November 2005, after a two-year stint living in the UK, I packed up and flew to Kathmandu in Nepal to meet my best friend, Kell, for an adventure of a life time – to trek part of the Himalaya Mountains – the Annapurna Base Camp Trek (formerly Annapurna Sanctuary).
We were fortunate enough to have our very own local guide for a few days, Kell’s beautiful Aunty Lenore, who had been living and teaching in Kathmandu for several years – local knowledge is so powerful when travelling. We spent two days touring Kathmandu locally with Lenore, before joining our Intrepid tour group to see more sights.
Touring Kathmandu and surrounds
We went to the most important sight for Hindu’s in Nepal called Pashupatinath. It was a place to worship and mourn the dead, where people were cremated soon after them passing away, then their ashes were put into the running Bagmati River. We spent an afternoon in Patan Durbar Square which is Patan’s Palace square; lots of temples, great culture and beautiful and friendly people. We wandered the smaller streets and walked a part of Lenore’s school evacuation route for her school.
We negotiated Kathmandu traffic by bike to get to Swayambhunath, a site for Buddhists. The tourists refer to Swayambhunath as Monkey Temple, due to the number of monkeys there. It was such a buzz – exciting and a little bit scary! We went to Kathmandu Durbar Square and to see the home of the living goddess (Kumari) who happened to be the cousin of Lenore’s close friend.
We spent the morning in old town of Bahktapur which is about 15km out of Kathmandu. We toured the city in the morning, seeing all the sights and walking small winding streets. We ate great food, shopped in secret jewellery stores Lenore had shown us, had some down time in preparedness for what was ahead.
The Himalayan Trek, Nepal – Annapurna Base Camp
Kathmandu to Pokhara
We got a local tourist bus to Pokhara from Kathmandu. The roads have a lot to be desired, therefore the 200km we had to travel took 7.5 hours! I was sick with a cold so managed to sleep most of the trip away. At one point I woke to gasps from my fellow travellers. Over the side of the bridge that we had currently been stopped on, was an over turned tanker and a bus that had gone over the edge. As we neared our arrival point, through my sleepy eyes I was blown away by what was surrounding us, the Himalayas – things just got very real!
We spent the afternoon in Pokhara wandering the streets, trying to indulge in the last food options and activities, like apple crumble from the bakery (which was to-die-for, I might add)! Dinner was at the hotel where we watched a performance of Nepali dancers; interestingly, this was our first of many experiences of seeing men really enjoying the music and dance as much as the women. Music and dance is such an important part of the Nepali culture and daily life.
Pokhara to Tikedhunga – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Early morning rise and a bus to Birethanti where we met our porters who strapped two packs (max 30kg) together and swung them over their backs or heads to carry them for us for the next 11 days! ELEVEN DAYS – what on earth was I doing???? The day was glorious as had been predicted. It was hot and we just loved being outside enjoying the walk.
There was a bit of up and down, made for an interesting walk. After an hour and a half, we stopped for lunch, Kell and I were already tired, but we did our best not to show it. We all had to try to order similar foods at lunch so preparation didn’t take up too much of our day. After lunch we were off again, but this time UP! It hurt, particularly the stairs that took us up to the teahouse – a welcome resting point. The scenery had been beautiful, walking along rivers and through fields, past school kids who would easily do this same walk every day.
On arrival in Tikedhunga we had warm showers, making the most of this luxury! Then had a wander around the village, took some photos, just in time before it began to rain. Shankar (our guide), assured us that if it rained at night, it would NOT rain during the day. During dinner when it was pelting down outside, we were all more than happy, as it was NOT going to rain the next morning.
Tikedhunga to Gorepani, 2750m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Torrential rain all night, and just as Shankar had predicted, it stopped just as we were about to have breakfast…only to begin again when we packed up our stuff and got ready to go. Out came the poncho’s and plastic bags to waterproof everything. Fortunately, Kell and I had already waterproofed all our gear before we started the trip, which we were hoping was going to be unnecessary, but as it turned out, was VERY necessary.
Off we go. Shankar says to us, “Two hours and we’ll be over the top of that hill”. Well for starters that ‘hill’ was no hill, it was a mountain, and as for the two-hour thing, we had to climb 3000 steps to get to the top of “that hill” – my mind was not going to positive places and I could well and truly see it taking more than the predicted two hours…particularly when it was bucketing with rain! After 1 hour of continuous up, we were soaked.
