Himalayan Adventure: My Three Days Trek to Poon Hill

Categories Trail Tale
Poon Hill

I can still remember the day… that one awesome day in Pokhara. The sky was clear then and the wind was subtle. It was the start of winter, cold but sunny. That day, I was about to start my three-day trek to the mountains of Annapurna. My destination – Poon Hill!

I woke up early that day in a hope to catch the sunrise from Lake Fewa or the Lakeside if any, but there wasn’t. A daybreak in the Lakeside was a quiet time of the day, I am sure most are still under their thick blankets.

Poon Hill
My destination!

Did I really woke up early for the sunrise or because I was just too excited for what awaits? I couldn’t remember the exact reason and it doesn’t matter anymore now. All I can remember is the anxiousness as I came nearer to the starting point of my first venture in the Himalayan mountains.

After checking and rechecking my stuff, I went for a stroll at the Lakeside and settled in an empty table by the roadside of a café serving coffee and pastries. I ordered an Apple Pie and a hot cup of Himalayan brew which I consumed while people watching and awaiting for Lok, my local guide.

Pokhara
Early morning in Lakeside.

Before eight in the morning, I went back to my hotel to check out. I would be back after three days on the same hotel so I left some of my stuff that I deemed unnecessary for the trek. Lok arrived shortly after and my short journey to Poon Hill commenced.

Situated in the town of Ghorepani, Poon Hill stands at 3210 meters above sea level, offering a panoramic view of eastern Himalayas with the unobstructed view of the snow capped mountains of Dhaulagiri (8167m), Annapurna I (8091m), Machhapuchhare (6998m), Nilgiri (7041m), Annapurna South (7219m), Annapurna II (7939m), Annapurna III (7555m), Annapurna IV (7525m), Lamjung Himal (6988m), Hiunchuli (6441m) and Tukuche Peak (6920m) among others. A trek to this spot requires at least three days from Nayapul, making it the most popular routes for short trekking in Annapurna. The journey involves long walks and some steep ascend but generally doable to anyone with reasonable amount of fitness.

It was my destination on my short visit to Nepal in 2013

Day One: Pokhara to Nayapul to Tirkedhunga

The taxi traveled for 20 minutes from the Lakeside to the bus station north of the city. Lok went straight to the counter and came back with two tickets to Nayapul. It didn’t take long before the bus to our destination arrived and it was quickly filled with passengers, all locals except me.

Nayapul
The starting point of our trek.

The bus travelled for an hour-and-a-half from Pokhara to Nayapul, passing along a scenic highway with amazing view of the snow peak mountains of Annapurna. It stopped along the main road overlooking a rice terraces across a river. We were already in Nayapul.

We crossed the steel bridge that connects the main road to the village on the other side of the river where the trekker’s checkpoint is located. At the checkpoint, I presented my ACAP and TIMS permit to the personnel who obliviously logged my details in their book. When I was cleared to go, Lok and I started our the trek.

Nayapul
The road to Tirkedhunga.

The first of our three-day trek would be approximately six-kilometer of easy trek from Nayapul (1050m) to the town of Tirkedhunga (1577m), doable in four hours. The trail to Tirkedhunga guarantees amazing scenery of Nepal’s countryside – rice terraces, traditional Nepali houses and beautiful view of the mountains.

Nayapul
One of the waterfalls we saw along.

Timestamp was already 1000H when our trek commenced. From Nayapul, it was wide and gradually ascending trail that slowly narrowed all the way to Birethanti passing some rivers, waterfalls, small villages and settlements. We stopped for lunch at Greenland Restaurant in Ramghai where I had a generous serving of Spaghetti and a cup of hot milk coffee.

Birethanti
We passed by few rivers and rice terraces.

After lunch, we continued our trek towards the scenic village of Hille, arriving at Tirkedhunga at almost two in the afternoon. We stayed in Laxmi Guesthouse where I was billed on a small single room with thick walls. I was the only guest in the guest house.

Hille
A traditional Nepali house in Hille.

There wasn’t much to do in Tirkedhunga, it is a quiet and laid back town that goes to sleep as soon as darkness starts creeping in. So I spent the rest of the afternoon resting in preparation for the much harder trek on the next day. Sleep came early that I had pure eleven hours of blissful trance inside my thick sleeping bag.

Tirkedhunga
My room at Laxmi Guest House in Tirkedhunga.

Day Two: Tirkedhunga to Ghorepani

The night was cold and quiet that I had a sound and refreshing sleep. I woke up early on the second day and had some push-ups and crunches before breakfast of pancakes and milk coffee. At half past seven in the morning, we checked out and I paid 1100 Rupees for my bill.

Tirkedhunga
Laxmi Guest House, my home in Tirkedhunga.

Lok and I endured the steep ascent from Tirkedhunga to Ulleri (2070m) and reached Bhantanti (2040m) after two hours. At Bhantanti, I had the first closer glimpse of the snow capped peak of Annapurna South as it started to appear behind the green mountains. I was ecstatic!

More than an hour of trekking from Bhatanti and we reached Hungry Eye Restaurant at the village of Nangenthanti (2460m) where we had our lunch. I ordered a serving of Dal Bhat which is said to be a power meal of trekkers. It is made up steamed rice and cooked lentil soup, and I partnered it with Fried Curry Chicken, Lemon Tea and Milk Coffee. I must say, their Dal Bhat and Fried Curry Chicken are the best that I have tasted so far.

