Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Annapurna Trek, Day 1-3

Day 1: Pokhara to Ghandruk

Waking up at 6am is not my idea of a holiday, but it needed to be done if we were to make it to Ghandruk by sunset. Over breakfast we arranged a taxi to take us to our trekking start point further Northwest. We arrived at the small highway town of Nayapul (1000m) at 9:30am after over an hour and a half's bumpy drive through 41km of mostly single lane mountain roads.
From here on in we would have to walk every inch of the way to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) in time for new year's eve, that will be day six. Today's destination lies a six hour's walk North along the Modi river, the river that we will follow to its source. The morning's walk was far from strenuous as we strolled sub-tropical woodlands, past paddy fields, banana palms and orange groves.

A bridge crossing after Nayapul

We made a quick stop for lunch in the village of Kliu (1390m) before continuing on what would become the toughest part of today's trek. From Kliu, the strolling path became a steep stoney uphill climb. We arrived at the large Gurung village of Ghandruk (1940m) at 4:30pm and soon found a room with a terrace to enjoy the superb view of Annapurna South. The sun dipped out of sight at around 5pm causing the tempurature to drop quickly. A hot meal with an amazing view and an early night were heartily welcome!

Looking back down our morning's route

The peaks of the Annapurna Sanctuary from Ghandruk

Day 2: Ghandruk to Kimron

Day 1 had taken its toll on our combined energy levels and we had an extra day in the bag to make ABC by new year's eve. Day 2 was a doddle! After a laid back breakfast we headed out of Ghandruk at 9:30am and made our way down to the bridge crossing Kyunri Khola stream. Once over the stream, it was all the way up towards the two ridge lodges that make up the settlement of Komrong (2250m). Arriving just before midday, it was an ideal spot for lunch. The lodges offered a great view of Ghandruk to the south and commanding views of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhre to the north. Hiromi and I decided that the river below would be the end of today's journey. Tomorrow morning's route was plain to see winding its way up to just over the same height on the other side of the valley.

Part of the village of Ghandruk

One of many steel bridges built by Gurkhas

After over an hour's navigation of a steep muddy path littered with loose rocks, we reached a small tea house that gave us a clear view of the riverside settlement Kimron. Kimron lies on the otherside of a wide rocky riverbed with a fast flowing narrow river snaking its way down. It was after 2pm and the sun's shadow suggested we had little warmth left for the day. It took just another 30 minutes of steep muddy paths to reach the gentle slopes and finally the riverbed. A makeshift bridge over the river was our rest point. This new found R&R was short lived as the sun's rays left us at around 3pm and it was starting to cool quickly. By 4pm we had a room in the Kimron Guest House. Another early night followed corn bread, soup and sitting by the fire with the family who run the lodge.

Our brief rest stop at Kimron river 

Day 3: Kimron to Chomrong

It was cold waking up in Kimron. The sound of the fast flowing river was a pleasure to fall asleep to, but chilling to wake up to. It was 7:30am and we still had to wait another hour and a half for the sun to reach us. We set off from the guest house at 10:15am and soon found a steep climb that would take us up and over a huge landslide that scars the entire side of the valley. Just past the landslide we stopped for thirty minutes at Hill Top Guest House and took one last look at Kimron tucked deep in the valley.

Our last view of Kimron Guest House

The steep climb carried on until another guest house, this time in Taulong, provided another break for breath and refreshments. Today's destination was just around the corner and one final burst of energy brought us to the outskirts of Chomrong (2170m) at 2pm. A very large Gurung village boasting a sensational view of the Annapurna range. We checked in to the Panorama Guest House not because of its stunning views north and south, but because it had a terrace that claimed the most amount of sunlight.

Machhupuchhure (Fishtail) Mountain from Panorama Guest House, Chomrong

Our arrival in Chomrong happened to coincide with a four day festival being held further down in the village. The Gurung were celebrating their new year and we had heard talk of music and dancing. That was our evening's entertainment sorted.

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Day 4-6
Day 7-9