My water-resistant jacket was not cut out for the weather, that’s for sure! My travel pants were not dealing with the weather either. After two hours our feet were drenched and we were certainly NOT THERE! The 3rd and 4th hours were the worst! Apart from the fact that Kell and I were the stragglers of the group, we later found out that they reached the lunch spot a whole hour and a half before us. I was completely wet from top to toe, from skin to bone. Not a dry part of my body. I was freezing! I could barely walk, I was out of energy and all I wanted to do was sit on the ground and cry. Why was I doing this to myself???? No views, rain pelting down, so so cold. Kell who was a little drier than me, she had a dry top thanks to her Dad’s poncho; she stuck with me while I struggled up the stairs and through the jungle. We were basically walking up a river bed. Some parts you couldn’t avoid the ankle-deep water. Poor Shankar, I don’t think he quite knew what to do – it was only day two!
We finally got to the lunch stop. Everyone else was already sitting around the big pot belly ‘heating system’. The first thing I did was strip off all my clothes, down to my underwear. Put a dry jumper on and someone else’s jacket over my legs to try to hide them from offending the locals. I spent lunch time attempting to defrost myself and dry some of my clothes.
After lunch Shankar said we had 2 hours to go, maybe 1.5. I was determined to make it the latter, so with all the energy I could muster, Kell and I soldiered on. Got into a rhythm and powered on as fast as we possibly could. We were no longer at the back. I had never been so cold in my life and I wanted to make the second part of the day as short as possible. More uphill and stairs, more rain, still cold and wet, but this time I walked with the bag over the top of my head. To our great surprise and joy, we got there in 45 minutes! We were not the first there, Shankar had said 2 hours based on my performance earlier in the day.
The teahouse rooms were freezing, but taking off all my clothes made me about 10 degrees warmer. We dried ourselves, put dry warm clothes on and headed to the dining room which was turned into a drying room with some chairs and tables. Every person’s boots, clothes and underwear were in there trying to dry. It made for an interesting afternoon of drinking warm drinks trying to get the blood flowing again, finding feeling in my toes, and constantly turning clothes and boots so they wouldn’t burn or melt! I did not think I was going to make that day – it was a horrendous and horrible feeling.
For dinner we ate like you wouldn’t believe…and then rewarded ourselves with dessert – a ‘snicker roll’, a deep-fried snickers bar – heart attack on a plate, but very yummy! As we went to bed, it was still raining but we were all praying for it to stop as we were to get up at 4am to go to Poon Hill for sunrise.
Gorepani to Tadapani, 2700m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
We woke up at 5:30am; so much for Poon Hill. We looked out the window, the rain had stopped. I guess we were thankful for that, but disappointed that we missed out on the sunrise.
Our walk started uphill, tough, but there was a clear view of some mountains in the area so we were happy. It was nice to be able to stop and take photos along the way. We lapped up as much of it as we could, just in case we didn’t see anything else. It was pretty misty and very overcast, but we could see mountains so couldn’t really complain. UP UP UP! Kell and I, along with 3 others made up the ‘back of the pack’! We had a little bit of Nepali flat – up and down, up and down, nothing too steep in either direction through the jungle for a couple of hours. We loved Nepali flat by the end of the trip.
Kell and I talked the whole way, beginning our catch up on the past two years, it was great. We then followed a gully down for an hour, which was quite steep. Landslides – they were muddy; it certainly made for an interesting trip. We learnt Shankar’s favourite saying, he used it every time someone complained or questioned something – ”What to do, Kathmandu”. We were entertained by Shankar as much as I think we entertained him – we got along very well. We crossed some bridges, typically Nepali bridges – they were a ‘little bit scary’.
We had 30 minutes of ‘steep up’ to the teahouses, where we had a hot shower and found ourselves with a ‘room with a view’, not that there was really any view with the cloud cover. The teahouses were cold and had tin walls and roof. I bought a yak pashmina and some socks which were probably a couple of my best purchases for the trip. Whilst waiting for dinner, Shankar explained the current Maoist situation to us, and that he had to pay US$15 per person for us to be there.
Tadapani to Chomrong, 2177m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Once again, torrential rain when we went to bed the night before. Kell woke me during the night and much to my annoyance made me look out the window. I’m glad she did – there was clear sky, eerie sky and mountains – REAL MOUNTAINS and we were completely amongst them. Amazing – we were so excited at what the day ahead would show us. Our room with a view certainly proved to be that!