Ulleri
The hardest part of my trek was the long ascending steps in Ulleri.

After the sumptuous power lunch, we went back in the trail for the final push to Ghorepani, our base for the second night and the jump off point to Poon Hill. We passed by more waterfalls and a mossy forest, and finally, at almost two in the afternoon, six-and-a-half hour since we left Tirkedhunga, we reached Mountain View Guest House in Upper Ghorepani, our home for the night. The snow capped peaks of Machhapuchhre, Hiunchuli and Annapurna South were like a mural on our background.

Ghorepani
A mossy forest in Ghorepani.

It was colder in Ghorepani at approximately five-degree centigrade, almost freezing. Thankfully, the lodge has a huge heater in the common area where guests gather to socialize and warm themselves. It wasn’t peak season but there were a lot of tourists in the house, mostly young Europeans who were all heading to Poon Hill the next morning. As expected, with my generic face, they thought I am a Nepali. Surprisingly, the guest house has a wifi, albeit with a fee. Hot shower and battery charging also come with a fee.

Ghorepani
Welcome to Ghorepani!

I had an early dinner before going to bed to call it a day. The next day would be the highlight of my short journey to Annapurna and I couldn’t wait.

Day Three: Sunrise at Poon Hill

I woke up at 0430H for my third day in the mountains of Annapurna, the day of my assault to Poon Hill for the sunrise and the very reason when I ventured into this short trek. It was a very cold dawn, ground temperature was almost freezing, the perfect time of the day and the perfect weather to just stay under the blankets. Not in Ghorephani, because in this wee hour of the morning, the town starts its day everyday. Amid the darkness, tourists break their sleep to brave the cold, dark and the ascending trail to the view point of Poon Hill.

Ghorepani
Before sunrise in Poon Hill.

Armed with excitement, a headlamp and few biscuits to fuel my early morning trek, Lok and I ventured in the culminating trek of my sojourn, it was exactly five in the morning. We reached Poon Hill before six, perfectly before sunrise. The surrounding was still dark but the eastern sky was already turning into gradient of purple. I sat on a ledge and rested while waiting for the most awaited show. More trekkers started arriving on the hill, gasping and catching their breaths but their faces could not hide the excitement.

Ghorepani
Now I know why Poon Hill is popular for tourists!

Then slowly, very slowly, the rays started peeking in and the dark snow capped mountains from Dhaulagiri in the east to Tukuche Peak on the west turned into a beautiful golden painting as the sun rays touched and blanket the white summits. It was all wows and sighs of amazement, specially when the sun finally showed up revealing the nature’s masterpiece that is Himalayas!

I fixed my eyes on the mountains, the sky on the backdrop turned into blue and the peaks into white. I always wanted to be in Himalayas and on that moment, that very defining moment, was the closest that I could get to my beloved mountains. I sat and just stare on the transfixing scenery, adoring every detail of it.

Ghorepani
The viewing tower in Poon Hill

At the height of my amazement, Lok interrupted me. We needed to go. I begged for few more minutes to get up to the viewing tower and he had no choice but to give in to my request. But the view of the mountains from the tower is no different, only I could see the entire hill below me. Just the same, the scene was so divine that I almost cried. I savor every moment of it, painted everything my eyes could witnessed on my brain in a hope to bring home the fresh memories of my short stay there. Shortly after, I went down the tower and we started our descent back to the lodge but that was after the obligatory post on the marker.

Ghorepani
The closest that I could get to Himalayas… for now. 🙂

The trek back to our lodge took only twenty-five minutes. We were actually in a hurry because I had to be back to Pokhara on the same day. We had breakfast at the guest house before checking out where I paid 1,290 Rupees, my bill for the duration of my stay.

We left Ghorepani at exactly eight in the morning. Most trekkers take the Gandruk route going back but it will require another day which I could not afford. So I took the same trail going down and reached Tirkedhunga after three hours, just in time for lunch.

Ghorepani
My last view of Annapurna Mountain range before going down to Nayapul.

After lunch, we continued our descent, past the village of Ramghai where we chanced upon a 4×4 going to Nayapul. At 200 Rupees per person, Lok and I decided to take the jeep to save energy and to catch the last public bus to Pokhara. We were already in Nayapul at one o’clock in the afternoon and were able to catch a bus to Pokhara immediately. Before four, we were already in the Lakeside. I thanked Lok and bid him farewell. He would be taking the night bus to Kathmandu while I would be spending the night in the city before flying the next morning to the Nepali capital for my afternoon flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Time is hardly noticeable in the mountains of Annapurna that my three days came and went so fast. Three days of long walks, river crossing, eating Dal Bhat and a whole lot more, all in exchange for overflowing happiness and priceless memories. It was the closest that I could get to the Himalayas for now. There is a dream to get even closer in the near future, but until then, my short journey to Poon Hill will always remind me of the beautiful snow capped mountains of my dream!

For more information on my short trek to Poon Hill, check out my Travel Notes: Short Trekking in Nepal’s Poon Hill (Itinerary, Budget/Expenses and Tips).

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