Day 10: Marpha – Tatopani by bus/ hiking and bus.
Today we woke up early and left Marpha on a rickety old bus. It bumped and clanked down the road until we were stopped by surprise construction. Nara said we should get out and walk and we would make it to see the gorge in time before the bus got going. We hiked up and down and around the mountain on the dust Jeep road. Stopped for milk tea and met a cute puppy! Our friend from the last tea house, Enrique joined us at this point and we hiked along. He left us at the bridge to cross over to the harder (but less dusty trekkers path.
Eventually, we made it to the waterfall and gorge just in time to click a picture while our bus came thundering down the road. We jumped back on and headed for Tatopani. The bus was probably the scariest ride in my life as we bumped and thudded around the rocky path literally inches to the cliff’s edge, and of course, I had the window seat.
When we arrived we were shown to our tea house which was this lovely little compound type place with an amazing garden and orange trees in the middle of all the rooms. We had lunch and meandered around until it was time to check out the other (apparently better) hot springs.
Nara led us down the steep stone stairs and the edge of the tea house property to the road below, and right there were the hot springs. It was more like a communal hot bath where the hot water was natural. I felt unsure because the last hot springs Blair and I were pretty covered up and the hot springs were full of tourists, but this time we decided to wear our bikinis and the hot springs were full of locals!! I didn’t want to offend anyone but we jumped in the pool with mostly women and sat there a while. Nara called us over to the pool with mostly men and we sat there. A Nepali couple were kitty-corner to us and started making jokes and singing funny songs about how the husband was in love with a foreign girl but the wife needed him more so he stayed with her. It was really cute and all in good fun.
We headed back to the tea house after a few hours for beers and dinner. I had the best sleep of my life, without my sleeping bag (for the first time this entire trip)
Day 11: Tatopani – Ghorepani by Jeep/ hiking
Today is the day where we technically ended our Annapurna Circuit trek and began the Poon Hill trek. The Poon Hill trek is another common trek in the Annapurna region, popular among those with little time to spend in Nepal. It offers gorgeous views of Annapurna South, Machapuchare, Hinchuli, Annapurna III, Dhampus peak, Dhaulagiri II.
We had to wake up early to catch our Jeep. We tried something weird off the menu called a coffee lassi and it was very interesting! Tart like plain yogurt with a semi-sweet finish. I probably won’t order it ever again but I’m glad I tried it. We caught our Jeep and rode 3 hours though the bumpy, muddy mountain (again on the side of a cliff) through rivers and over rocks to Ghorepani. We got stuck 10 minutes away from the city and had to walk, typical haha. Nara showed us to our room and we have a lovely terrace. Blair and I hung around the terrace until lunch.
Blair and I stayed in all evening keeping warm and hanging out. We had to be up at 4 am tomorrow to do the Poon Hill trek for sunrise.
Day 12: Ghorepani – Tatapani by hiking
Today we pulled ourselves out of bed to leave right at 5. We began our 1-hour uphill descent and soon the trail was packed with many trekkers, blinding headlamps in tow. We slowly made our way to the top as the sun was turning the sky orange. I was afraid we wouldn’t make it for sunrise but we got up there in time to set up my time-lapse and have tea. Finally, the sun broke over Dhaulagiri and soon flooded the area with light. We sipped our last bit of tea, took some photos, and started our descent for breakfast.
After breakfast, we packed our stuff and started off for Tatapani (meaning far away water). The trail led us up At least 1000 steps to start and I was quickly out of breath. The middle part leads us through rhododendrons and trees covered in prayer flags. It was stunning. We stopped for lunch at a little tea house before continuing on.
We walked down and then up through a beautiful rhododendron forest!
Day 13: Tadapani- Ghandruk by hike
Today we had an easy three hour downhill hike to Ghandruk. The forest was magical, all the trees and rocks were covered in moss and we passed many streams and waterfalls. It reminded me of what the Irish might call a faerie forest.
We hung out at the tea house and in the afternoon Nara showed us around old Ghandruk. Wrapped up the side of a traditional Nepalese home we saw bright orange flowers. Nara picked some of the leaves and ate them! We were a bit shocked but we tried the flower petals too, they tasted peppery and delicious!
We also stumbled on an end of life ceremony. Everyone seemed quite cheerful despite the loss, we watched a group of men playing a coin toss game (gambling for money) and some women and kids stood around to watch too.
We enjoyed a nice meal and celebratory beer at the tea house that evening.
Day 14: Ghandruk – Pokhara by bus
Today we took the bus back to Pokhara, not too eventful.
Finally being able to relax in Pokhara was like a dream. Short-lived because we were soon bombarded by constant Covid updates, causing us to stress about our flights and if we would be able to get out of Nepal or not.
We had amazing Indian food and walked around lakeside Pokhara for a few hours before having beers at Busy Bee cafe
Today we woke up still drunk from the night before and dragged our asses to Sarangkot for sunrise. It was beautiful despite being ill-prepared and cold. Nara dropped us off back at the hotel, we had two hours to recover and eat before leaving again for the rest of the day’s activities. I took this time to nap, gobble down the hotel breakfast then run out to buy some clean pants (clean clothes are scarce on this trip). We set off for Davis falls, Guptweshwor Mahadev caves (one of my favorite places in Nepal), and the world peace pagoda. All of which were more magical and fun than the last time I visited them (2 years ago) I think it’s different going with friends vs going with people from a hostel.
We climbed down the jungly side of the mountain to the lake where we hired a boat to bring us back to the lakeside. Blair and I checked out this middle eastern restaurant for a second lunch, then walked down the lakeside. It’s eerily empty and the vendors were less willing to get our attention this time. We walked past the fishery where I had never been before (basically the whole lakeside trail) and it was amazing! I felt sad that I missed that part last time. That area of Pokhara seems like it was almost untouched from the hippie dharma days. All the hippy type of tourists were there. We made our way back on the road to catch a movie at Movie Garden.
We slept like kings that night.
(For more information on visiting Pokhara check out my other article “Pokhara: a perfect paradise”)
Day 16: Another early morning this morning as we had to catch our bus for 730. We scrambled to find a place that was open for breakfast that early and settled with rock hard croissants. We made it to the bus terminal which had been moved to renovate the old one.
8 hours later we were in Kathmandu.
You can tell you’re getting closer by how thick the layer of dust is on the sidewalks.
This brought us to the end of our trek, I was thankful to be out of the wilderness, although we still had the anxiety of being able to get home or not. At that point, Covid didn’t hit Nepal (although it was coming) and we enjoyed our last few days of peace in Kathmandu
Now, months later I’m home safe (although it was a nightmare getting home) and I’m happy that I was able to reflect on the trek with a clear head. I’m glad to have had that experience and adventure, and I’m glad to have met new and amazing friends in Blair and Nara, I wouldn’t change that trek for the world.