Up for sunrise, mountains were beautiful but the sunrise itself wasn’t that impressive. I took a minute whilst brushing my teeth to realise exactly where I was and what I was doing, one of those pinch me moments. So incredible and a little bit overwhelming.
The first part of the day was steep steep, down. We were to get to Chomrong by lunch and spend the day there. Half way down the steep and the sky began to cry! From then on, the day was a chore – no views, aching muscles, pain and not really enjoying it. We got to the bottom and then had to head straight back up. The ‘going down, to go back up’ was so physically and mentally painful, such a challenge! There was some Nepali flat, but most of it was gruelling. However, we did plough on through and managed to get there in the specified time of 5 hours, in time for lunch.
The afternoon was spent recovering and preparing for the days ahead. For the next few days we were heading up to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) and would be back tracking our path on our way back – so we knew what we would be going up, would mean that equally, we had to come back down.
People played cards, chatted, enjoyed the dry air (of course the rain stopped when we did!). Kell and I thought we deserved a massage, so we both indulged and had a one hour Nepali massage, what an interesting experience! I wasn’t very relaxed, it was a bit too funny to be relaxed. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable and took my mind off what was ahead. Having a laugh was perhaps the better sort of medicine we needed at that point in time anyway!
There were tears that day – tears of pain and tears from laughter.
Sunset that night on the mountains was amazing. We could see where we were going, quite a daunting thought, but simply amazing – it made us all really excited! Kell and I sat in our room and had a good chat and catch up before dinner. Another snicker roll was ordered; this time we had one each – hahaha – I’m sure we deserved it! Another early night. We were averaging on 7:30-8:00pm each night. We needed all the sleep we could get!
Chomrong to Doban, 2670m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
We had a tough day ahead of us, 7 hours Shankar said. He was pretty much spot on most of the time so it was a fairly good indication that we were in for a big day. The first part leaving Chomrong was great, all downhill, steep down for one hour. Pretty cruisy until it dawned on us that we then had to go up to what we had just walked from and beyond!
We reached the river that ran through the valley at the base of Chomrong and we started to head UP! “Steep-steep” up, for probably 1.5 hours. I was not having a good time going up. I wasn’t feeling good walking at all and therefore was not enjoying it. Kell was powering along which was great…for her! When you have a rhythm, you have got to stick with it. So off she went. There was a bit of Nepali flat which was a good relief on the aching muscles. More jungle walking, it was mostly a nice day so we could enjoy some of the views. As the day went on, my mood, outlook and feeling improved. After a couple of hours of Nepali flat we then hit a very steep descent which took us to Bamboo for lunch. I was walking on my own for most of the morning, mainly because I didn’t want to talk to anyone, as I don’t think I would have had very much to say that was nice – I needed some mental ‘time-out’ to re-energise and focus.
After lunch, I was ready to go with some new-found energy and motivation. Kell and I did our best to keep up with the front of the pack, only to find ourselves slowly but surely falling behind as soon as we hit an incline….and incline we certainly did! It was virtually climbing a ladder in parts, it was insane. I experienced my first headache early in the afternoon, but unfortunately it was one of many along the trip. It took 3 hours that afternoon to get to the Himalaya Hotel, so we were exhausted and certainly felt like we had put in a good day of walking! We had a ‘hot bucket’ that night which basically means that we stand in a freezing cold open air ‘shower room’ and wash ourselves from a hot bucket of water. As horrible as that sounds, it really was sensational!
It got really cold that night. Obviously the higher we moved into the mountains the colder it was going to get. Also, the higher risk of altitude sickness. I began my new diet that night of potato and garlic soup. I was told garlic helps/prevents altitude sickness. When we went to bed that night, the sky was clear and the stars were out. It was amazing. Apart from the stars in the Sahara Desert, it had been a long time since I’d seen any like that.
Doban to Machhapuchhare Base Camp (M.B.C.), 3700m – Annapurna Base CampTrek
Another early morning start. Gurung Bread (or Tibetan Bread) for breaky, up and ready to go. Shankar told us we had 4 hours of walking that day. A pretty cruisy day, to be at M.B.C. by lunch. We had to walk slowly because of the risk of altitude sickness. The first two hours to Deurali were tough going. Mostly steep up with a little bit of Nepali flat for us to re-energise our muscles. We walked through bamboo areas and forests; it really was a stunning day.
