Trekking the Annapurna Base Camp - Nepal

Part III

In our 6th day we left to Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3700M) our last stop before reach the Annapurna Base Camp. For the Gurung people the fish tail is a sacred place and they considered it the home of a Gurung goddess. We passed the forests and we entered into a different terrain and to an open space. The mountain range of the sanctuary is a spectacular setting. We climbed steadily for a few hours the beautiful landscape trekking through waterfalls, old avalanches and streams. Blue skies with a few clouds overhead enclosed by the mountain range with snow capped peaks. The journey to MBC was very scenic and so peaceful. We can only hear the wind and the sound of the running water. As we get closer to our lodge a storm was approaching the base camp. The sounds of thunders started to announce the dark heavy clouds of rain being dropped at distance as we rushed to get to our destination. Soaked wet and freezing we arrived under hail to the teahouse. We could not see anything, but only listening to the thunders and the rain drops as it hits the roof and the floor. Behind the heavy fog an amphitheater of glaciers were being hidden. We all stay in the dinning room watching the storm pass.  It was already dark and cold when finally stars appeared in the skies. It was bed’ time.

Trail to MBC
We wake up at 4:30 AM. A 2 hours trekking in the cold and in the ice with our flash lights going to catch the first glimpse of sun light lighting the peaks at Annapurna Base Camp (4130M).  The ABC is located in a picturesque valley and offers a 360-degree view of majestic mountains peaks, which included Annapurna I, III, IV, Annapurna South, Machhapuchhare among others. As the sun starts to rise, the snow-capped mountains turned into gold. It was breath taking and the experience of being there is so hard to describe or to capture.  It was nature in its dazzling display.

After a couple hours thunderstorms and rain arrived again and a few minutes snow’ flakes started to fall heavily. Without a place to hide I just stayed right there, felling that special moment in such incredible place. I will never forget the beauty of that morning as   snow’ flakes gently fell over me.  It was magical.


At the same day we started to descend and our first stop was at Bamboo were we spent the night. It was much easier and faster but never than less a very long day. Next morning we went back to Chomorrong for another night. From there we took a different route and after trekking all day long we arrived in Ghandruk – a fascinated village. Here we witnessed very close the tradition and custom of Gurung people. In our final day we finally made back to Pokhara. I warm shower, clean clothe and changing of scenery. Watching the sunset by the lake I had a well deserved bear. It was an experience of a lifetime and the warm hospitality of the Nepalese people will not be forgotten.




For more of my work visit me at www.necadantas.com


Trekking Annapurna Base Camp - Nepal

Part II

The Annapurna is definitely very commercial and popular with foreigners. Everything is tailored for them. Teahouses are owned and operated by locals only, as their livelihood is based solely on tourism. However, it was a little bit disappointing to encounter so many foreigners. The food was very international and they served quality hot meals from local cuisine to pizza, pasta and even a German bakery selling cakes and hot bread. All very rustic but available.

April 15th-- what a day. We left at 8AM and reached Jinwa Danda (hot springs) at noon after going down all the way to the river’s bank and crossed it via the new suspension bridge. Afterwards, we came across a rhododendron forest (they were not blooming) and climbed for I don’t know how many hours until we reached the hot springs where we soaked our tired bodies for an hour.  What a treat that was. We then went to the restaurant, fueled our ourselves with a delicious apple pie, waited for the rain to pass and got back on the trail again for another two hours climbing the steep stone steps to Chhomrong (2170M).

 I never thought of Nepal being flat but the idea of climbing stone steps never crossed my mind. It was hard, but the closer I got to my destination, I felt good about this adventure. As I reached the top of the mountain (sweating and completely wet), I felt exhilarated and very happy; I never experienced anything like that before. As we got to the top on our way to Chhomrong, we met three Korean girls in good spirits who were resting in a shack. They gave me candy for my hard work. We exchanged thoughts about our journeys and after a while they left--a truly magical exchange.

Chhomrong, the last village below the Annapurna Sanctuary at the base of Hiunchuli was great. After dropping our bags in the teahouse I went out with the guys to Didi’s hut a friendly lady to drink Raksi – home made rice wine and to eat Sukuti - dry buffalo meat. It was really amazing after a long and exhausting day to finish our third day sitting around a fire eating and drinking Nepalese treats.

View from Landrung

Gurung People

We departed Chhomrong at 7:30AM and cut through the village where locals were attending to their buffalos and lush vegetables gardens on terraced slopes. Under beautiful sunny skies, rice paddies decorated the village. We crossed the river and started to ascend a hill in a series of stone steps passing through villages and teahouses all day long. We trekked the deep Modi Khola valley through bamboo and rhododendron forests.  Unfortunately, we were only able to see a few blooming red flowers. However, the view of the Annapurna mountain range was breathtaking. Macchapucchare peak seamed so close and yet it was so far away. 

