A Perfect Week!
Following on from Tim’s “A Perfect Day” feature after our winter ascent of Aonach Beag in December I think it only fair that I respond with “A Perfect Week”. Yes, I’m the unnamed wearer of a Pinnacle Jacket in some of Tim’s images and it truly was a memorable weekend in Scotland.
Anyway, where did we get to in “A Perfect Week” – Nepal of course, where else?
Tim and I proved that you don’t need a month to enjoy a trip to Nepal and met up in Delhi Airport in January to prove the point with just a week available to us both:
Day 1: We arrived in Kathmandu in time for an evening wander around Thamel with it’s colourful and vibrant shops before dinner. As soon as we’d taken off from Delhi we’d seen the Himalayas and the views improved as we got progressively closer to Kathmandu.
Day 2: Buddha Air delivered us safe and sound to Pokhara where a half hour transfer saw us at the road head for a five night trek up to the impressive mountain viewpoint of Tara Top. An afternoon walk across a suspension bridge to the Akala Mandir hindu shrine saw us continuing towards Machhapuchhre (6,993m) and our campsite at a friendly farm.
Day 3: Our morning walk to the village of Bhurjung was to enable our trekking permits to be checked by ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) staff before we were allowed to head up into the Annapurna foothills with our small support crew. We paused briefly for lunch in Kharjung before continuing up to Ghalekarka and the ridge top campsite (1,850m). ACAP approve a local ladies village co-operative to run a shop in their campsites so we were duty bound to make a token purchase to support the local economy. We enjoyed the beers with our dinner that night!
Day 4: Today involved a fairly challenging 1,000m climb up to the Tara Top (2,808m) mountain viewpoint. The trail was up through the rhododendron forest which provided shade from the warm sun. The Annapurna panorama was superb from our campsite and we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon soaking up the views. Once again, in order to support the local economy, we treated ourselves to beer with dinner.
Day 5: Leaving Tara Top behind, we descended through the forest before contouring for a couple of hours before the final walk down to our next campsite at Parche (2,200m). From here, after lunch, we walked over to the Gurung village of Sikles where 400 houses provide homes to approximately 2,500 residents, mostly farming families. Sikles is in a spectacular location below Lamjung Himal (6,932m), and a walk around the town provides an insight into the traditional life styles of these Gurung families.
Day 6: Well, what goes up in Nepali landscape terms, must come down and approximately 5,000 stone steps of descent proved this point during the morning. We reached the Modi Khola, some 1,000m below our campsite in need of lunch and a rest on the riverbanks. Continuing downstream after lunch, a section of the trail had washed away during the last monsoon. Fortunately though ACAP had installed simple bamboo walkways for people to use and we crept cautiously over these to the safety of the river bank beyond.
We should have reached our campsite soon after, in the school grounds at Lamahket, but there was no sign of our support crew who’d simply carried on up the track. We caught them up after another hour and camped in a farmyard at the invitation of the family. It was quite a cultural experience that evening and we saw traditional skills of mattress weaving and butter churning by the mother of the family. I’m told a dog barked outside our tent for four hours that night but I didn’t hear it. Having camped in noisy farmyards before, I took a sleeping tablet that night and enjoyed a sound sleep throughout the night.
Day 7: We walked for a couple of hours to the nearest village with buses and were soon back in Pohkara at our hotel. I’d been told our trek wasn’t particularly challenging and there were a couple of short days. These however, provided for a relaxing afternoon up at Tara Top and the afternoon spent exploring Sikles was memorable.
Day 8: A scary take-off with the aircraft lurching from side to side lasted only seconds and we were then on our way to Kathmandu for the night before catching our international flights home the next day.
Conclusion: I’m often asked by people to give advice on overseas trekking destinations and would happily recommend this trek to anyone who was short of time and could only spare a week to visit Nepal. The Gurung people in the settlements we passed through were exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Our support crew were a pleasure to work with and the food was some of the best I’ve ever experienced in fifteen years experience in Nepal.
Not many UK companies offer the Tara Top Trek but Skyline Events Limited offer it several times a year as a charity trek. One could therefore enjoy a trek in the Himalayas whilst raising funds for a favourite charity. Visit skylineevents.co.uk for further details.
We’ve had “A perfect Day” and “A Perfect Week” so watch out for “A Perfect Fortnight” which is due in July when I lead a small group to Ladakh in northern India to climb Stok Kangri (6,121m). This trip involves trekking through the impressive Ladakh landscape with a final day walking up easy angled snow slopes to the summit of Stok Kangri.
Visit www.themountaincompany.co.uk for further details.
Mini-slide shows of both the Tara Top Trek and Stok Kangri trip can be seen in the photography section of my website, or contact me for any information you might require.