Annapurna Base Camp Trek Day 1: Naya Pul to Tikhedhungga
Starting the day with breakfast in Pokhara, the excitement was building ahead of starting the Annapurna Base Camp trek. The two-hour bus to Naya Pul was the usual ‘life on the edge’ experience, but we made it in one piece. Naya Pul itself is not much more than a series of wooden shacks serving food along the side of the main road. After asking around, we found the path and we were on our way. We were stopped twice for permit checks, meeting two would-be trekkers who hadn’t organised their permits in Pokhara and had to go back to the lakeside town before they were allowed to continue. Feeling sorry for them, we continued on our way.
We are incorporating the Poon Hill Loop with the Annapurna Base Camp trek route which should, all going well, take a total of ten days. The path wound along a dusty road, overlooking the pristine river running below us, all the way to Tikhedhungga, our stop for the night. We watched people fishing, bathing and washing clothes as we walked along in the hot midday sun, wanting so badly to jump in.
Three hours of hiking later and we reached the quaint little town of Tikhedhungga, and our lodge, nestled between two beautiful waterfalls overlooking the river. Tomorrow is supposed to be a tough day, with a 1,300 meter climb we’ll be hoping to get through it before the sun is at its strongest.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Day 2: Tikhedhungga to Ghore Pani
We woke up this morning to the sound of the river outside our widow and clear, sunny skies. The tail started off leading up 3,280 steep stone steps for an hour and a half, with little shade from the hot sun. Talking with other hikers, we continued up the steps, taking in views of snow-covered Annapurna South through the valley in the distance.
We reached the Magar village of Ulleri and stopped for a quick feed. The steps continued for a short while longer to Banthanti and then disappeared as we found shelter under some trees. The sun decided that was the right time for it too to hide behind the clouds and in the now slightly cooler air we walked on.
The trees marked the beginning of rainforest-like surroundings which were beautiful. The river below us was fed by a series of waterfalls and the water was cold but crystal clear. A small snake joined us, slithering along in front of us for a few steps before hiding under a rock. Through the trees on the other side of the river a monkey leaped from the trees and down the sheer cliff face, and then he was gone. The trail continued through Nangge Thanti, our lunch stop and wound gradually up to our destination for the night, Ghore Pani.
It started raining soon after we arrived and so we took shelter in the dining room with a huge slice of apple pie and watched as the clouds cleared momentarily to reveal Annapurna South and Annapurna 1, a lot closer after our five-hour hike along the Annapurna Base Camp trek path from Tikhedhungga.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Day 3: Ghore Pani to Tadapani
The cobbled streets of Ghore Pani were deserted but for a few sleepy cows, as we made our way to Poon Hill for sunrise. We began our 333 meter climb at 4:45am, crossing through the town and up the steep hill to the watchtower high above the little village. The sky began to brighten as we walked and the Annapurna mountain range came into focus to the north. Sharing the peak with thirty or so other hikers we watched as the sun slowly made its way above the skyline.
The striking Machhapuchhre, shaped like a fishtail, glowed as the sun rose just to the east of the stunning peak. The Annapurna range lit up as the sky turned from bright orange to pale blue and the sun took its place high above the green valleys.
Twenty minutes walk back down to town ans we tucked into some much-needed breakfast before hitting the trail. From Ghore Pani the path climbed uphill 290 meters to the Deurali Pass, from where we watched airplanes fly very low through the huge valley, destined for Jomsom to the north. The trail continued down the valley on the other side of the pass, following a shallow river, dotted with stacks of stones and small waterfalls all the way to Ban Thanti.
Wandering on towards Tadapani, the trail brought us through a rhododendron and bamboo forest, down to the valley floor. In front of us was a steep climb to Tadapani, winding up stone steps through trees before opening out to reveal a series of lodges, our home for the night. Our cosy lodge had the fire going since 2pm and hiding in from the heavy rain, lightning and booming thunder, we sat around talking with others we had shared the trail with, listening to their travel stories and sharing a few of our own.