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Heaven on Earth: Ghorepani-Poon Hill Trek

For those who wish to trek through one of the most scenic routes in the world, a visit to the Annapurna region will have you traverse through dense forests and beautiful landscapes, with the pristine Himalayas never out of sight.

The highlight of the trek to the Annapurna region is Poon Hill, from where you can, on a clear day, view all peaks of the Annapurna range on a clear day. Surrounded by verdant forests on all sides, Poon Hill is a popular destination for local and foreign tourists alike. Especially famous as a short trek destination, Ghorepani-Poon Hill pulls is a crowd of up to 500 tourists everyday during the peak seasons.

This season though, Poon Hill hardly welcomed 40-50 visitors each day. The recent devastating earthquakes, the Indian blockade and the unrest in the Terai have affected this world-renowned destination of tourists.

The mountains still exude the same serenity, and are still calming and imposing. “The natural beauty has not changed, and the hotels are ready to serve the guests,” a local entrepreneur said on a recent visit, “But there are hardly any tourists.” Ghandruk, Ghorepani Poon Hill await visitors.

 

D2

 

From the lake city of Pokhara, Nayapul is a few hours drive away. From Nayapul, you will reach the Poon Hill view tower via Landruk, Ghandruk and Ghorepani. Every stop on this route will offer stunning views of the Himalayas. This route is also the most accessible one in Nepal with a range of food and accommodation options on offer during the 3-4 days it takes to complete the trek.

It is not only for the view that you should traverse this route. Every route is unique in its own way and the culture of the region’s inhabitants–the Gurungs and the Magars–make this trek an experience unlike any other in the country. For the lovers of nature, the route mostly consists of charming villages which will be reached through dense forests and vegetation.

(L to r) Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Braha peaks & Nilgiri respectively from the right from Poon Hill.

At 3,210m, Poon Hill’s viewpoint from which the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri range along with Nilgiri–a peak from Barhapeak, a collection of twelve peaks of the region–and Annapurna I (8,091m) can be seen. You can see the Annapurna South (7,219m) closer from Poon Hill than anywhere else. Apart from these, Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhre (6,993m) also make for a memorable experience.

D2.56-Tolkha-village

 

 


 

Checklist

Getting There

From Kathmandu, you can reach Pokhara either by car, or on a bus or via air. Dhampus is roughly a couple of hours ride away from Pokhara on a four-wheel drive. Dhampus can also be reached on a public bus.From Dhampus, Landruk is roughly a day’s trek away. You can spend a day in Landruk from where Ghandruk is only 4 hours trek away.

The next day entails a lung-busting trek of 8 hours to Ghorepani for those in good health. For anyone not in shape, Deurali, on the way Ghorepani, has good options for accommodation. The viewpoint on Poon Hill is around 1.15  hours away from Ghorepani. Reach there at 4 in the morning to see sunrise. This is the highlight of the trek where you will see the mountains turning gold with the rising of the sun.

From Poon Hill, you can return to Ghorepani for lunch. Those with more time can choose to stay here while most will return to Pokhara via Birethanti from where transportation to Pokhara is available.

Other attractions

The village of Ghandruk, which is on the way to Poon Hill, is a Gurung village and holds the Gurung Museum where artifacts of the local culture are curated. Expect a memorable evening here. The locals always host guest with lavish staging of cultural dance routines. Also worth noting is that the village, separated from the national grid, hardly has any power outages with electricity generated from its own local hydropower projects.

Around April-March, the region is red-clad with rhododendron blooming in the wild.

Places to Stay

Since the village is frequented by tourists, the hotels and lodges have standardised tariffs. It’s only after you leave you realise what you have been missing all along–the immense sense of community of the villagers and the genuine hospitality bestowed by the women of the community. Most of the region’s charming houses have home-stay accommodation on provision.

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