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

No comments:

Post a Comment