30 April 2015

Annapurna Panorama Trek - Part 2, 1 - 17 December 2013 - The hard bit!

As we booked our holiday to Nepal through K E Adventure Ltd I have decided to support the charity that they are involved with which is  The Juniper Trust.  If you feel you would like to support this charity by donating some money to help with the rescue and support of the Nepalese people, please click on the link above to find out more about the fantastic work they carry out.  Their fundraising page is https://www.justgiving.com/JuniperTrust-Nepal-Earthquake-Fund/.  Please give generously.  


Onwards and Upwards!

Hopefully you've had the chance to read the first part (the sightseeing bit) of my account of our holiday in Nepal which I posted here a couple of weeks ago.  I always intended to write this second part this week but deliberated about it due to the terrible tragedy of what has happened in Nepal this week.  

I've decided to go ahead with it and let you share in the fantastic journey we had which was in the most part due to the brilliant local trek and tour guides that looked after us.  Nothing was ever too much trouble for them and the attention they gave us was always gratefully received.  

Tshiring Sherpa - Agency Representative
Kami Lakpa Sherpa - Trek Guide
Hridaya Shrestha - Tour Guide
Narayan Shrestha - Porter
Hari KC - Porter

We are thinking of you all and hope you and your families are all well.

 L to R - Gavin, Me, Mary, Kami and Hridaya

L to R - Hari KC (sat on the ground), Hridaya, Me and Narayan

Day 3 - Kande to Australian Camp (1950 m - 6397 ft)

We had an early start this day as we flew from Kathmandu to Pokhara to start our trek, accompanied by Kami, our trek guide.  On arrival at Pokhara we were met by the rest of the "team", namely Hridaya, Narayan and Hari.  We all boarded a mininbus for our journey to Kande where we had lunch before starting the first of many uphill walks through the jungle.  This was supposed to be a shortish first walk to break us in gently with regard to the altitude but I have to say I really struggled but the views that we met as we arrived at Australian Camp were just mind-blowing and made it all worth while.  

As we were to find out over the next 7 days, the day time temperatures got up in to the late teens/early twenties but at night it was very, very cold and often there was frost on the ground when we got up the following morning.


Lunch at a tea room at the side of the main road

Locals driving their ponies along the main roads 
with lorries trundling past them at great speed

Often along our trails we would come across local people with huge loads of branches and grasses on their backs. When I asked Kami what they were doing he said it was food for their animals.  They would go off in the morning and forage all day then come home loaded up then the next day they'd do it all again.  They put me to shame as they carried their huge loads uphill and down dale and did it without even breaking a sweat or being out of breath!  


Respect! 

Finally arrived at our overnight lodge at Australian Camp 

Who wouldn't want to eat their meals here with this view?  

Day 4 - Australian Camp to Landruk (1620 m - 5314 ft)

We had early starts most days - up at 6 am, sometimes earlier, breakfast at 7 am then off walking by 8 at the latest.  We would walk for 2 hours, stop at a tea house for a cuppa and biscuits then walk another 3 hours, stop for lunch at some stunningly beautiful place then on to the next overnight stop which was always in a lodge, mostly with their own bathroom facilities which was extremely handy.  

I have to say that all the terrain was the same  - mountains and trees as far as the eye could see.  Don't think for one minute that because Landruk is lower than Australian Camp our day was all down hilll - Oh no! it was up, up, up then down, down, down to the river bed then back up, up, up again!  It was absolutely exhausting and as I mentioned earlier, I wasn't great at this altitude so most days the time anticipated to complete the walk were around two hours longer than thought.  

 Lots of trees and lots of mountains

 Mary taking a breather 

 Round every corner was an even more spectacular view than the last one

 Our first encounter of someone who wasn't part of our group

 Cuppa time!

 The first of many bridges we had to cross, some wouldn't be out of place in an Indiana Jones movie!  

 Our home for the night at Landruk

Local information board

Day 5 - Landruk to Chomrong - 2210 m (7250 ft)

Once again our journey took us all the way down to the river bed where we would cross at "New Bridge" after which our route climbed steeply high again, above the river through bamboo forest and isolated farmsteads.  After lunch we again climbed steeply to reach the crest and go around Chomrong to our lodge for the night which looks out towards Macchapuchare, more commonly known as the Fish-Tail peak (6993 m - 22,943 ft).  

 Skirting terraced areas used for growing rice

 Down to the river bed but what goes down must go up!!!

 New Bridge - not scary at all 

 Here we go - up, up, up .........

