Annapurna Trekking Part #1: Nayapul to Ghorepani.

We arrived in Kathmandu and got picked up at the airport by the trekking tour agency owner. He was extremely nice and gave us some flower necklaces like in Hawaii (we still don’t know why). We drove to the office so we can pay for the trekking tour and got some shirts as gifts. Finally some fresh clothes to wear! too bad we look like best buy employees wearing those shirts.

We headed to Pokhara for the night. It is a 6 hour drive and our driver did not like to use A/C so we were baking in the car. The views of the Annapurna Range were fantastic and gave us a nice preview of what was about to come.

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We finally arrived at the hotel, extremely nice with an amazing view of Pokhara with all the mountains. Unfortunately, by the time we got there the weather was overcast so we couldn’t see much.

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Sarah was not feeling well so we went to have dinner at this amazing Italian restaurant. This is the first “real” food we’ve had since 10 days ago so we were pretty excited. We then went to sleep before we needed to start early the next day.

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The next morning we started our 5 days of no civilization. We got picked up around 8:00 am at the hotel to drive to Nayapul, our starting point of our hike to Poon Hill and back. We left most of our belongings in the hotel in Pokhara and combined all our necessary stuff (which was waaay more than what we really needed) in one duffel bag that our porter will be carrying for us (lets call him “Ernesto” because I can’t remember his name).

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Besides the Porter Ernesto, we had a guide named Shiva (this is the real name). He was in charge of getting all the permits ready, guiding us to the best routes and basically taking care of everything. You could do this hike without guide but we decided that its better to have one for safety reasons and because we are not really experienced in multi-day hikes (first time for both of us).

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Almost immediately after starting we passed thru the first permit checkpoint. In order to hike around here you need a permit and you need to show it to them so they can find you if you get lost and don’t come back when you say you will (around 3-5 tourists die every season here for different reasons, but none of them hired a guide).

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The first couple of miles were a little civilized and had road access, but soon the trek would take us to only pedestrian (and sometimes mule) roads.

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We really felt bad for our porter Ernesto. First, because we felt like entitled rich white tourists (we are not… ok, ok,…at least we want to think we are not), but also because the duffel bag the trekking company gave us looked terribly un-ergonomic to carry. Most of the other porters were carrying Ospray backpacks which were fine to carry. By the way, hiring a porter cost around $15 a day.

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The whole hike is along local villages like this one. They need to walk at least 2 hours to the closet town to buy goods.

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In order to eat we needed to stop on one of the dozens of restaurants/lodges along the way. These cabins basically offer the exact same menu (no joke, its exactly the same) but the prices increase the higher the altitude you are in. The menu includes the local Dal Bat (lentils soup), terrible spaghetti, horrible pizzas, and a variety of the worse soups I’ve had in my life. Do you know the phrase “when you are hungry, everything taste good”?.. well, that does not apply here; everything taste bad.

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It started to rain like crazy while we were eating. Luckily, they sell these ponchos which are really trash plastic bags that they adapt to use as ponchos. This was the only rain we got while walking during the next 5 days.

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We hiked for the next 4 hours until we reached a smaller town of Tikhedunga where we were supposed to spend the night. We were very fresh and eager to continue walking so we decided to keep going to the next town named Ulleri as it will reduce the hiking time for the next day.

The way up to that town included around 3300 steps designed by Satan himself. It took us around 2 hours to climb those apocalyptic structures while being constantly humiliated by a bunch of school kids that need to do this climb up EVERY DAY to go to school. It goes without saying that they climb them without a problem as these kids must have the calves of mythological gods. If I had to do this to go to school, I would break my 2 legs on purpose… every month.

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We arrived at our amazing mountain cliff lodge for the first night. It promises hot water but because it was cloudy today and they heat the water with solar power, we didn’t have any. The view of the Himalayas from here is breathtaking and we took a small nap before going for dinner.

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Dinner takes forever to get cooked so we walked around the village for a little bit being proud of completing day #1.

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My dream is to be a National Geographic photographer, but I know I am on diapers regarding photography. But, sometimes I still manage to take some stunning photos of beautiful local people.

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The village has mostly everything: small clinic, school, restaurant, etc.. The still need an In-n-Out though.

 

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Food has arrived (after around 1 hr cooking time, everything is fresh here). One of the rules for the guide is that he cannot eat until we finish eating. This rule is not made by us and we try to convince him to eat as we felt really bad for him. At the end, he finished all of our french fries after we offered him some that we couldn’t finish.

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The view of Annapurna south from there was beautiful. Hard to beat a scenery like this.

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Second day we started early. We packed our duffel bag and started the walk towards one of the biggest villages around here called Ghorepani. Mules are used to transport goods around here, there are no roads for vehicles.

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We made it to Ghorepani after around 4 hours hiking. There were more steps but nothing like the day before so we were happy!

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This village is way bigger than Ulleri with way more things going on.

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Our hotel had warm water. One of the things we have learned in this trip is to appreciate warm water showers, they are more scarce than what you can imagine. Again, the room is fantastic. Who needs to stay in a fancy hotel when you can stay in a $10 room with a Himalayas view (and a few dozen insects sharing the room with you)

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We met this mom who was traveling with her 4 year old for a year around the world. We were really inspired by her and the way she is parenting her son. Hopefully we will be like her in the near future.

This was the view from our window. A little cloudy but still impressive.

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After sunset, the weather cleared giving us a spectacular view. Annapurna South (8,091 m / 25,641 ft) and Annapurna II (7,938 m) peaks here in the photo. The crazy thing is that Nepal has 8 out of the 14 peaks higher than 14,000 ft (8,000 m) and this is one of those. When people think about Everest they usually forget about all other tall mountains; these little guys here are only around 700 meters shorter than Everest, so still VERY impressive.

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Bonus Pic Of The Day: Because we were hiking in rainy season there are sooo many leeches. These little cute guys stick to you, inject an anti-coagulant agent and  then start drinking your blood without you noticing while getting bigger and bigger. One of my bucket list items was to get sucked by a leech which I tried here without success (the next day I was successful by the way, and don’t regret it). I always wanted to feel what it feels like as I read that they use them in the medical field to reduce inflammation to inner hemorrhages.  By the way that was Eitan speaking if you hadn’t guessed.  Sarah is not a weirdo and had 0 desire to have her blood sucked.

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