Nepal - The Annapurna Base Camp trek (Part 3)
The day starts early, leaving Pokhara and taking a private bus for an hour and a half to get to Nayapul where we began our trek. After a 5 hour trek through the isolated mountain villages Ulleri and Ghorepani - getting a taste of the Nepali Flat experience - we arrived at Ghandruk, our base for the night at 1940m. The trail was relatively easy, but the heat was unbearable.
Trek day 1 offered many surprises, spectacular views and amazing people. My first encounter during our first trekking day were two beautiful children walking down the hill with the older sister carrying a basket on her head. A very common thing with the children you meet during this trek, is them asking trekkers for chocolate or to take a picture with you. People in Nepal are really friendly, always greeting you with a smile and "Namaste", a warm and inviting hospitality found everywhere!
And of course the boy who stole my heart, with his wonderful mother!
The beautiful village of Ghandruk offers a spectacular panorama of the Himalayas such as the Annapurna South, Gangapurna, Annapurna III, Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhre. After enjoying a hot shower and some ginger tea, I think that was THE moment I realized the magic of what was coming. Many thoughts were going through my mind.. "Would I be able to complete the trek? Am I fit enough? But there I was! Majestically surrounded by cloudy skies and the stunning Himalayas, an unbelievable sight, leaving only the feeling of gratitude."
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is a classic tea house trek. Tea houses are mountain lodges that are located along many of the villages of the trekking routes in Nepal, run by locals. Tea houses have a kitchen and a communal eating hall for people to hang out, toilets, bathrooms and basic rooms for lodging. Almost everyone hangs out in the common area until bedtime, which is a great opportunity to meet other trekkers, enjoy a beer or tea, and talk with guides and porters to get a better view of their way of life. The actual quality of the tea house along the ABC trek is rather good and comfortable.
Rooms: Basic, small (usually two beds), some tea houses have dorms as well. Beds are prepped with sheets, but make sure to take your own WARM sleeping bag as it can get very cold at night, especially getting closer to the ABC!
Bathrooms: Hot showers, if available, will cost you a few dollars. Getting closer to the ABC, you’ll be offered using a bucket of water if you want to shower with a small fee.
Toilets: Well explained in Nepal - The Annapurna Base Camp (Part 2) Lesson number 2. Toilets are located in a separate building so don’t forget your head lamp just in case you need to visit it late at night.
Wi-Fi and electricity: Most tea houses have wifi and charging outlets available in the communal area, with a small charge (a few dollars). Still, the connection might not be available, or slow when many people are connected to it. At most tea houses, you can pay to charge your electronic devices, so make sure to charge when you get the chance!
Food: Your choices are repetitive during the trek: Dal baht, potatoes, soup, pasta, pizza, rice and noodle dishes. Although it’s the same choices each day you do have a variety to choose from. It is advised not to eat meat since it takes days to get to the tea houses.
Our next day continued with an early wake up call and started to ascent through the foothills from Ghandruk to Kimrong Khola where we crossed a bridge over the river before making a short ascent to the village of Taulung. We then begun the long steep ascent to Chomrong enjoying the stunning views along the way.
This was another day filled with surprises, as we went by a house which was packed with people celebrating the upcoming wedding of their son! Only women attended the feast, but we were welcomed in their home for some dancing and celebrations. A truly unique experience, even though I'm still in doubt if it was real or not. Either case it was a nice break for everyone and extremely fun!
It is a custom to greet people by putting red powder on their forehead as a symbol of good luck and mark of celebration. This red powder is called Tikka and it's used by Hindus in various practices.
Most commonly people put it on one another’s foreheads as a blessing for good luck, health and long life.
Married Hindu women wear Tikka high on the forehead to distinguish their marital status. During the wedding ceremony, a Nepali woman accepts her partner for eternity after her husband applies the tika on her upper forehead.
So our trek continuous, through forest, rivers, suspension bridges, some rain and more cultural experiences.
Arriving to the tea house we were having our lunch, two women were pounding grain in a way I've never seen, made me want to try it out and believe me that wasn't easy at all!!! Nepalese women are truly remarkable!
After lunch we had the opportunity to discover the term Nepali Flat: A little bit up, a little bit down! In other words NEVER ending steps going up, some more, a bit more, oh look some more and then the same coming down - for many many hours!!!
The steps of course continued until we finally arrived in Chomrong, a lovely village lined with tea houses, a few shops that sell essentials and perfect views!!! Our resting spot for the night at 2170m.