October 8 – 18
As I already mentioned, I booked the trek through Green Valley Nepal Treks, and I could not have been happier with my choice. At the time of the booking, I stated that was happy to be part of a group, in case they had more people interested, and they matched me with two other girls travelling solo, Jennifer from Germany and Amandine from France. Along with our guide Rajendra and two porters, we form a group of six.
The touristic bus to Pokhara takes most of the day (definitely more than the advertised 6 hours). It qualifies as the most dangerous road I have ever seen. The steep and winding descend to Trisuli river valley along the just about double track road with no hard shoulder (above an abyss of several hundred metres), combined with the way they drive (unless you overtake a vehicle at maximum speed and rigorously in a blind point, it does not count as driving), is definitely an experience that’s not to be missed. OK, you can take a 25 minutes flight between Kathmandu and Pokhara, but you’ll miss all the adrenalin. Pokhara itself is a nice lakeside town, the city centre is very much western (in the sense of having pavements for pedestrians and a vast choice of restaurants and clubs, and “German bakeries”. Actually there are many “german” bakeries all along the trek, although they all sell croissants and pains au raisins (I suspect the locals either don’t have much clue about geography, or it’s all “foreign stuff” as in England).
I will not describe the trek day by day. The itinerary is more or less as described on the webpage, with the only difference that we trek a little faster going up, thus reaching the ABC on day 6, (celebrating day 100 of my travelling with a beautiful sunrise over Annapurna) and we can take it a little easier on the descend. It’s a lot of stairs. Thousands of stairs (a day). Up and down in the first four days, and then only up from Sinuwa on. During our descend I cannot stop wondering how much we had climbed. We are very lucky with the weather, it rains only once on day 5, but we are already in the guesthouse when the thunderstorm starts. It’s fairly hot during the day (almost 30 C until 3000 m altitude) and although the temperatures drop at night, it’s maybe around zero in the base camp, so nothing dramatic. I personally don’t suffer from altitude sickness, no headache nor nausea, but the last bit from MBC to ABC seems interminable, and every step is a massive effort. But it’s well worth it. It’s definitely the most beautiful trek I have ever done. I also don’t remember when was the last time I slept this well or this much. We set off every morning around 8, we arrive to the destination no later than 4 pm, the dinner is over by 7.30 and even though we play some obscure Nepali card game with Raj and some other locals, we are normally in bed by 8. The walls in the tea houses are about 5mm thick, so you hear everything that happens in every room in the entire guesthouse, and sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s not normal to bitch about people in the next room not being asleep at 8 pm. Anyway, best way to describe the trek are the photographs, so there you go:
Himalayan flora and fauna:
Some local food:
Random shots from the trek:
Sunrise at Poon Hill:
Annapurna Base Camp (4130m): Sunset at Mt. Macchapucchre (MT. Fishtail, 6993m) and sunrise at Annapurna I (8091m):
Kacenka and friends on the trek:
Day 11 in Pokhara:
Few advices and impression about Nepal: yes, it is a very poor country, but it’s also very safe and people are super nice. The big problem is the garbage, which against all sincere efforts is to be seen in heaps unfortunately even in the conservation area. So please be considerate, don’t litter, avoid plastic bottles (they are even not allowed after a certain point). Don’t buy bottled water, invest in a purifier and use water from the taps (they are in every village). Also remember that goods have to be transported by donkeys, but after Sinuwa you enter a sacred area where no animals (or meat) are allowed, so everything is carried by porters. That doesn’t only include beer and coke cans, but also the liquid gas containers for heating and cooking and gasoline for power generators. This means you will have to pay for charging cellphones, access to wifi (if there is one) and hot showers. So think twice before insisting on hot shower every day, especially if your guesthouse uses wood to heat water (Green Valley uses tea houses that dispose of the garbage in proper way). It is a breathtaking corner of the world and Nepal needs tourism very much, but let’s not contribute to destroying the virgin nature.