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Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri range above Poon Hill
Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri range above Poon Hill

This was a short 2-day trek extension of my Annapurna Circuit trek.  We started in the trek in Tatopani after finishing the Annapurna Circuit Trail.  We made it to Ghorepani in 7.5 hours.  The Ghorepani Poon Hill trek was very pleasant with few annoyances.  I met a very nice school teacher on the trail and saw some cool orchids.  The highlight of the trek was hiking through the amazing rhododendron forests.  So beautiful.  If you love flowers, hiking, or amazing mountain vistas, keep reading; this blog post is for you.

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Waving good bye to the hot water springs

I arrived in Tatopani at night time.  This only left enough time for dinner and sleep.  I woke up this morning at about 5:45, packed my gear, and met my guide for breakfast at 6:30.  We were on the trail by 7:00.  This did not give us an opportunity to relax in the hot springs.  Therefore, we skipped them completely. I regret it a little because I don’t have pictures to show you.

We walked through Tatopani for 20 minutes before we had to transfer to the main road.  At the road there was an ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit) check point.  We didn’t have to wait in line or breath in clouds of dust because there wasn’t a lot of traffic this early in the morning. We walked on the road for 15 minutes before hiking over a bridge and transferring to a better hiking trail.

Nilgiri south above Tatopani
Nilgiri south above Tatopani

I had the most amazing view of Nilgiri South as we were crossing over the bridge.  Nilgiri stuck with us for most of the trek to Ghorepani.  We could also see Annapurna South too.  The vegetation at this point in the trek was tropical.  I saw one cool species of orchid.  My friend later identified it as Dendrobium longicornu.

Orchids
Orchids on a tree

The trail to Ghoripani Poon Hill

As I hiked up the mountain the climate became cooler and the vegetation changed to deciduous oaks and pines.  I was starting to get very upset because I was promised rhododendrons; so far, I had not seen any.

My guide and I came to a small trail leading straight up the hill.  He asked if I wanted to take it.  I opted for the longer flatter trail.  He took the side trail and told me he would meet me at the top of the road.  I didn’t see him again until I got to Ghoripani.

The trail had merged with the road, and it was coated with the finest silt.  I instantly regretted not going up the side trail with my guide because a car came and wrecked my lungs with dirt.  I felt like I was breathing clods of dirt and my lungs felt like they were filled with kerosene.  It hurt so bad.

I met a school teacher, at about this time, who was also hiking up to Ghoripani Poon Hill.  It was nice to walk with somebody other than my guide.  We passed several small villages Ghara, and Shikha with only the excitement of the day to day activities of rural village life.

As I climbed higher the mountains in the background steadily and proudly rose up and made themselves known.

Lunch in Chitre

We stopped in Chitre, and my new trekking partner had some lunch.  I watched a young boy with a mental impairment roll a large stone to the edge of a retaining wall over a major walk way.

It looked like a setup from the Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner show.  I couldn’t wait as I was already starting to get the giggles.

The young boy waited there until somebody walked passed and then pushed it over the edge.  It narrowly missed a man, who became furious.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  It was like watching my childhood cartoons come to life.

The man started yelling at this kid and tried to hit him several times.  But the kid was way out of reach, at least 4 feet above the man.  It was entertaining to watch the madness ensue until it became obvious that the child, despite his chromosomal oddity, was still smarter than the man trying to hit him.

The kids mother came out and yelled at the man, then took the kid inside her house.

“Well, are you ready to go?” I asked my new trekking friend.  She had her face stuffed with a sandwich and muffled out “foal awn, et me fem”, which I translated to: hold on, let me finish.  I walked around for a few more minutes.

The rhododendrons are in bloom

Red Rhododendrons
Red Rhododendrons

We started trekking again.  Soon after leaving Chitre, we came to a beautiful old growth rhododendron grove.  The grove was about 12 trees large, but they were in full bloom and beautiful.  They grew on a hill overlooking the mountains.  It was extremely picturesque, but also cloudy.

I took pictures for 15 minutes before continuing.  From here onward the trail was lined by beautiful trees in bloom.

We passed another village with an ACAP check point.  “Oh, you cotton headed ninny muggins”, I thought to myself.  My guide has my TIMS card and ACA permit.  The only thing I could do was to go talk to the officer and explain my situation.

The officer was extremely nice.  She said it was ok to go ahead because my guide will check in for me.  I asked my guide about it later and he said he checked in.

After we hiked for another 15 minutes up the trail we hear “ding, ding” and “clickity clack.” A horse train was carrying supplies up to Ghoripani Poon Hill. It was cool to see the horses with bells around their necks walking up the trail.

About 30 minutes away from Ghoripani Poon Hill, the landscape ignited with color.  The trees displayed deep vivid reds and bright fluorescent pink flowers.  A few other trees had starchy white flowers.

The whole scene resembled an intricately embroidered sari with random and chaotic designs.  The landscape looked like red hot glowing coals spread across green silk.  It was stunning to see.

From this point on the hike was exceptionally blissful!  The rhododendron forest was amazing.  The flowers popped off the trees like a jubilee of fireworks celebrating the coming monsoon rains.

Entering Ghoripani Poon Hill

Ghoripani Poon Hill enterance
Ghoripani Poon Hill enterance

The trail coming into Ghoripani Poon Hill is cobbled with flat stones and the trees tower over you like a starry night sky.  When you reach Ghoripani, the trees give way to developments, concrete and a bustling market place.

The city is small with about a dozen hotels, only four shops, and a rather seedy pool hall.  Tibetan handicraft vendors line the narrow streets.  They don’t really bother you, unless you start looking at their products.  Then they won’t leave you alone.

I walked around a little bit, talking to the hotel owners and seeing which places suited me.  I eventually settled on the Annapurna View Lodge Hotel and Restaurant.  It was inexpensive with decent amenities and the owners were extremely nice.

The Annapurna View Lodge Hotel and Restaurant has hot showers, eastern style toilets and very clean rooms. The rooms did smell a little like cigarettes though.  The rooms are less than 100 square feet and do not have a charging outlet.

Click the link here to read about day 3 of the trek.

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