The whole group walked together for most of the day which was great. When we stopped for drinks we’d all laugh and talk about what we doing and how hilariously insane it sounded that we were walking for 7 days to get ‘somewhere’ to see ‘something’. With blue skies, a running river to walk alongside, massive snow-capped mountains, how could anyone want to be in any other place!?
From Deurali the walk along the river was gorgeous. Nice to hear water and it not come from above. We took some spectacular photos that day. Amazing views, lots of pinch-yourself moments. As we grew closer to M.B.C. we began walking past small patches of snow, which slowly increased until we were right amongst it.
Of course, this brought on a snow ball fight instigated by our guide Shankar. For the last hour up to M.B.C. we were right in the thick of the snow. The track which had been created, or broken-in, by people earlier that morning, became very ‘slippy‘ (as Shankar would say!). All I could think of during this walk was Shankar’s warning to group – “Your next mistake could be your last” – thanks Shankar!
We got to M.B.C. by 12ish and all sat outside admiring the views and our surroundings. It really was quite incredible. We had hot drinks and ordered our lunch and by the time lunch was served it was too cold to sit outside any longer, so we all moved ourselves inside to the warmth. Kell and I were rugged up in our ‘pashi’s’ sitting by the window enjoying the outside (from the inside!). While we were chatting and admiring the monstrosity of the mountains, we realised that we were at the mountain that featured on the front cover of the Nepal Lonely Planet. We were in awe of where we were and the enormity of the experience we were having.
It was time for the sun to set. We rugged up and went outside to watch the sun set on Machhapuchhare. It was utterly incredible watching the mountain change in colour. Something you have-to see to believe! It was truly mesmerising.
Dinner time rolled around again. It was pizza for Kell and I, a good one too – it’s incredible what fabulous food is able to be produced in such remote kitchens – we were very grateful to the hospitality we received from the lovely locals on the mountain! Another early night in preparation for our final leg before reaching Annapurna Base Camp. We went to sleep that night excited!
M.B.C. to Annapurna Base Camp (A.B.C.), 4130m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Absolutely freezing start to the morning. The enormity of the mountains means the sun doesn’t come up and out until quite late. At 7:30am we were ready to begin our 1.5-3 hour walk up to ANNAPURNA BASE CAMP – the pinnacle of this trip!
We were all frozen to the bone, we were excited and nervous as we were about to walk up a mountain through the snow. Even though we had a short walk that day, we had to leave early so the snow would be crispy and less slippery. I felt like I was on some kind of Survivor-show trekking through the snow – spoken from someone who has experienced very little snow in their life! It was dark and we were all walking together in a line along the man-made path. It was awesome, we had a massive adrenaline rush, we were pumped and loving it!
At around 9am the sun came up and over Machhapuchhare, it looked as if it were on fire, unbelievable! For the next hour and a half it was stifling hot! The suns reflection of the snow was burning! I could feel myself getting burnt but was loving the experience too much to care. The ‘track’ we were walking on was insane, you couldn’t take your eye off the ground while walking. You could see where people had stepped and fallen knee to waist deep into snow. It was very narrow for most of the walk, so when it came to passing people on route coming the other way, it was a challenge. I could hear Shankar’s warning in the back of my mind – ”this might be your last mistake”.
As we got closer to A.B.C. the group split up a bit and once again Kell and I brought up the rear, absolutely lapping up the view and enjoying every minute. We took photos, hundreds of them, we played, we laughed – it was THE BEST! I was so fortunate to share it with my best friend, it was absolutely one of the greatest experiences of our lives.
In the end, I think it took us two and a half hours to get to A.B.C. which sat at 4130m in altitude. It was a spectacular walk and an amazing feeling to reach the top. The sun was shining again and the skies were completely blue. We sat in the sun and took in the views whilst having a celebratory beer.
We were having the time of our lives! We were knee-deep in snow, completely surrounded by mountains in the Himalayas, the sun was shining, the sky was a vibrant blue and the air was as fresh as it could be. We were (almost) on top of the world!
We had lunch (more potato and garlic soup) and enjoyed the sun and views before it got unbearably cold and we had to go in again.
That night we spent chatting again and laughing about the epic and awesome things that had happened on the trip and all we had achieved. It was ‘simply the best’.
A.B.C. to Bamboo, 2335m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
The morning was dark and cold. It was hard to get motivated for the day ahead when we were in such an incredible part of the world; an extra night here would have been great. But, we had to be up and at it to beat the sun melting the snow, which would make our trip down more challenging.
After breakfast, we were asked for a passport photo. Our photos were to be posted on a wall, alongside people who had trekked to A.B.C. and for others to join us in years to come. Just as we saddled up, it started to snow; it was beautiful, majestic.
I was concerned about walking steep down, in the snow, but thanks to Shankar and his great ‘sock idea’, I had no trouble. He recommended wearing socks over the top of our boots and assured us that it would stop us from slipping. It seemed such an odd idea that none of us believed him; however, we did do it and to our great surprise and pleasure, he was spot on – we were no longer slipping and sliding, we just ended up a pair of socks short!
Back down to M.B.C. where we stopped to have a break. Similar to the day before, it was cold before the sun came up, but once it did, our already sunburnt faces felt the pinch.
From M.B.C. we powered on down to Himalaya Hotel for lunch. I think every ten minutes, during conversation, either Kell or I would say to each other “I cannot believe that we walked up this the other day”. It was seriously unbelievable.
I was probably in more pain walking down than up, my legs were going to jelly. We had lunch at 12pm; by 12:45pm we were off, soon after it began to rain again. It was like someone up there had said they would give us 2 good days, thankfully the ones that were most important and the rest would just be miserable! It was annoying, but we were all so thankful that we had such perfect days at M.B.C. and A.B.C. We donned our waterproof gear and off we went!
It was moments like these that showed the difference in our preparedness, experience and physical conditioning. For some of the group, waterproof gear consisted of proper clothing, others had poncho’s or in my case, a garbage bag over the head with holes in it for my arms – you can’t say we weren’t resourceful! Down, down, down to Bamboo for the night. Still the whole way we couldn’t believe that we had walked up in the opposite direction. How did we do it???
By the time we got to Bamboo, having descended to 2300m in altitude, I was once again fully drenched, not a dry piece of clothing on my body. I was aching and looking forward to getting warm. We decided to get a hot bucket as once again Shankar had promised us hot water…there wasn’t any. We were so disappointed, but as he said, “No sun, no solar, no hot water – what to do?”.
That night I think was the first in 3 days that I didn’t have potato and garlic soup, but instead indulged and had fried potatoes with egg and cheese – good choice, it was so nice to have something hearty and warm! We played cards with the guides until about 9:30pm – quite a late night for us! It was probably one of the best nights of sleep I had the whole trip, perhaps my mind was at a little more ease, we had almost made it – there had been times throughout the ascent that I did genuinely wonder whether I would get there.
Bamboo to Jhinu Danda, 1780m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
A few days back when we got to Bamboo, I remember thinking, Oh My Gosh – I have to walk back up what I just walked down. Leaving Bamboo was steep up from memory, and I certainly wasn’t feeling ‘it’ first thing in the morning. However, much to my surprise the steep up wasn’t so bad after all. Probably because what we had done heading up to Base Camp was so much harder, this now seemed like a walk in the park. We had some more Nepali Flat and then up again. It really was a pleasant walk and we were all walking ahead of schedule which was great.
The next part I was not looking forward to – hundreds of steps up into Chomrong! We had to go back to the same teahouse to pick up a few things that everyone left behind when we were there last. Again, it was easier than we expected, but we would have been happy to never see another step! Kell and I set goals for ourselves the whole way up, which was kind of fun and made it a little more bearable on our tired legs. Once we reached Chomrong, we repacked our bags (ie. stuffed everything in on top) and sat down for a well-deserved break and serious sugar hit – snickers and Sprite!
The plan that day was to get to Jhinu Danda for lunch, which meant about 5 hours of walking. Like I said we were ahead of time, until we left Chomrong! It was to be one-hour steep down to Jhinu Danda. Kell and I both had strained our achilles over the past few days, all the pressure going down was just too much. This steep down was mighty painful and not enjoyable at all. Most of the group were way out in front of Kell and I, in fact probably a good half an hour in the end! In this last hour, we came up with a new saying, ‘Nepali nearly’. Shankar had been telling us, ‘nearly nearly’ that we were almost there…and for the most part we never ‘nearly’ there! So instead he started saying Nepali nearly, then when we were 5 minutes away, it became ‘Aussie nearly’, which we preferred much more! Despite our pain and grievances, we were very grateful to have Shankar, our fantastic guide, to keep us on track, motivated and laughing (through gritted teeth).
