The Himalayas seemed like one of those places that we only read about in a book or see in movies. To us, it was on the same page as Narnia and Hogwarts, making it seem even more magical. Nepal is home to the highest mountain on Earth and just last year a movie was released documenting the epic climb up Everest, though, admittedly, I’ve been too squeamish to watch. Luckily, we found a great tour from OneSeed that looked very promising, and their itinerary didn’t include losing toes to frostbite (I double, no, triple checked).
It was around the time of the Tihar festival, so shops were decorated in beautiful orange garlands and everyone was busy prepping for a week dedicated to sacred animals. Navigating the city was pretty tough because we had to constantly gaze back and forth to avoid becoming a moped pancake. We managed to grab a few taxis and visit Pashupatinath and Swayambunath, also known as the Monkey Temple.
Our first hike to kick off the trek was as beautiful as it was challenging. The striking blue-trimmed buildings were very necessary distractions as we lugged ourselves up over 5,000 high-altitude stone stairs. We were beginning to think that maybe the Nepalese had a different definition for “almost there” but concluded that it was them having pity for us.
The top! Which didn’t actually mean the top of anything because, as we learned afterward, we still had to climb miles of stone steps before descending. That didn’t stop us from enjoying the picturesque views of the Himalayan mountains. The unfinished building foundation created an unusual contrast and made the red and blue roof topped village seem surreal, like something from a Miyazaki film. The next morning, we climbed Poon Hill, a famous hike in Nepal to watch the sunrise. The lines gave Disneyland lines a run for its money, but we felt better as we all cheered in unison as the sun peeked over the mountain range.
We rested for a short night in Tadapani, a small village with only about 10 buildings and strings of prayer flags waving along the mountainside. Woken up by a centipede the size of my head (okay, it was maybe the size of my hand) was a blessing in disguise because outside the window was a beautiful sunrise. The sun defined the otherwise wispy and translucent ground, creating a palette of blues and oranges.
A village made in stone, this was easily the largest village on our trek. This was my favorite place to stay, though I may have been bribed with delicious dal bhat with a side of fried egg. Mmm! This was our first warm shower in a few days and had an attached bathroom, something we take for granted every day in America. Of course reality sunk in as a spider the size of my hand (comparable to the centipede) wavered above our spare roll of toilet paper. At this point though, I embraced it. What’s a trek without wildlife?
Down the gorge from Ghandruk to Landruk, we climbed down the mountainside, crossed a turquoise river, and climbed back up. The mountains were decorated with short shrubs, terraces for crops and of course, miles of stony stairs. In Landruk, we were able to relax and look back at the tea house we stayed at in Ghandruk, its signature stone walls only visible when squinting.
Our last tea house of the trek, we were greeted by grazing cows and flocks of chickens. Pothana takes about 2 minutes to walk through the entire town, but that didn’t take away from its charm. Behind one of the stone buildings was a dirt path with fresh new grass growing all around. We spotted a beautiful bird with a long tail and continued to find more, but decided to turn back for fear of leeches.
After wearing the same shirts and pairs of pants several times we were relieved to reunite with our “Pokha-Packs”, the term we used to describe our pack of extra clean clothes. At Pokhara, we indulged in pizza, ice cream and some of the best tikka masala I’ve ever eaten.
My leather boots seem to have a scratch for every stone step we climbed. They only had around 10 miles on them pre-trip and now dawned a beautiful scuffed exterior. The challenge of it all made the trip seem shorter, but luckily we have our many photos and videos to remember each detail. This was the first trek that Erik and I had ever done and won’t be the last. My boots, on the other hand, might seek retirement soon.
In Chitwan, we stayed at the beautiful Sapana Lodge where the elephants roamed freely around the resort, basking in the sun, taking baths in the river, rubbing butts on trees, you know, typical elephant stuff. In the jungle, we were able to see wild rhinos, deer, peacocks and a few feet of giant crocodiles.
Thanks to Oneseed Expeditions, Tek, and Bishnu for an epic trip. Thank you to our guides Satya and Lalkaji (Lal) and our guides-in-training Abiyan, Milan, Melisa, Arjunn, Deepak for creating a unique and joyful experience!