Pokhara: At the foot of the giants

There are two ways to get to Pokhara. A $120 flight (which may or may not be cancelled, as it’s a dangerous airport and very foggy), or a $20 bus ride. The bus leaves Kathmandu at 7am… it’s an 8-10 hr ride, depending on the roads/ traffic. It was a long journey and a little bit scary at times, barrelling along a rutted dirt road with a sheer cliff face about 1m from the bus… but, we arrived in one piece.

After finding my accommodation, I walked two blocks into town. It’s a picturesque tourist town, nestled on the shores of Lake Pokhara. Lots of tourists, lots of restaurants, but still a laid-back peaceful atmosphere. I would guess that a lot of people here were either going on a trek, or just returned from one. Activewear was the choice of clothing. There was a variety of people here, which I saw reflected in the groups I saw in the hills. Families, couples, lots of single people, and elderly walking groups.

Lake Pokhara
Lake Pokhara

Had a lovely evening in Pokhara. Was picked up the next day at 8am by my guide. At this point, I’m going to do something I haven’t done before- I recommend my tour company. I emailed Mr Happy about two weeks before I flew in, and told him where I was going to be and for how many days. He suggested an itinerary and it fitted perfectly. The cost was very good value for money- included all accommodation, my guide, and food. He arranged all the relevant passes and all I had to do was show up. My guide was a guy called Ram. You’ll see a lot of photos of his back, or him standing and patiently waiting for me. That’s because he’s a cross between a mountain goat and a long-legged giraffe, bounding along mountain paths without even breaking a sweat or puffing. As a single woman, I’d been warned about male guides- I had nothing to worry about. Seriously, awesome guy, lovely gentle nature, excellent at his job. Basically we spent three days within metres of each other, and he was a delight.

Dinner, first night in Pokhara. Beef pastie-type things, and an AMAZING chicken noodle soup.

Anyway- I’ll tell the story here in pictures. Because the place is STUNNING. So much like NZ. As I walked, I kept thinking how incredible it was, and how good the paths were. I could see my big brother and his eldest daughter doing treks here (she’s 6).

Breakfast day one- these fresh warm cinnamon buns were being sold by people walking around with a basket of fresh breads. HEAVEN.
We set off from here- a small town near Modi Khola
The hills are sculpted with rows of terraces. They have one rice season here a year, the rest of the produce includes whatever is seasonal. Because there aren’t many roads up here, you eat what you grow. Corn, potatoes, and spinach are common.
The roads, such as they are, could be a little terrifying…
Nepalese bridge
The path… the steps were all different heights. The big chunky ones certainly posed challenges for my quads and calves!
Flutter-by
This pic is for my father- look at all the firewood, Dad!
A group of girls were going home from school and held my hands alllll the way up the hill. They were fighting over who got to walk with me! Super cute.
The traditional way to carry things- the straps loop over the forehead and this goes on your back.
A tiny village, perched on the hillside.
Another Nepalese bridge
The road ran out at this point, so donkeys are used as transport. This flock of donkeys was transporting concrete bricks….
Like this.
There’s Ram, bouncing up the hill while I puffed and panted and sweated in his footsteps 😀
oh look, more steps. As Ram said, Nepal is a little bit up, a little bit down… ha ha
Our home for the night- Ghandruk.
The walk to our lodgings
Day two- walk to Australian camp.
The start of day two- Ghandruk is up around the clouds there… we walked down the mountain (my knee died at this point, thank you Voltarin) and then back up the other side of the valley- equally as steep. The roads here are under construction, hence the fresh scarring/ landslides.
Today, the clouds parted so we could see the Himalayas. Finally!
Cup o tea and a biscuit and a view of the Himalayas.
Small village life
Dogs here are a slightly different build/ breed mix to the ones in India. Definitely more husky/ german-shepherd looking.
Ram, and another slightly terrifying bridge (I’m not a big fan of bridges)
And then we walked into fog. Or rather, the fog enveloped us. Almost at Australian Camp, our home for the night.
Health and safety- this is a swing. And this is a guy ‘fixing’ the swing.
This cat appeared when I went to bed. Meowing at the door, so I let her in. She made herself quite at home, and spent the night curled up under the covers, purring loudly. A very bossy cat, delightful company.
Day three dawned white. This is a rhododendron, the national flower of Nepal.
NZ much?! Everything was dripping wet.
This very assertive flower adorned the top of the fences along the paths.

Fog- and a house with a baby, baby goat, and baby chickens. All in this photo! ha ha
Our guide dog… this guy randomly joined us for a few hours of trekking.
Ram, disappearing into the fog.
Ram dropping me back off at my ‘hotel’. What an amazing adventure- sad to say goodbye.

 

I wont put a photo here, but as we were sitting waiting for our transport back to Pokhara, my ankle felt a bit wet. I had a look, and to my concern, my ankle- and shoe- were awash in blood. Awash. As in, a bloodbath. I tried to clean it up, with little success. Ram, after a moment of concern, concluded it was a leech bite (two days of heavy fog had brought them out of the forest) and we taped it up. Leeches inject you with an anticoagulant. This tiny wounds simply pump blood, for hours. It turned out I found another one on my other ankle soon thereafter… They don’t hurt, just a mess to clean up.

And so ended my adventure. We walked fast- apparently I’m quite fit (although did not feel it) and did things a couple of hours faster than normal. The families I spoke to along the way stretched the same distance out over 4-5 days, more suitable for children. I would recommend trekking in Nepal for anyone of reasonable fitness. You don’t have to be ultra fit- if you’re life-fit, you’ll be fine. If you spend your days running around after your kids, or go for a walk most days, you will be fine. When booking, do be honest about your fitness level though to ensure you get the best outcome for your legs!

I want to go back to do Everest Base Camp trek. That will need a bit of training… But, I will be back.

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