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  • Michelle Sole

Poon Hill Trek: a taster of the Annapurna region & the Himalayas


Nepal, home to the world's highest mountain, offers endless trekking opportunities. On my first visit to Nepal I trekked to Everest Basecamp with my family. On my second visit I explored the Annapurna region with a friend. With limited time on our hands, we chose to trek to Poon Hill. At 3210 metres this trek is ideal for those concerned about altitude sickness, and is convenient as it can be completed in 4 days if you have time constraints.

We left from Pokhara in a taxi with our guide and porter. After an hour and a half of chaotic mountain driving, which included narrowly missing several busses in our tiny car, I was both relieved and excited to arrive at Nayapul. Nayapul is a bustling dusty town full of taxis dropping off and collecting trekkers. There are a few small restaurants here and stalls to buy last minute forgotten basics. The first section of the hike from Nayapul to Sudame follows a jeep trail. Some hikers choose to take a 4x4 taxi and start from Sudame. After Sudame the road ends and the walking is very easy going . The trail passes small villages with fields ploughed by donkeys. All crops here are manually harvested.

A little later, from Hile (pronounced Hilly - for good reason!) the terrain changes; the stairs begin. One after another after another.

Without many breaks we spent over an hour walking up steps. Needless to say, we were relieved when we reached Ulleri! Our porter was worth his weight in gold on this day alone! Whilst walking up this section, we passed lots of trekkers struggling with enormous bags; I was happy not to be one of them! We stayed in Ulleri for the first night at a tea house with stunning views of the Annapurna range. The second day began with more steps, but before long the scenery changed and the trail led us through a rhododendron forest thick with moss and trickling streams.

The going became easy and we reached Ghorepani just after mid day. Ghorepani is a larger settlement with bigger guest houses. One of the most remarkable things about this village is the basket ball court in it's centre - it couldn't look more out of place!

In the afternoon we climbed the many stairs to Poon Hill to see the sunset. We were extremely lucky with the weather and had clear blue skies.

As the last rays of sun hit the snow capped mountains turning them pink and prayer flags gently flapped in the breeze the atmosphere was magical. Our descent back to the village was hasty as once the sun dipped behind the mountain it was soon dark!

The following morning we were up at 4am. In the dark we met beams of torch light as we joined other hikers making their way slowly up the many steps to reach the top of Poon Hill. Sunrise at Poon Hill is 'the thing to do' amongst travellers, so it was no surprise that there were lots of people at the top. The silent audience added to the atmosphere and anticipation whilst we waited for the sun's first rays to touch the tops of the nearby mountains.

After the sun made it's appearance we headed back to our tea house for a vegetable omelette for breakfast. From Ghorepani many people hike to Tadipani. Most of this section is easy going through Rhododendron forest. The views from Tadipani are said to be fantastic on a clear day but with low cloud and no view we decided to continue further to Ghandruk.

Ghandruk is a large settlement that is busy with Nepalese tourists. Here the locals are attempting to preserve their heritage. Most of the houses are still built from traditional stone with large stone slates on the roof. From Ghandruk you can hike straight down to Nayapul or hop on a jeep.

We chose to extend our trek and hiked to Deurali, stopping for lunch at Tolka. This section is not as busy as some others and gives you a different perspective of the Annapurna range and the local life. If you have an extra day and your legs haven't given up on you I would recommend this route.

The sunrise from Deurali is stunning. From here you can see Annapurna South and Fish Tail. It's only a few hours hike from Deurali to Kande via Australian camp. Australian camp is a small detour but worth it - especially if you have an interest in birds. It is possible to see booted eagles, bearded vultures, Egyptian vultures, peregrine falcons and steppe eagles elegantly riding the thermals below you.

Needless to say, it was another precarious taxi ride from Kande to Pokhara. Apparently the Nepalese drive on the left hand side of the road, but this rule doesn't always seem to apply! Happy to have survived the ride to Pokhara, a 'trekkers massage' and a big dinner were in order! Poon Hill certainly offers a safe taster of Nepal's Annapurna range. The locals are friendly, the food delicious and the views breathtaking. I'm sure I'll be back with more time and preparation to complete the full Annapurna circuit!

#trek #mountain #Nepal #Annapurna #travel #adventure #PoonHIll #blog #Himalayas

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