Tips for Ghorepani/Poon Hill Trek – my definitive list

•I travelled in April & did not require a sleeping bag. All the guest houses I visited had blankets or quilts & I presume you could ask for another if you were cold.

•I took a sleeping bag liner. This is lightweight & takes up very little space. I really appreciated the barrier it provided from the, on occasion, grubby bedsheets.

•Headlamp was necessary for the Poon Hill sunrise ascent & also necessary for the power cuts in the guest houses.

•Bring toilet roll. No guest houses supplied it, although if you’re stuck you can buy it on the way.

•Filtered water. I purchased this along the way at varying costs from 40NPR to 110NPR. If I was travelling more than 4 days I would have considered iodine tablets or the UV filter but I accepted these prices for the short time I was trekking.

•If your guide specifies 3 meals a day please note that you will possible already eat breakfast on the morning you start your trek & you will probably be home before dinner time. This equates to 10 meals instead of 12. We only had 9 & our guide did not refund or apologise for misleading us.

•A porter was not required for this short trip.

•Bring snacks like cereal bars or nuts. I needed a mid morning snack when my stomach just felt full of water.

•I wore the same baggy trousers every day. I wore a different top every day. I had a separate set of bottoms & top for the evening, 1 hoodie & a lightweight waterproof jacket as well as fresh socks & undies for every day & 1 sports bra. Maybe take another bra if you want something to change into after you shower.

•A light scarf was really protective from the glaring sun. I didn’t bring one but a kind lady along the way took one look at my Irish flesh & insisted I take her spare scare. Thanks for saving my skin you wonderful Norwegian person!

•Sunscreen & bug spray are required.

•Small medical kit just incase: anti inflamms, pain killers, antihistamines, diarrhoea tablets, malarial tablets & rehydration sachets. I also took tape because I’m a physio & tape is never far from me. Is that true of all physios???

•Phone charger & battery pack if possible. Access to electricity in the mountain is unreliable & can be costly. On the first day I used some power saving methods e.g. airplane mode & low brightness & I used less than 25% of my power playing music & taking pictures. That’s pretty impressive for an iPhone!

•A good (thin) book. This is a tip I carry through life.

•Charged camera.

•Travel towel, although most of the hotels provided a towel.

•No need for hiking poles, we found sticks along the way & used these when required. My granny loved a good stick for hiking, she would have been proud!

•Earphones & tunes!

•Sunglasses

•A hat to keep the sun off

•Hand sanitiser

•Shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste

•Lip balm

•A miniature of baileys for your hot chocolate at sunrise

Poon Hill Day 4: Terepani to Pokhara

My last day trekking arrived all to quickly. When I woke up at 7am my legs felt stiff & heavy for the first time on this trek. We said our farewells to the other group leaving for Annapurna Base Camp & started our descent to Nayapul. As we left Terepani my friend announced that she had a dream that I fell. Delightful. I walked with especial caution at the fear of her premonition.

The walk to Ghandruk was as lovely as the previous day. Cool forest, mostly ground & not many sets of epic stone steps. Bliss.

After Ghandruk I became quite hangry – a cereal bar & a litre of water couldn’t pull me out of this mood so it was earphones in until our lunch break. When we arrived our guide saw a bus for Nayapul & was pushing us to take it to Pokhara for some reason, I presumed it was cost efficient for him. He doesn’t approach these topics with a charming persuasion so I found his aggressive attitude uninviting & I felt we should stick to our original plan & finish the trek on foot as we had previously decided. It was only 2 more hours away he had said & I certainly had the energy reserve for it. My travel companion was also determined to finish the trek on foot so we declined the bus option feeling like our guide had just wanted to rush us back to Pokhara.

We had lunch & the guide was clearly unhappy with our decision. From that point when we set off he walked further ahead of us & I felt a very overwhelming negative energy from him. The bus option had never been spoken about before & I couldn’t fathom why he was so annoyed at us. The combination of his negative energy, the sun roasting me & my slow travel companion weighed on my mood so I put my earphones in, blocked them out & continued alone for 3 hours. Any time I asked the guide how much longer it would be his answers were inconsistent & different to his previous days debrief. I feel like he had made miscalculations & had wanted to make up for lost time with the bus.

