3½ hours drive to Trisuli centre through the suburbs of Kathmandu and into the countryside. There were two roadblocks out of Kathmandu but no major delays. We had lunch at the Trisuli centre and briefly saw the community centre and school. We carried onto Bandipur (1¼ hour drive) to Damre where the group disembarked the coach in a downpour and started the 1.5 to 2 hour walk up a well graded but steep track to the small two on Bandipur.
Despite the poor weather we enjoyed this opportunity to stretch the legs. The tour leader had initially indicated that he was going to miss out this walk. Just as we reached the top the weather cleared and we had our first glimpse of the Annapurna range before it got dark.
The village of Bandipur is a gem! The town is a living museum of Newari culture (the local tribe) and the vast majority of the houses have been renovated in traditional style. There are no vehicles allowed in the main street which is currently being re patched, the bus was parked five minutes away and luggage carried in.
Cooked breakfast at the Old Inn. Left at 0900 for four hour drive to Pokhara and onwards to the start point of the trail. Unpacked bags and met the porters and assistant guides. Took around 20 minutes to get ready and a short 10 – 15 minute walk to the lunch spot. Weather cleared just as we set off. Lunch was soup and bread. 2¾ walk along a well graded gentle slope to the first nights stop.
The first section uses the Jomsom Trek route which has a great many steps but does not present too much of a physical challenge. It is through dramatic rhododendron forests passing waterfalls and thick rainforest. The morning walk takes a little over 4.5 hours we covered 3280 steps in this time. We broke at Banthanti at 2250 meters where we met the AC group who told of nine days walking up to the waist in snow. After an hour lunch stop we continued for 90 minutes to our guesthouse at Ghorepani at 2750 meters (9022 feet). The weather was overcast in the morning turning to snow in the afternoon.
Early wake up call, woke up to the first clear day of the trip with amazing views. Steep initial climb through ice and snow to Poon Hill. First group in over a week to get good views – unusual at this time of year (March). Repacked, breakfast (choice of eggs, toast, pancakes, porridge, coffee / tea to set you up for the day) and off. Snow underfoot after heavy snowfall the day before. Steep uphill for the first hour followed by mostly downhill.
Took an easy route to Chhomrong as some of the group struggled the previous day. No technical aspects, it was downhill for the majority of the morning with plenty of rest stops to relax. There was 1.5 hours of moderate walking in the afternoon with some steep stepped sections at the end of the day. This was by far the easiest days walking on the trip.
Challenging day, 30 minutes steep downhill but most of the rest of the day was steep uphill, very steep in places. Long day with 7 hrs 45 minutes walking. The valley narrows as you walk through forest. Great views of Machhapuchare (Fishtail) mountain. As we approached our overnight stop at Himalaya we passed through the snow line.
Due to the adverse weather conditions in the preceding weeks there was a high amount of snow fall resulting in a significant risk of avalanches. The main risk is once the sun comes up and heats the snow, so to avoid this we left at 5.30am starting the walk in the dark.
The main risk area is before Deurali Guesthouse where the valley is at its narrowest. We passed through safely, although one member of the group slipped on an icy patch and broke her arm. The group leader dealt with this very professionally. It was only evident that the client had broken her arm once back in Kathmandu , the client in question was a medical doctor who wanted to carry on.
We had breakfast at Deurali then continued as the valley opened up. The scenery was stunning as we were amongst the first groups up, with pristine snowfall, blue skies and magnificent mountains all around. We arrived at MBC just before midday and had the rest of the day free to relax and take in the views of the mountains.
Early start to avoid the avalanche zone. 1st section was reasonably light, frozen snow. The snow line had retreated in the 48 hours since we last past Himalayan guest house. The weather closed in after lunch, we had heavy rain from Bamboo to the overnight stop. It served to highlight just how lucky we were to have a window of clear weather just at the right time to get to the summit. The group were due to stay at Bamboo, but as we left from MBC rather than ABC we opted to stay further the valley. A long days walk, mostly downhill.
1st part was steeply downhill followed by 1500 steps uphill through the village of Chhomrong . The next part of the day was rolling countryside followed by a steep downhill section to our lunch stop. The section after lunch was very steep for 40 minutes with a good viewpoint at the top, followed by a gentle downhill section to the overnight stop at Ghandruk. The days walk was long again with a mixture of assents and descents. The overnight stop at Ghandruk was the first taste of western comforts again. It has a maze of narrow alleyways and a small museum of Ghurkha heritage.
The walk out of Ghandruk was a very well graded track along a river heading gently downhill. We stopped for lunch at Naya Pul and enjoyed a refreshing swim in the river before boarding the bus back to Pokhara. The journey back to the Pokhara hotel took just 90 minutes. The afternoon was free. The hotel is situated in the main tourist area next to the lake with numerous shops to get gifts for friends and family back home. In the evening the local guides put on a after trek party with a extensive buffet, music and a bar. A great deal of effort went into this and everyone in the group enjoyed themselves. The party took place in the tranquil gardens of the Himalayan Encounters base in Pokhara.
The group got a transfer back to the local airport at Pokhara for the Yetti Airlines flight back to Kathmandu. Flights depart throughout the day, we normally use the 1100hrs service for the 45 minute flight cutting out almost 7 hours of travelling time by road. The group is met on arrival and transferred to the Hotel Tibet, Kathmandu for a free afternoon and a final meal.
We travelled with www.adventurecompany.co.uk