Hiking on the roof of the Earth in the Himalayas

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It takes only 25 minutes to fly a Buddha Air propeller plane from Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, to the mountains of Pokhara City.

From there, I started with a small group for my three day hiking trip to the Annapurna Mountains. The flight is safer than the 8-hour bus ride on the bumpy Nepalese and heavy rainfall roads, I had heard. Landslides are very common, especially after rains, and car trips could be prolonged for many hours. Even though the plane curved sharply before landing, so my heart jumped strangely, it arrived without a hitch.

My first joyful observation at Pokhara was the purity of the air and the lush nature. This was a relief since I had had to wear respiratory protection in Kathmandu while I was outdoors due to the polluted air. The onset of flu also predicted it’s arrival, but I was determined to make the trip despite my illness.

Once we arrived at the hotel, we had to seek permits for hiking in the mountains. Four photos were needed for two different “mountain passes”. The Nepalese authorities are extremely cautious about their tourists, the home insurance number and the phone numbers of relatives had to be carefully written down.

Early the next morning, a four-wheeled jeep came in to pick us up. After a couple of hours on a bumpy road to get to the higher mountains. We couldn’t get any further by car, so we started hiking about a mile ahead, first across a village next to the farm fields.  The walking stick was a good idea to have for removing rocks and crossing waterfalls. We weren’t alone on the trails. Goats, oxen and donkeys traveled their own ways and were sometimes in the way.

The scenery was spectacular, both “indoors” in the woods and in open areas where the mountains looked their best in the sun..Not much of the coniferous trees were seen, but more of the Rhododentron roses that grow here.

The first night was spent at Tadapan’s Simple Lodge at an altitude of about 1.2 miles. At night I put on all the clothes I brought with me to keep myself warm and dry.

As the morning sun rose, I began to warm up as I admired the snowy mountain peaks in the morning fog.

The next day, hiking up and down the paths and stone stairs we ended up in the larger village of Ghorepan at an altitude of 1.7 miles. This place already felt like a city and there were a few small shops where you could buy postcards, sweets, toilet paper and more. We even found a German Bakery, where the cappuccino and chocolate croissants tasted heavenly good.

 

I wondered if the donkeys had carried all those things on their backs. On the path of the previous day, a bunch of donkeys passed us with heavy burdens on their backs.

One had large cages full of chickens on both sides of his back. Mountain villages are located in such tight spaces that helicopters cannot land on them.

Ghorepan’s Lodge felt quite luxurious, with a shower in every room and a communal dining room that was heated with a fireplace.

The morning of the third day we had a wake-up call at 4 am to watch the sun rise at Poon Hill, about 2 miles above sea level. An hour’s hiking in the dark – up up, up in the morning, sleepy, tired, with a navigation light on the forehead, a hat on and a pair of mittens on our hands. It was a spectacular sight to see all the hotel tourists hiking up the mountain with only a small headlamp. But seeing the sunrise replaced the arduous hike.

The surrounding mountains began to wake up to the rays of the sun. We paused and admired the view for half an hour in minus degrees before starting our journey back to the hotel for breakfast. It was like dancing in the daylight.

After breakfast, we started our final journey to the village of Uller,  where a jeep picked up our tired walkers.

 

On the way back, Buddha Air handed out a golden statue of Buddha to all the travelers.