It was 5pm by the time we arrived in Birepani & almost 6pm by the time we reached Nayapul. This was a much longer day trekking than the guide had told us we would complete. We sat at a cafe waiting for our taxi & after 20 minutes he told us the taxi would be another hour. Exhausted & desperate for a shower & bed I questioned this disorganisation & told him I was unhappy with this arrangement. He then he suggested I contributed to booking another taxi – despite already paying for the taxi inclusive of my package. He continually contradicted himself regarding the timing of the buses to make them seem like the better option despite previously quoting them as being twice as long & unpleasant when he wanted us to pay for the taxi in the package. He begrudgingly paid the extra money for the taxi & we all felt a bit deflated with fatigue & disorganisation.

It was a disappointing end to our expedition. He didn’t pay for all our meals as planned & was visibly angry at having to pay extra when it was his fault for not arranging the timing of the taxi with his friend. I obviously felt bad & even guilty (damn you catholic guilt) but I feel I was right to press him on getting us home.

We were happy to get back to the friendly faces in Little Buddha, have a long hot shower & get a hot meal in our bellies before bed.

Despite the less than ideal end to our trek, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love a fitness challenge (with epic views) & this was perfect. The toughness was the perfect level for me. I was tired & I had to really push myself at times, but it was achievable. I adore being outdoors in the fresh air & nature. I really want to spend more time doing these activities.

Poon Hill Day 3: Ghorepani – Terapani

Upon returning to the hotel from the beautiful Poon Hill sunrise summit we had breakfast before commencing our trek to Terepani. We trekked with another group who were brilliant company. It is so easy to meet people in this type of environment. I adore the ease of openly asking people questions about themselves – something less acceptable to do in the streets of a town. Our new extended group has a great spirit & we chatted, sang & danced our way to lunch at Berepani.

We had gorgeous views of the snow capped mountains & Poon Hill where we could easily trace our steps from the morning & appreciate what we had already accomplished by 8.30am! Today the trek was mostly downhill although there were some inclines. My body felt lethargic compared to the people around me but after an hour I came into my own.

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I adored the surroundings today. Our first encounter was another long set of steps I struggled up but after that the terrain was mostly ground through forest with winding tree trunks & a cool breeze on my face.It felt much more like the walks I’m accustomed to at home & I took off from the group with my earphones in, singing, dancing & basking in my surroundings.

We stopped off for lunch & the view was incredible! I love being in the wilderness & I haven’t even missed the internet. I used it once to check if I had any messages from home but turned it off again soon after.

 

Our wonderful friends we were travelling with were continuing to the Annapurna Base Camp while we were returning to Pokhara the next day so we agreed to stay in Terepani together for the evening. There are really amazing, lovely people in the world with such open hearts. I love that travelling brings you to meet people you would never discover in your closed world at home.

Upon arriving at the hotel I had a glorious warm shower & read my book outside in the afternoon breeze. This is my happy place, feeling clean, accomplished & completely content. We chatted with our fellow trekkers & had dinner before all admitting defeat to our tiredness by 8pm. We had an early 4am start & our bodies were ready to be rejuvenated. I was sorry that it was my last night of trekking & thought it had went by all too quickly. I fell asleep smiling at what a great day I had with new friends & pushing my physical & mental boundaries.

Poon Hill Day 3: Sunrise at Poon Hill

In the quiet of the third cold, blustery morning I set off at 5am to conquer the last hour of summit before sunrise. After 3 steps up the path my lungs were faltering while my legs were fit & able to continue. I pushed through it presuming it was the cold or the altitude but my lungs could not keep up. It was my slowest ascent with many, MANY, breaks. The hue of the sun sneaking up behind the mountain was spurring us to continue. My neurons were dulled by the confusion of the altitude compromised biting cold air accompanied by the stifling sweat of my muscular & cardiovascular effort. The sun was rising faster than my footfall & I pushed hard to make it to the summit before the sun, challenging the elements on every aspect & pushing my physique & mindset.

Our guide kept encouraging us saying it was only 10 more minutes to the top – but with all these steps & my faltering lungs it felt impossible. Only one group of people overtook us which was a reassurance that our pace was not as dismal as it felt. Finally, after an hour of full blown effort at such a slow pace, we completed the 1000M final climb to Poon Hill 3210M. Flat land has never been so appealing!

On the last steps my already shallow breath was taken away by the ferociously stunning impact the breaking dawn etched over one of the worlds highest peaks. The view of the Annapurna mountain range was overwhelmingly striking in all its majestic grandeur. I gazed, entirely absorbed, unable to tear myself away from the powerful encompassing beauty. The view at the top was magnificent. We could clearly see the vast Annapurna mountain range. The sun slowly crept behind them taking us into a brand new day.

