Trekking Annapurna region

One of the people in Kathmandu we really wanted to meet again was Rajan. Back then he had a small tourism agency and he organized a trekking and some other trips through Nepal, for us as well as for our parents and friends who came to visit back then. It was always fun to meet him, we spent good times together. Next to running his agency he was a comedian playing in comedy series on Nepali TV, so he was always in for a joke.

It took us only 5 minutes to find him. His office was still in the same courtyard, only the building where we hoped to find him, no longer existed. We only had to ask once and by saying his name, we were immediately pointed to office, which was a lot bigger than 14 years ago. Business was going well and after catching up and laughing a lot, we booked another trekking with him.

We started our 5 day trekking from Nayapul, in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas together with Kedar, our guide/porter and a very friendly young man who took great care of us.  Day one was all about getting our muscles warmed up, letting the cadence of our steps take the lead, leaving civilization, motorized traffic and dust behind. It was a warm day and the road was slowly ascending. We took our time to enjoy the views and the walk, including short breaks on the man-made stone benches along the paths. Around 14.00 we arrived at a nice basic guesthouse in Thikedunga, a small village with beautiful views of the surrounding hills and part of the route for tomorrow.

The theme of day two was getting up high, climbing, step by step, 2 hours in a row, the path was made of beautiful stone stairs. We needed quite some rests to give our legs some time to recover of all the climbing. After 2 hours of climbing the path continued to be “Nepali flat” which, according to the Nepali people means; a little up, a little down, but according to us; more climbing, more stairs, more hard work for our muscles, but of course, the more we climbed the better the views and surrounding, the fresh air of every breath, the temperature cooling down a bit and the nature becoming rougher. Step by step we continued the trail and after lunch we met the perfect distraction of our tired legs as we met a Finnish family with 2 young kids. Friendship between our kids and the Finnish was a matter of a few minutes and soon the four of them forgot all about being tired, they didn’t notice the route was going uphill, while chatting and laughing they came closer to the end of today’s trek. After 7 hours of walking we arrived at Ghorepani, at the altitude of 2850 meters, where it can get cold and we had a huge hailstorm, but luckily we were warm and dry at our guesthouse. The kids, missing the Romanian snow a lot this year, had a lot of fun playing with the hail afterwards. (If it would have been clear we would have had a fantastic view over the Annapurna Mountains.)

Day three was the day of endurance. We started at 4.30 in the morning, by climbing up to Poonhill at 3200 meters, to see an amazing sunrise! After the hail and clouds of yesterday we were a bit hesitant to get up this early to enjoy a clouded sunrise, but it was totally clear and the tough climb up was more than worth the effort, because of the amazing views. We could see mighty white mountain peaks with summits between 7000 and 8000 meters high. With a cup of duthchyai we sat down to catch our breath from the walking and from the breathtaking sunrise. It was such an amazingly beautiful view and to stand on top of Poonhill with the four of us, to be able to view such incredible views, to be able to make this trekking and above all this one year trip, was fantastic, indescribable and even a bit emotional. This moment will be in our memories forever as a very special one. After a while we came back down to our guesthouse for a good breakfast to get ready for the rest, or actually the start of today’s trek. One through beautiful blooming rhododendrons forests, over the Deurali pass, all the way down to a deep valley to cross a river and back up to Tadapani. This combined with the high altitude, cold weather and early rise made that our endurance and mental strength were tested to the edge today. But again, we arrived in Tadapani after 6 hours of walking, thankfully taking a hot shower, changing into warm clothes, and sitting down at the fire and discussing the day with fellow trekkers and guides. After a warm meal we headed to bed early, getting our well-deserved rest.

Day four was going to be a slow day. With only 3 hours of walking we could slowly wake up, take time for our breakfast, get packed and ready to move on to Ghandruk. Waking up was no problem at all, but getting out of bed was uhm … well … not easy at all. Although the weather was clear and the views of the mountains magnificent, our legs were pretty much done and not at all ready for another walk. Slowly we got ready and tried to warm up our muscles to move on. We took our time and while walking the legs were cooperation more and more. After every rest we had to start all over again, but we did it and again we enjoyed the beautiful nature. We walked through jungle, beautiful old forest, with some beautiful views in the distance. At lunchtime we arrived in Ghandruk, a wonderful Gurung village with beautiful stone houses and paths and a wonderful guesthouse where we met the Finnish family again and the kids had a fun afternoon playing together.

Day five, the big mountain relaxing day! We woke up at 5.15, not because of an alarm clock, but just because of the light. A quick peak out of the window made us realize it was crystal clear and we could see the amazing mountain range right out of room was room. While the kids were still asleep, we got dressed and sat down on the balcony to watch the stunning sunset, again an amazing view; the sun slowly starting to light the top of the snowcapped mountain peaks and giving them golden rims. As soon as the sunlight reached us, the cold air vaporized and we could feel the power of the sun warming us up. After the kids woke up, we had breakfast outside in the sun, with the dramatic mountains as a background. A perfect morning except that Wessel fell ill yesterday afternoon and he hadn’t had a very good night. He couldn’t eat more than a biscuit and drink some tea and because of that we decided to stay another day in Ghandruk, instead of finishing the trek today. We thought some rest and the fantastic surroundings of Ghandruk wouldn’t hurt any of us and we enjoyed a quiet and peaceful day with a little walk and lots of rest, some games and a lot of reading.

Day six, the day to finish our trek and return to the starting point at Nayapul. We started the day in the same way as we did yesterday; another incredible sunrise, breakfast in the sun and Wessel feeling a lot better than yesterday. After breakfast we got ready for departure and started the last 12 km of our trek, we still had to descend another 1000 meters and we started with a lot of stairs, slowly leaving the mountains behind in change of hillsides, approaching the valley with the river step by step. It was a warm day and even though we were descending, it was a long and tough one. Our muscles were still sore of all the effort of the last days, but slowly we came closer to the finish. We took many small breaks to give our muscles a little rest and to enjoy the last mountain views and after 5,5 hours of walking down hill, we had to climb the last 500 meters op to the highway, where a taxi was waiting for us to bring us back to Pokhara. We were such a proud, happy, satisfied (and very tired) family. The joy of making this trip together, supporting each other, enjoying this incredible piece of nature made our bond even stronger than it already has been.

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