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Nepal 2011

Annapurna Panorama Trek

Report and photos by Kelly Sekhon

Day 1-3 (Apr 17-19) Travel to Nepal

Three of us traveled from Vancouver to New Delhi via Bejing. After a day of sightseeing in Delhi, Sonia and Isabelle went to Agra and Jaipur while I traveled to Chandigarh to visit my family. Lorne had been in India for about four weeks and joined us in Delhi on the 18th. Temperatures in North India at this time range from 35º to 40ºC.

Day 3 (Apr 19) Kathmandu

We had to be up by 2 a.m. for transfer to New Delhi airport for early morning flight which got delayed for two hours due to poor visibility in Kathmandu. We arrived in Kathmandu at 10:30 a.m., tired and confused with all the formalities at the airport. We were met at the airport by Satish, a young man who represented the local tour company that looked after all the details in Nepal. Satish accompanied us to Shankar Hotel and gave us the directions to nearby Thamel St. shopping area where he said we could find banks and restaurants.

After a short rest we all decided to head out to find Thamel St. to use the bank machines and get some lunch. Although Kathmandu is at 1400m, it was quite hot at noon. The traffic noise was unbearable as we walked to find this street which was only two blocks away. None of us remembered the directions and missed the turn off to the street. It did not help that none of the streets were marked. However we found a place to have lunch but had no luck with the bank machines. Everyone that we tried, refused to part with money for one reason or the other. After lunch we walked backed to the hotel where the staff was not very helpful. I contacted Satish in the evening to accompany us to Thamel Street shopping area. We found a place that served pizza and cold beer.

Day 4 (Apr 20) Kathmandu

We spent the morning sight seeing - Durbar Square and Swayambhunath Buddhist Temple. Swayambhunath is also known as the "Monkey Temple" due to the large population of monkeys that make the grounds their home. The temple buildings are set atop a hill and offer an excellent view of Kathmandu and its valley.

After lunch we visited the Pashupatinath Hindu Temple, a very interesting place located on the sacred Bagmati River where there were many cremations taking place on the ghats. Next we visit Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmanduand one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. 

We spent the evening on Thamel Street and had dinner at the Rum Doodle restaurant. 

Day 5 (Apr 21) Kathmandu - Pokhara

After an early breakfast we drove to Pokhara, the rural capital ofWestern Nepal. We drove through winding gorges and along theTrisuli River. Pokhara is located on the shore of Lake Phewa with the Himalayan peaks filling the skyline, including Machhapuchhare, a peak that has never been climbed.

Our hotel, Barahi, was only a short walk away from the lake and the main market area.

 

Day 6 (Apr 22) Pokhara - Birethanti

After breakfast and shopping for some items needed for the trek, we travelled to Nayapul, about an hour and half drive from Pokhara.  This is the entrance point to Annapurna Conservation Area Project where all trekkers have to sign in. It took us a little over an hour to reach  Birethanti village on the banks of Modi River. After checking into our lodge we spent the evening exploring the village and the surrounding area.

Day 7 (Apr 23) Birethanti - Ghandrung 

We started early to take advantage of the cooler temperature. We walked through the outlying farms following the Modi River Valley. Soon we began to climb out of the valley and up towards the mountains. The trail is an undulating path for an hour until thevillage of Syali from where the trail winds up a steep climb for 1 1/2 hrs on paved stone steps to Kimche village. We continued through beautiful countryside and reached the village of Ghandrung at about 1:30 pm. Ghandrung is one of the largest Gurung settlements in Western Nepal located at an altitude of 6,560 feet in the early afternoon. 

 

Day 8 (Apr 24) Rest day in Ghandrung

I got up just before sunrise to photograph the mountains. Light was poor before the sunrise but only a few minutes after sunrise the mountains disappeared in fog.