As we reached higher altitudes and got closer to the glaciers everything changed. Vegetation changed from lush to shrub, vegetables gardens started to get scarce as well as the variety of food. Even our walking pace became much slower since we had to be careful with altitude and our bodies need time to adjust. At this point it became imperative to pay attention to weather conditions due to the dual threats of slippery roads and avalanche.

At this time, every day felt more difficult up in the mountains. Our porter started to leave a little earlier than us to make sure we could find accommodations since there were just a few. It was amazing to see those guys going up mountains caring our bags in such an easy and fast pace. We passed locals caring goods to sell or deliver. It was heart breaking to see the people caring all kinds of heavy loads up the mountains. There is no other way around. It made me think that back home we have it so easy and of course we don’t even notice or just don’t care.

After walking for almost 7 hours and passing through Bamboo and Dovan we finally arrived at the Himalaya teahouse (2920m). It was another long and tiring day and I was beat-up. We were very luck to have a small room waiting for us. For those who arrived later in the afternoon, since the other teahouses were packed with tourists, they had to sleep in the dinning room.

For more of my work visit me at http://www.necadantas.com


Trekking the Annapurna Base Camp - Nepal

Part I

The drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara was beautiful but frightening. My companions and I left in the early morning under heavy rain cover and drove in an old bus in two lane roads for almost seven hours. Descending into the valley and then going up the hill again, the road was narrow and scary more so because of rain and slippery asphalt. On one side were hills, on the other, houses or terraces - flat areas on a slope used for cultivation. Car crashes littered the road, as there was not even a shoulder to remove the wrecks. On the bus the anxious tourists were quiet in contrast with the few locals that were enjoying the ride. I guess it was normal for them.

Macchapucchare - Fish Tail
When we arrived in Pokhara we hired a cab for a 40 minutes drive to Phedi where the trailhead starts. The road conditions were atrocious and apparently it is not very easy to find a driver to drive you all way there--It was so exciting though. Here we were to start our 10-day trek through the Annapurna Sanctuary. I didn’t know what to expect and what I was getting into, but I was ready for an adventure.  After walking for two hours pass Dhampus, we arrived in Pothana where we stayed overnight. A very picturesque village with just a few small hotels and teahouses surrounded by colorful gardens, Pothana has stunning views of the beautiful Macchapucchare – “fish tail” - covered in snow. So monumental and yet no one has ever reached its peak. I loved Pothana, and it reminded me a small village in Switzerland.

Our accommodation was a wooden structure which faced a vegetable garden.  It was a simple room with two very small beds, white sheets, blankets and a detached bathroom. Electricity was powered via solar.  This was our room – very rustic but cozy.  For a few extra Nepalese rupees, cold beer and a hot shower was available.

Going to bed early and getting up early became a routine. The sun was shining and at 7:40am after breakfast, we left to go to Landrunk (1,550m). The trail itself was made of step stones and adorned with lush vegetation. We climbed for almost one hour surrounded by breathtaking views. We passed through small villages, saluted the locals, and after a while, it was time for our porter to take a break.

Our porter was from the Everest region and since business was a little slow, he came to Kathmandu and hooked up with our guide and came with us to the Sanctuary. He is a Sherpa – Nepal’s most famous ethnic group.  They migrated from Tibet centuries ago and settled in the high mountains. The “mountain men” who work as high altitude expedition porters are very respected and are known as the “tiger of the snows”.

Arriving in gorgeous weather, we finally arrived in Landruk. After five hours going up and down the stone steps trail, I was ready to quit. While the views were fantastic, heavy clouds were coming-in.  Apparently, it is not unusual for heavy rains in April. The Monsoon season was around the corner and during the time I was in the Sanctuary, it rained every day in the afternoon. Just like the Tropics – the water came down heavy, escorted by thunder and lighting. After a while, bright sunshine would appear again. It was gorgeous. It reminded me of home in Brazil.  And yet, I was so tired and so went straight to bed and read, leaving the door open to listen to the raindrops and appreciate the magic of Annapurna South.

Gurung people
As soon as the rainstorm ended, I grabbed my camera and went to photograph the locals. At first they were not very friendly and some asked for money. I understood but refused to pay. Nepal is a very poor country and its survival is based on tourism. I than hung out with some Gurung people – they migrated from Mongolia during the 6th century and are the indigenous people from Nepal. The are known for their unique fusion of Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

For more of my work visit me at http://www.necadantas.com