Annapurna Sanctuary Trek - Final Day

Trip Start Feb 08, 2012
Trip End Jul 28, 2012

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Flag of Nepal  , Western Region,
Monday, March 5, 2012

Finally we were able to make a leisurely start to the day; sleep in and a slow breakfast before heading our way down the hill without hurry. Didn't help me though. I was up with the Sun, conditioned by the last 6 days of hiking. I went for a short walk to catch some last views of the mountains before coming back to the lodge to watch everyone Else's leisurely starts. We got on the road about 9pm with a 6 hour walk ahead of us to Birethanti where we would catch a taxi back into Pokhara. It was a fairly event free section of walking apart from a couple of funny situations.

The 1st happened after only an hour on the track where we came to the 1st road leading up into the mountain valleys. Surely enough, there were a couple of souvenir shops and a big 4wd. And surely enough we got offered a trip to town for only 600 Rupees/person (after a fair bit of good hearted haggling). It was seriously tempting, given we had just spent 6 pretty hard days on foot, but it also meant that we really wouldn't have finished the walk. With only 4 hours left,it wasn't that long and we could honestly say we had done the whole trek. But then, we could be traveling in the comfort of a nice 4wd to Pokhara where comfortable beds, clean clothes, cold beer and a big juicy steak awaited us. We decided to tough it out. We'd been going 6 days already and it was just 4 more hours.

A bit further down the hill, Jay and Tiina were in the lead when the track made a sharp left turn on to dirt road. I was a bit dubious that this was the right way, but followed without saying anything. Suddenly, I heard a high pitched shout and turned around to see a little girl point in the other direction. I looked where she was pointing and could see that the track continued downhill, partly hidden, from where we turned left. I told the others and we back-tracked to get back on the trail. The little girl was not long in bounding up to us and cheerily demanding payment for her guide services. "Chocolate?" she asked with a hopeful look on her face. The rule book for trekkers which tells us not to haggle, also tells us not to give anything to kids as they are constantly asking for sweets but in this case, I thought she deserved something so once again we broke the rules. Now I didn't have any chocolate (as it is more expensive here than at home), but I did have a full packet of local peanut cookies which I thought might cut the mustard. I pulled them out of my backpack and showed them to her, as if to ask "How about these instead?". Next thing I know, the whole packet of cookies was snatched out of my hand and there was a little dust cloud where the girl used to be. I called after her as a faded into the distance, but it was too late - I'd been done.

We got into birethanti at about 2pm and quickly found a 4wd taxi that would take all of us. Ironically, the best price we could get was the same as the offer we got 4 hours back up the trail, but that didn't matter. We'd done it! and in only 7 days (guide says 9-12 days). We enjoyed the trip back and soon found ourselves back in our Hotel. Washed and in clean clothed, we met up with the others and found a nice restaurant where we feasted on sizzling steak, chips and fresh vegies washed down with many bottles of Everest beer. And to add to the occasion, we found out that Holi (Hindu festival of colours), which is renowned as the funnest, rowdiest, messiest festival on the calendar was due to take place tomorrow. Our host Hemmint told us to prepare for a day of laughing until we cry... but more on that next post.

The Annapurna Base camp walk was such a great experience, I cannot recommend it strongly enough (if you like that sort of thing). It is challenging, sometimes scary and spectacularly beautiful. The diversity of the place and how quickly it can change only adds to the experience.
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