A trek to remember

  • Journey On
  • A fan of short treks? Panchase should be on your cards. By Louise Watsham
A trek to remember

Apr 16, 2015-

With only six days in Pokhara, I wanted to see all of the usual tourist sites, but I also wanted to experience a small slice of the trekking circuit. I don't necessarily qualify as your archetypal ‘trekking fanatic’ but in my eyes it’s almost mandatory to go on at least one trek if you’re visiting Nepal—after all it’s one of the most famous trekking destinations in the world. 

After being informed that the Poon Hill’s duration was six-days and the Annapurna Base Camp trek could take anything between eight to a staggering twenty-five days, I was starting to lose hope. A Nepali friend suggested Panchase to me and said he would accompany me on the trek as he had completed it many times before—now there was an offer I couldn't refuse!

Described as ‘a peaceful short trek at the bottom of the Annapurna mountains,’ Panchase’s three-day trek offers something for everybody by welcoming all ages and fitness abilities. I completed the Panchase trek in late November of 2014. Contrary to popular belief, November isn’t a peak time for trekking (September and October are recommended) but I was extremely lucky with the weather, the skies were the bluest I’ve ever seen.

Not requiring any permits or fees, we set on a motorbike from Lakeside and headed 15km west of Pokhara to Kande where the ascent begins. As we started to drive upwards on the struggling motorbike it became clear why trekkers either walk or get the bus, the terrain was particularly uneven, varying between rocks and mud. On the plus side, we had the option of stopping whenever we desired on this beautifully cultured trail. The views were unparalleled with anything else I had previously witnessed in Nepal ranging from subtropical valleys of banana trees and rice paddies to high ridges covered in rhododendron forest. As we drove through the local villages, we received a warm welcome from several natives hailing from many ethnicities.

Eventually after an exhilarating four-hour drive we arrived at Deurali where we checked in to Happy Hearts Guest house, run by three Nepali sisters. The location was awe-inspiring, so much so that one guest even stayed over for a whole year, as informed by the sisters.

The next day we arose at 5:30am to view the sunrise and boy was it worth the early alarm call—despite the freezing temperatures! As the sun kissed the tip of Mount Fishtail, it just didn't seem real, the mountains looked so regal up-close and the sky—so fiery and full of life. 

The climb itself was great fun, saturated with luscious tropical trees and orchids, excellent for those who enjoy bird-watching. My friend's energy kept me going even when my fitness levels had other plans. As we marched further up the paved steps the air became thinner but his positive spirit and encouraging words kept me going, all the way to 2,432m. Once we reached the summit I recalled how my brother had reacted to my trekking plans, "yeah, whatever" he had said. But here I was, with my heads literally in the clouds, I felt high on life. A local man kindly made us some tea and after a brief rest it was time to head back down to civilisation.

The hardest part, as they say, really is the descent, it puts a huge deal of strain on your knees. We arrived back at Happy Hearts Guest House, with happy hearts but exhausted feet. The next day we were back at Lakeside and my mini-trek felt like a dream. Although a short but sweet adventure, Panchase will be one of my fondest memories from my time in Nepal. I certainly caught the trekking bug. Watch out Annapurna, you’re next. 

Published: 16-04-2015 17:11

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