 Mary, Kami, me and Hridaya having a well earned rest

Evidence of landslides

Day 6 - Chomrong to Tadapani 2650 m (8694 ft)

Today we backtracked for a short while before turning off the Annapurna Sanctuary trail to trek through terraced fields, passing through villages before descending to yet another bridge over the valley of the Kymnu Khola.  We lunched at Chuile after which we climbed steadily through rhododendron forests to our lodge at Tadapani.  Form here there were fantastic views of Annapurna South, Hiuchuli and Fish Tail.  Another exhausting day but fantastic at the same time. 

 Setting off early doors and the temperature is warming up already

 We nearly got mown over a few times by donkeys lol

 Noooooo don't jump! 

 This really was a dodgy bridge but the only way across the gorge
They're busy building a new one now as you can see by the workers on the far side

Yet another fantastic lunch venue

Day 7 - Tadapani to Ghorepani 2900 m (9514 ft)

Leaving Tadapani it was once again a long downhill trek to the river then along to Banthanti. From here it was then a steady climb up to the highest point of our trek, Deurali, which was 3100 m (10,170 ft!!).  Leaving Deurali, we gradually descended to Ghorepani and at this point we were on a branch of the main Annapurna Circuit route but we didn't see many other people until we actually arrived at our overnight lodge and it was really very busy there. Ghorepani means horse watering place.  


 I'm sure these were donkeys crossed with mountain goats!

 Our Lunch venue - highest point on our trek

 Yey!!! We made it

 At 3150 m (10,334 ft) we really did feel like we were on top of the world

Tonight's bustling overnight accommodation

Day 8 - Ghorepani to Sikha - 1700 m (5577 ft)

We had the option of getting up at 4 am to go to Poon Hill which is famous for people going there to watch the sunrise and we had planned on doing it but just couldn't face having to get up that early as we were so tired from the previous day's walk, so sadly missed it. 

Today's route would take us down into the Kali Gandaki valley dropping to the village of Sikha where we would spend the night having fantastic views of Dhaulagiri which is 8167 m (26,795 ft) high. Apart from the odd uphill stretch it was mostly all downhill now to the end of our trek.  


 What a view to wake up to!

 The lower we got the more lush farmsteads we passed

 Another absolutely perfect place for our mid morning cuppa

 Lots of farming terraces

 Downhill all the way now

 Admiring the view in Sikha, our home for the night with our little local visitor
He tried a few times to pinch my walking pole and kept sticking his hands in my pockets but unfortunately there was nothing in there of interest to him


These two women appeared from the field behind us and had been out collecting food for their animals

 
The little old lady in the centre/left of the picture was chasing the neighbours chickens away with a big stick as they were trying to eat her own chicken's food.  She kept us entertained for ages

Day 9 - Sikha to Tatopani - 1100 m (3641 ft)

This was the last day of our trek and I have to say I was both sad and pleased because it had been such hard work walking the distances over the terrain that we had been walking every day for the past 7 days.  

We continued to descend, walking on good trails through a lot of farmland into the Kali Gandaki Valley finally reaching the river which rose on the high Tibetan Plateau and flowed through the world's deepest gorge between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. We crossed our final suspension bridge to arrive at Tatopani, which means "hot water".  The village got it's name because of the nearby hot springs which have been developed into rudimentary baths. which we sampled later, and it really was a welcome soak.  I was very surprised at how hot the water was and we were told if they didn't pump water from the river into the baths to cool them down they would be too hot to use.  

 It wouldn't have been the same if we hadn't come across some ponies on our last day! 

 Sitting in the sun watching the walkers passing by

 We ate sun-warmed oranges picked freshly from these trees - they were delicious

 The start of the very dry, dusty track down to Tatopani

 This was probably the worst bridge we crossed with broken wires and holes in the wood .....

 ...... just a bit further along a brand new bridge

 Finally we reached the river 

 Tatopani - a bustling, fairly big village


Our trekking permits were checked on a number of occasions as we were in a protected area. The data collected would be inserted in the visitors’ database, where it could be accessed for park management purposes or in case of accidents and/or natural calamities, in order to inform any concerned institutions about the trekkers inside the park at anytime

 Heading down to the hot springs

 Having a well earned dip in the hot spring.  The water was too hot to stay immersed for long so most people had a quick dip then sat on the side

The final road journey on the bumpiest, dustiest road we've ever been on!  

The final part of our journey was a 3 hour car ride to Beni which was an real experience, then we got a mini bus back to Pokhara which I have already written about in Annapurna Panorama Trek - Part 1, so I won't repeat myself here.

This was a totally exhausting but wonderful experience and although there were times when I hated it at the end of it all it was a brilliant experience and I would recommend it to anyone. 

I hope you enjoyed the journey with us.

Toodles - Paula :)