Annapurna Sanctuary trek (part 2) Ghorepani - Sinuwa

Tadapani Travel Blog

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Up at 5am to catch the sunrise at Poon Hill. Thankfully no after effects of the raksi, although Harka suffering much more. Feeling sub zero, 1st use of head torch and Dave's down jacket. The climb to Poon Hill is the highlight of the 5 day treks with a panoramic view across the Annapurna range. To get the view another 400m ascent needed. Even without a back pack the climb before breakfast was a challenge. The steps a lot taller and hips feeling the burn most of the way up. Still made it to the top in time for sunrise and as the sun rose in the east everyone waited in anticipation for the sun to hit the mountains. Perfectly clear skies as light provided a stunning view across two lines of snow capped mountains stretching from Dhauligiri (the tallest of the Annapurna mountains and in the top 10 in the world) across to the stunning Machhupuchre with at least a dozen other giants of the Himalaya in between.
The view would be a highlight of any trip. Just with the camera could capture the whole view in 1 picture.

Returned down to the hostal very satisfied and even bought my 1st ever piece of jewellery from 1 of the many Tibetan craft stalls. Last of the big spenders negotiated down from 400 rupee to 100 ($1.50). The carved insignia supposedly meaning compassion but no idea really !

The main trek of the day was a descent from 2800m to 2600m but quickly established it wasn't going to be that easy. There was no flat within the whole 5 hour trek and spent the day climbing hills only to go back down the hill on the other side. The walk still provided great views of the mountains which were starting to play abracadabra. Great clear views of the peaks one minute, turn away and the clouds have rolled in and mountains vanished, only for them to appear in full splendor again 5 minutes later.
Meandered through pretty rhododendron forests and Nepal pine on steep hills with white water river raging below.

Bumped in to the Boston crowd who had lost a member due to a family crisis at home. The 3 girls had downgraded from the Sanctuary trek to the 5 day Poon Hill trek. Ashley had had some fun by braking her nose falling off a bus on the day I last saw them. She was sporting two nice shiners.

Harka and I had managed to pass the other trekkers by lunch time and we had the path to ourselves for most of the afternoon. The only sounds were the distant rushing river below and the various bird song from hidden branches above. Stopped several times just to appreciate the tranquility. Got to the hostal by 3. Very impressed by the exploits of 2 families from Dubai who were trekking the 5 day Poon Hill with 5 kids aged between 4-11 (albeit sharing 2 ponies).
Hugo the eldest of the kids very chatty and taking everyone on at chess. Always one to put an upstart in his place, had to beat him. Found a new trekking buddy in Sarah from LA who was the 1st person I'd found walking the Sanctuary as an independant.

Start of day 4 and already my trekking trousers are too big for me !! Reverted to my cheap 800 rupee Thamel trousers which fit much better. Set off through similar forested hillsides on another gorgeous morning with great views. Another day of descent from 2660m to 2340m. I shouldn't be so naive to think it was going to be easy as must have climbed 1200m to drop 1500m during 6 hour walk. Harka had recruited some porters from his village to join us today and as we stopped for 1st break of the day they walked off to collect some wild nettles for a traditional Chaliss village nettle soup for lunch.
Path no longer steps and progressed to a dusty path as descent left the hilly forest in to terraced farming fields. A new panorama looking down a long valley towards mountains that never fail to impress.

Climbing up one hillside, heard a sudden crack from above. Harka and I turned around to see a boulder the size of a medicine ball hurtling down hillside. Harka called out to a group of porters just behind us that sent them scurrying away in opposite direction as boulder crossed the path that I had walked past about 90 seconds before. Not a little unsettling and became very aware how pock marked the hills were with the effects of past landslides. Annapurna Sanctuary may be one of the most popular treks in Nepal but it still comes with dangers.

With weather getting increasingly warm, 1st use of sunscreen and sunglasses.
Made it to Chhomrong for lunch which is the split where the 5 dayers go back down and the Sanctuary trekkers carry on up. Had a long lunch waiting for Harka's buddies to arrive and said farewells before we carried on. The nettle soup was very nice but tasted mostly of coriander.

The path on to the Sanctuary officially marked as strenuous (compared to the 5 day moderate) immediately more rugged with more clambering over boulders and across log bridges without railings. The final stage of the day a to Sinuwa marked the last village on the trail and the last opportunity for a shower before the 2 days climb to ABC. I took full advantage before playing cards with Sarah and Harka. Discovered daal bhat - the staple Nepal food. Poppadom, rice, vegetable curry broth and chilli. Really quite good with the added bonus that it is always eat as much as you can. Chance to build some energy for the coming days.

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photo by: Stevie_Wes