Nepal Hiking Diaries: Part 1

In April of 2019 we decided to take a trip to Nepal to hike in the Himalayas.  If you’re looking for a quick overview of our trip check out our Overview of Nepal post.  Already read it and want to learn a little more about our actual hiking adventure? You’re in the right spot! Here is an overview of our first week.

Day 1: Kathmandu

We hopped on a quick 3 hour flight to Nepal and we quickly learned the visa process for entering Nepal was very confusing.  We did get to skip the process of purchasing a visa upon arrival since we got ours ahead of time.  The line to purchase a visa was very long and looked pretty confusing.  We jumped ahead to the immigration process and just had our fingers crossed the entire time that we were in the right line. We watched as multiple people waited for 45 minutes + only to be told to go to a different line.

After finishing up our entry into the country we were delighted (this is a lie) to find out that the driving is similar to driving in Thailand, but even more terrifying. After somehow making it to the hotel in one piece we settled in and got our equipment from our lovely guide, Sunil.  We decided to rent our down jackets and sleeping bags from KE directly rather than have to pack gours (they take up a surprisingly amount of room in a checked bag). We did buy liners for the sleeping bags and brought those with us.

Our first hotel of the trip, Hotel Shanker

The hotel was has a very “old world” feel to it and we enjoyed staying there. The rooms were clean and the beds were comfortable. Dinner was served in the hotel and we had the opportunity to meet the rest of our group. The evening was spent drinking a ridiculous amount of water (Dorthy it looks like we aren’t at sea level anymore) and we went to bed as early as possible.

Day 2: Pokhara

After another lovely experience in a taxi, we made it to the airport.  We were actually a little nervous about this little plane ride into Pokhara. There was a lot of doubt (on our part) around the kind of aviation regulation standards in Nepal vs. what we’re use to. We did survive, and it was a bit thrilling (read: terrifying) to watch out of the windows of our little plane as we took off… directly at the mountains and climbed hella fast to get over them.

We got in early enough in the day to explore Pokhara.  Although we were given the option to do whatever we like, our trekking group decided to head to the Stanti Stupa together… because you know, we needed to warm up for the mountains. After a quick ride, we arrived at Phewa Lake.  Sunil secured us some boats and we rowed ourselves over to Anadu Hill and began the climb.  Shanti Studpa, the Peace Pagoda, is situated 1100 meters up and it definitely gets the blood flowing.  Our group opted to hike at different paces and we ended up having plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful views from the hilltop.  After the knee-testing trek back down we all were dropped in town to do a little shopping.

We collect paintings and were able to get some for ourselves and as gifts for our family.  We also got to pick up a few last minute things before heading into our trek.  After making our way back to the hotel for dinner, we got to meet our porters for the trip.  We turned in early after separating our things: what was staying at the hotel and what was coming with us.

Day 3: Ghandruk

We officially started our trekking adventure.  We woke up early for breakfast and then jumped into our Jeeps. It was a crazy ride to say the least. We made it to the check in, i.e. where you show all the permits and whatever else you need to prove that your ducks are indeed in order.  We got all checked in and by we, we mean Sunil checked us in and we ate a snack. Off again… and wait… nevermind.  We were suppose to drive a little further in Kimche, but the road was under construction and un-driveable.   We started walking via the road construction and up to sleep at Ghandruk at 1940 meters. 

This teahouse is adorable. There were nice views of the Annapurna and Fishtail Mountains. There is wifi and charging plugs.  They had hot water so we took quick showers and even though we didn’t want to, washed our hair. As we get up higher we will be advised as to when to stop letting our hair get wet because it won’t dry anymore.

Our first tea house

Since KE is a British company they seem to really push tea time during our adventures and we aren’t complaining. We also got to admire our porters as they trekked in shortly behind us, in jeans, and not a drop of sweat.  Um… wanna let us in on the secret?

After settling in we got to explore the neighborhood. We also got to witness the parade that happens every Tuesday of April to celebrate the upcoming new year. Also, shout out to Sunil for making us some bomb celiac-friendly French fries.

Day 4: Chhomrong

Well we discovered that similar to Thailand, Nepal’s New Year is also in April.  So last night was a celebration Tuesday.  So… there were drums going off all night.  There was a lot of excitement about a chicken as well.  Even with all the celebrating, we got a pretty decent night sleep and the beds were quite comfortable and there were heavy, warm comforters. We were rewarded this morning with a beautiful sunrise and mountain views. 

Well, no turning back now.  We continued our trek upward to sleep in Chhomrong at 2170 meters.  Although it was a nice long hike, it wasn’t very difficult. We opted to stay a little bit behind the group and hike up more rapidly. It gave us a lot of extra time to enjoy the views.

Unfortunately for us there was heavy cloud coverage when we got into Chhomrong and the views were very limited so we did a little walk around the town.

Day 5: Tadapani

Although we went to bed without seeing any pretty views from our tea house (hello clouds), we woke up to this beautiful view.

Oh and the down jackets we paid to rent are starting to come in real handy.  After a morning lavender latte (it was fantastic) and breakfast we were off to Tadapani and up to 2630 meters.

Day 6: Dobato (Isharu)

Up up up, and off we go.  Today was the most elevation gain for the trip. 

Positive: we got to see snow for the first time in a year.  Negative: it was on our path.  It wasn’t enough that crampons would have been necessary, but it was enough that everything was wet and we played slip and slide (…off the mountain).

Most of us survived and we settled in at Dobato at 3420 meters.  Today we are starting to feel the effects of elevation.  We are really fortunate to not get true elevation sickness. Similar to when we hike at elevation back home, we are increasingly tired and less hungry.  We ate some of the dense bars we brought to ensure we got some calories in without having to eat a lot.  We both called it a night really early because of the elevation and because of the pre-sunrise hike tomorrow.

Day 7: Chistibung

Last night we stayed in a newer community teahouse.  We were really amazed on how much we are enjoying these places.  It’s a completely different experience than a European holiday, but still relaxing.  Weird since we’re hiking up some really large mountains, right?

Today we started the morning before the sunrise we a hike to the viewpoint at Muldai (3640m).  Our guides were, per usual, amazing and brought tea for us all to share and enjoy the sunrise.  The clouds cleared up just in time for us to get some great photos before we headed back for breakfast.  It was crazy to have such perfect views one minute and then watch everything disappear as the clouds rolled in.

Today’s hike wasn’t tough, but it did rain.  Got to breakout the raincoat and pants and we’re super happy with how well they did.  We made it to Chistibung at 3020 meters.

Keep a look out for Nepal Hiking Diaries Part 2!

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