Honestly I had no idea what I would be getting myself into with this whole trekking thing. I have lived at sea level (Florida, USA) for the past decade and in no way trained for this experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect but even if I had expectations, they would have been exceeded!
This was my first visit to Nepal and a visa was pretty easy to get on arrival. A single-entry visa valid for 15/30/90 days costs US$25/40/100 and you’ll want to pay in US Dollars.
Tourism is Nepal’s biggest industry and it’s down significantly after the earthquake. Normally I travel independently but I was glad I booked my trek with Nepal Eco Adventure because all the transportation and trekking permits were included. (Bring several extra passport photos with you for the permits and your visa!)
That being said, the trips aren’t 100% all inclusive. You’ll need some money for souvenirs, meals in the cities, drinks during the trek and to tip your guide and porter and the end of your trek.
The 10-day Ghorepani – Poonhill -Ghandruk Trek (a moderate part of the Annapurna Circuit) I enjoyed during March 2016 included a tour of Kathmandu beforehand which was serendipitously during the annual Holi Festival. All of the accommodations were clean and comfortable. I also stayed a few nights in Pokhara, which is a beautiful little lakeside town where you’ll stay for one night before and after your trek.
The rooms at the tea houses during the trek are a little more rustic, but they all had solar-powered hot showers and hot food. I'm vegetarian and there was always something I could eat (lots of veg momo and daal bhat w/ rice.)
The highlight of the trip is waking up at 4 AM and hiking to the summit to Poon Hill in the dark to watch the sun rise over the Annapurna range. The morning was a bit misty but we still enjoyed a brilliant sun rise! This was really the only place where we encountered many other tourists. I rarely saw other people during the rest of the time on the trail. Whether local or foreign, I would always greet people with a friendly ‘Namaste!’
My adventure took me up endless stone steps, down through mossy meadows and through seemingly enchanted forests. Sometimes I felt like I was in Middle Earth on a mission to take a ring to Mordor. Other times I felt like I was wandering through a pre-historic landscape and would surely discover dinosaurs around the corner at any given moment.
I am a solo female traveler but was glad to be grouped with two other fellow trekkers and our guides Kumar and Babu. This wasn’t a safety issue - I felt totally safe during my almost month total travels in Nepal. It is more the social aspect and having a few others with which to share this incredible experience. D and I shared a bigger bag carried by a porter named Subus but carried smaller day packs with us. (A porter carries your rucksack for you.)
The weather was amazing but the temperature obviously gets cooler the higher you hike so you make sure you have layers while still packing as light as possible. (If you are traveling before or after the trek, you can safely leave some things at the office in Kathmandu or at the hotel in Pokahra.)
Let’s talk about Packing. You really don’t need much. Pack two shirts and two pairs of pants plus a thin first layer of yoga pants and athletic shirt, a few pairs of underwear and socks, a lightweight jacket, hiking boots plus one pair of sandals/shower shoes, scarf, hat, sunglasses, a quick dry towel, headlamp or flashlight and small, basic toiletries. I recommend bringing your own sleeping bag both for hygiene and warmth.
The least fun part of the trip is the six hour bus ride between Kathmandu and pokhara, which could be even longer if you get stuck in traffic. But this experience is totally worth the wait!
I would absolutely go back and do a longer, more advanced hike like the Annapurna Base Camp or perhaps even Everest base camp if I get a chance to train more beforehand.
This was really an incredible, unforgettable experience for me and I want more people to have this experience as well so that’s why if you use the promo code: MIRAMBLING when you book your own trek, you’ll get an exclusive 5% discount!
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below.
Here's the 4:00 video version of my review:
Use PROMO CODE: MIRAMBLING to get a 5% discount when you book any trek or tour in Nepal with Nepal Eco Adventure.
I did the Ghorepani-Poonhill-Ghandruk route, which is a moderate part of the Annapurna Circuit, in March 2016. This includes 5 days of travel/touring and 5 days of actual trekking.
Trekking seasons are: September to December & March to Mid June.