Volunteer Blog :
Carla's Blog : Carla's Blog 0002 - Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour
January 30, 2017; Monday
23:20 NST (Nepal Standard Time)
Since my friend and I left Germany in the end of September there was no doubt that the first thing we should do in Nepal would be trekking because October is the best time to get clear mountain views and the weather is great every day. So we decided to experience the country's beauty before we would go volunteering. [
Carla's Blog 0001 - Volunteering In Thulo Dhading ].
After arriving in this alien country without a real plan we spent three days in a guesthouse in Thamel (city centre) to get a first idea how things in Nepal work, to figure out which trek we would like to do, how it is best to do it and what we need. The first day walking through Thamel felt close to a culture shock. As I have never been in an Asian country, everything was strange, new and super exciting. There was so much new to see that I walked some streets a couple of times and still thought I had never been to that street before. Before we left, everybody told us to be extremely careful with food which made us really cautious and after almost each meal we thought we would get sick. However, at one point you just take the risk, and I mean, to have the runs is a part of travelling in Nepal as a foreigner. And the Nepalese kitchen is great so you don't want to miss out on that by just eating horrible made Western Pizza.
Back to our trekking plans: We quickly decided to do the Annapurna Circuit since it promises a vast diversity of landscapes. The hardest question was whether we need a guide or not. Our parents and all travel agencies told us of course that we should take one but on the internet, it said it is no problem to do it solo and we thought it would be more adventurous and we also would save a lot of money. In the end our adventurous spirits prevailed and we just bought a map and the permits you need to do the Annapurna Circuit (ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit) and TIMS Card (Trekkers Information Management System), both 20$).
On our fourth day in Nepal we finally hopped on a local bus which took us on an 8-hour ride to Besisahar, the starting point of the circuit. The ride was insane because the bus driver kept doing unimaginable overtaking maneuvers.
In front of a guesthouse in Besisahar we ran into four other Germans with whom we ended up trekking the whole circuit. At one of the last sections we met an American guy who convinced my friend, one of the German guys and me to do the Annapurna Basecamp as well.
All together we trekked over 300 Km in three weeks and a lot of meters in altitude through constantly changing nature. We started between rice fields, continued through the jungle with white-haired monkeys and leeches (I had at least three) until it got more and more alpine. The first highlight was Tilicho lake, according to Wikipedia the highest lake in the world at an altitude of 4,919 meters. Afterwards we passed the Thorung La, a mountain pass with an elevation of 5,416 meters. The air was quite thin up there but thanks to the acclimatization hike to Tilicho lake only one guy of our group had serious problems, so that he ended up crossing the pass on the back of a horse. Behind the pass there was a stone dessert waiting for us before we entered the jungle area again.
To reach the Annapurna Basecamp, the icing on the cake, we started at 4 o'clock in the morning. It was just stunning to watch the sunrise being surrounded by 8,000 meters peaks and having a cup of hot Masala Tea in your freezing cold hands.
I don't hesitate to say that it is no problem at all to do the trek by yourself especially if you do it in the high season like we did. You meet a lot of great people and there are teahouses and lodges all along the way. We often got to sleep for free because the owners of the lodges make their money with the food you consume. So just eat enough and they will be happy. The easiest food to get is definitely "Dal Bhat" (rice & lentil soup) because the Nepalese can't mess up on that and it is free refill so that you can store a lot of energy for the next day (Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour). However, you shouldn't scrimp on trying Yak-Burger or Snickers Roll - you will appreciate it for sure. Don't forget to take a set of playing cards and water purification tablets; it is not good to buy mineral water all along the trek because of all the plastic waste you produce.
The ever changing landscapes make the whole trek really entertaining and we always got surprised along the way. For example: When we reached Manang (3,700m), the last "big" spot before you start climbing towards the Thorung La we found a little cinema. Since we were six people, we just booked the whole place and watched Caravan while getting served hot tea and popcorn by the mother of the cinema owner.
All in all I can just say that everybody will make a big mistake if he/she misses trekking in Nepal!