Having just returned from my mini 5 day trek in the Annapurna foothills it has to be said that Nepal is a fantastic trekking place! especially for Sally with strategically placed tea houses every hour or so of walking 🙂
To do solo trekking you have to get an additional “Registration card for individual trekkers” for 1500 Rupee on top of the 2000Rupee Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) Entry Permit. Both can be obtained in Pokhara, you will also need 4 passport photographs. The office opens at 10am plus buy a map from the local shops. I had to check in at Nayapul then again across the bridge at Birethanti, finally checking out at Dhampus.
I took a taxi to Nayapul (1500 rupee), this will be the last wheeled vehicle you will see until you leave the ACA! lugged up the mountain From then on every item you see (including the rock used in the tracks) has been lugged up by porters!
The first night, Wednesday, I stopped at Sudame a modest 300metre climb, it was a hot day and I managed a couple of dips in the crystal clear rushing river 🙂 Accomodation is cheap 100 Rupees a night typically but you are obliged to have dinner and breakfast too, these prices are fixed by the mountain mafia Lodge Management Commitee in Ghandruk so the night cost 1300 Rupee. All the lodges have duvets (blankets) and clean white sheets. All the ones I stayed in where very clean, if somewhat structurally unsound (not surprising when everything has been carried up on some poor sods back!
Thursday was a straight 1600metre (vertical 1 mile) climb up a steep stone staircase to Ghorepani. A tough day indeed especially carrying my 9Kg backpack, how the porters do it with 30+Kg is amazing. This accomodation worked out at 2050 Rupee. Next morning was a 4am start to get to Poon Hill for the sunrise, a nice 400metre climb before brekkie, after brekkie it was another straight 400m climb to Deurali then down a lovely gorge into Tadapani.
I set of early on Friday from Tadapani to go to Ghandruk, seeing a whole pack of monkeys en route 🙂 arriving early I decided to go up to Jhinudanda and go swimming in the hot springs, fab except for the 200m climb back to the lodge after the swim!
Saturday was another down and up plus I lost my gorgeous titanium framed specs that I bought in Beijing 🙁 in the morning followed by a very steep 400m climb then short downhill into Pothana and my final night.
Sunday was a steep downhill to Dhampus and back to seeing cars!
The walking is very tough lots of steep up and downs, mainly on stone steps plus quite a few rickety looking narrow wobbly suspension bridges. I met several people walking to Annapurna base camp (ABC) without guides and getting on fine. However, everyone I met doing the Annapurna circuit (20+ days) had a guide and porter. My favourite guide & porter were Goma (a girl guide!) and Thakur. They were very friendly and helpful towards me. The German lady who had employed them via Lang Tang Ri was very complementary about them too! and she had been walking with them for 27 days!!
In Pokhara you may be told that a guide is essential to get accomodation in peak season, this is a ruse, all the lodges I stopped at said that they would always find space even if it meant you sleeping in the dining hall! I was going to sleep before 8pm and getting up at 6am typically so sleeping in the dining room would be fine (the guides & porters do anyway!)
Oh and the really great thing for all us vegetarians is that ALL the food in the higher lodges is veggie!!!! The meat doesn’t keep apparently 🙂 so trekking in Nepal is the perfect vegetarian holiday 🙂
NB: In 2010 the exchange rate is 1000 Rupee to £8.75, $14USD, 10Euro
My Poon Hill trek GPS (GPX) files on Everytrail are:-
26 Oct 2010 Day 1 Pokhara to Sudame
27 Oct 2010 Day 2 Sudame to Ghorepani
28 Oct 2010 Day 3 Ghorepani to Tadapani (from Poon Hill)
29 Oct 2010 Day 4 Tadapani to Jhinudanda
30 Oct 2010 Day 5 Jhinudanda to Pothana
31 Oct 2010 Day 6 Pothana to Pokhara
Clicking the date will take you to my photographs for that day. Clicking the place names will take you to the Everytrail’s