Group departure - Khopra Danda Trek - A great off the beaten path trek in the Annapurna region - Nov 1 - Nov 8, 2018
I have a few requirements when I travel: I don't like to fight for space with loads of tourists; I like to see inaccessible or unusual places; and although I tend to travel alone, I like to be part of a group to share my experiences.
From the moment I asked my first question about Khopra Danda, I knew I was in good hands. To plan a holiday into the unknown requires complete trust in the company you deal with - this includes Ngima (the owner of NMMT), the guides and the porters. No question was too much or inconsequential.
During the briefing, the night before we left, the group of three Australians and three Americans instantly bonded - a great sign for the upcoming 7 days of trekking and transport.
Our main guide, Lhakpa, set a steady, manageable pace which managed our energy reserves throughout the trip.
The first part of the trek was to get to Ghorepani and Poon Hill. This is clearly a popular destination, as the 3,400 stairs were never empty, and the dawn viewing was inundated with tourists. None of that mattered: we were entertained and looked after the whole way; and the views were spectacular!
Throughout the entire trek, both the food and the views just got better every day.
Out of the six of us, two suffered from upset bellies at various points in time and we all had our own special pace to keep us going. This meant that Lhakpa needed to discuss with the group new plans each day. For example, one day we shortened our hike, and on another we pushed on further than we thought possible. This would not be possible with an experienced guide!
Lhakpa also seemed to be able to get us the best of everything! From mountain-side seats on our flight, to top-floor rooms in Ghorepani, to double rooms in overcrowded lodges.
It is not just walking, eating and sleeping involved in trekking. We often discussed local politics and religions in an effort to understand the local culture, something that our guides were only too willing to educate us on. Old customs, overthrown royalty, yaks and naks, yeti and wildlife (leopards, tigers and wolves) were everyday conversations.
The highlight of the Khopra Danda Trek was the day we hiked to Kaire Lake, at 4660m. We set off before dawn and returned as the sun was setting. It was a truly humbling experience to climb over 1,000 metres amongst some of the biggest mountains in the world. To reach Kaire Lake, a holy place for both Hindu and Buddhist, was not only exhilarating, but also calming.
Out of all the people who stayed at Khopra Lodge, we were the only group to make it, to which I credit our wonderful guides.
I would book another trek through Ngima again, no doubt at all. And if you made it through this review, then you should book one as well!