Annapurna base camp trek, Nepal - Dec 16 - Dec 28, 2018
I did a Poon Hill + Annapurna Sanctuary trek, travelling alone (besides my guide and porter). Incidentally, this was my first trekking experience. Prior to my trip, Ngima was very prompt in helping me craft (and re-craft a couple of times) an itinerary that suited what I wanted, as well as answering any queries I might have. He helped made planning for my trip as stress-free as it could possibly get, while still retaining autonomy over my plans.
A typical day on the trek involved walking (that is, climbing up and down) through varied scenery, from lush bamboo forests to mountain-flanked snowfields, stopping for a leisurely mid-morning tea and lunch along the way. Most days, we reached our resting lodge for the night by around 3pm, and the rest of the day was spent relaxing, reading, chatting with fellow travellers, all over a pot of brewed tea. It is worth pointing out that I went in winter, meaning the flowers are not in bloom, but, in my opinion, that is more than made up for by the fact that there is a smaller crowd on the trails and in the lodges. The visual highlights of the trek are undoubtedly the 7000s-8000s giants, whether they be shyly peeking out from behind lesser mountains (or hills, as they call them in Nepal), laid out in a stunning vista at Poonhill, or subsequently transformed into a panoramic amphitheatre at Annapurna Base Camp. For an urbanite like me, the chance to slow down one’s pace, escape from the bustle and grind – not to mention digital spam – of city life, and just live in the moment, all the while soaking in nature, was incredibly rejuvenating.
Credit must also go to my guide Pemba and my porter Pasang, who attended to my every need – voiced or otherwise (requests for extra blankets, tea and meal orders etc). Importantly, I did not once felt rushed, Pemba encouraging me to take my time, set my own pace and just enjoy the journey. (Too many trekkers seemed to forget to do just that, too focussed as they were on the endpoint.) Pemba has also been very helpful in customising the itinerary on the fly based on the pace we were making. Besides all these, through the chats we had, and their easy-going, quick-to-laugh nature, I felt I had experienced a bit of Nepali culture and Sherpa warmth and good cheer. Pemba and Pasang have grown to be friends to me, whom I hope to trek with again in future.