this post chronicles our one day of prep in kathmandu and then our first three days of hiking along the annapurna circuit, a popular trekking route in the himalayas. our time on the trail ended up being ten days, and it was a truly remarkable experience. we saw more spectacular beauty than we could have ever expected, and we interacted with really amazing people (fellow trekkers and local folks) along the way. it was really an epic adventure.
the annapurna circuit is such a great way to see the himalayas because it is a really challenging hike through very remote and fantastically gorgeous, changing landscape, but food, water and accommodation are very plentiful along the way. all the way up to about 15,000 feet there is a village every 3-4 hours of hiking with guesthouses that include cot beds, sufficient bathrooms, simple restaurants and sometimes even a hot shower! the entire circuit takes up to 28 days; we decided to do about half (up and over the high point and then descending back to about where we started). we met fellow trekkers from all over the world, loved the food, were grateful we packed as light as possible for hugely different climates, only got a few blisters, and were totally blown away by the scenery, which transformed pretty much every single day. there were some times when it was a bit miserable, but many more when it was quite a bit exhilarating, triumphant, and really fun.
while we were hiking, a devastating earthquake hit nepal. we were incredibly fortunate to be safe. i’ll share more of our experience with the earthquake in upcoming posts.
after we crossed the border into nepal, we had an awesomely chaotic experience buying tourist entry visas and finding the jeep we had “booked” to take us to kathmandu. then, we were in for a six hour extremely bumpy ride squished in the back seat. the scenery outside the window was a stunning introduction to nepal, a country we totally fell in love with.
once we got into the bustling city, we were transfixed looking out the window. so much so that i didn’t even snap a single picture. we moved through traffic and through hoards of vibrant humanity. nepal reminded me a lot of india, and i loved that vaguely familiar feeling of colorful chaos. it’s impossible to describe.
after we arrived in central kathmandu, we found the office of the trekking agency that had helped us obtain permits and flights for our hike through the himalayas, and then set out on the streets of the thamel neighborhood to buy a few things we needed for our days trekking. thamel is stuffed with people, colors, hiking equipment, and life. it was a little crazy finding what we needed, but pretty soon we were all set to head to the mountains.
^^ i spotted this monkey on the telephone wires! apparently there are loads of them around kathmandu!
after unpacking and repacking our bags at our hotel (we left about half of our stuff in kathmandu while we were hiking), we had a good night’s rest before heading to the “trailhead” in a town called besisahar, about 4 hours from kathmandu. the drive was again full of beauty and interesting sights. we had lunch and then started our trek, not knowing what an adventure we were in for!
^^ our first peek of the snow-capped himalayas! ^^
^^ the very, very beginning of our long journey on foot ^^
^^ this young boy walked with us and practiced his english for a couple of hours. fast new friend. ^^
^^ the first couple of days we saw lots of crops growing up the sides of the mountains. it was amazing, and really beautiful! ^^
^^ it was more jungly and more hot and humid than we had expected. we wondered quite a bit during the first few days why we were carrying so many warm clothes as we sweltered under the warm warm sun. but later on we were sure glad we had brought all those layers! ^^
^^ there were tons of waterfalls along the trail. we filled up our water bottles very often the first few days since were sweating so much in the heat. we brought a steripen with us, which was an excellent purchase. it purifies water using uv light – amazing! it was pretty neat to drink right out of the waterfalls! ^^
^^ we crossed a lot of these suspension bridges, over the river that the trail followed. ^^
^^ tiny villages burrowed into the mountainsides. ^^
^^ we walked through several villages each day. i loved the colorful paint and the happy people who would always greet us with a friendly namaste as we trekked on through. ^^
^^ this is an example of a guesthouse room – all were a little different, but most about this level of luxury :) ^^
^^ the trail was constantly changing – narrowing or widening or becoming very steep or flat through a valley. ^^
^^ we passed lots of local people carrying goods along the trail to stock up the shops and guesthouses. they were always faster than us! //on day two (yes, we are wearing the same clothes…) we stopped for lunch in this pretty town. ^^ every day we ate dhal bat, which is all-you-can-eat veggie curry, rice and lentils. really yummy.
^^ by day three (yes, still the same clothes…) the landscape had turned from dense mountain jungle to more rocky-mountain-feeling. the vegetation continued to thin out with each passing day! ^^
^^ our night three guesthouse. so colorful! and they had hot water for a much-needed bucket shower, and a rooftop to eat momos (nepalese dumplings) on! ^^
^^ our dinner view ^^
^^ every morning we woke up excited to see our surroundings, because the afternoon clouds always obstructed views by the time we arrived at a guesthouse. above the building here you can see the mountains we were about to head right into! ^^
to be continued!