We took it slowly and eventually got there, it was so nice to finally be able to put our feet up and relax! We had some lunch then all got kitted up, bathers, towel and flip flops; and, headed down 20 minutes to the hot springs!
There were three hot springs next to a very fast flowing river. It was sensational! Beautiful setting and the perfect way to end our day. A few of us enjoyed a beer in the springs, and had a quick dip in the freezing river! After an hour there, we slowly headed back to our accommodation. We decided on our way back up, walking down in flip flops, probably wasn’t the best idea, it was slippery and difficult. It made us realise how incredible the porters are who carry 30kg plus with flip flops on, or in bare feet! We had to pass a buffalo on our way back, not that it was unusual; we probably had to do it almost every day, but this time it was almost on the track.
That night at dinner, the guides showed us how to party Nepali style! We had heard all week how great our guides were at dancing, so this was the night to show their stuff. We all got up and had a dance at some point in the evening, but it really did become the ‘Shankar Show’. It was a great night, until Shankar decided it was getting late (8pm) and we were sent off to bed!
Jhinu Danda to Pothana, 1970m – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
We had about 6 or 7 hours of walking to do that day; it was fortunate we were in bed early the night before! We started off by walking steep down for one hour, to cross over a fast-flowing river on a slightly rickety Nepali bridge, one of many for that day. We walked up, steep up, to then walk some Nepali flat for a little while which was nice; before going back down to the river and up the other side. I was getting tired (physically and mentally). More Nepali bridges, Nepali flat and of course steps! It was exhausting, although the scenery was stunning! The final stretch into lunch was simply up, which I had begun to prefer despite still being challenging. We walked through rain forests and fields which was so beautiful and enjoyable.
My body had held up well for the trip considering how, in all honesty, under prepared I was. That day was a real struggle though, my achilles was not loving what we were doing and it was hard to cope mentally with the pain I was experiencing. There was one final hurdle, almost literally – a massive step up, just as we were coming into lunch. I could barely put pressure on my foot, let alone push off it, so I slowly and very painfully gritted my teeth and up I went. At lunch, my shoe came off, I elevated and rested my foot. I asked Kell to massage some anti-inflammatory gel into it, and there came my first tears of the trip! I was overwhelmed with pain, exhaustion and just general emotion. Thankfully we had quite a long break that lunch so I sat in the sun, foot elevated and tried to focus on making it through the rest of the trek. It wasn’t far and knew I would do it, but it was going to hurt.
Following lunch, we headed off, slowly for me – we had 2 hours to go. According to Shankar we were heading up and over our last mountain of the trek. It was tough and long, but a satisfying and proud part of the trek. The scenery was gorgeous. Towards the end we walked through gardens, which reminded me of the botanical gardens in Melbourne. We cruised along at the back with Shankar and enjoyed the last part of the days walk. By the time we got there, there was already a long queue for the solar shower, but I decided that today was going to be the day that I washed my hair, regardless of the temperature. It had been 10 days after all!
A fellow group member, Stacey, had kindly offered me her conditioner and moisturising cream, my face was peeling at a ridiculous rate from the sun and blowing my nose so often. I felt like a new woman – amazing, I’ll be forever grateful to Stacey for making me feel human again.
That night we all decided to have a Nepali Night at dinner. We all ordered Dahl Baht, rice, curry and a lentil type soup. The porters ate with us as well, and we ate it Nepali style…with our hands! It was fun and an experience I won’t forget!
At the end of dinner, we had a final briefing from Shankar where he was “going to tell us something about tomorrow”. It was a little sad as it was all coming to an end. All the guides and porters then got up and very proudly sang us their National Anthem. It was so lovely and a great honour, overwhelming really.
Later, the tunes were on again and the Shankar Show returned! Everyone danced, we had some local kids dancing for us and with us, as well. We must have all been having a bit too much fun as Shankar got in trouble for us being too loud, so once again, we got sent to bed!