There weren’t many people on the top when we arrived but quickly this turned into 100 people. It didn’t feel too crowded though & I felt like I was able to enjoy my surroundings in relative peace. I got a hot chocolate as a toasty reward & chatted with my fellow trekkers. I gave myself a good 10 minutes of flat land before I went up the viewing tower. It was incredible. Did I mention I love mountains??

Once we felt our third eyes were truly open & had enough of taking pictures we made the descent back to our hostel. Keen to go to the bathroom & recharge my phone for the day I quickly skipped down the steps in 15-20mins. My legs were like jelly at the end! The power was out at the hotel so it was wasted effort for my phone. I had a ginger lemon honey (my current beverage of choice) & told my wobbling legs that everything is going to be ok.

 

Poon Hill Tips:

-Make sure your phone & camera are fully charged as the cold weather quickly drains the power.

-Layers are best. I was so hot on the climb I stripped down to a t-shirt but had to put my hoody back on when we were standing around at the top

-A splash of Baileys really would have made my hot chocolate quite special

 

Poon Hill Day 2, Ulleri – Ghorepani

Day 2 Ulleri – Gorepani

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With a belly full of porridge, bananas & honey & a ginger lemon honey tea I skipped up the mountain steps at 7am. The cool morning air was a welcome change from the heat of the day before. My legs felt surprisingly fresh! We passed by various tea houses ‘namaste’ing everyone we seen & admiring the cuteness of the small children. I flitted between discussing everything from childbirth to Nepalese politics to popping my earphones in & getting lost in my music. Bliss.

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The walk was not an easy one with continuous up & down hills (to be expected when trekking in Nepal) & plenty of sets of steps – in case we needed to be weaned off them after the epic 3200 steps yesterday. We met a lot of trekkers on their return from seeing the Poon Hill sunrise that morning. They were the happy ones who were mainly going downhill! They confirmed it was beautiful & spurred us on when we were feeling fatigued.

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We reached Gorepani for lunch & I had a Dal Bhat 24 hour, full power! This is what most Nepalese eat twice a day, everyday. It has rice, a curry, pickle & veg plus it is bottomless! While you’re eating you will continuously be offered top ups of everything until you tell them enough. I didn’t even get that far! The portion was huge!

After another TIMS check in we climbed steps for 15 minutes to reach our hotel for the evening – Hill View Hotel. The majority of the hotels & restaurants feature the word ‘view’. We passed numerous places called Hill view, mountain view, super view, annapurna view, nice view, etc, etc.


Our guide booked us into the hotel closest to Poon Hill to make for an easier climb the next morning. I was exhausted & had a cold shower then a nap. I love a sunset & was keen to climb Poon Hill to enjoy it but the cloud cover & my heavy legs made me opt against it. Big mistake! Just before dinner the clouds dispersed to reveal a beautiful sunset on Mount Fishtail. Glorious!

In the evening we sat in the restaurant/lounge area & chatted with other trekkers. Everyone was feeling tired but exhilarated at making it this far. For dinner I had some slices of pizza, my body keen to take on any fuel I’m feeding it.  After dinner I went straight back to bed & read my book before going to sleep again. I feel like I spent all afternoon sleeping since arriving at 1pm. My body must need it – clearly in shock with all the work it’s doing. Good work body! Sorry I didn’t prepare you better! Next time I will, promise!

Poon Hill Day 1: Pokhara – Ulleri

Day 1 Pokhara – Ulleri

We left Pokhara at 7.30am. I managed to squish everything I needed into my small backpack & tied the rest on to it. We got a bumpy taxi ride over an hour away to Nayapul & began trekking from there. We walked for about 30 minutes, wandering through a few small cute villages where cute kids would run up to us shouting ‘namaste! chocolate!’ hoping we would give them chocolate. They were obviously used to trekkers on these paths handing out treats. I had some cheap cereal bars buried at the bottom of my bag which was so full it was on the cusp of imploding, there was no chance I was going to delve in there! Sorry kids! We crossed 2 bridges then handed our TIMS in at Beripani checkpoint & continued on the meandering path towards Ulleri to Ghorepani.

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It was a hot humid day & we ploughed on until 11am for breakfast. The restaurants in the area are all priced exactly the same per village meaning no competition & there are signs up not to haggle. It was 400NPR for out set breakfast which consisted of tea/coffee muesli, toast & 2 eggs. I found a bug in my muesli, then another 2 so I left it to the side. I think I’ll leave muesli for a while. IT was filling & fuelled me up for the hills to come.

