Sunday October 6, meeting with the guide and briefing, here we go, the trip finally comes to fruition, we are leaving tomorrow for 15 days to explore the Annapurna region!

The next day, after a trip from Kathmandu to the terrace cultures of the Pokhara region, we embark in a jeep to climb to the starting point of the trek: Dharapani. An unreal journey, on "roads" which for any sensible person would be impracticable but impossible for not Nepalese! We cross waterfalls, pass between the rock and the void, on rocky bridges that span abysses and raging waves, descend from the four-wheel drive of the jeep no longer enough to climb the hills and the road has become a river … The adventure has definitely started! We arrive at the lodge for overnight, a first Dal Bhat (rice lentils the Nepalese national dish which is eaten three times a day) and in bed!The silence ... we only hear the sound of the river flowing lower and the animals of the village. The magic is already happening. When you wake up, you leave the room to watch the sunrise on the summit of Manaslu just opposite. A cup of masala tea, a pancake, lace up your hiking boots for the first time and go!

The small team leaves, direction Chame. We rush into the forest, funny stairs dug into the rock that lead us to Timang, a charming village where we are greeted with great reinforcements from "Namaste". First Chortens, prayer flags, no doubt we are in Nepal.

Each day offers us its share of new landscapes, new faces, new ethnic groups, comfortable or rudimentary lodges but one constant: it's magnificent. The landscapes are breathtaking and we always have the joy of discovering Chortens (be careful to bypass them on the left, re-read Tintin in Tibet but our guide is on the lookout) and other tangible signs of the omnipresence of religion in Nepal. We wake up, go sleep, brush our teeth, have lunch, have dinner, always with a splendid view.

Forests in the first days, first snow-capped peaks, increasing aridity going up, monasteries eight centuries or 8 years old, herds of yaks, eagles, mountain lakes, smiles always and dal bhats (often).

Every day we walk for several hours, from village to village to gradually climb to our goal: first Tilicho lake (the highest lake in the world, at 4900m) then the Thorong pass at 5400m. Every day when you arrive, after settling in, a small acclimatization or just cultural walk if we still want to do battle ("and if we climbed 530 steps to go to this Stupa? We only walked 5 hours today" after all! ”).

Twenty kilometers in the mountains, the difference in altitude, the numbers are impressive but on the spot everything is fine! We walk in the rhythm of our guide who has the good idea to slow us down sometimes when we get carried away. And when we turn around, we can be proud of the progress we have made.

The evenings are like out of time, we find ourselves around the stove playing cards or reading while drinking hot lemon, to chat with other travelers. The rhythm changes radically from everyday life but for the better, we disconnect completely, far from everything.

The day of the pass, up at down. At 4am we painfully leave the room. An effort that we quickly forget when opening the door: the snow-capped peaks that surround us are delicately lit by moonlight, not a sound, we can guess some headlamps on the base camp. Against all expectations, everyone seems delighted to be up! After breakfast we go to attack the pass. It's always dark, we walk in single file in this unreal setting. Our ascent is accompanied by the sunrise, it is day when we reach the top. 5416m, here we are, tired, but happy.

We’re almost at the end of the trip, we know it, we start the descent of the pass more slowly than usual, we do a blindtest while singing to the delight of our guide.

Here we are in Mustang, an arid region with mild temperatures. We drop the down jacket and the mittens to quickly find ourselves basking the pill on the terrace of our rudimentary lodge. Fall-colored fields, children running after chickens in the village. We are back in time, once again. Evening briefing for our last day of walking before the return to civilization, nostalgia already seizes us!

The next day we climb the last steep slopes, we are jealous to catch these last images from the end of the world in flight. The day ends in an apocalypse atmosphere, we walk in a gorge, in the bed of a dry river, with a wind to decorate the yaks. One day a different atmosphere, like this Annapurna trek.

It was an incredible first experience of trekking in Nepal more generally, since the villages have nothing to do with Kathmandu. We are very proud of course of what we have accomplished, whether it is a first or that we have already climbed Kilimanjaro.
It was a great challenge that I had launched, having never done a long hike (the Sunday pond tour does not really count) and therefore even less trek. I loved to walk this massif on foot, with a backpack, with our super guide Indra, who always hopped in front of the group, a smile to the ears and a most exotic musical repertoire. With Djebon and our porters we had the perfect team, always available and attentive, always smiling, they contributed to the success of this trip!

Thank you to Base Camp and the whole team for this unique journey, which I will certainly have an unforgettable memory.

October 2019 – Mathilde Lecuyer

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