Trekking Nepal in January: Annapurna to Dhaulagiri

Trekking Nepal in January: Annapurna – Dhaulagiri, by guest adventurer Joy Sunday

Pashupatinath Temple Holly Men
Pashupatinath Temple Holy Men
Holy men in a temple in Nepal. For a dollar you can photograph them …..

Be prepared to rough it (just a bit) if you decide to trek Nepal. Even if you don’t get off the beaten track, which we did for 6 of the 10 days on the Annapurna – Dhaulagiri trek, Nepal is a third world country and, as such, requires all the appropriate considerations and an open mind if you are going to appreciate your adventure.

Meeting in Kathmandu, flying to Pokhora, and driving to Lumle, our trekking destination was Khopra Ridge (3660 metres) which travel websites boast is one of the best vantage points in the Himalaya.

I can’t really argue with that; this was my first trip to Nepal and the scenery was fairly spectacular, not just the mountain peaks but also the world’s deepest gorge, the Kali Ghandaki, which was certainly a highlight of the trek.

As someone who prefers to photograph the micro world, I found plenty to take my amateur attention.


Interesting textures and patterns in the snow, tree bark and rocks made good subjects; as did the leaves delicately dusted with ice and the blades of grass hosting icicle baubles in the higher altitudes.

Travelling at the coldest time of year had its advantages: fewer trekkers, the beauty and the challenge of tramping over ice and snow covered slopes, clear skies, no rain and the delight of witnessing our morning face wash water snap-freeze to ice as it accidentally spilt onto the cabin floor. Not sure what the floor temperature was but a fellow trekker’s 21st century, state of the art adventure watch measured the air at about -18 degrees Celsius. There was no heating to take care of the chill factor in any of our sleeping quarters en route.The extremely basic accommodation was, however, adequate and bucket showers at A$3became the preferred way to end a day’s walking. Other daily rituals included starting our morning with a weak black tea brought to our room by one of our friendly Sherpas and concluding the day with a cold Everest beer. Delicious.

ah! a cold everest beer

The locals who ran the community lodges in which we stayed prepared tasty and interesting evening meals with minimal ingredients. The higher we hiked, the more minimal the ingredients became and the more interesting the food prepared. The variety of breads was impressive. As promised in the promotional materials, all food was prepared to the highest standards of hygiene. Only one of the eleven Australian trekkers in the group suffered a gastro upset. This seems like an impressive record, from all reports, for which we were all grateful. The profits from our stays in community lodges supposedly benefit local schools and village projects. One can only hope this is true as the stark contrast in our standards of living and education was sadly apparent and life seems very hard for the local Nepalese.

Not as obvious as in some other developing countries, beggars and hawkers occasionally tugged at the heart and purse strings in a way that leaves an indelible mark– particularly when children were involved.

And the spiritual/religious overtones of the country did not strike me as they have in other regions of the world I have visited, such as the Middle East, though they are still evident and obviously play a major role in the society with significant temples, such as the Hindu Pashupatinath situated on the banks of the holy Bagmati River

Holy Men -  Pashupatinath Temple - Kathmandu

Holy Men – Pashupatinath Temple – Kathmandu

Pashupatinath is a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan, 3 km northwest of Kathmandu. It’s dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals). It attracts thousands of pilgrims each year. The temple is barred to non-Hindus, but a good view of the temple can be had from the opposite bank of the river. It is a place where open air cremations can be regularly seen.

Nepal - Kathmandu - Bodhnath panorama
and the Bodhnath Stupa Buddhist Shrine, drawing large crowds daily for worship.

For lovers of history, there is a range of topics to investigate including the British Gurkha regiments who have played a significant and interesting role in the area. Plant life was diverse and the rhododendron forests inspired most trekkers en route.

In terms of the physical fitness required for the trek, it is necessary to prepare if you are to enjoy your holiday. Pushing 50 and reasonably fit, I found the 6-7 hour days very manageable. I prepared by walking, wearing a weighted back pack, for an hour most days around the hills of my home town and I used the stepper at the gym several times a week in the month prior to the trip. Other younger trekkers who had done minimal, if any preparation, struggled with each day’s challenge and this detracted from their enjoyment of the adventure.

Dhaulagiri PeakDhaulagiri peak – the eighth-highest mountain in the world.

Altitude sickness was not a concern for any of the trekkers in our group and the slow pace set by the guides contributed to our comfort in many ways. The Nepalese Sherpas, porters and guides were helpful, friendly and maintained an appropriate professional distance from the trekkers, a policy I believe the trekking company enforces for appropriate reasons.

When budgeting for the trip, remember to take into account the vaccinations, which added up to over $500 for me. I did opt for the expensive rabies injections, which gave much peace of mind when I was nipped on the leg by a village pup on day three. Additionally the amount of money recommended in the travel materials (US$180) was way under my requirements and I consider myself a frugal traveller- so be prepared for the trip to cost more than your initial calculations. All in all it was a wonderful experience which I highly recommend.

Joy’s Nepalese guide, who she highly recommends for his knowledge, integrity,and being an all-round nice person, was Harka Tamang.

If her story inspires you to visit Nepal please contact him.








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One thought on “Trekking Nepal in January: Annapurna to Dhaulagiri

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