When we got back on the path it was so hot. My Irish complexion is not tolerant of the sun or heat so I struggled a lot & was so grateful of cold water, even if it was 70NPR. We were warned that as we ascend the mountain the prices would also ascend accordingly – but there is no way I’m going to pack Litres of water to lug up the mountain!

The distance from Nayapul to Ulleri is only 10.4KM although it is the terrain that is the struggle. The incline is almost 1Km in height, with many ups & downs to really draw this out. En route there is a section with 3200 haggard, jagged steps each varying in height, depth, breadth & angle. They felt never ending. We seemed to be going at an average pace catching up with the same groups of people between breaks.

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Halfway through the 3200 steps we met a 76 year old wee old American lady powering through her return journey from Poon Hill. What strength to be able to complete this trek at 76! She certainly gave us the motivation to continue & cease complaining!

When we reached our stop for the evening we were so relieved & felt a great sense of accomplishment that we achieved our first destination. The view was beautiful. We were high up the mountain range & had a good view of the snow capped Annapurna South. I adore being in the mountains. The mood at the teahouse was a humble pleasantness & all trekkers talked with ease to one another. We had a very late lunch & skipped dinner in favour of sleep.

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The people staying at our teahouse were lovely & funny. Everyone was tired but so happy to have accomplished thus far – I’m telling you, those steps were barely tolerable!

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Shopping for Poon Hill

I am the least prepared hiker. I have nothing. My trainers disintegrated before I left India & my flip flops are made of non resilient cardboard. I don’t have hiking poles, special hiking socks, water purifier, hiking backpack, a sleeping bag or any other necessary items required.

As well as clothing & equipments you also need a hiking pass, TIMS, &  ACAP a small fee towards the Annapurna area. You can do this yourself at the trekking permit office or your guide/agency can arrange this for you. We organised our TIMS ourselves however paid more for the unguided pass. This wouldn’t be valid as we were going to take a guide in the end. Our guide said it would be impossible to get a refund from them however we went back & tried & they gave us a full refund. They don’t explain things clearly so be sure to take your time & ask questions to ensure you’re getting the correct documents required. It saves a lot of hassle in the long run!

Nepal is home to the knock off North Face. When you go shopping you are normally faced with 3 options: the real deal (only available in main stores), Chinese fakes (normally the cheapest option) & Nepalese fakes. The sheer volume of counterfeit goods readily available in Kathmandu & Pokhara is shocking. You can get everything from bags, shoes & hats to equipment & accessories. Fortunately I’m indifferent to brands so I wasn’t sucked into the faux world. Other backpackers would be head to toe in North Face clothes with matching luggage & accessories.

My shopping aim was to find the minimal of what I really needed to get by on the mountains. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive & nothing I could survive without. It took 2 days of haggling, trying on & comparing hiking shoes. I think I got an ok deal in the end with a decent pair of fake Jack Wolfskin for 20000NPR. Of course all the shop keepers were feeling terribly hard done by & unjust when I haggled. I begrudged paying for a cap considering I have them lying at home in Ireland. I was coerced into buying extra batteries for my headlamp by a nasty shop keeper I shouldn’t have bothered getting anything from. I got a sleeping bag liner in case it got very cold & to act as a barrier to the seldom washed bedding up the mountain. Instead of walking poles we decided we would use branches we found along the way.

In the shops I would bump into other hikers shopping with their guides & buying everything without haggling. I couldn’t afford the luxury of blissful ignorance to a budget. I felt I did ok in the end. The outdoors is an expensive hobby! I’m sure I would have spent a lot more if I were to do the Everest Base Camp trek.

Even packing for our adventure was hilarious. I refused to purchase a backpack bigger than my small bag yet smaller than my big backpack. I ended up somehow fitting everything inside or tied on to my small 15L backpack. I even managed to pack my book! My friend got a brand new 35L North Face backpack in Kathmandu & her bag is absolutely stuffed as well! She is even taking luggage scales with her so she can see how heavy her bag is on a daily basis….

We have 1 good nights sleep ahead of our hike. I can’t wait! I love being in nature & basking in beautiful scenery.

Poon Hill

The Himalayas look so impressive & I simply couldn’t go to Nepal & not do some trekking. I am desperate to trek to Everest Base Camp but it is working out really costly & I can’t afford is this trip – never mind my fitness levels not being at their optimal!

