Nepal

Trekking in Nepal: Poon Hill

On our first trip to Nepal in 2016 we decided to do a multi-day trek. Nepal is, after all, the best place to do trekking in the world.

Planning our Trek

We didn’t want to go with just anyone or the first tour agency that we saw, so we did our research thoroughly. We finally found LN Treks (which stands for Lovely Nepal) on Trip Advisor, who had very good reviews.

We also read posts about one particular guide (Krishna), who sounded very good… so we decided to go with them. We emailed ahead, asking specifically for that guide, and inquired about the trekking options. Being very conscious of money, we decided to just pay a daily rate for the guide, carry our own bags and pay for food and accommodation separately.

You can hire porters to carry your bags for you. It turns out our guide started out as a porter too. They are allowed to carry up to 30 kilograms, which is a heck of a lot of weight to carry in the mountains!

After a lot of deliberation we settled on a 6 day trek to Poon Hill and Jhinu Danda hot springs. The guys at the agency were so friendly and patient whilst we deliberated. Each time we visited, we sat and chatted with them over a cup of tea. They were all so easy to get along with and the managing director was very open about where the money we paid goes to. It goes directly to help the guides families and their communities.

Trekking to Ghorepani and Poon Hill

The day of the trek arrived; we left our main bags at the trekking office and set off with just a small rucksack each. Our guide, Krishna, was friendly and we got on very well almost immediately.

Once the car dropped us off at our starting point in Nayapul we walked through a small hamlet, which happened to be only 30 minutes walk from Krishna’s village. He stopped to chat with the locals.

Once we were through the check-points with our permits, we were off walking. Lynette and I had done lots of trekking in India, Myanmar and Thailand but never more than a two day, one night trip; a 6 day trek was going to be a challenge.

The trekking was over open ground with some beautiful scenery from start to finish. After a short while, Krishna broke out trekking poles for us to borrow. We soon found them to be very trusty walking companions!

Our trek took us through some incredible scenery. The air was fresh, the sun warm and the trail paved. On the first day, as it was getting towards 3pm, Krishna asked if we wanted to stay at the village just ahead or keep going. The second option meant a 3000 step climb, so we opted to stop for the day. It was a good job that we did as it soon began to rain heavily. So that first night we stayed in Tikkhedunga village.

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Scenery on our first day

We sorted ourselves out in our basic room and then went to get some dinner. The treks in this region are commonly known as “apple pie treks“, simply because all along the way there are tea-houses that you can stay at, all with similar food menus – that often include apple pie! The prices vary as you go along the trail and typically, the higher you go, the more expensive food becomes.

The most common meal eaten by all the trekking guides and porters is dal bhat. A traditional Nepali dish consisting of rice, dal, veg curry, pickles and papad, it’s the best value for money. It offers everything you need from a nutritional perspective, especially when trekking, plus refills are free and plentiful! Lynette and I had this for dinner every night of our trek!

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Dal Bhat

So began the daily routine of getting up, getting ready, having breakfast and getting on the trail. It became a very easy and simple routine to get into. With the beautiful scenery, wide open space, fresh air and daily exercise of 6-7 hours walking, the whole experience was just amazing!

Krishna was fantastic and looked after us all the way. He not only showed us the way but he also called ahead to make reservations at guest houses (and got us discounts on the rooms), served us dinner and kept us on track with times and adequate breaks. We found that having a knowledgeable guide that spoke the local language was a massive help.

As we spent more time with Krishna, we got to know him very well. He was about our age, which made things simpler, and his English was very good too. Along the way he even taught me some Nepali! We have now become firm friends and keep in touch on a regular basis.

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Krishna and I

Ghorepani and Poon Hill

At the half-way point we reached the main aim of our trek, Ghorepani and Poon Hill. The attraction here is to see sunrise at Poon Hill. We arrived in Ghorepani, our base that night, at around 3pm, so had some time to relax.

We went to bed early as we had to be up at around 2:30am in order to leave at 3am for the climb to the summit of Poon Hill – 3210m above sea level. It was a path with stone steps so it wasn’t too bad, just a bit of an uphill struggle.

Alas, as we’ve discovered time and time again, the romantic notion of quietly watching the sunrise alone didn’t quite happen. Reaching the top, along with the steady stream of other trekkers, the noise was overwhelming: chatter, laughter, camera clicking. It was all going on!

It was very cold at the summit (about 3 degrees Celsius), so the hats we bought in Pokhara came in useful! Unfortunately, it was quite cloudy so the views weren’t amazing but the experience of watching the sun rise in the mountains was still magical.

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At the Summit of Poon Hill

Trekking to Tadapani

We made our way down and back to the tea-house, where a welcome fire was crackling away and breakfast was served soon after. Once we were ready it was back on the road, towards Tadapani. The views along the way were amazing; the Annapurna peaks stood out clearly and starkly against a now clear morning sky.

Trekking through more beautiful lush mountainside and forest was a peaceful experience, allowing for great moments of thought and reflection. Along the trail, running parallel to a stream, we heard bells clattering.

As we rounded the corner we saw yaks – lots of yaks! These long haired, cow-like animals are native to Tibet. Krishna asked the shepherd how many there were in the heard; “80!” he replied with a smile. It was a great sight to see as an added bonus.

Ghandruk and Jhinu Danda

The village of Ghandruk, where we stayed after Tadapani, was definitely the largest and nicest place that we stayed during the trek. The village has a quaint pastoral atmosphere that would see it fit very well into a rural English countryside setting.

With a large number of inhabitants, a selection of guesthouses and even a school and Annapurna information centre, we thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent in Ghandruk.

Towards the end of our trekking adventure, we stopped at Jhinu Danda, a village that has natural hot springs nearby. The three of us went to spend some time there; it was nice to soak our muscles in the hot water!

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The Village of Ghandruk

The End of our Trek

Having really enjoyed our trek, we were sad that it was coming to an end but at the same time we were ready to get back to Pokhara for a rest! On the final day we trekked along a stunning hillside, making out way down to a steam, which we followed for the rest of the way.

I remember Krishna told me “if ever you are lost, follow the flow of the stream. It’s nature’s highway!” Sure enough, it lead to a village and then to Nayapul, where six days ago we had started. We were elated!

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Ready for the Final Day of Trekking

That is until we remembered that we still had a kilometre to trek and then a bus ride. As we approached the road, the bus was leaving so it was a dash to the finish! After a 30 minute drive we reached Pokhara.

The guys at the agency met us afterwards and we chatted about the trek over tea. The director, Deepak, was delighted to hear that we had had a good trek. We offered to do a review on Trip Advisor for him. This made him so happy that before we left, he hugged us both, thanking us for using his services.

Read all about Pokhara here: Pokhara: An Insider’s Guide

The trek was tough and sometimes cold and wet but it was a wonderful experience to have been in the fresh mountain air of the Annapurna region. It is definitely something that I would recommend if trekking is your thing!

We will most certainly do more trekking when we return to the incredible country that is Nepal. Next time we have our sights on the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek, the Round Annapurna trek or something in the Langtang region… but one thing is for sure… Krishna is the guide we will want!

Click to read all about the Annapurna Base Camp trek, which we did one year later in 2017!

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