Sitting on the beach in Greece of last year, we were discussing our upcoming travel plans with some friends. We told them our plans of heading to Nepal and they were slightly shocked to hear we had planned no hikes or why our suitcases didn’t include hiking shoes. “Nepal is one the most popular countries for hiking, you can’t come to Nepal and not hike”!

Jacob and I stared at each other and almost giggled. Hiking shoes? What a waste of space in our bags. We rented them for the Inca Trail but apart from that, we would never need them. Well, that didn’t last. Sure enough, 9 months later, we found ourselves googling “easiest hikes Nepal” & 1 week later, we were in the office of Ammonite Adventures, signing up for a 4-day 3-night trek to Ghorepani Poon Hill. This time, purchasing hiking shoes rather than renting them. Sheesh, it’s the real deal now.

Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

The Ghorepani Poon Hill trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal due to its short(ish) distance, relatively “easy” difficulty and views of the Annapurna mountain range that leave you breathless. Although it is part of a longer route known as the Annapurna Circuit Trek (15-25 days), we were quite content to have only 4 days ahead of us – forget walking for 25! For 4 days we walked through a variety of local villages, in lush forests, up and down stairs, through creeks, over rocks, in the rain and in the sun, accompanied by blood sweat and tears. (Just kidding, I didn’t cry, nor did we bleed, but there was sweat, so much sweat!)

Happy Hiker

Want to hear how we went on the mountain? Get comfy and read on!

Day 1 – Drive from Pokhara to Nayapul + 4-hour trek

Local Bus to Nayapul

We were greeted by our local guide (who has done this over 100 times!) in Pokhara and started the 1.5-hour local bus ride from Pokhara to Nayapul (the starting point of this trek). Being transported anywhere in this country is an adventure in itself. The buses are old, there are no functional seat belts, paved roads? Road rules? Forget it! Our bus was crammed with as assortment of people between the ages of 2 and 80, with questionable smells, chickens (just in case you forgot to pack yours), musical instruments, boxes and extremely loud Nepali music. We were pretty eager to get off this bus and begin walking!

Chickens

Once we arrived at Nayapul which is at a height of 2070m, we signed in at the checkpoint with our TIMS permit (trekking permit) and began our 4-hour walk to the first tea house. A Nepalese term for accommodation.

Checking in

Nayapul to Hile (4 hours, just a mere 4 hours) 

Village

Day 1 was supposed to be the easiest day, we were told it was mainly “flat”. Nepali flat they say, so not really flat at all. I’m almost certain we walked 90% uphill. Surely this is the hardest part of the trek right? Wrong!

Our first day

High temperatures and blasting sun didn’t help but the extremely lush green scenery, constant waterfalls, small villages, smiles from the locals and our 24-hour power Dal Baht lunch along the way kept us moving.

Dal Baht Lunch

We arrived at our tea house with plenty of time to relax, read and enjoy the views from our balcony before the torrential rain began and the ever so peaceful tea house was swarmed with 15 German hikers ready to party (it was their last night). Whomp Whomp.

Tea House

Today, which was apparently the easiest day was over and we put ourselves to sleep early to rest up for tomorrow. Little did we know what tomorrow had in store for us…

Day 1 Complete

Day 1 Complete

Day 2 – Hile to Ghorepani (7.5 gruelling hours) 

Tomorrows walk

“Wait, what we’re going up there? “

Day 2 started early for a 7am breakfast, accompanied by the worst sleep we’ve had in months. The Germans that joined us last night kept us awake until all hours. Drums, dancing, singing, cheering, you name it and it was happening downstairs. They weren’t lying when they said they wanted to party.

Our trekkers’ breakfast, as they call it, was served with a view of the sunny villages below. We couldn’t put off our start any longer, so we set off to start the 2nd day of our journey.

Breakfast with a view

Our guide informed us over breakfast that today was definitely the hardest day and he wasn’t messing around. We’re talking over 3500 stairs. And all 3500 of them UP. Omg, our poor butt and legs. Is it too late to call a mule at this stage? Come on little fella I know you want to carry me.

Mule

I attempted to count these stairs but it didn’t last long when all I could focus on was my racing heart, the sweat in my eyeballs and heavy breathing. What boggles my mind is these amazing sherpas (porters). They carry upwards of 20kg day after day, it is so impressive! As they run past you, you feel like a complete wimp carrying a total of 6kg.

Walking through the forest

Climbing these stairs

We had been climbing what felt like Everest, for almost 4 hours now and we were ready for a break. We stopped for lunch in the small village of Ulleri with views that were supposed to be the Himalayas. The mountains were hiding under there somewhere!

Cloud Cover

All the tea houses have the exact same menu ( as it had to be government approved) but every time we sat down, we still checked to see if something had changed. You generally had a choice between momos, noodles, rice, dal baht, soups or a salad.

Dal Baht Lunch

We scoffed down another Dal Baht for lunch with the hope it would give us the much needed energy to finish off the day. Dal Bhat generally has the same foundation of a curry, lentil soup and rice but there are so many interpretations of it, meaning you’ll never have the exact same tasting dish or presentation.

