Nepal: Trekking the Giant Annapurna Himal
In 2007, after saving up some money, I decided to take a year off work and escape corporate America to go backpacking through India & Nepal. I bought my flight ticket with the added bonus of a helpful student discount. I bought a backpack and carefully planned the bare minimum of what I needed to take with me. I applied for my visas in time to depart and before I knew it, I was on my way!
After spending 2 months in India, I finally decided to make the long overland journey to Kathmandu and after a few days of sightseeing in the city, hopped a bus to Pokhara. Arriving at the lakeside town of Pokhara was a relief and an exciting precursor of the adventure that laid ahead, trekking the giant Annapurna Himal! The streets were lined with trekking gear, rain ponchos, sleeping bags, torches, warm coats, boots, socks, poles, basically anything you could possibly imagine you might need on the trail. I prepared my trekking pack leaving behind all unessential items, made last minute preparations and sent a farewell email to my family and friends.
The next day I found myself, heading out on the trail in Naya Pul (1050m), where we were dropped off by a shared taxi, for our first day in the Himalayas. The fresh mountain air was energizing and the promise of an unparalleled adventure filled our souls! We hiked through dense rhododendron and oak forests to reach the Gurung village of Ghandruk. The birds serenaded us as we awed at the spectacular views of the majestic Himalayan mountains peeking out over the hills of the Kali Gandaki River Valley.
We passed by tiny towns with no more than 10 houses, where shy school children came running to say hi and ask for candy. Ancient monasteries towered over us from the cliffs with their promising prayer flags that held the secrets of the people who carefully tied them to posts or rocks on the mountain. The scenic overlook at Poon Hill rewarded us with the most breathtaking views of our entire trip as we looked out over the distant Himalayan peaks as they were illuminated at sunrise. We soaked our sore muscles in the much-needed hot springs of Tatopani. What was normally a 14-day trip, we decided to extend into a month-long adventure to take our time and enjoy the peace and silence of nature. We slowly ascended to Marpha (2667m) and walked reverently around the ancient temples along the path. We passed the airport in Jomsom (2713m) and finally we reached the holy village of Muktinath at a dizzying 3795 meters above sea level where we were transported back in time as we walked through the 108 holy baths of the temple.
Leaving everything behind; modern civilization with its noise, traffic, pollution, chaos, violence, technology, rules, norms and taboos, was liberating. It was as if we were purified of all of this by momentarily stripping off all of our responsibilities and connections to the world as we know it. We were able to focus on the now and each singular moment we were experiencing as we went further into the wild, higher into the mountains and further into the lives of the local villagers we encountered along the way.
Looking back on the experience as I write from my desk in the bustling metropolis of Mexico City, leaves me with a melancholic ache to return. Luckily the chance to relate my story and remember the subtle details of this great adventure also fill my heart with the happiness and promise I felt as I strapped on my trekking boots every morning and started out on the trail with a new day ahead and endless possibilities at my feet.
Got inspired? Travel with Bamba Experience on this exciting 15-day trek around the Annapurna Circuit crossing a high pass at nearly 5000m. Be amazed by the magnificent views all along your way and push your limits by trekking at a high altitude.