Today was a free day in Ghandrung to explore this mountain village which is not only a major recruitment centre for the famous Gurkha soldiers with most men of this village enrolled in either in British Gurkha or Indian Armies. This is also the hub of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), which promotes many varied ecological projects. The ACAP head-quarters is well worth a visit. The women of Ghandrung maintain a local industry of weaving traditional Nepalese rugs making this a unique opportunity to buy locally made goods. Ghandrung and Landrung are Gurung villages.

 

 

 

Day 9 (Apr 25) Ghandrung - Landrung

Today we continued along our trek route. From Ghandrung the path descends on stone steps towards the fast flowing Modi River and then, after crossing the river, the trail climbs for about 2-3 hours to Landrung village. The winding stone trail passes through small farm villages and terraced farm fields with a few stops and has grand views of the surrounding landscape and snow capped peaks of Glacier dome, Annapurna South, Huinchuli and the upper portion of Machhapuchare. Ghandrung to Landrung hike is from 6500 feet to 5100 feet and about 4-5 hours of walking. We arrived at our lodge in time for lunch.

 

 

 

Day 10 (Apr 26) Landrung –Australian Camp

The trek from Landrung to the Australian camp offered stunning views of the Central Himalayas. From Landrung the trail is a gradual uphill path to Tolka village. From Tolka, the trail winds through farm terraces towards the last uphill ridge at Deurali, highest spot of this hike. The climb took us an hour in the cool shade of the forest and on reaching Deurali ridge, we enjoyed the grand scenery sweeping from the Pokhara valley below towards high snow capped peaks and the rolling hills of the middle Himalaya. 

 

 

After a short break for tea and shopping for local crafts, it was all down hill through the cool forest to Pothana village where we stopped for lunch. Pothana village is beautiful spot known for the panoramic views of the Annapurna, Manaslu peaks including majestic views of Machhapuchare.

From here another 45 minutes of walk in the cool shade of the rain and alpine forest we arrived at Thulo Kharka or Australian camp. One of the most scenic spots on this trip as it offers fantastic views of the Himalayan chain of mountains with grand sun set and sunrise views.

 

Day 11 (Apr 27) Australian Camp – Kande - Pokhara

After a wonderful stay at Thulo Kharka we walked downhill through small villages passing through patches of forest and farm terraces till the path reaches the Pokhara-Baghlung highway at Kande. Here we waited for our bus that was about an hour late. However we did not mind it too much as it gave us a chance to sit and watch local people and school kids going about their daily business. 

Day 12 (Apr 28) Pokhara-Trisuli River Rafting - ChitwanNational Park

After breakfast we drove through the Nepali countryside to Fishling, on the banks of Trisuli River, the starting point of our rafting journey.  Here we met our rafting guide who helped us with our life jackets and soon we were floating down the fast flowing river. After initial nervousness we soon got used to the boat and our guide who seemed to know what he was doing. About halfway through the trip we stooped on the bank under a banyan tree for lunch that our guide quickly set up for us. We saw local kids swimming in the river and one of them climbed up on our raft and then jumped off into the water again. 

 

On completion of the rafting at Muglin, we will drove down stream along the river to the Royal Chitwan National Park.  Here we had guided nature walks, elephant  and jeep safaris. The privately run lodge had a very knowledgeable staff and good accommodation. 

Days 13 (Apr 29) Chitwan National Park

 

 

Day 14 (Apr 30) Chitwan National Park - Kathmandu - Bhaktapur

After an early morning of bird watching and breakfast at camp, we drove back to Kathmandu and 20 kms onwards to the World Heritage town of Bhaktapur just the Kathmandu Valley, the cultural and economic heart of Nepal.

Stretched along a ridge above the sacred Hanumante River, Bhaktapur grew from a collection of villages strung along the old trade route between India and Tibet. 

Day 15 (May 1) Bhaktapur

After a morning of city tour we drove back to Kathmandu. In the evening we went back to Thamel and had dinner at Rum Doodle restaurant. 

 

Day 16 (May 2) Kathmandu - Delhi - Vancouver

Two weeks seemed to go by too quickly as we boarded our plane in Kathmandu to begin our long trip back to Vancouver.

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