My friend & I have decided to conquer Poon Hill & do a 3 day trek with a sunrise 3210M summit along the Annapurna circuit. This seems to be a beginner trek which is quite challenging yet manageable at your own pace. My friend has never done any hiking & one of the agents we were speaking to put it very simply – If you can walk you can trek. He’s quite right. It may take you weeks, but you’ll manage it if you take it easy.

I read a few blogs & priced around Kathmandu & Pokhara unclear about what to do. My friend & I decided we wanted a guide (even if we could manage without one) as extra confidence, for more local information & general peace of mind. We decided we could do without a porter. If I was more organised I would be happier to go without a guide as I believe the route is simple to navigate. This takes the added stress out of the trek. If I was to do a longer trek I would definitely hire a porter primarily to give someone work & an income for a few days.

I priced a few places for full packages or guide only while my friend updated her instagram & flirted with boys. I wanted to go with Three Sisters Adventure Trekking & on our way there I insisted on stopping at a few agencies so she could have a comparison as well & not rely so heavily on me. One guy charged us $70 per day for the full package & the second agency quoted $40. The second guy seemed really straight to the point, was realistic about what we would need to take as opposed to encouraging us to buy a lot of kit & was patient answering all our silly questions e.g. regarding the monkey population, the meaning of his upper ear piercing & where I could buy a bottle of Baileys. We felt we got on well with this guy & booked him for a 4 day Ghorepani/Poon Hill trek.

In hindsight just hiring a guide without going through an agency would have been much more affordable but as first time trekkers we did the best we could to get a decent deal within our budget. This cost included taxi transport from our hotel to Nayapul & back, accommodation for 3 nights, the guide & 3 meals a day with a hot drink per day for 4 days.


The previous day we visited the Trekking permit office to obtain the necessary documents required to hike in the Annapurna region. These are TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) & ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project). The TIMS document is regarding your safety & whereabouts as you check in at various points on the trek & ACAP is to support the area & maintain the routes. Be sure to get the correct TIMS card as one is for trekking without a guide & one is for trekking with a guide/via an agency. This wasn’t explained clearly to us & we had to go back to the office to plead our case for a refund & correct document. You need to have 2 passport photographs for your TIMS card, many places in Pokhara offer this service. The office had about 7 other trekkers completing forms when we were there & it only took us 20mins to fill out the forms & get our documents (albeit one was incorrect).

In addition to this we would have to pay for all our water, snacks & additional food we wanted as well as entrance to Poon Hill (50NPR) & electricity for phone charge (100NPR), fee for hot shower (150NPR) & wifi connection (150NPR) if required. Prices vary from place to place.

Accommodation ranged from 200NPR to 500NPR for a double per night & meals were between 150NPR to 600NPR depending on what you got. Hot beverages were averaging 100NPR for a cup & filtered water was between 60NPR to 110NPR per litre. Chocolate bars were about 200NPR & beers 500NPR. Generally prices increase as you ascend. All prices are set per village as well with no haggling tolerated.

Digesting all this information we set about assembling the kit we needed for our expedition.

To Everest or not to Everest

After much consideration I have decided to tackle the Mount Everest base camp trek! I am super excited. I have always been a fan of hiking & the outdoors however recently this has slipped. Initially I was really unsure about whether I could manage it because recently my only activity has been walking & carrying my backpack…. Which I guess is exactly what trekking is!

I am going to break myself in with a trek in Poon Hill from Pokhara. This should be a 3 day trek overlooking the Annapurna mountain range. A lot of people I have met are doing the Annapurna base camp trek as opposed to Everest base camp. It is apparently less busy, slightly less challenging, easier to do without a guide & much cheaper to access.

With regards to my non existent kit I am totally unprepared. I intend to resolve this in Pokhara. I don’t even have trainers because they died in India! My only footwear I possess are those £1.50 dreadful looking flip flops I had to buy in India when my Havianas disintegrated from my feet. See! I’m enforcing this tight budget.

Due to this tight budget (in the space of writing this blog & posting it) I have also had to eradicate the Everest plan. The flights are just too expensive for me & I can’t justify it financially being such an unplanned haphazard trip. My lingering catholic guilt can’t cope with another massive splurge on myself. I am extremely hopeful I’ll get to Everest Base Camp another time when I have dedicated more thought & intention towards it. I suppose the dream was nice while it lasted…..