Poonhill Trekking as a holiday destination
Also known as the Annapurna Sunrise Trek or the Annapurna Panorama Trek, the Ghorepani Poonhill trek is a short and easy trek of 4-5 days. A trekking best-seller, there is no risk of altitude sickness, its trails are wide and well-maintained, and the trek can be done any time of year outside the monsoon season (although the best seasons are February-April and September-November). Encompassing part of the Annapurna Circuit trek, it also shares its overnight stops, meaning teahouse accommodation is plentiful and of excellent quality. The Ghorepani Poonhill trek is the perfect route for beginners, or those who have limited time in Nepal.
The trail stars at Naya Pul, on the road from Pokhara to Baglung, and follows the Annapurna Circuit trail in reverse for two days. On day three, most people leave before dawn for the short 1.5km hike to Poon Hill (3210m) and tis fine vista of the snowy Annapurna peaks. The last three days entail a gentle descent through scenic villages, before returning to Pokhara.
The decent from Poon Hill goes through the pretty Gurung village of Ghandruk. Originally from western Tibet, the Gurung that live on the slopes of the Annapurna still practise their animist Bon faith. Distinctive aspects of the culture include the nose rings and coral necklaces worn by the women, and the village rodi, a cross between a town hall and a youth centre, where teenagers hand out and cooperative village tasks are planned. The Gurung are also well-known for their honey-harvesting and handicrafts. There is also a Gurung Museum in Ghandruk that is well worth a visit. At other places on the trek, there will be opportunities to try local dishes such as wild mushroom soup, with ingredients collected from the nearby forest.
Getting there/coming back
The trek starts and ends at Pokhara. The trek starts and ends in Pokhara, the perfect place to acclimatize before the trek and relax after. A 6-7 hour bus from KTM will take you to the city of the seven lakes where you can have your first encounter of the mighty Annapurna. Nayapul, the gateway from where the trekkers start their trek, is another one and a half hour jeep/taxi ride away from the city. After finishing the trek, the trekkers can come back to Pokhara to rest, relax, and enjoy.
There is a regular bus service between Pokhara and Birethanti (300Rs, 1 hour)
The trail has some of the best views of the Himalayas, including peaks such as Annapurna South (7219m), Dhaulagiri (8167m), Machhapuchhare (nicknamed ‘fishtail’) (6997m) and Himchuli (6434m). The route ambles through lush hill country, ivory-coloured rhododendron forests and scenic Gurung villages; and crosses numerous streams and waterfalls flowing from the glaciers and snow fields of the peaks above. The trail also offers great mountain views of Dhaulagiri and the Kali Gandaki gorge. The view from Poon Hill is spectacular and is at its best at sunrise.
So, meandering through Magar and Gurung ethnic villages, this trek lets you witness the wonderful rhododendron blossoms and bamboo forests. . In just 5-6 days, the trek will take you through some of the most beautiful and pristine villages in the Annapurna Nepal. Gaze at alluring sunrises and communicate with the local Himalayan people.
Lakeside Pokhara is also the perfect place to start and finish your trek. From the lake (and potentially even from your hotel room), you can enjoy a clear view of the snow-capped mountains, just 20km away. Pokhara also boasts a booming adventure sports industry, with many things to do before or after your trek, including paragliding, biking and white-water rafting. Pokhara is also an historic city that was fortunately spared the worst of the 2015 earthquake, making sightseeing a worthwhile endeavour. There is also a fascinating museum dedicated to the world-famous Gurkha soldiers.
The trek reaches a maximum height of 3120 M which makes it quite apt and doable for beginners as well. However, you can enjoy the beauty of this trek even if you are an experienced trekker
The trek welcomes both beginner and experienced trekkers. Moderate physical fitness which allows 4-6 hours of daily walking for the 5-6 days of the trek (your speed determines the length of trek) is favourable. Regular light exercise a few weeks prior to the trek will put you in an advantageous position in terms of speed.
Poonhill trekking is fit for the novice trekker, and no prior trekking experience is required. In addition, the maximum height of this trek is 3210m, so there is no possibility of altitude sickness. However, every trek in the Himalayas requires a certain level of physical and mental fitness. You should be in good physical shape and feel comfortable hiking up and down 7-12 miles per day whilst carrying about 10 pounds. It is recommended that you carry out at least one hour of aerobic activity 3-4 times per week for at least 1 month before starting the trek. Aerobic conditioning is important, as it enables your body to better metabolize oxygen and prepare for thinner air (there is 40% less Oxygen than at sea level). If you are in any doubt of your physical readiness, please consult with a doctor beforehand. Always remember that stamina, confidence and continuity are more important than speed.
Best Advised Season
Although the trek can be undertaken at anytime of the year, May is considered to be the best time as the rhododendrons will be in their full bloom.
This trek can be personalised based on time and interests. Its shared route with the Annapurna Circuit Trek also opens up numerous possibilities for detours and extensions.
Day 01:Arrival in Kathmandu (1,350 m),transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel
Day 02:Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara (827 m). O/N at hotel
Day 03:Drive from Pokhara to Nayapul (1040 m), then trek to Ulleri (1960 m). O/N at Guest House
Day 04:Trek from Ulleri to Ghorepani (2850 m). O/N at Guest House
Day 05:Hike to Poonhill early morning then trek to Ghandruk (1940 m). O/N at Guest House
Day 06:Trek from Ghandruk to Kimche, drive to Bandipur via Pokhara. O/N at Guest House
Day 07:Drive from Bandipur to Kathmandu
Day 08:Departure to the airport