Poonhill Charity Trek October 27th  - 3rd November.
A friend from Bahrain contacted me to organize a Charity trek to raise funds for Alia National School in Bahrain. Alia National School is for children who have autism and with Down syndrome. This was the second time a charity trek was organized to raise funds for this school. The first time was arranged in February 2011. A group of 8 trekkers from came from Bahrain. The group consisted of 4 Bahrainis – a family of 3 and a single Bahraini gentleman, an English couple, A Swedish gentleman and his Filipina wife. The whole trip was just a week long. Most of them arrived a day earlier than the planned day.

Kathmandu to Pokhara drive.
We left early at 7 am to avoid the heavy traffic coming out of Kathmandu valley in our private van. Our driver took us through the back roads avoiding the main highway. We were out of Kathmandu valley in a mere hour; I have heard stories of how it has taken as much as 5 hours to get to their homes once they reach the valley. The drive was quite uneventful with a few toilet stops, a coffee break and a lunch stop at a place called Gunadi – about 40km outside of Kathmandu. Despite being a mere 200 km distance, the winding road takes about 7 hours to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu. A couple of group members ran to the bar of our hotel the moment we arrived there. We checked in and agreed to meet in an hour to go walking, do some hiring of trekking gear and window-shopping. Most of us stuck together for a dinner of Galette and barbecue at the French Creperie, Khahare, Lakeside, Pokhara.

The Trek.
We left Pokhara after our breakfast on a 90-minute drive to Nayapul where alighted from our van and got into three jeeps for a further 45 minutes of the off-road ride to our starting point of the trek. Our support staff of porters, assistants and trekking chef was waiting for us at Nayapul where we changed vehicles. Our support crews were introduced to our trekkers before we started our trek. The first 25 minutes of our trek was undulating with short ascends and descends until the village of Tirkhedhunga. I came to learn that one of our trekkers was afraid of heights. However, she managed to cross two steel suspension bridges within the first 30 minutes and three more wooden bridges until the end of this trek. The next two hours was steep uphill climb on steps to Ulleri village where we stopped for lunch. We had a relaxing lunch break that was 2 hours long. The lodges make their food fresh after it is being ordered which can take between one hour to ninety minutes depending on how many different varieties of dishes are ordered and by the number of trekkers that have ordered their meal. We only had one more hour of trekking before we stopped for the night at Banthanti.

The Hike to Ghorepani.
We woke up to a bright morning after a windy night, which blew away the clouds making the Himalayan peaks visible. The hike takes place in a beautiful forest setting at a much gentler gradient. The trekkers stopped for numerous photos in the picturesque setting. The forest we walked through is radiant with beautiful Rhododendrons and Orchids during the spring season. We stopped for an early lunch at Nangethanti as the walk this was only three and a half to four hours long. Our trekkers from Bahrain enjoyed the warmth of the sun, and a couple of them enjoyed a bottle of beer. The beautiful forested walk continued for another 90 minutes before we reached Ghorepani. Ghorepani is set on top of a hill with stunning views of The Dhaulagiri and Annapurna range on clear days. It was cloudy when we got there. Some peaks got visible when the clouds descended, as the air temperature became cooler.

The Hike to Ghorepani

Poonhill for Sunrise.
We got up at 5 am and left the hotel at 5.20am for Poonhill for sunrise. We could see a line of headlamps both in front and behind us. Ghorepani has many lodges, and it is one of the most popular spots for trekkers. It is a junction for trekkers to come from 3 directions. We saw that it was a foggy morning as the early light hit us on the way to Poonhill. Several groups of trekkers were on their way down as it was both hazy and cloudy. We heard cheers from the excited trekkers when the views got clear, as we got close to our destination. We arrived on time for the clouds to clear up in time for sunrise. Our team treated the trekkers with a cup of hot chocolate which was much appreciated. We returned to Ghorepani after admiring the views and having taken photographs. We finished packing up our duffel bags before having breakfast.

Poonhill for Sunrise

Trek to Tadapani.
This was going to be the longest day for the trekkers from Bahrain as we had hiked an hour to get to Poonhill, 45 minutes down for breakfast and we had four and a half hours more to go. We started the hike with an ascent up to Deurali pass and began descending to Banthanti where lunch was pre-ordered by our staff. It was chilly, and the weather had turned cloudy as usual at Banthanti. We were glad to be moving after lunch to get warm. We had 20 minutes of undulating terrain in a Rhododendron forest before descending to a small stream, the final leg of this day's hike a was 45-minute climb to Tadapani, our destination for the night. Everyone in the group was tired, and everyone went off to bed by 7.10 pm after dinner. There was some family feud going on at the lodge where we stayed. Most of our group members heard when they first went to bed but soon fell asleep; that was how tired they were. Our staff had to go and ask the family to stop their racquet. Fortunately for everyone, they stopped quarreling.

The final day of the trek.
We woke up another gloriously clear morning with panoramic views of the Annapurna range at Tadapani. It was a moment for everyone to capture the beautiful mountains. We left Tadapani after breakfast. We had another morning of trekking in beautiful forests before we reached the Gurung village of Ghandruk. We trekked past the village to the road head for lunch. Our trekking chef had prepared a Thai meal for lunch that everyone appreciated. We boarded a bus for our 3-hour journey back to Pokhara. The trekkers bid farewell to our support crew upon reaching Pokhara, and we agreed to meet at 8 pm to go for our final dinner together as a group. We decided to go to Moondance – one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Pokhara. Everyone enjoyed their meal and as usual love their Lemon Meringue, which comes highly recommended. The group was going to split up at Pokhara as some had an extra night in Pokhara while others had an extra night each in Pokhara and Kathmandu. Overall it was another successful trek, and the majority of them will be coming back for more treks.

The final day of the trek

The following day 3 of us went to the airport to catch our domestic flight back to Kathmandu. I bid farewell to the couple that flew back to Kathmandu at the hotel. I had a lunch meeting with a new group that had arrived the previous day – the autumn trekking season is in full swing.  

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