Hiking in Nepal was a highlight.  I loved everything about it and will definitely be back to explore more. IMG_7311.jpg

Poon Hill is one of the shorter and easier hikes in Annapurna range. It is 4-5 days and you can hike in either direction but our guide said clockwise is easier.  We went through a company and hired a guide and porters.  I think both were worth it as it allowed me to just enjoy the hike.  But you are paying the middle man and could probably save about $100 if you booked directly with a porter.

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I am always stressed about tipping.  I want to be fair (even generous for a job well done) but respect the culture and norms.  I asked for guidelines and was told $5-10 per day for each porter.  Tea houses were $3-$10 a night and food was about 1000 rupees a meal.

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It is a rough two hour drive from Pokhara to Nayapul.  It was then an easy 90 minute walk from village to village before we stopped for lunch.  We then proceeded on another three hours to Tikhedhunga for the night.  The tea house was comfortable, clean and had a shower.  The shower, WiFi and charging station all cost extra.  From Tikhedhunga it is 3700 steps to Ulleri.  This is difficult but I didn’t find it too bad as the views distract you and you just need to keep a steady pace.  There would have been time to do the steps on day one but that would be ambitious at the end of the day.  It is then on to Ghorepani which is the destination from four directions and pretty busy.  It is the base camp for Poon Hill which will have 500-600 people each sunrise during peak season.  I arrived in Ghorepani in late morning and wish I had hiked to Poon Hill twice so I could see the views in the day light without the crowds and then again at sunrise. IMG_7415.jpg There is a steady stream of people to the top in the dark trying to beat the sun, but there is plenty of space at the top once you arrive.  IMG_7427.jpgLeave soon after breakfast so you can take advantage of the clear skies to see the views to Deurali along the ridge of the trail before beginning the descent into Ghandruk.   It is all downhill from Ghandruk to Nayapul before driving back to Pokhara.

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I think the trek was easier with better views than the portions of the AT I have done.  I enjoyed walking through the villages, meals in tea houses and comfortable nights.  I also really appreciated the Juxtaposition of centuries.  Locals carry supplies up the mountain on their head while talking on their cell phones.  My only complaint was the lack of trail culture.  Hikers don’t particularly gather or talk in the communal spaces at the end of the day.

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If hiking on your own without a guide, know that you should order dinner a couple of hours prior and order breakfast before retiring for the night.

Packing Tips:

Toilet paper and hand sanitizer

Book or cards for the evening

If using tea houses, you don’t need a sleeping bag but I get cold easily and used both a sleeping bag and a sleep sack.

Small towel.

Music for while hiking.

Hat, gloves, coat

Boots, socks, pants

2 t-shirts and long sleeve shirt

Dry clothes to sleep in

Small change to use toilets when passing through villages

Water filtration and water bottles

Flip flops for evening

Pack cover for rain

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Pokhara is the jumping off point for all hiking in Annapurna.  Someone told my cousin that Pokhara means white women in yoga pants.  It felt pretty accurate!  While a lot of people love Pokhara, it is really just a western playground for tourist and an adventure jumping off point.  It is very commercial.  Unless planning some adventure sports like paragliding, I recommend getting in and out of Pokhara as quickly as possible.  But a few thoughts for while you are there:

  1. Rosemary café, Café Concerto and Moonlight are wonderful.
  2. We stayed at both the Blossom Hotel and Hotel Iceland. Blossom was homey and well located with a super helpful staff.  I would definitely recommend it and stay here again.  Hotel Iceland was fine but had no personality and felt like just a three star chain you might find anywhere.  The breakfast was pretty bad. IMG_7124.jpg
  3. I definitely recommend getting up early for the Sarangkot. It is worth the lost sleep.  It was busy but not crazy.  A cab is 1500 rupee round trip from Pokhara.  If you want to hire a guide it is another 500 rupee.  You don’t need a guide but I forgot my flash light and so it was worth it just for the light going up the last bit of the hill. IMG_7212.jpg
  4. There are not a lot of “sights” in Pokhara. I thought the International Mountain Museum was worth it as it has photos and history of the world’s largest mountains.  As well as gear and phots from ascents and a great exhibit on climate change.  Davis falls is a quick stop and as Emily said, if you have ever been to a waterfall, in any country – ever… you don’t need to go.  And this is true, it is pretty underwhelming.  What I found most interesting is the waterfall is in the middle of town, inside a bazaar.    If you go, 10 minutes is plenty.  Mahendra cave is right across the street.  It is also a Shiva temple.  It was super crowded with locals and in my opinion was so uninteresting it was almost (almost) interesting.  Finally, the peace pagoda has great views of the city.

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