Ghandruk: A short trek with a long list of memories
“A distance of 15 kilometers, 6 hours of walking and 2,200 meters high”. That is the best way to describe my trek to Ghandruk. Considered as one of the easy routes in the Annapurna Region, it takes around 3-4 days to complete the trek. But we had a tight schedule and limited money, so we decided to push ourselves to complete this adventure in 2.5 days.
Our trip began with a bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara, where we rested for the night before our big trip to Ghandruk. The next day, after a nice heavy breakfast, we set off to Baglung bus stand to head towards Nayapul, the starting point of the trek.
A bumpy bus ride
“Can we really do this? Can 2 guys who seldom exercise survive this trek? Can we survive the cold weather?” With all these questions in my head, the two of us cramped into a heavily packed bus for a bumpy and nearly vomiting ride. After 2 hours, we finally reached Nayapul. A word of advice, do sort out your fears before your journey and if you have money, spend it on better transportation.
A German link
We were happy to be accompanied by a German couple. The trip got more fun and interesting with their never ending questions about the place and Nepal. We enjoyed talking to them as much as they enjoyed practicing their English skills. It is always nice to make friends and meet new people in such journeys and learn few things from them as well.
A sight for sore eyes
After an hour of walk along the banks of Modi River, we finally saw the mighty Annapurna (8091M), and Machhapuchhre (Holy mountain or Fishtail, 6993m). I don’t know if it was the long walk or the view, but we were clicking pictures of anything and everything we laid our eyes on. The sights were beautiful and it was fun being a tourist in our own nation. I think we were more excited than a 10 year old school girl.
The stepping stone
The first one and a half hour was fun and easy with uphill walk. But then came, what seemed like the never ending stone steps. Walking for a couple of flights of stairs was one thing but to go through it for multiple hours was really, really exhausting. It made me wonder if we were too ambitious to think about finishing the trek in 2.5 days. What motivated us were the spectacular views of the Annapurna range and the helpful locals.
Where did all the meat go?
Our heavy breakfast was wearing off, so we decided to take a tea break after conquering a couple of hundreds of steps. What’s interesting was, you could find food easily but you couldn’t find any meat or fish products. If you are a meat lover, I suggest you to pack some for this trip. What you will find is the staple food of Nepal the Dhal Bhat with vegetables or egg curry.
The annoying 2 hours to go sign
After our lunch, we picked up on our journey. We came across a small school building with nice wall murals of flags from around the world which supported tourism and world peace. I was excited thinking that we have reached Ghandruk. I swear, I almost cried when I saw the writing on the wall “3.75km – 1.5 to 2 hours to go”. AGAIN??!! Though the Germans were happy to see their national flag printed on the wall, the “2 hours more” sign was starting to annoy them too (as we’d seen 2 hours written somewhere along the way like 2 hours ago!).
After walking for 5 and half hours of trails, stone steps and small streams there it was, Ghandruk, the oldest of the Gurung villages. We were so proud to have made it to this Paradise Land of the brave Gurkhas. As being the most popular tourist destination for short treks, finding a hotel was easy. The hotel we stayed in had hot showers, with excellent Nepali cuisine, all what we needed after the tiresome day.
I was getting restless now, thinking that I’m in Ghandruk and I don’t have much time to spare. I decided to take a stroll through the village. Sher Jung Gurung, our hotel manager provided me with a guide (his 11 year old son) to guide me through the village. He took me to a local museum. It was a traditional Gurung museum with artifacts relating to the ancient reign of the Gurkhas and present Gurung practices. He tells me that the locals have installed solar panels everywhere around the village and are load shedding free (frequent power cuts is very common in Nepal especially in winters). As there was a cultural program to be held in our hotel, the kid urged me to return.
So long Ghandruk!
It was a proud moment for me to have completed this trek. This marked my first adventure travel and I wish to conquer Everest someday.
The place felt like a paradise for someone from the city and I wondered how it felt like to our German friends who came so far from home and so far from civilization. The place was beautiful with the view of the mountains and humble people. It was an easy downhill journey back. I was smiling all the way back, reminiscing my trip to Ghandruk.