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Ghoripani Poon Hill Trek Day 2

Ghoripani Poon Hill Trek Day 2 Poon Hill

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

This blog post contains day 2 of our Ghoripani Poon Hill Trek and sight seeing tour.  To read about day 1 and how we came this far you can read Ghoripani Poon Hill day 1 and Annapurna Circuit Trek day 1.  This day was the best day for seeing spectacular landscapes and amazing rhododendron flowers.  The trail down to Nayapul was almost as amazing as hike up to Poon Hill; The rhododendron forests are enchanting.  This is my favorite trek.  I hope you enjoy it.

Morning Hike to Poon Hill

rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri
rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri 1

I woke up to the metallic “thank” and soft “thuds” of trekking poles and boots outside my room.  It was 5:00 in the morning and I wondered sleepily, “what are they doing out there?”  My eyes burst open 15 minutes later and I yelled “Poon Hill!”  I had to leave now if I was going to make it to the top for the sun rise.

I knocked on my guides door and he was still getting ready, so I waited for him in the dining room.  The owners asked if I wanted breakfast now or when I returned.  I opted for when we returned.  My guide came out of his room and we left for Poon Hill.

We joined a mass migration of people moving up the hill.  It was like a heard of buffaloes on the Midwestern plains.  I couldn’t believe how many people there were.

We were stopped by a ticket station as we started to climb to the top.  They were charging non-Nepali citizens $0.5 for entrance into the “Poon Hill Conservation Area.” A lot of people did not want to wait in line, so they went around the ticketing station.  The booth operators put up a bit of a fuss but did not stop anybody.  It was too cold and dark.

We began the 1,300-foot climb to Poon hill, which is at an elevation of 10,500 feet.  Trying to get to the top was like dodging the horse trains we encountered on the way up or like playing Frogger.  If you are a slower walker, please stay to one side of the trail.

Morning light at the top of Poon Hill

Poon Hill Sunrise Trek
Sunrise over the Annapurna Massif, Hiun Chuli, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhre

I came to a view point about half way to the top of the hill.  There is a cell phone tower and toilets here.  It also offered some great views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges.  When I arrived at this lookout post it was still dark, since I still had some time I kept going.

The path was surrounded by huge rhododendron trees that arched over the trail.  It was like walking through the Wisteria Tunnel in Japan.  It was incredible.

By the time I made it to the top of Poon Hill (20 mins later), the sky was getting lighter.  The sun still hadn’t rose yet, but you could see the mountains through a mild haze.  I raced up to the top of a viewing platform and started taking pictures.  However, most of the pictures did not turn out well.

Gurja Himal, Dhaulagiri 6, Jirbang, Dhaulagiri 4, 5, 3, 2, 1, and Tukuche Peak
Dhaulagiri mountain range over Poon Hill

The vista was awe inspiring and almost spiritual.  You can see the entire Dhaulagiri mountain range (Dhaulagiri 1, 26,795 ft), Nilgiri Himal, Annapurna 1 (26,545 ft), Anapurna South, Hiun Chuli, Gangapurna, and Machhapuchhre. You can see two of the tallest mountains in the world at one vantage point.

Annapurna Masiff
Annapurna Massif: Niligiri, Annapurna 1, Annapurna S, Hiun Chuli, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhre

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more beautiful, the sun started to rise.  The sun gently and slowly covered the tops of the mountains with pink and gold and clear light.  It eventually rose above Machhapuchhre and for a fraction of a second the mountains had pink halos and the sky was exceptionally clear.

Hiking down

Pink rhododendron flowers
Pink rhododendron flowers

A few moments later the halos were gone, and clouds started to block the views of the mountains.  It was time to go down.  Before returning, I took a few minutes to look around.  There was a coffee shop selling coffee and tea for $2 to $6 per cup.  I could understand drinking a hot beverage for warmth, because it was cold. I could not understand needing a coffee to wake up because the mountains were so amazing.

We began walking down to Ghoripani.  It was nice seeing the trail in decent lighting.  At sections the trees opened, and you could see the mountain side completely covered in red and pink blooms.  I took a few pictures and arrived at my hotel before I knew it.

We ate breakfast in silence at the hotel.  I was trying to remember everything I saw on top of Poon Hill.  The memories are still vivid months later.

After paying for the bill, we started hiking down to Nayapul.  This trail was about as beautiful as the trail up to Poon Hill.  Old and giant trees shaded the trail with their leaves while the sun shone through the semi opaque flowers casting red and pink spars of light on the forest floor.  Some of the trees had exposed roots that were gnarled around rocks and covered in green moss.

The trail began to clear of rhododendrons and were replaced by small villages.  It was sad to see it go.  More and more people began to pass us going up the trail and you could see their faces glow with excitement and anticipation.  They would not be disappointed.

Catching a ride to Nayapul and Pokhara

We crossed the Bhurungdi River in Ulleri and hiked a little further to Tikhedhungga.  It was at this point that the trail merged with a road and cars constantly passed us kicking up dust.  Since we still had a long way to go, my guide and I decided to take a taxi to Nayapul.

Pro tip: always bargain with taxi drivers and venders.  They anticipate it and mark up the prices to come down.

My taxi driver wanted to charge me $20 for the ride.  I started negotiating the price with him in Nepali and he came down to $3 per person.  The thing that made me the happiest was that he didn’t charge a different rate for the guide, because most people will charge Nepali people a lot less.

We passed a lot of people on our way to Nayapul.  I felt so bad because I know how horrible it is to walk in a cloud of dust.

We made it to Nayapul and caught a bus to Pokhara.  It was an amazing trip.

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