Our Travel Adventures
Join us on the next one!
Upon arriving to Katmandu airport, our visas had to be processed at the airport. It was a pretty simple process, very straightforward with clear instructions. You do it yourself on a piece of paper and a machine, just fill in the required info (very basic). Keep the flight no with you and just in case take extra passport pictures with you if the machine doesn’t work; otherwise, you will take a photo of yourself through the machine. 25$ for the visa (paid in US dollors).
Catching a ride from Katmandu airport to Pokhara took about an 8-hour journey thanks to the distance and traffic on Nepalese New Year (the 13th of April).
By the time we were in Pokhara, it was near sundown, we had a chance to look over Annapurna from the rooftop of our hotel (Grand Hotel) for some good photos. And on that night we decided to head out for dinner, explore the city along with the local markets and restaurants, reviewing our options for after we return to Pokhara from our trek.
The following morning, we woke up for sunrise yoga on the rooftop with an incredible view of Anapurna in the background, had our breakfast then gathered our things to head to our first stop to begin our trek--Naya pool, which was about an hour and a half away from where we stayed in Pokhara.
The following is what’s required for any hiking/trekking you plan on doing, may it be hours or days long:
- A backpack
- Water bottle (at least 1.4 liters or a camel pack)
- Walking Sticks (Optional)
- Hiking pants or shorts or sweatpants (NO JEANS OR DRESSES)
- Hiking shoes or boots (NO HIGH HEELS OR SLIPPERS)
- Long socks
- Jackets, gloves, beany, scarfs and snoods (in case it gets cold higher up in the mountains or during a
- Snacks (Preferably fruits and sugary biscuits for extra energy when you need it)
- Basic medical kit (e.g. Band-Aids, alcohol wipes)
- Rain coats/jackets (to keep your clothes and backpacks dry in case it rains heavily)
- Or possibly a rain cover that comes separately with backpacks
- Torch/head lights
These are the basic requirements, if you wish to travel light and not take most of these items, or forget some on your way, don’t worry, Nepal has a big market for hiking equipment and more all at affordable prices. You can find them in the local markets or even when you’re trekking around the teahouse areas. There’s no lack of them whatsoever.
The day we left Pokhara was the day we arrived to the first stop of our trekking route, “Naya Pool”. Being a very popular trekking route, we saw many hikers trekking back and forth along with us, some were starting just as we were while others were finishing and wishing us good luck on their last steps, as we were registering for our trekking permits in the post office on the way up.
Now, I’ll have to say that the hike wasn’t too difficult but it is not suitable for those who are out of shape or complete beginners. There were many different age groups, ranging over 60, but no matter how old or fit you are, keep in mind that there’ll be lots of steps ahead for you to climb over in the next five days.
In some areas there might be carriage assistance services, which you have to pay for where horses or donkeys will carry your burden for you or they will carry you should you need. Also, buses to actually transport you from one village to the other. We had only encountered vehicles on the 4th day when we started seeing roads again.
Every 30 minutes to 1 hour you will find yourself in an array of cafés/restaurants/teahouses you can rest at and restock on water and snacks. Bear in mind that not all teahouses offer free hot showers or wifi--some may charge an additional fee of up to 100 – 200 rupees. Bearing in mind that the higher you are in the mountains the less chance you have of a good or existent wifi signal at all. Plus, there might not be electrical sockets to charge your mobile devices in the room, in most cases these are available downstairs at reception for everyone to use. I recommend carrying a power bank along with you on the trip.
Let's start with Day 1, when you are ready.
Day 1: We hiked from Naya Pool to Hile and stayed at a teahouse for the night. This hike took us approximately 5 hours to complete. The terrain was quite flat and a bit stony at parts, steep climbs in other parts--a good warm up for day 2, and lots of fun by the time we reached our lunch stop. We decided to take a dip in a cold stream with some local kids for a refreshing swim full of splashy fun. It was still light by the time we arrived at the teahouse, so we decided to end the day with a group meditation on a grassy field looking over green mountains. The energy levels were surreal!
Day 2: We prepared our bodies with morning yoga because according to our guide and porters, it was to be the toughest and longest day in the hike ... it sure was! The hike was initially 8 hours long from Hile all the way to Ghorepani (The closest point to Poonhil) where we stayed the night. It took us roughly 12 hours to reach our destination because of the heavy rain and the 3000+ up the steps that slowed us down! Nonetheless, we made it to our teahouse by nighttime to shower, have dinner and sleep for the night, for we had to wake up extra early to hike to the highest point of this trek--the Poonhil.
Day 3: 4:30AM we had to wake up and start trekking UPHILL to Poonhil, when daylight was still on its way to brighten the darkness away for a clear view of the sunrise over Anapurna. If you think you’ll be the only one willing to wake up that early to hike up a long flight of stairs to see the sun rise over the peak of Anapurna, then you’re wrong, you will have times where you will be stopping on the steps not only to catch your breath, but also because you’re caught in “Hikers’ Traffic”. By the time we were done with the scenery and took all our photos, we headed down the same path, then went down further, then up and back down for over 5 hours of walking in some beautiful forestlands to reach our next stop which was Tadapani. Hadn’t had much space to do much over there other than playing card games till nighttime.
Day 4: from Tadapani to Syauli Bazar took us around 7 hours to make our way downhill, across the forestlands (going down, down, down...). It was fairly easy and would have been even safer with knee-guards for those of you with weak knees. We stopped by a yack farm on our way and continued down the steps to the river where we stayed at our final teahouse.
Day 5: we woke up to the wonderful sounds of the running river waters nearby and decided to start our day fresh with a meditation session on some boulders by the river before we start hiking back to Naya Pool, which took us less than 3 hours of walking on a straight terrain. By the time we made it back to the post office whence we started; we signed out to retain our trekking permits then took a bus back to Pokhara.
City Life - Pokhara:
When it comes to sightseeing from waterfalls, Budest Temples, exploring caves--Pokhara is a nice city to do that in, plus it’s the place where you can do all your shopping for hiking equipment. Good quality restaurants, cafes and bars all within walking distance if you’re staying in the Grand Hotel, with a beautiful lake in the center to walk around and do a morning jog. It was definitely cleaner than Katmandu with way less traffic.
Dubbed as the “City of Dust and Traffic”--even our driver called it “Dustmandu”. The amount of traffic was horrendous, as mentioned previously, it took us around 8 hours to get to Pokhara driving through Katmandu’s traffic with all the honking and the cows walking and chilling in the middle of the main roads (Not at all out of the ordinary in that part of the world). But all in all, their local markets were an enjoyable shopping experience for trinkets, crystals, traditional clothes and many more; though, it’s not a place I would stay in for a week.
Hesham Ali, Tania Slabbert & Yuri Nunes