (7 hours)
Tadapani is slingshot close (hyperbolic) to the white mountains – Annapurna South & Fish Tail in particular. No wonder it was unbelievably freezing. We had an awesome breakfast, thanks to that yummy toast and authentic black coffee. What’s best was the absolute morning splendor of the Himalayas just across the valley, right in front of us. Gazing towards it is like gazing towards eternity.
We left the place at 7am. Somehow, I continued hiking with a heavy heart as it was already goodbye.
The trek from there was downhill all the way. And it only did make matters more difficult. One blogger wrote: It was good on the heart but horrible on the knees. True enough, I got injured and had trouble moving my left leg. We passed by sustainable farms, small-scale merchandises, modest households, and friendly locals in their everyday living – immersing myself though all that meant the world to me!
Alas! We made it to the last village aching and limping. We had a quick stop for lunch in that restaurant which serves the most lip-smacking scrambled egg – it’s incredible a scrambled egg can in fact become as tastier as that!
We rented a jeep to Nayapul which took only an hour. Some trekkers continued to hike down, but we just could not anymore. From Nayapul, we were picked up by the same taxi that dropped us off, and returned to civilization, Pokhara.
Initially, we made a trekking inquiry online before departing for Nepal. It did not look so promising so we decided to have it arranged when we get to Pokhara. But when we arrived in Kathmandu, we learned that there was a high and stiff demand for such an outdoor activity and trekking agencies may quickly close for booking. So, we immediately have it all arranged by our hostel in Kathmandu. Thanks to the efficient and reliable person-in-charge, Dhana – he made it easy for us.
Trekking permits are necessary to be able to get an official entry to the highlands. This too was arranged by Dhana and all we had to do was to give him two copies of ID size photo. We had our photo taken in one of the studios in Thamel. The fee is already included in the package.
Guide and Porter
Whether or not to hire a guide and a porter is up to you. It is not obligatory.
Poon Hill Trek, although can be a bit harrowing is still considered a “Teahouse Trek” and not some sort of an extreme survival adventure. Once you get to a certain village, food and accommodation are readily available. Camping out and cooking-your-own-meal can be an option though. But why make it hard and suffer from carrying a back-crashing rucksack when there is an easier choice.
In order to minimize our luggage, all our clothes and belongings were tucked in one bag. We hired a porter to take charge for that. We however, carried smaller backpacks for our personal stuff. It worked well this way for us.
Majority of the trails were well-beaten and easy to follow, so if one is bold enough not to get a guide, he/she can do so without a major problem. Plus, if you trek on a peak season rest assured you will not be alone in the mountains.
However, a guide and a porter do make a difference. They are locals and are expert trekkers themselves. They well calculate time and speed so everything will fall into place. The guide offers a full service too – coordinating the lodge, placing our food orders, reminding us of our schedule etc. The porter simply takes care of the physical burden off your shoulder. And most of all, you can earn new friends in them. We loved our Raj and Dev.
Food and Accommodation
Our lodges were pre-arranged by the agency and the fees are already included in the package as well. Even so, they’re choice of accommodation measured up to our expectation. (Agoda: Accommodation in Nepal.)
The food is excluded from the trekking package fee. That is good news because we were able to freely select our choice of food – when to eat or not eat them. The in-demand meal is none other than Nepal’s staple Dal Baht – it consists of steamed rice and a cooked lentil soup called dal. Most of the time, it comes with chicken curry or a mix of seasonal vegetables. A famous alternative is called Momo – a local take for dimsum, mostly with buffalo meat filling.
My friends fancied and feasted over momo and Dal Bhat like they fancied adobo (Filipino signature dish). As for me, I got by with pizza, fried noodles, pasta, pudding, bread – all cooked with highland Nepali touch of course!. One cannot go hungry.
There are certainly other better deals, cost-wise, than ours. But what we spent was not bad. Here’s the thing, because we did not want to trouble ourselves (worrying for fully-booked lodges, applying for the permit etc.) we included them in the package amount and definitely must have paid a little extra service for that, and we’re able to sleep peacefully at night.
Each of us paid a package of 11,666 NPR. This covers:
4-day Trek, Permits, Guide, Porter, Lodge, Transportation (Pokhara-Nayapul-Pokhara)
Since food is not included in the package, it is friendly for the budget if you will bring some easy-to-cook/eat foodstuff. In our case, we brought instant coffee, cookies, chocolate bars, and instant noodles.
The Ghorepani – Poon Hill trekking experience was incredibly amazing. I would not trade it for anything. The imposing and majestic Himalayas are well-worth every single difficulty. The hike up and down the mountains, though painstaking is beyond fulfilling. Simply spectacular! Will I do it again? A thousand Yeses!