For the remainder of the day, the scenery was intermittently obscured by clouds. We did manage our first small glimpse of the Annapurna South mountain in the distance, but not for long.

Annapurna South

The tea house we spent the night at was our favourite of them all. We had hot water, our own bathroom, clean sheets and double windows to view the mountains in the distance. We enjoyed the evening by the fire with 2 other couples, both on similar world trips to what we are on (one just starting, and one 5 years in!)

Tea House

Day 2 was hard. Very hard, and I believe I asked myself the same question over and over for the entirety of our 7-hour walk… “Why am I paying to go through this pain!” The next morning our alarms were set for 4:30am for the famous Poon Hill sunrise.

Day 2 Complete

Day 2 Complete

Day 3 Ghorepani to Tadapani via Poon Hill (6.5 pleasant hours)

Poon Hill Sunrise

Day 3 started early. 4:2o am to be precise. After all, this was the sole purpose of our trek, to see sunrise at Poon Hill. We walked for 1 hour up to an elevation of 3210m and were greeted with clear panoramic views of several snow-capped mountains and peaks like Gangapurna Mountain, Annapurna South Mountain, Annapurna I mountain, Dhaulagiri Mountain and the Hiunchuli Mountains. We were extremely lucky this morning due to the clear skies, as we had been told the past few mornings had been completely covered by cloud. Boy, would we have been disappointed if we came all this way to stare into the clouds! You’re lucky Poon Hill, you’re lucky. This view was absolutely incredible.

Poon Hill

Poon Hill

We spent over an hour on Poon Hill, attempting jump-photo after jump-photo, all whilst taking in the scenery, breathing in the fresh air & learning of the surrounding mountains. We could have stayed up there for hours but unfortunately, we still had a day of walking ahead of us.

We made it!

Day 3 was a mix of ups and downs. Not emotionally, but physically. Up and down walking is by far our favourite, it is much more enjoyable mixing it up. Always heading in one direction is boring & tiring. We walked through very dense forest crossing down and over muddy paths. Today was the day we could really feel the rain on its way, so we picked up our pace to reach our accommodation for the night.

Forest lights

Muddy Paths

By early evening, we reached our teahouse sitting right on the edge of the hill just before it starting bucketing down. Now all we needed was a hot bath with bubbles by a fireplace. Asking for too much? Yup! Instead, we had the worst shower we had all trip, located outside of the hotel, with cold water, a god awful smell & next to a toilet that I’d prefer never to use again.

Outdoor shower   Outside Toilet

Our favourite part of this tea house was the interaction we had with the locals running it. A really amazing family who puts their heart and soul into the tourism industry. Their little daughter was on school holidays and her cheeky personality kept us very entertained.

A local from the village

Day 3 Complete

Day 3 Complete

Day 4 – Tadapani to Kimche via Ghandruk (5 almost home hours)

We started day 4 with a voluntary sunrise wake up. How can you not when the views you have are right at your doorstep? Sipping a hot ginger lemon tea, we watched as the sun slowly rose from behind the mountains. There had been torrential rain the night before, so we were dodging many leeches on the ground. Thankfully neither of us were ever bitten. Many people we had met along the way had as many as 16 leech bites on their legs. How do you not notice something is sucking your leg!? Either way, we were lucky and thankful to be leech free.

Sunrise

Sunrise

We began our walk through the forest towards Ghandruk. Ghandruk is one of the largest villages on this route and a very central point for many trekkers hiking in the Annapurna region. There are 50+ tea houses all located here and are some of the nicest accommodations on the trail.

Today was one of the easiest days as it was all downhill. Downhill still challenges many muscles in your legs but it is considerably easier than a permanent uphill slope. We could definitely feel the burn in our calves though. Ouchy. We walked down paths, stairs, rocks and in the end, dirt roads. We couldn’t help but notice a number of people just beginning their trek, walking up what we were walking down. When they asked us how it was.. it didn’t take more than 2 seconds to respond with “hard”, “good luck!” The home stretch was so close and seeing our bus home seemed like a dream.

Day 4 Complete

Day 4 Complete

We made it! 

The sight of public transport was enough to bring a tear to my eye. I felt as though we’d been stranded in the bushes and the helicopter had just flown over our heads for a rescue (ok, slightly dramatic but you get the gist).

Public Transport...finally!

All pain aside, we had such an awesome time on this trek and would recommend anyone heading to Nepal to do the same. Seeing the mountains every morning was nothing short of spectacular, especially at sunrise. The people of the villages brought a smile to our faces every day and we grew to enjoy hiking more than we ever have before. Sure, it was difficult at times but we challenged ourselves, we encouraged each other and looking back, we couldn’t be happier that we chose to do it. I think we can safely say we’ve had enough Dal Baht for a lifetime though and we were really craving a steak!

Sunrise

What’s next? Well, we’ve already signed up for a 3 day 2 night, 63km trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake in Myanmar! Soon we’ll be conquering all 7 summits around the world… why not ;).

Not sure how to organise this trek? Check out our beginners guide to hiking Poon Hill.

Happy Days

Married days Survived ; 555

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