Pothana to Pokhara – Annapurna Base Camp Trek
We had a mere 2 hours to walk; however, they were to be steep down. I was not looking forward to it to be honest, the pain I was in from the day before was too fresh in my mind. But at the same time, we were too excited to let it get in my way. As we walked, we watched Machhapuchhare and the Annapurna’s get further and further away.
We asked ourselves how on earth we had done, what we’d done! For the first hour of walking, it was actually Nepali flat which was a nice surprise. We walked through small villages and kids who were singing songs and blocking our path. A festival was just beginning and the children were all excited.
The last hour was as Shankar had said, steep down! It was tough and very painful, and getting very hot! The countryside, however, was beautiful. There were more kids singing the whole way to the bottom, it was very cute, some walk along with us. When we reached the end of our trek, it felt so good! Amazing in fact. My boots were the first thing to come off!
We gave our porters tips and gifts; I gave mine my sleeping bag and Kell gave him her trainers. We then had to say our goodbyes, it was very sad. We had just spent the past two weeks with them, and they were such a great group!
The rest of the group, trekkers and guides, jumped on a bus, some up on the roof top and the rest inside, and headed back to Pokhara. I couldn’t believe it was over! The afternoon we spent wandering around Pokhara, had some lunch (ice cream and cake!), did our Intrepid feedback on the trip and then went to buy a few things, including having a skirt and top made for a total of $10 for our ‘night out’ in Pokhara. We also made a quick and last minute dash to a place to have our laundry done, a very good idea! We also put together a bag of all our unwanted clothes (to our horror, dirty or clean) so Shankar could pass them onto a village in need.
We all went out for a last dinner together, said our “thankyou’s” to the guides and in particular Shankar who had spent a great part of the trip with Kell and I, at the back of the pack. A group of us stayed on and livened up the crowd in the Amsterdam Bar, and proceeded to take over the dance floor. It was a great night and a very fun way to finish the tour.
Pokhara to Kathmandu
We had a fantastic night of sleep and woke up ready to see what our next adventure might bring us. Over breakfast, we heard news of the bombings in Delhi, quite scary considering we were going there the next day. Lots of things running through our minds, but more importantly at that time were our rumbling stomachs.
Kell and I had breakfast with our new friends from our tour, Stace and Gabe at Mike’s restaurant, which was by the spectacular Phew Lake. It was a beautiful setting, and a nice way to finish our trip. We said our goodbyes and Kell and I enjoyed our last wander around the town, picked up our washing, repacked and headed for the airport for our flight back to Kathmandu. In the airport, we checked our bags in and waited for our delayed flight. The aeroplane was small but safe, although very loud. It was nice to see the mountains from above, but didn’t compare to what we had seen walking through them.
It was such an amazing trip! I loved it all, despite the moaning and groaning and pain. We made new friends and experienced something lots of people will never have the opportunity to do. As far as Kell and I go, this trip was an absolutely incredible adventure and only created a stronger friendship between us. There really is something very special about finding a friend who you can share such experiences with. Soulmates for life.
Erin and Kell’s Nepali Trek Facts:
Km’s Walked – 84!!
Hours of Walking – 52!!
Best Purchase: E – Water bladder, aka – camel, K – $20 cargo/2nd H2O bottle
Best borrowed Item: E&K – Walking sticks
Best Item Lent to you: K – Poncho, E – Socks
Best Purchase During Trip: K&E – Pashi – so warm
Worst Moment: E – Day 2 – dying in the rain, K – Chomrong – another rainy day – know how they feel on survivor “I didn’t expect it to be this hard”
Most Painful Moment: E – Achilles on 2nd last day, K – Hip Flexor on 3rd day
Favourite Saying: E – “Not DEALING”, K – “Oh my giddy”
Favourite Shankar Saying: “What to do?” (in Kathmandu); “Nepali flat”; “Nearly nearly”
Most Dirty Item of Clothing: E – Black pants worn for 12 days, K – ‘Yak Poo Pants’ worn for 12 days
Most Days no shower: 7 days – Peew!
Longest without washing Hair: E – 10 days, K – 3 days
Best Moments: Reaching the ABC Base camp in waist deep snow; being up on rock above a Glacier; the hot springs; sunrise on Machhupuchhare.
Medication Taken: # of Imodium – E=3, # of anti-diarrhoea – E=3, # of fibre drinks – K=1, # of panadol – E=12, K=2
Missed Most: K – Pillow, E – couch/heater
Favourite Meal: Enchilada + Snicker Roll