I had my first glimpse of the magnificence of the Himalayas when I boarded a short haul flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Luckily, I had the window seat and as we broke through the clouds, huge, snow-capped mountains burst into view.
It took us another two hour drive from Pokhara to get to the starting point of our trek. It was the meeting with our guide that brought the reality of the earthquake home to us. He had not had any clients for the past five months, as everyone had cancelled despite the trials being very safe.
“You are my first guests since the earthquake.”
More talks ensued and Mani, our guide, told us that every single tourist in Nepal can support up to 10 Nepalese people. No wonder, we were greeted with pleasant smiles and a chorus of “Namaste!” from locals we encountered on the trail. We shared the trail with other colourful characters – crickets, who sang joyously for us but not a single traveller. When we arrived at our lodge, we discovered we had the whole place to ourselves.
We can’t all be Himalayan climbers. Day two was tough with five and half hours of uphill trek: we stopped at Ghandruk, an idyllic village with doll- house -sized dwellings, rose gardens, mule caravans, paved steps and charming locals, which at 6,000 ft above sea level is already higher than the “mountain” Ben Nevis.
The next morning, we headed to Landruk. If Ghandruk felt like the clock had turned back, Landruk was like stepping into medieval times. Yet we were successful in finding a small shop with wi-fi run by a cheery woman. It was surreal talking to our daughter in Bath, live from the Himalayas. Breakfast next day was alfresco and luckily the clouds parted to reveal two white peaks so close to us, it seemed like an extraordinary theatre backdrop. We were mesmerised and completely transfixed.
The monsoon rain had cleared the skies and though we had to put up with leeches, it was worth it to be rewarded with the clear views of the Annapurna throughout our stay in Pokhara. We walked through beautiful trails, crossing paddy fields, suspension bridges, lush jungles, deep ravines and riverbeds. Whenever we had the opportunity, we looked back at the mountains.
If you have ever considered going to the Himalayas, then now is the time to go. Nepal is open and the heart of this nation is very much intact.
The above post has been adapted from the author’s original post on The Guardian. Click below to read the full story: