For many travelers, Nepal is synonymous with trekking, with numerous trekking routes in the country. Of course, the most popular routes are the ones to Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Base Camp. But for travelers with limited time, budget, and stamina, there are short moderate treks as well. One of these is the Annapurna Panorama Trek (alternatively known as Ghorephani Trek or Poon Hill Trek). This was the one recommended to me by Adventure Hero, the outfit I booked with, when I inquired about a trek that would last less than a week and would be manageable for a an amateur trekker.
On our second day in Nepal, my sister and I, along with our trek guide Rawal, take a short flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, where we meet our porter Pawan. We then ride a taxi to Nayapul, the usual starting point for this trek. We buy a couple bottles of water and some packs of chips at a street-side store and then proceed with the trek.
It’s a 30-minute walk to the next town of Birethanti, where we stop by the ACA ticket office. The trek route is part of the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), so we have to get an ACA permit, which costs 3000 rupees (USD 25). We then climb a series of steps and have lunch at a restaurant overlooking the river.
Tummies field, we continue with a series of steps until we reach a dirt road at the top. It’s a gentle ascent along the road, passing by rice fields and rivers. Ninety minutes later, my sister, who is doing her first major trek, has become exhausted and asks us to rest at another roadside store. She then comes up with the idea of taking a jeep the rest of the way to our next stop, which is supposed to be Ulleri.
Rawal asks the store owner to call for a jeep, and minutes later, a white jeep picks us up and begins the rocky drive up the towns of Tikhedunga and Ulleri. However, instead of stopping in Ulleri, Rawan decides to go to the next town of Banthanti, where the road ends. It saves us having to traverse a very steep ascent (Rawal anticipates that my sister might not manage it), and it allows us to leave a little later the next day.
In Banthanti, we stay at the Mountain View Guest House, a quaint lodging at the edge of the mountain. The temperature drops and the slight drizzle exacerbates the cold. We rest for a bit and then have dinner shortly after.